Mindy made her way into Irvan’s ready to indulge in a quiet breakfast
on her own as she decided it was exactly what she needed to clear her
head for a little bit while Guy was off tending to his mother
again. Sure, she’d been polite and practical in her brief, but
all too unwelcome encounter with Brooke Morrison, but she knew that
there would be no way she could fake it another day when Guy had asked
her to tag along. Now as she had placed an order for breakfast,
she pulled a copy of one of her favorite books out of her knapsack
ready indulge in it all over again. Quickly scanning the place,
she took a seat in one of the corner booths at the back of the
restaurant anticipating that well spent time along for such a
uneventful, yet welcome occasion.
“To peace and quiet at last,” she sighed heavily opening the cover of
the novel as she sank back in her chair ready to immerse herself in
someone else’s life for a while instead of having to dwell upon her own.
“Is this seat taken,” a voice beckoned her from the page before her as
she gazed upward to discover Hunt standing beside the table, a sexy
smile spreading over his handsome features.
“That all depends,” Mindy replied wanting to kick herself for such an
answer before he arched a speculative brow.
“On what,” he questioned in a flirty tone as she reached out across the
table top to collect her knapsack she’d thrown haphazardly over to the
other side of the booth seconds later.
“On nothing,” Mindy sighed in response yanking the back up before
setting it down on the booth beside her, “have a seat.”
“Why thank you,” Hunt continued to grin, accentuating the cute dimples
that Mindy had taken note of during their first encounter with one
another when they’d been mere strangers. Now as he slid in across
from her, she couldn’t help but pay attention to every minor detail of
his perfectly chiseled features as he continued to speak to her, “You
know for a minute there I was afraid that you were going to tell me to
“Why would you say such a thing,” Mindy questioned snapping out of the
daze she’d gone into upon his arrival.
“Well for starters, you looked like you would much rather be alone with
that book than have the company of a guy like me,” he admitted
motioning to the novel she’d discarded, “although given your selection,
I can’t say I’d really blame you. Stephen King is kind of mesmerizing.”
“You like Stephen King?” she questioned her eyes widening in surprise.
“More so than I care to admit as I’m a huge enthusiast,” he offered up
reaching across the table to finger the spine of her book gingerly,
“although lately I’ve been so very busy that the most I get to enjoy of
his works are the film adaptations that leave a lot lacking if I say so
“Oh I know what you mean,” Mindy nodded in agreement, “as I haven’t
found any of the films to be nearly as engrossing as the novels
are. The man just has a way with words.”
“That he does,” Hunt responded again, “although I must admit there were
a couple film adaptations that I didn’t mind…” he paused for a moment
noting her strange expression.
“And just what might those be,” she asked skeptically.
“Well, there was…and…well…” he shook his head as a tiny laugh erupted
from within, “Okay so maybe there wasn’t really anything that comes to
mind, but I know there has to at least be one out there.”
“Aha, so you’re a man who contradicts himself now,” she couldn’t help
but tease thinking about the conversation they were having, “although I
suppose you aren’t really contradicting yourself considering that you
haven’t named a film that’s captured your attention nearly as much as
the novels, but you’ve thought of way to come up with one.”
“The Shawshank Redemption,” he blurted out triumphantly.
“Oh see now that was cheap,” Mindy groaned in response recollecting her
book from the table top.
“But you know I’m right on it as that movie in itself is a classic and
I might add it follows very closely to the book almost exactly down to
the…” he began.
“Last sentence in it,” Mindy completed with a knowing smile, “I’m well
aware of that.”
“So see, while I might contradict myself on my likes and dislikes, I
was able to find a good reason for contradiction,” he rambled on in an
“So you have,” Mindy couldn’t help but laugh as the waitress returned
to the table asking Hunt if he was ready to order breakfast as
well. After he’d finished up with his order, he redirected his
attention to Mindy once again, ready to open up the lines of
communication between them again.
“So tell me, what brings you out here this early on a day like this,”
he inquired eyeing her intently before a smile tickled over his
features, “other than your love for a really good horror novel that is.”
“Well, I was just hoping to get some time alone,” she confessed openly.
“And yet I’ve found a way to intrude upon that,” he frowned upon her
words, “You know if you want me to move to another table, then I could
easily do just that.”
“No,” she answered quickly, perhaps too quickly as she noticed the way
his eyes flickered in surprise, “I mean no you don’t have to leave as I
didn’t really have the opportunity to engross myself in the book just
yet and besides it’s not like I don’t have the time to do so later.”
“Well, as long as you’re sure I’m not intruding,” he started again.
“You’re really not,” she assured him as she reached for her coffee
taking a sip, “So now that we’ve got that out of the way, what brings
you here this morning Hunt?”
“You mean other than seeking out great conversation with another horror
enthusiast?” he arched a suggestive brow.
“Well of course seeing as you weren’t aware that I was a horror
enthusiast until you arrived here this morning,” she nodded eagerly,
“as you’d certainly had some other plans here today.”
“You mean other than having a decent breakfast,” he couldn’t help but
tease as he shook his head, “Nope, not really.”
“That’s too bad,” she muttered under her breath, “I mean, well it’s too
bad that you had to have to face having breakfast alone like that when
you showed up.”
“It wasn’t my idea of a good time, but then again I think fate had
other plans for me as it sent me to this very table to share the
morning with you. I think that’s a great start, don’t you think
Mindy?” he offered up as Mindy was quite certain that the color had
risen in her cheeks upon his words.
“Oh I don’t know if that’s fate’s way of dealing you a good hand or
just our dumb luck since we seem to keep running into one another time
and time again,” Mindy pointed out as she fingered her mug, trying to
keep her nerves under control as she spoke with him.
“Well, that in itself speaks for the serendipity that’s working with us
there. It’s just written in the stars that you and I were meant
to be acquaintances,” Hunt concluded boisterously, “wouldn’t you agree?”
“I suppose to one degree, I really couldn’t argue that point, but in
the same breath I suppose we should be thankful that karma didn’t deal
us an opportunity to cross paths with some demented psycho killer…that
is presuming that you aren’t one,” she couldn’t help but tease him.
“Hmm, well I gave that up around the time I hit first grade as it
really wasn’t paying to be the only kid in kindergarten to play with on
the playground as it made for a very dull playtime. Although I
will say that my shrink attributes that murdering spree to my multiple
personality disorder,” he winked at her as another laugh spilled over
“Hmm, then I guess you won’t mind my little knife fetish that I have
when I meet someone new,” she threw back at him in an equally playful
tone, “as my therapist says that this cutting obsession stems from my
need to get down to the heart of the matter.”
“Sound kind of enthralling,” Hunt leaned forward propping his elbows up
on the table top, “I’m curious to hear more.”
“Only if you promise to share with me the details of what it was like
to be the youngest serial killer on the block,” she inched in closer to
him as well playing along with the game they’d started.
“Well, I’d say it’s rather lonely and I think I’m completely cured of
it, although I do wake up in some strange places sometimes with people
around me that I’ve never met before and I have to wonder just what
I’ve been up to as I find myself in the middle of no where with a knife
of my own…” he chuckled in response.
“You don’t say,” Mindy shook her head at him, “so you suffer from
somnambulism as well?”
“Only on the weekdays,” he joked back, “the weekends are pretty clear
“Then it would seem that we’re a match made in heaven,” Mindy threw out
“Or hell depending on just how twisted we both can be,” he winked in
response admiring the way that her face lit up after they’d started
teasing one another.
“Okay, now we’re just leaping into the world of the downright
frightening,” she waved her hands out in the air to cease the
conversation as her laughter overtook her.
“It’s your fault for bringing that book with you this morning as you
know it sparks all sorts of twisted thoughts,” he countered back as she
nodded in agreement.
“Okay so horror novels get the creative juices going in all the wrong
directions, but still, why don’t we step back into the world of the
here and now?” she suggested shifting the conversation a bit as she sat
“I suppose we could do that, but where’s the fun in doing such a
dreadful thing,” he teased with a shudder.
“Well, it might give us more to go on rather than our chance
encounters,” she offered up as he sank back into the seat across from
“Okay, so what is it you’d like to discuss in the here and now?” he
inquired arching an interested brow.
“Well, how about we start with what brings you to Coral Valley,” she
suggested unable to curb her natural curiosity about him.
“Gee, you cut straight to the point, don’t you,” he couldn’t help but
laugh at her.
“It’s my job,” she confessed openly, “as it’s what I do for a living.”
“Hmm, in that case it makes you one of two things. You’re either
a cop or a reporter. You’re too cute to be a cop, so I’m guessing
it’s the latter, huh?” he threw out confidently.
“Okay, so you caught me, I’m working on making my way up to being a
reporter,” she admitted proudly, “as I’m still finishing up with my
journalism degree, though if you ask my boss, he’ll tell you I’m the
real heart and soul of the Coral Courier.”
“The Coral Courier,” he repeated pondering the words for a moment,
“I’ve never heard of it, but I’m thinking that I should start picking
it up especially if I get to see you hard at work.”
“Well, I haven’t made it to full on reporter just yet--at least not
beyond little community snippets here and there, but Russ keeps telling
me that one day it’s going to happen and if I push long enough,” she
grinned eagerly, “well I’m guessing it’ll be less than a month before
“Then I’m certainly going to have to keep an eye on what’s happening
with that then,” he replied decidedly as the waitress arrived with
“So tell me Hunt since you‘ve been avoiding the question, what is it
that you’re doing in town,” Mindy questioned cutting at her eggs after
the waitress had left the table, “Is it business or pleasure?”
“I think it’s turning out to be a little of both,” he divulged watching
the way she cut her eggs into little triangle pieces, “What are you
“Oh this,” she felt a blush rise over her features, “well I’ve just
kind of done this since I was a little kid since my mother was always
pushing me to eat more eggs and I hated them, so she tried making them
fun for me. I guess it kind of stuck.”
“Well that’s cute,” Hunt replied unable to keep from watching her as
the color expanded over her beautiful face.
“It’s not cute,” she waved her hand at him dismissively, “It’s just me.”
“Well, I happen to think it’s cute whether you like it or not,” he
stated firmly as someone behind them urged one of the waitresses to
turn up the television as it ran the story about Grady Denton’s
stabbing over at the jail after his arrest for the suspected shooting
of Kipp Mahoney.
“Oh my God,” Mindy gasped in horror watching as the news report
unfolded the scene before her.
“You know him,” Hunt questioned curiously watching the reaction she’d
had to what they’d heard on television.
“That’s my boss’s brother,” Mindy shook her head in refusal to accept
the reporter’s words about Grady being a cold blooded attempted
murderer, “Grady wouldn’t have shot anyone.”
“You sound pretty certain of that,” he noted watching as she sat up
straighter, her voice growing more determined with each passing second.
“I am. I’ve known that family for a long time and Grady might be
a hothead, but he’s not killer and to think that someone tried to take
his life from him,” she trailed off feeling a shiver race up and down
her spine, “I can only imagine what his family is going through right
now with him in critical condition. Should he not make it through
the day, well I just don’t know how they’re going to be able to deal
“Hopefully they won’t have to face something like that as the guy
clearly has a right to defend himself in court for the charges being
brought up against him,” Hunt added taking another look at the
“He deserves more than that as I’m certain he’s innocent and I just
hope that his family has the chance to prove that,” Mindy noted saying
a silent prayer that disaster wouldn’t hang it’s ugly head over the
Denton family yet again after all that had been taking place over the
last few months.
Jade made her way out to the garden and sat down on one of the stone
walls. She took in a deep breath and tried holding back the tears.
Everything was going downhill and she could hardly understand it
herself. She thought about Grady and what the doctor had told them. A
part of her wanted to just disappear from the world for good as she
buried her face in her hands and silently wept. "Why is this happening
When she felt the breeze from the cold morning flow and tousle her
hair, she pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around
herself. Thoughts once more ran to what was going on with Grady when a
voice broke into her thoughts. "I knew I'd find you
Jade lifted her head to see Diane advancing towards her. "How did you
know where to find me?"
Diane gave a slight shrug and took a seat next to her, "I remembered
you used to come out here all the time when things were bad with your
Jade gave a weak smile, "When my mom was sick, I used to come out here
"Indeed," Diane nodded, "it seems like a good place to get thoughts and
"I probably spent hours just sitting out here hoping that my mom's
cancer would just amazingly be cured."
"I know," Diane wrapped an arm around her shoulder, "And every time you
were upset, and you needed a time out from what was going on you came
"A lot of good it did."
"Jade, honey, you have to have faith." she assured her friend.
"I couldn't save my mother," Jade stared blankly at the ground, "And I
can't save Grady now..."
"Jade," Diane began with concern on her face, "Don't talk like that.
You need to have yourself some faith."
"Faith," Jade repeated, "Faith isn't helping me."
"You of all people know that faith really makes a difference." Diane
frowned at the way Jade was being so down on herself.
"I know I do, but it's just..." Jade let out a sigh, "I've been
praying, and having faith...but it doesn't seem to be getting me
anywhere now a days."
"Come on, this is not the Jade Alexander I know!" Diane gave her a
comforting hug, "Everything will be alright."
"I hope so," Jade nuzzled her face into Diane's shoulder, "I mean
everything seems to be going downhill. It seems almost impossible to be
able to climb back up."
"It isn't a climb you're making alone," Diane ran a hand over Jade's
"I don't want to bring you guys down with me," Jade ran her hand
through her hair.
"We are all here to help you out Jade. We're your friends. You're stuck
"I know and I appreciate everything you all have helped me with."
"Come on back inside," Diane urged, "the guys are worried about you."
Jade exhaled deeply, "I don't think I can handle it."
"Handle what honey?" Diane asked concern in her eyes for her friend.
"I don't know if I can handle being in there." Jade's eyes were swollen
from the tears she was crying, "I don't think I can handle any of this
Diane. It's too much."
"Jade, Grady needs us now more then ever," Diane paused to grasp Jade's
hands in hers.
Jade stood and started to pace the garden, "I don't know..."
"Grady needs you Jade." Diane got up and stopped her from pacing, "He
loves you and he needs your love to help pull him through."
"I know," Jade sighed, "I just don't know what I can handle and
"Jade?" Seth's voice rang through the garden as the door flew open and
there he was. "Jade, you have to come here quick."
Jade's eyes grew large and worry crossed her face, "What? What's
happened to Grady?"
"He's awake," Seth scooped her into a hug.
A big smile crossed over Jade's lips, "He's awake?"
"Yes he's awake," Seth repeated putting her down. "so what are you
waiting for? Get in there."
Jade rushed to the doors and took off down the hallway. Diane advanced
over to Seth and pat his shoulder. "Thing's are starting to get better
Seth nodded, "I wanted to thank you."
"For what?" Diane asked as they walked into the building making there
way back over to Grady.
"For being there for my sister," he paused, "I really appreciate it."
"She's my best friend," Diane exclaimed, "and I love her like she was
my own sister. I'm always going to be there for her whether she likes
it or not."
"Well thanks again Diane as I don‘t know what any of us would do
without you," he repeated as they made their way back to the recovery
room waiting area.
Douglas downed his fifth glass of bourbon feeling the numbing sting of
it settle down to his core as he tried to find some way to claim some
comfort in the knowledge that the man who’d tried to take Kipp out of
this world was behind bars. While he’d hoped that the drinking
binge would take the pain away, his son still felt further away than
ever and even in having felt the bittersweet taste of justice coming
into play, he was left with an emptiness that wouldn’t escape him.
“Oh son,” Doug sighed as his eyes were glued to the photograph he’d
carried with him from Kipp’s sixteenth birthday at a time when he and
his son had been far closer than he’d allowed them to be in the more
recent years. Somehow it had seem so much easier back then when
Kipp wasn’t questioning his every word and doubting everything that
Doug held true with in their relationship. Even now he could feel
the obvious guilt of the moment he’d gone and driven Kipp away from
him. If only he could’ve changed some of the choices he’d made
down the road, perhaps he wouldn’t be without Kipp in his life--not
knowing where his son may be. If only Doug would’ve found another
way then maybe just maybe Kipp would’ve stayed at that party and things
would’ve turned differently, Doug thought to himself as he sank into an
armchair pondering upon the day that he’d insisted upon turning the
tables on his son to teach him a hard lesson on life.
“It’s for the greater good of our children,” Brooke had stated plainly,
“as they need to have their eyes opened about those unworthy, wretched
lowlifes trying to play them for fools. Our children deserve
“Indeed they do,” Doug had agreed sipping his martini as he and Brooke
had discussed their plans for the elimination of the unsavory
counterparts in their children’s lives, “That gold digging whore isn’t
going to be allowed to suck the life out of my son when he has far too
much potential for that.”
“Exactly, which is why I urge you to go along with me on this eye
opener for our children,” Brooke had coaxed him further, wetting his
appetite for justice where his son’s welfare was concerned, “We can’t
go wrong in this as long as we do it as I’ve had the plans laid out.”
“And you’re sure that this is foolproof?” Douglas had held his
skepticisms about the situation.
“Without a doubt as I’m quite certain the whore shall prove to be
everything you say she is and with a little help of this,” Brooke
withdrew the vial of liquid she’d held securely in her purse, “there
won’t be any room for errors.”
“And this man your daughter has taken to? He’s an unsavory as
well?” Doug couldn’t help but ask as Brooke let out a sharp, pinched
“He and Heather were made for one another and besides,” she grinned
wickedly, “from what I’ve gathered the two of them have been spending
quite a lot of time with one another while Heather has been hanging all
over your son like a cheap suit. Sure, she claims to care about
Kipp, but we know how far loyalty extends with those who are on the
fast track to get rich quick.”
“Not at my son’s expense she won’t,” Douglas vowed sipping his drink as
he and Brooke had laid the groundwork for the night that would forever
change their children’s fates.
Now as Douglas sat alone in his hotel room, he wondered if somehow in
seeing Heather in bed with that Denton man that night had been just
enough opening for Kipp to become prey to the attack of another
Denton. Had Grady Denton found out how Doug and Brooke had
manipulated the situation so that Kipp found Russell in bed with
Heather? Did Grady believe that Kipp had orchestrated the entire
situation to humiliate Russell, thus Grady’s desire to seek revenge?
“No,” Douglas muttered aloud banishing that thought from his head as he
was certain that no one other than Brooke had been aware of the true
motives behind the evening. He was quite convinced that Brooke
wouldn’t dare out herself as having played a hand in such a scheme, yet
the plan had failed on her end. Her daughter had still married
Russell Denton and now Grady Denton was the one responsible for…
“She wouldn’t have betrayed me,” Doug mouthed to himself thinking about
how Brooke had been who’d played the mastermind to his
accomplice. Still as Doug thought about how Brooke’s failure to
keep her daughter away from Russell, he began to wonder just how true
to her word she’d been about the level of secrecy between them.
Furthermore as he pondered the role Heather had played in destroying
Kipp, he wondered if perhaps this wasn’t all a part of a greater scheme
to destroy his family.
“That’s it,” Douglas rose up from the chair he’d been seated in feeling
the effects of the alcohol upon him as he reached for his jacket ready
to go and demand answers of the woman who had shaken things up in his
life. Reaching for his hotel room key, he headed to the door
throwing it open only to knock into Thea upon exiting.
“Whoa, where’s the fire,” Thea questioned seeing the uneasiness in
Doug’s stance as she could smell the traces of alcohol lingering over
his lips, “Hey, hold on.”
“I can’t talk right now Thea,” Doug began dismissively, “as I have a
meeting to get to.”
“It can wait because you’re in no position to go meet with anyone,” she
argued with him plucking the hotel key card from his hand and nudging
him back to his room with a stern expression.
Reluctantly he followed her lead allowing her to take him back to his
moment of misery as she urged him to take a seat once again.
Looking around the room, Thea could see the obvious signs of his
drinking as the nearly empty bottle of bourbon spoke for itself.
Facing him with a frown, she shook her head at him before reaching to
adjust his tie, loosening it with the moment.
“Doug, what’s gotten into you,” she questioned, her voice filled with
genuine concern as a low, guttural sound erupted from behind his
“Do you really need to ask,” he groaned feeling the weight of his
misery down upon him, “I’m a failure Thea. I’ve ruined everything
that made any difference in my life and now I’m left to face that fact.”
“That’s entirely not true,” Thea shook her head in disbelief, “I don’t
buy that for one second.”
“My son is in a coma or even dead for all I know,” he pointed out with
a scowl, “My daughter hates me and all in all I have nothing to hold
“What about us Doug? I thought that we had something going here,”
she reminded him kneeling down before him as her hands slid out over
his thighs, “what about that?”
“Thea,” he spoke her name in a smooth whisper as his fingertips fanned
out over her cheekbone in a tender gesture, “my darling, misguided
Thea, what kind of fool do you take me for? As much as I’ve
enjoyed out adventures with one another, I know that when it came down
to it, you would sell me out to Cameron in a heartbeat should it prove
to get you one step closer to where it is you wish to be with that
Thea’s lips curled into a frown as a sigh spilled from her perfectly
sculpted lips, “I think I find myself rather offended by that Doug.”
“It’s the truth,” he admitted poignantly, “as much as we have
overlooked that minor detail, we’ve both been aware of where we stand
with one another when everything is said and done.”
“That doesn’t mean that I don’t care for you because I do,” Thea
blurted out openly, “You know that I feel as much as I’m capable of
feeling for someone when I’m with you…”
“I’m well aware of that and on some level I’m flattered, but I’m not
jaded about where this will wind up for us as we’ve done this song and
dance before,” he slurred dropping his head down as he was lost in his
misery once again.
“Perhaps this time things will change--things can be different if you’d
only allow me the luxury of proving that to you as I’m rather certain
that I can help you if you let me in,” she spoke up unable to mask her
concerns for him as he seemed so lost within himself.
“You don’t want inside Thea as it’s a very dark and dangerous place,”
he mumbled under his breath.
“I live for danger and I thrive on darkness,” she reached out to him
forcing him to meet her own dark, piercing eyes, “neither one of us are
saints Doug, but we do get each other. We have an understanding
that no one else can even begin to grasp. What we have is
something that is undefined and yet it’s absolutely right for us…”
“Thea, we both know…” he began to protest as she placed her finger upon
his lips to silence him.
“Doug, I need to tell you something and you need to listen to me very
closely because I’m going out on a limb here. While I know that
Cameron would be livid for my sharing this with you, I can’t let you
lose yourself--not when you’ve come so far. Doug, I can give you
back that part of your life that you lost with Kipp. I can give
you that second chance that you’re so desperately needing,” Thea’s tone
shifted as a thought occurred to her.
In that instant, images of Cameron’s bride clouded her mind and perhaps
her judgment as she found herself more willing than ever to get rid of
the woman who’d caused a rift in her relationship with Cameron.
While Cameron had insisted upon Thea’s being cordial to Heather, there
were no rules about Doug’s responses to her. In speaking her
thoughts, she could kill two birds with one stone and get Cameron back
on track again. With Heather gone, she could very well easily get
closer to having that control she’d had in Cameron’s life along with
giving Doug a piece of hope to hold onto.
“It’s hopeless Thea,” he groaned again, “it’s all hopeless.”
“No, it’s not Doug,” she felt him turning away from her again as she
reached out to him holding his face in an attempt to keep him focused
on her, “Doug, it’s not hopeless as you have something else to fight
for--a grandchild on the way that needs you to be there for him or her.”
“Oh Thea,” he groaned upon hearing her words rolling his eyes at the
suggestion, “Don’t even try to tell me that you actually believe that
whore is having Kipp’s child…”
“I don’t have to believe Doug as I know,” Thea continued seeing the
doubt behind his eyes as she spoke further, “Think about it. Why
else would Cameron waste his time marrying her? He knows that you
won’t stand for him being the one to raise your grandchild and he
thinks it’ll be a way of getting at you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he waved his hand dismissively as he shook his
head once again, “He wouldn’t do that.”
“Doug, it’s Cameron,” she pointed out with a frown, “you know that I
wouldn’t dream of speaking of such a thing if it wasn’t a desperate
situation like the one we’re in. You know what it could cost me
with Cameron for telling you what I’m saying right now.”
“Thea, I know you’re trying, but…” he stopped himself as her words
danced around in his heat. Cameron had certainly spent a great
deal of time giving him grief over the years and if Cameron had an
opportunity to get at him, well then Cameron would be quick to jump on
it, but to have married such a slut to get a rise out of Doug seemed
preposterous, yet Heather was a far cry from the women that Cameron had
been known to chase around.
“Why would I lie about something like this Doug?” Thea broke through
his thoughts, “I have proof if that’s what you need. Cameron made
sure of it before he married her and I can show you that child is in
fact Kipp’s. He knows that sooner or later you will realize that
and when you do, well that’s when he’s going to be ready to strike…”
“If what you’re saying is true, then why tell me Thea? Why take
away his ammunition,” he questioned in confusion, “We both know he’ll
never stand for that.”
“Certainly not, but I can’t stand for watching you destroy yourself,”
she confessed brushing her fingers over his knee affectionately,
“especially not after the ways in which you’ve helped me over the
years. You’ve been good to me Doug and I know that I can’t ever
give you back the gifts you’ve given to me, yet if I sit in silence and
let you fall from grace, then I’ve only betrayed myself and us. I
can’t do that--not this time.”
“And this proof you say you have,” Doug arched a speculative brow, “Can
you get it to me so that I can see for myself?”
“Faster than you can get your lawyers on it to take care of Heather,”
she nodded in confession tracing her fingers up over the inseam of his
pants, “and you will take care of Heather, won’t you?”
“If I find out that she is in fact carrying my grandchild, then I will
put forth every effort imaginable to see that she never lays her hands
upon my grandchild,” he vowed as Thea fought the urge to grin as she
could see the spark of determination behind his sad eyes. While
she’d only opened a door to the road to eliminating Heather, she could
see with Douglas at her side it was only a matter of time before
Heather Gibbons was nothing more than a bad memory to be flushed out of
their lives forever.
Dorothy moved around the kitchen pulling out all the final ingredients
for her current culinary concoction as she thought to how nervous she
was about spending the morning with Jenna and Hart. While last
night she’d made some ground with her daughter, she hoped that this
morning would prove to be something more of a less stressful encounter
than it had been as she’d had to bear witness to Jenna’s broken heart
at the hand of Doug. While Dorothy had fought like hell to make
sure that her daughter had gone untouched by the man Doug had grown to
be, it seemed that even with all her efforts there would be no avoiding
the inevitable fate that Doug had pressed upon those who’d been a part
of his life, but still, Dorothy couldn’t help but at least want to try
to keep Jenna from feeling the brunt of the sadness that she’d known
all too well from Doug over the years.
“Morning mom,” Wayne greeted her swiftly as he slung his knapsack over
his shoulder and reaching for a piece of toast that popped up out of
the toaster seconds before his arrival, “see you later.”
“Hey, where do you think you’re going,” Dorothy reached out to him
stopping him mid-movement as he began to raise the toast to his
lips. She tore it away from him as a frown touched over her and
she eyed him ponderously, “what is this?”
“I have some work to do on my thesis, so I thought I’d get a head start
on it,” Wayne informed her simply.
“Not this morning you don’t,” she frowned shaking her head at him,
“Your sister and Hart are coming over for breakfast with your father
and I and we’d like you to be around so that we could actually have a
family meal for once.”
“Since Jenna’s bringing Hart, I’m sure I won’t be missed,” he reached
for the toast again popping it into his mouth greedily.
“Of course you would be missed, but you aren’t leaving,” Dorothy curled
her lips in a disapproving frown, “as your research can wait.”
“It really can’t,” he insisted firmly, “as I’ve been putting it off far
too long already.”
“Wayne, you’re going to be wearing yourself far too thin with your
studies as this is the fifth time in the last week that you’ve been off
to research,” she reminded him simply as she watched him scarf down the
toast before reaching for another piece.
“And the fact that it’s only been five times clearly tells you that I’m
slacking on this one,” he explained with a simple shrug of his
shoulders, “You said it yourself that you want to see me succeed with
this degree and I’m well on my way to getting it over with sooner than
I thought possible when I started last semester. I’ve been
working double time and by the summer, well I’ll have enough behind me
that I’ll be able to get this over with at least a year ahead of
“Even so, I would rather you take your time then burn yourself out in a
race to completion,” she touched his arm gently, “I’m worried about you
son as all you seem to do is research and bury yourself in your
work. When’s the last time you had any fun?”
“I have fun,” he answered simply, “really I do and when I’m satisfied
with my research, well then I’m sure you’ll see just how much fun I can
have before me once the hard work is out of the way, but right now I’m
running late. I’ll see you later,” he leaned down to give her a
quick kiss on the cheek before rushing out of the kitchen before she
could protest any further.
“Wayne wait,” she began to chase after him only to discover he was
already gone now that Preston had returned from his quick trip to the
store. Frowning as she looked to the man she loved, Preston
quickly sensed her annoyance as he slipped out of his jacket.
“Our son running out on us again,” he questioned curiously already
knowing the answer as he’d been caught up in the whirlwind of Wayne’s
exit moments earlier.
“You would think that he’d just take a few moments to enjoy life before
it passes him by,” Dorothy noted with a huff, “or at the very least
find the time to sit down and have breakfast with his family.”
“He’s young and you can’t blame him for always being on the go,”
Preston offered up making his way over to her and giving her a quick
kiss on the cheek before carrying the groceries he’d brought with him
into the kitchen.
“Even so, you’d think he’d take a little time to relax now that he’s
home on break,” Dorothy noted with a heavy sigh, “as I feel like I
hardly see our children anymore.”
“Jen was here last night and correct me if I’m wrong, but she’ll be
here this morning, won’t she?” he questioned emptying the contents of
the bag before him onto the counter.
“Well yes as far as I know, but I just feel like it’s been so long
since we’ve all just had the chance to spend some quality time with one
another without all the chaos that’s been surrounding our lives lately.”
“You mean with Doug,” he questioned setting aside the groceries for the
moment before turning his attention to her completely.
“Especially with Doug,” she frowned at the mention of the man she’d
spent a great many years avoiding, “I just hate to see how he’s
uprooted Jenna’s life like this. She’s worked so very hard to
finally get some peace and clarity in her life and now for her to have
to deal with the same frustrations that I experience in having him as a
part of my life…”
“She’ll be able to work through them sweetheart,” Preston wrapped his
arms around her offering up a supportive squeeze, “as I know he’s smart
enough to see him as he is and not to let him get to her anymore than
“I’m not so sure,” she confessed with a sigh, “as just knowing that
he’s her father has changed so many things for her. For so long I
feared that I’d never be able to reach out to her again, but now, well
now I just wish that I could spare her the pain that she’s gone through
already because of him.”
“I know you do sweetheart, but I promise you that somehow, some way
we’ll get through this,” he eased his fingers beneath her chin to lift
her eyes to his loving gaze, “we’ll find a way to be stronger because
“I wish I had your confidence about that, but the truth to the matter
is that I can’t help but feel as if the other shoe is just waiting to
drop and when it does, all of our lives are going to change forever,”
she blurted out unable to contain her fears.
“You can’t think like that as that’s only self-defeating,” he pointed
out as he held her closer to him, “We need to focus on what good still
remains for us as hey, look on the bright side, Jenna has come around
and we’re about to get back on track with things in that aspect.”
“I’m still not sure that Hart is the right man for her especially now
after she’s dealt with the grief Doug has sent her way,” she divulged
as her skepticism reigned supreme once again.
“I realize that, but I must commend you on the way you’ve taken great
liberties to keep it from showing. You’ve been very patient and
open to giving him a chance and that means the world to Jenna, you
know?” he added simply.
“I know, but you have no idea how hard it’s been to do that,” she
sighed leaning into the solid strength of his muscular chest feeling
him kiss the top of her head as he held her.
“Believe me I do know and that fact that you’re trying to do that for
Jenna, well, it’s just one of the many reasons I love you like I do,”
he whispered warmly over her as she closed her eyes savoring the moment
between them as she prayed that her fears for her daughter were
completely ill-place and that Hart Steiner would prove her wrong for
her daughter’s sake.
Jenna stepped out of the shower noting the time as a slow curse fell
from her lips. She was already running half an hour behind and
while she’d called Hart to tell him not to rush over, she knew that
he’d be at her apartment any second now. It wasn’t like him to be
anything less than punctual especially on a morning like this one when
they’d agreed to have breakfast with her mother and Preston.
Sure, things were improving with her family accepting Hart, but she
didn’t dare push it as she knew that they’d have a long way to go
before her mother truly accepted Hart’s place in her life and given
that her mother was a skeptic, she didn’t want to chance things.
“Oh good heavens,” she groaned catching a brief look at her appearance
in her shower steam covered mirror in the bathroom before she heard the
doorbell ringing from the other room. Groaning once again, she
quickly reached for her robe wishing that Hart would’ve just used the
spare key she’d given him on a day like today, but instead of
complaining aloud, she just rushed through her living room ready to let
him in for a quick hello before returning to getting ready for the
morning with her family.
Nearly tripping over the coffee table in the process of answering the
door, Jenna let out a curse as she wondered why she’d agreed to have
breakfast with her family on her off day considering that she should’ve
just spent some quality time alone with Hart. It had been a while
since they’d done that and after last night’s activities over at her
mother’s place, she was starting to wonder if perhaps her mother was
getting tired of seeing her--especially now that Jenna had found
herself wired up about Douglas Mahoney and the trouble he’d brought to
his children’s lives. Still her mother didn’t seem to mind being
there to listen as neither did Hart for that matter, but still Jenna
hated complaining when there were far too many important things to
reflect upon. Still, as those thoughts raced through her mind
along with the distinct pain of stubbing her toe on the way to the
door, she realized that right now was about getting ready and finding a
way to keep from focusing on her father’s uproar around town.
“Sorry about the wait, but I figured you’d just let yourself in
considering I gave you a key not that long ago,” Jenna blurted out
opening up the front door, half expecting to see Hart on the other end
of the door, but instead when she found herself met by nothing but the
morning a puzzled expression swept over her features.
Dropping her eyes down to the ground, she noticed a small gold wrapped
package with a bright, red metallic bow wrapped around it. Taking
a step forward, she craned her head out the doorway seeking out Hart as
she pondered what he might be up to this time. When she found
herself alone in the morning, she stepped further out onto the landing
outside her door scanning the parking lot for his car, but that too was
missing from the moment as her eyes returned to the package once
again. Stooping down to pick the small gift wrapped box up from
her landing, she took one last look around before returning to the
warmth of her apartment.
“What have you done now,” she questioned wondering if Hart was getting
a thrill out of teasing her in such a way. Perhaps he was close
by watching her to see how she would respond to his surprise, she
thought to herself as she half thought to go out into the parking lot
again to seek him out. Perhaps he was waiting around the corner
after having parked in the other lot just to get her curiosity
going. He could be standing outside her apartment now, just
waiting for her to get a rush out of his latest surprise only to have
him jump inside and throw his arms around her in one of his notorious
bear hugs he’d enjoyed teasing her with. Stopping herself from
opening the package, she turned to the door again, pulling it ajar for
a brief moment to take another look for Hart, but when he was still
absent from her landing, she closed the door and returned her attention
to the package.
“I wonder,” she thought aloud, biting on her lower lip as a curious
smile spilled over her damp features. While getting ready had
been her top priority minutes earlier, this new, strange gift had
piqued her curiosity in ways that she hadn’t expected. Still, for
Hart to be so cryptic about things, it had her wondering how the
morning would go for them if he was already feeling so playful.
Finally having had enough of her own pondering, Jenna urged herself to
just out and open the package. She tore at the red ribbon upon it
before yanking the paper off as well before pulling the lid off of it
to reveal it’s contents, but much to her dismay the contents were
anything, but what she’d expected as she dropped the package to the
floor unable to stifle the horrified gasp that overtook her.
There on her living room floor lay a severed human finger, frozen and
tied in a ribbon of it’s own as the sender had taken a great deal of
care in preserving the package until the right moment to share it with
her. As the initial shock value began to dissipate, Jenna reached
out over to her coffee table top plucking a Kleenex out of the box
before her before turning her attention to the severed part before
her. While she’d been no stranger to seeing the human form in
bits and pieces after an accident due to her job, this time it hit
closer to home as the discarded appendage was now dirtying up her beige
carpeting as it continued to thaw.
Carefully lifting it up from the place it had fallen onto, she noted
the clean cut at the edge of the Caucasian finger as it appeared that
it had been sawed off from the hand it once belonged to. It’s
temperature was still rather frigid as it seemed that it hadn’t been
out of the freezer that had contained it very long as the chill was
apparent even through the tissue barrier between it and her
touch. She tactfully shifted it around in her hand noticing the
onyx colored ring that still remained upon it and as her eyes inspected
the gemstone, she felt an eerie feeling of familiarity overtake her as
she was certain she’d seen a similar ring before in the past although
she wasn’t quite sure where. She eyed it, studying it’s texture
before spotting a small piece of paper that had fallen from the box
upon her dropping it.
Setting the finger aside, slowly setting it atop of her coffee table,
Jenna reached for the bloodied piece of paper before her noticing a
clear cut print upon the page in bright crimson. Tentatively, she
began to unfold the otherwise pale yellow colored piece of paper
noticing the printing upon it as she heard footsteps from behind her
causing her to jump with fright.
“Jenna, hey,” Hart’s voice rang out to her as he now stood behind her
puzzled by her defensive stance, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I just might have,” she confessed shakily stepping aside to reveal the
finger that now lay over the center of her table top.
“What the hell is that,” his jaw dropped in horror before his gaze
returned to her, “Please tell me that you’re not bringing your work
home with you these days.”
“Not even close,” she answered behind an exaggerated breath as she held
up the folded paper in her hand, “but I get the distinct feeling that
someone is trying to bring it to me as they left instructions.”
“What does it say,” he questioned making a step in towards her as she
began to unfold the page once again.
“I was just about to find out before I heard you come in--which by the
way scared the hell out of me,” Jenna pointed out with a frown, “I wish
you would’ve said something when you walked in.”
“The door was unlocked and I brought something with me for the
breakfast with your parents,” he motioned to the box he’d laid down on
the small end table near the apartment’s entrance, “had I known that
I’d find you on the floor with that, well I might’ve said something
“That’s not important now I suppose,” Jenna inhaled slowly as she
forced herself to read the print before her.
“Well,” Hart questioned taking note of her silence as she scanned the
page with her eyes, “it doesn’t have the name of it’s sender upon it,
does it? I mean this isn‘t some kind of prank your assistant
would play at the morgue, right?”
“No, nothing like that,” Jenna gasped, her face paling as her eyes
returned to the finger that continued to unfreeze upon her coffee
table. Unable to take her eyes off of the ring, she felt her
heart pounding furiously in her chest, “I know that ring Hart.
It’s just like the one my father has…one that…” Jenna felt her fingers
go numb as she dropped the piece of paper as if she’d been burned by it.
“Jenna, hey,” Hart watched her reaction as he caught the paper
mid-movement in an attempt to see what had her so horrified beyond the
obvious finger upon her coffee table. As he read the page to
himself, he saw the words that had clearly shaken her up.
“This is what happens to those who are unfortunate enough to encounter
Doug Mahoney. Your brother is just the beginning. You’ve
been warned,” he read aloud as a sudden sense of panic overtook
him. Turning his attention to Jenna once again, he noticed the
way in which she couldn’t take her eyes away from the finger as she
began to tremble. Tentatively, he reached out to her feeling her
break into full blown shakes as she spun around in his arms holding him
tighter than before as her tears overtook her.
“Oh God, that’s my brother’s finger Hart. It has to be,” Jenna
blurted out overcome with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach as
Hart held her tighter than before wondering what kind of sick monster
would send her such a thing as it seemed that there were darker things
associated with Douglas Mahoney than either one of them had ever
imagined or anticipated.
Jade felt her pulse racing, her heart pounding in her chest furiously
as she took a step towards the room Grady was in. While Russ and
his family had been in there with Grady for a few minutes before Seth
had sought out Jade, she couldn’t help but feel as if this moment was
everything to her as the man she loved lay before her in the hospital
bed motionless. As she got closer to Grady, she could see the IV
in his arm and tears formed in her eyes all over again as he slowly
turned his head in her direction, looking tired and weak as he mustered
up the strength to reach out to her.
“Jade,” he spoke her name in a hoarse tone as she rushed over to his
side unable to contain her tears as she reached out to him wanting
nothing more than to hold onto him forever.
“Oh thank God,” she cried out hugging him while carefully trying to
avoid where he’d been wounded, “Grady, I thought I’d never see you
again--that I’d never be able to hold you--that I‘d lose you forever
“Did you really think I’d let you get rid of me that easily as my
getting stabbed,” he questioned hoarsely in an attempt at joking with
her, “not a chance.”
“Oh Grady,” she cried out his name, touching his cheek as she took in
every contour of his face memorizing the beauty behind his stunning
blue-green eyes as she sat beside him, feeling the warmth of his body
next to hers, “you have no idea how terrified I was when they said that
I’d almost lost you. I was so afraid that…”
“Hey,” he spoke faintly reaching out to touch her cheek as her tears
fell freely from her face, “Jade, sweetheart I’m not going
anywhere--especially anywhere that keeps me from you. Do you hear
“But after what Cameron did,” Jade whimpered thinking about all that
had happened after Grady had been put behind bars, “To think that he
had someone do this to you…to put you here…”
“Shhh…” he whispered trying to calm her down despite his own condition
as he felt rather weak and lightheaded.
“But Grady, who did this to you? What happened? How did
this happen,” she asked having so many questions about what had taken
place in the jail cell, “I need to know how this came about as I came
so close to losing you and…”
“Shh, it’s over now Jade,” he reached out to silence her urging her to
come in closer beside him despite the aches he was feeling all
over. Feeling his urgings, he could feel her petite form snuggle
in beside him as he closed his eyes taking in the moment between them,
“It’s not important anymore as this is all that matters with my holding
you like this.”
“It’s all that matters Grady as you’re back and you’re with me,” Jade
let out a tiny sniffle leaning in closer to him as she felt as if an
incredible weight had been lifted off of her shoulders in having him
awake and with her after the horrible days that they’d experienced
while being apart.
“That’s right Jade,” he whispered faintly closing his eyes and taking
in the scent of her perfume as he said a silent prayer to God for
giving him this opportunity to return to the woman he loved more than
Wayne walked into the restaurant and took a seat at a corner table. He
grabbed the newspaper on the table and started to read it waiting for
his guest to show up. He sighed scanning the paper and checking his
watch every once in awhile. After ten minutes of waiting, a voice broke
into his reading, "Hey sexy, how's it going?"
Wayne found himself smiling as his female companion caught his
attention, he put the paper down, "Hey beautiful, I was wondering when
you were going to show up."
"Well, I'm here," the woman leaned in and gave him a quick kiss,
"Indeed you are," he smiled pulling back the chair and seating her, "So
how are you this morning?"
"Better now that I'm here with you," she grinned gripping his hand in
"Ah, Samantha, always the charmer," he smirked bringing her hand to his
"You are the only one that calls me that," Sam smiled grabbing hold of
a menu and glancing it over.
"It is your name," Wayne remarked picking up a menu and scanning it as
"Well, everyone always calls me Sam." she shrugged.
"I happen to think Samantha sounds more..." Wayne searched for the
right words, "grown up."
"Good, because I'm no child." she smiled coyly tossing her hair over
her shoulders. "It's wonderful to see you, though must confess however
I'm surprised your mother let you out of the house this morning."
"It was harder then usual," he smiled, "but it wasn't too hard."
"Doing some more research again I see?" she laughed poking him lightly
in the side.
"Hey, it gets me out the door no questions asked," he shrugged as
the waiter came and took their orders.
"Whatever works," she shrugged as she sipped on her orange juice.
"My mother wanted me to stay and have breakfast with my sister's
and the family," he rolled his eyes slightly, "but after all the drama
that has been going on with all of them lately, I was more than ready
for a break from it all. However, my mom was a little
disappointed that I had to go work on research, but I wasn't going to
of seeing you."
"Aww, Wayne," Sam felt her cheeks grow crimson, "you are so sweet to
"I try to be." he grasped her hand in his, "You're very special to me
"I wish things didn't have to be hidden," she sighed tucking a strand
of her hair behind her ear.
"Don't worry about it Samantha." he assured running his thumb over the
back of her hand, "My parents will meet you soon. I just don't want my
parents to ruin this by saying something stupid since everyone is fired
up right about now."
"I know you will tell them," she sighed again taking another sip of her
drink, "but when Wayne?"
"You have no idea how my family is." he scooted his chair closer to
hers and gave her a kiss on the cheek, "I don't want them to ruin this."
"I know what you tell me," she hooked her hand behind his neck, "but I
hate being a secret."
"With our family situations right now," Wayne began leaning his
forehead against hers, "it's probably best it stays like this for now."
"If you say so," Sam gave him a quick kiss.
"I'm surprised they haven't scared Jenna's boyfriend away yet." he took
a sip of his drink, "my mother a habit of doing that when her children
find someone new in their life. I'm telling you that she can be
relentless even though she knows full well that Jenna and I are no
"Well she wouldn't scare me away," she sighed stirring her straw
around in her orange juice.
"I'm doing this because I want this to work and I want to keep you in
my life," he informed her, running
the back of his hand down her cheek, "it won't be sabotaged this
"You want to keep me, huh?" Sam grinned running her hand across his
"Indeed I do," Wayne nodded kissing her once more, "And I'm hoping that
you intend the same thing."
"I don't know I'll have to think about it," she teased patting his leg.
"Ouch that hurt," Wayne mocked, putting his hands over his heart.
"Well it's a tough kind of decision to make," she winked as her face
lit up in amusement.
"I'm crushed," he pretended to pout, "I am truly crushed."
"Aww, did I hurt poor Wayne?" Sam teased laying her head on his
shoulder, "Do you need some attention to make you feel better?"
"Yes, I do believe I do," he smiled pressing his lips to hers right
when the waiter showed up with their food.
Wayne and Sam finished up their breakfast and decided to take a walk
through the park. Walking hand in hand, Wayne felt happy and content
for the first time in a while. He spotted a cotton candy stand and made
his way over. "You want some?"
"Cotton candy?" Sam questioned raising an eyebrow.
"Of course," he nodded letting go of her hand to reach for his wallet.
"Cotton candy is the greatest thing man has ever invented. You want
"At.." she paused and looked down at her watch, "ten thirty in the
"You have not lived until you have eaten cotton candy in the morning."
Wayne laughed getting two bags of cotton candy and handing her one.
"So you say," Sam laughed grasping the cotton candy in one hand.
"It really is!" he smirked ripping into the bag and taking a handful.
"I'll take your word on it," she chuckled watching how excited Wayne
was getting over the cotton candy.
"Ahh, truly heaven." he sighed taking a bite.
Sam hooked her arm in Wayne's and continued their walk down the park.
She took in all the noises and all the sights and couldn't help but
take it all in. She smiled as she watched Wayne continue to eat the
cotton candy like a little child. She looked around the park and
noticed how nice it actually was outside, "It's such a beautiful
"Indeed it is very beautiful," Wayne mumbled with a mouthful of cotton
"Hey!" she smacked him lightly in the shoulder, "don't talk with your
He swallowed the cotton candy and laughed, "Now, you're sounding like
"Well somebody's got to teach you some manners," she smirked grasping
his shirt in her hand and pulling him down to press her lips to his.
"Hmm, I like the way you teach manners." he smiled wrapping his arms
around her shoulders.
"You haven't seen anything yet," she chuckled smacking him lightly in
“This has certainly been an eye opening experience,” Mindy let out a
slow breath feeling as if she’d eaten enough for an army as she eyed
Hunt from across the table watching as he polished off the remainder of
the breakfast she hadn’t been able to finish.
“What can I say,” Hunt shrugged his shoulders simply, “I have an
insatiable appetite for the finer things in life.”
“So I’ve noticed,” Mindy nodded watching him lift the last bite of
toast to his lips before it disappeared into his mouth completely.
“I was hungrier than I’d imagined when I came here,” Hunt offered up an
apologetic smile as he leaned back in his seat.
“Apparently so, but it’s a good thing seeing as I can never eat a whole
one of those breakfasts that they have,” Mindy confessed thinking to
the morning they’d shared with one another discussing her job over at
the paper and their love for horror novels and more. Still there
was one question still weighing upon Mindy’s mind as Hunt had been very
good at dodging any and all of the personal inquiries she’d made upon
him. “So tell me are you ever going to give me any insight on you
or do I have to guess?”
“Back to the point huh,” Hunt shook his head as the first beginnings of
a smile crept in over his features, “I swear you must be one hell of a
reporter in the making.”
“I’d like to think so,” Mindy threw back at him proudly before leaning
in over the table, “so fess up. What’s it going to be?”
“Do I have an option number two?” he couldn’t help but tease as she
wrinkled her nose with obvious irritation.
“Why must you evade any truth telling where that simple question is
concerned,” she countered watching the expression that washed over his
“It was a rather vague question you’ve been asking as you know quite a
great deal about me already,” Hunt explained matter of fact, “as you
know I love Stephen King novels, I have a hefty appetite when breakfast
rolls around and I’m a great conversationalist not to mention very
“All those things are excess as they haven’t really touched to the
heart of the matter into who Hunt Lockhart truly is,” Mindy pointed out
“I didn’t realize that I’d sparked that much interest in you Mindy
although I must confess that I am very flattered,” he winked at her
watching as that same bashful expression colored her face again.
“I’m just very inquisitive,” she tried to cover her blush as she kept
her eyes upon him, refusing to back down in her quest to know more
about the mystery man before her, “if you’re not going to go for the
gusto and open up about what you do most of the time, why don’t we
start with what you were doing over at the Ashford mansion the day we
ran into one another literally?”
“What if I decline to answer that one,” he questioned rather suddenly.
“Then I’ll know that you have something major to hide,” she stated
matter of fact.
“Everyone has something to hide, Mindy. It’s just a matter of how
they go about doing it,” he answered in a cryptic tone as Mindy
couldn’t help but scrutinize his features as if trying to pick up on
some hidden clues he was trying so desperately to keep buried beneath
“So your double life has you ducking out of any new chances to open up
about who you really are, huh,” Mindy noted watching his face shift
with her questioning.
“I think everyone has their own double life so to speak and sometimes,
well sometimes things happen that turn you into someone else,” Hunt
admitted with a heavy sigh as he ran his fingers through his blonde
hair, “I think that while we have the best intentions with the
direction we take, ultimately we get these curves that send us off onto
a path we’d swore we’d never take.”
“It sounds like there’s a hint of regret behind those words,” Mindy
replied taking a good, hard look at him.
“Don’t we all have them?” he questioned watching her grow silence as
she turned her eyes away from him, “I thought so.”
“I’m not saying that I don’t have regrets, but at the same time I have
had no qualms about opening up to you about who I am. I just
don’t see why you’re reluctant to be doing the same,” Mindy stated
“Well maybe it’s because I don’t want you to think any less of me
because you might discover I’m not the nice guy I’ve been leading you
to believe I am,” he countered with that same teasing tone that had
been present earlier in their conversations.
“I already know you’re a psychopath, so why bother hiding the rest of
it from me? I can take it, you know,” Mindy urged him on once
“I don’t doubt that, but maybe it’s too much for me to bear as I’d like
the opportunity for us to have another one of these mornings,” Hunt
answered with a newfound seriousness as something sparked behind his
eyes, “or better yet, how about dinner? Say tonight?”
“Tonight,” Mindy repeated surprised by his proposal as she tried to
cover the strange sense of butterflies that stirred up in her stomach,
“well I don’t know. I mean you’ve been so vague about who you are
that I really shouldn’t be spending time with a stranger…”
“You know you’re tempted to say yes,” he urged her on reaching across
the table to take her hand in a bold movement that seemingly had the
both of them in a state of surprise. As if realizing what he’d
done, Hunt withdrew from his hold on her, “Have dinner with me Mindy
and maybe by the time we make it to dessert, I’ll be able to give you
what you’re asking for.”
“That sounds an awful lot like you’re just teasing me again,” Mindy
gave him a stern look.
“I’m being quite serious with you right now Mindy,” Hunt placed his
hand over his chest, “I swear to you on all that I am if you have
dinner with me tonight, then I’ll answer any questions you have to
ask. I’ll be like an open book.”
“Hmm, well in that case, if you really, truly mean it then I suppose I
can accept,” she answered quickly wondering if she was crazy to take a
chance like that on him when she knew very little about him other than
he’d had this way about him that had her giddy and eager to spend more
time with him. She hadn’t felt that way in a long time--not since
Guy had walked into her life, but this was different. With Guy it
was ill-fated and a dead end road, but with Hunt, there was a
possibility that just maybe…
“You will,” he half questioned his eyes lighting up upon her reply.
“I will,” she nodded eagerly ready to take a chance on him as she
wondered if fate was finally giving her something to hope for in her
future with this handsome new arrival in Coral Valley.
Thea knocked on the door to Cameron’s office before entering only to
discover him seated in the very same spot she’d caught him in the day
before. However, unlike the previous encounter they’d shared with
one another, he wasn’t in the midst of tearing his office apart.
He seemed driven and focused, she’d give him that, but he wasn’t wild
with that same madness that had dictated his actions when he’d lashed
out at her.
“Feeling a bit more docile this morning,” Thea questioned simply before
closing the door behind her to give them a few minutes of privacy with
“If you’re asking if you’re forgiven, then the answer is no,” he stated
plainly glancing up from the papers before him as a scowl touched over
“Oh Cam, please don’t tell me you’re going to hold a grudge against me
because you weren’t up on the fact that I’d presented to you,” she
curled her lip in a pout as she sauntered over to his desk taking a
seat on the edge of it as she crossed her long legs before him, “as
that would be so very naughty of you.”
“I’m not feeling naughty this morning Thea,” Cameron scowled watching
her shift before him before returning his attention to the pages before
him once again.
“That’s only because you haven’t been properly motivated yet,” she
spoke in a seductive tone dropping her shoe with the movement she made
upon his desk before placing her foot in the center of his lap.
She began to wiggler her toes over the center of his pants hoping to
stir up some kind of reaction, but instead she was met by his lack of
enthusiasm as he reached out to her heel pulling it up and out of his
lap before dropping it down beside him once again.
“I’m not in the mood Thea,” he grumbled sourly, “as I promised Heather
that I’d give these figures of hers a once over before I took them to
Susan for the final signings.”
“To hell with Heather,” Thea reached for the papers, plucking them up
from his desk and discarding them on the floor before she settled into
his lap, “Her joke of a company isn’t really important to our cause
here and we both know that.”
“I promised her that I’d give her the company to play with once we were
married,” Cameron stated plainly as his eyes met her own mischievous
“So what?” she shrugged her shoulders with obvious disinterest as she
fingered the center of his chest, “Promises made, promises broken as
“As much as I would have to agree with you there, this company keeps
Heather from pestering me at the moment as it will keep her busy while
I work on the other things I have going on,” he informed her bluntly
reaching out around her to steal another look at one of the pages.
“You mean it helps you keep her in the dark about your intentions for
Jade,” Thea frowned swiping the page from his hand, “Cam, how many
times have I told you that Jade is irrelevant to our cause as she’s
only going to lead to trouble?”
“Jade is vital to our cause and you know it,” his dark eyes lashed out
at her as he glared at her.
“To some degree I realize that she’s important, but the level of
obsession in which you pursue her goes above and beyond the call of
duty Cam and we both know that,” she shifted over him hoping to spark a
reaction from within, “It’s proving to be a problem for you as you’re
not enjoying the simple pleasures that we’ve grown accustomed to
sharing with one another.”
“I’m not in the mood for that Thea,” he snapped at her pushing her off
of his lap and onto the floor as his anger bubbled over him, “as I have
far more important things to attend to than bending to your
whims. I haven’t been able to cover nearly enough ground as I was
hoping for in this case against the Ashfords and now with Angel being
“Angel,” Thea replied with a groan as she mustered up enough dignity to
pull herself up off of the floor and dust herself off, “please don’t
tell me that she’s got you in this mood because if she’s the cause of
“I don’t like when she sneaks away,” Cameron continued as his eyes
drifted to the phone once again wondering when he’d hear word on the
woman that had been on his mind over the last couple of days.
While Heather had tried to distract him at the mansion, she’d proved to
be an irritation as he was on edge waiting for word on Angel, but when
Heather wouldn’t let up, he opted to head on back to the office to get
some clarity and focus. Of course that clarity wasn’t happening
and with Thea harassing him, it was only getting worse.
“You should just wash your hands of her as she’s far more trouble than
she’s worth,” Thea remarked with a grumble, “and that’s another cause
where someone is taking you away from where your priorities should
be. In between this thing with Heather, Jade and Angel, I don’t
know when you’ll find time for focus.”
“You leave them out of this as you work for me remember,” Cameron
answered tightly having had more than his share of her grumbling at him.
“I’m just trying to keep you on track Cameron,” she curled her lips in
a frown, “as that’s something you’ve always needed from me in the past.”
“I’ll let you know when I need something of you, but until then, you’d
be best suited to remember your place,” he waved his hand at her
dismissively before turning his attention to the things on his desk
“Fine, I’ll keep that in mind,” Thea remarked feeling her anger
transform to a full blown boil as she stepped out of his office making
her way to her own private suite as thoughts of Cameron’s latest
treatment of her stewed over in her mind. She thought of all the
unnecessary changes he’d been making in getting sloppy with things, she
felt herself growing far more furious than she’d ever imagined being
and as she closed her office door behind her, she decided to put a stop
to it starting now.
Making her way across the room, she reached for the papers she’d swiped
from Cameron’s office when he’d been absent earlier in the week and as
she thought of her promise to Doug, she realized it was time to shake
Cameron’s world up. Sure, he’d be furious if he ever found out
that she’d played a hand into getting Doug onto Heather, but then again
that was in part what he’d been hoping for. Only he wasn’t
expecting as fierce competition as she was certain that Doug would
provide him with. However, maybe just maybe it would spell out
the end of Heather in Cameron’s life. That was by far too rich of
an opportunity for Thea to ignore, she reasoned to herself ready to fax
over the key to changing things in Heather’s life forever as it was the
first step to eliminating her completely.
Douglas finished up drying off as he felt a newfound sense of
empowerment coursing through his veins. After Thea had left his
hotel room, he’d pondered her words--really haven given thought to him
as he realized that she must’ve been telling him the truth.
Certainly Cameron wouldn’t have wasted his time with Heather unless
there was something there--something that could benefit him and while
the model slash actress wannabe had a great many dreams of the
Hollywood like, Doug didn’t see Cameron being the one to provide her
with that without a price and it could very well stand that price to
pay would be that of her unborn child. If there was any chance
that baby was a Mahoney, well if Thea could follow through on her
promise, then there was no doubting Doug’s mind that he would fight the
situation tooth and nail not stopping until he had that child far away
from a gold digging slut like Heather Gibbons. The question was,
would Thea really come thru.
“She’d damn well better,” he thought to himself wrapping a towel around
his shoulders as he made his way out into his hotel room ready to get
the wheels in motion for what needed to be done when he got word on the
child that Heather was carrying. While he’d decided to wait to
call his lawyers, he was still brewing with the possibilities of what
this might mean should that child truly be Kipp’s. It would be a
chance to start over again--an opportunity to make up for lost time
with his child and perhaps it would also be the key to the saving that
he’d needed so desperately in his life now that Jenna had alienated him
Hearing a knock at his hotel room door, Doug eagerly rushed over to
answer it, finding the bellboy before him holding a yellow, manila
envelope in hand.
“This is for you Mr. Mahoney,” he said behind a freckled face and metal
braces covered teeth.
“Thank you son,” Douglas replied snatching the envelope away before
tossing a hundred dollar bill at the boy.
“Thank you sir,” the boy offered up enthusiastically.
“No thank you,” Douglas remarked closing the door behind the boy as he
returned to the middle of his hotel room eagerly tearing open the
envelope as his eyes fell upon the pages that Thea had faxed over to
him. Now as he saw what was needed to get his mind in action, he
felt his pulse quicken, his anger intensify and his determination
return to him as he made his way over to the telephone making that
vital call that would change his life forever.
“Yes, Brass it’s me Doug. I have some papers I need to fax over
to your offices and once you get them, I need you to help me with the
situation that’s arisen as it seems that my family’s future is
depending on it,” he spoke evenly into the phone ready to do anything
and everything in his power to claim the child that was so rightfully a
Mahoney and nothing would stop him until he had complete control of the
baby his son had fathered.