Episode 105

“Hey hero what are you doing here this afternoon,” Deidra greeted Dave upon seeing him stepping into the hospital entrance.
“Deidra, hey,” Dave couldn’t help but smile at her, “what are you doing here?”
“You mean other than working,” she couldn’t help but tease noticing the way his face grew a pale shade of pink upon the realization of the question he’d asked, “actually I was supposed to be off this morning, but since children seldom wait to make a grand entrance into the world, well I delivered the Simpson twins about an hour ago and now I’m taking a coffee break in the cafeteria.  Care to join me?”
“I actually came over on business,” Dave confessed with a moment of hesitation, “and I probably should get to it.”
“Well, if you must, although if you’re here to see Grady Denton, he’s with his family at the moment from what I’m hearing,” Deidra offered up taking note of the change in his expression.
“How did you know that I was here to check in on Grady?” Dave inquired again.
“Word travels fast around here and besides it’s not everyday that one of the CVPD’s finest is responsible for saving a life by administering his training from years ago in a moment of crisis,” she added proudly before winking at him, “You missed your calling you know as I know you would’ve made one hell of a doctor.”
“Nah, I think I’m fine where I’m at.  Beside we can leave that saving lives to you as you’re far prettier than I am and I’m quite certain patients would rather wake up to having you there at their side,” Dave couldn’t help but tease her.
“You never know about that as I’ve also heard the rumors flying around the hospital about how you’re not only a hero, but a very handsome one at that,” Deidra offered up with the beginnings of a smile, “Are you sure you can’t join me for a coffee break?”
“Well, I really should get on up to see Grady, but if you say his family is with him, then I guess I should give them a little time before I go about bringing up the less than savory topic of conversation I have here,” Dave sighed before offering his arm out towards her, “Shall we?”
“But of course,” Deidra nodded making her way to the cafeteria as Dave followed.  Once they’d gotten a couple of coffees, they took a seat in one of the corner booths to try to absorb the illusion of privacy in the hustle and bustle of the hospital life.
“So how are you holding up?” Dave finally questioned breaking their long silence.
“You mean other than having to fend off the nurses when they ask me about the availability of my best friend,” she teased with a tiny giggle, “I’m doing pretty good.”
“Well, that’s great to hear and I hope that you’ll still be feeling that way tonight over dinner as I haven’t forgotten,” Dave added confidently.
“Neither have I, though I must admit I’m probably going to be the envy of most of the girls around here as it sounds like you’ve got yourself a regular fan club at the hospital,” she continued thinking about the things she’d heard about Dave all morning long.
“It’ll die down as while everyone is making a big deal out of what I did, the real hero was Dr. Raines as she’s the one who brought Grady back,” Dave answered humbly.  “I just did what I needed to in order to make sure she had her opportunity to save him.”
“Without you, there wouldn’t have been a chance for that.  Dave, you did far more than you’re giving yourself credit for,” Deidra reached across the table brushing her hand against his in a tender movement before their eyes connected.  She felt a flutter of something pass between them before she removed her hand uneasily.
“So,” Dave cleared his throat as if he too felt that unspoken tension between them, “how are things working out with Shannon?”
With that question Deidra’s light-hearted playfulness seemed to fade away and it was replaced by a darker, more tortured expression, “Shannon’s very nice, but I wish she didn’t have to keep an eye on me.”
“I realize that, but you’re going to be safe with her around.  I know that for a fact,” Dave insisted thinking about the danger Deidra was in because of Bruce Mathis.
“Even so, it’s not how I’m used to living my life and that scares me.  I mean sure I know why it’s a good thing, but convincing my head that it’s only going to make things better eventually is another story.”
“I know that Dee, but trust me on this.  It’ll work itself out and with Shannon keeping an eye on you, we have a better chance of finding that madman before he gets another opportunity to get close to you,” Dave insisted unable to curb his concerns for her as his heart sped up at the thought of someone hurting Deidra again.
“I know.  I know.  I really do, but…” she shook her head trying to dismiss the thought, “can we just talk about something else right now?”
“Sure, whatever you like,” he paused looking around the cafeteria, “although, I thought Shannon was supposed to be with you while you were at work.”
“She has been, but after the twin’s delivery, she was looking a little green around the edges.  I told her that she should give herself a break and she decided to take me up on it.  She went out for some air as soon as she saw you coming in.”
“Ah, so you two spotted me on the way in huh?” Dave couldn’t help but smile as he thought of his decision to have Shannon keeping an eye on Deidra, “I told you that she’s good at seeing things there.”
“I’m the one who spotted you.  I decided that I’d take the opportunity to spend some time with you and make myself comfortable for a bit.  She just agreed to let me seek you out on my own while she recollected herself,” Deidra explained simply, “as you know while I’m sure she’s ruthless in her profession, something about being there during a delivery just wasn’t cutting it for her.”
“No, I can’t imagine it would, although I might’ve enjoyed watching her reaction to the situation seeing as she very seldom lets the world see she’s not immortal,” Dave added thinking about his association with the stoic Shannon Pryce.
“See now I don’t really see her in that light as she seems to be a very interesting, multifaceted person,” Deidra offered up as she pondered her short interactions with Shannon, “She’s been very supportive and wonderful actually.”
“Oh I’m not saying she’s not wonderful it’s just with Shannon, well she’s got a very impressive track record and I think the FBI is foolish not to have her running the show on the Mathis investigation officially because she really has something going for her that’s a very rare quality,” Dave added respectfully.
“I see,” Deidra gave him a ponderous look, “That sounds like you have a very high opinion of her that goes beyond what you’ve been saying.”
“Why?  Have I made it sound like I don’t think highly of her,” he questioned in confusion.
“No, it’s not that, but well, it’s just…” she stopped herself feeling foolish, “never mind.”
“No, tell me…what’s on your mind?” he inquired puzzled by her strange behavior.
“It’s just well I know you two have worked together and you’re single and she’s single…”
“Oh no, no it’s not like that.  Not at all,” Dave answered swiftly, “I mean yes Shannon’s the best, but we’re strictly professional there.”
“Oh well I just thought I’d ask since she was selling me some of your praises,” Deidra smiled back at him coyly, “so you know…”
“Deidra, I asked her to keep an eye on you because she’s one of the best and also because it’s you.  I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to you.  Don’t you see that,” Dave reached out to her taking her hand in his as his eyes reached out into hers, “You’re very important to me you know.”
“Dave I,” Deidra felt her breath catch in her throat at the way he was looking at her--with the way his eyes seemed to reach out into her and as she offered up a soft smile, she said the only thing that came to mind in a moment like that, “thank you Dave.  That means a lot to me as you’ve very important to me too,” she finished wondering why she was starting to feel a bit nervous around someone she’d spent most of her life with.  Apparently Bruce Mathis had her more shaken up than she’d realized, she reasoned as she refused to hold any more weight upon her newfound anxiety around Dave.  It was because of Bruce.  That’s all it had to be, she thought again.  She was certain of it…or at least she was mostly certain, she thought refocusing on her conversation with Dave as she vowed not to make anymore hasty, stupid mistakes especially when it came to those important to her.


This was just plain ridiculous, Shannon cursed to herself thinking about how she’d been able to take down the toughest of tough, the meanest of mean and not bat an eyelash.  She’d been on some crime scenes that would make anyone’s skin crawl and yet she’d always come out on top of the situation always at the top of her game.  She’d spent countless hours teasing the latest rookie when he’d lost his lunch at an autopsy, but now here she was unable to get the afternoon air in fast enough after the morning she’d had with Deidra.  While she’d had no problems stepping into this undercover role for Dave, she knew she’d had no medical training, but that wouldn’t be a problem for her. 
After all she was Shannon Pryce--FBI agent extraordinaire who had no problems with taking in the worst of the worst, yet when she’d stepped into that delivery room slipping into her role as nurse, well she was reminded all over again while having a family just wasn’t for her.  Not that the children weren’t adorable after Deidra had finished up with them in cleaning them off, but the entire delivery in itself still had her nauseous.  Now as she stood out in the courtyard at the hospital, she wondered how any woman would willingly set herself up for such torture as it seemed a punishment that nature and God had set out for a woman, who already by nature had endured far more grief than any man had.  It just didn’t seem right and after this morning, well that delivery of the Simpson twins confirmed it.  Motherhood would not be playing a key factor in her future.  Not by a long shot.
“Are you alright,” a voice questioned breaking through Shannon’s thoughts as she spun around almost embarrassed to be out in the courtyard feeling as if she was going to heave when that was the last thing she’d expected.  Now as she tried to muster up her pride and face the person behind her, she realized she’d moved too fast and in that instant her stomach was in knots as she turned away again with a groan.
“Ask me in about an hour or ten,” she blurted out struggling to keep from losing her breakfast as she braced herself up against the hospital wall for support.
“Rough morning?” the male voice questioned with concern, “Do you need to see a doctor?”
“No, not at all,” she shook her head swiftly, “as I’ve seen about as much of those as I can take for the morning.”
“That doesn’t sound too promising,” the man noted as Shannon let out another groan.
“Neither does having to spend an hour in delivery with a set of twins on the way who were determined to tear their mother apart before they came into the world,” she remarked with another groan as she was met by silence again.
“I take it that it’s your first day on the job huh,” he questioned in a patient, soothing voice as Shannon closed her eyes trying to center herself.  “Here try this.  It might help.”
“What is it,” Shannon questioned looking to the ground as she could see the man’s arm offering up a bottle of ginger ale to her.
“It settles the stomach especially during those times when we’re really not sure anything will do the trick,” he explained as Shannon reluctantly accepted the bottle tearing off the cap and taking a long, hard sip as she tried to will away the unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“See, now isn’t that better,” he questioned upon watching her down half the bottle, “Is it your first day here?”
“Not actually,” Shannon spun around to see his very concerned, dark eyes before her, “but that was the first time I experienced that one.”
“I guess they don’t fully prepare you for that in nursing school, huh,” he questioned with a soft, soothing smile as Shannon felt her body more at ease in his presence.
“Well actually I’m not…” she started suddenly remembering what she was doing at the hospital in the first place as Dave’s favor came to mind.  She stood up taller ready to correct herself before she gave herself away as the man before her eyed her expectantly, “I mean no, they really don’t--at least not in the ways you imagine they will.”
“I suppose no training ever really prepares you for the real thing, but you know if you need to talk, I’d be more than willing to listen,” he offered up catching her skeptical glance as he continued to explain, “I’m Dr. Hernandez--Diego.  I’m a psychiatrist on staff here and I’m not trying to imply that you need a psychiatrist, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to speak with someone when things are a little much.”
“You get a lot of nurses coming in to speak with you about nearly passing out in the delivery room,” she questioned with a joking tone.
“You’d be surprised actually,” he gave her a quick smile watching as she stood upright and took another sip of the ginger ale, “although something tells me that you’re feeling much better.”
“I’m working on it, but I must admit while the ginger ale has helped, I think the company is just what I needed,” Shannon confessed realizing it had been a while since she’d had a non-work related conversation with someone.  It had been quite a while in fact, she realized as she couldn’t help, but take note of the handsome doctor who’d been doting on her.
“In that case, why don’t we have a seat,” he suggested motioning to one of the picnic tables before them.
“That sounds like a great idea as long as you don’t mind the queasy company,” she couldn’t help but smile as she found herself mesmerized by his dark eyes.
“Not at all, although I do have one request here,” Diego smiled at her gently.
“Don’t worry.  I’m not going to throw up on you as I think I have that under control,” she placed her hand over her abdomen, “yeah, I think I’ll be fine.”
“That wasn’t what I was going to ask, but it’s nice to know,” he motioned for her to move to the table as he followed taking a seat across from her, “although the question I had on my mind was more so of a personal nature.”
“Oh?” she raised a curious brow, “how so?”
“Well, I was going to ask you your name, but I suppose your nametag says it all, Nurse Browne, is it?” he motioned to the nametag that she’d had pinned on her uniform.
“Browne?  Oh yeah,” she nodded in agreement offering her hand out to him, “but you can call me Shannon.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Shannon,” he accepted her hand shaking it gently as their eyes connected again, “so tell me are you new in town or just new to the hospital?”
“A little bit of both,” she admitted thinking about how her line of work had taken her all over the world and back to the one place she swore she’d never set foot in again, “What about you?”
“I’ve been in Coral Valley for quite some time and it’s a nice place to live for the most part,” Diego added simply, “and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy working here as the hospital is like it’s own little family there.”
“So I’m seeing,” Shannon noted thinking about her purpose for being at the hospital, “although I’ve heard that things haven’t always been so cordial around here.”
“What do you mean?” Diego questioned in confusion.
“Well, I’ve been hearing stories about there having been a doctor on staff here who turned out to be a serial killer,” she divulged watching his reaction as she tried to assess what kind of information he would offer up.
“Unfortunately those aren’t just rumors flying around, though I will say that Dr. Mathis wasn’t what he appeared to be,” Diego added with a frown, “though I’m not one to spread gossip around like what you might be hearing.”
“But you knew him, yes?” she arched a brow, “and being that you’re a psychiatrist, well you must’ve formed some kind of opinion about him, right?”
“Other than he wasn’t what he presented himself to be,” Diego replied with a shake of his head, “no, I didn’t.  He was someone I knew from a few patients we’d worked with together and he seemed stable and the kind of doctor that this hospital needed.  He had a surgeon’s ego, but all in all he excelled at what he did and no one thought to question what might be happening behind closed doors.”
“Still a serial killer in town, that’s kind of scary,” Shannon feigned a shudder, “it kind of kills that happy suburbia image, doesn’t it?”
“Perhaps, but then again life is what you make of it.  You could take the stories and let them control your life or you could just do what it is you’re put on this world to do and make the most of it,” Diego shrugged his shoulders, “at least that’s my philosophy.”
“And it’s a good one at that,” Shannon admitted with a soft smile.
“I’d like to think so,” Diego nodded in agreement as his pager went off alerting him that he was needed upstairs.  He rose from the table throwing out a smile once again before addressing her, “it was a pleasure to meet you Shannon and hopefully I’ll see you around.”
“I’d like that,” she smiled up at him as she turned her attention to the empty bottle before her, “Although it looks like I owe you another ginger ale it would seem.”
“That’s quite alright,” he waved his hand dismissively, “Consider it my gift to you for making it through your first delivery without too many emotional scars.”
“I’m not so sure about that one, though I’m sure time will tell,” Shannon couldn’t help but tease before she flashed him another smile, “although you know maybe we should make sure that I’ve come through this situation unscathed…say perhaps over dinner?”
“Dinner,” he repeated surprised by her forward questioning as her eyes spoke of something far more than just a simple payback.
“That is if I’m not out of line in asking you to dinner…” Shannon added quickly, “I just assumed that since you weren’t wearing a ring that there wasn’t any Mrs. Hernandez back home who would mind my treating you to dinner tonight.”
“Then in this situation you assumed correctly as there is no Mrs. Hernandez and the truth to the matter is that I’d be delighted to join you for dinner tonight, but only if you let me treat you,” Diego suggested warmly.
“But I’m the one who drank all your ginger ale, so it should be my treat,” Shannon began again wiggling the empty bottle in her hands.
“And I’m the one who hesitated in asking you out as you beat me to it when I pretty much chickened out,” he replied in a flirty tone, “so what do you say?  Perhaps I could pick you up at your place say around seven?”
“I say,” Shannon paused feeling a rush of enthusiasm race over her at the prospect of just enjoying simple and normal again in her life, “seven sounds wonderful.”
“Excellent,” Diego nodded pondering the situation himself as his pager went off again.  He pulled it from his pocket seeing the 911 call on it as he threw out an apologetic look in Shannon’s general direction, “I’m sorry.  I really have to go take this, but if you leave your address up at my office, then I swear I’ll be there at seven to pick you up.”
“Alright, it’s a date then,” Shannon waved at him one last time watching him disappear into the hospital as she realized that perhaps this undercover assignment had it’s perks after all.


“So as you can see Brooke, ultimately this party is going to paint a very good light for both of our companies as this union is one that will certainly make headlines,” Marc Ashley finished up raising Brooke’s hand to place a tender kiss upon the top of it.  His lips skimmed over her softened skin for a brief, chaste moment between them before his eyes darted over across the room to Guy, who’d been unusually quiet as he looked out the window seemingly lost inside himself, “And Guy I do hope that you bring that person who has charmed your heart as I hear she must be something spectacular for her to have obtained your undying devotion.”
“What,” Guy questioned restlessly, his mind drifting away with his thoughts as he strained to find some sense of focus after Gabe had seemingly disappeared.  While he’d urged Gabe to wait a few minutes before coming upstairs, at least an hour had passed and Gabe was no where to be found.  Guy had politely excused himself once already and when he’d walked down to the first floor of the estate, he’d found that Gabe’s car had left the driveway thus taking Gabe away from the situation without warning and Guy was rather concerned despite his loyalty to his mother’s cause.
“I was saying that your mother has gone on and on about this woman you’ve been spending your days with and I trust you’ll be bringing her with you on my yacht as I’m more than eager to meet the one who has captured your heart.  I know Brooke and I had such high hopes for your union with my daughter Cathy, but I guess we were just doing wishful thinking it would seem.”
“Oh Cathy is truly wonderful,” Brooke added brightly reaching for Marc’s hand, “and I’ve enjoyed her company as has Guy which is why it was a shame to have her leave so soon today.”
“Cathy is very dedicated to her causes and her hobbies and today tennis was on the top of the list,” Marc offered up an apologetic smile, “although I’m sure she would’ve preferred to have you join her Guy as she really was hoping you’d take the opportunity to get to know one another better…”
“As nice as Cathy is, I’ve had a very busy schedule since I’ve arrived in town in between my mother’s kidnapping, holding the company together and being there for my sister, well it doesn’t leave much time for a social life,” Guy politely offered up as he felt an unsettling feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“Which is something we want to work with you on as you’re young and should be having fun,” Brooke added a frown touching over the corners of her lips as she addressed Marc, “he works entirely too much you know.  Not that I don’t appreciate all he’s done for me, but he so needs to take the time to just enjoy life a bit.”
“I’m sure his lady friend does that for him as a fine woman can certainly put things into perspective,” Marc added scrutinizing Guy as he thought to what he’d witnessed outside the mansion.
“Speaking of which, I promised Mindy I’d give her a call, so if you’d excuse me,” Guy began to explain quickly making his way to the door to duck out as his fears about Gabe’s retreat consumed him.
“Yeah, I’ll bet,” Marc muttered under his breath, his eyes narrowing as Guy slipped out of the room ready to take any kind of opportunity to have a moment with Gabe as he wondered if Noelle had done something more to upset the balance in Gabe’s life.
Swiftly making his way down the hallway away from the room his mother was staying in, Guy descended over the back staircase leading to the kitchen as he pulled out his cell phone dialing Gabe’s number.  After about four rings the voice mail picked up and a frown touched over his lips as it wasn’t like Gabe to not answer his cell phone.  Sighing heavily, Guy began to leave a message for him as his worries got the best of him.
“Gabe, when you get this, please call me back as I want to know what happened.  I hope that Noelle hasn’t done anything else to Brittany there, but well, just know if you need me…I’m here for you so please give me a call when you get this,” Guy’s voice pleaded with him as he lowered his voice to a soft, whispering tone, “I love you.  Don’t forget that,” he finished hearing the beeping on the other end of the line alerting him that his time to leave a message was up as he hung up his cell phone still no where near knowing what had been the cause of Gabe’s swift exit.


“So are you going to leave me hanging or are you going to tell me what you know about where Ken is,” Susan demanded stomping her foot impatiently as Brant continued down the path he’d opted to take through the Ashford gardens shortly after her arrival.
“If you think I’m going to come clean that easily about where my brother is, then you’ve got another think coming because I don’t feel properly motivated just yet Susan,” Brant remarked sourly casting a quick gaze in her general direction before continuing on with his casual stride.
“You know I can just make a few phone calls and forget this headache you’re giving me,” Susan huffed in response chasing after him, “this is completely unnecessary you know.”
“So then go make your calls Susan,” Brant stopped once again turning around to face her as a frown touched over his lips, “Do you see my trying to stop you?”
“Not at the moment, but I wouldn’t put it past you to have you pick up the phone and call Ken the moment that I leave this place only to tell him what I’ve been up to,” she shot back icily.
“As if he doesn’t already know,” he shook his head at her in a tentative movement, “Susan, I think when you leapt in the shower with him that spoke for itself.”
“Even so, I wouldn’t put it past you to see to it that he’s able to get away before I can get into contact with him,” she argued with mounting frustrations.
“And if you were able to get into contact with him, what would you say?  What would you do Susan?  Hmm?” he taunted lifting a curious brow, “would you try to leap into his shower again only to have Caitlin be the one to throw you out this time?”
“I thought we were a team on this Brant.  I thought we wanted the same thing,” she glared up at him folding her arms in front of her chest.
“I want my brother to get rid of Caitlin, but as for the part about him being with you, well it’s not on my list of priorities and truth be told I’ve thought even less of it now that you’ve been useless in aiding my cause,” he stated simply before turning his attention to the rose bush before him.
“You’re fighting a losing battle with Avery and we both know it,” Susan informed him point blank, “the fact that she married Russ puts her off limits and you know that as well as I do.”
“See now it surprises me to hear you say that as I’m well aware of your feelings on the subject of married women being off limits.  In fact, I’d imagine that Grady has plenty to add to that now that I think about it,” he quipped plucking one of the roses off of the bush as he thought about his desire to get Avery back where he’d wanted her.
“Even so, that’s irrelevant to the situation we’re in,” Susan added with a huff, “Avery’s not…”
“A whore,” Brant suggested watching the color rise over her features as her anger mounted.
“She’s not the kind of woman who seeks anything outside the romance she’s in.  She’s boring and she’s the kind of woman who is afraid to step outside the walls she’s put around herself.  She’s not going to seek you out when Russ has convinced her that he’s all she’ll ever need.  It’s not going to happen.”
“Don’t be so sure of that,” he remarked simply, “as even women like Avery have needs.”
“Which I’m sure Russ is on top of,” she added with a cryptic tone, “as if he’s anything like Grady, then Avery could find herself quite content.  The Denton brothers do hold a certain kind of charm.”
“And if that holds to be true, you’re a perfect example just how long it takes for that charm to taper off as you’re after Ken again instead of trying to win Grady over,” he pointed out taking a whiff of the sweet scented flower in hand.
“I can see this conversation is going no where,” Susan huffed realizing there was no point in arguing with Brant even if he was the only link to her finding Ken, “I’m leaving.”
“So go,” he waved at her dismissively, “do what you have to, but know that it won’t get you anywhere.”
“Don’t you threaten me Brant,” Susan warned clenching her fists at her side as she began to approach him, “you’re just as dirty as I am and if you even think about crossing me, I’ll go straight to Avery and tell her what you’ve been up to.”
“Do you really believe that she’d give anything you have to say a second thought,” he couldn’t help but laugh, “as I could see just how high she holds your opinion there the last time she was around.”
“She might not want to hear me, but Russ will take heed in my warning,” Susan’s voice held a daring tone, “He won’t hesitate to put you in your place.”
“All on your word,” Brant broke out into full blown laughter, “Oh Susan, you give yourself far more credit than I ever imagined.  The Dentons hate you more than they hate me.”
“Maybe that’s true, but without me, you’ll have even less of a chance at spending any time with Avery,” Susan threw back at him, “as I happen to know that I’m the key to what you need.”
“Susan, don’t try to give me a snow job there because I’m finding myself less inclined to work with you,” Brant scowled back at her, “When we agreed to work together we were going to do it my way by my rules.  I would take care of helping you get to Ken and you’d help me get to Avery and we’d do it with careful planning and just the right amount of temptation to get the juices stirring there.  We have to make Ken and Avery think that we’ve moved on--that you and I aren’t chasing them like crazy because I’m far certain Avery would be more inclined to save me from you than if I threw myself in her shower and tried to appeal to her primal animalistic side like you did with my brother,” he paused shuddering at the thought, “Ken and Avery are intelligent people and they aren’t going to respond to bully tactics.  It’s taken time, but I’ve learned that and now that I know, well I have to say that I see that the way to make any kind of impact in the situation is to appeal to that characteristic.  If you want Ken to want you, you need to make him long for what he can’t have.  That’s the way into his heart and I’m convinced that will be what it takes with Avery as well.”
“That sounds awfully juvenile,” she rolled her eyes at the thought, “Your brother will never respond to that nor will he think that you and I have anything going on between us.”
“This coming from the woman who threw herself on me for his behalf before trying to jump him,” he gave her a pointed look as he stepped in closer to her, reaching out to curl his arm around her waist before pulling her in against him in a bold movement.  He watched the surprise register behind her voice as her eyes widened.  Her breath came out uneasy as his dark eyes penetrated hers and as he lowered his voice to a whisper, he was certain he’d now captured her attention, “So tell me Susan, what is so wrong with your pretending that you aren’t interested in Ken anymore?  Is it so out of your grasp to just go with the flow and see how we work together as a team laying out the far more intimate groundwork for the big payoff between us?”
Susan said nothing as he tilted his head to the side, bending in towards her as her lips parted in anticipation.  He could feel her pulse racing as he squeezed her in closer to him, his mouth hovering above her, letting the warmth of his breath spill over her as her own labored breathing appeared to take control of her protests.  She maintained eye contact with him for a few mere seconds before her gaze lingered to his lips as if pondering the taste of them before her tongue traced over her bottom lip in anticipation.  He nuzzled his nose against her cheek, feeling the coolness of her pale skin beneath his touch as she turned her head in towards him, her mouth mere centimeters away from his as he spoke up once again.
“Well?” he questioned in a low, sensual tone as her fingers slid up over the center of his chest, curling over his shoulder as if to steady herself as her eyelashes fluttered beneath his domineering presence.
“I suppose not,” Susan confessed in a sultry whisper allowing her eyelids to close as Brant’s mouth moved in just above hers.  He exhaled slightly watching the tiny set of shivers that raced over her slender, petite form as he could see she was clearly longing to test the waters of what his kiss might bring and in that instant Brant felt victory wash down upon him as he released Susan unable to curb his laughter as it overtook him.
“And here you thought that I didn’t have it in me to capture Avery’s attention, did you?” he taunted watching her expression shift from one of sheer lust and anticipation to that same twisted, wicked glare that she so often wore around him.  “I had you going and don‘t you dare try to deny it.”
“You’re a sick bastard.  You know that,” Susan shuddered upon his words, “I hope you rot in hell.”
“The feeling is mutual, but for now, what do you say we leave it at that as it gives you time to consider what road you’d like to take in your quest to get Ken back into your life,” he suggested handing her the rose he’d extracted from the garden before he headed back to the mansion leaving Susan to her thoughts as it seemed that today they’d covered some new territory with one another--one that Brant was hoping with Susan’s cooperation would ultimately lead Avery back to where he needed her in his life.


Russ entered the hospital room seeing his brother laid out on the hospital bed with Jade tucked beside him.  While Grady had been perfectly still upon Russell’s arrival, Russ could see that Grady was wide awake just watching Jade as she slept beside him.  It seemed as though the moment was theirs for the taking and suddenly Russ felt like an invader upon it as he began to turn away.
“Where do you think you’re going little brother,” Grady questioned causing Russ to freeze in his tracks as Russ spun around to see his brother smiling up at him, “Don’t think that you get to walk away without coming over here to say good morning to your older brother here.”
“Grady,” Russ couldn’t help but smile as he walked around the hospital bed reaching for a chair to sit beside the bed.  Carefully situating it so that he didn’t awaken Jade in the shuffle, Russ moved in next to his brother, “hey, how are you feeling?”
“Like hell,” Grady confessed openly, “but damn lucky to be alive.”
“You aren’t kidding,” Russ sighed taking a moment to release the fears that he’d harbored about his brother’s injuries from the moment he’d learned of the stabbing, “you gave us all quite a scare there you know.”
“I realize that and I’m sorry that things happened like they did,” Grady paused taking in a slow breath as his eyes turned suddenly serious, “although being near death, well it gives a man time to put things into perspective as you learn a lot especially when you feel your life taken away from you.”
“You mean on the other side?” Russ arched a curious brow, “Is that what you’re trying to say here?”
Grady couldn’t help but laugh at the thought despite the seriousness of the situation he’d been in, “If you’re expecting me to dish out a tale of the great white light and the tunnel so that you can make it into an exclusive for the paper, then forget about it Russ.”
“Hey, I would never do that,” Russell remarked feigning offense before scratching his chin, “although now that you mention it that does have a catchy kind of theme going for it, doesn’t it?  It could be a story of inspiration and something that might help those in life threatening situations to share their tales of their time under and…”
“Oh would you quit,” Grady shook his head at him, “I’m trying to be serious for a moment Russ.”
“In that case,” Russell nodded in response, “the floor is all yours Grady.”
“Thank you,” Grady paused not quite sure where to start as his throat was feeling rather dry, “I guess what I’m trying to say is that when something like this happens, well it gets a man thinking about his life and about the mistakes he’s made through the years…”
“Grady, you don’t have to…” Russ started seeing how hard it was for his brother to continue as Grady let out a slight cough.
“No, I do because I realized that I almost left this world without giving you the chance to know the truth about a few things in my life, but I know now that I’ve been given a second chance, I shouldn’t waste it in being stubborn and impossible like before,” Grady explained earnestly, “When I was stabbed, well a lot of things went through my mind like if I was ever going to see you, mom, dad or Jade again.  I thought about all the things that meant the most to me in this world and of how I’d spent a great many years letting all of you down.  Sure you all tolerated me, but I didn’t give you what you needed--what you all wanted and mostly what I wanted in this world because I was afraid to be honest with myself--to quit living with my past failures guiding me around instead of my heart.  It took damn near dying for me to get a handle on the situation, but I think I have it now.  I love you little brother and I know that for a long time I haven’t behaved in a fashion to make you believe that, but you mean the world to me Russ.”
“I know Grady and I love you too,” Russ reached out to take his brother’s hand supportively, “That’s never been an issue for us.”
“Maybe not, but I’ve made things into issues that never should’ve been that way for us,” Grady hesitated feeling another moment of pride cloud his words for a brief second, “like your marriage for starters.”
“Grady, I don’t think that now is the time to…” Russ felt the same old subject upon the table as he thought to the way it had been a source of major conflict for the two brothers since Russ and Avery had found their way back to one another.
“Now is as good as any time,” Grady insisted taking in another breath as he glanced over at a sleeping Jade for a moment before turning to his brother again, “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”
“She’s an amazing woman,” Russell nodded in agreement, “She loves you very much.”
“I know she does and like a fool I almost blew it with her too because I was letting my past get in the way of the future,” Grady continued poignantly, “I know that Jade was trying to get me to see how stupid I was being about your happiness, but well, it took my getting stabbed for me to realize just how right she was.  Russ, I was wrong about Avery.  Deep down I know that I’ve been so out of line with her about so many things, but I couldn’t help myself.  After Susan did what she did to me, I was ready to damn the world.  I didn’t care who got caught in the crossfire and when it came to you and Avery, well I kept pushing my feelings about Susan’s hurting me into your marriage.  I was so afraid that you’d wind up like me that I did everything in my power to only cause you grief and that was wrong.  I never should’ve overstepped my boundaries like I did and for that I’m sorry.”
“I…I don’t know what to say Grady,” Russ admitted bewildered by what Grady was saying.
“Your wife is a wonderful woman and she’s done so much for you and for me,” Grady couldn’t help but smile, “as I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have Avery in our lives.  Deep down I guess I always knew that she’d become one of the crazy Denton clan, but I guess over the years that realization got a bit blurred and I apologize for that.  With what she’s done for me in trying to save my hide, well the truth is as much as I hated to have her stepping in on my behalf, I can’t think of anyone more qualified to do it.  When I was unconscious, I got to thinking about what it was like when we were kids--about how much fun we’d all had and about how close we all were and I realize that I miss that.  I miss the joking and the laughter and the ability to just let go of the anger and enjoy one another’s company.  We had that once and I would like to see us have that again--that is if you and Avery are willing to give an old fool a second chance.”
“Are you kidding,” Russ let out a relieved breath, “Grady, you have no idea how long I’ve waited for this day to come about--to have you say that and really mean it.”
“Before I was going through the motions because I didn’t want to let Jade down, but now I see that I was really letting myself down.  Jade was just trying to remind me of the man I could be and in a way it took this tragedy for me to finally be able to see that I hated the man I became.  I don’t want to slip into that dark place I’ve had myself locked away in for so very long and I certainly don’t want to take any of the people that I love down with me.  We’ve all suffered enough at the hands of others, so I don’t want to be the cause of tearing our family apart.”
“You’re not Grady,” Russell offered up another squeeze on his hand, “You’re just the thing that gives us something to get worked up about.  Sure, we might want to beat you time and time again, but I think since you left the world for a few minutes and gave us the scare of a lifetime as long as you promise to never do something like that again, we’ll be willing to forgive and forget.”
“Even so, I think I owe your wife an even bigger apology,” Grady added still unsettled with things.
“That won’t be necessary,” Avery’s voice piped in as both Russ and Grady looked up in surprise to find her standing in the doorway, her eyes clouded over with emotion as she wiped at her face, “as I think I’ve heard everything I’ve needed to hear.”
“Come here brat,” Grady wiggled his finger at her motioning for her to join them as Avery stepped further into the room, circling around the bed in the same fashion that Russ had before she leaned in towards Grady giving him a mini-hug.
“It’s good to have you back loser,” she whispered in his ear drawing out a smile from him as she pulled away seeing the sparkle behind his green eyes.
“It’s good to be back with my family,” Grady smiled up at her as Jade shifted beside him, opening her eyes to take in the scene before her as it continued to unfold.  Surprise registered over her as she noticed the way in which things seemed calm, almost at peace within the group as they were surrounded in a comfortable silence.
“Am I still dreaming,” Jade yawned turning her attention to Grady as he shook his head in response.
“Nope, not anymore as this is the real thing,” Grady replied proudly.
“Then I must confess that this day is turning out better than I anticipated,” Jade smiled curling into him, “How are you feeling sweetheart?”
“Never better now that I know how good I have it,” Grady admitted unable to refrain from savoring the moment as it felt as if it took dying to finally get him back on track with his life and he couldn’t be happier than he was in this very moment with the woman he loved at his side along with his family.


Diego parked his car in the parking garage, unable to keep his panic under wraps as he thought to the messages that had been waiting for him at the hospital.  While his secretary had been vague, the 911 message continued again and again as Heather Gibbons had called in a state of panic pleading for Diego to meet her at the address his secretary had scribbled down in a haste. 
While Diego wasn’t sure of what was going on, one thing for certain was that he knew it couldn’t be good as he was well aware of the kind of danger Heather was in after having married Cameron.  Now as he raced into the building heading up to the penthouse suites in a haste, he just hoped and prayed that Cameron hadn’t proven him right and done something dreadful to Heather as that was something he just couldn’t bare to think about. 
Once the elevator doors opened, Diego stepped out into the practically bare office space looking around as the darkness seemed to engulf the room.  There wasn’t much to the place and while it was in one of the finer, more luxurious and expensive buildings in town, Diego had a very unsettling feeling as it seemed that the office was in the midst of renovations--clearly unfit for any kind of visitors other than the construction workers who had apparently taken off for the day leaving their things spread out over the floor here and there.  Carefully Diego stepped over one of the mini-saws that had been left on the floor near the elevator as he wondered what in the world Heather would be doing in such a place.
“Heather?” he called out to her, “Heather, where are you?”
“Back here,” Heather’s voice rose through the plastic wrapping that covered the floor and crackled underneath his feet as he followed the direction of her voice seeking her out amidst the chaos.
“Where are you?” he questioned again trying to get a sense of where she was as he pushed aside a piece of plastic hanging from the ceiling.
“Over here,” she directed him towards the far corner of the room, towards one of the rooms devoid of any signs of daylight as he felt his stomach tied in knots.  He stepped into the room, seeking out any signs of Heather as he felt the room transform from dark to blinding light in a matter of moments filling the room with a newfound atmosphere.  “So what do you think?”
“Heather,” he spoke her name surveying the room when his eyes finally adjusted to the lighting and as he finally regained focus, he noticed that she was seated upon a high backed leather chair before him smiling brightly as it was set up behind a thick, cherry wood desk.
“Well?  Do you think it’s me or what?” she questioned again, reclining back a bit as Diego blinked back at her in realization of what was going on.
“Heather, did you call my office to get me to come out here and give you my opinion on this one?” he questioned with the beginnings of a frown.
“This isn’t just any office you know,” Heather insisted with a huff, “as it’s my office for my brand new company and this is the first step to getting it off the ground.  The real estate agent called me this morning to inform me that Cameron put money down on it for me and that this place could be mine.  I spent half the morning shopping for the perfect accessories to go with the desk Cameron gave me and look, here it is,” she rose up from the chair showing it off to him.  “You have to try it.”
“Heather, I don’t really think that this is what I would consider an…” he started seeing the determination behind her features before she started walking around her desk and reaching for his hand urgently.
“Diego, I really must have your opinion as I was torn between this chair and a white leather one, but somehow I thought that the black one just fit the office better and then when I brought it here, well I was almost completely convinced, but I need your opinion as well,” she urged him in closer to her chair as she continued to ramble, “it’s got a vibration mode on it to give you some kind of funky massage and I’ve never really been into those kind of gimmicks as I’m more of a naturalistic kind of gal, but once I sat in that one, it was almost orgasmic--not that I was seeking something like that out in a chair, but it does have a hedonistic appeal that you’ll see once you sit down.”
“Heather, I don’t want to,” his words were cut off as she pushed him down into the chair.  Still he was not to be distracted or deterred from the anger he was clearly feeling, “Heather I don’t want to sit down.”
“Of course you do.  I know that you’ve been dying for a chance to relax a little and trust me on this one as I’m sure this chair will do the trick,” she continued leaning forward and pressing a few buttons as the chair began to make tiny vibrations beneath Diego.
“Heather…” he opened his mouth in protest ready to lash out at her when he was met by the sensations of what felt like hands working their way down his knotted spine in a massage that felt too good to be true.  With the kneading motion, he could feel years of pent up aggression melting away as the chair worked it’s magic upon him.
“See, I told you the chair is a keeper,” Heather boasted proud of her shopping selection as she leaned in closer to him, “Now to show you what else I picked up…”
“Heather wait,” Diego reached for her arm forcing himself to return to reality as his eyes fell upon her.  Feeling his anger build up once again he used his other hand to turn off the chair so that he wouldn’t be further distracted again, “we need to talk.”
“In a minute, but first I want to show you…” she began again as he rose up from the chair as if he’d been bitten.
“No, we need to talk now,” he commanded his voice roaring with anger as he glared at her, “Do you have any idea what you’ve done today?”
“Of course I do.  I’ve given you a break from that boring, drab office of yours and I’ve saved you from another headache as the color scheme in there was bound to have you with migraines for life as it’s so damned depressing,” she answered proudly waving her hand at him before reaching to the bags again, “so you can thank me later, but right now I want to show you…” 
“Heather, you’re not getting it,” Diego seized her in his arms stopping her from going to the bags once again, “I can’t just jump at your every whim.  I’ve told you this time and time again, but this time you’ve gone too far.  I’m a psychiatrist, not your design consultant.  When you call my office and say it’s an emergency, I think that you really, truly need my help here…”
“Well, I do as I wanted your opinion on the drapes I picked out as I wasn’t sure which color worked better,” she curled her lip in a pout before an afterthought overtook her, “not that you know anything about color really, but still I figured it was the least I could do to give you a little excitement in your life.”
“I don’t need excitement Heather as I have a job to do,” Diego huffed in response, “I have a job where people need me--people with real problems that go beyond their interior design needs and the last thing I want to deal with right now is deciding which color scheme will be the most flattering.  Besides, you have a husband.  Shouldn’t he be helping you with this?”
“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes in response, “Cameron is even worse in decorating matters than you are and I never dreamt that was even possible with him having money and all, but you should see the mansion.  It’s hideous and besides he was busy today with work.”
“Imagine that,” he rolled his eyes at her, “well in that case, I’m sure you’ll be able to do this all on your own until Cameron can aid you with it.  I’m going back to work.”
“Wait you can’t leave,” Heather insisted chasing after him as she grabbed his arm, “as I’m not ready to let you go just yet.”
“Heather, I have patients who need my help and if all you called me over here for was to see your office, well it’s lovely, but I must be going,” he sighed heavily fighting the urge to lose his temper with her yet again.
“That’s not the only reason I brought you over here today as I have something for you,” Heather explained swiftly.
“Oh?  And what might that be?” he arched a curious brow.
“Well the other day we kind of left off on a bad note and I wanted to make up for that.  I felt kind of bad that I chased you away, so I thought I’d get you something to say I’m sorry,” she explained moving over to one of the bags she’d been going for time and time again when he’d stopped her, “as it was the least I could do.”
“Heather, I can’t believe this, but I’m actually touched,” Diego started unable to mask his surprise as Heather reached into her bag to retrieve the gift she’d gotten for him.  “You really shouldn’t have.”
“Oh I know, but I wanted to,” she waved her hand at him dismissively, “as when I saw it, I thought of you completely.  I know it’s kind of silly, but it was so totally you.  I was going to look for some things for the baby and lo and behold it was there and it reminded me of you and I had to buy it.”
“Heather I…” he started watching as she pulled out a stuffed animal and held it out to him.
“It’s Oscar the Grouch,” she stated plainly, her smile widening with pride as she handed it over to him.
“Oscar the Grouch?” he repeated with a strange expression.
“That’s right.  I mean he’s kind of mean and nasty and always carries himself around like he’s got a stick up his butt, but when it gets down to it, he’s vital to the whole Sesame Street and they’d be lost without him,” she paused a hint of emotion passing through the surface, “kind of like I am with you seeing as you’re one of my only real friends in Coral Valley these days.”
“Heather, I don’t know what to say,” he began at a loss as one look in her sad eyes said it all and he found himself wanting nothing more than to reach out and embrace her.
“Just say you’ll take the silly thing,” she flung it into the center of his chest, “because it’s far too hideous for my liking.”
“Well, even if it’s hideous, thank you for thinking of me,” Diego smiled at her holding the small stuffed animal as he found himself thinking about the Heather he’d spent Christmas with.  She’d tried so hard to bury that part of herself, but now as he held the gift she’d given him, he could see that softer, less abrasive side of her returning again.
“As I said, it was the least that I could do,” she shrugged her shoulders simply as her eyes remained upon him.
“No, it’s a lot more than that Heather,” he replied completely mesmerized with her at that moment as he thought of how she still remained a mystery to him even after all this time when he’d thought he had her completely figured out.
“Well since you enjoyed it so much, do you think I can find a way to tempt you into helping me move this desk here before you rush back to the office as I’d do it myself, but well, with being pregnant and all, it kind of limits my abilities a bit when it comes to moving heavy objects,” she threw out a pleading look.
“As much as I shouldn’t do it, I suppose it won’t kill me to spend a few minutes helping you,” Diego decided caving in as he couldn’t help but be touched by the token of her gratitude.
“Excellent because I’d like it all the way over there as I think that will be the perfect spot to get all the natural lighting in the room and once I get things up and rolling, well it’ll also be the most flattering position for the desk as it’ll accentuate all my positive attributes completely,” she began rambling as Diego shook his head wondering how in the hell he’d managed to get roped into bonding with such an eccentric woman who was bound to drive him crazy sooner or later.


Guy walked back into the room with his shoulders hung low as he found himself unable to keep from his thoughts of Gabe. He was worried about Gabe and about what was going on with Noelle and Brittany. It seemed strange that Gabe didn't answer his cell as that wasn't very like him at all. Guy concluded that he needed to find Gabe and make sure everything was alright with him or else he'd worry all day. He quickly walked back to Brooke, who was just walking back from her bathroom area.  He glanced around and noticed she was alone, "Where is Mr. Ashley?"

"Oh he had to leave," Brooke motioned her hand towards the door, "And what was that all about? Sneaking off to make a phone call."

"I just need to go and get a few things settled," he turned to walk towards the door.

"Just where do you think you're going?" Brooke got up from the chair and followed him.

"Mum, I really need to go," he turned around to face her, "Just trust me on this."

"Does this have anything to do with that Mindy girl?" she could feel her face growing scarlet with irritation just thinking about it.

"It's something important. Just trust me on this," he pleaded with her.

"Oh Guy, you don't need to go anywhere."

"There's an emergency going on," Guy paused and gave her a hug, "and I need to take care of a few things."

"But Guy," Brooke's lips curled into a pout, "It can wait. I was hoping we could..."

"I'm sorry Mum," Guy apologized shrugging his shoulders a bit.


"I really have to go." he urged on.

"Will you stop interrupting me!" Brooke growled in frustration.  "Nothing is too important for your own mother. You can stay here and spend time with me. It won't kill you."

"Not everything I do revolves around you okay?" Guy snapped at her, "I have my own life and my own things to do. You need to realize this and bum out once in a while alright?"

"Well I never!" Brooke gasped at the way her son snapped at her.

"Oh Mum, I'm sorry Mum," Guy wrapped his arms around her for a big hug, "You know I love you and I didn't mean that. Just understand that I have some things I need to get taken care of."

"Guy I don't think you should go anywhere you should stay right..."   

"I really have got to go now Mum. I promise I'll make it up to you." Guy interrupted kissing her cheek and rushing out the doors.

"Guy!!!" Brooke called out to him, but he just waved and disappeared into his car.

Brant walked up the driveway just in time to see Guy get into his car and drive off.  He raised an eyebrow but shrugged it off advancing to the door.  Brooke was in the doorway ready to take off after her son until she noticed Brant advancing and then her thoughts shifted as she opened the door wide and let him in. After shutting the door behind him, she wrapped her arms around him in a hug, "Brant it's good to see you."

"It's good to see you too Brooke," Brant returned the hug and pulled away politely, "I actually stopped in to see how you were doing this afternoon."

"Really? Well do come in," she lead him into sitting area of the suite she’d been staying in and sat down in one of the chairs over by the small coffee antique table, "I had something I wanted to ask you anyway."

"Oh yeah?" he asked taking a seat across from her, "What was that?"

"See I'm launching my new Beholder Cosmetics with Mark Ashley's fashion line, and I'd like you to attend the event." Brooke smiled proudly, "Don't say no, just say when."

"I don't think that would be a good idea," he shrugged folding his hands on the table.

"If this is about Russell don't even start," Brooke huffed grasping his hands in hers. "He isn't half the man you are."
Brant gave out a light laugh, "Well thanks Brooke."   

"I'm serious!" she smiled, "Avery should have married you."

"Yeah, well she didn’t," he gave a half shrug, "she chose to marry Russ."

"Well, I personally think she should have chosen you,"  Brooke gave a reassuring smile.

"Avery didn't and that's what really matters unfortunately."

"Oh forget Russ and just come as he‘ll probably be too stubborn to show up anyways," she pleaded with him, "Besides I view you as family. My own son even and I'd love to have you there."

"Alright," Brant gave in, "I'll come just for you Brooke."

"Oh such the little sweetheart," Brooke gave a coy smile, "My daughter will see what she's missing when you‘re there."

"Well thank you," he gave a weak smile, "I appreciate it."

"And I mean it!" she patted his shoulder, "You are truly a better man then that Denton."

"Brooke your filling my ego once again," Brant laughed grasping her hands in his.

"It's only the truth, Brant." Brooke squeezed his hands assuringly, "You listen here...that Russell has nothing at all on you. I can tell that you are way more of a man then he ever would be as I knew that the first moment I met you and saw how you cared for my daughter. Avery is just blinded by the man's charm right now. As much as I hate to say it, he does have some charm in his own middle class sort of way. But you, you have everything that my daughter has been craving and everything that she needs. It's only a matter of time before she realizes it. She'll drop that scum Russell on his bum and who do you think she'll turn to? Yes, my dear friend you."

“You are feeling better today aren’t you,” Brant couldn’t help but tease noticing that the old sparkle had returned to Brooke’s eyes once again.

“I’m just feeling optimistic about a lot of things it would seem,” Brooke reached for his hand supportively, “and one day my daughter is going to come to her senses.  She’ll ditch Russ and see that he’s completely wrong for and that’s when she’ll need you the most.  He’ll show his true colors and it’s only a matter of time.

"That's if she'll ever see past that." he shook his head, "He's got her so blinded into believing all of his lies I wish I could show her that my words are truly my feelings. I may be a jerk but at least I stick to my word. Nobody in the world would be able to argue with that one."

"Don't worry about it Brant," Brooke patted his hands, "You just leave it to me and pretty soon Avery will be crawling to you begging for forgiveness."


Gabe eyed his cell phone intently knowing full well that he should’ve answered when Guy had called earlier, but what would he be able to say?  How could he explain his quick retreat after speaking with Marc?  Certainly that in itself was opening a can of worms that he vowed to himself that he’d never get back into as it was a lifetime ago when Gabe had been foolish enough to get wrapped up with a man like that.  Sure, Gabe hadn’t been intimidated by Marc’s threats as he had no problems letting the world know that he and Guy were a couple, but as he thought of Guy’s reluctance to open up to his mother, Gabe had decided that now probably wasn’t the best time to let Marc spill the beans so to speak.
Of course encountering Marc again brought about a whole new set of issues as the last time Gabe and Marc had been on the same continent with one another, the aftermath had been damn near lethal as far as Gabe was concerned.  Sure, there was a time when Gabe had thought that Marc was the answer to his prayers, the key to his freedom in every way imaginable, but in the end Marc had turned out to be a nightmare--one that Gabe had fought long and hard to get himself out of.  As far as Gabe was concerned it was ancient history, but clearly Marc didn’t hold the same view as their encounter had proven that with the way in which Marc had penetrated him with that same driven determination, those dark eyes that held the secrets to unspoken madness. 
There was no denying that his relationship with Marc had been nothing short of a mistake, but now, well now it seemed that there was far more he stood to lose if he avoided the issue at hand with Guy.  Gabe had to be honest about his reasoning for leaving the mansion and while he didn’t want to drudge up ancient history, Guy had a right to know what he may be up against as Marc had made it clear he wouldn’t stop pushing his weight around until he had what he wanted.  That had been something that Gabe was certain would cause great problems for Guy if they weren’t one step ahead of Marc, but instead of having been up front and center about that at the mansion, Gabe had run away--taking the easy way out in the hopes that it would make things easier for Guy, but now he realized he’d made a mistake in running away--a big one.
“That’s it,” Gabe decided aloud ready to share his tortured history with Marc Ashley to his lover as it seemed that the past was coming back to haunt him again.  Reaching for his cell phone, he began to dial Guy, but was stopped short as he heard a knocking at the door to his hotel room.  Swiftly discarding the cell phone, Gabe rushed over to the door expecting to find Guy on the other end, but instead he was met by the wicked eyes of Marc Ashley.
“Why Gabriel, I was hoping I’d catch you,” Marc sneered up at him before throwing out a suggestive look, “Care to invite me in?”
“What do you think,” Gabe frowned back at him, feeling every synapse tight with tension as Marc pushed his way into the hotel room.
“I think that it’s about time you fixed me a drink because we have a lot to discuss it would seem,” Marc answered smoothly leaving Gabe no room for argument as it seemed that his day was now going from bad to worse.


...to be continued...