“And so we have it, your office is exactly like you want it,” Diego
announced taking a step back to admire the work he’d spent most of the
afternoon doing for Heather despite his reluctance to lend a
hand. While he’d been quite agitated with her upon his arrival at
her office, he found that moving her office around had been quite
therapeutic in it’s own unexpected way.
“Actually, we still have to move the…” Heather started catching a
scathing look from Diego before she offered up a soft smile, “it’s
“I was hoping you’d say that,” Diego replied standing upright after
he’d finished moving the last piece of furniture for her.
“Well, I don’t know if perfect is exactly the right word I’d use for
it, but I suppose it works for now,” Heather decided standing up from
her chair as she made her way over to him eagerly, “That being said I
think a celebration is in order.”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Diego nodded in agreement making his
way across the room and reaching for his jacket he’d discarded earlier
in the day. Now as he pulled it off of the doorknob, he opted to
set his jacket back down on the desk top before unrolling his sleeves
now that he’d finished with his work for Heather, “you should go have a
great time tonight since you’ve made a landmark moment with your office
“What do you mean I should?” she blinked back at him, “this was
something we both worked on together and I think this calls for a
celebration for the both of us. I’ll be willing to overlook the
ridiculous amount of complaining that you did during the shuffling of
furniture so we don’t have to worry about my being upset with
you. You did a nice job today and besides you still owe me dinner
from Christmas time.”
“Heather, as much as I’d like to sit back and listen to all the ways in
which I owe you, I can’t go to dinner with you tonight,” he stated
simply finishing up with one sleeve before moving to another.
“Don’t be silly. Of course you can as I insist,” Heather waved
her hand at him dismissively, “I’m thinking that perhaps we can go
somewhere expensive and maybe French as I haven’t had any really great
French food in a while. In fact, now that I think about it, I
know the perfect place as there’s one just outside of town in Lauren
that is to die for and maybe just maybe they’ll still have an opening
for us there. I mean sure it’s an exclusive reservation only kind
of place, but maybe we can work around that as I can just drop a couple
of names and…”
“Heather, you’re not getting it,” Diego frowned in response, “I’m not
going to dinner with you tonight.”
“Yes, you are,” she snatched up his jacket from her desktop, “as I
simply won’t accept anything other than a yes as you owe me that
much. I’ll even be generous and pay if that’s really what you’re
“That’s the least of my concerns,” he reached out to her snatching up
his jacket from her, “as I already have plans.”
“So cancel them,” she maintained her hold upon his jacket, “It’s not
like you get an opportunity to spend time with me like this every day
“And believe me I’m flattered,” he remarked with a hint of sarcasm
pulling at his jacket once again, “but as it stands, I have a date
“A date,” Heather repeated with wide eyes as shock overtook her,
“You’re going on a date?”
“That’s right and if I don’t hurry up and get going, I’m not going to
have time to get ready for it,” Diego snatched back his jacket as he
noted the strange reaction she’d had to his news, “but perhaps some
other time we can have dinner together.”
“I don’t know about that one Diego as this is a once in a lifetime
opportunity I’m giving you. Next time I might not be feeling so
generous,” she continued gauging herself for his reaction as he slipped
into his jacket.
“Then I guess I’m going to have to take my chances because I made plans
for tonight Heather. I’m sorry,” he offered up apologetically
before reaching for the stuffed animal she‘d given him, “but for what
it’s worth, thanks for the Oscar here and hey don‘t stick around here
too late as it‘s dangerous to be in a place like this alone.”
“I can take care of myself. I don‘t really have any other choice,
now do I,” she curled her lip in a pout, “especially since my company
for the night has decided to bail on me.”
“Look Heather I made the plans before you called me over here,” he
started impatiently, “and furthermore you’re the one who decided to
pull me away from my work on a whim to get me to rearrange your
office. That’s something that I made clear we wouldn’t have
happen--well not the part about the furniture in specific, but I told
you that I wasn’t about to be pulled away from work or an emergency
just to be here when your husband can’t be. It doesn’t work that
“Is that why you think I called you over,” she questioned her angers
growing with the moment, “to be my babysitter?”
“Heather, look,” he sighed bringing his fingers up through his hair, “I
didn’t mean it like that and for what it’s worth, I had a nice time
today, but next time, well next time you want me to help you out make
sure I’m not working when you call me over.”
“So that’s it, huh? You’re just going to run out the door and be
on your merry way leaving me all alone here because your date might be
waiting,” she spoke the words icily.
“Jealous?” Diego lifted a curious brow.
“Hardly,” she scoffed, “as I pity any woman desperate enough to spend
any time with you, though maybe getting out a bit will help you improve
on your lack of social skills. Not to mention that you need a
good woman to teach you the art of sensuality as your kissing
techniques leave much to be desires.”
“Hmm, you know Heather I must confess you’re one of the only women to
ever throw out that complaint, but hey I’ll see what my companion
tonight has to say about that,” he couldn’t help but tease her watching
the way her nostrils flared in annoyance.
“If she’s going to be all over you tonight, then she’s a slut,” she
tossed back at him, “as the kind of woman you need won’t be kissing you
on a first date. You need someone slow to ease you into things
again since it’s obviously been a while.”
“Well hey lucky for me that you told me what I needed to work on,”
Diego remarked with a grumble, “as I’m sure I’ll take that into
consideration on my date tonight, but don’t worry I’ll tell you how it
“Don’t bother,” she rolled her eyes, “as I could really care less.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” he muttered under his breath before looking to
the door again, “Would you like me to walk you out?”
“No, don’t bother doing me any favors as I wouldn’t want to overwork
you,” she hissed in response watching him shrug his shoulders simply.
“Have it your way then,” he threw out one last look before leaving her
office as Heather sank back in her chair sulking upon his exit.
So Diego had a date, Heather thought to herself discovering that she
was far more irritated than she’d like to be about the idea of him out
on the town while she was stuck all by her lonesome spending yet
another evening alone while Cameron was buried in his work. It
didn’t seem fair for her to be bored out of her mind now that she was a
married woman, while Diego Hernandez got to go out and enjoy his
evening with some bimbo who certainly wasn’t worth this time.
Okay, so maybe she really didn’t have room to get a say in Diego’s
personal life, but since they’d become friends, she felt it was her
obligation to keep from leading him astray. Certainly the guy had
been out of the loop for a while and he needed someone to ease him back
into things. She hadn’t been lying when she’d said that to him as
she was far certain there wasn’t a woman in Coral Valley who could
really keep up with him or put up with his stuffy, agitated
attitude. Heather was still working on fine tuning him and it
would be a great disservice for some woman to step into the picture and
undo all the progress Heather had made thus far.
Okay so yeah, there could also be the slight chance that Diego was
bluffing. There could be no mystery woman and he was just yanking
her chain which was something that Heather wouldn’t put past him, but
still with the way he’d gone head to head with her, she could feel
something behind his words. He couldn’t have been lying and that
was the part that had Heather more worked up about the situation.
As if it wasn’t bad enough to be alone, but to have those around you
having the time of their lives while you were stuck in a rut certainly
wasn’t cutting it, Heather thought to herself as she made a decision
about the night before her.
“I’m sorry Diego, but I can’t let you make a mistake with that woman
tonight,” Heather thought aloud realizing that one way or another she
had to have Diego come to his senses about his supposed date as she
wasn’t about to lose the one thing she’d come to depend on in her life.
“Thank you for bringing me back here, but you know I’ll understand if
you want to go back to the hospital and be with Jade,” Blake offered up
as Seth pulled into the Ashford drive leading up to the mansion.
“Nah, I think she’s okay now that Grady’s awake,” he paused as he put
the car into park, “Unless of course that’s your way of politely
telling me to get lost.”
“Not a chance on that one,” Blake reached out to grab his arm securely,
“as I was kind of hoping that I didn’t have to give you up just yet.”
“Well in that case, I guess I can stick around,” he teased pulling his
keys out of the ignition as he pondered everything they’d been through
over the last few days.
“I’m glad that you’re going to stay here, though I must confess I still
feel so horrible for your sister. I wish that there was something
more we could do for her even now,” Blake sighed heavily as she reached
for Seth’s hand offering up a gentle squeeze.
“So do I as I hate to think about her hurting. Though she seems
to be doing a lot better and I think she needs this time with Grady
after everything that’s happened. Despite my conflicting feelings
about him, I know how much he means to Jade and I‘m so thankful that
she didn‘t have to lose him last night,” Seth admitted thinking about
the way in which his sister’s life had been going lately.
“She really does love him Seth and even a fool can see how much they
care about one another,” Blake nodded in agreement, “It seems like an
angel was smiling down upon them last night when Grady pulled through
“I just hate the idea that he was put in that position to begin with
because if this was some kind of warning that Cameron was trying to
push upon my sister for her fighting to stay away from him,” he trailed
off thinking about how tense life had become after Cameron had laid
down his claim on Jade, “I still hate the idea that Cameron’s out
there, but I have a feeling that he’s not going to get anywhere near
her after we spoke with Ben. I really think we’re going to turn
the tables on him soon enough.”
“God I hope so as that man is nothing but trouble,” Blake nodded in
agreement, “To think of all the sick and twisted things he’s done, not
to mention what he’s trying to do to Jade and to Grady…it just makes me
“I know and I hate that you’ve been put into the position you’ve had to
be in with Cameron. I wish that there was some way that I could
turn back time and never have allowed myself to have gotten involved
with him in the first place,” Seth sighed as he shook his head at the
“I know that what happened in the past wasn’t your doing,” Blake
offered up supportively reaching for his hand, “Your father did this to
you and you were doing what you thought you had to in order to protect
Jade. No one can fault you that.”
“That’s easier said than done as I think I live with the guilt of my
not being able to protect her all those years ago,” his voice dropped
with a poignant air before he shook his head dismissively, “I’m
sorry. You don’t need to hear this.”
“Seth, if something’s bothering you, I want you to see that I’m here
for you. I’ll be whatever you need me to be if it means helping
you through a difficult situation you’ve found yourself in,” she
squeezed his hand supportively, “That’s a part of my loving you, you
“I know and believe me I love you so very much for everything you’ve
given to me,” he leaned in across the front seat of his pickup giving
her a tender kiss before easing a fraction of an inch away from her,
“though right now I don’t want to think about Cameron or about anything
else but you. Do you think we could try working on that?”
“I know we can,” Blake mused with a low whisper feeling a coolness rush
over her as he slid out of the driver’s side of the truck before
walking around to open her door for her. She accepted his hand as
he helped her out onto the ground and as she jumped down from the
truck, she leaned into his arms, savoring the warmth of him returning
to her once again.
“This is much better,” Seth murmured tipping down to tease her lips
with another playful kiss.
“Indeed,” Blake whispered in agreement sliding her arms around his
muscled torso, “although do you know what would be even better?”
“What’s that?” he inquired with a knowing expression as Blake’s face
lit up with a radiant smile.
“I think you already know,” she nibbled on his lower lip as her palms
drifted down over his rock hard bottom giving it a quick squeeze, “How
about we get inside so I can show you what I mean?”
“That sounds very tempting indeed and delicious,” he growled in
response hoisting her up off of the ground and carrying her towards the
house when a piercing, screeching wail broke through the afternoon
bringing them back to reality once again.
“What was that,” Seth questioned setting her down as the noise roared
“I don’t know,” she confessed eyeing the surrounding area while the
sound continued making her want to cringe at how awful it felt over her
“Maybe we should go find out as it sounds like it’s coming from out
back,” Seth suggested as he reached for her hand guiding her around the
side of the mansion as Blake felt a shiver race up and down her body.
“Seth, wait a second,” Blake hesitated, “maybe we should go inside and
call the police before we get back there.”
“Blake, are you sure?”
“Well no, but after we discovered that Cameron’s had people watching
us, well you don’t know what we will find. Not that I think
Cameron is bold enough to do something in my backyard like that, but
after he had Grady stabbed…” she began uneasily.
“I see your point. Why don’t you go inside and make the call and
I’ll check it out,” he suggested hearing the sound continue as Blake
tugged on his shirt clenching her fingers tighter around the fabric.
“Seth, I don’t want to leave you,” she squealed jumping at the next
round of sound that overtook her.
“Blake, it’ll only be a minute and if I see anything that looks like
it’s not on the up and up then I’ll come back over here,” he tried to
“How about we go together as I have my cell phone and you have
yours? We can call the police as we look and if someone tries to
kill us, the police will have it on tape for a conviction.”
“That sounds promising,” Seth gave her a pointed look before touching
her shoulder gently, “Why don’t you just stay here for a few minutes?”
“Nope, not a chance. If you can do it, then I’m going with
you. Case closed,” she stated stubbornly.
“Are you always this determined,” Seth asked shaking his head as a
groan overtook him, “never mind I already know the answer to that one.”
“Hey, my determination is a good thing for the both of us,” she poked
at his ribs following him around the mansion only to discover the limo
outside of the garage with a man in jeans bending in underneath the
“What in the…” Seth began sensing sabotage as he moved forward in a
slow, tentative motion ready to take on whatever flunky Cameron had
sent over, but just before Seth was about to strike the man popped out
from underneath the hood causing Blake to jump with surprise.
“Simon, what the hell are you doing,” Blake questioned immediately
recognizing the man before them as Brant’s driver.
“Blake, are you okay,” Simon questioned noting the expression on her
face, “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Well it sounds like someone is dying out here,” Blake informed him
with a huff, “with all that screeching…”
“I’m sorry about that Blake,” Simon apologized motioning to the limo
again, “I had an accident the other day with the limo and I was trying
to fix it up here. I guess it got a bit louder than I was
“What kind of accident,” Seth inquired eyeing Simon closely.
“I’d dropped Ken off at the airport rather early in the morning and it
was a very long night for me,” Simon began to apologize as he returned
his focus to Blake.
“Ken’s went to the airport?” Blake questioned in confusion, “was
“It appeared to be a personal trip as he was with Caitlin and that man
you were spending some time with not so long ago. They left with
Mrs. Vaughn and another woman saying something about going out west to
see Caitlin’s father.”
“I hope nothing was wrong,” Blake frowned wondering what had prompted
her brother to leave town.
“Things appeared to be okay for Ken and the others considering,” Simon
exhaled slowly, “although for me, well I guess I wasn’t paying
attention to the road ahead of me on the way back from dropping them
off and I hit a tree. It’s not one of my brightest moments, but I
was trying to repair the damage before anyone found out…”
“Why not take it to the shop,” Blake questioned in confusion noting the
gaping dent in the hood before her.
“I was trying to take care of it myself as it costs less and well I was
hoping to put some of my mechanical skills to good use there since
Brant pays me for that,” Simon answered with a brief pathetic glimmer
of a smile, “though I will try to keep the noise down.”
“Alright,” Blake nodded, “you just scared me for a second there.”
“I’m sorry. I guess when the metal to metal collided it made that
awful sound, but I’ve finished with that part of things for the time
being,” Simon promised apologetically.
“That’s okay. I just wanted to know what was going on that’s
all,” Blake added letting out a breath of relief before turning to Seth
once again, “ready to go inside?”
“In a minute,” Seth answered focusing his attention to the limo, “You
know if you need a hand with that I’d be more than willing to…”
“I’ve got it,” Simon replied swiftly, “it’s under control.”
“It’s really no problem,” Seth began again as his gaze lingered to the
ground where Simon had come out from underneath the hood of the
car. There at Simon‘s feet seemed to be a piece of tattered pale
blue material soaked in a deep crimson color.
“It looks like you’ve got some transmission leakage down there,” Seth
motioned to the fabric before him, “You sure you don’t need a hand.”
“I said I have it,” Simon threw out once again as he scooped down to
swipe up the material and tuck it into his pocket before Seth could ask
any further questions.
“Simon’s really rather good at what he does around here,” Blake curled
her arm around Seth trying to focus on her thoughts for the afternoon
as she didn’t want to think about all the other things that were
happening in her life, “so why don’t we head inside and get back to
that thing we’d talked about?”
“That thing huh,” Seth couldn’t help but smile as he noted the wicked
expression on her features, “well since you put it that way, I don’t
mind if we do.”
“Excellent,” Blake practically giggled aloud before waving at Simon one
last time, “Good luck with that.”
“Thanks,” Simon nodded accordingly watching the couple slip around the
mansion once again as he pulled the fabric out of his pocket, a scowl
touching over his lips at his own stupidity.
“Damn,” he muttered to himself realizing that if he wasn’t careful
things could get very ugly for him and right now ugly was the last
thing he’d needed as he had plans for his future starting with the
changes he was about to make on the Ashford limousine.
“So I’m thinking as soon as I get out of here, I’m going to treat you
all to dinner at my place,” Grady announced proudly feeling as if an
incredible weight had been lifted off of his shoulders as he was
surrounded by his family and Jade.
“I’m going to hold you up to that then,” Russ agreed with a tiny
chuckle as Jade placed her hand tentatively on Grady’s shoulder.
“Maybe we had better rethink that,” Jade spoke up eliciting a round of
strange looks from the rest of the group before she explained, “What I
mean to say is that since Susan is still staying at your place, maybe
dinner there isn’t the best of ideas.”
“Good point,” Grady nodded in agreement, “We’ll have dinner at Russ and
“Wait a second,” Avery frowned upon Jade’s words, “Grady, is that true
“Unfortunately,” he scowled back up at her, “but I’m working on
changing that one.”
“That never should’ve been in the first place,” Russell piped in with a
frown that matched the one that his wife had donned seconds earlier.
“I know this, but there were some legal loopholes in the divorce since
Judge Carmichael hates me and now I have to deal with them before I can
get rid of Susan, though I think she’s out to ruin me all over again,”
Grady sighed heavily.
“All the more reason to get her the hell out of there especially since
she works for Stone Corp,” Avery added swiftly, “as I don’t want her
anywhere near you. I don’t trust her.”
“Neither do I,” Jade insisted firmly, “She’s trouble and anyone with
ties to Cameron like that can’t be trusted at all.”
“Not to mention she’s the devil in his most wretched form,” Russell
noted as he thought to the pain and misery that Susan had put Grady
through in the past.
“I can’t argue that one, but legally she has every right to invade my
life and be living at my place unfortunately,” Grady sighed heavily,
“presuming that I’ll be able to return there if and when these charges
are dropped against me.”
“We’re going to make sure you’re cleared of this Grady,” Avery promised
him as the door to Grady’s hospital room opened and Dave stepped inside
to join the group.
“Hello everyone,” Dave cleared his throat uneasily as his eyes fell
upon Grady Denton. He remembered the last time he’d seen Grady
laying lifeless on the jail cell floor, but now it seemed as if Grady
had been rejuvenated--given another shot at life that had seemingly
been lost that night in the jail cell.
“So there’s the man of the hour,” Grady greeted him with a hearty
smile, “I hear that you’re to thank for my being here today to share
this time with my family.”
“I wouldn’t go that far as the doctors did one hell of a job on you I
can see,” Dave answered with a smile feeling the tension that had been
eating away at him all morning slowly melting away upon seeing that
Grady was on the road to recovery.
“Even so, I want to say thank you for saving my life as I know that you
didn’t have to,” Grady continued his voice full of seriousness as he
eyed the police chief.
“In that case, you’re very welcome,” Dave nodded appropriately.
“Now if you could just drop the charges against me, then we’ll be all
set here,” Grady added hopefully thinking about the very situation that
had landed him in jail to begin with.
“We both know that’s out of my hands Grady, but for what it’s worth, I
don’t think you’re guilty,” Dave divulged knowing that he shouldn’t be
saying such a thing, but still as he thought to the night Grady had
been stabbed, it was all the more reason for him to question Grady’s
guilt level. Certainly someone had wanted him dead and Dave
wasn’t buying that it was because Grady was guilty of attempted murder.
“But that doesn’t really matter, now does it since we’re back to square
one, huh,” Grady questioned his optimistic attitude fading a bit as he
shifted on the hospital bed restlessly.
“Grady, look I’ll do what I can to help you with that, but right now,
well I’m not hear to talk about those charges as I’m more curious to
speak with you about what happened the night of your stabbing,” Dave
explained simply, “perhaps if we can work on finding out who did this
to you, then we can get a good lead on the person who shot Kipp
“I can give you that answer as I’m certain it was Cameron Stone,”
Russell blurted out with a grumble, “You know this situation reeks of
his involvement as well as I do Dave.”
“Without evidence, I can’t just lock him away,” Dave countered with a
sigh, “I wish it was that easy, but we know it’s not.”
“Yet you can lock my brother up for a crime he didn’t commit, right?”
Russ threw back at him.
“There’s evidence I have in the case against Grady,” Dave pointed out,
“Evidence that points the finger in his direction whether we like it or
“Because Cameron planted it there,” Jade added with her own determined
tone, “You know he’s the one who had Grady stabbed that night and he’s
doing his best to cover his tracks.”
“I have the CSI team working on the evidence they were able to pull
together at the crime scene from the night that Grady was
stabbed. They have a partial print, but if Grady remembers the
person who did this to him, then we’d have more to go on,” Dave threw
Grady a pleading look.
“I wish I could remember more, but it’s all hazy Dave,” Grady confessed
in frustration, “All I remember was the talk we’d had before Avery left
and then my being transferred to a cell. Other than that I don’t
remember anything until I woke up here at the hospital realizing that
I’d been attacked.”
“That’s it?” Dave questioned.
“I wish there was more as I’m certain that if I knew the details of
what happened that night, then I’d be able to clear my name and get
back to the life that I’ve worked so very hard to obtain for myself,”
Grady turned to look at Jade feeling his heart speed up at the nearness
of her as the world he’d longed for was right beside him.
“Perhaps as you start to heal, more will come to you and when it does,
then we can get to the bottom of this,” Dave suggested, “but until then
perhaps it would be best if we kept a guard on your door here just so
“That what?” Avery questioned with a grumble, “that it won’t happen
again? Dave, I think once is already too much and you agreed with
me on that last night. You and I talked about this and…”
“Avery, I know what you’re asking here, but if I do that, well it just
can’t be done,” Dave replied quickly feeling put on the spot as all
eyes were upon them.
“Why not? You’re the police chief and it’s your duty to make sure
that my client is protected until the day he’s slated to appear in
court for his trial. You owe him that,” Avery stepped up into
full on lawyer mode as her eyes narrowed at Dave.
“Avery, I already told you…” Dave sighed back at her realizing that his
headache he’d been fending off all morning was now returning to him
again fiercer than ever.
“Told you what?” Grady questioned in confusion taking note of the stand
off between Avery and Dave, “what’s going on here? What am I
“Something that I’m quite certain will save your life if the police
chief is willing to cooperate,” Avery stated plainly leaving all the
cards on the table as she awaited Dave’s response to her request,
refusing to take no for an answer.
Hunt took one last look at his appearance feeling himself strangely
nervous about dinner with Mindy as while he hadn’t been seeking out a
new companion in town, she was just too adorable to resist. Sure,
maybe he’d been busy with other things in his life and finding someone
like her was the last thing he’d needed, but still she was fun and
entertaining and he couldn’t help but be charmed by her. She was
a breath of fresh air in his otherwise cryptic life. Okay, so he
hadn’t exactly been up front with her upon meeting her, but that wasn’t
really important at the moment. Perhaps tonight he’d be able to
share with her the things that he’d been fighting so hard to hide and
if she was willing to still give him a chance, then perhaps it would
mark the beginning of his life taking a new direction. Not that
the direction he was taking before was bad, but it just wasn’t where
he’d wanted to be at this point.
“Quit stalling and get to it,” Hunt urged himself on swiping his car
keys from the counter as he whistled a tune to himself preparing to
charm Mindy Carmichael all over again as it was the first time in a
long time that he could truly be himself without secrets and
Okay, so while Hunt had always been big on those two things in the
past, lately they were just getting harder to deal with especially
where Brooke was concerned. When he’d met her two years ago, he’d
been flattered by her attention, craving it to a point of obsession it
seemed as she was beautiful and cultured. She’d opened his eyes
to a great many things that he’d overlooked in his life and it didn’t
take long for them to jump into the role of lovers despite her marital
status. Even now, he could think of the many
ways in which Brooke was well worth spending time with, yet lately
she’d been behaving strangely. He’d thought of their time
together not so long ago when she’d come to spend over a week with him
in New York. Things had been intense and very draining all at the
same time as she’d made so many promises to Hunt--promises that he’d
been waiting nearly two years for her to cash in on, but then when
she’d asked him to come back to Coral Valley with her, he realized that
things weren’t changing. She was still with her lowlife husband
and he was taking the brunt of their secret relationship hiding in the
shadows as Brooke wrote the time she and Hunt had spent together off as
some kind of skiing accident she’d endured out of town. Hunt
wasn’t quite clear on the details, but in seeing Brooke in such a
tortured state, he realized that perhaps there was more to the story
than she’d been telling him, but at this point, he supposed it wasn’t
his place to ask.
“It’s time to move on Hunt,” he told himself time and time again
wanting to walk away from this thing he and Brooke had going, but after
investing so much time and having learned so much from her, he wasn’t
sure if that would ever happen--if it could happen for them as he’d
grown rather fond of her. What a sucker it made him, he silently
chastised himself as he made his way to his car ready to push Brooke
out of his mind for the evening when the same familiar ring tone broke
through his train of thought.
“Wonderful,” Hunt muttered to himself withdrawing his cell phone from
his pocket and lifting it to his ear as he tried to keep his tone
neutral, “Hello Brooke, what can I do for you today?”
“Now, is that anyway to treat a woman who has spent all day thinking
about you,” Brooke questioned with a hint of dismay in her tone, “I
would hope that you’d have more for me than that.”
“I’m actually kind of busy at the moment,” he confessed thinking to his
plans with Mindy, “You caught me at a bad time.”
“Oh I’m sorry to hear that, but the truth to the matter is that I’ve
been having a rather bad time myself here at this mansion. Sure,
my hosts have been gracious, but it gets lonely in this place all by
myself and I was hoping you’d stop by to see me,” Brooke pouted as Hunt
let out a sigh.
“I’d thought that the last time you’d had me over, you didn’t want me
showing up for any more surprise visits,” he stated with a grumble,
“after all what would your husband think?”
“Richard is irrelevant right now and besides, he’s not around.
He’s back in Boston doing lectures this week so you won’t have to worry
about him getting in the way,” she explained eagerly.
“In other words, you won’t have to worry about him being in the way,”
he remarked sourly, “Brooke, I’m tired of keeping our relationship in
the dark. I don’t want to be the man you call upon when your
husband isn’t giving you the attention you need. I don’t work
“I know and I’ve been very cruel to you, but I’d like to make it up to
you Hunt. I was thinking if you came over then perhaps we could
talk about things and I could show you all the reasons why I need you
in my life. I know that if you let me, I can make it up to you,”
Brooke’s voice pleaded with him, “Just give me the opportunity to say
what I need to tell you.”
“Tell me now,” Hunt urged her on catching a hesitance on her end of the
line, “hello? Brooke, are you there?”
“I would much rather do this in person Hunt. Please just give me
a few minutes,” she begged of him.
“I have plans tonight Brooke.”
“Then change them,” she insisted firmly.
“I can’t,” he answered again.
“Then at least work around them long enough to give me a few minutes of
your time. I promise that I’ll change your mind about the way
you’re feeling about me right now. Hunt, you know how much I care
about you and I can’t bear the thought of going another night without
seeing you at least once. It would mean the world to me if you
“Fine,” he sighed heavily hating that he’d fallen a sucker to her pleas
once again, “I’ll be over shortly, but I can’t stay long.”
“Fair enough,” Brooke replied enthusiastically, “You can just park out
back and come up the rear entrance to the mansion again as I’ve left it
unlocked for you.”
“Yeah whatever,” he frowned hearing her hang up the phone as he decided
that tonight was going to be the night he ended this weakness of his
once and for all. Getting into his car he headed over to the
mansion where she was staying when he remembered his dinner date with
Silently cursing himself for not having the strength to just say no to
Brooke, Hunt dialed the number Mindy had given him only having her
voice mail pick up as he tried to think up some reasonable explanation
for what was ahead of him, “Hey Mindy, it’s Hunt. Listen, I’m
running behind as something came up with work, but if we can just meet
up at the restaurant instead, that would be great. I’ll be there
close to our reservation time, so if I’m not there when you are, just
wait for me,” he paused feeling like an idiot as he tried to think of
something more to say, “I can’t wait to see you tonight,” he finished
hanging up the phone vowing not to let Brooke keep him too long as he
was eager to see where his evening with Mindy would take him.
“I see you’ve done well for yourself Gabriel,” Marc noted taking in the
hotel surroundings, “as a place like this seems to be the crème
de la crème in Coral Valley.”
“So I’ve been told, but I don’t think you came all the way up here to
discuss my choice of hotel suites, so why don’t we just cut to the
chase Marc?” Gabe frowned back at him, “What do you want?”
“You of course,” Marc stated bluntly, “as it’s something that I’ve been
thinking about for quite some time after our little misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding?” Gabe repeated with an ironic laugh, “I wouldn’t
call trampling upon my heart and trying to dictate my life a
misunderstanding Marc. It was something that I’d just as soon
live without these days.”
“Which explains why you’re spending your time with a boy like Guy
Morrison,” Marc shook his head at him, “to think that he doesn’t care
enough to make your relationship out in the open should speak about
where you stand in his life. He’s not invested in you Gabriel,
but more so in what pleasing his family will bring him.”
“You don’t know the first thing about Guy or about my relationship with
him,” Gabe shot back at him refusing to allow Marc a chance to get him
going all over again as his own insecurities hung overhead.
“I know enough to say that I’ve seen the type come and go in the lives
of men like yourself,” Marc shrugged pondering for a moment, “Guy is in
a phase and he’s unsure about his own intentions, but eventually he’ll
come to a conclusion about his life and you can rest assured that you
won’t be a part of that conclusion. That much I’m certain of as
his mother’s opinion means a great deal to him.”
“Guy’s doing what he needs to do and right now that doesn’t concern
you,” Gabe folded his arms in front of his chest firmly.
“Probably not, but I’m sure his mother would have plenty to say if she
was aware that her son was gay,” Marc rose from the chair he’d been
seated in before offering another casual shrug, “or at least that he’s
been playing the part with you.”
“I don’t need to listen to this,” Gabe remarked sourly making his way
to the hotel room door.
“Perhaps it’s time that you do Gabriel as you’re only fooling yourself
to believe that boy can love you like I can,” Marc stated his voice
full of determination as he watched his ex-lover stuck in a rage, “He’s
not giving you what you need and it was painfully obvious when I saw
you two earlier at the mansion. A relationship with limitations
will never prove to bring forth satisfaction Gabriel and besides, I
didn‘t come over here to speak of Guy Morrison.”
“Then why are you here,” Gabe spun around to find Marc standing
directly in front of him.
“To talk about us--about how it was that we became so estranged and how
we can work to remedy that situation,” Marc explained boldly reaching
out to touch Gabe’s face in a tender gesture, “as I’ve missed what we
“I haven’t,” Gabe stated firmly, clenching his teeth as he bucked out
of Marc’s embrace, “I have never looked back upon what we had together
since the day we parted.”
“You don’t mean that Gabriel,” Marc let out a tiny laugh of disbelief,
“as I could see it in your eyes when I encountered you this morning
that you still feel something for me. Even if you wish to label
it as contempt, there is still a great and powerful emotion between us,
one that you can’t erase from your system.”
“You destroyed my life,” Gabe informed him bluntly, “You ruined Noelle
and you made me see all the things I didn’t want in a relationship.”
“Noelle was destroyed by your inability to come clean with her about
how much we meant to one another,” Marc informed him point blank, “Had
you just been true to your heart instead of hiding from it as you are
right now, then that all could’ve been avoided. We could still
avoid all the things that you’re holding back on if only you’d open
your heart to what it is we have together.”
“It’s nothing Marc,” Gabe cut back sharply, “that’s what it was back
then and that’s all it will ever be.”
“I don’t believe that for a second and if you look inside yourself,
then maybe just maybe you’ll stop hiding from how you feel.
You’ll be able to surrender to the passion again like you once did
Gabriel and in doing so, you’ll finally be free,” Marc stated boldly
reaching out to seize Gabe in an embrace as his lips came crashing down
upon him in a heated, demanding assault.
While Gabe fought to keep from feeling something--anything about the
lover who’d damn near destroyed his life, there was no denying that
there were still feelings lingering there. Feelings that Gabe
wouldn’t allow himself to face as he felt Marc’s hands moving in over
his body in an attempt to coax him to that same surrender that had damn
near stolen Gabe’s soul once upon a time.
“No,” Gabe broke away from him shaking his head adamantly as he refused
to go down that road again, “I’m not about to let you destroy my life
“The destruction you feel comes from within as you’re the one torturing
yourself Gabriel,” Marc stood taller, his eyes penetrating Gabe’s
intensely, “In denying yourself the pleasure you’ve taken from our
relationship in the past, you’re only keeping your true self under lock
and key. You’re hiding from the man you’ve always been meant to
be and the more you deny that, the greater your inner hatred will be.”
“Get out,” Gabe ordered with a sneer, “Get out and don’t come back.”
“You don’t mean that,” Marc replied with a confident grin, “You still
need me Gabriel. I could taste it in your kiss and it’s only a
matter of time before you realize just how much you still want
me. You’ll grow tired of that boy you’ve been wasting your time
with and when you do, well, I’ll be waiting patiently ready to accept
your apologies for this dismissal.”
“Out!” Gabe snapped again throwing open the hotel room door and
watching as Marc exited leaving him in a frenzy as it seemed that just
when he’d started to get a grasp on his life yet another thing was
ready to come back and shake it up again.
“This isn’t happening,” Gabe brought his hands up to his head trying to
dismiss the old feelings that Marc had drawn out from within.
Surely Gabe wasn’t interested in rekindling an old flame between them,
but there was no denying the intense reaction that Marc had always
seemed to be able to rip out of him. They had certainly had
something intense--something beyond mere words and now as Gabe’s heart
was racing in his chest--his pulse demanding the same horrible things
of him where Marc was concerned, he felt himself full of a fear of how
long he could be strong in his decision to never look back.
“He doesn’t matter anymore,” Gabe stated aloud hearing a knock at his
door as his pulse quickened yet again, causing every excited synapse to
ignite with the flames of the forbidden passion he and Marc had once
explored with one another during those times when Gabe had hated
himself the most. There was no denying the intensity of the
physical reaction that Marc had been able to scorch him with, but he
wouldn’t allow the man back into his heart. He had to be clear on
that and as he heard the knocking grow more frantic, he threw open the
door ready to face the man who’d nearly ruined him all those years ago.
“I thought I told you to get…” Gabe charged ready to assault Marc with
his words as he found Guy standing before him looking more desperate
and adorable than ever.
“I tried calling, but when you didn’t answer,” Guy began with a heavy
sigh as Gabe reached out to him pulling Guy into an embrace.
“I’m so sorry,” Gabe confessed squeezing Guy in his arms as his heart
was still racing with something he couldn’t keep under control.
Touching Guy’s face gently, he urged Guy’s chin up so that they could
meet one another’s eyes, “I’m so sorry for that…”
“Gabe I was just so worried and…” Guy began as Gabe cut him off with a
desperate, longing kiss.
“I know and I’m sorry,” Gabe threw his arms around Guy unable to
contain himself as he began to ease the material of Guy’s shirt up over
his torso in between kiss after heated kiss, “I wish that I hadn’t done
that…that I didn’t cause you to be concerned, but I need you Guy. I
need you now more than ever.”
“I need you too Gabe,” Guy replied reaching out to hold his lover, “I
just didn’t want you to walk away thinking that I didn’t care--that I
don’t love you…”
“I know you do and I love you. I need you to know that,” Gabe
threw out an impassioned plea claiming Guy’s lips in another frantic
kiss as he devoted all his attentions to proving to his lover just how
deep his emotions ran for Guy. Doing his best to forget about
Marc, Gabe began to tear the clothes off of Guy forcing his focus to
remain on his lover as they fell into passion with one another leaving
the rest of the world behind for a little while with long overdue time
away from it all.
“This is nice,” Blake sank back into Seth’s embrace feeling her pulse
return to normal as they lay together before the fireplace basking in
the aftermath of their lovemaking with one another.
“It’s heaven Blake,” Seth touched her cheek tenderly seeing all of his
emotions reflected behind her blue eyes as he held her, “It’s something
that I’ve waited a long time to be able to experience with you just
“I know and I’m sorry that it took me so long to get my priorities
together,” Blake confessed with a sigh tracing lazy circles over his
chest as she could feel his heart beating rapidly beneath her, “Somehow
I think I spent so long trying to do everything and anything to destroy
the good that I’d had in my life. When I found you, it all just
happened so fast and I fell so hard that I couldn’t think about
anything, but how I didn’t deserve this. Even now I have to
wonder if I still don’t as you could be with so many other women who
wouldn’t have given you such a hard time in a relationship.”
“Blake, don’t you know by now, there’s no other woman for me than the
one I’m holding in this very moment,” Seth reached out to bring his
thick fingers up through her golden tresses, “You mean so very much to
me and I don’t know where I’d be without you. When I thought that
I’d lost you forever, it felt as if a part of me was gone with you and
I knew that I’d never be able to get that back without you in my
life. I love you so very much and I’d do anything just to make
you happy--absolutely anything Blake and at one time I believed that
meant even my having to let you go to move on with your life.”
“With Zack,” she sighed feeling a shiver race over her spine at the
mention of a man who’d come to mean so very much to her.
“Yes, with Zack,” he nodded in confession, “I know that you love him
and I know that it’s been easy for you to forget that when we’re
together, but I’m also aware of the competition I have for your heart.”
“Seth, it’s not a competition,” Blake insisted touching his face
tenderly, “as I love you and I want to be with you.”
“I believe that when we’re together Blake. I really, truly do,
but I also know that Zack can give you things that I can’t--things that
I may never ever be able to offer you,” Seth started feeling his own
lingering doubts about their future come to the surface once again.
“Seth, if I wanted all those things, then I would’ve already married
some guy from one of the country clubs, but those things aren’t
important to me,” Blake remarked firmly wanting nothing more than to
clear up any misconceptions he’d had about where her heart was, “When I
first saw you in that auto shop, I thought you were by far the sexiest
man I’d ever laid my eyes upon and I wasn’t sure whether I really
wanted to chew you out like I’d intended to or if I’d just throw
caution to the wind and have my way with you then and there.”
“I can see what won out,” Seth couldn’t help but tease watching the
color rise over her beautiful features.
“Well, I didn’t think doing a reenactment of some cheesy, low budget
porno was the way to get your attention there,” Blake teased back with
a flirty wink.
“It might’ve raised a few thoughts in my head, but I much prefer how
things happened for us, even with the many bumps in the road along the
way,” Seth sighed feeling her sink into him as she lay her head upon
his chest listening to the sounds of his heart.
“So do I and while I know it hasn’t been easy, I meant what I said
about my being dedicated to seeing this all the way through. I
want to show you all the ways in which you’re the man I’ve been waiting
a lifetime to have in my life and I want you to believe me when I say
that to you.”
“I want to believe it, Blake,” he confessed gently massaging her spine
as he held her, “More than anything I want to believe that all the
things that have happened in the past won’t be something that can tear
us apart in the future. I hate the thought of how I hurt you
“Shh…” she silenced him with her index finger as she rose up on her
elbows to look down at him, “Seth, that’s not important anymore.
All that matters is the here and now and right now all I wanted to be
is right here with you.”
“Gee, imagine that,” he winked up at her catching note of the
playfulness in her tone.
“Seth, I’m serious,” she swatted at his chest, “Don’t you know by now
that I don’t just fall head over heels for just anyone here? I am
an Ashford after all.”
“I realize that which is why I was just trying to prepare you for what
it means to be with a man like me,” Seth confessed openly, “as I’m not
exactly a black tie affair kind of guy.”
“No one says you have to be, but I will say that what matters the most
to me--what’s really important is what you have right here,” she placed
her hand over his heart feeling the strength of him beneath her before
she threw out a playful wink and dropped her hand down beneath the thin
blanket that covered their bodies as she teased her fingers over the
root of his masculinity, “or was it here?”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he reached out to tickle at her sides as
he flipped her onto her back tumbling over her as their eyes
reconnected, “You’re trouble in every sense of the word Blake
Ashford. I hope you realize that.”
“Oh I do and I’m proud of it,” Blake confessed openly as she curled her
arms around him, “although I’m even prouder of the fact that I happened
to find a man who happens to love trouble.”
“It’s a curse some would say,” he offered up jokingly tipping down to
nibble on her lower lip as she shifted beneath him allowing the warmth
of him to fill her up completely as they surrendered to the moment with
“I love you,” she breathed holding him tighter than before as his
kisses tapered off over her creamy, silken skin.
“I love you,” he mouthed over her body, relearning all the places he’d
devoted his attention to earlier during their lovemaking session as he
thought to all the ways he intended to savor every incredible inch of
“Oh Seth,” Blake whispered behind a tortured breath feeling him awaken
all those tingling sensations that had rocked her world inside out
moments earlier in the height of passion. Now there was no
mistaken how in tune he was with her as he knew all the right places to
kiss, to lick and nibble with the clear and determined mission to
arouse all of her impulses as she gave herself to the feeling ready to
slip into another world altogether on her own with him as her pulse
raced. However, fate seemingly had other plans for them as her
phone began to ring furiously sending them both to reality.
“You know I’m really starting to hate modern technology,” Seth
confessed with a groan feeling her sit upright as he fell onto his back
“Most of the time I do too, but that ring means only one thing,” she
searched the floor for her phone, “It’s Kenny and if he’s calling, well
I should probably answer.”
“Yeah, you probably should,” Seth nodded in agreement closing his eyes
as she placed a quick kiss upon his chest before rising to her feet
“Don’t you go anywhere,” she instructed answering the phone as she left
the room to have a few words with her brother while Seth pondered the
state of his relationship with Blake.
Over the last few weeks things had been going rather well between
them--too good to be really his life, he thought to himself as he
realized that Blake had gotten so deep into his system that he feared
the day when she’d realize just how unworthy of her he was. He’d
never imagined that he’d really meet someone as wonderful as
her--someone who would turn his world upside-down and make him believe
in romance and happily ever after, but there she was like a vision out
of his dreams willing to bring out all those feelings he’d repressed
for so very long. Sure, he’d feared that the past would keep him
from happiness, but when he was with Blake, it seemed as though the
past wouldn’t be able to haunt them--wouldn’t be able to take away the
purity of what they felt and he just prayed that with Cameron’s threats
on his sister, that his romance with Blake would continue to flourish.
Upon hearing Blake’s footsteps in the hallway, Seth opened his eyes and
rolled onto his side, propping himself up on his elbow before
repositioning the blanket over him carefully to give her something to
dream about. He felt a smile tickling over the corners of his
mouth as he thought to all the ways in which he was going to dedicate
himself to loving Blake, but as she entered the living room area once
again, she looked as if all the color had been drained completely from
“Blake, what is it,” Seth questioned sitting up as he noticed her
expression, “What’s wrong?”
“It was Ken,” she began weakly, “He’s in Seattle with Caitlin.”
“And?” Seth inquired already fearing the worst as he realized who else
was out there with Ken and Caitlin.
“And her father’s doing much better. They say he should be out of
the hospital in no time as there’s only some bruising and minor damage
after the construction accident he was in,” Blake paused feeling her
throat go dry as she tried to keep from feeling anything about the
bombshell that her brother had dropped upon her.
“But what?” Seth rose up off of the floor watching as Blake sank into
the couch at a loss, “Blake, what happened?”
“It’s Zack…” Blake started unable to put her emotions to words as she
felt the tears she’d swore to herself she wouldn’t cry coming to haunt
her, “It’s just that he…well, Ken wanted to tell me because he thought
I had a right to know considering our history but…I just never…I mean I
didn’t expect that he’d go off and…”
“And what? What has Zack done now,” Seth questioned noticing the
way that the same pain had returned to Blake’s features as she spoke of
the man who posed the greatest challenge to their relationship with one
“He married Johanna,” Blake blurted out unable to mask her emotions
about the situation as she broke into full blown tears.
“I’m sorry,” Seth managed to get out wrapping his arms around her as he
felt her trembling beneath his embrace, “I’m so sorry.”
“I just never thought that he’d…I mean I knew that they had a baby on
the way, but for him to just run off and marry her like this…” Blake
sniffled as her tears continued to fall freely, “It just doesn’t make
“Some things just don’t I suppose,” Seth sighed feeling an ache
overtake him as he could see the intensity of Blake’s tears in the
moment she realized that Zack was no longer hers. In that instant
he felt a strange combination of sadness and anger build up inside of
him, but he continued to hold onto her refusing to allow her sadness to
be the key to his undoing.
“It’s just so unfair,” Blake confessed in a tight whisper as she held
“That it is,” Seth nodded in agreement realizing that he’d already lost
the one thing he’d been banking on as Blake’s tears for the loss where
Zack was concerned said it all about where he stood in her heart.
“I just wish things were different,” Blake continued to sob unable to
hold any of it in as he held her.
“So do I,” Seth shifted uneasily beneath her after her tears began to
taper off. Suddenly feeling very out of place beneath her, he let
out a slow breath knowing that he was going to have to do the last
thing he’d ever wanted to face with her again. He took in a slow
breath contemplating his words as his heart broke into pieces upon the
realization of what their relationship was to Blake, “Blake,
maybe we should get dressed.”
“What?” she questioned in confusion turning her eyes up towards him,
“Now just isn’t the right time for us to make love,” Seth explained
patiently despite the inner turmoil he was facing in a moment like the
one he was in with her.
“But Seth I thought that…” she felt him move out from beneath her as
she watched him with confused eyes.
“I did too, but Blake, this isn’t going to work for us,” Seth finally
said the words that had haunted him from the moment she’d broken down
about losing Zack, “I tried to fool myself into believing that we could
make it. Hell, I wanted that more than anything, but I can’t
allow myself to be guy number two.”
“Guy number two,” she repeated as her jaw dropped in realization,
“Seth, is that what you think I’m saying?”
“No, Blake, that’s not it at all,” he replied poignantly seeking out
his pants and slipping into him, “It’s just that you don’t have to say
it. I know how you feel about Zack and I’m sorry that things
didn’t work out for the both of you like you were hoping.”
“Seth, where is this coming from,” she questioned getting up from the
sofa as her voice was tight with emotion, “I already told you that I
“I know what you said Blake, but the truth to the matter is that I
can’t be the guy that you stay with because your first choice married
someone else,” he sighed feeling a pang of sadness creep on over him as
he reached out to touch her face, “Blake, I love you with everything I
am, but I can’t stand back and pretend that this doesn’t hurt--that I’m
okay with the way things are. I knew when we got back together
that had Zack not screwed up, we wouldn’t be having this opportunity
and the truth to the matter is that I can’t let his mistakes be the key
to our being together.”
“Seth, they aren’t,” Blake pleaded with him, “That’s not why I’m with
you. I already told you time and time again…”
“I heard what you said, but I also heard what you didn’t,” he repeated
with sadness behind his brown eyes, “Blake, I know you love Zack and
even with his being married to Johanna, that doesn’t change
anything. He’s someone you’ve waited a long time to be with and I
can’t compete with that. I won’t do it because I know in the long
run you’ll only resent me for being everything he’s not.”
“I never said that Seth. That’s not how I’m feeling and right now
you’re putting words into my mouth,” Blake felt her body grow tight
with fear and panic, “Seth, that has nothing to do with us.”
“Fine, then tell me that you believe we have a future together.
Tell me that one day you see me as the man you want to share the rest
of your life with. That if I asked you to marry me--to be my wife
that you’d say yes and agree to enter that bond with me,” Seth threw
out at her only to be met by her silence. “See, that’s what I
“Seth, marriage is a big thing and I don’t think that anyone should
just jump into it and if you’re asking me to marry you, well that’s
something that doesn’t happen overnight. What we have together
now is great and if it leads to that, well then hey that’s even
better…” Blake offered up in an afterthought.
“Even better isn’t what I’m looking for Blake. When I get married
I want my wife to be with me because she can’t live without me--that
she feels in her heart about me what I feel for her without
reservation. I can’t stand back and be the rebound guy because
her first choice got away. I can’t deal with that.”
“Seth, I can’t pretend that I don’t care about Zack because you’ve
always asked me to be honest with you. I’ve tried to give you
that,” Blake pointed out with a frown feeling her tears threatening as
she could feel the distance between them.
“And I’m trying to do that with you Blake. I want it all, not
some illusion of happily ever after by default,” he confessed stepping
in towards her as he reached out to touch her cheek tenderly, “I love
you so damn much that it hurts when I’m not with you, but I can’t bear
being the guy you coast through life with until your prince charming is
free again. I thought that I could do that, but Blake, I can’t
pretend anymore. If Zack is really what you want, then it’s not
too late. You go find him and make him see that you two are meant
to be together.”
“Seth I…” she sniffled unable to keep the tears from coming as she felt
her heart breaking.
“He doesn’t love Johanna. He loves you and you love him and you
two should be together,” Seth cupped her face in his hands, “I see that
now and I won’t stand in your way any longer.”
“Seth please…” Blake cried out feeling his lips descend upon hers as he
kissed her gently, sending out a rush of emotions from within as she
desperately reached out to him, “Seth, don’t end it this way.
This doesn’t have to be it for us…”
“It’s already too late for that Blake,” he replied taking one last look
at her as his eyes filled with sadness before he turned away from her
walking out of the Ashford guest house and out of her life forever as
Blake found herself alone at long last lost in the very place she swore
to herself she’d never be.
“So what are you saying Dave? You’re just going to wait until
Grady heals and then send him right back to hell to get hut again?”
Avery charged glaring at Dave as his impossible side was grating on her
“Avery, I’m not saying that, but you and I both know to make something
like that believable, well it’s just never going to work,” Dave shook
his head at the thought.
“Why can’t it?” Grady questioned in confusion, “I don’t think it’s a
bad idea and if it helps show Cameron’s true colors then why not give
it a try?”
“That’s easier said than done Grady and we both know that,” Dave
frowned realizing that the odds were stacked against him as the Denton
group had proven to be far more stubborn than he’d anticipated, “To
actually do something like that would require the complete cooperation
of the hospital staff and of the family as you’d have to make it appear
“We can do that,” Russ added his own thoughts to the subject,
“especially if it means that my brother will have a chance to clear his
“I could lose my career for even thinking this idea,” Dave gave them
all a stern look, “Did you put any consideration into that?”
“How would you feel having Grady’s blood on your hands yet again or
worse?” Avery taunted him, “Dave, you know it’s the only way and what
we’re asking isn’t breaking any laws…”
“No, it’s just bending a few million of them and I’m telling you Avery
for it to work, we’d have to make the world believe what we wanted them
to believe,” Dave pointed out once again.
“Starting with Cameron,” Grady added.
“Which could prove to be quite difficult,” Jade pointed out stating the
obvious, “as he’s not the kind of man to accept things at face value.”
“Even so, if he wanted Grady dead, then why wouldn’t he believe the
story we’re trying to sell him,” Russell insisted finding himself more
invested in Avery’s suggestion to save his brother more than ever,
“This way it gives us time to prove that Stone is the one calling all
“It’s not like you’re asking for an extra scoop of ice cream here
Russ. You’re asking me to go out of my way to bend the rules for
Grady during an ongoing attempted murder investigation…” Dave sighed in
“For a man who seemingly dropped off of the planet,” Avery added
sharply, “That in itself should tell you that Cameron doesn’t want Kipp
to be found. He doesn’t want anyone to know the truth about that
night and if there’s a chance that Kipp Mahoney will wake up, then
Cameron will make damn sure that doesn’t happen.”
“There’s no evidence leading us to believe that Cameron has anything do
with Kipp Mahoney’s disappearance,” Dave added simply, “None
“Well of course not because Cameron doesn’t like to be sloppy,” Grady
insisted adamantly, “he’s not about to let you see he has Kipp
especially when he’s out to destroy me.”
“You keep saying that, but as it stands you attacked Cameron,” Dave
shot back at him.
“Only because he was threatening to hurt Jade,” Grady stated plainly.
“Threatening how?” Dave questioned again finding himself met by a
silence. “Grady, if you know something and you’re keeping it from
me, then you’re going to have to be straight with me if you want me to
“That’s irrelevant, but what matters is that Cameron’s not just
threatening any longer. He’s taking it a step further and he
needs to be stopped!” Grady snapped back at him, “And if you’re not
going to do it…”
“I’m trying to do everything in my power, but you have to understand
that there are rules and regulations that must be followed and if I
start ignoring them…” Dave began.
“Dave, do you really want more blood on your hands?” Avery asked
bluntly, “because that’s exactly what’s going to happen if you don’t
help Grady out of this situation. If you don’t at least give this
a try, then Grady’s as good as dead and Dave, to be quite honest with
you I don’t think you’re the kind of man to willingly put someone’s
life on the line,” she finished watching the tortured expression on his
face as she wondered if she’d finally struck a nerve in Dave.
“I hope you realize what you’re asking of me because when this comes
back in your face to haunt you and it will, I’m going to claim that I
know nothing about this plan of yours,” he threw back at her realizing
there was no point in fighting it any longer as Avery had a point that
he hated to admit was true where Cameron Stone was concerned.
“Can I get you something more to drink madam,” the waiter questioned
approaching Mindy as she sat alone at the table awaiting Hunt’s
arrival. While she’d tried to call him back and let him know that
she’s received his message and had no problems meeting him at the
restaurant, she discovered that his cell phone had been turned
off. Now as she sat at the restaurant awaiting his arrival, she
wondered what must’ve happened as he was already half an hour later
than she’d anticipated.
“Madam?” the waiter asked again as Mindy pulled herself out of her
moment of contemplation.
“No thank you,” Mindy shook her head politely, “I’m waiting for my
“Are you sure your friend is coming tonight?” the waiter questioned
snidely as Mindy could see his growing impatience with her after having
not ordered anything other than a water.
“He’ll be here,” Mindy insisted firmly refusing to believe that Hunt
had ducked out on her, “and you know on second thought I think I would
like a refill.”
“As you wish,” the snooty waiter walked off leaving Mindy to ponder
what could be keeping Hunt as she turned her attention to the book
she’d brought with her in the hopes that it would open up some
conversation for them should they find themselves at a loss with one
“Okay, so you’re not getting off to a great start here,” Mindy muttered
under her breath as she surveyed the restaurant taking in the other
patrons as they all seemed to be absorbed in their dinner
conversations, each couple laughing and sharing the evening with one
another in such an intimate fashion that it left Mindy wishing that she
too could have that in her life. Certainly she’d had Guy around,
but well, that one spoke for itself seeing as he wasn’t interested in
her. He couldn’t ever give her what she needed and she’d grown to
accept that, yet here she was yet again waiting on a guy who apparently
didn’t think she was worth showing up for.
“Mindy stop,” she ordered herself hating to trail down this
self-defeating path once again as she always seemed to base all her
future experiences on her failures with Guy. Guy was a lifetime
ago and sure, maybe she’d blurred the lines of what it was she was
supposed to have with him, but tonight was about starting over.
Hunt was nice and charming and he’d certainly seemed interested, yet he
was no where to be found. He’d sounded so very excited about
their dinner with one another, although she thought she’d sensed some
hesitance in his voice. No, it just had to be her own self
defeating side. He was going to walk through those doors at any
minute and she was going to feel like an idiot for even had such
horrible thoughts. He was going to show up.
“Just hopefully sooner rather than later,” Mindy whispered realizing
that another fifteen minutes had passed since the last time she’d
checked her watch. As she started to approach the hour late mark
she could tell that she’d had her waiter agitated once he’d pranced
over to the table once again.
“It would appear that your friend isn’t coming tonight, so if you’d
like to order now,” the waiter began impatiently.
“I guess he’s not,” Mindy frowned feeling a disappointment overtake her
as she threw a few dollar bills on the table top to offer up a tip to
the rude waiter before she rose from the chair straining to keep from
falling apart as she reached for her bag, “Sorry I wasted your time.”
With that Mindy exited the restaurant lost in the feeling of having
been an idiot once again as not only had she put all her hopes into
having dinner with Hunt, but she’d been stood up. It figured, she
thought to herself as it began to rain down upon her.
“Wonderful,” she muttered aloud zipping up her light jacket as she
started down over the sidewalk seeking out any kind of shelter from the
storm that was beginning. Once she’d found an awning to wait
under, she reached for her cell phone wondering if she’d missed another
message from Hunt, but as she checked her voice mail discovering there
weren’t any messages waiting for her, she decided to call it a night
heading on over to the apartment where she was sure to drown herself in
rocky road ice-cream and a movie about someone who had everything that
she didn’t in terms of romance and a real relationship.
Shannon took one last look at her appearance in the full length mirror
wondering if the little red dress was too much for a first date with
the handsome doctor she’d met earlier at the hospital. Okay, so
it wasn’t really a date--at least not officially, but it had been a
long time since she’d had dinner out with anyone, well except Dave, but
that didn’t count as it seemed that her nights were mostly spent at the
office doing all the things that most people let go of when their work
day ended. She’d spent so much time going above and beyond the
call of duty and what had it gotten her other than a suspension?
Sure, she might’ve been a workaholic and a bit aggressive where Brant
was concerned, but this stupid reprimand was too much as she should be
out there on the streets working to catch Mathis.
“Enough,” she warned herself trying not to dwell on things that
couldn’t be changed. Tonight was about enjoying herself and she
had to keep reminding her mind that she wasn’t Shannon Pryce agent for
the FBI, but Shannon Browne nurse at Coral Valley’s hospital working
alongside Deidra Byrne. Case closed. That was all she
needed to know to get through the night and as soon as she stopped
thinking outside of the focus for tonight, she’d be just fine.
Hearing a faint rapping at her hotel room door, Shannon felt a nervous
breath of anticipation fall upon her as she took another look at
herself. Okay, so maybe the dress was a bit much as it flattered
her every curve. So it was a bit racy, but hey she was entitled
to have some fun on tonight of all nights and if she had her date
drooling at how good she looked, then all the better for her, she
decided making her way to greet her company.
“Hi,” Shannon greeted Diego eagerly as she opened up her hotel room
door taking her first look at the delicious looking doctor before
her. While she’d noticed he was cute at the hospital, seeing him
dressed up in a black colored suit spoke for itself as he looked good
enough to eat and since Shannon had taken a long time away from the
dating scene, she couldn’t help but admit that was a very good thing.
“These are for you. I though they might be a nice welcome to
Coral Valley,” Diego held out a bundle of daisies as his eyes widened
upon seeing her. “Wow, you look incredible.”
“Thank you,” Shannon felt her face grow flushed at the compliment as
she motioned to the flowers, “these are beautiful.”
“I’m glad you like them,” he nodded appropriately as his eyes cast over
her once again in a brief perusal.
“Oh I do. In fact, I think I should probably put them in some
water,” she decided motioning for him to follow her, “Come on in.”
“Alright,” Diego nodded in response walking into her hotel suite and
taking a look around, “you know I must admit I was surprised to
discover that you were staying at the hotel here as I would’ve thought
you’d settle in somewhere in town a bit more permanent.”
“Oh well I’ve been meeting with a couple of realtors,” she lied with a
quick thought, “but so far nothing has caught my eye.”
“That’s too bad as I would hope you aren’t planning on skipping town on
us,” Diego replied taking a brief look around at the suitcases that
were spread out around the room as Shannon returned from the kitchen
“I wasn’t on going anywhere anytime soon,” she explained flashing him a
quick smile, “although I’m not really sure that Coral Valley is the
place for me.”
“And why is that?” Diego questioned curiously.
“Well, so far I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs and I haven’t
quite settled in here,” she confessed honestly, “It seems like I’m
getting mixed messages about this place.”
“Then how about we work on changing that starting tonight,” Diego
suggested in a flirty tone, “as I’d hate to see you leave so soon as
I’ve hardly gotten a chance to get to know you.”
“That would be a crime if we let that happen, now wouldn’t it?” Shannon
replied with a sexy smile of her own as she offered her arm out to him,
“Now how about we work on remedying that over dinner?”
“I say you’re on,” Diego agreed with an eager nod taking her arm in his
as he lead her out of her hotel room ready to face the night of
possibilities before them on this dinner date with one another.
“This is ridiculous,” Heather hissed marching into the mansion as she
searched for any signs of her husband. While she’d decided she’d
stick around her new office a little while longer in the hopes that
maybe just maybe Cameron would pop in to pay her a visit, she’d given
up on him once he hadn’t returned any of her phone calls. Now as
she looked around the mansion realizing that once again Cameron was no
where to be found, her fury began to bubble up inside of her.
“Where are you Cameron,” she questioned finding his office empty as her
thoughts returned to the real source of her agitation. While
she’d tried not to dwell on it, the fact that Diego had left her on
such unsettling terms had her in a tizzy. As if it was bad enough
to have been turned down for dinner, but to have it be because of
another woman, well it just didn’t feel right at all.
Okay, so maybe Diego wasn’t her husband, but he was her friend and
friends didn’t just abandon other friends in their time of need.
That being said, Heather made her way to the door again ready to seek
Diego out and give him a tongue lashing that he so richly deserved for
not thinking to cancel his plans and spend some time with her.
“Oh Mrs. Stone,” Franklin beckoned her from her thoughts as she spun
around to find him standing behind her.
“God Franklin you scared the life out of me,” she raised her hand to
her chest with a gasp, “What is it?”
“I didn’t mean to sneak up on you madam, but Mr. Stone wanted me to
send you his apologizes for being gone this evening as he’s been held
up with a situation at work,” Franklin informed her simply in his
polite and proper tone.
“As usual,” she couldn’t help but roll her eyes, “but hey that’s fine
because I’m going to be going out for a while.”
“As you wish,” he nodded reaching for an envelope he’d set on the
tabletop near the doorway, “although before you go, this came for you
earlier in the day. It was labeled urgent.”
“Thank you Franklin,” she snatched the curious package from him before
dismissing him with a wave, “Go and enjoy your evening.”
“Yes Madam,” he nodded accordingly taking off down the hallway as
Heather turned her attention to the envelope before her.
While she really couldn’t be bothered with anything other than her
mission to seek out Diego, she noticed something familiar about the
name of the lawyer on the top of the package. Frowning as she
realized the post mark was from Los Angeles, she wondered if perhaps
William was trying to sue her for a breach of contract and as that
thought sent a shudder racing over her body, she tore into the package
ready to just get it over with.
“Whatever you’re trying to pull William, it’s not going to work,”
Heather thought aloud skimming the page before a gasp fell from her
lips and her jaw dropped in horror.
“No,” she cried out dropping the page as if it had burned her as she
blinked once, twice, three times as if trying to will it away, but as
she felt her eyes glued to the discarded papers, she realized that they
weren’t just a figment of her imagination. Looking around the
hallway, Heather took in another breath bending down to pick the pages
up again. There in living color there was a petition for Douglas
Mahoney to claim guardianship of her unborn child as it seemed he’d
decided to change his position in his stance to pretend that Kipp
wasn’t the father of her baby.
“No,” Heather repeated dropping her free hand over her abdomen as a
fear consumed her while reading through the legal documents. With
page after page, it seemed that she’d finally had her worst fears
confirmed as Douglas was ready to make the world believe she was an
unfit parent, thus taking her chance at motherhood away from her before
it had an opportunity to begin.
“Cameron, where are you,” Heather rushed over to the phone dialing his
office in the hopes of catching him as she felt the beginnings of a
panic attack overtake her. There was no way Cameron was going to
stand for this--no way he was going to let Douglas do this to her, yet
as she kept listening to the ringing on the other end of the line, she
realized that her husband who had promised to protect her was no where
to be found. Hanging up the phone Heather realized that she had
no other choice, but to go elsewhere for help as she dialed Diego’s
office in a frenzy.
“Yes, I need to speak to Dr. Hernandez. It’s an emergency,”
Heather spoke urgently into the phone.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Stone, but Dr. Hernandez specifically left instructions
not to be interrupted tonight, though I’d be more than happy to connect
you to another staff psychiatrist,” the secretary began.
“To hell with that,” Heather blurted out slamming the phone down as she
vowed to find Diego on her own as her child’s future was depending on