Episode 110

Shannon took in a slow breath trying to curb the nervousness that overtook her.  She stood outside Diego’s office straining to find the right words to say as it seemed as though her courage had left her shortly after she’d made the decision to make the bold move to approach him once again.  Now as she felt her heart thudding in her chest, she half thought to turn around and leave before she made an even bigger ass of herself, but before that last moment of escape could come to her the door opened and she came face to face with the man she’d thought about avoiding.
“Diego,” she breathed as her shock overtook her.
“Shannon,” Diego spoke her name in a surprised gasp after having nearly run her over.  He eyed her for a long moment before his astonishment transformed into a less than friendly expression, “What can I do for you?”
“I was hoping I could have a few words with you,” Shannon began uneasily, “if you could spare a few minutes that is.”
“I’m in a hurry actually,” Diego began coldly as Shannon threw out a pleading look.
“It won’t take too long,” she promised him sensing his hesitance before he stepped aside and allowed her access to his office.
“Come on in,” he sighed caving in the moment as Shannon took this opportunity to try to get her thoughts together.  She heard him close the door behind her before she spun around to see him standing before her with his arms folded in front of his chest impatiently.
“I should start by saying that I owe you a huge apology,” Shannon began feeling guilt eat away at her insides, “I shouldn’t have lied to you.”
“No you shouldn’t have,” he agreed with her not saying much more as he stood completely still before her.
“I’m really, truly sorry about that as that was never my intention.  It was just that most men, well, it’s just that most men that I’ve dated seem to have a problem with my profession and who I am and when I met you, well I kind of let that part of my life slide because it was the first time in a long time that someone hasn’t backed away from me because of my career,” she started finding herself at a loss as he just stared at her with his dark, contemplative eyes, “I feel terrible for not being upfront with you about things as I shouldn’t have let my issues get in the way with what we had going on.”
“You mean other than dinner?” Diego gave her a strange look as Shannon suddenly felt foolish for having come upstairs to his office to begin with.
“I guess I just kind of thought that, well…never mind.  I just wanted to apologize for things going as bad as they did, but that’s all…”  she paused clearing her throat as her nerves got the best of her as she started for his office door again ready to leave in embarrassment.
“Wait a second,” Diego beckoned her from her escape, “don’t I get a say in any of this?”
“I didn’t think there was much more to say about things other than I was sorry,” Shannon slowly forced herself to turn around and face him again.
“Actually, I think I owe you an apology as well,” Diego confessed with a heavy sigh bringing his fingers through his hair, “as I wasn’t exactly honest or forthcoming with you myself last night.  You see last night was the first time in a long time that I’d well, that I’d had well dinner with someone in a while…”
“Oh,” Shannon began watching the way his expression changed.  He rubbed his palms together pacing around the room a bit as if he was the one at a loss of words.
“You see not so long ago--well, at least not for me that is, there was someone pretty special in my life.  We were, well we were going to be married and have a family with one another,” Diego confessed candidly feeling the need to be upfront with Shannon about the state of his affairs, “She died…tragically and since then, well I just haven’t been up on the whole dating scene and when I found out last night that you were with the FBI, well it brought about a whole string of issues that I have with some others in your line of work not so long ago.”
“I take it the interactions weren’t positive,” Shannon noted watching the tortured expression that passed over his features.
“That’s putting it politely,” he admitted with an ironic smile, “but the more I got to thinking about what happened between us, well I realized that you weren’t to blame for my feelings about those I dealt with.  Deep down I know that you’re not like them and I must apologize for my inappropriate response to what happened last night.  It was rude and clearly out of line.”
“No, I was the one who was out of line.  I wanted to tell you, but after we met in the courtyard, well you just seemed so polite and kind and it’s been a long time since I’ve encountered someone like that,” Shannon admitted with a sheepish grin, “I know that must sound silly.”
“Actually, no it sounds rather refreshing to know that I’m not the only one out there seeking that kind of peace in their life,” Diego confessed with a look of complete understanding, “I just need to ask one thing…”
“What’s that?” she questioned in confusion as he stepped towards her.
“This whole working at the hospital situation, that doesn’t have anything to do with me at all, does it?” he inquired thinking about his less than savory history with those FBI officials that had blown off Maria’s death not so long ago.
“Not at all,” Shannon admitted honestly, “I’m doing an unofficial favor for a friend in making sure that one of his friends isn’t in the line of danger.  I’m mostly keeping an eye on her just in case things happen to get ugly around here.”
“With Bruce Mathis,” he noted as she offered up a nod.
“That man seems to cause a lot of chaos in this town and I’d like to see to it that his reign of terror ends soon even if my superiors tend to have a difference of opinion about my methods,” she divulged thinking about her being taken off the case.
“Well in that type of situation, we’re in agreement as I think sometimes people overlook the obvious in an investigation and justice gets perverted in some ways,” he spoke up, his tone darkening with emotion.
“It sounds like you’ve experienced that kind of bureaucracy
 first hand,” Shannon noted the faraway expression that passed over his features.
“All too well, but for now, well I think it’s best that the past stays in the past.  Wouldn’t you agree?” Diego suggested with the beginnings of a polite smile.
“That all depends,” Shannon decided feeling a bit more of her courage returning to her.
“On what?” he arched a curious brow.
“On whether or not putting the past behind us will give me the opportunity to ask you out again--this time without any secrets or hidden disasters getting in the way of dinner,” Shannon suggested boldly taking note of the surprise that registered over his features.
“Shannon, I can’t promise you that I’m ready for something that…” he began thinking about the demons that had been haunting him lately.
“It’s just dinner,” Shannon interrupted, “and I promise I won’t have any unrealistic expectations about how it will go.  Should things go rather well, hey I won’t object, but all I’m asking for is a decent meal with good conversation.  Do you think you can handle something like that?”
“I think I might be able to muster up the strength to give it a try,” he teased back with a lightness in his tone as he thought her offer over, “only this time, well, this time how about we skip over the whole fancy restaurant scene altogether and you let me make it up to you by allowing me to cook a meal for you?  I mean, hey it‘s the least I can do after my behavior last night.”
“I thought we weren’t keeping score,” she reminded him, “and besides I thought we agreed the past is in the past.”
“Even so, I think I’d like to take the opportunity to show off some of my talents since you were interested enough in giving dinner another try after last night’s drama,” Diego half teased laying his offer up and out on the table again for her.
“In that case, I’m going to hold you to those talents if and only if you allow me to bring dessert,” Shannon decided feeling a bit more brave.
“It’s a deal,” Diego agreed as it seemed that Deidra had been right in giving Shannon the nudge in Diego’s general direction.  Somehow while she’d expected disaster, things seemed to be turning around for her which, she was quite certain, had to be a first in a long time.

Diane took a deep breath looking around the room. Something was very wrong. She could feel it. She started tossing her clothes around looking for some kind of clue to what she was forgetting to pack. She had made a list, but the list was no where to be found in the mess she had made to find the appropriate clothing for the trip. With a frustrated huff she put her hands on her hips and looked around the room once more. "What in the world am I missing? Think Diane think."
 Ben walked past her door and stopped when he saw her looking frustrated. He gave a curious look and leaned against the door frame watching her. He watched as she rummaged through some more clothes and bit her lip in frustration. Ben gave a light laugh, "Having some problems?"
"Oh, you scared me," Diane turned around to see Ben standing in the doorway.
"What's wrong?" he questioned looking around at the mess she had made, "Having some difficulties?"
"I can't for the life of me find it," Diane pouted running a hand through her hair and huffing again.
"What are you looking for?" Ben asked advancing over to her, as he started to fold the clothes she tossed all over the place, "Maybe, I can help you find it?"
"That would be great," she smiled running her hand across his cheek.
"What are we looking for?" Ben asked setting her clothes gently into the suitcase and turning to her.
"That's the problem," she frowned sitting down on her bed, "I can't for the life of me figure out what I'm missing."
"Well, maybe you're not missing anything," he smiled sitting down next to her on the bed, placing a hand on her knee, "Maybe you're just excited about the trip."
Diane let out a sigh and laid back on the bed, "Maybe, but I seriously think I'm missing something."
Ben laid down next to her and wrapped his arm around her waist, "Don't worry about it Sweetie. Everything will be fun. I promise."
"I'm not worried about that," she leaned her head against his, "Anything with you will be fun Ben, it's just.."
"You're worried about meeting my parents," Ben finished off kissing her cheek.
"Well, yeah I am actually," she bit her lip nervously.
"Well, don't worry about it." he kissed her nose, "Seriously sweetie it's nothing to worry about."
"But I do worry about it Ben! I mean what if they don't like me?" She bit her lip thinking about the thought. "What if they think I'm not good enough for you?"
"Diane," he chuckled pulling her closer to him, "My parents are going to love you, in fact I bet my parents won't want you to leave."
"I don't know Ben," Diane took a deep breath and brushed a strand of hair out of Ben's eyes, "It's just that I can be such a klutz."
"I know that," Ben chuckled leaning over her giving her a kiss, "and you can be feisty, and demanding, and very bossy."
Diane smiled at him and brushed her lips against his, "I was going to stop after feisty."
"Every little thing about you I love," he grinned running his fingertips lightly over her cheek, "Everything about you."
"But they might not love what you love about me," she shrugged, "I mean not many people would like how I am."
"You got that wrong," Ben shook his head, tracing her lips with his fingers, "They will love you for sure."
"And how can you be so sure of that Ben Walters?" she questioned kissing his fingertips.
"Because I love you," he leaned down and gave her another soft kiss, "And they trust my judgment. If I love you, they'll love you."
"Oh Ben," Diane gave out a sigh running her hand through his hair, "I love you so much."
Ben leaned down kissing her lightly. Diane deepened the kiss, claiming his mouth with her own.  He used his tongue to pry open her lips, where their tongues met eagerly. Diane wrapped her arm around his neck and flipped him onto his back. She climbed on top of him, leaning down to kiss him passionately once more. Ben slid his hands up the back of her shirt, running his hands lightly up and down her back. Diane let out a slight moan in the kiss as she cupped his cheek in her hand. She teasingly pulled away from Ben and smirked. He gave her a questioning look as she motioned him to sit up with a seductive finger. Ben sat up and she pulled his shirt over his head tracing the shape of his body with her fingertips. "I love the way you feel."
Ben gave out a light laugh and leaned back down on the bed, "Hmm, do you really now?"
"Indeed, I do." she nodded removing her own shirt and tossing it on top of the suitcase.
Ben grabbed hold of her waist and pulled her down on top of him. He kissed her shoulder lightly working his way up across her neck. Diane gave out a light moan at the feel of his lips on her skin. She shivered when he hit that special sensitive spot on her neck and she cupped his chin pulling him over to look him in the eyes. She stared deeply into his eyes and smiled before leaning down and kissing him once more. Ben ran his hands over her hips and across her stomach, not letting the kiss break. She giggled a bit in the kiss as his hands trailed across her stomach when he hit her tickle spot. He smiled trailing his hands across her back, reaching for her bra snaps. Diane suddenly shot up and climbed off of him grabbing her shirt. "I forgot my toothbrush!"
Ben watched as she rushed out of the room towards the bathroom and shook his head. He reached for his shirt and put it back on. He found he couldn't help but grin. "That's my Diane."


“Good morning beautiful,” Hart called out tapping his knuckles against the window to Jenna’s office.  He found her inside slumped over in her chair seemingly lost in another time and place as it was apparent that his words went past whatever world she was in at the moment.  Stepping into the room, his smile faded a bit as he studied her features for a long moment sensing that something wasn’t quite right, “Hey Jen…”
“Huh, what?” she questioned snapping out of the daze she’d been in as her dark eyes rose up to discover him standing beside her chair, “Hey, when did you get here?”
“A few minutes ago, but I’m guessing by the look on your face that I beat you back to the moment, huh?” he added watching the scowl that set in over her features.
“Truth be told I don’t think my mind is going anywhere these days except downhill,” Jenna confessed with a heavy sigh turning her chair in towards him.
“Still haven’t heard from the lab yet, huh?” Hart inquired watching the exasperated expression that spread over her otherwise beautiful features.
“Not a thing and that irritates me on top of everything else,” she admitted, “I mean it’s bad enough that the FBI is so insistent upon running the show, but then when they don’t get back to telling you what they’ve discovered…”
“I’m sure they will tell you soon,” he offered up touching her shoulder gently.
“Not soon enough,” Jenna balked back with a grumble.
“Well hey there’s just more proof enough that you certainly don’t want to take Callaway up on that offer to become one of the drones,” Hart tossed back with a teasing grin.
“I wasn’t even thinking about that,” she frowned turning her attention to him once again, “as all I’ve been obsessing over is the idiotic, moronic things that my father has done to upset the situation.”
“Somehow I get the feeling that this steps beyond what happened at your apartment, huh?” he noted the way in which the corners of her mouth dropped at the reminder.
“He’s just so stupid and truth be told I’ve never seen my mother get that worked up over something like that in her life.  She’s always so mild mannered…I mean yeah, she’s opinionated, but she’s never outright decked anyone like that…” Jenna pondered the thought.
“Yeah well that’s because you wouldn’t let her take that leap with me because I’m telling you she probably thought about it a few times,” he offered up kneeling down beside her chair.
“Yeah well so have I, but that’s another story,” Jenna shook the thought, “Still that’s not what’s bothering me as I’ve been thinking about my father’s latest disaster in the making.”
“Care to elaborate,” Hart suggested watching her closely.
“He’s trying to get custody of my brother’s baby,” Jenna stated with obvious distain, “For some reason he thinks that he’ll be a better parent to the child than Heather would.”
“Whoa, back up a second,” Hart’s eyes widened in surprise, “I thought you said before that he didn’t believe that child was Kipp’s.”
“Apparently something or someone changed his mind and now he’s suing Heather for custody of the baby when it’s born,” Jenna continued to rant, “I mean it’s bad enough that he’s screwed over his own children, but to decide to hurt an innocent child like that…”
“Jen, now you don’t know if that baby is really Kipp’s considering that Heather is notorious for changing men as frequently as she does her wardrobe,” Hart pointed out once again, “Your father may have nothing to go on there once paternity of that child is established.”
“And if it is Kipp’s baby, then what?” Jenna questioned bluntly, “Look at what he did to Kipp.  Look at what he’s still doing to Kipp and to me by sleeping with Cameron’s assistant.  There’s no telling what kind of nightmares he could be creating by trying to uproot that baby.”
“It’ll never happen,” Hart insisted, “I mean one thing about Heather is she’s one tough cookie and a serious bitch.  If your father wants a battle, then I’m sure Heather will go head to head with him.”
“Yes, but will she go head to head and win?” Jenna countered, “Look I’m not saying that I think too highly of Heather especially now that I know she’s married Cameron, but Diego seems convinced that she’ll be a good mother.”
“Diego?” Hart repeated in confusion.
“Dr. Hernandez,” Jenna explained, “He and I have been friends for a while and his fiancée was the one that Cameron had murdered…”
“Oh,” was all he could muster up as he remembered the situation they’d discussed before.
“Yeah big oh,” Jenna nodded, “while I might not think too much of Heather, Diego does and the fact to the matter is if she’s pregnant with my niece of nephew, then that baby needs our help.  I can’t sit back and do nothing and let Douglas try to destroy his or her life.  That would be so very wrong.”
“But Heather’s with Cameron.  Jen, that in itself says that maybe this time it would be best to step aside and let the legal system handle it,” Hart informed her seriously, “You and I both know that Cameron is trouble…”
“What I know is that it’s my family Hart and I can’t walk away from that,” Jenna informed him solemnly, “I spent my entire life unaware of the fact that I had another brother out in this world.  I never knew Kipp and now that I know he’s out there--that a part of him is still very much alive and needs my help, I can’t turn away.  I can’t ever turn away from family like that…”
“Even if it costs you more than you’re willing to pay,” he questioned with worry evident in his voice.
“If you think I’m going to go over to Cameron and Heather’s and strike a deal with the devil, you can dismiss that thought from your mind because it isn’t happening, but there might be something that I can do to try to see to it that this baby has a fighting chance once it makes it’s way into the world,” she continued adamantly.
“And how do you propose you go about doing that one sweetheart,” Hart questioned in confusion watching as she rose up from her chair reaching for her jacket as it seemed she was struck by some kind of inspiration.
“I’m going to have a talk with my father and one way or another I’m going to find a way to get him to stop behaving like a lovesick teenager and start thinking like a father,” Jenna vowed ready to do whatever was necessary to ensure that her niece or nephew had the kind of future that Douglas had robbed Kipp out of in his path of destruction.


“I think that we’ve got this situation under control now, don’t you,” Cameron broke through the silence that had surrounded him and Heather after her tears had finally died down.  He stepped away from her releasing her from the loose embrace he’d held her in as he could see the tracks of tears that tarnished her otherwise flawless features.  Walking over to his desk, he reached for a tissue, holding it out towards her, “I’ll take care of everything.”
“How,” Heather questioned unable to contain the shivers that raced over her body as she thought of the dramatic mood swing her husband had gone through since her arrival at his office.  Somehow she had a feeling that the worst was far from over even after he’d swore to help her with Douglas.
“You need not worry about such trivial measures,” Cameron reached out to wipe at her face removing the traces of mascara that had blackened her cheeks, “I’ll take care of the situation and you can go home and rest as you should’ve have gotten yourself so worked up today.  I think it would be best if you went home, showered up and took a nap.  Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Cameron I…” Heather began trying to find the words she wanted to say to him as the bitter sting of his actions and his threats swirled around in her head igniting a fear inside of her all over again.
“You don’t need to say anything,” Cameron smirked down at her as he finished cleaning up her face, “Our morning together was very productive and therapeutic in it’s own way.  I’ll take our conversation into consideration in my dealings with Doug and then tonight when I come home perhaps you and I can have a dinner with one another.  We can discuss things more in depth.”
“I’m just not sure that…” Heather started again feeling his finger press in against her lips to silence her.
“You don’t have to be sure.  I am and that’s what matters Heather, but now I have some work to do, so I would strongly suggest you get going,” Cameron continued emotionlessly, “You look like hell and you need to clean yourself up.  In fact,” he paused making his way across his office to the small coat closet he’d had to the far left of the room.  Reaching inside, he pulled out a long, black jacket and carried it over to her, “put this on as I would hate for anyone to have to see what a mess you’ve made of yourself this morning.”
“The mess that I’ve made,” her eyes widened in protest as Cameron silenced her once again.
“Now Heather, I told you that I would take care of things.  You need to just believe that and stop doubting me when I say I’m going to do something as that’s what got you into trouble earlier,” Cameron informed her bluntly brushing his fingers against her cheek in a tentative measure as if he was admiring his trophy before him, “You got home and get cleaned up because I have a great many plans for us tonight since you wanted some more private time.  I think that after I speak with Doug, we can work on that.”
Heather remained silent shivering upon his touch as he took a step back waving her away dismissively in the same fashion he’d done with Thea upon her arrival.  She watched as he slid into his chair behind his desk as if he hadn’t a care in the world when hers was falling to pieces.  He looked up at her casually offering up another wave as she stood frozen in place.
“Heather, I’ll arrange for a car to pick you up out back so you can take the service elevators when you leave here and try not to cause any other kind of uproars on your way out as I’d hate to have to explain to the staff just how wired up you can be,” Cameron ordered firmly pressing a button on his phone to alert his secretary to come into the office to promptly escort Heather out.
“Right this way Mrs. Stone,” Cameron’s secretary urged Heather out the door in her quiet demeanor as Heather reluctantly followed her out of the room not quite sure what to do or say after what Cameron had thrown out on her. 
Silently Heather followed the petite woman listening to the various apologizes that the woman began offering her for having tried to keep Heather out of Cameron’s office.  Now as Heather thought of the woman’s warnings, she’d almost wished that she’s listened as she’d stepped into a situation that she swore she’d never allow herself to get caught up in again--not after the time she’d spent in Los Angeles.  She was better than her past--better than what she’d submitted herself to, but now that Cameron had thrown that in her face, she felt dirty and disgusting and horrible all over again.
“I must admit that a great many women would want to be in your shoes right about now as you’re a great envy in being Mrs. Stone,” the secretary offered up with a bright smile as the service elevator doors opened and Heather stepped inside, feeling numb and empty all over as she stared blankly at the woman before her.
“That’s a shame,” was all Heather could get out as the elevator doors closed and Heather felt the walls closing in around her.  Unable to contain the tears that overcame her, she clenched her arms around her body shivering as all the demons she’d fought for so very long came back full force to haunt her after the way in which Cameron had ripped her control away from her.  Feeling her heart sinking with the moment, Heather slid down the elevator walls dropping to the floor in tears.  She realized that all those demons she’d locked away for so very long had come back to haunt her again sucking away the one thing she’d fought for in her life for so very long--her freedom as it was apparent she was trapped in a situation that was further out of her control than she‘d ever imagined.


“So now what since we obviously don’t have the crime scene to work with,” Russ questioned looking around Susan’s bedroom as the distinct feel of a cover up hung in the air that surrounded them.
“There has to be something around here--something that someone got sloppy with and didn’t manage to sweep away with the rest of the evidence,” Avery insisted shifting around some of the paintings that Susan had hanging on the walls, “There’s just no way that Cameron could’ve cleaned up something like this so quickly.”
“Just think about that for a moment Avery and consider the source,” Russell frowned making his way over to one of the dressers and thumbing through Susan’s unopened mail that lay upon it.
“Even so, Cameron isn’t a man who can go through life without error.  He’s bound to slip up sooner or later and I get the feeling that when we’re able to prove that, then we can show the world that Grady is innocent,” Avery continued determined to find some key to Cameron’s undoing in the apartment.
“That’s a pretty big if there and we both know it,” Russell sighed feeling his patience wearing thin as he opened up one of the drawers finding Susan’s lingerie before him.  A groan spilled over his lips as he slammed the drawer shut once again, “Okay, I’m finished in here.  I’m going to check out the living room.”
“Fine, but just make sure if you touch something, you be sure to put it back where you found it,” Avery urged once again as she continued to sift through Susan’s things.
“Whatever you say,” he muttered to himself entering the posh living room as he wrinkled his nose in disgust.  Thinking about how easy it had been for Susan to turn to the dark side, made him sick and as he approached her desk area, he wondered how she could sleep at night after having been part of such an elaborate scheme to destroy Grady.  Not that it really surprised him considering that Susan had played a great role in Grady’s downfall the first time with alcohol, but still, he found himself fighting the urge to deal with Susan the way she’d done with his family.
“Russ, I think I found something,” Avery announced emerging from Susan’s bedroom as she found Russell standing over Susan’s answering machine pressing down on the playback button with his index finger, “What are you doing?”
“I’m seeking out evidence and I think this is a good place to start,” he stated simply with a shrug of his shoulders hearing as the tape began to rewind to prepare for playing the messages.
“Russ, you can’t just listen to her machine because then it’s a telltale sign that someone has been here,” Avery started to reason with him as the first message began to play.
“Susan, hey it’s Brant.  Where the hell are you?  I thought that I’d hear something after our last encounter, but apparently you’re still in a state of indecision.  That being said, you’d better call me back soon before I decide to move forward with our plans without you,” Brant finished as the message ended and Russ gave Avery a contemplative look.
“I wonder what that was all about,” Russ hinted at his already strong distrust of Brant with the tone in his voice.
“I don’t know, but Brant wouldn’t have anything to do with what’s happened to Grady,” Avery insisted firmly defending her boss, “Cameron hates Brant and there’s no way that message relates to what we’re looking for.”
“How do you know?” Russ countered back at her, “We saw that there was something up with Brant and Susan and obviously there’s something to the story that neither one of us picked up on.  Brant could be feeling sour grapes over us being together and what better way to destroy me than to go after my brother?”
“Now you’re being just plain paranoid,” Avery pushed him aside as a scowl touched over her features and she began to listen to the next message as it began to play.
“It’s not paranoia,” Russ insisted once again after the message revealed that it was the dry cleaners calling to alert Susan that her things were ready for pickup.
“Yes it is Russ.  Brant isn’t like that.”
“Or so you think,” he added with a frown, “just like you didn’t think that Bruce was capable of all that he’s done…”
“That’s different and you know it,” she glared at him, “Brant wouldn’t resort to doing this to Grady as it’s not his style.”
“And what is?  Taking my wife to some exotic local to seduce her and try to persuade her to forget about me,” he questioned bluntly feeling his own anger against Brant returning to him.
“Russ, this isn’t about Brant.  This is about saving Grady and if you’ve already lost focus on that…” Avery started with a heavy sigh.
“I haven’t lost focus.  I’m just saying that the fact that Brant and Susan are obviously working together on something is reason enough for us to put him on the list of possible suspects,” he added sensing her obvious displeasure in his thinking, but he couldn’t bring it in him to discount anything Brant was capable of just yet.
“Russ, if Brant wanted to go after you, he wouldn’t do it through Grady,” Avery spun around to face him as her eyes flickered with the beginnings of annoyance, “He’s direct in his approach and he’d find another way to upset the balance in your life if that’s what he wanted to do.  He knows that something like this would upset me and if nothing else, Brant wouldn’t do it because he wouldn’t want to get me worked up.”
“So then explain him and Susan,” Russ insisted unwilling to let it go.
“I haven’t figured that one out yet,” she frowned again, “but when I do, I’m sure there will be some other explanation for it instead of the wild notions that you’re letting your imagination carry you away with.”
“I don’t trust him Avery--not after all he’s done to us.”
“Even so, he’s not the guy who is out to get Grady.  Cameron is and we need to stay focused on that or else, Cameron will find a way to get the best of us,” Avery informed him seriously, “which reminds me.  You need to take a look at these.”
“What are they,” he asked tipping his head down to see the papers she’d held in her hands.
“They’re a protective motion for guardianship made in Kipp’s behalf,” Avery noted pointing to a paragraph on the page before Russell, “According to these, well it would seem that Cameron petitioned for custody of Kipp after the accident and a judge granted him that.  These here are for a relocation from the hospital here in Coral Valley to a private institute.”
“Where?” Russ skimmed the page.
“It doesn’t say, but what I do know is that Susan ran the whole show in getting the wheels in motion with the courts.  From the sound of it, things were done in a quick and quiet fashion as not to raise any eyebrows around town especially with Kipp’s father,” Avery added snatching the pages back from her husband, “while this might not be absolute proof of Cameron being involved in Kipp’s showing, it does add suspicion of guilt there as he’s working really hard to…”
“Hide the evidence,” Russ added suddenly realizing what Avery was saying to him, “We need to get these papers out of here and show Dave.”
“Russ, we can’t just take them as that’s illegal and…” Avery began to reason with him.
“So was breaking into this place, but it didn’t stop us.  If Dave gets to see this, then maybe he can get his men to help us uncover what Cameron’s up to,” Russ suggested feeling an eagerness overcome him.
“And then one of the men at the station will leak this information to Cameron and we’ll be back to square one considering that Cameron will be more than eager to make sure that no one finds out what he’s done,” Avery reminded him sharply feeling her own concerns overtake her for what they had ahead of them in proving Grady was innocent, but before she could convey any further thoughts to Russell she heard the distinct clicking of the lock at the front of the apartment turning.
“Damn,” Russell cursed realizing what was going on as he pulled Avery with him back into the bedroom hoping that they hadn’t been found out this early on.
“Russ,” Avery spoke his name in a hushed breath as she heard Susan’s footsteps approaching from the living room area, “now what?”
“In here,” Russ decided pulling Avery into Susan’s walk in closet with him as he said a silent prayer that Susan didn’t discover exactly what it was Russ and Avery had set out to prove in breaking in to her apartment.


"Diane, are you ready to go?" Ben called her from outside, "We have to get some stuff done before we leave too you know."
"I know," Diane answered coming out of the apartment carrying so many bags that she looked like she was going to topple over.
Ben chuckled to himself and rushed over taking the bags from her, "I got these, you just get your cute butt in the car."
She smiled and kissed his lips gently, "What would I do without my Hercules?"
"You're about to lose you're Hercules if you don't make a move on it," Ben laughed juggling a bit with the bags to keep from losing them.
"Okay, I'm going!" Diane rushed to the car and opened the trunk so Ben can put the bags in.
He reached the car and started piling her bags in. He laughed at how tightly he had to pack the trunk to make everything fit. He advanced around to the driver side and climbed in, "You do realize I still have to pack my stuff too?"
"What?" she questioned putting her seatbelt on and shrugging her shoulders, "A girl can never be too prepared."
"Well sweetie," he started up the car and started the drive to his apartment, "If you were any more prepared, you would think you were moving out of state."
"Very funny!" she punched his shoulder playfully, "Be happy that I know what to pack. That way you'll have all the essentials."
"Oh no," he shook his head and laughed, "You are not packing for me."
"And why not?" she huffed crossing her arms, "I happen to be excellent at it."
"If you pack for me babe, we won't have any room for us in the car," he teased running his hand on her knee.
"Fine be that way," Diane looked out the window pretending to be mad.
Ben shook his head and drove to his apartment. Once they arrived he walked around to Diane's side of the car and opened the door for her. She got out and wrapped her arm around his waist possessively. They walked inside his apartment just in time to hear the phone ring. Ben rushed over to the phone and answered it, "Hello?"
"Ben!" he heard his mother Cassie Walters' voice ring over the phone in delight, "I'm so glad I got a hold of you."
"Yeah, we just walked in," Ben looked over at Diane and mouthed to her that it was his mother.
She nodded in understanding and a devious smile crossed her lips, "I'm going to go pack your bags."
He shook his head and turned back to the phone, "So how are you mom?"
"I'm great," he heard her voice grow even more excited, "I'm so excited to see you again. And your lady friend."
Ben switched the receiver to the other ear, "How'd you know that I was bringing her with me?"
"You're Aunt Annette informed me all about her. Well, partially about her anyway. She seems like a nice young woman from what I hear."
"Yeah, she really is mom," Ben found himself smiling, "Diane really is something special."
"Aww isn't that lovely?"
"It really is mom. She makes me feel things I've never felt before," he gave out a sigh, "I can't help but feel the way I do for her."
"Hmm, do I smell love in the air?" Cassie gave out a light laugh, "She better not be like those other girls they were..."
"Mom, Diane's different," he interrupted her, "She's a great girl and I am deeply in love with her."
"Well, then I'm sure your father and I will love her," she assured him, "In fact, if you love her, I love her already."
Ben grinned, "Thanks mom I really appreciate it."
"You're my son, of course I support your decisions," she paused for a moment, "Your father wanted me to tell you he's very happy you're coming down and to have a safe trip."
"Thanks Mom. Diane and I have some things to do before we come down there so I have to get going," he informed her trying to look into his bedroom to see what Diane was doing but the cord wouldn't allow him to do it.
"Alright Benjamin. I love you."
Ben smiled at being called Benjamin, "I love you too mom."
He hung up the phone and listened closely. He didn't hear anything being rummaged through so he advanced to his room. Ben saw Diane sitting on his bed with his suitcase neatly packed. She grinned up at him, "So, what do you think?"
"You packed everything already?" he asked in shock, "And in only one suitcase too?"
Diane laughed and smiled proudly, "Yes, I did."
"You are too great," he scooped her up in his arms and swung her around, "I love you. Did I tell you that today?"
"Hmm, I don't know but I don't mind hearing it again," she nuzzled her cheek against his and released him. "I'm going to grab a drink, you want one?"
"Sure," he nodded watching her leave the room.
As soon as he saw her shadow leave from the hallway to his room he rushed over to the closet and pulled out a box. He pulled out the items he needed to complete the surprise for her and walked back over to the suitcase. He opened it up and lightly tucked the surprise under some of the clothes. Ben zipped up the suitcase and stood up just in time to see Diane standing in the doorway, "What are you doing?"
"Oh, nothing," Ben shrugged grabbing hold of the suitcase, "I was going to toss this in the closet until we're ready to leave tomorrow."
"Are you sure that's all your up to Ben Walters?" Diane gave him a suspicious look and handed him a Pepsi.
"Yes, I'm sure," he took the pepsi from her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, "How about we order a pizza, kick back and relax before we go see Aunt Annette tomorrow."
"That sounds like a plan," she nodded wrapping her free arm around his waist, "A day in with you would be a day in heaven."
"Then prepare for a day of heaven, and a night of rest," he kissed her cheek, "We have an early morning ahead of us tomorrow."


Cameron walked up to penthouse suite Doug was staying at and found his anger boiling to the top. He politely knocked on Doug's door and waited. Cameron heard the unlatch of the lock and the door swung open. Doug stared at Cameron with utter disgust, "What in the hell are you doing here?"

"Seems me and you have some things to discuss," Cameron walked past Doug, into the hotel room and took a seat on the couch.
"I have nothing to say to you," Doug slammed the front door and stood over Cameron, "I suggest you leave right now before this gets ugly."
"Old man," Cameron stood up and looked him directly in the eyes, "This is already too ugly."
"What do you think you're doing showing up here?" Doug stared him down, "You have no right."
"That baby.." Cameron paused the anger flashing in his face, "belongs to my wife."

"That baby belongs to my son," Doug shouted back, "And I'll be damned if I let that whore have my grandson."
"You will not have my wife's baby," Cameron glared at Doug bawling his hands into fists, "You will not see the baby, hear the baby, or even think about the baby or else you'll pay for it."
"You're threats mean nothing to me," Doug snickered, "You're just a kid playing with fire right now Cameron."
"You have no idea what I'm capable of," Cameron picked up an ashtray off the nearby desk, "I can make people disappear, I can make lives hell."
"Don't forget that I raised you. I know exactly what kind of person you are and what you are capable. You're scum and a bother. That's all you are."

"I will have that child. My wife and I will raise that baby as it is meant to be raised and there's not a damn thing you can do about it." Cameron assured him advancing to the door.

"Oh, you better believe I can do something about it," Doug countered walking to the door as well, "That baby is as good as gone. You can tell that whore that."

"I think not," Cameron turned to him, "for the sake of your daughter you might want to refrain."

"What?" Doug questioned, not sure if he heard Cameron right.
"You heard me old man," Cameron grinned a sadistic grin, "I will make you're life miserable. I will take everything from you."

"What are you talking about?" Doug asked confusion all over his face.

"I said for the sake of your daughter, I'd suggest you get your nose out of my wife's life and make it fast." Cameron nodded to him, "you heard me right."

"If you lay one finger on my..."

"Then I suggest you stay away from my wife and her child." Cameron opened the door and stepped out, "I believe I've made myself very clear. Goodbye old man."

Doug slammed the door so hard that the molding cracked. "You think you've won the battle Cameron, but the war has just began."


Diego sat down to prepare for his next patient as he thought about the ground he’d made with Shannon.  While he hadn’t thought of giving her another chance anymore than he’d thought about entering the world of dating all over again, there was something about her that he’d found rather charming and that in itself made him willing to give things another go.  Now as he sat at his desk, he wondered if he could really start moving forward again--if somehow the past could truly be left in the past.  As he thought to that part of himself he’d once lost, he reached into the top drawer of his desk pulling out Maria’s photo he’d kept with him as he wondered how she’d feel about his current situation.
“Maybe I’m crazy for even considering spending time with her Maria, but things just haven’t been the same without you,” Diego whispered in a muted tone thinking about the wonderful woman he’d lost, “I just wish that I could turn back the hands of time somehow--that I could find a way to keep from losing you.  It only there had been some kind of sign before it was too late.”
Diego stopped himself half wondering if he was making a mistake in even thinking about taking a step forward with Shannon when he heard a faint tapping sound on his door.  Taking note of the time he realized that Mrs. Johnson must be early.  Quickly sliding Maria’s photo back into the drawer, he prepared for his session with the depressed housewife when the door burst open and a woman marched into his office in an uproar.
“Hey,” Diego frowned seeing her spin around to slam the door behind her locking it with shaky hands as Diego rose from his seat ready to give her a few words, “you can’t just come in here and…”
“Diego please,” Heather pleaded with him spinning around to face him with tears bursting down her cheeks, “not now.”
“Heather,” his jaw dropped as he took note of her disheveled appearance, “oh my God, what happened?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she confessed taking a shaky step towards him as he could see the condition her clothing was in beneath the oversized dark jacket she wore.
“Something tells me we need to,” he replied moving in towards her as he noticed a reddish-purple mark on the side of her face.  Immediately feeling a surge of concern rush down upon him, he reached out to inspect her wounds as she nearly leapt out of his touch.
“Don’t,” she warned bringing her arms around her chest in an attempt to keep him at a distance as her tears continued, “just…don’t…”
“Heather, what’s wrong?  What’s happened to you,” he questioned watching her tremble before him, “Heather, talk to me please.”
“It’s over.  It’s all over,” Heather cried out sinking onto the couch he had set up in his office as she buried her head in her hands sobbing uncontrollably.
“No, it’s not.  Heather, it’s no where near over as everything is going to get better,” Diego spoke smooth and evenly as he approached her.  Carefully taking a seat beside her, he reached out to touch her shoulder.  She flinched in response putting a distance between them as her sad eyes returned to his looking terrified as ever, “Heather, please tell me what’s going on?”
“Just don’t make me leave.  Diego, please…I can’t go back right now.  I can’t do it,” she explained vaguely unable to refrain from her tears as Diego reached out to her again to offer up an embrace.  She was reluctant at first, but within a matter of moments, she found herself breaking down in his arms.
“What happened Heather,” Diego questioned again, trying to be soothing as he held onto her, realizing that this was nothing like the woman he’d grown to know over the last few months.
“My life is over Diego.  I was wrong and you were right.  I made a mistake,”  Heather sobbed harder than before as she tried desperately to cling to the only security she seemed to have these days with their friendship.  However in a moment like the one she was experiencing, she feared that even Diego’s friendship might not be enough as she’d already gone down a road she’d fought like hell to steer clear of.


Susan set her purse down on the edge of her bed feeling tension creep in and up over her neck and shoulders as she made her way into the bedroom.  While she’d initially had no intentions of returning to the apartment this morning, once she’d found her way into the office, she’d discovered that she’d been missing some papers vital to one of the cases she’d been working on over at Stone Corp.  At first she’d thought she’d left them at Grady’s house, but after a very thorough search, she’d remembered having kept them in her apartment. 
Now however as she made her way into the room, Susan was feeling the brunt of her morning getting to her.  She’d gotten pulled over by an officer for running a red light, not to mention she’d spilled her coffee all over her white blouse in her haste.  It seemed as though the cards were stacked against her, she thought to herself as she began to unbutton her blouse making her way towards her closet to retrieve something else to slip into before her return to work.
“What a day,” she muttered to herself moving to open the door to her closet as she heard the faint ringing of her cell phone pulling her from her task at hand.  A groan spilled over her lips as she turned to retrieve her purse again, “Wonderful.”
Tearing the phone from her purse, Susan took note of the number and a scowl pressed over her lips as she pushed the phone up to her ear and spoke up in a professional tone, “Susan here.  What can I do for you.  Oh Cameron hi,” Susan started her tone changing as she spoke with her employer.
“Where are you?” Cameron questioned harshly.
“I had to grab a few things at home, but I’ll be back in a few minutes,” Susan explained moving towards her closet and opening the door as she continues to speak with him, “Is there a problem?”
“You’re damn right there’s a problem and I need you back at the office like pronto,” Cameron snapped at her hanging up the phone as Susan pulled it away from her phone and glared at it.
“Dickhead,” she muttered under her breath tossing the phone over her shoulder onto the bed as she began to survey her things.  Finding that the lighting wasn’t nearly sufficient enough for her taste, she began to reach for the switch when her cell phone roared up at her again.  Marching back towards her bed Susan reached for the phone, her voice a bit more impatient than before.
“What?” she demanded harshly hearing the voice of one of the parking attendants downstairs that had told her she could leave her car out front for a few minutes as he began to convey the message that he’d been wrong and that her car was being towed away as they spoke. 
“Oh hell.  I’ll be right down.  Try to stall them,” she blurted out quickly throwing her arm into her closet again to pull out the first thing she could find before changing up and rushing out of her apartment wondering what else could happen on a day like the one this had started out to be.


“Thank God,” Russ let out a breath of relief while sinking back into the shelves behind him after Susan had left the apartment.  “For a minute there I thought we were finished here.”
“So did I, but lucky for us, Susan is an idiot,” Avery added pushing herself out from behind Susan’s wardrobe as she thought to how she’d shoved a blouse in Susan’s general direction to just get Susan out of the room before she and Russ were spotted.
“Sounds like there’s trouble over at Stone Corp,” Russ noted with a wiggle of his brow.
“Or Susan is using that quarter of a brain that God gave her,” Avery shrugged her shoulders, “either way I think it’s about time you and I get out of here.”
“But what about the evidence we were looking for,” Russell frowned, “There has to be something more here--something that we’ve missed.”
“That might be the case, but if we stick around, we might not be so lucky to evade being found out once again,” Avery informed him simply, “which means we need to split like now.”
“Fine, but I still think that we should start by…” he began with another frown.
“Russ, I think I have an idea,” Avery confessed honestly as another thought occurred to her, “I don’t know why I didn’t think about it before, but it might be better than us being up here since things have been cleared out of the apartment.”
“Okay, so what gives?” Russ questioned noting the expression on her face as she lead him through Susan’s apartment eager to make their escape.
“You’ll see, but for the time being just follow my lead as I have a feeling this will bring us one step closer to the truth,” she vowed as they left Susan’s apartment ready to take a new course of action that she was certain would prove Grady’s innocence after all.


Douglas poured himself a bourbon not willing to let Cameron or his manipulative ploys keep him from the goal he’d set out for himself.  One way or another, he would have Kipp’s son or daughter living with him and only then would he be able to make up for the mistakes he’d made as a father.  Sure, he might not have been the greatest to Kipp, but there was no way in hell that he’d allow Cameron to come near a Mahoney.  It was simply out of the question, Douglas vowed to himself as he prepared to make another call to his lawyers to ensure that they were ready for the battle Cameron was setting the stage for.
Reaching for the phone, Douglas thought about all the ways in which he was going to destroy Cameron and his slut of a wife as well now that he was staking his claim on the future of the Mahoney family, but before he was able to complete the call, he heard a knock on his hotel room door.  Setting the phone down as a smirk rose upon his features, Douglas marched over towards the door ready to engage in round two with his insolate one time step-child. 
Pulling the door open eagerly, he glared at his uninvited guest ready to throw out all the stops in making Cameron feel like the peon he truly was, “Come back for more?”
“Oh I haven’t even warmed up,” Jenna replied glaring up at her father as he found himself rendered speechless.
“Jenna,” he gasped opening the door wider as he stepped aside to invite her in, “What are you doing here?”
“I’ve come to save you from making the biggest mistake of your life,” Jenna proclaimed, her voice full of determination as she stood her ground with him, “and if you meant what you said about being a good  father, then you’ll take what I have to say into consideration before it’s too late for you and the rest of our family.”

...to be continued...