Episode 112

"Heather, please talk to me," Diego urged gently touching her shoulder only to feel her still trembling beneath his soothing contact. While she’d stayed in his office for the last few hours crying and breaking down, he still wasn’t quite sure what was going on. She’d been upset and clearly shaken, but when he’d questioned her on it, she’d only been overcome with tears leading him to wonder if something more had happened with Douglas or Cameron for that matter. He’d cancelled his appointments for the day knowing full well he couldn’t abandon her, but all he was met with was tears and few inaudible words that she muttered out along the way, "Heather…"

"You were right," Heather sniffled mustering up enough strength to sit up straighter as she wiped at her face, "I’m a disaster and I was a fool to even think that I could make things the way I wanted them."

"How so?" Diego questioned gently offering her a tissue only to watch her reach for it and clench it in her hands tightly.

"Don’t shrink me Diego," she snapped at him, her voice cracked with emotion, "because I don’t need that. I don’t need an ’I told you so’ or anything else right now. I just need…"

"What do you need Heather?" Diego questioned watching her rise up from his couch and start to pace the room.

"Peace of mind. Is that too much to ask for? I mean have I done something so cosmically wrong that things could be the way that they are now?" she paused briefly placing a hand on her head and once more started pacing the room.

"Heather, I can't help you if I don't know what's troubling you," Diego got up and placed his hands on her shoulders to keep her from pacing, "Just tell me what's wrong."

Heather just stared at him in disbelief, "Why are you like that?"

"Like what?" he questioned, reaching for her hands holding them in his.

"Why are you so nice to me?" she questioned staring deeply into his eyes, as if trying to read them, "There's really no reason for you to be."

"You're a person Heather," he rubbed his thumbs over the back of her hands, "and a good one at that. Please, tell me what happened. Help me help you."

Heather pulled out of his grasp and walked back over to the couch, taking a seat. She crossed her legs and leaned back as a tear streamed down her cheek, "Honestly Diego, you are the only one in Coral Valley that's ever treated me like a person. No matter what you've never judged me."

Diego walked over to her taking a seat next to her. He cupped her chin and forced her to look at him, "That's because I'm your friend Heather. Friends do that for each other."

"I need a friend Diego," she reached a hand up to wipe away the tears streaming down her cheeks, "More then ever I need a friend now."

"I'm here for you," he reassured her, looking at her with deep concern, "No matter what I'm going to be right here for you. Whatever you need, I'll do my best to get for you."

Heather sighed looking at her make-up smeared hands, "Oh god I probably look like a mess."

"No Heather," Diego wiped away one of her tears with the pad of his thumb, "You're beautiful, in every single way."

"That means a lot Diego," Heather wrapped her arms around his neck, giving him a hug.

"Heather," he pulled away from the hug and looked at her with a very serious expression. “When you came to see me, I saw you were very upset about something. What happened? Can I help in any way?"

"Right now I could use some sleep," Heather sighed pulling her legs up on the couch and wrapping her arms around them, "If you are my friend you'll respect the fact that I don't want to talk about it."

"Alright I'll give you a ride home," Diego rose from his seat and advanced to his desk grabbing his keys, he turned and looked back to Heather and saw that she was shaking. "Heather what's wrong?"

"Diego please," Heather rose from the couch advancing over to him, "Please, take me home with you. I can't go home. I just can't go there tonight."

"Heather, calm down," he placed his hands on her shoulders to steady her shaking, "Really what's gotten into you? What happened?"

"Please don't ask any questions," she shivered and pulled away from his grasp, "just please let me stay with you tonight, that's all I'm asking for."

Diego studied her with worried eyes. She was terrified of something or someone and it was worrying him. He knew that if she kept this up her and the baby were both going to get sick. He couldn't allow himself to let that happen to her. He decided to let stay with him for the night, vowing to find out what caused this growing fear in the eyes of Heather. He wouldn't ask questions now, he'd find out later on just what had happened to cause Heather to grow so terrified. "Alright Heather," Diego nodded his head grabbing his phone, "Let me cancel all my appointments and you can come home with me."

"Thank you so much Diego," Heather let out a sigh of relief as her hands came up and wrapped around herself, hugging herself, "This means so much to me."


“Dave, please make sure you call me back as soon as you get this message.  We need to talk soon,” Russell conveyed the urgency in his tone to the voice mail on the other end of the line before hanging up his cell phone.  Turning to Avery, he noticed the way in which she clenched the videotape in her fingers keeping it safe long after they’d left the security offices.  Her head was turned towards the window, her eyes peering out onto the road beyond where they’d parked to make the phone call.  Judging by the expression he could only catch a sideways perspective of, he realized she was still lost in deep thought, “I made the call.”
“Well,” Avery questioned snapping out of her daze and turning to face him again, “what did he say?”
“I got his voice mail,” he answered reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “Hey, are you feeling okay?”
“I’m fine,” she offered up a half smile, “really I was just thinking about Grady and what this tape will do for him.”
“It’s not much, but it’s a start,” Russell nodded in agreement, “Of course we have a few others to go through, but I have the distinct feeling that when we do, we’re going to have more to work with on this one.”
“I hope so because I really hate what’s happening with him,” Avery shook her head turning her eyes to the window again, “It just isn’t right that Grady has to go through something like this when a lunatic like Bruce is still out there and running around.”
“How did I know you were thinking about him,” he reached out to touch her leg gently.
“I guess you just know me too well,” Avery offered up a half smile, redirecting her gaze to him again, “Though I don’t know if that’s a blessing or more so of a curse for you.”
“I’d like to consider it a blessing,” Russ squeezed her leg, “though something tells me there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface that you’re not telling me.”
“It’s a lot of things,” Avery shrugged her shoulders, “I mean I’d like to say it’s just this situation with Grady that’s got me on edge, but it’s more than that.  I mean here we are so close to having everything we’ve always dreamt about and as it stands Grady is dead to the world and Bruce has made it his mission to see that you wind up in a similar position.  Only with Bruce, it won’t be pretend if he goes after you.”
“Avery, he’s not going to do that,” he sighed seeing worry evident in her eyes, “I thought we already talked about this.  Bruce isn’t going to be able to get in the way of what we have.”
“Russ, I’m sure that’s what Jade and Grady thought about Cameron too, but look at what’s happened to them,” Avery sighed sinking back into the chair.
“I have thought about that and if you think about it--really think about it, you’ll see that they’re together just like we are.  Sure, it’s not under the best circumstances, but at least they have one another.”
“I know and I’m really happy that they finally got back on track with one another, but…” Avery trailed off.
“But you’re my Avery who always worries in the face of danger.  With good reason I might add, but truth be told I think we’ve made some great progress tonight.  When Dave sees the face on that tape, then you and I both know this opens a whole new door to the investigation.  Sure, they might have evidence against Grady, but we both know it was planted.”
“Juries have convicted a man on less,” Avery frowned thinking about the road she had ahead of her.  “Especially juries that can be bought.”
“Do you really think that’s going to happen,” he asked sensing the answer behind her silence.
“Everyone has a price and if Cameron pushes hard enough,” Avery shuddered at the memory of him, “Russ, there was just something about that man.  I mean you saw the way that he terrified Jade.”
“And you,” Russell added watching the way her features shifted, “Avery, its okay to tell me how he made you feel.  I know he did something in there--something that had both you and Grady worked up.”
“Why do you say that?” she questioned under her breath.
“Because I know my wife and my brother.  You both might’ve tried to pretend that the situation wasn’t one to be concerned about, but given how you both were behaving, well Avery I have to admit I’m worried as well.”
“Russ, Cameron’s not after me.  If he wanted to hurt me, he would’ve done it by now, but Grady, well that’s an entirely different story,” Avery paused feeling a shiver race over her, “Just the way he looked at Grady when he walked out of that room--with his words…I don’t know what it was, but there was something there that went beneath the surface, something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but I can tell you it was ugly.  It was cold and menacing.”
“You know I think maybe we’ve had enough reality for now,” Russell reached for the tape pulling it from her fingers, “Maybe it’s time we focus on something else--something that will give us peace of mind instead of getting you worked up.”
“Russ, you can’t tell me that you’re not angry as ever with the way things are,” she remarked wondering how he could be so levelheaded about things when their family was torn in all different directions.
“I’m furious, but I’ve also been thinking about what Grady said to me before he left and he was right.  There are things in this world too precious to lose site of and I think tonight we need to take a journey towards that with one another,” he decided starting the car and pulling onto the road once again.
“Maybe you’re right,” Avery agreed watching him turn in the opposite direction of their home and taking them down a path that was completely foreign to the one they should be taking, “Russ, where are you going?”
“Rusty is with my parents tonight and I think that right now, we need to find a place to unwind,” he informed her determination setting in over his brow, “so I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane.”
“Memory lane,” Avery repeated giving him a strange look before she focused on the road once again, “Somehow this particular path doesn’t register with me.”
“It will in time, but for now, why don’t you just lay back and try to rest because you’ll need all your energy for when we get to our destination,” he promised her reaching for the radio to turn on a soft rock channel while leaving her wondering just what he had in mind for the rest of their evening to come.


“We have nothing to discuss with one another Cameron,” Jenna replied clenching her fingers at her sides.  She took a step backward putting a distance between them while feeling her pulse racing furiously in her chest.  To finally be face to face with a man who’d created so many nightmares in Coral Valley was the last place she’d wanted to be in at a moment like this when the morgue was silent.  She watched him move forward, then she mirrored his movement taking another step backward herself unwilling to allow him an opportunity to get close to her, “You have no business being here.”
“Yes, I realize that perhaps I don’t have the authorization to be in here, but it was very necessary that you and I have a chat seeing as we’re practically family and all,” Cameron offered up with a wicked white grin.  With each movement he made towards Jenna, she could feel his overwhelming presence--the hint of menace that bounced and sprung over his every contour with the shadows in the particular area of the morgue he’d cornered her in.
“I have nothing to say to you,” Jenna stated boldly refusing to allow him to see her fear despite the way in which her body was reacting to the threat she perceived before her.
“Maybe not,” he stopped moving offering up a casual shrug, “but I have a few things that I’d like to say to you.”
“I’m not interested in hearing them.  Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” Jenna threw back at him, coldness in her tone as she tried to still the violent pounding of her heart.
“Actually, I do mind and I would think that you would at least give me a chance to speak with you before you threw me out,” Cameron offered up yet another sinister smile, “I mean it’s not as if we’re really going to be bothering anyone down here since we’re surrounded by a bunch of stiffs.”
“I have no problems calling security Mr. Stone,” Jenna stated firmly casting a quick gaze in the general direction of her office feeling as though it was miles away.
“Is that really necessary Jenna,” he shook his head at her making a tsking sound with the movement, “Considering that I’d hoped we could have some kind of civility with one another, this was the last thing I’d expected to receive from you in coming here.”
“I don’t understand why you would be as presumptuous to have any sort of expectations out of me considering that you have no business in my life or in my morgue for that matter,” Jenna continued standing taller to feign an air of stubbornness.
“Perhaps, but then again, I had hoped that we could come to some kind of open understanding with one another since our father has deemed it fitting to work on ruining all of our lives starting with Kipp‘s,” Cameron shrugged once again, “but if you’re not interested in hearing what I have to say about our brother.”
“Don’t you call him that.  Don’t you dare talk about my brother that way,” Jenna warned him sharply, “You have no ties to Kipp even if you think you can control his child.”
“Control?” Cameron offered up an amused chuckle, “Has that what Doug has been trying to sell you?  Jenna, he’s ruined my life as well and I’m doing Kipp a favor in looking after Heather and the baby.”
“Somehow I seriously doubt that one,” Jenna glared up at him.
“Jenna, you don’t know Douglas like I do.  He’s done some horrible, wicked things especially to those of us he was supposed to protect,” Cameron continued with an impassioned plea, “I’ll bet he hasn’t even told you about the things he did to Kipp and I growing up--about how he ripped our lives away from us or even about the son he refuses to acknowledge exists.”
“You lie,” Jenna clenched her fingers into fists at her sides refusing to listen to Cameron’s nonsense a moment longer.  She made a step towards her door ready to get away from him only to have him move in front of her preventing her from walking away. 
“Do I?” he challenged tipping his head down to gaze straight down into her dark eyes issuing something much more menacing than she’d thought possible in the quick step she’d tried to take away from him.
Unwilling to let him see how terrified she truly was, she stood up to him hissing back at him, “You’re not his son.”
“I was for a short while when he sought it fit to destroy my family.  When he ripped my mother out of my father‘s arms for his own twisted pleasures until he chose to discard her,” Cameron stated point blank before he slapped his hand out against the wall caging her in closer to him.  He inched in towards her, his tone transforming into madness with each word he spoke, “He abandoned my mother when she gave up everything to be with him and to this day he’d done nothing but wreak havoc upon those who should mean the most to him.”
“The same could be said for you.  I know what you are Cameron,” Jenna shot back icily feeling the heat of his breath send shivers over her, “I know what you’ve done even if you think you’ve been able to get away with it.”
“Do you now,” he reached out to touch a loose strand of her hair.  She pushed away from him moving towards the wall while his darkened gaze swept over her, “Oh you are so very much what I’d expected you to be and more.  Doug really has something in you with your spirit, but you’re wasting your energies on me Jenna.  He’s the one you should be lashing out at--the one you should be working to protect that child against.  He’s destroyed everything he touches and if you aren’t careful, you could be next.”
“Get out!” Jenna ordered throwing her hand out to point him to the exit, “Get out of here right now!”
“Oh Jenna,” Cameron shook his head once again, “I had so hoped that this would go more smoothly between us, but apparently you’re not ready to listen to me yet.  In time however, you will be.”
“Get out now!” she repeated firmly seeking out anything that could assist her in his removal from the lab.  She spotted a scalpel just a couple feet away from her sitting on a tray before she focused upon him once again, “I mean it Cameron.”
“I’m sure you do,” he replied in an amused tone before adjusting his tie, “I just wanted this chance to see you up close and personal.  I wanted to know what my step-sister was like and now I know.”
“I’m not your step-sister,” Jenna glared at him fighting to keep her emotions under control.
“I guess it’s all a matter of how you choose to look at things Jenna, but deep down, you’ll see that we’re all the same.  They say that blood is thicker than water and while I might not have Douglas’s blood poisoning my veins, I have Kipp’s child to think about.  I would like very much for you to have a role in this baby’s life--to be given the chance that Douglas ripped away from you with Kipp.”
Jenna said nothing as her eyes shifted to the scalpel once again, this time capturing Cameron’s attention with the movement.
“Perhaps the timing wasn’t right for our understanding,” Cameron blurted out reaching out to snatch the scalpel before Jenna’s thoughts could come into fruition.  He stepped towards her waving it in the air while Jenna watched catching the flicker of dim lighting that washed over the silvery metal in the shadows of the morgue.  “Hopefully in time, we’ll be able to change that.”
“Not likely,” Jenna answered behind gritted teeth.
“That’s really too bad.  In some ways we’re more alike than you realize, but in time you’ll understand Jenna.  When the time is right you‘ll see that,” Cameron raised the scalpel up a bit higher causing Jenna’s pulse to work on overtime.  She kept her eyes upon him anticipating what tortures he was ready to inflict upon her now that he’d gained the upper hand in the situation, but much to her surprise when he lowered his hand, he offered the scalpel out to her, “but for now, I’ll leave you with this.”
Quickly she snatched it from him, holding it securely while his eyes moved over her again in a lecherous fashion.  She took in a slow breath unsure of what her next move would be, but again Cameron surprised her by taking a step back.
“I just wanted to give you some truths before you went around thinking that I was the bad guy in this situation.  From where I stand you and I both have a lot in common Jenna.  We’ve both been betrayed by Doug and I’d hate to see him destroy you when I’m more than willing to offer you freedom from his evils.”
“I’ll take my chances,” Jenna answered firmly.
“Fair enough,” he nodded accordingly, “but when you are ready to see the truth, just know that I’ll be waiting for you Jenna.  That much you can be sure of.”
Upon completion of his words, Cameron gave her one last look before turning to walk out of the morgue.  Hearing his footsteps fade off in the distance, Jenna let out the breath she’d been holding feeling relief pour down upon her.  However, she was well aware that the dangers Cameron carried with him were far from over.  She could almost count on that after his chilly arrival.

Doug was sitting in his hotel room rubbing his eyes.  Everything was going to hell and it wasn't going to get any better.  He stretched out on the couch and cracked his knuckles.  He needed to find a way to get Cameron out of his life once and for all.  He was not going to let Cameron control him, not one bit.  There was no way he was going to let his ex-stepson boss him around like a child.  Another issue he needed to do was resolve his problem with Jenna.  He needed to show her that he wants to be a father to her.  He needed her to realize that he was really going to be there for her.  His thoughts were racing as a pounding on the door interrupted them.  He sat up and took a deep sigh, "Who can it be now? Who else in this town has a grudge against me?"

Doug got up and advanced to the door. He opened it and he had to keep his jaw from dropping. A face he had not seen in a long time was staring back at him, "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Thanks for the hello," J.T. rolled his eyes walking into Doug's room, "I feel loved."
"I don't believe I invited you in," Doug crossed his arms and motioned to the front door, "So I suggest you don't make yourself comfortable and leave."
"Gee thanks," J.T. made his way over to the couch and plopped down, "I can totally feel the love in this room. Can't you?"
"What do you want J.T.?" Doug sighed closing the door and making his way to a chair across from the couch.
"Well first off I'd like to thank you for telling me you were in town," J.T. glared over at Doug and gave a sarcastic thumbs up, "Way cool dad."
"Oh god don't call me that," Doug shook his head and then ran his hands through his hair, "I am not your father anymore."
"Yeah, that's right," J.T. sat up looking Doug directly in the eyes, "You disowned me.  You abandoned me for that little bastard Kipp."
"He's your brother don't talk about him that way," anger flared through Doug's eyes as he drops his hands and bawled them into fists.
"Oh now he's my brother," J.T. shook his head and rolled his eyes, "Just a minute ago I was being told I wasn't a Mahoney."
"You have no right to talk about Kipp the way you do," Doug's voice grew louder with each word, "He hasn't done a damn thing to you."
"That's right dad, you defend your favorite son," J.T. rolled his eyes once more, "That's all you ever did. You were always defending Kipp."
"More like you were always jealous of Kipp," Doug noted, "Anytime something happened to Kipp, anytime he got congratulated, you would throw a fit. It's pure jealousy."
"Dad, dad, dad," J.T. shook his head and stood up, "Just a moment ago you were saying I wasn't your son. Now you’re telling tales of my childhood. Which is it? Am I or am I not your son?"
"What do you want J.T.," Doug looked at him with eyes challenging him to do something, "Another gambling debt you need to pay off?"
"Not everything that I want with you is about debts," J.T. shot back anger showing very bluntly on his face, "You are my father. I want you to tell me that I am a part of your family. I want you to treat me like your son, after all I am your son. I'm your own flesh and blood and I think it's completely messed up you'd do that dad. To your own bloody family!! How could you sit there and deny me?"

"You denied yourself the minute you turned to gambling," Doug went over to the bar and poured himself a drink, "The minute you decided that you were going to put your family in danger over gambling debts was the day you were no longer a part of my family."
"I was a dumb kid, I know that," J.T. took a deep sigh trying to control some of his anger, "I did a  lot of stupid things when I was younger, I admit it. But dad, I'm not a kid anymore. I cleaned up my act and I'm not about to be denied my birth right as a Mahoney. You are my father and you're supposed to be there for me. Through the good times and the bad I am your son and you have no right to sit there and say anything different."

"You should have thought about what you did then shouldn't you?" Doug questioned, not fazed at all over what J.T. was saying to him, "Remember, you had a choice. I gave you the choice of your family or the gambling and drugs. You chose the gambling and the drugs. That was your chance. You had another chance when Kipp found you passed out, almost dead from the ecstasy you took. Did that stop you? No, it didn't. You kept on going with the wrong crowd and putting your family in more and more danger. Hey, you even said you wished you didn't have a family. I only granted your wish."
"Dad, I was nineteen years old," J.T. shook his head trying to hold back tears, "I didn't know then what I do now. You're my father. You're supposed to help me through the tough times. I didn't have anywhere to go. Throwing me out made things a hell of a lot worse. You try living in a house where drug deals and selling your body was not an unusual thing. I was put into a situation that made things worse. Did you care? Nope not at all. Did you ever think to yourself 'Hmm, I wonder what happened to J.T.?' No you didn't. I didn't even cross your mind."

"J.T., I think you should go before I have security come up here and remove you," Doug didn't even look up at J.T.  He focused on the glass of tequila he had poured himself.

"Thanks dad. I'll remember this," J.T. advanced to the door and opened it, "You truly are the bastard that everyone in Coral Valley says you are."
"Thank you for that reminder," Doug nodded and motioned his head to get J.T. to leave, "Have a good day J.T."

"Oh don't worry I will," J.T. walked out the door and stood in the hall leaning in, "and you will see me again. So don't think you're in the clear."

"Yeah alright, whatever," Doug picked up his glass and took a big sip as the door was slammed shut. He shook his head, "Kids."


Diane got out of the shower and changed into some casual clothes. She paused at the bathroom door when the smell of something cooking caught her attention. She raises an eyebrow and advanced out of the bathroom. She noticed candles lit all across Ben's bedroom. She smiled to herself as she made her way down the hallway. "Ben? Where are you?"

She walked into the kitchen and saw Ben by the oven wearing an apron. She smiled as she watched him prepare some of the food in the pots and checked on whatever was in the oven. She watched as he wiped a bead of sweat off of his forehead. "Working hard?"

Ben turned around and noticed her in the kitchen for the first time, "You weren't suppose to be done so soon."   

"Oh I'm sorry," Diane pouted giving a slight shrug, "If you want I can go back into the bathroom and take another shower."
"Haha very funny," he laughed advancing over towards her, wrapping his arms around her. "You already have seen what I'm doing so there's no point in leaving now."

"What ever happened to sitting back, relaxing and ordering a pizza?" Diane raised an eyebrow studying him closely.

"I figured this is our last night in Coral Valley for a little while," he shrugged leaning his forehead against hers, "So I thought we could make it memorable instead of eating sauce and cardboard."

Diane let out a light laugh, "You didn't have to go through the trouble of making all this just for me."

"I wanted to," Ben gave a slight shrug, "I love you Diane and I want to make you as happy as I possibly can."

"You already do Ben," she smiled trailing his lips with her fingers, "In fact I..."
"What?" he questioned as she trailed off, "What's wrong?"

"I think you might want to check the food,"  Diane gave out a light giggle as she watched one of the pots boil over with water.
Ben rushed over to the pot, turning the heat down. He began to clean the mess swiftly and check the damages. "It's all good! No damage to the food."
Diane shook her head and laughed, "Would you like some help?"
He shook his head no, "Why don't you make yourself comfortable while I finish up in here and I'll meet you in the living room?"

"I don't mind helping you really," Diane reached for the wooden spoon to stir one of the pots.

Ben playfully whacked her in the butt with the towel on his shoulder and teased, "Hey get out of my kitchen. I'm making the food here. You're supposed to go and relax."

"Alright, alright jeez." she giggled leaning over and kissing him, "I'll be waiting for you. So hurry up already!"

Ben returned the kiss and watched as she walked out of his kitchen. He quickly finished up cooking the dinner and put the plates on a tray. He carried the tray into the living room where he found Diane flipping channels on the television. He set the tray down on the coffee table in front of the couch. Diane threw down the remote and smiled, "Wow, this is wonderful."

"Only the best, for the best girl," Ben smirked taking off the apron and sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table.

Diane sat down across from him and gazed the food with wide eyes, "This is truly amazing Ben."

"You want to see true skill?" he reached under the coffee table and pulled out a bottle of white wine and two glasses, "I was prepared and you didn't even know it."

"This is so amazing," Diane couldn't get over the fact that Ben went through so much trouble to make her dinner, "You truly are an amazing boyfriend."

"I try to please you," Ben opened the bottle of wine and poured it into the glasses, handing one to her he held his glass up for a toast, "To the most beautiful woman in the world. May she be the happiest person in the world."

"As for you," she smiled clinking her glass against his.

"I already am," he took a sip of his wine and set the glass down, "I have you and that alone makes me the happiest person in the world."

"Ben Walters why do you have to be such a romantic?" she sighed taking a bite of her food, "Mmm this is so good. You are the best cook sweetie."

Ben ate the dinner he cooked, but was only half paying attention to what he was doing. Ben's eyes were glued on Diane. He felt a shudder run through him as he watched her tuck her hair behind her ears. He thought about all the things that they had gone through to finally get to this point and he couldn't help but smile. He thought about the surprise he had in store for her when they got to Florida and a rush of pure joy ran through him. He knew that what he had planned for her was going to change his life forever and that he was okay with it. He never thought he'd get to this point, especially with Diane but it surprised him how things change. He knew now that Diane was the only person he wanted to get to this point with. He watched her the rest of dinner. She looked up at him and smiled, "You hardly ate anything!"

He gave a slight shrug, "I wasn't that hungry to begin with."
"Oh I probably look like a pig then," Diane huffed as she looked down at her empty plate, "I couldn't help it! It was just too good!"

Ben gave out a chuckle and stood up holding his hands out to her, "I'm glad you enjoyed it. I might have been offended if you didn't finish off the plate."

"Well, no reason to be offended now is there?" Diane grabbed his hands and pulled herself to her feet, "That was a nice surprise."

"It's not over yet," Ben smirked kissing her lightly, "the fun has just begun baby."

"Oh no," she smirked wrapping her arms around his neck, "Just what else do you have going on in that mind of yours Ben Walters?"

"Be prepared for some fun," he smiled kissing her.


“Just a few more steps here,” Diego instructed Heather while leading her up over to his porch.  Seeing that she was still lost in the daze that carried over her, he gently eased his arm around her back helping her into his home as he felt an air of nervousness overtake him, “It’s not much here, but it’s mine.”
“No, it’s…it’s nice,” Heather offered up with a weak smile taking in Diego’s house. 
While she’d always teased him in the past about him owing her dinner, she never imagined that the day would come when she’d actually set foot in his house.  Okay, so maybe she’d thought about it a few times, but this wasn’t at all what she’d had in mind.  His place was quite contemporary with very few furnishings to clutter up his space.  It was rather neat and orderly, much like the reflection of the man Diego was, but at the same time quite empty--as if something was missing from it.
“I wasn’t exactly expecting company,” Diego began to apologize making his way through the living room into the kitchen, “Have a seat and I’ll bring you something to drink.”
“Alright,” Heather replied surveying her surroundings as she sought out the one thing that was seemingly absent from Diego’s home.  Sure, she’d thought he’d have rows of books lined up to show his holier than thou attitude, but instead she stepped towards the television noting the X-box and vast array of games lay out before it.  Puzzled yet curious about this new find, Heather knelt down on the floor perusing the titles before her.
“Here you are,” Diego spoke up while making his way out of the kitchen.  He stopped just short of the couch as Heather held up one of the video game cases curiously.
“Barbie‘s dream makeover?” she half questioned giving him a strange look.  Watching as he fidgeted a bit, she rose to her feet holding the game out towards him while cracking a soft smile, “I didn’t quite expect this.”
“I’m sure you didn’t and truth be told I wasn’t expecting that smile out of you either, but I’m glad it’s there,” Diego admitted unable to contain his own soothing smile.
“Yeah, well somehow you and Barbie was certainly not a connection I was going to anticipate making under any circumstances,” Heather confessed with a tiny chuckle holding the case out for him to take it.
“This belongs to my niece Teresa,” Diego admitted feeling heat rise over his features, “She and my nephew Jose were staying over not so long ago when my sister and her husband took a long overdue anniversary vacation.”
“So that made you the babysitter, huh?” Heather arched curious brow thinking about Diego’s way with children.
“I didn’t mind, though I must confess that this thing right here gets most of the babysitting credit,” Diego offered up bending down to pick up the X-box, “because as Teresa says, ‘It’s all the rage with kids these days’.”
“Is that right,” Heather laughed lightly watching as he began to put it away, “I have to admit that when I was young, I always wanted something like that, but I guess that was the bad part about being born when I was.  You didn’t have the time or the money to be able to have something like that--unless of course it was second hand from a neighbor.  Why I remember one time when the boy next door let me play with his Atari system, I really thought that I was something special.  I can still remember what it was like playing Packman and I really thought that I‘d hit the jackpot.”
“It sounds like you did in some ways,” Diego noted the expression on her face as he caught a glimpse of the woman that Heather fought so hard to hide from him.
“Yeah well, whatever.  It was no big deal,” she remarked sourly refusing to keep the moment lingering between them.  Her eyes surveyed his living room once again.
“It sounded like it was something special to you,” Diego began once again watching her reaction closely as she began to close herself off to him.
“I suppose,” she shrugged her shoulders.
“You know if you want to play, then I’d be more than happy to let you try to figure this thing out,” Diego motioned to the game system in his arms.
“No,” she shook her head adamantly, “I’m not really in the mood to play games right now.”
“Okay, I just thought I’d ask.  You just looked like you might be interested in giving it a try--or rather you looked like you might be brave enough to figure it out,” he explained setting the system aside before turning to her once again.
“No, not right now,” she offered up again.
“You sure?” he questioned again seeking out some way to get Heather to open up to him.
“Yeah, right now, well all I really want to do is get in a nice, hot shower and then get to bed,” Heather admitted with a heavy sigh.  She gazed over at Diego once again thinking about how she’d kind of pushed herself into his home without warning, “that is if you don’t mind.”
“Mind,” he repeated quickly shaking his head as an afterthought, “no not at all.  I’ll just see about getting you some towels and something to change into though I do have to warn you I don’t have anything designer or luxurious to slip into if you don’t mind.”
“I suppose I’ll make do as long as it’s not polyester,” Heather wrinkled her nose at the thought.
“I’ll find something that isn’t and then maybe later we can get that opportunity to talk,” Diego suggested hoping to get some kind of response out of her.
“Maybe,” was all she offered up before sinking into the couch cushions and slipping back into the trance-like state she’d been in during the car ride over to his house.
Walking to his bedroom, Diego sought out something for Heather to wear, yet he couldn’t escape that sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach about what had happened to her.  Something was horribly wrong and when she’d asked him to stay at his place, he knew that he should’ve said no--that he should’ve suggested she go home or to a hotel, but given her current state of mind, the last thing he wanted was for her to be alone.  Something was horribly wrong and if he wasn’t there to help her, well, he feared for the worst and right now he wasn’t about to let that happen to Heather.  Sure, he might be breaking half a dozen of his own strict moral codes about not being too involved with his patients, but Heather wasn’t really a patient.  She was a friend and a friend who was in obvious trouble and he couldn’t walk away from that.  He wouldn’t walk away from it even if it wound up costing him the promises he’d made to himself about where he stood in her life.  Someone had upset her and hopefully before this night was over, he’d know how to help her out of the situation she’d found herself in.


J.T. walked into his apartment slamming the front door. He was furious with Doug. Doug had no right to disown him the way he did! It was his own father! How could he deny his son when J.T. did so much for his father in the past? He made sure that nobody found out the truth about Doug for so long and this is what he got in return? Oh no, J.T. would find a way to get him back no matter what might be brought his way. He walked into the kitchen, grabbing a beer. He advanced to the front room and took a seat in his reclining chair. Just as he opened his bottle and took a sip there was a knock at the door, "Come on in, the door is open."

Cameron walked into J.T.'s apartment closing the door behind him. He glanced over and shook his head at his brother, "J.T., explain to me why you just leave your door open and let any person just walk on in."

"Nobody would have the guts to come in here and attack me?" he shrugged taking another sip of his beer, "I don't know. Besides it was just you anyway."

"Well, you never know what kind of guests you will get just by being my brother," Cameron took a seat on the couch and kicked back.

"Hey, I don't mind what kind of people you bring my way," J.T. took another sip of his beer, "at least you acknowledge me as your brother."

"I take it you went to see Doug," Cameron questioned already knowing the answer, "Don't get upset about it J.T. We both know what he's like."

"Yeah, I know," he nodded leaning forward, "I just thought after all these years of not seeing me he'd finally grow up and be a father."

"That's part of your problem J.T." Cameron got up and walked into the kitchen, grabbing a beer for himself, "You expect too much out of people."

"I just thought that by now he'd grow up and be a man." he shrugged downing the rest of his beer, "I mean I didn't expect him to accept me with open arms, but the fact he's denying that I'm even his son is complete and total horse crap."

"Well, what did you expect little bro?" Cameron walked back into the room and patted J.T.'s knee, "he is the same jerk he was years ago. He didn't change a bit."

"He deserves whatever comes his way," J.T. made an angry groaning noise tossing the beer bottle across the room breaking it against the wall.

Cameron watched as the bottle hit the wall and looked back at J.T., "I don't see why you want to associate with him anyway."

"I don't anymore. I'm so sick of him acting like I'm not a Mahoney," J.T. put his head in his hands, "I wish I never was a Mahoney."

"You're a Stone," Cameron rubbed his brother's shoulders, "You don't need a Mahoney, they are nothing but scum. All you need is me. We'll be great partners."

"Cameron, I just wish I could make dad pay for all the pain he's caused me," J.T. looked up at Cameron with anger flashing through his face, "I'd give anything for that."

"Then J.T. my brother,  we have some talking to do," Cameron smiled taking a sip of his beer, "Doug and I have a little feud going on right now and I'm about to offer you something many people wish they could be offered. We shall work together. You and I once again reunited as partners. We could get you whatever you want, and in return you can work for me. Whatever you want we can get you. Now, Doug I am working on. Is there anything else that you'd like to have?"

J.T. felt an evil grin grow across his face, "Yes, there is this girl. I had her in high school and I’d like to open the lines of communication again now that I’m back in Coral Valley."
Cameron put a hand on his brother's shoulder, "Then J.T. considers her yours."

J.T. laughed out loud thinking about how Diane will once again be his. He smirked knowing that the bastard boyfriend of hers was going to end up in deep trouble now that he and Cameron were once again working together. Cameron stood up and placed the beer on the table, "Now J.T. I must depart; I have some business to do. Stop by the house later on if you'd like.  You can meet my wife."
“Wife?” J.T. repeated with wide eyes.
“It’s a long story,” Cameron nodded in confession, “but I’m sure when you meet her you’ll understand.”

“That sounds cryptic,” J.T. noted watching Cameron leave his apartment. He kicked back in his recliner and chuckled, "Diane Stevens, you haven't seen the last of me. Not by a long shot."


"Diane Stevens will you dance with me?" Ben asked turning on the radio.

"Of course I will," Diane smiled as he placed his hands on her hips.

Ben and Diane began to dance slowly as the song came on the radio. He wrapped his arms around her waist and swayed to the music as her arms were tucked around his neck.

Maybe it's intuition
But some things you just don't question
Like in your eyes
I see my future in an instant
And there it goes
I think I've found my best friend
I know that it might sound more than a little crazy
But I believe

I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life

Diane rested her head on Ben's shoulder as he rested his head against hers. A shiver ran through her body as they continued to dance to the music. She pulled him as close as she could to her as the song went on.

There's just no rhyme or reason
Only this sense of completion
And in your eyes
I see the missing pieces
I'm searching for
I think I've found my way home

I know that it might sound more than a little crazy
But I believe

I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life

Ben lifted his head as did Diane. They gazed into each other's eyes as they continued to dance. Ben leaned over and placed his mouth near Diane's ear and whispered, "I love you Diane and I always will."

"I love you Ben," Diane smiled kissing his neck, then his cheek and working her way to his lips, "Ben, hold me close, hold me forever."

A thousand angels dance around you
I am complete now that I've found you

I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life

The music stopped but Diane and Ben continued to dance. With eyes locked on each other, nothing in the world mattered to them but each other. Diane leaned in and kissed Ben's lips gently. He ran his hands up and down her back gently tracing her spin with his fingertips. Diane grasped his shirt and pulled away from the kiss and lifted up his shirt tossing it onto the couch. She gazed at his body, trailing her fingertips over his chest, trailing downward across his abs. She trailed her fingers lightly over his pant line as she leaned in and kissed his chest. He wrapped his arms around her tightly running his hands up the back of her shirt. Ben trailed his lips down across her neck, sucking gently at the pulse of her neck. Diane gave a light sigh, "Ben..I think we need to go to the bedroom."

Ben grinned breathing heavily on her neck, "Are you sure you don't want to stay out here and watch television or something?"

"Ben Walters, take me to the bedroom right now before I change my mind," she huffed trailing her fingertips across the back of his neck.

"Whatever you say," he smirked picking her up and tossing her on his shoulder as he made his way to the bedroom.

"Hey, I do know how to walk you know." Diane giggled as she reached down and grabbed his butt.

Ben flinched and laughed, "Careful I might drop you."

"You would never do that to me," she chuckled grabbing his butt again, "You love me too much to drop me."

"Watch me," he smirked tossing her on the bed and laughed as she squealed, "Now Diane, what was that you were saying?"

She motioned him over to her with her index finger, "Ben shut up, get over here and kiss me."

"Yes Ma'am!" he grinned climbing on top of her in the bed, leaning down kissing her passionately.


“Close your eyes Avery,” Russ instructed stopping the car on the shoulder of the road upon her earlier protests, “I mean it.”
“Why?” Avery curled her lip in a pout, “Why can’t I just see where we’re going?  Is that really going to hurt anything?”
“Why must you always be this stubborn,” Russ frowned throwing out a pointed look in her direction.
“I thought that was part of what you loved about me,” she flashed him a sexy smile while batting her eyelashes in an attempt to get him to reveal their location to her.
“That’s it, you’ve forced me to go to extremes,” Russ blurted out reaching into the backseat for his trench coat.  Feeling for the sash upon it, he gave it a quick tug ready to do what was necessary to get his wife to cooperate to his request.
“What are you doing now?” Avery questioned seeing him pull the long, dark tie his coat up into the front seat with them.
“Doing what it takes to get you to cooperate,” Russ declared reaching out to her, “Since you’re unwilling to behave, I have no other choice.”
“If you think for one second I’m about to let you tie me up, then you can think again mister,” Avery pushed her hand into the center of his chest while offering up a warning look.
“Gee sweetheart, I remember a time not so long ago when that idea thrilled and excited you,” he tossed out at her watching the blush that rose over her features.
“Russ,” she swatted at him lightly, “that’s so not funny.”
“I wasn’t trying to be,” he informed her with a low, sensual whisper.  Leaning in to collect a soft kiss from her lips, he eased the material of the sash through his fingers, “and as for tying you up, well we’ll discuss that later--after the surprise I have in store for you.”
“Russ,” she began to blush again as she felt him slide the material from his jacket around her eyes to keep her from looking at what he had waiting for them.
“Just trust me on this one,” he urged again leaning in to press a tender sweep of a caress against her lips before sliding back into his seat and turning the car back on.
“I always trust you,” Avery replied with a soft smile.
“I’m glad to hear that because I hope that you’ll always feel that way,” he headed off of the main road leading her to where he’d planned from the moment he’d decided they needed some time away from the rest of the world.  Once they reached their destination, he parked the car ready to share this new adventure with his wife.  Sure, she might not remember everything just yet, but in time it would come back to her, “Ready?”
“Am I ever,” Avery nodded eagerly listening to the sounds of him getting out of the car.  She began to reach for the mock blindfold he’d put her in ready to pull it away from her eyes when the car door opened and Russell reached inside for her.
“Oh no you don’t,” he blurted out unbuckling her seatbelt and hoisting her up into his arms with one quick sweep, “I’m not about to let you spoil this one by having no patience.”
“I’m not spoiling it.  Just merely adding to my enjoyment by taking a first look at what you have in mind,” Avery tried to reason with him while he slid his arms around her waist squeezing her in closer to him.
“Nice try sweetheart, but for now, indulge me,” he whispered warmly over her lips before moving in behind her to help guide her along, “We’re not far from where we need to be.”
“And where would that be exactly,” she couldn’t help but ask.
“Nice try sweetheart,” he teased tickling the back of her neck with his nose before they stood still for a moment.
“A girl has to try, doesn’t she?” Avery laughed lightly giving herself over to the moment with Russell.  Leading her along, he gently curled his arm around her waist giving her a direct link to his body behind her.  His warmth radiated over her and Avery found herself suddenly disinterested in the surprise and more interested in exploring the newfound connection with her husband.
“We’re almost there,” he whispered warmly against the back of her neck causing shivers to race up and down her spine with his breath.
“I was rather enjoying where we are right now,” she confessed bringing her hand down over his arm with a light squeeze.
“You’ll love what I have planned even better,” he promised assuring her while returning to the focus of their journey with one another, “watch your step.”
“How can I watch when I can’t see,” she piped back at him eliciting another low, tantalizing breath from his lips over her skin.
“Cute,” he chuckled lightly guiding her over what appeared to be shaky ground, “okay now stay right here.”
“Exactly right here,” she questioned feeling him release her and start to step away.
“Exactly right there,” he nodded in agreement fading away from her for a long moment.
Now as Avery stood in the center of Russell’s surprise, she found herself far more tempted than she was certain he wanted her to be to take off the blindfold.  However, in keeping true to her word, she waited rather impatiently for his return wondering just what he’d had in mind.  A few moments passed leaving her to feel as though she’d spent an eternity without the man she loved, but before anticipation truly got the best of her, she was met by the soft sounds of a seductive melody surrounding her--wrapping her up in an air of romance.
“Okay, I think we can get rid of this thing,” Russell whispered over her shoulder causing after to jump slightly upon his unexpected arrival. 
Now feeling him unknot the tie over her eyes, she felt the slow, subtle breeze of the night sweep over her features.  Her eyes gradually adjusted to her surroundings while she felt Russell curl his arm around her in a tender sweep.  The music was playing, the night sky blooming overhead and as Russell turned her in his arms, she could see the magic sparkle behind his green eyes.
“Still don’t have a clue where we are, do you?” he questioned tenderly while brushing his fingers up against her cheek in a tentative movement.
“I’d be lying if I said yes,” she admitted lost in the warmth of his arms while feeling the earth move beneath them.  Come to think of it, the earth really was moving, she realized.  She looked beyond him to see the car parked over by the shore as it would appear they’d now come upon some water and were in the middle of it.  Suddenly a thought dawned upon her, “Bright Island.”
“That’s right,” he nodded with a knowing grin, “I thought tonight was the perfect night for a quiet little boat ride--a dance under the moonlight and then perhaps a trip to that little camping spot where we’d spent the weekend under the stars all those years ago.”
“But how did you--” Avery questioned in confusion taking a good look around the boat they were on.  The deck alone was larger than the boat they’d taken years ago and as Avery’s eyes skimmed over their surroundings, she took note of the table set up across the way.  There was candlelight and a bottle of something chilling in the center of the lacy tablecloth.  “Russ, how in the world did you set this up?”
“I have my methods,” he admitted cryptically.
“But we were together all day.  You didn’t have time for this and furthermore, this boat is beyond anything that we can afford,” Avery turned to face him again, “How did you…”
“Magic,” he cut her off with a kiss squeezing her in closer to him, “and let’s just leave it at that.”
“You know I can’t just leave it at that,” Avery reminded him simply.
“For now you’re going to have to because as it stands all I can think about is having my wife in my arms and sharing this dance with her.  I do believe they’re playing our song sweetheart,” Russell offered her his arm once again while a new song poured into the night reminiscent of the one they’d danced to on their wedding day with one another.
“Oh Russ, this is amazing,” Avery accepted his hand.  He pulled her into an embrace; hugging her body to his while the song continued setting the stage for their night away from the rest of the world.  With it’s melody it opened a door to freedom from the worries that had been bogging down upon them for the last few months.  Gingerly, Russell eased his palm up against Avery’s cheek tilting her head up towards him to open up a more intimate connection between them.  Tipping down to capture her lips in a slow, subtle, romantic sweep, he could feel her melting into him as the explosions overhead.
“What in the…” Avery questioned with a gasp taking note of the fireworks now springing forth into the night with all their glitter and sparkle over head.
“Happy Anniversary Avery,” Russell hugged her closer to him joining her in watching the display he’d had set up for them.
“But Russ it’s not…” she stopped herself as a gasp fell from her lips, “Oh my God.  I can’t believe I forgot…I mean with everything that’s happened, I guess it just slipped my mind that…”
“That on this day not so many months ago you and I found our way back to one another and destiny finally fell into place for us.  Sure, I know I could’ve waited until our year anniversary, but what’s the point in that when we can celebrate each and every month leading up to it?” he offered up in explanation, “I know I blew it in our first month or so, but this time, well hey I thought we could use something extra special.”
“And that’s exactly what it is Russ,” Avery tipped her head back to look up at him, “it’s incredible and it just reminds me all the more just how much I love you--how I’ll always love you.”
“Not nearly as much as I’ll always love you,” he replied bending in to kiss her again as time stood still for the two of them--at least for a little while.


Brooke lay in bed thinking about the week she’d had.  Sure, she might’ve come close to getting caught, but the beauty of it was that she had everything under control.  Judy wouldn’t be a problem any longer and things were going exactly as she’d hoped for.  Well, almost exactly, Brooke thought to herself unable to contain the frown that touched over her features. 
There was still one very important thing left undone, she reminded herself as she reached over to the nightstand beside her.  Opening up the top drawer, Brooke pulled out the romance novel she’d kept inside.  Smiling, she fingered the cover for a moment before opening it up to reveal the hollow insides which revealed a small brown box she’d kept locked away from the rest of the world.  Slowly opening the top of the box, she took a long look at the liquid filled vial from within and began to lift it up to take a better look at it.
Laughing lightly at how easy things would be for her once she’d given her daughter a wake up call, Brooke realized that her dreams for the future would finally fall into place.  It was only a matter of time before she set things in motion again and when Avery experienced another fatal flaw with Russell, only then would Avery realize it wasn’t meant to be.  The baby would be a thing of a past and the future, well now that’s exactly what Brooke was looking forward to.  With that thought in mind, she reached over for the phone dialing the familiar number she’d memorized during her time away from Coral Valley.
“I thought I told you to never call me here,” the voice on the other end of the line cut back sharply upon hearing her.
“I wasn’t planning on it, but I just thought I’d let you know that things are finally falling back into place.  Soon everything is going to be as it should be,” she vowed to herself as a crooked grin expanded over her features, “Avery will get back on track with her life and any traces of Russell’s presence in it will be erased forever.  After that we‘ll be right back on track.”
“We’d better be Brooke because this time we can’t have room for failure and if Avery can’t cut it…” the voice began to snap back at her.
“Oh Avery will more than cut it.  This was a role she was born for and by the time I’ve finished working my magic over her and Russell, there won’t be any place for him in her life.  We’ll be exactly where I promised you we would be with our plans.”
“You’d better make damn sure that happens Brooke because we have a lot riding on Avery’s future with Brant,” the voice continued to lash out at her.
“Oh she’ll be with Brant.  That much I’m certain of and if that little ransom payoff wasn’t proof enough of his love, just wait until you see what I have planned next for them.  They will be together and Russell Denton will be nothing more than a bad memory.  You have my word on that,” she vowed eyeing the vial once again ready to do whatever it took to see to it that her daughter lived up to her full potential one way or another.

...to be continued...