Episode 120

“You’re having Kyle do what?” Avery’s jaw dropped in astonishment as she began to pace around the living room, “Russ, what were you thinking?”
“I was thinking about us Avery,” Russell pleaded with her while sensing that the battle was only beginning between the both of them, “I realize that things aren’t exactly going too great lately, so…”
“So you decided to add to the situation by chasing off after Bruce,” Avery gasped in astonishment, “Russ, how many times have I told you how dangerous he is?”
“I know how dangerous he is, but I also know how our sitting around here doing nothing wasn’t about to change that,” Russell threw back at her firmly, “With all we’ve had going on lately, you would think you’d be happy to see that someone is trying to put an end to the madness Bruce has brought into our lives.”
“He’s got a good point,” Kyle added breaking his long silence after spending the last half hour watching the newlyweds feuding with one another.
“Yes, I would be very glad to hear that, but why does that someone have to be you,” Avery curled her lip in a scowl.
“Yet another valid point,” Kyle quipped eliciting a glare from Avery.
“You stay out of this,” Avery warned sharply, “because I haven’t even started on what I have to say about you.”
“Ouch,” Kyle winced at her words before rising up off of the couch, “I think I’ll go wait outside for the two of you to get over this tiff, but I must say if it ends with you two going at it on the couch, could you at least give me a heads up so that I don’t walk in on something I wasn’t meant to be seeing?”
“Oh no you don’t,” Avery spun around to face him once again, “You aren’t walking out of here just yet--not until I get everything I need to know out of the both of you.”
“Avery, it’s really not that bad,” Kyle began catching her angry stare, “Well, okay it’s bad, but it’s really not THAT bad.”
“Okay, then why don’t we back up to the part where you tell me you were shot at earlier tonight,” Avery suggested folding her arms in front of her chest before turning to face her husband, “or how about we back up to why Kyle was out there in the thick of things to begin with?”
“We were trying to find the information we needed to locate Bruce and get rid of him forever,” Russell stated plainly, “I didn’t want you to have to worry about him on top of everything else and when Randy came to us…”
“And just who the hell is Randy?” Avery threw back at him with a scowl, “What more do you know about the man than what little he gave you to go on?  Russ, for all you know he could’ve been working for Bruce.”
“He was terrified Avery--really, truly terrified and I don’t believe that he would--” he started to explain.
“Russ, the man died tonight and Kyle nearly got shot up in the process,” Avery pointed out with a huff, “That should say something in itself.”
“The guy was a loser to begin with and I’ll make those bastards that shot my car pay,” Kyle piped in gruffly only to catch another one of Avery’s angry scowls.  He shrugged his shoulders simply, “I’m just saying…”
“Well don’t,” Avery glared at him, “because I’ve had just about enough drama here to last me a lifetime.”
“Avery, come on.  I was just trying to keep things from getting to the point of no return,” Russell began to plead with her.  Taking a step forward, he reached out to attempt to touch her.
“And just what would my losing my husband in the process accomplish?” she questioned unable to hold back on the tears she’d been fighting since Russ and Kyle revealed the hidden truths about the man who’d been spying on them earlier.  Suddenly she found herself fearing far more than she wanted to and that on top of her anger left her no room for anything but the lashing out she was giving them.  “That is just stupid.”
“You’re right it is.  I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you what I was doing, but I really just wanted this to be over for us.  I wanted to be able to move forward in our life and not have Bruce waiting in the wings ready to tear our happiness apart,” Russell pleaded with her.
“Russ, I want that almost more than anything, but truth be told if it came down to your taking Bruce down and losing your life in the process or your doing nothing about the situation, I’d take the latter because I’ve already lived far too much of my life without you.  You’re what matters most and if you can’t think about what something like this could do to take you away from me, then you obviously don’t have the first clue about what you’re throwing away in chasing off after Bruce.”
“Avery, come on.  You know that’s not what I’m trying to do,” Russell stepped forward reaching out to her once again only to have her take a step backwards.  “If you just think about what I’m saying…”
“No Russ, you think about what I’ve said and then maybe just maybe you’ll understand where I’m coming from,” she moved out of his reach stomping her way down the hallway to their bedroom and slamming the door behind her.

“Ouch, that doesn’t look good,” Kyle winced upon the resounding thud of the door.
“No, it isn’t,” Russell frowned heavily casting a quick look between his friend and the door his wife had disappeared behind, “I’ll be back.”
“Take your time,” Kyle nodded in response watching Russell chase off after Avery.  Taking a quick look around Kyle decided to sit on the sofa with the realization that it was clearly going to be a very long night.


“I guess we’re too late to catch the end,” Blake frowned stepping out of the ladies room with Sarah only to discover that the audience inside the theater was already shuffling out into the lobby.
“It must be fate trying to give us a sign,” Sarah offered up with a half smile.
“Yeah, that my brother is a buffoon who can’t keep his hold on a drink to save his life,” Blake couldn’t help watching as Brant emerged from the darkened theater as well.
“There you are,” Brant called out to her.  He waved his hand briefly before pushing his way through the crowd in an attempt to get closer to her.
“Speaking of the devil,” Blake couldn’t help but laugh watching Brant make a beeline towards her in the hopes of not getting crushed in the process.
“Where did you drift off to,” Brant questioned finally springing out from the crowd with a concerned look.
“I went to the ladies room to clean up the mess you made, which by the way didn’t happen,” Blake motioned to the stain on her pants before she threw out a mini glare in his general direction.
“Oh no you don’t,” Brant shook his head in response, “Don’t you dare blame this one on me considering you were the one who started bouncing up and down when the music started playing.”
“Yeah well if you would’ve just put your drink on the other side of the chair like I told you to, then we wouldn’t have gotten into this mess,” Blake stuck her tongue out at him stubbornly before turning to look at Sarah, “See what kind of crap I have to put up with.”

“Hey, don’t you even think about slandering my good name to strangers,” Brant objected finally taking a good, long look at the woman beside Blake before smiling, “especially beautiful ones at that.”
“Ignore him, he doesn’t have a good name,” Blake informed Sarah while rolling her eyes at Brant’s remark.  Turning to look at her brother again, she stood taller wiggling her finger at him, “Put your eyes back into your head Fido.”
“Mind your manners Blake,” Brant remarked dismissively while taking a step towards Sarah.  He offered his hand out to her, “And just who might you be?”
“Her name is Sarah,” Blake answered for her, “and she’s too smart to date someone like you.”
“How about you zip it Blake,” Brant grumbled in response taking Sarah’s hand in his, “Sorry about her.  She tends to get carried away with the sibling rivalry thing at times.  My name is Brant.”
“I know,” Sarah answered with a grin, “Blake’s told me all about you.”
“Then I would strongly suggest that you forget each and every word she said and you give me a chance to redeem myself,” Brant suggested with a flirty tone.
“Why should she bother with that,” Blake stepped in between them, “She already knows what a dog you truly are and besides she has a boyfriend.”
“Well actually…” Sarah started uneasily.
“What a pity,” Brant mouthed under his breath.
“Oh please,” Blake rolled her eyes at his words, “Sarah and I were on our way back to the movie after you’d forced me to get cleaned up.  We knew one another from when I was doing my internship in Sacramento.”
“How interesting,” Brant nodded half listening to his sister while he kept his eyes on Sarah, “So what brings you to Coral Valley?  Business?  Pleasure?  A little bit of both?”
“Actually I’m…” Sarah started up again only to have Blake cut in sharply.
“She’s not taking the bait Brant,” Blake chastised her brother, “now if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate you stop gawking at my friend.”
“I’m not gawking,” he scowled back at her before offering up an apologetic smile in Sarah’s direction, “You’ll have to excuse her.  She’s just a little bit cranky about the way the night went here.”
“Of course I am.  Sarah and I were about to go back in there and catch the end of the movie, but apparently that wasn’t in the cards for the evening,” Blake pointed out with a tiny huff.
“That really shouldn’t pose as too much of a problem Blake considering that we have it at home on DVD,” Brant reminded her before turning to Sarah again, “In fact, why don’t you join us?”
“Oh I don’t know if I should considering that…” Sarah’s eyes scanned the theater when she remembered why she’d shown up in the first place.
“That your date didn’t show up?” Brant arched a curious brow eager to keep pressing the issue.
“Well, he was supposed to be here and when he didn’t call, well…” Sarah bit on her lower lip nervously.
“The way I see it his loss is our gain,” Brant reached for her hand kissing the top of it politely, “Besides, I would feel absolutely horrible if I couldn’t find a way to make it up to my sister for making a mess of her jeans.  Blake and I were intending upon going out for some ice cream and then heading back home at the estate.  You’re more than welcome to join us tonight if you’d like…”
Sarah remained silent, unable to take her eyes off of Brant as the smoothness of his words and his not so subtle flirty tone brought color to her face, “Actually I…”
“It would be great to have you come over since it’s been a long time,” Blake decided breaking her long moment of silence, “We really have a lot to catch up on and if you’re interested,” Blake lowered her voice just a bit, “I can see to it that Brant disappears so we can have some girl talk.”
Sarah couldn’t help but laugh at Blake’s words before she glanced over at Brant once again, “I really appreciate the offer, but I was supposed to meet Kyle and…”
“He’s not here now is he,” Brant took a quick look around the nearly empty lobby, “Come on.  At least say that you’ll join us for an ice cream.  You like ice cream, don’t you?”
“Of course I like ice cream,” Sarah couldn’t help but laugh at the audacity of the question.  Finally deciding to call her previous plans quits for the evening she offered up a quick nod in agreement, “Sure, ice cream sounds great.”
“Did you hear that Blake,” Brant couldn’t help but jab at her, “Sarah thinks ice cream sounds great.”
“I heard that,” Blake nodded in response giving him a firm warning look, “but you’d better be on your best behavior.”
“When am I not,” Brant smiled back at his sister leaving Blake to shake her head and pray that Brant didn’t make any moves on Sarah before the night was over.


Dave and Deidra walked into Diane's hospital room and saw Ben sitting in the chair next to her bed. He had her hand in his, while he ran his other hand through her hair. Deidra stepped over to the bed and gave out a slight gasp. Ben looked over at her and gave a slight reassuring smile. "She'll be alright. She's just sleeping."
Deidra took a seat in the chair on the opposite side of the bed and watched her little sister. She ran her hand lightly over Diane's face and gave out a sigh, "How could she get caught in a gunfire? How can people be so careless?"
"I don't know," Ben sighed not looking over to Deidra, "I don't understand it myself."
"According to the officer, he took the only chance he had." Dave gave a slight shrug, "I don't know the whole situation just yet."
"That's a bunch of bull," Ben snarled, "I saw the situation take place and he had no reason to shoot."
"I'm working on solving that Ben," Dave walked over to behind Deidra and placed a hand on her shoulder reassuringly. "Everything will be straightened out."
"I don't get how things like this can happen," Deidra thought out loud running a hand through Diane's hair, "I'm scared for Diane."
"She'll be alright," Dave leaned down, looking Deidra in the eyes, "The doctors say she'll be okay."
"Yeah, physically if we're lucky," Deidra was staring off blankly, "What about emotionally or mentally?"
"We don't know that," Dave gave her chin a slight nudge, "Cheer up. She'll be okay. Your sister is a fighter. You know that and I know that."
"You try cheering up when your sister has been shot," Deidra snapped and let out a light sigh, "Dave, I'm sorry. I'm just upset."
"I know, I don't blame you for being upset," Dave wrapped his arms around her, "We just have to be strong for Diane. She needs us more then anything now. Especially you and Ben."
"How long has she been asleep," Deidra asked gazing over at Ben.
"Since I've been in here," Ben brought Diane's hand up to his lips and kissed it gently, "Doctors say the medicine will keep her knocked out for awhile."
Deidra watched as Ben gave out a yawn. She got up out of her chair and walked over to him giving him a hug, "Why don't you go home and get some sleep?"
"No, I'm fine," Ben assured her not moving an inch.
"You're exhausted. You haven't slept, I can tell." Deidra looked at him with concern.
"I'll be fine." Ben urged on, "I won't be any better at home anyways. I need to be here. I have to be here."
"You're a good man to my sister." Deidra assured him, "She's very lucky to have a man like you in her life. She needs it after everything that's happened."
"Thank you, but I'm not much of a man," Ben gave out a sad sigh, "If I was that great I would have kept Diane out of danger instead of dragging her into it."
"Ben, I'm sure you've heard this before but it's true," Deidra paused and grasped Ben's hand in hers, "You are a great guy and you would never do anything intentionally to hurt my sister. You'd do everything you can to make her happy. That's what a true man does."
"She loves you," Ben stared blankly at her, "she may not show it all the time but she does."
"Thanks Ben,"  Deidra gave a slight smile, "It makes me feel better hearing that."
Dave stood in the corner watching the threesome and shook his head. He knew something was shady about Patrick and what he had done and he was going to find out what it was. He needed to find out what for the three of them.

Deidra looked over at him, "You know you can go home if you want."
"I'm not leaving you," Dave shook his head and advanced over to her.
"Deidra, go home. I'm here and if anything changes I can inform you." Ben looked over at her and shrugged, "Besides there's not bound to be any change until morning."
"Are you sure Ben? I mean we can take over if you need us to stay here for you," she informed him as she leaned down and kissed Diane's forehead.
"Just go home Deidra. I promise I'll give you updates," Ben gave her a hug.
"Alright, I'm just a phone call away," Deidra squeezed him tightly, "If you need anything and I mean anything at all just call me."
"I promise I will," Ben released her and shook Dave's hand, "Thank you for all the help you're providing."
"I hope I just find the answers to the questions you have," Dave released his hand. He saw that Deidra had a far off look in her eyes and he wrapped an arm around her, "Everything will be alright. Trust me."
"I know," Deidra nodded as they made their way to the door, "I trust you."


Heather stepped into Diego’s home unsure on what to say to him after the long silence they’d shared on the ride back from the hospital.  While he’d seemed determined to take her up on her proposal, or at least that’s the vibe she’d thought she’d gotten from him, his silence had left a strange feeling inside of her.  Slowly, she turned around to find him standing behind her--just watching her with a long moment of contemplation.
“What,” Heather questioned feeling a bit uneasy at the way he was looking at her, “What’s wrong?”

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner,” Diego inquired, his voice weighed down with emotions with each word.  He stepped towards her, extending his hand out to touch her face--to trace over the place where Cameron had left his mark upon her, “Why didn’t you just tell me what he’d done to you when you came to me?”
“I was afraid,” Heather admitted with a tiny tremble, “I’m not one for opening up and I certainly wasn’t about to say anything about the husband that I willingly embraced in my life.  What he did was…”
“Wrong,” Diego finished for her, his jaw tight with obvious tension, “Heather, no woman deserves what happened to you and the longer you keep silent about this…”
“Diego, I already told you once,” Heather pushed away from him, “I’m not going to the police.  No one is going to believe that someone like me could be raped by Cameron.  They’ll say that I had it coming to me and he’ll only get angrier with me.”
“No, that won’t happen.  He’ll be put in jail where he belongs and then you’ll be safe,” Diego urged her on again attempting to try to convince her to do the right thing.
“Do you truly believe that,” Heather spun around to face him once again, “Do you really believe that Cameron will see a day of jail time over this one?”
Diego remained silent for a long time--to the point that Heather started to wonder if he’d gone into some kind of daze.  Slowly he approached a chair in his living room taking a seat in it with his silence still surrounding him.
“Well, do you,” Heather questioned again unable to take the thick nothingness that he’d offered up in response to her inquiry.
“No, I don’t,” Diego blurted out poignantly, “I don’t think that Cameron would spend time in jail at all at this point.”
“That’s exactly why I didn’t do anything.  No one would believe that I was raped,” Heather continued to remind him again, “They’d see me as this…”
“Heather, I believe you,” Diego’s eyes drifted up towards hers once again, “With all that I am I believe in what you’re telling me and if you’d said something sooner…”
“What difference would it have made,” Heather slumped down on the couch before him, “It would’ve been the same outcome, wouldn’t it?”
“I’m not sure,” Diego admitted with a heavy sigh.  Bringing his fingers up through his dark hair he forced himself to face her once again, “but Heather you have to promise me one thing.  Even if you choose not to go to the police, you have to swear to me that you won’t go back to Cameron.”
“Diego, you know it’s not as easy as…” Heather started sensing something more burning behind his eyes when he reached for her hands.
“Heather, you have to promise me that you won’t go back to him,” Diego pleaded with her, “I can’t take the thought of him hurting you again.  What he’s already done is far more than I want to think about.  In all honesty I’m fighting really hard not to go over there and take care of this myself…”
“Diego, that isn’t why I told you.  I just wanted you to understand why I came to you,” Heather began sensing a dark, driving force behind his voice, “That’s why I…”
“Heather, your husband is a monster,” Diego informed her bluntly, “He’s a madman and a murderer and you have to swear to me that you won’t go back to him again not now or ever.”


Ben shifted in his chair restlessly. He felt himself move for the millionth time. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't fall asleep. He gave out a loud sigh as he rested his arms and his head on the side of Diane's bed. He closed his eyes and felt himself slowly drifting to sleep when he felt fingertips graze through his hair. He shot up and saw Diane smiling at him,

"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
He gave out a light laugh scooting his chair closer, "I wasn't sleeping. You just caught me off guard."

"I'm sorry," she smiled  "How long have you been here?"
"Every moment I possibly could be. The minute I was allowed in, they were chasing me down the hallways making sure I didn't run over patients," he ran his hand through her hair.
"Mmm that doesn't surprise me," she gave out a violent cough then cleared her throat, "Sorry."
"Are you alright? Do you need the doctor?" Ben questioned with a look of concern crossing over his face.
Diane let out a slight chuckle, "No, I'm fine Ben. Don't worry about me."
"Diane, you were shot and in critical condition," he looked at her seriously, "Of course I'm going to worry."
"I'm here aren't I?" she gave a slight shrug, "I'm going to be fine. I just feel a bit achy."
"Yeah, I don't blame you," Ben leaned down kissing her forehead, "You gave me quite a scare. Even your sister was frightened."
"Ugh my sister wouldn't care," Diane crossed her arms and rolled her eyes, "She's probably dwelling in her own problems."
"That's not even true," Ben informed her, "She was here not too long ago. She was worried about you and wanted to stay here with you."
"Well, then why didn't she?" she questioned, looking into his eyes.
"I told her to go home because I wasn't going to leave your side and that I'd give her updates," he explained grasping her hand tightly in his, "So she went home."
"My sister wouldn't care about me if her life depended on it," Diane continued to be stubborn about it.
Ben shook his head and sighed. He wasn't going to get Diane to give up on the issue about her sister. He knew that she had resentment towards Deidra but he didn't know how bad it was. He sighed and decided to change the subject a bit, "I thought you were going to leave me."
"Me? Leave you? Never." She wrapped her hand around his neck and pulled him down gently towards her, "I would never leave you Ben Walters."
Ben leaned down and brushed his lips against hers lightly. He ran a hand down the side of her cheek and leaned his forehead against hers. He kissed her once more as he felt a tear slide down the side of his cheek. Diane looked at him with concern in her eyes, "Baby, what's wrong?"
"I was so close to losing you Diane," he took a deep breath and brushed away the tear with the back of his arm, "I was so afraid that you were..."
"But I'm not Ben," Diane interrupted him kissing him lightly, "I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere, you hear me? I am not going anywhere, at least not until I find out what my surprise was."
Ben gave out a light chuckle, "So the truth comes out. You want to know the surprise. I see how it is. No love for me."
"Oh pft," Diane huffed tugging his shirt to make him come closer to her, "There's plenty of love for you. More then you'll ever know."
"And I love you Diane," Ben laid down net to Diane on the bed and snuggled in close to her, "I was so scared."
"Well, there's no reason to be because I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere," she kissed his cheek and nuzzled into his chest.
"Neither am I," he leaned over and pressed his lips to hers, "I'm right by your side from now until forever."
"Forever is a long time you know," Diane smirked nudging him slightly with her elbow, "You sure you can put up with me?"
"Without a doubt," Ben smiled wrapping an arm around her waist.
"You promise?" she teased on, leaning against him, "Think before you answer."
"You have my word baby."


“You really don’t have to stay here tonight you know,” Deidra offered for the third time.  She watched Dave unfolding the blankets she’d given him to use during his time sleeping on her sofa, “It’s not really necessary.”
“I didn’t think it was, but I’d feel better if you just let me stay here,” Dave admitted sheepishly turning his eyes up to look at her only to discover her standing in the hallway wearing a pair of green and blue plaid pajamas.
“I really hate making you feel like you have to keep a watch over me when I’m sure you have plenty of other things that you’d rather be doing,” Deidra took a step forward unable to ignore the rapid pounding of her heart despite the ease at which she should be approaching this situation.  It was just Dave after all.  There was no need to be nervous about him staying, nor did she really have to keep pushing the issue about him leaving.
“I don’t mind,” Dave flashed her a soft smile, “unless of course you have a hot date tonight that you’re trying to find a way to get rid of me for.”
Deidra couldn’t help but laugh at his remark, “Oh that’s a good one Dave.  Like I have the time or the energy for yet another man in my life.  I think by now I’ve completely learned my lesson in between Andy and Bruce.”
“Hey now,” Dave frowned at her remark, “you can’t go comparing all the men in the world to those two.  Bruce, well that speaks for itself, but with Andy, Dee, I don’t know how to tell you this other than to be completely blunt,” he paused for dramatic effect, “Andy is an idiot.”
“Gee, thanks for giving me that information a little too late,” Deidra couldn’t help but tease.  “Where were you on my wedding day?”
“In the back of the church being too stupid not to open my mouth and say something,” Dave sighed heavily thinking back to that moment in time when he’d watched her marrying the wrong man.
“Yeah well, I wish you had said something,” Deidra took another step in towards him before taking a seat on the couch beside him, “because it would’ve saved me a lot of grief.”
“I wish I had said something too,” Dave admitted casting a quick glance in her general direction, “I always knew that Andy was never good enough for you.”
“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes slightly, “You never thought that.”
“No really I did,” Dave insisted returning his eyes to her again, “I knew that from the moment you two started dating that you’d be better off with someone who could truly appreciate how wonderful you are.”
“Dave,” Deidra felt a blush rise over her features.
“It’s true,” Dave added once again before offering up a teasing grin, “and besides, after you’d dated Ken and dumped him, I was hoping you’d see the light and do the same with Andy.”
“I wish I’d had half a mind to have done just that,” Deidra confessed sinking back into the couch, “because then maybe I would’ve been able to enjoy my life more than I did when I was caught up in all that drama.”
“We had our fun back then, didn’t we,” Dave questioned turning to face her once again, “I mean the four of us had our share of interesting moments.”
“Oh please,” Deidra rolled her eyes, “You just liked watching me get into trouble over situations that you, Ken and Andy created.”
“You never got into trouble,” Dave argued with her.
“The hell I didn’t,” Deidra protested with a huff, “You three were always finding ways to make me crazy.  I think you all got off on that.”
“Contrary to your belief, you spent a great many nights driving me crazy,” Dave leaned in closer to her, “Sure, you’d like to think I was the one giving you grief, but I think your memory is going a bit hazy there.”
“Oh right,” she half rolled her eyes, “Like you didn’t enjoy torturing me when I went from dating Ken to dating Andy.”
“That’s because I was wondering what was wrong with you since you weren’t with me,” Dave blurted out honestly before quickly covering, “I mean you have to admit I was the cutest one of the bunch.”
“Yeah, you really were,” Deidra nodded in confession, “but I always got the feeling you weren’t interested in me after I’d dated your best friend.”
“Hey, the only reason that Ken got an opportunity to ask you out first was because we flipped for it,” Dave divulged feeling suddenly foolish.
“You what?” her eyes widened in response.
“It’s a long story, but in the end Ken was the one who was able to ask you out and the rest of us just kind of had to yuck it up,” Dave lay his head back onto the sofa, “It was a very painful time in my life.  I’ll give you that.”
“So you’re saying you all flipped a coin to see who could date me,” Deidra couldn’t help but laugh, “Okay, now I know I should be offended, but that’s just too juvenile not to laugh at.”
“We weren’t exactly the brightest of men back then,” Dave turned his head to the side to gaze over at her once again.
“And it seems that hasn’t changed with some of you,” she sighed thinking to her unfaithful husband.  Her smile faded and her thoughts returned to the place they’d often lingered to in moments like these.
“Dee, I wish that I could take away the pain that Andy put you through,” he reached for her hand squeezing it tenderly, “If only I could’ve prevented any of that…”
“Hey, I made my own mistakes and I have to live with them,” Deidra reminded him with a sad smile, “It’s part of growing up.”
“Still I just wish that…” Dave began with heavy emotion hanging over him.  He paused feeling a thick silence between them, “Deidra, why didn’t we…”
“Didn’t we what?” she questioned curiously sensing something behind his voice as he pulled his head up from the back of her sofa.
“Why didn’t we ever get together,” Dave questioned reaching out to her unable to curb the weight of his emotions.  Tentatively his palm brushed up against her face.  He could feel his heart pounding furiously in his chest as his eyes were drawn to her lips.
“You mean like together…together…” Deidra’s dark eyes widened in surprise.
“Yeah, I mean we had some good times, didn’t we,” Dave continued feeling her shiver beneath his touch as he forced himself to stay focused on where his heart was leading him, “We had a really good connection with one another.”
“We always did,” Deidra couldn’t help but agree, “but I guess we were always just really good friends.”
“Friends who could very easily have found themselves involved in something far deeper than that,” Dave continued inching in closer to her.
“That would be taking quite a risk,” Deidra whispered in response while taking in the warmth of his hand upon her.  She dropped her own hand down onto his knee unable to keep from reaching out and touching him, “A risk that we weren’t sure we were ready to take with one another.”
“But if we had,” Dave began easing his fingers into her dark hair in a painfully slow movement.
“We might not be sitting here today like this,” Deidra finished unable to look away from him as her palm slid up over the center of his chest in a tentative fashion.
“No, I suppose we wouldn’t, but you know they say it’s never too late to take a venture into destiny when it presents itself,” Dave mouthed unable to believe what he was saying.  He felt her fingertips teasing over the top button on his shirt and that in itself was sending him to places he hadn’t ever anticipated happening in the waking hours with her.
“Is that so,” Deidra questioned flashing him a sexy smile before she fanned her palm out over his chest to feel his solid strength beneath her.  Sure, it was a bold move on her part, but the closer she got to him, the faster her pulse began to race and her lips grew heavy with a sudden ache.
“So they say,” Dave nodded in confession tilting his head to the side in the anticipatory promise of tasting her lips.
“So what would they say you do in a time when destiny presents itself again,” Deidra arched a seductive brow while leaning in closer to him.
“They’d say to just roll with it,” Dave mouthed bridging the distance between them.
“Roll with it,” she repeated with a whisper of a giggle, “I think I like that one.”
“Funny thing,” Dave couldn’t help but smile with his lips just a breath away from hers, “so do I.”
With that declaration, Dave closed the gap between them tasting her lips in a bold moment of impulse.  He felt her murmur against him while easing her slender form up into his body.  Certainly he’d thought about something like this for a very long time, but as his arm curled around Deidra, he felt destiny calling to him in ways he couldn’t help but want to answer to.  As the kiss continued, she parted her lips further offering him a more intimate connection to her while her arms slid around his neck.  Within a matter of seconds, he found himself laying over her--the ever tempting warmth of her burning beneath him as her hands robbed him of all logic.  She pressed her leg up against his rubbing it gently. 
Taking the initiative Dave leisurely traced his palm over her curves in an attempt to imprint this reality into his mind forever.  Slowly, he dropped his hand down beneath her flannel pajama top only to discover the smoothness of her flat abdomen beneath his passion driven explorations.  Feeling her soft sighs of encouragement, Dave’s lips moved from her mouth down over her neck to taste the vulnerable pulse point before him.  He could feel her heart racing in tune with his while her soft sounds of pleasure awakened all the hidden fantasies he’d had about the two of them.  Briefly he pulled away from her, hoping to read the expression on her face as she lay beneath him.  There was no mistaking the encouraging smile she had spread over her face as he slid his index finger over her lips to trace them.
“You’re so beautiful Deidra,” Dave blurted out so very lost within himself as his dreams were now becoming a beautiful reality.  Carefully he dropped his palm down over the center of her nightshirt only to feel her arch up towards him.  His own throat grew dry, his body rigid with anticipation as her hands pressed in over his, guiding his attentions over the buttons on her nightshirt.  One by one they worked together to open them, revealing more of her flawless beauty to him.
“Touch me Dave,” Deidra encouraged him--not quite sure on where all of this brazenness was coming from inside of her.  Still as she guided his palm over her body, urging him to touch her in the most intimate fashion, she couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to cross that point of no return with him.  His lips drank up her soft sounds of unmasked desire.  His touch beckoned her to feel alive--to break free of the shell she’d buried herself within and as she anticipated making love with him, the sudden flashes of the last time she’d felt so free overtook her.
“Wait,” Deidra blurted out growing rigid at the horrible image that had overtaken her.  Suddenly feeling out of control and foolish, she did her best to push him off of her before she sprung up off of the sofa, “Dave, I’m sorry I can’t do this.  We just can’t…”
“Deidra, I…” Dave started at a loss fearing he’d done something wrong to bring out such a powerful response in her.
“Dave, I’m sorry,” she forced herself to face him again, “I love you.  I really do and you’re one of my best friends, but right now…well it’s just…  I can’t do this tonight.  Not with anyone and especially not with you.  I just can’t make another mistake,” she informed him desperately before heading off into her bedroom unable to face what had been happening between them.
“Deidra wait,” Dave spoke out to her hoping to keep her from retreating, but as he heard the sound of her bedroom door closing, he feared that he’d already crossed the point of no return and upset one of the greatest friends he’d ever known.


“If you promise me that you’ll help me keep my baby, then I promise you I won’t even think about…” Heather began unable to contain the emotions that formed a lump in the back of her throat upon Diego‘s words.
“Heather, listen to me.  This isn’t a bargaining chip for us to play around with,” Diego reached for her hands pulling her in closer to him, “Cameron will stop at nothing to get what he wants and he doesn’t care who gets in his way.”
“Diego, I’m not about to go back there now considering that…” she started feeling his hand press over the side of her face in a tender, soothing gesture.
“You’re far too beautiful to let someone like Cameron take your spirit away from you,” Diego confessed leaning in towards her, his dark eyes reaching out into her own blue-green stare as if he was trying to touch some hidden part of her.  Sliding out of his chair, he knelt on the floor before her his voice transforming into a solemn whisper, “I’ll be the father of your baby.  I’ll be anything you need me to be as long as you swear you won’t go back to him.”
“Why--why does it mean so much to you,” Heather questioned batting her eyelashes at him as she felt his hands press over hers in the gentlest of caresses, “Why do you care about what I do?”
“You mean other than the fact that you’ve pushed yourself into my life on so many ridiculous levels that I can’t help but worry about where you’re headed,” Diego offered up a lighthearted smile despite the seriousness behind his request.
“Well yeah, besides that.  I know that’s not where this is coming from,” Heather answered simply while still trying to read what was going on inside of him.
“Heather, you begged me to do this for you and I’m telling you that I will step up to the plate and give you anything you need as long as you…” Diego continued desperately.
“Promise not to go back to Cameron,” she nodded in response, “I get that, but Diego, what I’m not getting is what’s happening here.  You’ve fought me tooth and nail on most everything, but now…”
“I’m trying to do what’s right for you and your baby,” Diego explained choked up on emotion, “Heather, when I was with you tonight seeing your son for the first time it did something to me.  Being there when you were giving a first glimpse of your child, it just…”
“Just what?” Heather questioned blankly.
“Reminded me of what I’d lost,” Diego confessed in a low whisper sliding his fingers into her hair, “of what I’d given up on in this world and in that moment with you I realized why I’m still a part of this world.  I saw what I was meant to do and I can’t abandon you or allow you to go blindly into danger.”
“I made the mistake in marrying Cameron after you warned me,” Heather reminded him tearfully.
“But I should’ve done something sooner.  I should’ve said something,” Diego rose up on his knees to cup her face in his hands.  Leisurely his fingers eased into her blonde hair before he inched forward skimming his lips against hers in a soft, tender sweep.  She felt the desperation and longing behind his kiss as she threw her arms around him wanting nothing more than to savor the moment between them.
“Oh Diego,” she mouthed against the exotic taste of his kiss feeling so many things shifting between them as he held her.
“Stay with me Heather,” Diego breathed pressing his forehead against hers in a beseeching gesture, “Let me help you…”
“Diego,” Heather spoke his name, curling her fingers into his dark hair before drawing her lips back to his again in answer.  While she wasn’t quite sure when the change began between them, she was positive that she wasn’t about to walk away from the one man who’d offered her the freedom she’d so desperately craved in her life.  Sure, she had a lot of trouble ahead of her, but right now in kissing Diego, she vowed to leave that part of her life in the past.  Now was about focusing on the man who was offering her a real chance at a future.


“Avery come on,” Russ pleaded once again watching Avery make her way to the bathroom in an attempt to brush him off once again.  “Avery…”
“Russ, I’m not about to pretend that I’m happy about you and Kyle chasing off after Bruce,” Avery frowned stopping mid-movement to spin around and face him, “We both know that’s a bad idea that will only lead to trouble.”
“Avery, the guy is a nutcase and he’s made it his mission in life to get to you,” he replied with a scowl, “that in itself gives me plenty of reason to want to put an end to this.”
“I can understand that, but what I don’t see the point in is your going off and having to do it yourself,” Avery sighed heavily, “Do you know how much it would hurt me if you wound up hurt or even killed in the process of trying to put an end to things?  Don’t you learn anything from Grady’s mistakes?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean,” Russell frowned at the remark.
“It means he went after Cameron in his overwhelming need to protect her and look what the outcome was,” Avery folded her arms in front of her chest, “Can’t you see I don’t want that very thing to happen to us?  That maybe just maybe I want us to actually be able to grow old with one another and share all those things that typical married couples do with one another in the golden years?”
“Avery, we’re going to have that.  I know we will and that’s exactly why I…” he continued to argue.
“Russ, a man was murdered tonight.  He was shot down in front of one of our friends and that in itself should clue you into the fact that something is terrible wrong about pursuing this one.  What if the person had actually shot Kyle or what if somehow they return to go after you?”
“Then I’ll be ready for him,” he stated defiantly, “I’ll make sure that we don’t get anymore surprises like we did before.”
“Russ, I want you.  I love you,” she stepped in towards him with tears burning behind her eyes, “what part of that don’t you understand?”
“Avery, I…” he felt himself at a loss once his eyes fell upon the contours of her saddened expression.
“Russ listen to me,” Avery reached out to him softening her approach, “I love you more than anything in this world and if I ever lost you again…”
“Avery, I…”
“No, Russ listen to me,” Avery pleaded with him, “When we were apart before it damn near killed me and the last thing I want to do is ever go down that road again.  It’s just too much and if I ever have to face that…”
“You won’t have to,” he pulled her into his arms in an exaggerated movement, “Avery, I’ve spent my whole life loving you and I don’t want to lose what we worked so very hard to have with one another.  You’re my world.”
“Then please don’t take that away from us,” she squeezed him tighter with tears in her eyes, “because Russ if I have to face a life without you again…”
“You won’t,” he promised cupping her face in his hands.  Tenderly, he lowered his lips to hers to kiss her again, “I swear to you I’m not going to let that happen.”
“Then stop chasing rumors about Bruce and start thinking about what we have ahead of us,” she pleaded behind wet eyelashes.
“Alright,” he nodded urgently, “I won’t.”
“Promise me Russ,” she searched his eyes wanting to believe the truth behind his words, “Promise me that you won’t go off after him again like you tried to do tonight.”
“I promise you Avery that from here on out it’s going to be all about you, me and our child,” he whispered against her lips kissing her again desperately in the hopes of conveying the message to her about how deep his emotions truly ran for his family.


"So tell me how have things been going for you?" Blake asked as the she and Sarah sat down on her bed.

"Things have been going good," Sarah replied simply.

“Good?” Blake repeated giving her a long look, “Sarah, I haven’t seen you in quite some time and I was hoping that I’d get something more elaborate than good.”

“Well, just what were you hoping for,” Sarah couldn’t help but laugh at her friend’s remark.

“Hmm, let’s see.  Let’s start with the juicy stuff.  That’s always the most exciting.  Speaking of which, how’s that guy who was always at the hospital with you?" Blake asked eager to know more.

"Who Kyle?" Sarah questioned in confusion.

"I think so, he was the big guy," Blake answered catching note of the expression on her friend’s face.

"Yeah, that’s Kyle. He’s doing good, he was actually supposed to be the guy that I was meeting," Sarah nodded folding her arms in her lap.

"So you two together now?" Blake questioned with a knowing smile.

"Kyle and I?” Sarah’s eyes widened at the thought, “Oh no.”
"Hey you two," Brant announced opening the door, "do you two want me to make some popcorn or drinks?"

"Get out of here," Blake groaned pushing Brant to the door in yet another attempt to get him to just go away for a while.

"But," Brant started casting a look over in Sarah’s general direction, “See what I have to deal with all the time?”

“You’ll live,” Blake shoved at his chest once again.

“But…” he started in protest.

"But nothing, we need some girl time to ourselves.  Maybe we will come and talk to you later," Blake explained bluntly holding onto the door.

"You promise?" Brant questioned smiling at Sarah again as Blake rolled her eyes and shut the door locking it.

"You can’t keep me away," Brant yelled through the door.

"Ignore him.  He‘s hormonal and dateless.  It has a dumbing effect on him every now and then," Blake informed her bluntly.

“How nice,” Sarah couldn’t help but laugh, “It sounds like things are never dull around here.”

“It’s a curse I tell you,” Blake chuckled before plopping down on the bed once again.  She heard Brant make another sound outside her room before she exchanged looks with Sarah.  They both laughed, "so getting back to Kyle. You guys aren’t going out?"

"No we’re just close friends, that’s all. Nothing more,"  Sarah said looking over at Blake who was raising her eyebrow. "What?"

"I can tell there is something between you two."

"How so?"

"Well, he was there everyday with you at the hospital.  You told me even a while back that he was always there for you.  I could just tell by the look on that guys face that there was something there," Blake said pointing out the obvious.

"Well, I guess there could be, but I don’t know if Kyle, you know feels that way," Sarah shrugged pondering the thought herself about the man who‘d made such a profound impact in her life.
"Oh believe me, from what I saw at the hospital, that guy has it for you.  It’s just one of those obvious things you can just pick right up on."

"I don’t know maybe you’re right," Sarah shook her head at the thought.

"Oh I know I’m right,” Blake continued with her voice full of passion and determination, “and you should go after him before it’s to late.  Trust me on this one.  I’m the queen of screw ups when it comes to a relationship and if you meet the right guy it would be crazy to just let him walk away without a fight.  You need to just go out on a limb and show him that he should be with you."

"Well, don’t go that far," Sarah felt a blush rise over her features.

"Well, I’m just saying. I wish I could have this advice back in the day," Blake sighed heavily, “If I’d have had my head on straight, then maybe I wouldn’t have made so many stupid mistakes over the years.”

“It sounds like you’ve been burned a time or two,” Sarah noted the sadness in Blake’s voice.

“More than I care to admit, but one lesson I did learn is that life won’t wait for you to make up your mind.  You need to be honest with your heart before you wake up one morning and everything that ever meant anything to you is gone,” Blake sighed reflecting upon her own situation.

"I guess I can see where you’re coming from.," Sarah admitted taking in Blake’s poignant words.  “It’s just…”

Before Sarah could finish talking, they heard a noise coming from Blake’s balcony.  It was a loud, booming movement that seemed to vibrate through the room in a surprising way leading them both to wonder where it had originated from.

"What was that?" Sarah asked as they both stood up wearily.

"I don’t know," Blake confessed grabbing a tennis racket from her closet.  Her eyes narrowed in the source of the sound and with each step she took, she found herself guarded of what she might find outside at such an hour. 

With Sarah right behind her, they approached the door to the balcony.  The two exchanged looks before Blake opened the door.  Catching the first hints of a shadow in front of her, Blake lunged forward with her racket ready to hit the person standing outside.

"Hey it’s me," Brant said catching her arm.

"Why did you do that?" asked Blake.

"I told you I would find a way in.  What were you going to serve me to death?" Brant asked grabbing the racket and rolling it around in his palm.
“Brant, I’m going to kill you,” Blake mouthed at him before turning around to face Sarah again, “Would you excuse us for a minute?”
“Of course,” Sarah nodded fighting to suppress her grin.  She stepped back into Blake’s room while Blake closed the balcony doors to give her and Brant a moment of privacy.
“What do you think you’re doing,” Blake snapped back at him watching the laughter that sprung forth from his lips, “Brant!”
“What,” he shrugged his shoulders innocently, “I didn’t do anything wrong, but you, well do you have any idea how you could’ve hurt me with this thing?  Hell if I wasn’t paying attention, you could’ve knocked me clear off of this balcony.  I could’ve broken my neck you know.”
“And it would’ve served you right,” Blake threw out a harsh glare, “I mean honestly, what were you thinking in climbing out here?  Are you that hard up for attention that you’d start behaving like a twelve year old all over again?”
“Hey, you were my date for the night, remember,” Brant set her racket down and folded his arms in front of his chest, “I can’t help it if you were the one who ditched me and I’m left feeling wounded about it.”
“Oh please, you’re just hoping you’ll get an opportunity to lay the charm over on Sarah,” Blake pointed out with a frown, “and it’s not going to work.”
“Tell me something Blake,” Brant leaned up against the window leading back to her room, “You’d set Ken up with one of your friends, but you won’t even let me talk to Sarah.  Why is that?”
“Because Sarah’s a good person with a kind heart and she doesn’t need a guy like you screwing things up for her,” Blake explained with a frown.
“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.  And here I thought you had a higher opinion of me than most others did,” Brant sighed shaking his head upon her words.
“Brant, you know I love you, but it’s just that…well, Sarah’s been through a lot over the years and I know how this would end.  You’d charm her, seduce her and then leave her when you got another shot at Avery,” Blake informed him bluntly, “and don’t even try to argue that with me because earlier I do seem to recall you speaking about how much you loved Avery.”
“I do love Avery,” Brant argued with her, “but maybe I just don’t want to be all out on my own tonight.  Did that thought ever occur to you?”
“Gee, I guess it must be hard not having a bimbo to shack up with,” Blake rolled her eyes, “but I won’t let you try to work that in with Sarah.”
“Blake, I’ve evolved past that.  I’m not the man that I used to be and besides, maybe I just genuinely wanted to spend time with you.  Did you think that maybe just maybe that’s why I’ve been acting like a moron tonight?” Brant questioned with a curious expression.
“That would be a first,” Blake paused thinking about how foolish they’d been behaving since they’d left the movie theater, “but if you swear you can behave, then I might think about letting you watch something with us.”
“Oh gee, really…are you sure I won’t infringe upon the girl’s night theme you have going,” he half rolled his eyes.
“You probably will, but despite the fact that you’re an idiot, I suppose I can overlook it to let you join us for the remainder of the evening.  Just don’t push it,” she wiggled her finger out at him in warning.
“I’ll be on my best behavior,” he promised reaching out to hand her racket back to her.
“Yeah right,” she rolled her eyes, “I almost believe that one.”
“Hey, I’m trying,” he replied with a simple shrug of his shoulders.
“I just have one question,” she stopped him from entering her room, “Why climb out here on the balcony like this?”
“That’s simple Blake.  You told me you didn’t think it was possible for me to get inside, so I had to prove you wrong,” he smiled back at her proudly.
“You know you have some serious issues,” Blake shook her head at him realizing that despite her reservations about having her brother around maybe spending time with him would be enough to distract her from how miserable her own life had become lately.


Kyle sat in silence after Russ had gone into the bedroom after Avery. He grabbed his cell phone and dialed Sarah’s number. He looked around the room as he dialed while wondering if he‘d made a mistake in not calling her sooner when all hell broke loose. Her voice mail came up as Kyle sighed. "Hey Sarah, it’s Kyle. I’m sorry I didn’t make it earlier tonight.  Some very interesting things happened to me today that I‘ll have to talk with you about later in person.  I wish I could have called you earlier, but I have been tied up with work.  I’m really sorry, and I really cant wait to see you soon. Call me when you get this message. Talk to you later."
"Where was she?" he asked himself.  Hopefully nothing had happened to her after he‘d managed to make the mistake in not honoring their commitment to meet up with one another.  Maybe she just was with another friend right now, or she was too busy to talk, but still it wasn‘t like her not to answer her cell phone since she usually was attached to it one way or another. 

Kyle sank back onto the couch overcome with guilt because he’d done this to her more than once after the last few months.  Things always came up taking most of his time away so he never could be where he truly wanted to be.  Sure, Sarah was well aware of the kind of hours his career had kept him on, but he still wasn‘t happy about not being able to have a social life like he‘d done in his younger years especially where Sarah was concerned.  She was close to his best friend and in some ways he felt as if he always let her down. Wishing he could have more time to be with her, he vowed to make it up to her somehow after tonight‘s misadventure. As he was thinking he heard the voices of Russ and Avery in the background. He sighed to himself.

"I was wrong, this is going to be a real long night," Kyle said sighing again.

He stood up and stretched a bit to try to ease some of the tension that had crept in over his neck and shoulders after the reality of the shooting had taken place.  Sure he hadn’t liked the guy he’d been with, but there was no mistaking the fact that he’d been put into a world of drama that he knew nothing about.  That thought didn’t settle well with him when he sat back down on the sofa once again.  He heard footsteps coming down the hallway that belonged to Russell.

"Hey Kyle, sorry about all of that.  You know how things can be at times, but hey if you want to, you can bunk here tonight since I kind of got you caught up in far more drama than I‘m sure you were looking for," Russ said walking over to him.

"Uh, well, I’m getting used to it these situations.  It’s kind of par for the course, but since I haven’t had the time to check into the hotel, then sure, I suppose I can kick back here tonight," Kyle said yawning.

"You can stay here on the couch or in the guest bedroom if you want to," said Russell.

"Thanks, that would be great," said Kyle nodding.

"No problem," Russell nodded sighing as he ran his fingers through his own dark hair.

"Oh god," Kyle groaned rolling his eyes while noticing Russell’s pajamas.

"What?" Russell asked in confusion taking a seat in one of the chairs near the couch.

"Boston," Kyle pointed to the shirt again laughing.

"Yeah they’re my favorite team, why who do you like?"  Russell questioned smiling.

"Me, isn’t it obvious I’m a Yankee man," said Kyle raising an eyebrow while motioning over towards the jacket he‘d had hung over the back of the couch.

"Yankee?" Russell wrinkled his nose in response, “Ugh, why?”

"Because they happen to be just the best baseball team out there,” Kyle said laughing and turning his head.  "Just forget it.  So how is Avery holding up?"

"She’s okay. She calmed down a little bit, but given how upset she was earlier, well that‘s not saying much.  I know she‘s still worried," Russell admitted thinking to his conversation with his wife.

"When you get back in there tell her if she needs any help, anything, I’ll be there for you both of you, okay?  I‘m not about to let anything happen here that could turn things ugly…well, other than having Avery just a little bit upset with me, but that too seems to be normal where we‘re concerned," Kyle remarked with every intention of sincerity in his voice.

"Thanks buddy," Russell nodded patting him on the arm.

"It’s no problem," Kyle replied with an afterthought, "So, what did she say about the situation?"

"She told me she didn’t like what we were doing."


"She asked me to promise not to do this anymore."

"And you did?" asked Kyle nodding.

"Yeah.  I told her that I‘d put the family first and I‘m true to my word on that," Russ nodded in confession thinking back to Avery’s worries.

"So do you want to stop this thing before anything else happens?" Kyle asked raising an eyebrow.

Russell sighed, "No, lets keep going on this investigation.  Now that someone’s out to keep us from finding the truth, well, I know something is up and I’m not going to stop until we find out."

"Alright, I’m there for you man," Kyle said patting him on the shoulder.

"Good, just make sure we keep it so Avery doesn’t find out.  I hate having to go about doing this behind her back, but I‘m all out of options here," Russell confessed with a determined voice knowing that he was doing what was best for his family.

"No problem," Kyle nodded, “Just make sure you know what you‘re getting into before you step forward and give Avery even more reason to be upset.”

“If I let Mathis destroy our lives like he’s trying to do, then Avery will lose a lot more than she could ever gain in my just being idle and doing nothing,” Russell confessed with a heavy sigh feeling the beginnings of guilt tug at his insides.  Sure, he wanted to hold true to his promise to Avery, but as he thought of all the damage Bruce had done, he knew in his heart that continuing on was the only option.

...to be continued...