Episode 121

Heather heard the soft sounds of the shower running in the room just beyond hers.  While she’d drifted off to sleep sometime just past three, her night had been quite restless indeed with all the things that had transpired between her and Diego.  Sure, at first he’d been reluctant to embrace her in his life, but then after a while he’d surprised her in his accepting her outlandish offer to claim paternity of her child.  When he’d kissed her, he’d just about rocked her world in everyway imaginable…that is until he’d turned away from her.
“Heather, I just can’t do this right now,” he’d offered up in his haste leaving her at a complete and total loss after he’d laid an earth shaking kiss upon her.  Even now when she thought to the desperation behind his words, she couldn’t help but wonder if last night had been a turning point for them.  Somehow there weren’t words to even begin to explain all that she was thinking and feeling, but with the way Diego had kissed her back, she’d thought he’d felt it too.  Sure, there was no denying the fact that Heather found him far too sexy for words, but then there was something more--something intense.
“Intense,” she mouthed with a grin thinking about all the things that Diego had gotten her thinking about.  Sinking back into her pillows she felt a smile creep in over her features.  Sure, Diego had been reluctant to take her up on some of her advances, but after last night’s kiss and his promise to help her, she was starting to believe that maybe just maybe she could find that thing she’d been missing for so very long in her life when she’d wasted her time with all the wrong men.
“Speaking of which,” Heather’s smile faded when her eyes fell upon the diamond ring on her finger.  How could she have made such a monumental mistake in being with Cameron?  Sure, he’d promised her the world, but she’d learned over the years that no man truly meant that when they’d said it.  Time after time she’d encountered someone full of empty promises, but Cameron had seemed different.  He’d offered her security and protection, but he too had turned out to be a creep like the rest.
“To hell with him,” Heather began to yank her ring off of her finger before stopping herself.  She looked at the oversized diamond on her finger realizing that while she’d found herself ready to discard Cameron, perhaps there were a few more things he might be good for before they called it quits.  Smiling at the thought, she kept the ring on her finger vowing to find good use for it.
“You always can find one good thing out of a bad situation Heather,” she reminded herself pulling back the blankets before getting out of bed. 
Stretching her limbs out, she found herself overcome with a need to make her way to the bathroom.  That unfortunately was one of the major drawbacks of pregnancy that she’d realized early on.  With that thought in mind, she listened to hear if the water was still running in the bathroom beside her room.  Hearing nothing, she reached for the sweater she’d borrowed from Diego and placed it over her head in a haste before making a rush to the door.
“Thank heaven,” Heather muttered to herself ready to give herself a moment of relief in the bathroom after the night she’d had.  Reaching for the door, she pushed it open and rushed inside ready to take a few minutes to herself, but instead she found herself rendered speechless at the vision before her.
“Heather,” a very wet Diego gasped in the midst of stepping out of the shower before her.  Quickly he reached for the towel he’d set down on the countertop, but it was far too late for Heather to pretend she hadn’t happened upon something that would certainly give her something to dream about later on.  Still as Diego shuffled to wrap the towel around himself, his dark eyes continued to remain upon her, “what are you doing in here?”
“I had to use the bathroom,” she explained with a sheepish grin, her eyes traveling over the lines of his bronzed body.
“Don’t you knock,” he questioned with a tiny gulp.
“Don’t you believe in locking your doors,” Heather threw back at him with a wicked smirk.  Taking a step in towards him, she could see that she was making him very nervous and suddenly she felt a rush of thrill upon her, “Not that I mind.”
“Well I do,” Diego clenched at the burgundy colored towel he’d hung haphazardly over his hips, “I’m not finished in here.”
“Your point,” Heather shrugged her shoulders in a moment of boldness.
“My point is I’m going to need the bathroom for a few more minutes here,” he explained with an uneasy breath.
“I don’t mind sharing,” Heather reached out to tease her index finger over his damp chest with a seductive smile, “So tell me, did you use up all of the hot water?”
“No, not at all,” Diego shook his head unable to believe he could even begin to be having a seemingly casual conversation with Heather under the circumstances.
“Good because I like it hot,” Heather explained pulling his sweater up over her head before motioning to the opened shower door, “You don’t mind if I take over in here, do you?”
“Actually I…” Diego gulped straining to keep from taking note of the perfect lines of her brazenly naked form before him as she stepped into the shower.
“I knew you wouldn’t object,” she smiled over at him, catching note of the quick glance he’d stolen at her despite his moral convictions to be polite.  Reaching for the soap she’d spotted on the shower rack, she held it up in the air waving it at him shamelessly, “Care to come back in here and help me out with my back?”
Diego stared at her blankly for a long moment before remembering where he was and just what he had been doing before her unexpected arrival.  He could feel the heat building behind his features--the hot rush of the most primal desire coursing through his veins, but as he thought to his own words of warning he’d issued to himself when he’d left Heather on the couch the previous evening, he took a step back.  Kissing her had been temptation to the extreme, but being this close to being naked and alone with her in close quarters would only drive him beyond the brink of insanity.
“Well?” Heather questioned with a playful giggle, “Think you’re up for the job?” her gaze dropped down over the muscled lines of his body once again, “Something’s certainly up for the occasion, isn’t it?”
“Heather,” Diego cast a firm warning look in her general direction.
“I promise I won’t bite,” Heather couldn’t help but tease him further, “unless of course you want me to.”
“I don’t believe this.  On second thought, yes I do,“ he decided hesitating for a moment longer before reaching out to collect his clothes he’d brought into the bathroom with him.  “I’m going to go and get dressed now.”
“But Diego,” Heather called out after him only to witness him bringing the door to an abrupt close upon his exit.  Sure, he was still playing hard to get, but he was weakening, Heather decided turning on the water only to find herself met by an icy cold blast.  Squealing upon the stream’s pulsating contact over her skin, Heather felt a shiver race over her followed by the warmth of the knowledge that Diego having been in that cold of a shower could only mean one thing for her cause.  He was feeling it too and if last night’s promise to play the father to her child was just the beginning of what was developing between them, she couldn’t wait to find out just how much more passion and determination was behind the man who’d aroused her interest in a great many ways.  Who said the good guy was always boring, Heather thought to herself immersing herself in the idea of what it would mean to have a man like Diego in her life.


Dave rolled over on Deidra’s couch after a sleepless night.  While he’d tried to find some way to reach out to Deidra after things had gone horrible wrong between them, he found himself at a complete loss.  He’d hated watching her retreat, but more so he’d hated himself for pushing things too far between them due to his restless heart.  Even now he wondered if he’d be able to face Deidra again without making her feel self conscious and upset.
“Good morning,” Deidra’s voice called out to him in her usual relaxed tone.  Looking up from where he was laying, Dave discovered her standing near the end of her couch gazing down at him curiously, “Sleep well?”
“Honestly,” he confessed sitting up straighter as the stiffness in his neck began to settle in, “no, not really.”
“Neither did I,” Deidra admitted in response moving in to take a seat beside him, “Granted, I didn’t have this lumpy thing to lay on, but I was a bit perplexed about things.”
“I kind of figured,” Dave nodded in confession, “and truth be told, I never meant for things to happen like they did.”
“Neither did I, but I guess we kind of just got carried away with the moment, huh?” Deidra questioned dropping her head ever so slightly with the conclusion of her words.
“That’s an understatement,” Dave replied shamefully before forcing himself to eye her again, “Deidra, about what happened…”
“Why don’t we just forget it,” Deidra suggested lifting her eyes up towards him once again.  She brought her fingers up through her hair uneasily while shifting in her seat, “I mean heaven knows I’ve been impulsive and stupid lately.  I’ve just been so wired up and…”
“The moment kind of took a life of it’s own,” Dave continued trying to make light of the situation.
“Exactly,” Deidra nodded eagerly.  Offering up a weak smile she felt a breath escape her lips, “Somehow I knew you’d understand where I was headed with this.  I mean we’ve always been such good friends that something like this wouldn’t stop that, right?”
“Of course not,” Dave replied with a sad smile, “I mean hey maybe this is a sign that I’ve been working far too hard over the last few years.”
“That you have and I promise you that we’ll have to work on changing that,” Deidra assured him with a quick nod, “Maybe we can find someone around the hospital to keep you from feeling so closed off from the world.”
“Yeah sure,” Dave nodded trying to make light of the situation, “so that way I won’t be on my best friend like a rabid dog there.”
“You weren’t the one who was out of line.  I was Dave and I feel as if I should apologize for my behavior,” Deidra interrupted, “Ever since Andy and I split, I haven’t been myself, but I don’t want that to change the way you think of me.  Your friendship means a great deal to me and if I lost that…”
“You won’t Deidra,” Dave reached out to place his hand on her knee before drawing back with uncertainty, “I mean hey if we made it through high school still as friends, then I’m sure we can make it through this little moment of embarrassment.”
“Somehow I knew I could count on you Dave,” Deidra reached out to give him a quick hug before rising up off of the couch, “You’re a good friend.”
“That’s me,” Dave threw out a strained smile, “Good old buddy Dave.”
“I’d be lost without you, you know,” Deidra admitted again before taking note of the time, “I was going to wake you up earlier for breakfast, but you looked so peaceful earlier despite the less than savory sleeping conditions.”
“I didn’t mind them too much,” Dave lied attempting to make pleasant conversation with her despite the sinking feeling that had overtaken him during their brief conversation.
“Of course you did, but you’re just being polite now that I’ve made myself look like an idiot all over again,” Deidra brought her hand up to her face before offering up a smile, “Regardless as I said before I’d completely treat you to breakfast after last night.  Although I must confess I’m supposed to be over at the hospital early this morning…”
“Say no more,” Dave raised his hand to silence her, “we can pick something quick up on the way over to work.  I’ll drop you off at the hospital on my way over to the station.”
“Dave, you don’t really have to,” Deidra started again hating to inconvenience him any further than she already had, “You’ve already done so very much for me and I wouldn’t want to make you go out of your way to…”
“You know as well as I do that it’s not out of my way in the least,” Dave insisted firmly, “I’ll just take a couple minutes to get my things together and then we can be off.  Maybe we can even get a quick bite over at the bakery on the ride over.”
“That sounds like a great plan,” Deidra nodded in confession.
“Then to work and the bakery it is,” he offered up giving her one last look before excusing himself to go to her bathroom.  Once inside he leaned up against the door letting out a breath he hadn’t even been aware he’d been holding.  Up until now he’d had such hopes about something starting between him and Deidra, but after their uneasy discussion, he made a vow to himself to try to stay focused where their friendship was concerned.  If nothing else, he wasn’t about to risk the great thing they had going just because his heart was leading him in all the wrong directions.  One way or another he’d have to find a way to rid himself of the silly crush he’d had on her since junior high school.  It was what was best for the both of them.


“You’re still here,” Avery half groaned making her way into the kitchen only to discover Kyle seated at the table before her drinking a cup of coffee.
“I can see you’re still pleasant in the mornings,” Kyle remarked sourly flipping through the next page of the paper in hand.
“Oh I’m very pleasant,” Avery informed him simply, “I’m just not used to having trouble seated at my kitchen table drinking from my favorite mug I might add.”
“What this old thing?” Kyle questioned taking a good, long look at the mug he’d haphazardly pulled out of the cabinets earlier in the morning.  Taking note of the Boston Red Sox logo on it, he half groaned, “What is it with you and Russ?  The Sox?”
“Hey, don’t even try knocking them or I swear I’ll have you out in the yard before you can blink,” Avery warned sharply while reaching into one of the cabinets for a bowl.
“Geez, you really are in a bad mood this morning,” Kyle set the mug back down on the tabletop, “So with baseball aside, what else has got you in a mood?”
“I’m surprised you even have to ask,” Avery remarked sourly making her way over to the pantry to pull out a box of cereal, “You roll into town and the body count starts to rise.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Kyle began to tease catching wind of her less than amused expression before his smile faded, “Oh come on Avery.  The guy that died was a creep--a pedophile and while I hate what those bastards did to my car, the guy had it coming to him.”
“Oh gee and if you would’ve been shot, then what?” Avery questioned with a frown, “Don’t you know we’ve had enough disaster around here lately?”
“Last time I checked you were the one who had the serial killer, ex-boyfriend,” Kyle pointed out simply only to catch another glare from her general direction.  Shrugging his shoulders he slumped down in his chair, “I’m just saying.”
“Well don’t,” Avery set the bowl on the table top before going over to the refrigerator to grab the milk.
“Hey, look maybe we started off on the wrong foot in my showing up like I did, but you have to admit when trouble is happening I’m a pretty okay guy to have around.”
“Kyle, when trouble is happening, you’re usually the cause of it,” Avery pointed out while returning to the table to join him for breakfast.
“Well, yeah, okay maybe I’ll concede to that one, but I thought I could help out,” Kyle defended his position, “You know how Grady and Russ are like brothers to me…”
“I realize that and while I wasn’t too happy with how things went down last night,” Avery paused cracking the smile she’d been fighting since the moment she’d stepped into the kitchen, “it is good to see you again.”
Letting out a breath of relief Kyle seemed to relax in his chair, “And here I thought you hadn’t grown out of hating me.”
“Oh well, that one is still undecided, but seeing that you’re doing well is a start,” Avery couldn’t help but tease as Russell stepped into the kitchen to join them.
“I see you two are taking another try at getting along,” Russell noted with a smile.
“Since you didn’t let me kill him last night I thought I’d give it a try,” Avery added with a tiny smile.  Turning her attention to Russell, she watched him search the pantry for something, “Russ, I have the cereal here if that’s what you’re looking for.”
“Oh okay…” Russ spun around heading towards the cabinet to retrieve a bowl.
“I have one of those for you too,” Avery added motioning to the set of bowls she’d picked up in the midst of her banter with Kyle.
“God you’re good,” Russell smiled at her before joining her and Kyle at the table.  He winked at Kyle before throwing out a teasing jab, “See why I married her.  She‘s good at everything.”
“And don’t you forget it,” Avery leaned over to give him a quick kiss before sitting upright again.
“Awe, how cute.  Avery still has you very whipped,” Kyle couldn’t help but tease them.
“Watch it Kyle,” Avery warned getting up from her seat to grab a couple of juice glasses for her and Russell.
“Some things never change, do they.  Then again, come to think of it the last time I saw the two of you Avery was half naked and on top of you,” Kyle half whispered leaning in over the table to speak with Russ before he cast a glance over in Avery‘s general direction.  His gaze dropped down to her abdomen and the reminder of the child she had growing inside of her hit the top of his memory before he offered up a knowing look in Russell‘s general direction, “Then again some things never change, do they?”
“Hey now,” Russell couldn’t help but chuckle at Kyle’s words, but more so when Avery walked up to Kyle, smacking the back of his head in a swift, biting movement.
“Hey, what was that for,” Kyle grumbled with a frown.
“I heard that,” she stated plainly before returning to her seat beside Russell.
“I can see she’s still got a lot of spunk in her,” Kyle shuddered before raising his hand up to the back of his head to rub where Avery had hit him, “I’d hate to be in your shoes when those fluctuating hormones get the best of her.”
“I dare you to say one more sexist comment and you’ll be seeing exactly where those fluctuating hormones will lead me,” Avery threw back at him in a dare.
“Oh no, I think it’s time for me to be on my best behavior,” Kyle insisted flashing her a bright smile intended to give an air of sincerity.
“Yeah right,” she shook her head at the thought feigning a shudder, “but seriously, what brings you into town other than getting into trouble with my husband?”
“Oh you know your average husband is cheating on his wife, corporate scandals gone awry after hours,” Kyle shrugged simply while sipping his coffee, “Just the usual.”
“Sounds exciting,” Avery shook her head at him, “I’m sure your girlfriend must be proud.”
“Actually right now I’m in between those,” Kyle admitted with a tiny chuckle.   
“Yeah, well that doesn’t surprise me because with your attitude you’re going to always be that way,” Avery threw back at him with an air of sarcasm, “No woman will put up with that egotistical, macho male theme you have going.”

“I’m a good guy,” Kyle frowned, “I know how to treat a woman like she’s a goddess.”
“That I’ll have to see because as far back as I can remember you were a player,” Avery pointed out with a firm look, “The last time I saw you, you and Grady were having a good old time trying to pick up that varsity cheerleading squad from NYU.”
“Hey, what can I say?” Kyle grinned from ear to ear, “I like to spread my good charm around with all the beautiful women of the world.”
“Which is precisely why you need to find the right woman to knock you back into line and out of that world of delusion you live in,” Avery added with a smirk.
“Hey now I think I object to that one,” Kyle piped in giving Russell a quick look, “Aren’t you supposed to be helping me out here?”
“Are you kidding,” Russell shook his head in response, “No way am I stepping into the middle of this.”
“Gee and here I was hoping we’d go for a majority rule in a situation like this…not an Avery rule,” Kyle watched her get up from the table once again.
“In my house, you live under my rules Houston,” Avery stated plainly before reaching for one of the power bars she’d had tucked away for mornings such as these, “In fact, while I’m gone to work, I hope you don’t plan on trying to convert my husband to your sexist ways.”
“Now why in the world would I dream of doing that when Russ has his own ruler and master in you,” Kyle jabbed in response catching another glare from her.
“Watch it, or else I’m going to ban you from coming over.  Russ doesn’t need anymore bad influences,” Avery waved her finger at him before focusing on her husband, “I have to run by the office for a few hours today because my father should be in later.”
“It’s okay,” Russell stood up to walk in over towards her, “I was going to check in at the paper as well and see if I can get things back in perspective again.”
“Alright, then call me after you get there and we’ll work out something for lunch,” Avery suggested with a sexy smile, “Maybe I can work in a long lunch just for the two of us in my office.  Say something a bit romantic and intimate…”
“Say no more,” Russ beamed at the thought, “I’ll be there with take out.”
“I knew there was a reason I married you,” Avery tipped up on her toes to give him a quick kiss.  “I love you.”
“I love you,” Russell curled his arm around her drawing her nearer for a more intimate kiss between them.  Having no patience for anything less than the best between him and Avery, he took his time savoring her lips in a leisurely fashion.
“Okay, it’s official,” Kyle blurted out with a grumble while watching Avery and Russ in one another‘s arms, “I think I’m going to throw up.”
“Stifle it,” Avery remarked with another glare before reaching out to touch Russell’s mouth again with her index finger, “So you promise you’ll behave while I’m gone?  You won’t let Kyle talk you into anything crazy?”
“Avery, you know me better than that,” Russell smiled down at her.
“Yes, but I also know him very well.  Too well for either one of you to get away with anything,” Avery glanced over at Kyle briefly, “Don’t forget that.”
“We won’t mom and we promise no parties of wild women while you’re gone,” Kyle mocked her tone before breaking out in a laugh.
“Ignore him,” Russ urged her before pulling her into one last embrace, “and be careful on the way to work.  If you notice anything strange or you feel like something isn’t right, please call me.”
“Russ, I have my cell phone charged up and ready to go.  I swear to you that I’ll be careful,” she teased her fingers over the front of his shirt, “I’ll call you when I get to work, so make sure you have your phone on you.”
“I’m already there,” he motioned to his pocket where he’d had his phone before he pulled her in closer to him for another kiss.
“Hmm, are we referring to the phone or something else,” she teased with a seductive slur.
“Avery, if you don’t get out of here in the next thirty seconds, I’m going to call you in sick,” Russell mouthed restlessly as his hold on her constricted.
“Okay, that’s my cue to get the hell out of here,” Kyle blurted out with a groan while springing up out of his chair.  He made his way towards the kitchen door before looking over at them once again, “Please, try to keep it down if you can.”
Russ and Avery couldn’t help but laugh as Kyle stepped out of the room with an exaggerated movement upon completion of his words.
“Please tell me he hasn’t decided to move into our living room,” Avery began with a curious expression.
“You mean you’re already enjoying him that much,” Russ teased in response only to catch note of the expression on her face, “Oh come on Avery it‘s only temporary until we can get him another place.  He’s not that bad.”
“No he’s not that bad at all.  I like Kyle.  I really do, but at the same time I know what kind of trouble always follows him,” Avery admitted with a sigh, “You know how I feel about trouble right about now.”
“You’ve always loved trouble,” Russell pointed out again.
“Even so, Kyle Houston always invites far more trouble into his life than anyone ever anticipates.  I just don’t want the two of you to go off on some crazy scheme he’s concocted now that danger came your way.”
“Avery, we won’t,” Russ promised her simple.  Reaching for her hand, he laced their fingers with one another, “I promised you last night that I was going to put you and our baby first.  That hasn’t changed.”
“I hope not,” she replied feeling him lift her hand to his lips to give it a quick kiss, “but I can’t help but wonder if something is brewing here that I haven’t caught onto yet.”
“Avery, I swear to you that nothing we do is going to lead to disaster,” Russell informed her honestly, “All I want for us is the kind of life we’ve spent an eternity hoping for with one another.”
“I want that for us too and if that means my indulging your having Kyle around for a while, then I suppose I can deal with that,” Avery stepped up on her toes to kiss him, “but I swear if I come home tonight to a poker night…”
“It won’t,” Russell vowed curling his arm around her, “Besides that was more along the lines of something Kyle and Grady would do with one another.  I was innocent in all of that.”
“Russ, you forget that I was around as well and the time that Kyle had that stripper sent my bridal shower by mistake when he’d thought that’s where the bachelor party you were having would be at, well that said it all,” Avery groaned inwardly at the horrifying memory.
“Yeah, well you know he was trying to be a pal there,” Russell couldn’t help but laugh, “and besides in the mix-up we ended up with a night with the caterer who went over last minute preparations with me.  You can just imagine Kyle’s face when he opened the door to a fifty year old woman in a Chef’s costume.  He’d thought that he’d really been screwed over by the place he’d called.”
“Yeah well I guess in some ways there was poetic justice in that one,” Avery couldn’t help but laugh, “though the caterer would be nothing in comparison to what I would’ve done to him had I known what he’d been planning.”
“Oh face it sweetheart, regardless of what Kyle was up to, no stripper could compete with how hot you are,” Russell nuzzled her neck in a tempting maneuver.
“Oh you are smooth, but kissing up isn’t going to help on this one,” Avery laughed lightly.
“Not even a little,” he sought out her lips for another kiss.
“Okay, maybe a little,” she finally conceded wrapping her arms around him, “But like I said just make sure the world doesn’t fall apart while I’m at work.”
“It won’t,” Russell promised her, “Kyle and I will be on our best behavior.  Hell, I’m going to work and he’ll be off to do whatever it is that he does.”
“In that case, I suppose I can go through my day without being completely paranoid,” Avery teased while saying her goodbyes to him.  Reaching out to kiss him again, she tried to focus on all the right things to think about in her time away from Russell.
“Aren’t you gone yet,” Kyle questioned entering the room in the midst of Russ and Avery’s parting.
“I’m leaving now,” Avery explained reaching for her purse.  She waved her finger at Kyle, “but don’t you dare get my husband into trouble.”
“You have my word on that one.  He’s going to stay far from it,” Kyle swore to her watching her kiss Russell one last time before making her exit.
Once very had left the room, Russell turned to Kyle with a relieved smile, “Thanks for not getting her worked up.”
“If that’s not worked up, then I’d hate to see when she was,” Kyle laughed lightly, “but seriously I meant what I said Russ.  I’m not going to let you get anymore involved in this.  I’ve thought it over and this is where my job comes in.  I’ll do the dirty work and you just keep on making her happy.”
“Kyle, you know that’s not why I asked you here…” Russell started with a frown.   
“I realize that pal, but Avery’s one of those women that well, I’d say that she puts fear into your heart and I wouldn’t want to be on her hit list if you catch my drift,” Kyle added honestly, “She’d kill me if she thought I was letting you investigate this situation any further and I can’t live with that on my conscience.”
“Hey, you can’t control what I do.  I’m not trying to wind up in the thick of trouble, but if the situation arises…” Russell started up.
“Then I’ll take care of it,” Kyle cut him off sharply, “because there’s no way in hell I’m about to let that beautiful wife of yours or that baby grow up without you in their lives.  Don’t even try to argue because I’ve made up my mind and that’s all there is to it.”

The next morning Ken and Caitlin sleep intertwined in one another's arms as the sun begins to cascade in on them. Ken wakes first and looks down at Caitlin fast asleep in his arms. He smiles at her lovingly.

Ken: I love you so much.

He softly kisses her and then brushes a strand of hair out of her face. Caitlin's eyes flutter open she looks up and Ken and smiles Ken smiles lovingly back at her.

Ken: Good morning sleeping beauty.

Caitlin: Mmm if this is a dream I don't want to wake up.

Ken: No, it's real. Unless I'm having the same one of course and if I am then I don't want to wake up either.

They kiss tenderly.

Caitlin: I wish we could stay the whole day just like this.

Ken: Me too. But I do have a little work I really do need to do today.

Caitlin sighs

Caitlin: Yeah, I need to call Russell and see how things are going at the paper too.

Ken: The world only stops for so long.

Caitlin nods Ken holds her close to him and gazes at her lovingly.

Ken: But we can put it on pause a little longer.

Caitlin smiles and strokes his face gently.

Caitlin: Yes, I think pause is a very good idea.

They kiss passionately.

Ken: I couldn't agree more.

He holds her close.

Ken: How about we order room service?

Caitlin smiles.

Caitlin: I am hungry, and breakfast in bed does sound nice.

Ken: Anything with you sounds nice to me.

They both giggle and kiss again. Awhile later as they wait for their room service Caitlin goes into the wash room. Once she has shut the door Ken grabs the phone and dials quickly and dials a number after several rings a machine picks up.

Ken: Hey, it's me. I know this is your cell phone but I wanted to make sure you were the one who got this message. Meet me down in the lobby in two hours. It's really important. Thanks, bye.

He hangs up just as Caitlin comes back in.

Caitlin: Who was that?

Ken smiles and moves over to her.

Ken: No one as important as you.

He pulls her close and kisses her passionately.


Deidra entered Diane’s hospital room hoping to catch a moment with her sister before she returned to the work that was waiting for her back in her office. Upon entering the room, Deidra noticed her mother perched over in the corner over by Diane. Judy appeared to be lost inside herself as her eyes continued to remain upon her sleeping daughter. Deidra advanced to her mother and gave her a reassuring hug. "Hello mom."
"Deidra, baby," Judy wrapped her arms around her tightly, "I didn't hear you come in."
"Yeah, I kind of noticed." Deidra set down her purse and rubbed her eyes, "I didn't know if I should try and see if you were alright or not."
"Oh, I'm fine dear." Judy assured her, "A little worried about Diane. But they tell me everything's going to be alright with her."
"I'm glad that everything's going to be okay with her," Deidra glanced over at her sister then took a seat beside Judy, "I just wish that everything wasn't going downhill right now."
"What do you mean Deidra?" Judy questioned her, "What else is going on that you're not telling me?"
"No, it's best if I don't say." Deidra gave a slight shrug, "I don't want you to worry anymore then you have to.
"Come on Deidra," Judy urged on, "You can talk to me about anything."
"I know mom but it'll just cause extra stress nobody needs." Deidra shook her head, "I don't want to worry you anymore then you already are."
"Too late. You're my daughter too Deidra." Judy rested a hand on Deidra's knee, "And if something happens to you, I need to know. I'm your mother and it's my job to know these things."
"I was attacked." Deidra took a deep breath, trying to hold back the tears.
"What?" Judy started at her in shock, "What happened baby?"
"Bruce attacked me," Deidra tried as much as she could to hold back the tears, but they came anyway, "He held a blade to my throat and he tried to kill me."
"Oh my god," Judy wrapped her arms around her daughter tightly and began to rock her, "It's alright sweetie. He won't ever hurt you. I'll tear him to shreds first."
"Mom, it was so horrible," Deidra sniffled releasing her mother slowly, "If it wasn't for a man I saw in the parking lot, I probably would have been dead."
"There you go playing the pity me act again," Diane shifted in her bed and sat up a bit.
"Diane, you're awake," Judy ignored the comment Diane had made to Deidra and gave her a slight hug.
"Yeah," she nodded glaring over at her sister, "Where did Ben go?"
"He went to get something to eat," Judy informed her, "He didn't want to wake you."
"Mom, I think I'm going to get going," Deidra kissed Judy on the cheek and turned her back to leave, "I'm glad you're okay Diane."
"Oh sure, walk out again like you always do. Now that the attention isn't focused on you, go ahead and leave," Diane shot back crossing her arms.
"That's not even the case Diane and you know it," Deidra turned around and put a hand on her hip.
"I bet you were so happy when you thought I was going to die," Diane shot back looking Deidra straight in the eyes, "Was that something you were hoping for sis?"
"Diane! How could you ever think something like that!" Judy questioned in horror, "Your sister loves you with all her heart."
"Oh yeah, she sure shows it too." Diane rolled her eyes, "Yeah this is how it is. 'Mom, I don't even question how Diane is doing I'm just going to play the drama queen'. Give me a break."
"Diane, I love you and I don't understand why you have to be so hostile with me all the time." Deidra sighed as Ben walked into the room, "I'm just going to go. Mom, I'll wait for you in the lobby whenever you're ready to get going."
"Yeah, leave Deidra, it's what you are best at anyway." Diane snarled as she turned her attention to her mother.
Ben and Deidra exchanged looks. He gave her a look of apology while she shrugged. They seemed to have an understanding rush through them. He leaned over and gave her a hug, "I'll talk to her about it."
"Thank you," Deidra mouthed quietly wiping away the tears in her eyes as she stepped out of the hospital room.


Kyle entered the Coral Valley police station already feeling as if some form of claustrophobia had set in.  While he’d made it a habit of avoiding the police as much as possible when opportunity presented itself, it seemed that there was no avoiding any of that this time around after he’d witnessed Randy’s shooting.  However, as much as Kyle would much rather be out and about with Sarah kicking back and shooting the breeze, he realized he had work to do and this place was the perfect starting point for what he had in mind.
“Excuse me,” Kyle approached the man before him in an attempt to be polite.  When the man refused to response to Kyle, he cleared his throat again.
This time the man glanced up from the papers he was shuffling through before turning his nose down into the pages before him once again.  Frowning Kyle stepped forward, raising his voice again.
“I said excuse me,” Kyle repeated getting no reaction out of the man once again, “Sir…”
“The court offices are down the hall,” the man waved his hand dismissively not bothering to look up from his papers.
“Actually I was hoping that I could speak with…” Kyle started realizing that the officer wasn’t interested in hearing a word he had to say.  Finally he’d had enough as he reached for one of the papers swiping it up off of the desk.
“Hey,” the man scowled up at him.
“Hi,” Kyle dangled the paper in front of the man’s face, “Missing something?”
“Give me that back,” the man warned him sharply.
“Fine,” Kyle nodded in accordance while handing the page over to him once again, “here you are.”
“Do you need something,” the impatient looking man behind the desk questioned gruffly.
“Actually, I was hoping that perhaps you could help me out here,” Kyle nodded in confession while standing up straighter, “I’m here to make a follow up statement about a shooting I witnessed the other day.”
“And you are,” the man arched a scrutinizing brow.
“Here to speak with someone who can assist me,” Kyle replied with a thick air of sarcasm, “so if you could find someone to do just that, then I can promise you that you’ll be able to get back to parking tickets or whatever else it is that has the bug wedged up your ass.”
“Look you,” the man sat up straighter finally having had a chord struck by Kyle’s less than polite statement.  The man’s pudgy face seemed to explode with a crimson color as Kyle fought the urge to laugh.  Sure, he knew that comment would get a reaction, but it served the man right for being such an uninvolved jerk to begin with.  Come to think of it, Kyle thought to himself, he hadn’t been to a police station where they didn’t have the rudest son of a bitch behind the counter and Coral Valley clearly was no exception.
“Look before you give me a lecture on my manners, could you just get someone I can talk to so that I can be on my way.  I think we‘ve both already wasted enough of our time with this.  Wouldn‘t you agree,” Kyle continued impatiently not wanting to engage in any further conversation with Detective Portly, as Kyle so perfectly dubbed him.
“Oh I’ll get someone you can talk to, but I can promise you that you won’t be leaving as soon as you would like,” the man snapped back at him.
“Gee officer, are you going to hold me on being rude to someone who clearly had no intentions of pulling himself out of the donut shop this morning,” Kyle remarked snidely watching as Detective Portly’s nostrils flared upon Kyle’s insinuation.
“Listen you piece of…” the man began to lose his temper as he stood up from behind the desk revealing that not only was he rather plump, but he was half Kyle’s height as well.
“That explains a lot,” Kyle thought aloud watching as the man’s face shifted to a twisted expression that could only mean one thing.
“You have no business coming in here and starting…” the man went off on a rant with half of his words lost in the midst of Kyle’s involuntary laughter.
Yep, there was certainly a reason he’d avoided police stations and this was one of them, he thought to himself.  Straining to keep from bursting into tears at the ridiculousness of what was happening before him, Kyle folded his arms in front of his chest just taking it all in.  After a few minutes, he spoke up smoothly, noting that the officer before him had finally piped down.
“Are you finished now?” Kyle questioned in a neutral tone watching the man’s mouth open up again, but before he could send out anther verbal lashing another officer entered the lobby area.
“What in the world is going on out here Johnson,” the man questioned with a strange expression.
“This person has decided to cause trouble this morning,” Johnson explained matter of fact, “I was just trying to assist him and…”
“Assist me,” Kyle chuckled unable to contain himself, “oh that’ll be the day…”
“You zip it,” the new officer warned sharply, “and Johnson, they want to see you in back.”
“Yeah whatever,” Johnson stalked off but not before glaring out at Kyle one last time.
“I’m Lieutenant Sharpe,” Patrick explained to Kyle, “What can I do for you?”
“I’m here to speak with someone about a report I made yesterday.  I was told to come down here and speak with Chief Warner and…” Kyle informed him simply.
“He’s unavailable at the moment, but if you’d like to have a word with me, I’d be more than happy to relay it to him,” Patrick suggested with a heavy look of irritation.
“No, that’s okay, I’ll just come back,” Kyle decided with a simple shrug making his way down the lobby towards the front doors of the police station.  As he reached the doors, he cast a glance over his shoulder watching Patrick slip back into the area he’d emerged from moments earlier.
“Alone at last,” Kyle smiled turning around and heading down the hallway to do a little investigating of his own. 
Sure, maybe he was here to make a statement, but a little side work didn’t hurt anything, he reasoned as he made his way through the hallways.  Within a matter of moments, he realized that he was down by the evidence room and with that thought in mind, a smile spread over his features with the knowledge that he was one step closer to cracking the case he was working on himself.  Taking a quick look around, Kyle discovered that the area was clear as he pulled out the small tool he’d carried with him for such occasions.  He whistled a quiet tune to himself before wrenching the door open and taking a step inside.
“Piece of cake,” Kyle mused with a grin ready to get his hands on whatever information he could to uncover the secret truths about Bruce Mathis and who could be hiding him.


Diego stood beside his stove trying to erase the imprint Heather had put upon him in their earlier encounter.  While he’d tried like hell to ignore the fact that there was a beautiful, complicated woman brazenly attempting to get his attention, there was no mistaking the level of discomfort he’d felt in turning away.  Sure, he hadn’t anticipated getting a guest in the shower room like that, but there she was in all her beauty before him looking like a golden goddess.  She was temptation to the extreme and while Diego felt he had to protect her, he wasn’t ready to dive into what Heather was asking for out of him. 
Okay, so yeah he couldn’t help but think about what it would be like to be with her, but he’d be a fool to take that leap…especially now.  She was confused and in a state of turmoil after having to endure a horrendous ordeal at the hand of Cameron.  She needed to heal and cope with the situation and throwing sex or the possibility of it into the mix was going to confuse things further.  Still as Diego continued to fry up the eggs in the pan before him, he couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps there was something more primal driving his urgency to be the one to stand by Heather.
“You’ve lost your mind,” he stated bluntly shaking his head at the thought of how far out in left field he’d gone in offering to claim paternity to Heather’s child.  No one in their right mind would believe such a ridiculous tale.  Even Diego himself had doubts about how to make the world not question the validity of the situation.  He knew that there was a time when he would’ve committed a man in such a position, but now, well now he was certain he’d gone past the point of no return.
Stepping away from the eggs, Diego walked over to the kitchen window to gaze out into the yard where he and Maria had once talked about raising their children with one another in.  At the time they’d bought the house, it had held an air of hope and promise for the future, but all those dreams of happily ever after had been shattered the moment that Cameron Stone had ripped Maria out of this world forever.  That pain in losing her had been far too much to bear and ultimately it had been that loss that had driven Diego away from any kind of contact with the world around him outside of work…until now.
“Hey you,” Heather’s voice beckoned him from his thoughts.  Turning around to face her again, he noticed that she was now completely dressed in another pair of his sweats with her hair still damp and around her shoulders.  She clearly was far too thin to be in such an outfit of his, but in her simplicity without any traces of makeup or the glamour she’d usually pushed upon herself, he found her to be simply radiant.  She leaned against the doorway smiling at him beautifully, “I thought I smelled something good in here.”
“I thought you might be hungry,” Diego admitted snapping out of his daze long enough to come up with a rational sentence.  He stepped in towards the stove motioning to the frying pan before him, “I hope you don’t mind an omelet.”
“It sounds great,” Heather replied with another smile, “although you might want to go light on the…”
“Cheese,” Diego finished with a nod, “Yeah I kind of figured so I tried tofu instead.  I realize you might not be used to it, but with this particular recipe, well, a friend of mine showed me some tricks around making things like tofu taste like heaven.  Though I will confess I hope you don’t mind it a little bit spicy as this particular omelet has a Southwestern flare.”
“I love spicy,” Heather confessed entering the kitchen more completely, “The hotter, the better I say.”
“Now why doesn’t that surprise me,” he couldn’t help but smirk as his thoughts carried over past his lips.
“It shouldn’t,” she replied watching the uneasiness in his movements, “I’m an open book when it comes to most things.”
“Heather, now we both know that’s a lie,” Diego cast a glance in her general direction once again, “You are by far one of the most complicated people I’ve met.  You very seldom cease to surprise me.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing,” she questioned moving in closer to the stove to take a look at what he was working on.
“A little bit of both I think,” Diego let out a hearty laugh, “though I will say that it makes life interesting.”
“Well, then I’ll take that as a complement I suppose,” Heather decided with a smirk, “However, I will say that I’m not the only one full of surprises.  You’re one hard man to figure out yourself there.”
“Not really,” Diego shook his head in response, “I’m a pretty dull and average guy for the most part.”
“There isn’t anything dull or average about you,” Heather stated firmly before noticing the strange expression on his face, “Okay, so maybe there are a few things that you need to work on like loosening up a bit, but you have potential.”
“I think I should be saying thank you to that, huh,” Diego couldn’t help but tease her.
“You should definitely be saying that because I don’t normally issue those kind of words to just anyone,” Heather nodded with a tiny laugh watching him reach for the plates he’d had on the counter for their breakfast.
“In that case, I’m very flattered,” Diego replied doing some quick work with the pan before him.  Seconds later he held a plate in hand presenting a first look to Heather, “Well, what do you say?”
“I’m starving,” Heather announced stealing the plate from his hand before making her way to his modest kitchen table.
“Somehow I figured you might be,” Diego prepared a plate for himself before joining her at the table, “So how is it?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Heather confessed taking a long look at the food before her.  She leaned forward to take in the hearty aroma while closing her eyes to absorb it all in.
“Is something wrong with it,” Diego questioned in confusion.
“No, not at all,” Heather shook her head in response before reaching for her fork, “It’s just that it’s been so very long since I’ve had anything that’s been made out of a real kitchen.”
“As opposed to a fake kitchen,” Diego gave her a strange look.
“Of course not silly,” Heather shook her head at him, “It’s just that I’ve always had some kind of restaurant food or hotel food which is absolutely dreadful. Then at Cameron’s place, well the cooks were incredible, but it wasn’t like real food.  I’d hardly call a top chef from France someone who knows something about down home cooking,” she paused, “I sound stupid right now, don’t I?”
“No, not at all,” Diego shook his head at her words, “I think I’m actually flattered especially considering that you haven’t even taken a bite yet.”
“Yeah well that’s where the tricky part comes in,” Heather admitted with a soft smile, “I mean I would always go to these places and order these huge meals.  When the came to the table, I would look at them--really look at them and imagine what they would taste like, but I’d never eat more than a bite or two.  I mean hey, you don’t become a swimsuit model by eating junk since you are what you eat out in L.A.”
“So you’re telling me that not only has it been a while since you’ve had a home cooked meal, but it’s been a while since you’ve actually eaten a real meal as well?” he frowned in response.
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but the truth is I mostly indulge in things like this by imagining just how good they’ll be,” Heather blurted out honestly, “That way I won’t be let down when the promise of it ends up being less than I’d hoped for.  Though right now I‘m thinking about those two bites here that I‘ll be taking shortly.  I‘m sure they‘ll be excellent.”
“You’re going to have more than two bites,” Diego insisted with a firm look.  “I didn’t cook that for it to go to waste.”
“Diego, I’m telling you now that I don’t eat more than two bites…maybe three now that I’m pregnant, but…” Heather started to object.
“But nothing.  You’re going to eat all of that and I’m going to watch you do it,” Diego set his own fork down to watch her intently.
“Diego, I really don’t eat a lot and I’ve been doing fine,” she reminded him simply.
“Okay, so let me get this straight,” he assessed the situation, “You don’t eat a lot, but you’re willing to scarf down ice cream when everyone else is asleep?”
“Well that’s different,” she felt a heat rise over her features, “That’s one guilty pleasure that I just can’t run away from.  Besides, you saw the consequences of that one at the hospital.”
“I also saw that you were horribly underweight for a woman in your position,” Diego reminded her sharply, “You should’ve gained more than you have in being this far along in the pregnancy.”
“Diego, I’ve always had a body like this.  Being pregnant isn’t going to change that--well except for the fact I look like I have a bit of a pot belly going for me,” she shrugged her shoulders, “but still…”
“Heather,” he reached for his fork dipping it into her plate before pulling out some of the omelet for her, “you might feel quite content to starve yourself, but I refuse to allow you to do that to your son.”
“Diego, you can’t tell me what to do and if you even think that,” she opened her mouth in protest only to get a forkful of food inside.  She glared at him while she nibbled on the bite before taking a moment to savor the taste.  Reluctantly, she continued to chew on the piece he’d given her, really absorbing the texture before he lifted another piece to her lips.
“Want another,” he tempted her once again watching her eyes grow wide in response to the savory aroma he was trying to tantalize her with.
“I really shouldn’t,” Heather began feeling him press another bite behind her lips.  Slowly, she closed her mouth around the omelet and allowed the flavor of it to roll over her taste buds.
“It’s good, isn’t it,” Diego questioned watching her open her mouth for yet another bite despite her initial protests.
“This is so unfair,” Heather shot him a glare before accepting another bite.
“So take it out on my later, but for now let’s get that handsome little man inside of you his first taste of home cooking,” Diego suggested watching as Heather gave into his request taking her time to appreciate the meal he’d prepared for her.  Perhaps there was some hope in reaching her yet, he thought to himself as they shared their morning with one another.


Deidra entered her office slamming the door behind her as it had taken all her energy not to let loose on Diane for her wild accusations.  Sure, Deidra had tried to ignore them, but there was no running away from the raw hatred that her sister felt for her.  Time and time again Deidra had tried to ignore it, but Diane was set on keeping things ugly between them for the rest of their lives it seemed.
“Damn her,” Deidra cursed dropping down into her chair.  She could feel the tears threatening to overtake her as they had in the past after encounters with Diane.  No, she thought to herself.  She wasn’t about to let her sister make her miserable all over again.  Okay, so maybe Diane had just been through a life threatening experience, but it seemed that the closer to the end Diane became, the crueler she was with Deidra.  It was a never ending cycle with them and Deidra feared she’d never have her sister’s approval or friendship despite the ways in which Deidra had hoped they could one day bond with one another.
“It’s a lost cause,” Deidra mouthed to herself, while closing her eyes and leaning back in her chair.  There was no more fighting the inevitable now that Diane had once again reminded Deidra how little she actually felt about her.  Still, Deidra couldn’t help but feel saddened about her sister’s behavior.
Hearing a knock at her office door, Deidra wiped at her face hoping that she hadn’t been too obvious in her misery on the way inside.  Sitting up straighter, she cleared her throat to allow her secretary access to the room since she was certain that she would have to do some explaining.
“Come in,” Deidra offered up in a cool and even tone, hoping to convey a message of business as usual, but much to her surprise Dean entered her office with an unsure expression on his face.
“Deidra, hi,” he smiled weakly at her, “I thought I saw you come in here.”
“Oh Dean,” Deidra felt a breath of relief press beyond her lips, “hi.”
“I saw you in the hallway and I tried to call out to you, but you seemed a bit preoccupied,” Dean admitted taking another step in towards her, “Do you have a minute or is this a bad time?”
“Oh no, I have a few minutes,” Deidra motioned towards the chair across from her desk, “Have a seat.”
“Thanks,” Dean smiled at her complying to her request, “I had a few minutes in between surgery.  I thought I’d come on down here and see how you were doing.”
“I appreciate your taking the time to do that, but I’m fine,” Deidra smiled at him, “Really.”
“I can see that,” he replied a bit doubtful, “but still I couldn’t help but check.”
“I see,” Deidra nodded, “Do you take the time out of your busy schedule to check in on all the women you rescue?”
“Only the beautiful ones,” he flirted back causing a heat to rise over Deidra’s features.
“Then you must’ve picked the wrong door,” Deidra shifted in her seat uncomfortably.
“I don’t think so because you are by far the prettiest woman around here,” he added sensing her nervousness, “but then again maybe I should try to tone this down a bit, huh?”
“What?” Deidra questioned in confusion.
“I have this dangerous syndrome,” Dean admitted with a tiny smile, “It’s called putting my foot in my mouth before I think.  Maybe you’ve heard of it?”
“Heard of it,” Deidra replied with a nervous laugh, “I think I’m the reason the diagnosis was coined to begin with.”
“Oh good, then you won’t throw me out right away,” Dean laughed lightly in an attempt to break the tension in the air, “but seriously I was hoping I’d get a chance to speak with you today.”
“Well, here you are and here I am,” Deidra waved her hands around in the air lightly.
“So we are,” he nodded in response, “How are you holding up?”
“Fine,” she lied quickly, perhaps too quickly, “Last night was just another day in the train wreck I call my life.”
“Yeah, well I know the feeling,” Dean reaching into his pocket, “although I brought something over that I thought might help.”
“Oh?” Deidra arched a curious brow watching while he pulled out some odd looking plastic thing out of his pocket.
“Here, I picked this up for you on the way to work this morning,” Dean admitted handing the beige handle type thing over to her.
“What is it,” she questioned in confusion.
“It’s a personal alarm system,” Dean explained leaning in over her desk to bring his fingers over hers, “Apparently it sends out this pulsating, deafening sound to alert others to when you’re in trouble.  Also, over here there’s a button that shoots out pepper spray just in case the creep who is attacking you doesn’t get a clue.”
“Really,” Deidra’s eyes remained over him.  She found herself surprised by his gesture and couldn’t help but be curious about the man before her.
“Yeah, that’s what the woman behind the counter at the store told me,” he nodded in confession lifting his brown eyes up towards hers, “I mean I would’ve tried it out for you, but I didn’t want to have half of my patients going into cardiac arrest on my way in.”
“I can’t say I blame you on that one,” Deidra laughed lightly unable to contain herself.  She felt a tiny shiver race over her at the brief contact between her and Dean’s fingers before she pulled her hand and the security device away, “Though I really appreciate this.”
“I thought it might be useful in the future,” Dean admitted with a tiny grin, “although there is an added bonus if you’re interested in hearing it.”
“Oh?  And what might that be?” Deidra questioned with a curious expression.
“Well, I was thinking that if you weren’t too unnerved by my coming down here this morning that maybe you wouldn’t mind taking me up on the offer to be your escort out of work tonight or any other night we might be getting out of here around the same time,” Dean explained with a sexy smile.
“Oh well, I…” she found herself at a loss in the moment.  She was quite certain she looked like a fool--red faced and flustered as Dean’s eyes fell upon her, “Dean, I don’t know if that’s such a…I mean I’m going through a really messy divorce and…”
“And I’m jumping the gun again, aren’t I,” Dean half apologized moving away from her desk to give her some space, “Listen, I’m sorry if I’m too bold in my approach…”
“No it’s not that.  It’s just that I, well, I’ve just had a rough few months and I’m not really sure if I’m ready to dive back into the whole dating thing again,” Deidra admitted honestly, “My life has been really complicated and I just…”
“I understand,” he nodded in response, “Although I will admit that I would feel better knowing that you weren’t leaving alone at night.”
“On most nights I have someone walk me out,” Deidra confessed thinking to the arrangements Dave had set up with Shannon, but I do appreciate your offering.”
“Hey, the offer is always on the table,” Dean added before rising up from his chair, “but I guess you kind of already figured that one out, huh?”
“Yeah,” she nodded in confession watching him start to rub his palms together nervously.
“Well, then I suppose I should let you get back to your schedule for the day.  I’m sure you have a lot going on,” Dean motioned to her desk.
“More than I care to really think about,” she half groaned in response.
“Okay, then I guess…well, I guess I’ll see you around,” Dean waved at her sheepishly.
“Yeah,” she nodded not knowing what else to say.  She watched him make his way towards the door and in that moment she felt foolishness setting in, “Dean, wait.”
“Yes?” he questioned turning around to face her again.
“I know it sounds crazy and I’m not promising anything, but how do you feel about lunch?” Deidra asked feeling a moment of boldness overtake her, “I’m free around noon--that is if you’re interested in joining me for some of that toxic waste they pass off as food in the cafeteria downstairs.  I mean hey if you’re not busy and I’m not busy and we just so happen to be there at the same time…”
“It’s a date,” Dean replied with a confident smile before correcting himself, “I mean sure, I’d love to have lunch with you.”
“Great,” Deidra couldn’t help but smile in response.
“So I’ll see you later,” he gave her one last look before turning to leave her office.  Unable to keep her eyes off of him, Deidra allowed her gaze to linger over his body, down to his oh so perfect bottom before he exited her office.
“What are you getting yourself into,” she asked herself while sinking into her chair.  Surely she had to be losing her mind to even be considering something like this.  Then again, maybe after having Diane remind her how pathetic she was, she decided that it was time to prove her sister wrong one way or another.


“Good morning Mindy,” Russell greeted his secretary cheerfully while throwing out a way in her general direction.
“Whoa, are my eyes playing tricks on me,” she questioned in a mocking tone.  Setting the fashion magazine she’d been thumbing through aside, she raised her hand up to her chest with a gasp, “You’re actually here at work.  Is it an apocalypse?”
“Ha ha, very funny,” Russell remarked with an air of sarcasm, “I show up for work.”
“Yeah you do, but you haven’t since you’ve been a newlywed,” she pointed out with an air of gush in her tone.  “You’ve been missing so long, I was about to put together a search party for you.  Then again I figured that we wouldn‘t have any problems locating you since I was pretty certain you‘d be caught in bed with your pants down.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you cared that much,” Russell remarked with a tiny grin.
“Oh well of course I do, but I wasn’t about to walk in on something X-rated between you and Avery,” Mindy jabbed further with an air of laughter, “Though it’s nice to see you’ve finally resurfaced for some air this morning.”
“Gee, it’s nice to know that I’ve been missed,” he replied with a simple shake of his head before motioning to the magazine on the top of her desk, “And you obviously haven’t changed while I was gone.  I would‘ve thought you‘d actually get some work done around here.”
“Why would I bother,” Mindy shrugged her shoulders before reaching for the magazine again, “The boss was away and since his star reporter was out of town, well I didn’t feel the need.”
“Now there’s the Mindy I know and love,” he shook his head at her before turning to go into his office again.
“Actually, I was just kidding,” she tossed the magazine onto her desk again, “I’ve really been working on this story that I’m sure is going to be front page.  If you give me five minutes then I’m sure you’ll love the idea.”
“Mindy, I just walked in the door,” Russ reminded her with a quick look.
“I know, but I figure since Caitlin is still in Seattle and it’s been a while since we’ve run something that you’ve really been able to sink your teeth into so to speak, I was thinking about doing an expose on the lifestyles of the rich and shameless.  Brooke is having this little soirée and I’m sure there will be plenty of scandal happening there,” Mindy suggested thinking to the party she’d been dreading since she’d received the invite.
“Mindy, this is a paper to promote the positive around here, not the audacious,” he wrinkled his nose at the thought of anything his mother-in-law would be involved in.
“Even so, I’m sure it would be fun to paint a true light on Brooke,” Mindy insisted further, “It’s been a long time in the making and…”
“And I’m not about to go to divorce court with my wife over her mother’s acts of indiscretions just yet,” Russell explained simply before opening his office door and stepping inside, “Besides, I’m already working on that project on the side.”
“So then why not let me step in and give you the scoop on the party,” Mindy suggested following him into the room, “Because you and I both know there’s more to the kidnapping story than she let on.”
“Why do you say that,” Russell questioned glancing over his shoulder in her general direction.
“Because I don’t buy any of what went down,” Mindy admitted honestly, “I was there at the ransom drop and…”
“And what?” Russell questioned taking a seat in his chair.
“Something felt off.  I mean she has her story that she sold to the press and the tabloids about the horrors that Bruce Mathis put her through, but there was something about that night--something that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it was off,” Mindy continued emphatically, “I can’t explain it, but my gut is telling me that we’ve only skimmed the surface on this one Russ and if you give me the clearance to investigate…”
“My wife would kill me if I did that,” Russ leaned back in his chair, bringing his hands back over his head.
“Don’t tell me that Avery is buying into the whole ‘new and improved’ Brooke persona,” Mindy rolled her eyes at the thought, “She’s still a big a bitch as ever and nothing can convince me different.”
“I see,” Russ nodded taking her words in, “so what’s in it for you if I agree to let you snoop around?”
“You mean other than my having an exclusive that’ll rock Coral Valley?” Mindy wiggled her brow.
“Yeah, well I know there’s something more, so why don’t you spit it out,” Russell urged her on.
“Okay, so there’s this whole thing that’s happening before the party and I’d like the week off,” Mindy blurted out hurriedly, “I mean the way I look at it, I have to get really decked out for the part and since you promised me a raise…”
“Aha, so here’s where the catch comes in,” he couldn’t help but laugh.
“Russ, you know I’m ready for this.  You know I’m a good reporter in training and if you give me the chance…” she started again.
“And a raise to go with it,” he threw out a skeptical look.
“Russ, I’m telling you I can smell something big in the air and if you give me a chance to show you,” Mindy pleaded with him, “I know that I can turn this into something that will knock your socks off.”
“Considering that you have problems getting me most of my phone messages half the time,” he reminded her once again.
“That was then.  This is now,” she insisted urgently, “Russ, I’m telling you that I can get something hot…”
“And sleazy right?” he questioned with a frown.
“It’ll go beyond the realm of sleazy.  I’ll make it very classy and you’ll be proud of my work,” Mindy urged him on again, “I know that things have been rough for you lately with Grady’s passing and all, but I just think that if I…”
“Okay Mindy,” Russell waved her to silence again at the mention of his brother, “I’ve heard enough.”
“Oh Russ,” she gasped realizing what she’d said, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean for it to come out that way in my downplaying the situation with your brother.  It’s just that I’ve waited a long time for an opportunity like this and with everything kind of in chaos around us…”
“Mindy, do you ever shut up,” he questioned bluntly watching her bring her hand up over her mouth in an attempt to quiet herself.
“I’m sorry.  Go on and talk,” she mouthed behind her hand before clamping her palm over her lips once again.
“Thank you,” he couldn’t help but laugh, “Listen I know that things haven’t exactly been normal around here lately and I apologize for that.  Still, you haven’t worked on something like this before and…”
“And I know I can do it.  Russ, if you just give me a chance I’m sure that I can come up with some of the best investigative journalism you’ve ever read,” Mindy continued desperately, “I realize it might sound like a stretch but…”
“Fine,” Russ cut her off abruptly.
“I’m telling you that I can…” she continued to ramble on.
“I said fine Mindy,” Russ raised his voice to get her to hear him.
“I just…” she paused upon the realization of his words, “Really?”
“Yes really,” he nodded in confession, “it might make me crazy, but I’m willing to see where this goes, but only under one condition.”
“And what might that be?” Mindy questioned curiously.
“That you don’t go around spreading the news about this project until it’s near completion,” Russell urged her on, “Sound fair enough.”
“It’s a deal,” Mindy nodded eagerly practically bouncing up and down in victory.  “I’ll be completely discreet about this.”
“Okay, then how about you try to tone it down a bit,” he suggested giving her a quick once over, “because I’m sure if you start doing a happy dance like that someone is going to figure out what’s going on with you.”
“Oh right,” she stopped herself from bouncing.  “It’ll be awesome.  I promise.  In fact right now I’ll start on it.  I’ll get back to work and write out a tentative plan for where I’d like to go with this on.  I’m sure you’ll love it.  You really won’t regret this.”
“I sure hope not,” he couldn’t help but laugh watching her leave his office giving him time to catch up on the things that he’d been putting off in his time away from the paper.  While he’d hated to have been such a slacker, in having his talk with Mindy, he realized that there was plenty of work to do and now was the time to get a jump start on it.


Kyle pulled out his pocket flashlight not wanting to draw too much attention to himself while he searched through the evidence room.  After a quick look at the computer he’d made his way through the shelves to the box where the police had placed the things they’d collected from the Mathis apartment earlier in the investigation.  While Kyle had Randy’s final words in his mind, he had a feeling that there was part of the missing puzzle in police possession and now was about discovering just what that was.
Reaching for the box, Kyle pulled it down from the top shelve before carrying it over to the table at the far end of the evidence room.  Opening the box, he began to thumb through the things before him.  Nothing seemed to raise much interest in him at first, but after a few seconds of poking around, his eyes fell upon a vast array of photographs.
“What in the…” Kyle questioned aloud as his eyes scanned the snapshots before him seeing Avery splashed out before him in living color.  Suddenly Randy’s words came to mind and he could see the pleasure that the man had taken in following Avery around.  With each photo things grew far more detailed and intimate in the images before him.  They’d contained Russ and Avery in some positions that Kyle had never truly wanted to witness.
“I think I’ve had enough of these,” he quickly pushed the particular set of photos aside before his eyes fell upon another batch.  “Well now, what is this?”
Reaching for the images, he noticed that Avery was with another man in a similar situation.  The label on one of the images indicated that the man was none other than Brant Ashford.  As Kyle began to flip through the various photos he started to feel something build in his gut--something that had him curious about Brant’s role in the grand scheme of things.  Russ had said that there had to be someone with money backing Mathis and his great escape, but he’d sounded so sure of Cameron Stone being behind it.  However as Kyle caught a glimpse of Brant and Avery with one another, he could clearly see that Brant had a vested interest in Avery.  The question was, did Avery reciprocate the feeling?
“We’ll just have to find out,” Kyle mouthed to himself dropping one of the images into his pocket before placing the lid on the box before him.  Sure, this hadn’t been what he’d been hoping to find, but perhaps paying a visit over to BBK would be enough for him to rule out one possibility.  You could never be too sure these days, he thought to himself before pulling out the picture of Brant and Avery again.
“Oh you sure look like one slimy son of a bitch,” Kyle grumbled shaking his head at the image before him before tucking it back into hiding.  Carefully placing the box back where he’d located it, Kyle followed the same maze he’d taken to get to the door.  He paused for a moment listening to hear if anyone was outside the room and when it sounded like the coast was clear, he took in a deep breath ready to get out of the station and down to his investigation.  Stepping out of the room, he turned towards the exit, but instead was met by the very surprised eyes of Shannon.
“Excuse me,” Shannon began to apologize before she registered the unfamiliar face before her.  Her features shifted with her piercing glare up at him, “Who the hell are you?”
“I..um…” Kyle started uneasily before standing up taller, “I’m on my way out.  I took a wrong turn, but now I know where I’m headed.”
“Oh no you don’t,” Shannon reached out to him when he’d tried to breeze past her, “You’re not going anywhere.”
“But I…” Kyle began desperately.
“You’re in hot water mister and until I know exactly who you are, you’re not going anywhere,” she vowed ready to discover what in the world she’d stepped into with the muscle bound man before her.  Kyle opened his mouth to speak, but before the words could come out, he caught the expression on Shannon’s features.  It was enough to bring shivers over his spine with her icy glare and somehow he had a feeling whatever it was she was about to say, it couldn’t be good.

...to be continued...