Episode 122

“So explain to me again. What are you doing here?” Shannon asked folding her arms.

“I told I took a wrong turn and ended up in the wrong room,” Kyle said rolling his eyes.

“I’m not buying that, follow me Mr.?” Shannon asked as they walked into Dave’s office.

“My name is Kyle,” he said in a snarl.

“What’s your last name?” Shannon asked looking at him as he rolled his eyes.

“Houston,” he answered gruffly.

“So are you really going to tell me what you were doing in there?”

“I have nothing to say,” Kyle said shrugging.

“Take a seat,” Shannon said walking over to the other side of the desk.

“No, I’m not like these lazy cops around here I prefer to stand,” Kyle said folding his arms.

“Take a seat,” Shannon ordered shooting a glare his way.

“Fine, if it makes you shut up,” Kyle quipped walking toward the chair.

“What was your name again?” Shannon asked sighing as she sat down at the desk.

“I told you once and I will tell you again.  My name is Kyle Houston,” he sighed heavily sitting down in the chair.

Shannon went to the computer typing in his name.

“What are you doing?”  Kyle asked snarling and cracking his knuckles.

“I’m checking you out Mr. Houston,” Shannon informed him as she pulled up his file, “Tell me what’s a private investigator doing snooping around the evidence room?”

“What’s it to you?” Kyle remarked turning his head to look out the window.

“Well, if I do remember correctly you were somewhat involved with the mysterious death of that guy Randy,” Shannon stated pointedly raising her eyebrow at him to only see a deep glare from his dark brown eyes.

“This has nothing to do with Randy, I was checking something out for a friend of mine,” Kyle divulged rolling his eyes.

“Could this friend have something to do with that death you were a witness to?” Shannon asked as Kyle slid forward resting his arms on the desk.

“Listen lady, as much as I would have loved to be part of the death of that bastard, I wasn’t,” Kyle snarled looking at her and seeing the same glare he kept getting. “I was just saying.”

Shannon watched as Kyle shrugged, “I think I have had enough of that attitude of yours. Now tell me, who are you snooping around for?”

“Why do you need to know about my job?” Kyle countered rubbing his thin beard.

“Well, if you don’t tell me anything, I may have to put you in the slammer,” Shannon stated bluntly folding her arms.

“The slammer, is that the room where there is a big guy waiting in there and he like slams you to the ground because if that‘s the case, I‘m pretty sure I can beat the odds,” Kyle asked smiling.

“Are you always this big of a pain?” Shannon asked raising an eyebrow.

“Just about, yes,” Kyle added nodding and smirking.

“Well, whoever your friend is that you are doing all this for must have a high tolerance with you,” said Shannon shooting a glare at him.

“Actually, I think he does,” Kyle said eyeing his watch. He wanted to get to BBK soon and Agent Pryce was putting a crimp in his plans.  He wished she would just hurry up.
“Look Kyle, the last guy to piss me off didn’t leave feeling to well, I don’t think you want to end up leaving like he did. In fact, he was sitting just like you were until I… got mad,” Shannon said standing up.

“Hey, don’t go there,” he caught a look of her devilish intent putting his leg on top of the other one. He had them spread apart until she said that.

“Then just go along with me for a while.”

“Fine, his name is Russell Denton, satisfied?”

“Russ? What were you doing for him?” Shannon asked walking over by Kyle.

“Look, keep our space okay?” Kyle urged standing up and going to the corner of the room leaning against the wall.

“Fine,” Shannon nodded sitting where Kyle was previously seated.

“I’m looking into Bruce Mathis for him.”

“Why are you doing that, the police can handle the situation,” Shannon informed him bluntly while looking at Kyle as he sighed.

“Look, the police are doing nothing to make this situation with Mathis go away and you can’t say they are,” Kyle announced cracking his neck.

A silence overcame Shannon, “See I told you, if they actually got off their butt and did something I wouldn’t be here now would I?” Kyle threw out raising an eyebrow.

“Listen Kyle, I know that your being here is part of your job, but the police can handle it from here,” Shannon explained standing up, “They don’t need you stepping in on their territory.  It makes things rather tense around here and I really would hate to have do deal with tension, wouldn‘t you?”

“But,” Kyle started until Shannon put her hand on his shoulder and he jumped back.

“But nothing, are you afraid I’m going to go psycho on you or something?

“No, not at all why would I?” Kyle asked shaking his head and raising his eyebrow.

“Just asking because you jumped when I touched you,” Shannon smiling as Kyle snarled.

“I’m not afraid of you, I deal with people tens times worse then you in my job,” Kyle said folding his arms in front of his chest.

“Never mind, just listen okay, I will let you out of here as long as you stay out of it, okay?” Shannon offered in a moment of generosity as Kyle thought a second.

“I promise,” Kyle nodded crossing his fingers behind his back.

“You can leave now,” Shannon pointed to the door.  “And don’t let me find you sneaking back in here again or else I might not be feeling so generous.”

“Not a problem.  Thanks,” Kyle started looking at her nametag, “Shannon.”

She watched as he walked out the door and down the hallway. He walked out the door to head to BBK. She knew that he wouldn’t stay out of it, but she let him go. In a way she knew that maybe there was a way he could possibly help. The way he was just proved he was the perfect person for the job. She sighed and walked down the hallway.


Avery stepped into her office letting out a breath of relief that she hadn’t been cornered on her way in by Brant.  Even now she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to approach the situation with him, but after the few rounds she’d gone with Kyle in the morning, a confrontation was certainly the last thing she wanted to face.  She tossed her jacket in the small coat closet she’d had in the corner of her office before making her way over to her desk.  On days like these, she really wished she could find a way to distract herself and work was clearly what she needed.
Taking a seat at her desk, Avery looked to the research on the impending lawsuit that was brewing against BBK and she found herself eager to get a jump on it.  Reaching for the first folder in front of her, Avery prepared to focus entirely when her phone started to ring.
“It never fails,” she muttered to herself reaching for the phone and putting on her most pleasant voice, “Good morning, how may I help you?”
“You could start by finding a way to make it a sick day.  Then perhaps you could bring that trench coat you were wearing the other day with you to my office for an intimate meeting of the minds between us,” Russell suggested in a low, seductive tone on the other end of the line.
“I don’t think it’s a meeting of the minds you’re looking for,” Avery couldn’t help but laugh leaning back in her chair while fingering the phone cord, “I can see getting you back to work has done nothing to distract you from your perverted mind.”
“Oh come on darling, you know that there’s nothing perverted about the ways in which I fantasize about you,” he replied with a sexy drawl, “I happen to think it’s an incredible way to pass the time until you’re in my arms again.”
“And I’m sure your employees just love knowing that their boss is completely distracted by his erotic side, right?” she couldn’t help but shake her head at the thought of her husband’s antics.
“Hey, can I help it if I’m completely swept away by the beauty that my wife is,” he questioned defensively, “I happen to think it’s very flattering that I find you breathtakingly mesmerizing.”
“Okay, now you’re resorting to flattery again,” she teased, “you and Kyle must’ve gotten into some kind of trouble after I left the house, huh?”
“Nope, not at all,” Russ admitted honestly, “He told me to stop being such a bonehead and to start pampering you.”
“Kyle said that,” her eyes widened in astonishment.
“Yeah after he made some references to the fact that you’d go much easier on him if you didn’t believe we were conspiring with one another,” he couldn’t help but add with a chuckle.
“Now that I would believe,” Avery admitted with a smile, “that sounds right up his alley.”
“Well, you know how Kyle is,” Russell replied.
“I do and that’s part of the problem,” Avery reminded him simply, “the guy has a heart of gold, but he and trouble go hand in hand.  Given what we’ve been going through over the last few months, I’m just not seeking out any more of it.”
“I realize that and I’m not either, but I’m hoping we can find a middle ground where the problems we’re facing aren’t monumental there,” he informed her with a sigh.
“That day will come Russ.  I’m sure of it and now that Dave is looking into what really happened with the Mahoney shooting, I’m confident that it’s only a matter of time before one of our problems goes away.”
“Okay, who are you and what have you done to my wife,” Russ couldn’t help but tease her, “Since when have you had any optimism about the police and their investigations?”
“Since I saw how shaken up Dave was about that shooting at the mansion.  He’s not buying any of what went down anymore than I am and I’m willing to bet he’s going to work very hard to seek out the truth even if Cameron is working to bury it.”
“And what about that other issue that might arise from Simon’s death?” Russell’s voice darkened at the thought of what this outcome could mean to his brother’s safety.
“Dave’s not going to chance anything.  Despite his protests I think he understands where we’re coming from on this one and he’ll find a way to help us out.”
“I hope you’re right Avery because I’d hate to think of how this could go if the wrong person steps into the situation,” he paused overcome with the thoughts of what had been happening.
“It won’t get to that Russ.  Besides, I’m on top of things and if Cameron’s ready to blindside us, then we’ll be ahead of the game.  Once Dave sees that tape…”
“Speaking of which, we should probably work on getting it over to him.  We’ve had a lid on that long enough,” Russell informed her honestly, “I don’t want to wait too long especially now that…”
“Neither do I.  In fact, maybe at lunch we can go and run it over to him.  If he’s in then we can sit him down and show him what we found,” Avery threw out turning her attention to the mound of work piled up before her.
“It sounds like a plan, though I promised Mindy that I’d run through a few things with her this morning.  Can you meet me here?  Say around twelve thirty,” Russ suggested.
“Sure, I think that can be arranged,” she nodded in response sitting up straighter in her chair, “and Russ?”
“I love you,” she smiled hugging the phone in hand.
“I love you too and don’t forget to bring the trench coat when you show up,” he jabbed with a wicked hint of laughter in his voice.
“Get back to work bud,” she shook her head at him before hanging up the phone and continuing to laugh at all the outrageous ways she was amused by him.
“Avery,” Brant broke through her laughter.  She looked up to find him standing before her desk with curious eyes.
“Brant,” she gasped in surprise to discover she was no longer alone, “How long have you been in here?”
“Only a few seconds,” he admitted with a tense smile, “I was hoping that we could have some time to talk with one another once I heard you were in.”
“Actually, I really need to get working on things here.  I know I haven’t been around much and it’s starting to show,” she turned her eyes to the papers before her, “but maybe later.”
“This can’t wait,” he insisted taking a step in towards her.  Reaching out to place his palm over the folder in front of her, his voice grew suddenly serious, “but those can.”
“Brant,” Avery frowned lifting her gaze up towards him.
“Avery, I’m tired of skirting around this issue with you, so why don’t we just cut to the point and get it out in the open once and for all,” he challenged leaving Avery to realize there was no avoiding what needed to be said.


Judy sat at her desk trying to stay focused while she took to tending to the typical hustle and bustle that took place in the Ashford and Steiner law offices.  Granted, Ken hadn’t been around for a couple of weeks and Hart was popping up less and less sporadically than usual, but Judy had been very diligent about being there for work daily.  It wasn’t so much about the paycheck as Ken had offered her time off while he was away, but more so it was about trying to find a distraction to the things that were happening outside of work.  She’d offered to stay with Diane, but her youngest daughter had been adamant about Judy taking the time to herself and Deidra had been working herself, so here Judy was trying to keep up with Ken’s phone messages.  With that thought fresh on her mind, Judy reached for the still ringing phone ready to put on her best professional voice in the hopes of keeping herself distracted for the next few hours.
“Ashford and Steiner law offices, how may I help you,” she spoke smoothly into the phone.
“Judy, I was hoping to get a hold of you,” Richard’s voice rang all too familiar from the other end of the line, “I heard the news about the shooting and…”
“Rick, why are you calling me,” she questioned, her knuckles tightening around the phone.  She held it to her ear feeling as if it was ready to jump out and bite her when his voice had made it’s way straight to her heart.  Sure, she’d been having some problems in taking care of the situation of getting over him, but his call wasn’t helping.
“I was worried about Diane.  A friend of mine called and told me that…” he started to explain.
“They shouldn’t have called you,” Judy remarked sharply refusing to allow him an entrance to her heart and her life once again, “Everything is fine.”
“But…” Richard began desperately.
“I meant what I said when I asked you to please let this be over Rick,” Judy pleaded with him, “We can’t turn back the hands of time and as it stands I don’t want to.”
“Judy please…” he started once again.
“If you truly care about my well being, then you’ll just stay out of my life and leave me alone,” she answered sharply hanging up the phone.  Feeling more flustered than ever, she slumped her head in her hands hoping that the emotions eating away at her would just fade away.  However, much to her dismay she found herself wishing more than anything that the call had gone differently, but this was truly for the best.
“Excuse me,” a voice broke through her moment beckoning her from the inner turmoil she was feeling.  Looking up to find a handsome, young man standing before her, she sat up straighter hoping convey at least a little shred of dignity in the midst of her falling apart.
“Yes, may I help you,” she questioned with a polite smile.
“My name is Hunt Lockhart,” he explained with a receptive smile before handing her his car, “I have a meeting scheduled with Mr. Steiner this afternoon and…”
“He’s not in at the moment,” Judy informed him honestly, “I’m not sure when he’s supposed to be in for the day, but if you say you have an appointment.”
“We scheduled it about a month ago,” Hunt confessed with a quick nod, “He mentioned something about wanting to work on giving the office a fresh face so to speak.”
“A fresh face,” she repeated in confusion before a though occurred to her, “Oh, you must be the new decorator.”
“Something like that,” he nodded turning his attention to one of the tapestries on the far wall.  He glanced over at her again, “Do you mind if I take a look around?”
“No, of course not,” she offered, “and if you have a meeting with Mr. Steiner, then I’m sure he’ll be here soon.  He’s not exactly known for his punctuality though I must warn you.”
“He warned me that too himself over the phone,” Hunt admitted with a tiny grin, “though I can do what I need to do just by taking a walk around so that I can get a feel for the office.  If that’s alright with you that is?”
“Oh of course,” she agreed her eyes taking in his welcoming features, “Things are kind of quiet around here this week, so there won’t be much to contend with.”
“Excellent,” he rubbed his hands together, “then perhaps I should get started.”
“Oh certainly,” she nodded before giving him another long look, “Wait a second.  Do I know you from somewhere?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Hunt shook his head.
“Were you here before,” Judy questioned again suddenly finding herself ready to place his face.
“No, but if all goes well with Mr. Steiner you’ll probably be seeing more of me,” he offered his hand again giving her a long look.
“Judy,” she smiled at him accepting his hand in a firm handshake, “it’s nice to meet you Mr. Lockhart.”
“Please call me Hunt,” he suggested with a boyishly charming expression, “Mr. Lockhart is my grandfather and it just makes me feel all strange when I hear it.”
“Alright Hunt,” she couldn’t help but laugh, “go ahead and take a look around and I’ll let you know when Mr. Steiner is in.”
“Thanks again,” Hunt waved at her leaving Judy to the things she had waiting for at her desk.  However after Rick’s call she was well aware of the fact that she wasn’t about to get anything done--not when she was cursing herself for turning away that man who’d meant the most to her.


J.T. made his way across the hospital. He stopped at a nurse's station and asked one of the young nurses what room Diane was staying in. After he found out the information he needed to know he walked to her room and knocked lightly. He heard Diane's voice telling him to come in. He opened the door slowly and heard her voice once more, "That was fast Ben."
He opened the door and stepped in. He closed the door behind him and gave her a smile, "Hello Diane."
"J.T.?" A look of confusion crossed her face as she stared over at him, "What in the world are you doing here?"
"I heard about what happened," he informed her taking a seat by her bedside setting the box he was carrying right down next to him.
"Wow," Diane was in pure shock, "I never imagined to see you here."
"We're old friends aren't we?" J.T. questioned her, "I wanted to make sure that you were alright. Just because you hate me doesn't mean I want anything to happen to you."
"I don't hate you J.T.," Diane sighed rubbing her eyes, "That's not even true."
"Well, it sure seemed like it," J.T. shrugged and ran a hand through his hair, "I got that impression."
"It's not that I hate you. I'm just not the same as I used to be," she tried to explain to him, "I've changed a lot since high school and just some of the things that were cool with be before aren't cool anymore. You know?"
"Yeah, I understand. You've grown up Stevens," he smiled resting his hand on top of hers, "Where's that boyfriend of yours? Brett was it?"
"Oh, Ben?" Diane corrected him, "He was walking my mother out to the car and grabbing me something to drink. How did you know I was here?"
"News travels fast," he leaned forward in his chair and just stared at her, "You know you really are beautiful. You always have been."
"Well, thank you J.T." Diane's eyes wandered to the door then back to him, "I appreciate it very much so. I just don't think it's appropriate."
"Yeah, sorry. You have a boyfriend. I know," J.T. held up his arms in defense, "That doesn't mean we can't be friends now does it?"
"That's all we could ever be J.T." Diane informed him sitting up a little straighter in her bed, "I love Ben. Ben and I are soul mates you could say. Nothing will change that."
"I'm glad you found happiness and I support it completely," J.T. crossed his arms on the side of the bed, "I wanted to apologize for what happened at the bar."
"It's fine."
"No, really it isn't," J.T. shook his head, "I acted irrational and that really isn't me. I don't know what came over me, but that's not who I am."
"It's really okay J.T. Just understand that Ben is my boyfriend and if you want to be my friend you have to respect that. You don't have to like it, but you have to respect it."
"I know Diane," J.T. nodded in understanding, "I just want to be your friend."
"Then consider us friends," Diane extended out her hand and shook his.
"I promise I'll behave." he drew a cross over his heart with his fingertip, "I cross my heart."
Diane chuckled and smacked his shoulder playfully, "You are such a goofball. Always were."
"Yeah, it's one of the things in my life I will never outgrow," J.T. smiled at her as he reached down and grabbed the box he brought in. He opened it up and handed her the bouquet of flowers that he had bought before stopping by, "I thought I'd use this as a peace treaty."
"Oh yeah and what if I didn't accept?" she took the flowers from him and set them on the bedside table.
"Then I guess my living room would have been a bit more festive with the flowers." he chuckled.
Diane gave out a laugh and shook her head. "Oh yeah, definitely the same old goofball."
J.T. just nodded as he began to think to himself. He thought of all the fun him and Diane had in high school. He wasn't going to let the girl of his dreams escape him once again. Ben may have had her heart right at this moment, but he would have it in the end.


Deidra felt her stomach tied in knots as she made her way out of her office.  While she’d wanted to pretend that this lunch was no big deal, she couldn’t help but think about the expression on Dean’s face when she’d suggested they have lunch with one another.  Okay, so maybe she was imagining it to be more than it was, but with his friendly flirting he’d offered earlier, she couldn’t help but feel just the slightest bit flattered.  Spotting him across the way at a corner table near the windows, Deidra took in a calming breath before making her way to him.  She walked with a slow stride hoping to hide the fact that her insecurities were springing to the surface in the back of her mind once again.  Clearing her throat, she stood before him hoping to convey a message of confidence and warmth.
“Hey you,” Deidra greeted him with a vibrant smile.
“Hey yourself,” Dean glanced up at her, pushing the paper he’d been reading aside.  He rose from his seat to stand before her.  “I was hoping you still wanted to have lunch.
“Wondering if I was having second thoughts,” Deidra questioned with a soft smile.
“Maybe just a little,” he nodded in confession before nodding to the table again, “Why don’t you have a seat?”
“Well actually shouldn’t we try to get a place in line for lunch,” she motioned to the crowded line just near the entrance to the cafeteria.
“Actually,” Dean paused before stepping aside to reveal the things he’d had laid out on the table, “I took the liberty to running over to Irvan’s before I showed up here.  I had some free time and I figured that you probably wouldn’t enjoy having toxic waste during our first lunch together.  I never do well with that stuff.”
“Neither do I,” Deidra admitted with a soft smile before moving in to take her seat, “and I must admit I do love Irvan’s.”
“In that case, I hope I did okay in the ordering,” Dean replied pulling a container out of the bag he’d brought back with him in his quick run.  “I ordered you a chicken club.”
“Oh, you are good,” Deidra smiled accepting the container with a wide grin.
“Why thank you,” Dean replied with a grin of his own before color rose in his features, “although I do have a confession to make here.”
“What’s that?” Deidra inquired opening the container before her.
“I actually called your secretary before I left to see if she had any clue on what you liked,” Dean revealed bashfully, “while I’d like to take all the credit, she really was the one who helped me decide what to get.”
“You took the initiative to call, so that in itself says something,” Deidra added brightly.
“Good point,” he couldn’t help but laugh, “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.”
“Because you were too busy trying to be nice,” Deidra insisted with a simple smile, “which makes me realize all the more wonderful you are.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Dean shook his head, “I have my own fair share of demons you know.”
“Ah yes, you did mention that you were interested in working your way up to being a plastic surgeon,” she couldn’t help but tease.
“Hey, you make that sound like it’s a bad thing,” he replied with a simple smile.
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but given my history with the genre, I have to say it hasn’t been exactly pleasant for me,” Deidra admitted with a small confession.
“In that case, how about we say to hell with history and start anew,” Dean suggested hopefully, “because you never know I might surprise you in a good way.”
“You sure aren’t going to stop trying, are you?” she couldn’t help but laugh at his remark.
“Not when I’m doing good so far,” he teased further.
“And who says you’re doing good at all,” she feigned seriousness.
“Because you’re still sitting here with me having lunch, so I haven’t offended you to the point of no return just yet,” he laughed lightly watching the sparkle that built behind her eyes in a matter of moments.
“Okay, point well taken, though I will say I’ve yet to really get a feel for how this situation will go with us,” she added reaching for her sandwich and taking a bite.
“How’s it looking so far?” he questioned curiously.
“So far, so good, but we’ll just have to see if we make it to dessert,” Deidra teased with a tiny laugh while feeling some of her tension melting away.
“Oh, I see you do have high hopes for our lunch after all,” he laughed lightly, “In that case I’ll be on my best behavior.”
“You’d better be or else I could walk at any time,” she teased giving herself over to the air of ease at which she’d opened up for their lunch with one another.  Perhaps things were looking up after all.


Ken paces anxiously in the lobby and continually checks his watch.

Ken: Come on, where are you?

Just then Johanna rushes up.

Johanna: Hey sorry I'm a little late. I had to find away to get past Zack without him knowing where I was going.

Ken: No problem. Thanks for meeting me.

Johanna shrugs.

Johanna: It sounded important. But what's with all the undercover stuff?

Ken: Well, I have a surprise for Caitlin I need some help on.

Johanna laughs.

Johanna: Another one?

Ken blushes and smiles.

Ken: What can I say, I love surprising her.

Johanna smiles.

Johanna: I think it's sweet. How did last night turn out anyway?

Ken smiles with a twinkle in his eye.

Ken: Beyond perfect.

Johanna: I'm glad. But why am I keeping the fact that your surprising her again from Zack?

Ken: Because I don't want his interference with this, or him telling Caitlin.
Johanna looks at him closely

Johanna: Why do I get the feeling this isn't just another romantic dinner?

Ken: It's not. I'm going to buy Caitlin an engagement ring so that I can ask her to spend the rest of her life with me.

Johanna: Oh Ken that's wonderful!

Ken smiles.

Ken: I think so. Look, I know we're not exactly best friends, but I really want to pick out one she loves and since you and her are close friends...

Johanna: Ken, I'm happy to help. Caitlin and I are best friends and you are a wonderful man. I want her happy and you make her happy, and that's what matters.

Ken smiles.

Ken: Thanks. Well, we'd better get going.

Johanna: Okay, come on, I know the perfect jewelry store.

They head off soon they are in a beautiful store surrounded by diamonds. Ken looks at all the rings a tad over whelmed.

Ken: There are so many...

Johanna nods.

Johanna: I know.

Just then a sales person approaches them.

Sales person: May I help you?

Ken: Yes, I'm looking for an engagement ring for my girlfriend.

Sales person: Well then you've come to the right place. Do you know what you're looking for?

Ken: Well...

Johanna: Something simple yet elegant. Caitlin's never been into gaudy, showing things.

Ken nods

Ken: Good point. I want something beautiful and elegant but very delicate.

The sales person nods.

Sales person: Let me show you a few things.

Soon he returns with a selection of rings that Ken and Johanna start looking over.

Ken: Too big...

Johanna: Too small...

Ken: Too jagged...

Johanna: Too dull...

Ken: Too ordinary...

Finally something catches Ken's eye.

Ken: Can I see that right there?

He points to a ring in the case. The sales person brings it out. It is a small heart shaped diamond ring surrounded in 18k gold with little diamonds going all around the bigger one.

Johanna: Oh that's beautiful.

Ken: It's very stunning. It's...

He smiles

Ken: It's Caitlin.

Johanna nods.

Johanna: Very.

Ken holds up the ring.

Ken: This is the ring I'm going to give to my true love.


Ben walked back to Diane's room with a smile on his face. He carried with him the water he had gotten from the machine for Diane. In his pocket, was the gift in which he intended for Diane all along. It might not have been how he planned it out but he knew now that it was important and he needed to do it. He felt a grin sprawl over his face as he turned the door handle just in time to hear a man laugh. He walked into the room and saw J.T. sitting next to Diane's bedside with a new bouquet of flowers on the beside table. He looked from Diane to J.T. and back again, "What the hell is he doing here?"
"Ben, he's not here to fight," Diane reassured him motioning for Ben to take a seat on the other side of her bed.
"Relax bro," J.T. held his hands up in defense, "I'm still recovering from the last beating you gave me. I'm not here to cause any problems."
"What do you want?" Ben questioned taking a seat next to Diane's bed, keeping his eyes on J.T.
"Diane is my friend," J.T. sat forward in his chair, "I was checking to see how my friend was doing. Do you have a problem with that?"
"As a matter of fact I do." Ben glared at J.T., warning him of the dangers that laid ahead with his eyes.
"Ben, stop that!" Diane grasped his hand in hers, "I told you, he came to make peace with us. He doesn't want to fight you."
"Yeah, listen to Stevens here," J.T. nodded towards Diane, "she knows what she's talking about."
"Can I speak to you a second?" Ben got up and motioned for J.T. to follow him to the door. J.T. got up and made his way to the other side of the room with Ben and crossed his arms impatiently waiting for Ben to say what he was going to say, "Look you might have her fooled but you don't fool me."
"I have no idea what you are talking about," J.T. played off the innocent act, "You're overreacting."
"I'm sure," Ben rolled his eyes, "Look, I know your type. You think if you play the sweet caring friend that Diane is going to fall head over feet for you. But your wrong. We love each other too much."
"You're taking things too far Brett," J.T. rested a hand on his shoulder, "She's a good friend and that's all she'll ever be to me."
"First off it's Ben," Ben pushed J.T.'s hand off his shoulder, "And secondly, I'm not buying it. The innocent act doesn't soot you."
J.T. turned away from Ben and walked back over to Diane's bed, "Hey Stevens, I think I'm going to high-tail it out of here."
"You don't have to go," Diane frowned looking over at Ben, "It's seriously alright."
"No, I have some things to do today. But don't worry you'll see me again," J.T. leaned down and kissed Diane's forehead, "Take it easy."
"You too," Diane watched J.T. walk out of the room and turned her head to Ben, "What did you say to him?"
Ben gave a shrug, "I asked him where his attitude was coming from. I asked him why the sudden change of heart."
"Maybe he realized that he'd rather me a friend then nothing," Diane shook her head, "But you don't have to threaten him. You should trust me."
"I do trust you," Ben walked over to her bed and kissed her fingertips, "I just don't trust him."
"Well, trust my judgment alright?" Diane pleaded with him.
"I don't like the idea of this," Ben frowned as he ran a hand through her hair, "But I'll deal with it. Just for you. It has nothing to do with being nice to him."
"Thank you baby." Diane patted the empty spot on the bed, "Now lay with me for awhile. I want to feel you next to me."
Ben climbed into the bed next to her as she laid her head on his chest. She listened to his heartbeat and traced his stomach with her fingertips. As much as Ben wanted to believe Diane's judgment he knew that J.T. was a lot more then she was catching on to. He was going to find out what was going on with him whether Diane liked it or not. He needed to keep her safe and J.T. seemed like nothing but trouble.


Judy hung up the phone with Hart after hearing his latest reasoning for running behind in his agenda for the day.  Laughing lightly as she thought of Hart’s wild ways, she wondered how the man had any time to actually work on getting his way into the legal world, let alone through law school.  Still despite his various exploits he’d been a charmer and working for him and Ken had proved to be rather interesting over the years.  Of course interesting didn’t excuse the behavior when there was someone waiting to see Hart, but Judy would do her best to smooth over the situation.  It was her specialty after all.
Stepping into the outer part of the lobby, she located Hunt perusing the pages of some kind of brochure that he’d brought with him.  She cleared her throat to alert him to her presence and almost immediately he seemed to spring up from his seat setting the book aside.
“He’s still running behind,” Judy explained with a polite smile, “He said that he’s going to be at least another hour so if you want to go grab a bite to eat, then you should probably and go do that.  You have the time.”
“Thanks, I might just do that,” Hunt nodded in response getting up from his chair to leave when it suddenly dawned on Judy where she’d seen him before.
“I have met you,” Judy announced with a gasp.
“Excuse me,” he gave her a strange look.
“The other night.  You were at the bar--at the western place…” Judy continued as the memory returned to her in vivid color.  “You were the waiter and you brought my drink over.”
“Waiter,” he repeated with a simple shake of his head, “No, you must be mistaken.”
“No, I’m not,” she insisted firmly, “I was speaking with a woman and you brought us our drinks.  Surely you would remember her as she gave you a rather large tip.”
“No, I’m not a…” Hunt stopped himself when Judy’s face suddenly flashed into his mind.  He thought back to the encounter he’d had with her and Brooke and his jaw dropped in surprise.
“It was you,” Judy insisted noticing the way in which the color drained from her face, “You were the waiter the other night.”
“I um…” Hunt stammered a bit before trying to find a recovery, “Yes, I don’t like to talk about it, but I was filling in for a friend of mine.  He had the flu and well, he needed someone to take over his shift.”
“I didn’t realize that an interior designer needed to do that sort of thing as well,” Judy arched a speculative brow.
“The economy has it so that you have to do what you can to make ends meet,” he offered up quickly before forcing himself to look at his watch, “Would you look at that?  I think I’m going to go grab a bite to eat after all.”
“But…” Judy began watching hasty retreat with a confused expression.  While she’d realized that he did look familiar, there was also something very familiar about the way he’d reacted to her questioning.  The other night he’d had a similar expression on his face when Brooke had given him the money and shooed him away from her, but could there be anything more to it than meets the eye?
“Oh you’re just reeling from the loss you’re going through with Rick,” she reminded herself with a frown, “You’d find just about any reason to turn Brooke into a monster again even if it meant jumping to some stupid conclusions.”
Still, it didn’t sound like a half bad idea, she admitted to herself before vowing to give herself a break from the office before she overwhelmed herself with wild speculations.


Caitlin is straightening up her hotel room.

Caitlin: Well, since Ken is off doing some work I might as well check in with Russell.

She plops down in a chair by the phone and calls.

Russell: Hello?

Caitlin: Hey, Russ it's Caitlin!

Russell: Hey Caitlin I was just thinking about you. How's your Dad doing?

Caitlin: Oh, he's going to be just fine. He has a concussion, a broken nose, a dislocated shoulder, and cracked collar bone, but the doctor assured us he'll be fine. In fact we should all be heading home fairly soon.

Russell: That's great, I'm glad.

Caitlin: Yeah, it's such a relief. And you know he's in really good spirits too. He was cracking jokes about the accident and everything.

Russell: Well, tell him I hope he heals fast.

Caitlin: I will thanks. So, Daddy to be how are Avery and the baby?

Russell laughs.

Russell: They're great. Avery has finally stopped having morning sickness and the baby according to the doctor the baby is completely on target growth wise. Of course the baby has already started keeping Avery up at night with it's kicking, which means I get kept up too.

Caitlin laughs.

Caitlin: So, do you know if you're having a girl or boy?

Russell sighs.

Russell: No, not yet. Avery really wants to be surprised, but I'm just dying to know what we're having.

Caitlin smiles thinking back to last night.

Caitlin: Surprises can be wonderful Russ.

Russell laughs.

Russell: Now you sound like Avery.

Caitlin: So, do you want a boy or a girl.

Russell: The truth?

Caitlin laughs.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Russell: You cannot repeat what I'm about to say, okay?

Caitlin: Okay.

Russell: Not to anyone.

Caitlin laughs.

Caitlin: I promise. So what's the big secret?

Russell: I really want a girl.

Caitlin: Awww.

Russell: I know men are supposed to want sons to carry on the family name, and to play ball with. But honestly, I love the idea of having a Daddy's girl.

Caitlin smiles.

Caitlin: I think that's so sweet, and for the record I think you're going to be a great Dad.

Russell smiles.

Russell: Thanks, I sure hope so.

Caitlin: You will. So, I take it things are great between you and Avery?

Russell: Couldn't be better. I mean, the people causing us problems are still around, but we've just made a pact not to let them hurt us. We love each other and we aren't about to let anyone hurt us.

Caitlin: Good for you.

Russell: So, enough about me. How are things with you and Ken?

Caitlin smiles happily.

Caitlin: Wonderful. In fact this trip has turned into a very romantic get away, which if you ask me was just what the doctor ordered.

Russell: Hmm best emergency ever huh?

Caitlin laughs.

Caitlin: Something like that. But, you know, being together, away from Coral Valley has really been good for us. There are just so fewer problems and reminders of problems here that we've really been able to focus on us.

Russell: Maybe I should think about taking Avery away for a while.

Caitlin: It's definitely rejuvenating. At any rate Ken and I are closer then ever and I can honestly say I've never been in love like this before.

Russell: And does Ken feel the same?

Caitlin: As far as I can tell, yes. I really think he's the one Russ, I really think I'm going to grow old with him.

Russell: That's great, Caitlin. I'm happy for you.

Caitlin: Thanks. I'm happy for me too.

They both chuckle.

Caitlin: So, how are things at the paper?

Russell: Completely under control. Now you just enjoy your time with Ken, recover from all you've been through, and be happy. The paper will still be here when you're ready.

Caitlin: I know but I've already taken so much time off.

Russell: Caitlin, you were in the hospital in a coma, that's not taking time off! Now, as your boss I'm ordering you to forget the paper and enjoy yourself.

Caitlin laughs.

Caitlin: Yes, sir.

Russell: Listen, I need to go. But it was great talking to you.

Caitlin: It was great talking to you too, Russ. Please tell Avery I said hello.

Russell: Sure thing. Tell Ken I said hello, as well. Hey maybe when you guys get back the four of us can all go out or something.

Caitlin: That sounds nice. Have a great day.

Russell: You too. Bye.

Caitlin: Bye.

Caitlin hangs up smiling and shakes her head.

Caitlin: Nothing like working for your friend.


“Brant I’ve already told you time and time again,” Avery started to argue with him, “whatever it is that you think you see happening between us just isn’t going to happen.  What you pulled at your house the other day was completely inexcusable.”
“Oh please,” he rolled his eyes at her, “You can’t tell me that you didn’t feel it too.  You kissed me too, remember?”
“You assaulted my with your lips and I was trying to break away,” Avery huffed rising up from her seat, “and if you continue to make this into something more than it is, I swear I’m going to quit Brant.”
“You won’t quit,” he couldn’t help but laugh at the anger burning behind her eyes.  “You don’t have it in you.”
“Tell me why is it the moment that I start to think that you’re actually going to start behaving like a decent human being, you go back to this again,” she demanded folding her arms in front of her chest, “I mean honestly Brant how much rejection can one man take before he finally gets a clue?”
“Oh I have a clue Avery, but you’re the one who is absolutely clueless.  You keep telling yourself that you don’t want me, but I can see that you do.”
“Gee and how would that be?  By my blatant refusals or by my outright telling you to leave me the hell alone,” she snapped back at him, “Brant, while I realize these types of phrases might come across as some kind of hidden innuendos to you, they aren’t meant to be.  I’m married and not interested.”
“You keep throwing around that married issue like that’s supposed to mean something,” he arched a daring brow before making another step towards her desk, “You know you almost married me not so long ago.”
“It wouldn’t have come to that,” she shook her head in refusal to give him the satisfaction of her admitting he was right.
“Sure it would’ve.  If Russell hadn’t charged in and kidnapped you like he did, then we’d be on our honeymoon right now enjoying one another in every way imaginable,” Brant declared refusing to let the conversation fall apart again.
“Brant, you can’t think like that.  The truth to the matter is that I love my husband and you need to learn to accept that,” Avery informed him bluntly, “That isn’t going to change.”
“That’s because you find it much easier to hide behind Russ and what he represents for you.  He’s security and a life where you don’t have to go out on a limb and really force yourself to take a risk.  You know what to expect from him which is why being with him is so damn easy for you.”
“No Brant, it’s because he’s the man I was meant to spend my life with.  We have a history that you wouldn’t even begin to understand and beyond that, we’re about to have a baby with one another,” Avery informed him sharply, “that in itself should warn you to back off.”
“Avery, we both know that I would do everything in my power to give you and the baby a good life if you’d just let me,” he reached out to her watching as she took a step back.
“Brant just stop.  This isn’t helping anything.  The only thing it’s doing is making you look obsessed and a bit crazy,” Avery informed him bluntly, “and I know that’s not what you want.”
“What I want is to be with you Avery and at one time you wanted to share that with me as well,” he reminded her watching the tortured expression on her face, “Even now you can’t tell me that you don’t think about what it would’ve been like if we would’ve wound up with one another.”
“Brant, I don’t know what it is about me that you think you need in your life, but I can assure you I’m not who you think I am.  I’m not the woman you were meant to spent your life with,” she offered up poignantly, “It just doesn’t work that way.”
“Why not?” he questioned his voice full of determination.
“Because it just doesn’t Brant.  We can’t just pick up and rearrange our lives to fit this picture perfect portrait of what you feel if should be,” she informed him with a groan, before a frown touched over her lips, “Brant, why me?  I mean honestly.”
“Why not you?” he offered up with a simple shrug of his shoulders while taking a step towards her.
“Have you not been listening to a word I’ve been saying here?” she questioned with an exaggerated groan, “I’m not the woman for you.”
“You only keep saying that because you’re trying to convince yourself, but deep down you know that there is something between us.  You just chose to ignore it when you married Russell because you knew if you faced what we have with one another, you might surprise yourself.  You might actually be able to free yourself from all the limitations you’ve put upon yourself.”
“I haven’t limited myself in anyway, but you know you’re right about one thing,” she took a step forward, “I haven’t truly embraced what it is you bring to my life, but I’m starting to understand.”
“I knew you’d see it my way,” he couldn’t help but smile at her feeling an impending victory in the air surrounding them.
“Oh I do Brant and that’s why, I quit,” Avery declared with a huff before stepping past him with a bold, stomping movement.
“Oh no you don’t,” he reached out to her curling his arm around her waist and pulling her in towards him with a swift movement.
“Brant, this is exactly why I quit,” she gasped his name, feeling her body rock straight into his as he held her.
“I’m not about to let the greatest thing that’s ever walked into my life get away.  Not without a fight,” he informed her boldly claiming her lips in a demanding kiss knowing that sooner or later Avery would have to own up to her true feelings about him.  He felt her palm press into his chest fighting the way his kiss had reached out to her, but within a matter of seconds, she too was absorbed in the moment, reciprocating the blinding intensity of the fire burning between them.  The world seemed to disappear as all that mattered was the moment--the heat behind the kiss until a rumbling sound ripped through the moment.
“My isn’t this interesting,” a gruff voice spoke out over the both of them sending Avery jolting right out of Brant’s arms to fully face the unexpected arrival.  There before her looking far more curious than ever stood Kyle with a heavy look of scrutiny over his features as he continued to address her, “Care to explain this one Avery because I‘m damn sure I‘d love to hear all about it.”

...to be continued...