Diane let out a loud sigh and shifted impatiently in her hospital bed.
She glanced at the clock on the wall then back to the door. Ben had
said he'd needed to do something and that he'd be back, but that was
over a half hour ago. She let out another sigh and crossed her arms.
"Where in the world is that Ben Walters?"
"Growing impatient already?" Ben chuckled opening the hospital door
with his coat draped over his arm.
Diane watched him curiously and nodded as he kicked the door shut and
advanced towards her. He leaned over and placed a kiss gently on her
forehead as she noticed he was hiding a grocery bag under his coat,
"What do you have there?" Diane questioned poking at the bag.
"Hey!" he smiled pulling the bag away from her grasp, "It's a surprise.
You'll see what it is in a bit."
"I don't want to see it in a bit. I want to see it now." Diane grabbed
his hand and nuzzled her cheek against it, "Please Ben?"
"Do you have to do that?" Ben asked pulling up a chair and sitting
right next to her bedside, "Do you have to use the affection to get
what you want?"
She smirked and nodded, "Of course I do. It wouldn't be me if I didn't.
So what's in the bag?"
"Ahh, you're impatience is killing me," Ben let out a laugh and set his
"And the suspense is killing me. What's in the bag?" she poked at him
"Fine, I'll show you." he reached inside the bag and pulled out a white
box handing it to her.
Diane raised an eyebrow eyeing the box as she took it from his hand.
She lifted the lid and let out a gasp. "Ben! You shouldn't have!"
"Well, I know that it's something you always want." Ben shrugged
running a hand through her hair, "So I got them."
"White chocolate covered Oreos!" Diane gave out a slight shriek, "These
are my favorite!"
Ben laughed as he watched her eyes glow with excitement, "I know they
are. I remembered and I thought you'd appreciate them more then the
nasty stuff they call food here in the hospital."
"Oh, you are my hero," Diane chuckled as she picked up one of the
cookies and shoved it into her mouth, "Mmm these are so good."
"Well, I'm glad you are enjoying them," he watched as she shoveled
another cookie into her mouth, "You might want to slow down and take
some time to breathe too."
Diane laughed setting the box down on the bedside table, "Sorry."
Ben smiled bringing her hand to his lips kissing it, "It's alright.
It's cute when you get excited. I love watching you when you when
you're eating something you like."
She shrugged and sat up more in her bed. She glanced at him and raised
an eyebrow, "Well?"
"Well what?" he questioned leaning against her bed.
"I saw that you had a bigger bag mister. You have something else. What
is it?" she questioned him, "I saw you had more stuff."
"Wow are you impatient," Ben laughed once more reaching for the brown
"You already knew this."
"I know I did." he reached inside and grabbed the video tape and handed
it to her.
"What's this?" she asked eyeing the tape then staring back at him.
"Well, I thought that it would cheer you up so I recorded something for
you." he took the tape from her hands and walked over to the television
putting the tape in.
Diane raised an eyebrow as she watched him and pressed play. She
watched the end of a commercial and felt a huge smile cross her face as
she saw the cartoon come on. "You brought me Scooby Doo cartoons!"
"They always cheered me up when I was sick as a kid so I thought it
might help you." Ben ran a hand through his hair as he watched her.
"You are so sweet." Diane couldn't wipe the smile off of her face.
"I try to be." Ben adjusted the volume on the television and looked
over at her, "I love to make you happy."
"And you do it really well." She confirmed as she glanced over at the
television and back to Ben. "I love you so much."
"I love you too."
"Come here," Diane motioned him over as she shifted her body, making
room for him to lay down with her.
Ben walked back over to the bed and laid down next to her. She wrapped
her arm around his stomach and rested her head on his chest. She
listened to the sound of his heart beating and felt the vibration of
his breathing. She let out a sigh of happiness as she knew there was no
other place for her, then in Ben's arms.
“Who the hell are you,” Brant demanded watching Avery grow rigid in her
stand upon discovering the angry looking man before her. Taking a
step forward, Brant moved in beside Avery protectively. “Look, I
don’t know who you think you are, but you have no business being here
buddy so why don’t you just…”
“You shut up,” Kyle snarled at Brant before turning to Avery again,
“You start talking.”
“The hell I will. I don’t know who you think you are, but this is
my company and if you don‘t leave right this instant I‘ll…” Brant
started with an angry glare taking a step towards the six foot four
mass of muscle before him.
“You’ll what?” Kyle arched a curious brow before offering up a wicked
sneer, “What could someone like you quite possibly do to someone like
“I’ll have security throw you out,” Brant answered sharply.
“Go ahead and try Spanky, but for now I believe I was speaking with
her, not you,” Kyle focused on Avery once again, “and I’m still waiting
for that answer.”
“Kyle, this isn’t what it…” Avery brought her hand up to her mouth in a
feeble attempt to wipe away the traces of Brant’s kiss upon her.
“What it looks like?” Kyle arched a doubtful brow, “Then am I not to
assume that you two were in a lip lock when I walked in here just now?”
“Look buddy, it’s not any of your business what we were or weren’t
doing just now…” Brant started making a bold move towards Kyle only to
have Kyle shove him in the chest, pushing Brant away from Avery.
“Pipe down Spanky,” Kyle growled again keeping his gaze fixed upon
Avery before he waved his finger between Avery and himself, “We need to
talk like starting now.”
“That’s it, I’m not going to be polite any longer,” Brant announced
clearly shaken by the fact that Kyle had practically flung him across
the room, “I’m calling security.”
“Yeah go ahead and do that Brant so that I can tell the world exactly
what I saw going on in here,” Kyle continued his dark eyes throwing a
menacing look in Avery’s general direction. She shivered at the
intensity of how he was watching her and in that moment, she turned to
“Brant don’t,” Avery pleaded with him desperately.
“But I thought that…” Brant offered up a confused expression.
“I can take care of this,” Avery insisted clearing her throat
uneasily. She adjusted her jacket feeling the weight of Kyle’s
gaze upon her as Brant stood frozen in the moment confused by her
words. “Kyle is an old family friend and we’ll be just fine.”
“But…” Brant started up once again.
“Just give us a few minutes,” she threw out a pleading look, “Brant
“Fine, but I’ll be just outside ready to call security if the need
arises,” Brant marched over towards Kyle throwing out a long, seething
look before Kyle sneered at him once again causing Brant to speed up
his stride in his exit.
Once Kyle and Avery were alone, Kyle eyed her intently, folding his
arms in front of his chest impatiently, “Well?”
“Well what,” she replied with a huff while trying to control the rapid
pounding of her heart in her chest.
“Are you going to start talking or am I going to have to call Russ and
inform him of what I just walked in on?” he questioned with a somber
“It wasn’t what you think it was,” Avery offered up in her own defense.
“Then enlighten me Avery,” Kyle plopped down into one of the chairs in
front of her desk. Folding his hands in his lap in a mocking
gesture, he threw out a sarcastic smile before making a nodding
movement for her to do the same in taking a seat as well, “because
right about now I have all the time in the world to hear you out.”
“I don’t owe you any explanations Kyle,” Avery shot back at him with a
glare, “and if you think coming in here like that throwing your weight
around makes me intimidated in the slightest bit, then you’re wrong
because that’s not happening.”
“Fine, then let me tell you how it’s going to be,” Kyle sat up
straighter pulling his cell phone out of his pocket, “you start talking
now or else I’ll have Russ on the phone faster than you can blink
informing him that everything Grady ever said about you was dead
on. So, what do you say Avery, are you going to talk or keep
being stubborn? It’s your choice and quite frankly, I’m up for it
to go either way after the morning I’ve had, so what will it be?”
Russ peered around his office trying to make sense of the things he’d
set aside earlier in the week to piece together something for the next
big thing at the newspaper. With Caitlin out of town it put the
feature on the Henderson’s plight against Midlands behind far more than
he’d cared to admit to. Still he needed something big--something
newsworthy to really get the presses rolling again. However along
with trying to create something great and exciting, he also was hitting
that proverbial brick wall so to speak.
With a frown Russ reached for the foam basketball that he’d had tucked
away inside his top desk drawer for such occasions when inspiration had
left him high and dry. Reaching out with his foot for his waste
basket, he emptied the few papers that were in it before kicking it
across the floor for his impromptu game of ball he’d decided to
initiate. Tossing the ball into the basket, he made a quick score
and let out a tiny cheer of victory.
“Yes,” he praised himself raising his hands in the air enthusiastically.
“I can see you’re working hard,” Mindy’s voice broke through the moment
causing him to sit up straighter in his chair in an attempt to regain
some of the professional air he’d tried to keep about him on most
“Don’t you ever knock,” Russ frowned up at her.
“I did, but you were too busy pretending to be Rip Hamilton to notice
that anyone else was in the room,” Mindy confessed with a hint of
laughter, “It was a nice shot though.”
“That’s all the enthusiasm you have for what I just did there,” Russ
played along with her, “I would’ve thought you’d chip in and volunteer
to be my personal cheerleading squad after that toss.”
“Gee and to think I almost brought my pompoms with me from my desk when
I decided to drop in,” she snapped her fingers together, “What was I
“Okay smart ass, what’s on your mind since it’s obviously not to
inflate my ego,” Russ turned in his chair to give her his full
“Well as much as I’d like to sit here and give you a few pointers on
playing the game, this just arrived for you,” she explained handing him
an oversized envelope.
“Gee and to think you took all the effort to bring me this without
bringing your pompoms along,” he shook his head at her before taking
the package from her fingers, “I think you’re slipping there Mindy.”
“I’ll try to make a mental note not to let it happen again,” Mindy half
rolled her eyes in response before motioning to the envelope she’d
handed him, “So what’s the mystery?”
“What do you mean?” he questioned looking to the envelope in hand for
the first time since he’d reached for it.
“No postmark--no return address and with that funny penmanship with
only your name on the front of it,” Mindy wiggled her brow, “It looks
“Indeed it does,” he couldn’t help but agree with her, “when did this
“Just a few minutes ago,” Mindy admitted with a simple shrug of her
shoulders, “I was in the ladies room and then when I returned it was on
top of my desk. At first I’d thought that it must’ve came with
the rest of the mail, but then with the strange markings, well I
figured it must be something really important or very mysterious.”
“I can’t really argue that,” he replied wondering what the envelope
contained. The weight of it seemed heavier than the usual
manuscript that was sent his way or any other newsworthy moment, yet
something about this particular package was quite different as Mindy
had put it in her own special way.
“So are you going to open it,” she questioned motioning to the envelope
“Eventually,” he decided with a simple shrug of his shoulders setting
the envelope down on his desktop.
“No, you should open it now,” Mindy urged him on reaching for the
envelope and handing it to him once again, “I just have a feeling that
whatever is inside is something that can’t wait.”
“And what gives you that vibe?” he asked watching her life the envelope
from his desk.
“Call it intuition. I think whatever is in there is something
big--very big,” Mindy added handing it over to him once again, “And I
don’t think it can wait.”
“In that case, why don’t we just end the suspense right now,” he
decided tearing into the envelope ready to discover what latest find
had made it’s way across his desktop.
Gabe sat on the balcony of his hotel room gazing out at the world below
on this otherwise uneventful day in Coral Valley. There was just
something to be said about the fresh air and the feeling that all was
content for the time being. Hearing the soft rumble of footsteps
from behind him, Gabe couldn’t help but smile. Knowing full well
of his lover’s arrival, he closed his eyes to take in the soft, musky
scent of the man behind him.
“I was wondering if you were going to get up and enjoy the day with
me,” Gabe couldn’t help but tease feeling Guy’s arms wrap around his
shoulders. Leaning in to place a kiss on the top of Gabe’s head,
Guy hugged his lover closer to him.
“And miss out a day like this with you,” Guy mouthed in a low, sensual
tone, “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good, then have a seat,” Gabe opened his eyes watching with heavy
admiration as Guy walked around the small table to take a seat across
from him. Gabe couldn‘t help but smile again when his eyes fell
upon Guy‘s mussed dark hair. He spoke up again raising an
interested brow, “Sleep well?”
“Like heaven,” Guy nodded in confession reaching out for the cup of
coffee his lover had already taken the liberty of pouring for him, “I
almost contemplated whether or not I should risk such a wonderful
feeling by stepping out of bed.”
“I thought so,” Gabe offered up with a hint of laughter, “I knew you’d
enjoy that extra time to sleep.”
“It wasn’t so much the sleep,” Guy reached for Gabe’s hand across the
table top, “but more so the company I was keeping last night.”
“Hmm, he must’ve been something special indeed,” Gabe offered up a
“He’s my dream come true and then some,” Guy admitted with a lazy
expression. Leaning in over the table, he squeezed Gabe’s hand
again, “I hope he just realizes that.”
“He does,” Gabe nodded in understanding, “More than you know.”
“I’m just so very thankful that you haven’t given up on me yet, because
heaven knows you could’ve easily discarded me long before now,” Guy
sighed brushing his index finger against Gabe’s palm.
“I could’ve, but then it would be truly the end of us both considering
that my heart is with you,” Gabe confessed squeezing Guy’s hand in his,
“I do love you so very much.”
“And I you,” Guy smiled back at him, “so much so that I’ve decided I’m
not going to chance things any further. I’m going to tell my
mother the truth about us.”
“You what,” Gabe’s eyes widened in surprise.
“I’m going to tell her,” Guy informed him simply, “I owe her that much
and you deserve more than what I’ve been giving you. There
shouldn’t be a black cloud hanging over our heads like this--especially
not when our love is nothing to be ashamed of. I think that I‘ve
skirted around the issue long enough and I‘m ready to stop hiding from
who I am.”
“But that’s such a bold move Guy,” Gabe brushed his hand over Guy’s
gingerly, “Are you sure you’re ready for that?”
“I should’ve done this months ago,” Guy nodded in confession, “To have
lied about things this long has only made our situation worse. I
know now that I can’t live in this fantasy world that my mother has
created for me. I’ve only hurt people in pretending and…”
“And I think it’s wonderful that you’ve finally decided you’re ready
for this,” Gabe held his hand supportively, “I’ll be there with you
each and every step of the way and if you need me there when you tell
“No, I have to be able to do this on my own,” Guy shook his head, “This
is something that I need to face on my own and I think I’m ready for
“You have no idea how proud of you I am for this decision you’re
making,” Gabe smiled brightly, feeling as if an incredible weight had
been lifted off of his shoulders, “So when are you going to tell her?”
“Honestly, I hadn’t planned that far ahead in the details, but given
the morning I’m having, perhaps today would be the day to start my life
as it should be,” Guy suggested, his voice full of growing optimism.
“Today,” Gabe repeated thinking about the upcoming party Brooke was
hosting for her company. Suddenly Marc’s threats came back to him
in vivid color, sending a crashing feeling down upon him, “You know
maybe that isn’t such a good idea…”
“Why not,” Guy questioned in confusion, “I thought this was what we
“It is, but with your mother’s party coming up,” Gabe felt the first
twinge of guilt eating away at him, “well, I wouldn’t want anything to
spoil what she has planned for Beholder’s future.”
“I don’t see how this could spoil her party. Yes, she might be
upset but…” Guy offered up with a frown.
“She’s planning a big merger for her latest campaign and I’m certain if
you go public with what we have right now, it might skew her partner’s
decision to step forward with their plans,” Gabe admitted recalling the
smugness that Marc had carried with him during their encounter at the
“I highly doubt that my sexuality would influence his decision to work
with my mother,” Guy paused taking note of the expression on Gabe’s
features, “unless of course you know something that I don’t.”
“I know Marc Ashley,” Gabe divulged feeling another rush of guilt surge
over him, “and I’m quite certain if you tell your mother that we’re
together, he will back out of the deal he’s making with her.
There is no doubt in my mind about that.”
“But I don’t see why. I can’t imagine how my sexuality would be a
thing to…” Guy paused feeling a frown tug at the corners of his mouth,
“This is because of my mother trying to push his horrible daughter
Cathy upon me, isn’t it?”
“No Guy it’s…” Gabe started to explain his reasoning.
“It is. It’s because of my mum trying to intervene that I could
end up costing her all she’s worked so very hard for,” panic swept over
Guy’s features, “why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
“Guy, I don’t think…” Gabe reached for his hand.
“No, you’re right,” Guy insisted poignantly, “given the way Cathy has
been with me, it would spell disaster for us….especially if Marc is as
prejudiced as you make him appear to be. Maybe this should wait.”
Gabe opened his mouth ready to tell all to his lover about the man from
his past, but in that instant he found himself frozen in the
moment. His life with Marc had been torturous, passionate and
ultimately had been the key to his undoing. After Gabe had burned
Noelle with his affair, he’d vowed never to look back--to never speak
of the time when he’d hit his lowest, yet it was all coming back to
haunt him--coming to the surface in ways he’d hoped to avoid for the
rest of his days.
“Gabe, is something wrong,” Guy questioned taking note of his lover’s
silence, “I mean I know that I promised you that I would tell my Mum,
“No, it’s not you,” Gabe shook his head poignantly, “Guy it’s just
“Yes,” Guy reached out for Gabe’s hand again offering up a supportive
squeeze, “you know you can tell me anything by now, don’t you?”
“I realize that, but some things are just far more difficult than
others,” Gabe began again ready to reveal all when the ringing of Guy’s
cell phone beckoned the both of them out of their moment of truth
“Gabe, I promise you whatever it is…” Guy started hoping to reach out
to his lover as the phone’s invasive ringing continued. He
frowned as he fished it out from his pants pocket. Taking a long
look at the number, he offered up an apologetic expression, “It’s Mum.”
“Then you have to take it,” Gabe waved him one watching while Guy
answered the phone. As Gabe’s eyes continued to trail over his
lover, he wondered how he could even start opening up about the man who
had taken his heart and used it against him time and time again.
There appeared to be no easy way to make this talk happen between them,
but as Guy hung up his phone, it was apparent by the look on his face
that fate wasn’t going to give Gabe the time to explain to his lover.
“She needs me down at her offices,” Guy informed him with a heavy sigh,
“It appears that one of our shipments didn’t show up in Paris and…”
“Say no more,” Gabe waved his hand at him in understanding, “Go be with
her and fix this situation.”
“I’d rather be here with you,” Guy reached out to him again, “something
tells me you had something important to say.”
“It can wait, but promise me that later we’ll take the time to talk
about things,” Gabe laced their fingers together, taking a moment to
savor the bond between them.
“I promise,” Guy nodded in confession leaning over the table to give
Gabe a quick kiss while Gabe prayed that his past wouldn’t destroy the
one good thing he had going for him in his life.
Brant paced around outside Avery’s door wanting more than anything to
get a good listen to what was happening inside her office. Sure,
he hadn’t wanted to leave her alone with that muscle bound hothead, but
he wasn’t about to argue with her either if that was what she truly
wanted. Still, he was ready to put security on alert and get the
man out if need be. Leaning in closer to the door, Brant fought
the urge to press his ear against it when he felt a quick tap on his
“I was hoping I’d find you around here,” Michael’s voice brought Brant
to a jump start, spinning around to face him with a gasp.
“What are you thinking in sneaking up on people like that,” Brant
grumbled in response trying to keep from allowing the rapid pulse
racing in his throat from turning him into a ball of nerves.
“I just saw you standing there and figured that you weren’t busy,”
Michael paused searching his boss’s features, “unless of course you are
“Somewhat,” Brant stepped away from the door, hating to make such a
move, but still he needed to cover up for what he’d almost been caught
doing, “but if you need to talk.”
“Well it’s kind of important,” Michael admitted with a frown, “It’s
about that matter we’d been discussing before.”
“I see,” Brant nodded with complete understanding. He turned his
attention to Avery’s door once again before eyeing Michael intently,
“Has something changed?”
“Actually here,” Michael paused before extending his arm out to offer
Brant the first glimpse of the medical journal he’d been perusing
“What is this,” Brant questioned gruffly pulling the magazine in closer
to him only to glance at the headline. His less than chipper mood
sank a few levels when he read the words before him. Quickly
glancing up over at Michael once again, he lowered his voice, “Where
did you get this?”
“It came in the mail sometime last week,” Michael admitted with a sigh,
“I just got around to reading it, but if there’s any validity in that
article, then the rumors I’ve been hearing about Stone’s jump start on
us is obviously…”
“Ridiculous,” Brant slammed the medical journal shut before offering it
over to Michael once again, “I don’t buy it for a second. My
guess is he’s just blowing up some media smoke here to get me worked
“I’d have to say it’s a great media approach there if he’s bluffing,”
Michael couldn’t help but admit.
“Even so, it’s not happening,” Brant vowed solemnly, “We’re going to
beat him to the punch and then when we do, the only place Cameron Stone
and his company will be going is under. That much I can promise
“First of all I don’t know where you get off coming in here to my
office and threatening me Kyle,” Avery snapped back at him, having had
enough of his words as she took a bold step towards him, “You don’t
have the first clue what it is that you walked in on. Quite
frankly, the fact to the matter is that regardless of what I’m going to
tell you was going on, you’ll perceive it in your own sick and twisted
fashion. You’ve already made that apparently obvious.”
“Yeah, you’re right I’ll say it’s pretty sick and twisted,” he nodded
in agreement rising up from his chair, “I come over here to speak with
you and here you are in a lip lock with Brant Ashford. Correct me
if I’m wrong Avery, but isn’t that what started the problems with you
and Bruce to begin with? Your inability to stay away from Brant?”
“You bastard,” Avery lashed out at him unable to control her anger a
moment longer. She threw her hand out in a loud, resounding slap
across his face. She watched in silence as he remained still
making no reaction to her violent blow. Taking in a breath, she
moved back a step watching him crack his neck and shoulders before his
dark gaze narrowed in on her.
“Are you finished yet,” he questioned in a plain tone.
“I haven’t even started with you Kyle Houston,” Avery’s voice rose with
anger, “Don’t you dare come in here and start making wild accusations
about me or about my life when you don’t know the first thing about it.”
“I know that you’re Russell’s wife and the last time I checked never
once in the until death do us part stuff did it include the right to
kiss another man who isn’t your husband,” Kyle reminded her sharply,
wincing slightly at the slow pain building up in his cheek where she’d
“Yeah, well if you would’ve walked in a few seconds earlier you
would’ve seen what really happened,” Avery circled around towards her
desk, “Brant kissed me.”
“And you looked like you were putting up quite a fight,” he rolled his
eyes with heavy sarcasm.
“I didn’t get much of a chance to do that when you walked in, now did
I,” Avery glared up at him before plopping down into her chair, “For
your information I didn’t ask for that, nor did I have any intentions
of keeping it going when you arrived. I was dealing with it.”
“Yeah that shows,” he rolled his eyes again.
“Look Kyle, you haven’t been around in what? Three years?
How the hell would you know anything about anything when it gets down
to it,” Avery hissed in response.
“I know that your husband loves you and it would break his heart if he
would’ve been the one that walked in instead of me,” Kyle informed her
bluntly, “He’s spent his entire life loving you and this is what he
“Stop right there,” Avery warned sharply, “Don’t you even go there in
trying to say that I’m doing something to hurt Russ. I love him
with everything that I am and what you saw before, well it wasn’t what
“Yes I know…what I thought it was,” he rolled his eyes for the third
time, “Avery, you wouldn’t believe how many cheating spouses I hear
that one out of.”
“I could care less because that’s irrelevant to what’s going on here,”
Avery insisted with a frown, “Yes, I’ll admit that Brant might have a
thing for me…”
“A thing,” he repeated with a tiny laugh, “Oh Avery I think that goes
well beyond a thing.”
“Even so, I’m dealing with it. I’ve made it clear that I love
Russ and I’m not seeking out anything from Brant beyond
friendship. I can’t help it if he’s taking a while to get a clue
about that,” Avery continued frantically feeling another bout of
tension rising over her body, “When you walked in here, Brant pulled me
off guard and I didn’t have time to compose myself--let alone be
prepared for your inquisition.”
“So what then? Is this a daily thing around here,” Kyle
questioned gruffly, “A little lovin’ at home and then a little of this
on the side.”
“Damn it Kyle,” Avery snapped back, “I’m not cheating on Russ. I
haven’t done anything even remotely close to that. I’m not about
to apologize for something that you’d like to think I’m doing.”
“That kiss appeared to be pretty heavy Avery,” Kyle insisted with a
doubtful expression, “it kind of reminds me of another time when I saw
you kissing someone who wasn’t Russ.”
“Shut up,” Avery screeched back at him, “Just shut up Kyle. I
don’t want to hear it.”
“Well maybe it’s time that you should,” Kyle began to approach her,
“because it’s obvious someone needs to clue you in on where your
priorities should be at a time like this.”
“I know where my priorities should be,” she argued with him, “I mean my
god I have a madman serial killer after me, a lunatic is trying to
destroy my family, my career is falling to pieces because my boss
doesn’t get a clue and then I have you here lecturing me on what you
perceive me doing to destroy my marriage. To be quite honest with
you Kyle I need this like I need another hole in my head.”
“Even so…” he began again.
“Even so nothing,” she interrupted sharply rising up from her chair,
“I’m doing the best that I can and if you want to go ahead and turn
this into something that it isn’t, then fine. Feel free to tell
Russ what you saw, but I’ll tell you right now that all it’s going to
do is upset him. He’ll be furious with Brant because this isn’t
the first time Brant’s gone out on a limb and tried something
stupid. Then when I have to explain to my baby down the road why
his or her father is in jail for killing Brant, I’ll just tell them
that Uncle Kyle is to thank.”
“Don’t you dare try turning this around on me Avery,” Kyle frowned at
“Then don’t you walk in here and try to turn my life into your latest
disaster in the making,” Avery warned him sharply, “I’m not cheating on
Russ, nor do I have any intentions of ever cheating on him. He is
my husband and I’ve waited a long time to be with him and not you, nor
Brant, nor Grady or anyone else is going to change that for us.
Do you hear me?”
Kyle remained silent for a long moment before finally nodding, “Yeah, I
“Good,” Avery placed her hands on her hips, “now get the hell out of my
office so that I can get some work done.”
“But…” Kyle started once again.
“But nothing. You’ve already caused enough of a stir around
here. The last thing I need is your sticking around and giving
Brant even more reason to get rid of me,” Avery insisted with a huff.
“Hey, if the guy can’t keep his paws off of you, I think it’s time to
start looking for a new job,” Kyle added matter of fact.
“I appreciate your concern, but this is my career Kyle. It’s not
that simple,” Avery informed him bluntly.
“Even so, you have to ask yourself if working for that man is worth
risking your marriage,” Kyle offered up with another frown.
“Is that a threat Kyle?” she questioned with an arched brow.
“No, it’s a piece of advice,” Kyle’s tone softened with the moment,
“I’ve seen men like that and I know their kind. They don’t stop
until they get what they want. This guy has made it very obvious
that he wants you and he’s not about to put an end to that.”
“This guy you’re talking about is my boss and a friend,” Avery added
quickly, “He’s been through some very rough times lately and I think
the stress is finally getting to him.”
“So much so that he’s taken to making out with you during office
hours,” Kyle half questioned before pulling the photograph he’d swiped
at the police station out of his pocket, “Tell me something. How
long has this really been going on?”
Avery’s gaze dropped down to the image before her and she felt a tiny
shiver race over her skin. Turning her eyes up to meet Kyle’s
deep, penetrating stare once again, she let out a slow and even breath,
“Russ knows about that, if that’s what you’re hinting at.”
“Does he now?” Kyle questioned curiously.
She nodded again, “Kyle, you might think you’re on to something, but
you’re not. This is old news and if you came here today to
confront me on that one, you’re going to have to try better than that.”
“How about we start with what I just walked in on,” Kyle suggested
curiously, “Even if you have no intentions of reciprocating that man’s
feelings, the fact remains that he has them for you Avery.”
“I’m working on that, but right now there are more important things for
me to tackle than dealing with Brant’s refusal to let go of his
obsession with me,” Avery answered shakily, “You wouldn’t understand
what’s been going on, nor would I expect you to considering…”
“Then make me understand,” Kyle urged her once again, “Make me see what
I’m missing here.”
“Sometimes the answers aren’t nearly as complicated as you’re making
them out to be,” Avery sighed heavily, “Can’t you just take me on my
word when I tell you that there is nothing in this world that means
more to me than my family? I love Russ more than anything in this
world and after all the heartbreak we’ve gone through, I would never,
ever jeopardize it. Not even for my career, but right now I don‘t
have a choice in the matter!”
“Fine,” Kyle took a step back softening his tone as he saw the first
sign of tears glistening behind her eyes, “but promise me if that guy
tries something again, you’ll give him a swift kick in the groin for
“If Brant tries something again, then he’s going to wish that was all I
did to him,” Avery confessed in a low, broken tone, “because right
about now I’m honestly at my wit’s end and I pity the idiot who dares
to cross me knowing that.”
Ben watched the television in silence as the next episode of Scooby Doo
came on. He glanced down at Diane and grinned. She had fallen asleep
after three episodes but he didn't mind it. He ran his hand through her
hair as he watched her chest rise and fall slowly. Her mouth was open
partially he noticed as he ran a hand down her cheek. She looked so
peaceful he couldn't bare to wake her up. "Diane, I love you so much.
As soon as this is all over, I promise you we are going to live our
lives happily. I won't let anyone hurt you ever again."
Diane let out a sigh in her sleep and clung on to Ben tighter. He
smiled and leaned down to kiss her forehead. He watched as she smiled
in her sleep. She seemed to be having a good dream or maybe she felt
him, he thought. He thought about all that they went through,
everything that happened since the day he met her and he couldn't help
but love her as much as he'd grown to do so. "Ahh, Diane. We deserve to
be happy. We have gotten so far for things to get in our way now."
He recalled how Diane had tried to pursue him constantly when he first
met her and how he had tried so hard to not get close to her. He gave
out a light chuckle as he recalled all the things she'd done for his
attention. Diane Stevens the pest had grown to be Diane Stevens, one of
his only weaknesses. The girl that made his heart do crazy flips in his
chest whenever he was around her. The girl that had made him realize
that the happiness he had with her was the only happiness he ever truly
wanted. As she was the only girl that he wanted to share it with.
Images of Diane flashed through his head like an old picture show. He
imagined them in the future, happy with not a care in the world. His
mind took him to a new place, a new setting. He imagined Diane walking
down an aisle, with roses surrounding the place. He saw the white
flowing gown and the look of happiness in her eyes as she walked down
the aisle towards him.
His smile grew even broader when images of him and Diane at a park
flashed through his mind. He imagined a young boy rushing over to them
and hugging them both. He opened his eyes and gazed down at Diane once
more. She was the one he needed to be with for eternity. "Someday
Diane. Someday we'll have a family and grow old together. We'll be so
happy nothing will be able to get in our way. Someday, we will have
“That’s right. I’ll see to it that we have someone there to cover
the latest round of advertisements ASAP. Oh not a problem.
It was my pleasure,” Russell finished with his phone
conversation. Hanging up the phone, he sank back into his chair
letting out a breath of relief that he’d managed to get on top of one
crisis for the day. He’s certainly had his fair share of things
to keep working at on the paper and now that he’d gotten one thing out
of the way, he was one step closer to relaxing. Sure, he only had
about a million more things to do, but it was a start.
“So now, where was I,” Russell questioned to himself searching the
contents of his desk for a brief moment. Catching a glimpse of
the mysterious package he’d half opened before the phone call came in,
he reached for it again with a tiny chuckle, “We’ll just see if Mindy
was really onto something here with her intuition.”
With that thought in mind, Russell tore into the envelope finally ready
to see what was waiting for him. However, he heard a knocking on
his door alerting him that Mindy had come back again for another great
return. Looking up from the package, he waved her into his office
with a knowing grin.
“Coming in to scope out all the action taking place here,” Russ teased
with a tiny laugh.
“You still haven’t opened that damn thing,” Mindy motioned to the
envelop in his hand, “What’s taken so long?”
“It’s called work,” Russ replied with a pointed look, “You should try
“Why bother when I’m doing good all on my own as it is,” Mindy played
back before taking a step towards him, “hell, if you aren’t going to
open that thing, then I’m going to.”
“Oh no you aren’t,” Russell pulled it just out of her reach before she
could swipe it from him, “It’s addressed to me, not you.”
“Yeah well I’m the one who found it. It was on my desk, so in
that sense that makes me…” Mindy started to protest.
“The person who was given the privilege of bringing it in here, so now
get back to work,” he waved at her again dismissively.
“No way,” she stood her ground before motioning to the envelope again,
“because that spells a story--one that I’m certain I want to know all
“Do you ever let up,” he shook his head at her.
“Not on your life,” she answered with a bright grin, “besides it’s part
of what you love about me.”
“That’s debatable,” he remarked with an air of sarcasm ready to turn
his attention to the envelope again when yet another knock upon his
door prevented him from doing so. Looking up, he noticed a
slender, blonde woman standing in his doorway. She was dressed in
a simple black skirt and matching blazer and as she smiled at Russell,
he could see the obvious determination behind her eyes.
“Russell Denton,” she questioned taking a step into his office.
“Yes, that’s me,” he nodded in response.
“Oh fantastic,” the new arrival grinned eagerly, “I was hoping I’d
catch you in seeing as it’s close to the lunch hour and all…”
“Well, you found me, Miss?” he arched a curious brow while taking note
of the expression that Mindy was making in the background.
“Marx,” she offered up hand eagerly, “Sarah Marx.”
“Well Miss Marx, what is it that you think I can I do for you today?”
Russell inquired curiously watching as she pulled a briefcase out from
“It’s not so much what you can do for me,” Sarah began to explained
eagerly, “but more so what I can do for you. If you just give me
five minutes of your time, then I can assure you that I’m the answer to
all your prayers.”
“Five minutes and you’ll answer all my prayers huh,” Russell inquired
with a curious grin, “and just what might it be that you think you have
that can accomplish such a feat in such a short amount of time?”
“Give me five minutes and I can promise you that I’ll change your world
forever,” Sarah vowed ready to dazzle Russell with the things she’d
brought over for him. One way or another, she would see to it
that he’d listen to what it was she had to say.
Gabe finished straightening up his things around the hotel room after
Guy left. While he’d intended on meeting with some of his lawyers
in town to discuss his impending custody battle with Noelle, he’d
discovered that his lawyers were running behind in their arrival in
Coral Valley. With that thought in mind, it left Gabe time to
plan his own strategy for dealing with Noelle. Sure, she might
feel secure in the fact that she’d had him cornered in the past, but
now with the new hope for his relationship with Guy, Gabe was certain
he would find a way to get what was best for his daughter.
Hearing a knock on the hotel room door, Gabe couldn’t help but smile as
he wondered if Guy was returning to say one last goodbye. The
fact that they had been able to share in so many intimate moments with
one another lately had made it feel as it did in Europe. That was
very relaxing in it’s own way for Gabe despite the other issues that
had arisen over the last few weeks. Still, there was no point in
dwelling in the negative when clearly the morning was off to a good
“I knew you’d miss me,” Gabe opened up the door ready to greet Guy with
a few teasing jabs, but instead he found himself face to face with Marc.
“Don’t you know by now, I always miss you when you’re away,” Marc
smiled at him with a suave, sexy expression. He leaned up against
the doorframe, his dark eyes reaching out over Gabe before he finally
stood up straighter, “Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
“I hadn’t thought about it, nor am I inclined to do so,” Gabe’s smile
faded before he moved to close the door.
“That’s too bad,” Marc pushed his way inside the hotel room regardless,
“since I was so hoping that we’d be able to come to some kind of
understanding with one another again.”
“What I understand is that you’re delusional if you think that I’m
about to be blackmailed by you,” Gabe threw back at him with heavy
irritation, “I know that’s what you’ve come here for this morning, so
why don’t we just bypass the shallow pleasantries?”
“Such a cynic at heart, aren’t you dear Gabriel?” Marc shook his head
at him, “And here I was hoping that I’d have a much warmer welcome.”
“Then you were hoping wrong,” Gabe folded his arms in front of his
“Even so it doesn’t hurt to try,” Marc gaze drifted across the hotel
room before he focused upon Gabe again, “So Gabriel, where is your
little boy toy? Has he taken off and abandoned you this early on?”
“Wouldn’t you love that,” Gabe rolled his eyes at him.
“As a matter of fact I would because it would be good enough motivation
for you to stop playing games with that child. You need someone
at your side who can give you what you truly deserve out of life
Gabriel,” Marc watched Gabe’s retreat and he followed him matching him
step for step, “You need someone who enhances your finer points and
drives you to be the man you truly are.”
“That man wasn’t you,” Gabe spun around to face him, “You gave me
nothing but misery and I would gladly avoid that at all costs if I can.”
“I suppose you can play it this way in being cold and callous to the
man who truly loves you,” Marc raised his hand to his chest feigning
injury, “but that does break my heart to see you hiding from your true
“I’m not going to listen to anymore of this,” Gabe marched over towards
the door to his hotel room, “You can leave now.”
“I could,” Marc paused for effect, “but I’m not finished with you yet
Gabriel. We still have business to discuss.”
“I have no business with you,” Gabe glared over at him.
“Perhaps not, but your lover’s mother is rather eager to be engaged in
a very profit making endeavor with me,” Marc stepped in towards him, “I
can make or break her company if I’m inclined to do so. Brooke
Morrison has been experiencing a great many difficulties with Beholder
over the last year and she’s banking on this campaign to change that.”
“And I care why,” Gabe tried to feign disinterest.
“Because you’re going to be the key to her getting what she wants,”
Marc stated plainly bringing his hand out to stroke at the center of
Gabe’s chest. Gabe flinched taking a step back as he glared back
“Don’t you dare try to…” Gabe began to warn him.
“Oh I’m not trying,” Marc informed him bluntly, “I want you back and
I’m not above doing what it takes to make that happen. Here’s the
deal. You are going to end things with Brooke’s less than refined
son and I’m going to give Brooke what she wants. In this
situation we both win.”
“Somehow I don’t see that picture working out that way,” Gabe answered
behind clenched teeth.
“Oh but it will,” Marc touched Gabe’s arm in a possessive
movement. His gaze lingered over the lines of Gabe’s body before
a smile tickled over the corners of his mouth, “You end it with young
Mr. Morrison and we pick up where we left off. Brooke is happy, Guy is
brokenhearted, but he’ll get over it and we, well you know what we can
“You can go to hell,” Gabe informed him sharply making another move to
the door and opening it in a haste, “That’s all I’m going to say on the
“You’re still very stubborn Gabriel, but in this situation it’s only
going to cause you to lose,” Marc reminded him wickedly, “Your lover’s
mother will lose the company that she so desperately worked to bring up
from nothing and I’ll see to it that she knows exactly what her son has
been doing in the after hours with you. I guarantee by the time
I’m finished spinning my tale about her son being gay, she’ll be more
than ready to lynch you herself for defaming her company and her son.”
“You think you know everything, don’t you,” Gabe shook his head at him,
unable to contain the raw hatred he shared for the man before him, “but
this isn’t going to be one of your manipulations where you turn things
out the way you want them. My life isn’t yours for the taking any
“Perhaps you’ve managed to break free of our love affair, but it’s
always haunted you Gabriel,” Marc made one last bold move in towards
him. He reached out to touch Gabe’s cheek urgently before his
dark eyes penetrated Gabe’s again, “and if you don’t do exactly what
I’m telling you to do, then I’ll see to it that it haunts your lovers
“Get out,” Gabe spoke behind gritted teeth. His eyes burning with
an obvious rage.
“For now,” Marc conceded taking a step back before offering up an icy
grin, “but this is far from over.”
Gabe said nothing as he watched his former lover walk out of the hotel
room into the hallway. Marc spun around to face him again with
another wicked smirk.
“I’ll keep in touch,” Marc offered up in parting words leaving Gabe to
deal with the new turmoil that his ex-lover had brought into his life.
“Thank heavens you arrived as soon as you did,” Brooke blurted out with
heavy exasperation pulling her son into the makeshift office she’d set
up at the Ashford estate, “I know I’d mentioned you going down to the
offices I’d had set up in town, but once I really started looking
things over, well I could see just how needed you were here.
After the kidnapping, well I just can’t even begin to make sense of all
of this on my own. I was absolutely certain that the shipments
were to be in order, but those morons working in New York…”
“Don’t worry Mum,” Guy offered up supportively, “we’ll get right on it
and things will pan out.”
“I most certainly hope so because right about now I don’t want to have
my company lose any of it’s credibility. I mean it’s bad enough
that your sister has already made a mockery of me in turning away one
of the world’s most eligible bachelors for the working man like she
has,” she wrinkled her nose in disgust while flipping through the pages
before her, “It’s made me look like a fool to have raised such a
“Avery’s happy Mum,” Guy frowned upon his mother’s words, surprised to
hear them coming from her after Brooke and Avery had seemingly mended
fences, “Isn’t that what matters?”
“Of course that’s…” Brooke lifted her gaze before stopping herself
mid-sentence. Taking in a slow breath, she shifted gears planting
a smile over her otherwise twisted features, “I’m very happy for your
sister, but you have to admit she’s been pushing things to fast.
I mean one minute she was engaged to Brant, the next she’s married to
Russell and pregnant. It felt as if it was all in the same breath
and I’m just afraid that your sister isn’t going to find the time to
just take a breath and enjoy life for a bit.”
“She’s just had a lot happening for her, but I know she’s where she was
meant to be,” Guy added watching his mother’s reaction carefully, “You
believe that don’t you?”
Brooke remained silent for a long moment before finally nodding, “Of
course I believe that, but I just hoped that your sister would at least
give life outside the world she’d set up for herself at sixteen a
try. I was her age when I met your father and while I love him
dearly, there were so many things that I’d closed myself off from in
getting married at such a young age.”
“Avery’s not a teenager anymore,” Guy couldn’t help but laugh at the
thought, “and Russ isn’t the same rebel he used to be. He’s a
very respectable guy and he’s going to give Avery a good life.”
“I’m sure he will,” Brooke bit back on the biting sarcasm building in
the back of her throat, “but right now I don’t want to talk about
them. I’d much rather focus on the task at hand which is fixing
the mistake that’s been made. We don’t have much time before we
have to launch this campaign in full force. I’m going to need to
make that my full focus and if we keep having errors like this…”
“We won’t,” Guy assured her reaching for the invoices she was thumbing
through, “I’ll be on top of this one and you can work on the new
campaign. I’ll be whatever you need. I hope you know that
“I do and you have no idea how grateful I am for that. You’ve
been so good to me Guy and I’d like to see you find your own happiness
on top of all the work you’ve done for me,” Brooke paused before
speaking up again, “which is why I wish you wouldn’t be so cold to
Cathy. She’s a good girl with great upbringing and…”
“Mum, I’m not interested in her. You know that I’ve been…” Guy
began to object.
“With Mindy,” she nodded in response, “but as with your sister I’d hate
to watch you throw it all away for someone who didn’t appreciate you in
“Mindy is a fabulous woman and she’s amazing,” Guy informed her point
blank, “She’s beautiful, brilliant and she has this spark about
her. Any man would be very lucky to be with her.”
“Yes, but why must that man be you? Certainly your tastes must’ve
evolved since your youth,” Brooke urged him on again, “You could have
any woman in the world on your arm, yet you keep shying away from
forward motion in that aspect of your life.”
“Mum, Mindy is a wonderful woman and I’d really appreciate it if you’d
just stop with all this trash talking about her,” Guy frowned back at
her hating to see his mother resorting to such sour tactics once again,
“She’s had a hard life, but she’s become a very sophisticated, warm,
and loving young woman. If you’d just take the time to see that…”
“What I want to see is the day when my son is happy and has a family of
his own,” Brooke reached out for his hand squeezing it gently, “Only
then will you truly understand what it is I’m saying to you.”
“Mum, you can’t keep trying to force things,” Guy sighed inwardly
reciprocating the squeeze over her hand, “Life doesn’t work that way
even if we wish it did. Things have to come at their own pace.”
“That still doesn’t mean I have to like it,” Brooke muttered under her
breath vowing to help repair the damage that had been done in her son’s
love life once she’d taken care of the problems Avery had created in
“Maybe not, but hopefully in time you’ll understand,” Guy broke through
her thoughts while reaching for another set of invoices. “Now,
what do you say we get back to things here before we get too far off
“That sounds like a plan,” Brooke nodded ready to focus on her company
when she reached for a piece of mail that she’d overlooked on the desk
before this moment in time. Reaching for it, she noticed the
curious postmark before she was overcome with a chilling feeling.
Tearing into the envelope, she began to pull out the contents before a
gasp fell from her lips.
“Mum, what is it,” Guy questioned noticing the way in which her face
had drained of all color.
“Nothing,” she replied forcing a polite smile before rising up from her
seat, “nothing at all. I’ll be right back.”
“Mum are you sure,” Guy began again watching her retreat.
“Positive,” she nodded in confession making a hasty exit. Once
she was certain she was alone, she pulled out the contents of the
envelope. Feeling an unsettling feeling in the pit of her stomach
as her eyes perused the photograph of her lost in Hunt’s arms, she took
in another slow breath. She looked around the hallway once again
realizing there were more photos inside--one with her and Bruce,
another with her and…
“No,” Brooke shoved the photos back into the envelope ready to pretend
she hadn’t caught this obvious attempt to shake her up. She took
a step backward, she noticed a tiny slip of paper that had fallen to
the floor. Kneeling down, she reached for it, catching the faded
type that pressed upon the middle of the page.
“Have I got your attention your attention,” she read under her breath
noticing that there was nothing more. She eyed the envelope again
before catching the handwritten words on the back of the manila
“I’ll be in touch,” she read to herself quickly shuffling the paper
back into the envelope before panic overtook her. Reaching for
her cell phone, she dialed the familiar number, hearing that same voice
on the other end of the line. Trying to keep her pulse rate even,
she spoke up in a muted whisper, “Look, I know you said for me not to
call you there, but we have a problem that we need to get a handle on