Episode 138

Diane entered her apartment thinking about her discharge from the hospital.  While she had hoped that she’d leave on good terms heading to Florida with Ben, things weren’t working out at all as they’d planned.  Now she set her purse down on the tabletop thinking about how much worse things had been during the cab ride home.  While she’d planned on everything going great from here on out, there was no mistaking the fact that things were in an uproar.  Even the cab ride home had been miserable.  She’d been stuck in traffic and couldn’t quite understand why so much of it was out at this time of day in Coral Valley.  She’d tried to ask the cab driver what he knew, but his English was about as good as her Spanish which equated to her knowing next to nothing about the traffic in town.  Now however she was home and ready to touch base on things somehow.
Plopping down on her couch, Diane reached for the television remote ready to absorb herself in something--anything to keep her mind off of what had taken place with Ben.  She half wondered how she would fix things now that Ben had taken what she’d said to Deidra to heart.  Sure, she’d been upset with Deidra, but Ben never should’ve been witness to that.  He wasn’t part of what she had happening between her and her sister, so why did he have to come in right then and see what was going on?
“Because Deidra wanted you to lose everything you had with Ben.  That’s been what she’s wanted all along,” Diane groaned inwardly thinking about her sister. 
Sure, maybe Diane had gone too far in saying that about Andy, but Andy had loved her first.  He wanted to be with her, not Deidra, but Deidra had pitied him into marriage.  He’d told her that much when they’d finally been together and it wasn’t like it was an impulsive move on her part.  She and Andy had been really happy around one another until Deidra popped in the scene.  Then wouldn’t you know it Deidra had to hog Andy’s attention--she couldn’t just let things be and now…
“She has no one to blame put herself,” Diane huffed impatiently thumbing through the channels on television not really paying attention to them as her anger mounted.  How could Deidra have baited her like that especially in front of Ben?  Was Diane ever going to be able to have love without Deidra interfering?
“To hell with this,” Diane blurted out turning the television off.  This simply wouldn’t do and if she was going to get anything done, then she needed to focus.  She needed to come up with a game plan on how to remedy the situation that had presented itself, but more so she would need to find a way to reach out to Ben.  Still, knowing how angry he was with her, she knew that calling wasn’t going to cut it.
Rising up from the sofa, Diane reached for her jacket ready to brave the uncharacteristic Coral Valley traffic in the name of going over to Ben’s and trying to fix things.  She reached for her car keys ready to leave when she heard a knock on the door.  Stopping dead in her tracks, she felt a smile tug over the corners of her lips. 
So, he’d rethought his hasty decision, she mused to herself giving him a few seconds to sweat it out before she made her way to the door.  Why she’d underestimated what they’d had with one another was beyond her, but she certainly wasn’t going to be making that mistake again, she reasoned throwing the door open with a pout curling over her lips.
“What,” she questioned harshly hoping to give it back to Ben after what he’d said to her, but much to her surprise it was J.T. standing on the other side of the door.
“My, you still are damn sexy when you’re fired up,” J.T. noted breezing past her into her apartment, “I sure hope it isn’t all for me because if it is well, then I guess it really, truly is my lucky day.”
“Get out,” Diane spun around to face him, not wanting to have to deal with him when all else was in turmoil.
“Get out,” he repeated with a tiny flicker of laughter, “so soon?  We haven’t engaged in proper foreplay yet to leap to the hurdling insults love.”
“I’m not in the mood to deal with you,” she informed him bluntly, “I have real problems to deal with.”
“So now I’m a problem,” he noted with a nod, his eyes offering up a casual perusal over her body, “Interesting.”
“J.T. I was just on my way out,” Diane whined back at him.  Realizing that he wasn’t going to budge, she marched forward tugging on his arm, “You have to leave.”
“I just got here.  Why would I do a silly thing like that,” he shrugged his shoulders remaining firmly in place despite her urgings.  “Besides, there’s no getting around out there.  With the explosion and all…”
“What explosion,” Diane gave him a strange look.
“You mean you haven’t heard,” he eyed her intently, “My you must be out of the loop then because there was a bombing over at the airport.”
“What,” her jaw nearly dropped in horror.
“That’s right,” he nodded in confession, “things were very ugly from the sounds of it and they’re still trying to pull bodies out of the mess.”
“You mean our airport in town was…” she stopped thinking about her plans to go to Florida with Ben.  Immediately all other concerns left her as she raced for the phone dialing Ben’s number.  She just hoped and prayed he hadn’t been near the airport when things went awry.  After three rings his machine picked up and she began to leave a frantic message, “Ben, it’s me.  Look I know you’re upset, but I just heard about what’s gone down at the airport and I was wondering if you were okay.  If you’re there, please pick up.  Look, I know you are angry, but I need to know that you’re okay that you’re…” the machine cut her off.
“Trouble in paradise?” J.T. questioned in a half-hearted attempt to hide his enjoyment of that very fact now that he’d sensed something was off with Ben and Diane.
“Look, it’s none of your business and as I said before I was on my way out,” Diane remarked sourly thinking about Ben.  She just hoped and prayed that he wasn’t caught in the mess over at the airport.  She didn’t really expect him to be leaving town without her, but when he’d sounded so upset…
“Diane, I’m not about to let you go out into all of that.  It’s far too dangerous right now considering they aren’t sure if that was the last attack or not,” J.T. broke through her worried thoughts, “They aren’t really sure what’s going on, but as it stands people are being advised to stay out of the mess and let the authorities take care of things.”
“I’m not trying to take care of things.  I’m just trying to make sure that the man I love is okay,” Diane argued with him, her frustrations mounting.
“Don’t you mean the man who dumped you?” he arched a naughty brow catching a scathing look from her, “Look Diane, word spreads fast in town.  I know how he left you at the hospital and I for one am appalled by what he did, but then again let’s face it, men like him very seldom understand women like you.”
“J.T. I’m in no mood for this.  This isn’t at all what I need right now when I need to find Ben and I just don‘t have time to…” she started in a frenzy only to feel his arm curl around her.  He pulled her in closer to him with a possessive tug, not wanting her to walk out on him.
“Make the time,” he urged claiming her lips in a smoldering assault vowing to remind Diane of all the things they’d had when they were together.  Sure, she might have someone else on her mind, but in the past nothing worked faster to get her to listen than reminding her of how very good they were together physically.  Right now as he continued to kiss her, he realized that they were still just too damn good together.


Ken leans up against the wall of the hospital corridor. His arms wrapped tightly around himself, his chin pressed to his chest as he takes in huge desperate gasps of air trying to control the onslaught of emotions that are hitting him. Deidra looks at him with great concern, her heart aching for her old friend. She walks over to him and gently rests her hand on Ken's arm.

Deidra: Ken, I am so very sorry, I wish to God I could have done more. Is there, is there anything I can do for you?

Ken looks at her his face full of so much anguish and disappear it takes Deidra's breath away. He answers her in a raspy pain filled whisper.

Ken: Can you make all of this be a horrible nightmare? Can you let this have been a terrible mistake, and have her really be alive? Can you bring her back?

Deidra shakes her head tears of helplessness and frustration filling her own eyes.

Deidra: You know I'd give anything to be able to do that. But...But I can't.

Ken gulps his pain becoming greater by the second. His voice even more desperate and emotion filled.

Ken: Then there's nothing you or anyone else in this world can do for me. My life, my world, my everything is over.

His whole body starts to tremble.

Deidra: Oh, Ken...

She reaches out to him wishing only to ease his sorrow. But he pulls back shakily barely holding on to what little composure he had left.

Ken: Just stay away from me okay! I want to be alone!

Before Deidra can respond Ken rushes off. Deidra watches him go her heart aching for him. Just then she hears very quick and urgent foot steps coming towards her.

Judy: Deidra!

Deidra turns and sees her panic stricken and rather frazzled mother racing to her.

Deidra: Mom, what are you doing here?

Judy: It's all over the news about the bombing! I... I have Ken's itinerary and I know that he and Caitlin were supposed to be landing about the time of the explosion. Are they alright?

Deidra looks into her mother’s worried eyes and bursts into tears grabbing onto her mother tightly.

Deidra: Oh Mom!

Judy is surprised by her daughter’s sudden outburst and even more worried then before because of it. Her maternal nature kicks in and she holds her daughter close stroking her head and gently rubbing her back.

Judy: I'm here honey, I'm here.

Pulling back from her mother Deidra struggles to get control of herself.
Judy takes Deidra's hands in hers and in a very calm but clearly scared voice addresses her.

Judy: How bad is it baby?

Deidra takes a deep breath.

Deidra: Ken is alive. He has some second degree burns and cuts and bruises along with a minor concussion. But he'll be okay. Physically anyways.

Judy takes a deep breath fearing she knows what Deidra is about to say. Hesitantly she asks.

Judy: And...and Caitlin. Did...did Caitlin make it?

Deidra swallows hard shaking her head no.

Deidra: No. She died less then a half hour ago.

Judy: Oh, dear God no.

Judy grabs onto her daughter and they both hold tightly to each other and cry for their dear friend. After a few minutes they both pull themselves together.

Judy: Poor Ken. He must be devastated. She was his whole world. You know, he placed a call to me right before they headed home. Wanted me to make reservations for him and Caitlin to go to Italy.

Deidra nods.

Deidra: He was going to propose.

Judy: Just the way Caitlin had always dreamed of.

Judy becomes very concerned for her friend and boss.

Judy: Where is he? Is anyone with him?

Deidra: He just took off. I'm thinking he's still in the hospital. He said he wanted to be alone, but he's such a wreck I'm not so sure that's a good idea.

Judy nods.

Judy: I'll find him.

Deidra smiles at her Mom appreciatively.

Deidra: Thanks. I'm sure you more then anyone can help him right now.

Judy nods.

Judy: It takes a person who has lost the love of their love to understand someone who has lost the love of their life.

Deidra nods.

They hug once more and Judy hurries off just as Deidra is paged to a patient’s room. Deidra takes a deep breath and wipes her tear stained face.

Deidra: Duty calls.

She hurries off.


Guy rushed through the doors to the hospital frantic after he’d gotten the call on Gabe.  Traffic had been hell in getting over her considering that everyone was bumper to bumper in the streets, but that hadn’t kept Guy and Mindy from getting to the hospital.  Now that he was here, he had to find Gabe--had to see what had happened and what was wrong with the man he’d loved.
“Excuse me,” he approached the woman at the nurse’s station.  “Can you tell me where I can find Gabriel Teague?  He was brought in here earlier today and…”
“Have you taken a look around here lately,” the nurse huffed at him, “This place is a nightmare.  I have no idea where anyone is considering that we’ve just been taking them as they come and we’ve been trying to do our best.  Though if you try admitting perhaps they can be of more assistance.”
“But…“ Guy started watching her walk off.  After she left, he turned to Mindy, panic evident in his features, “now what?”
“Now we do our own search,” Mindy glanced around the busy hospital noting that everyone seemed to be off doing their own thing.  Hopping over the counter before her, she glanced around the hospital before looking to Guy again, “Watch my back.”
“What are you doing,” he questioned in confusion watching her type away on the computer before her.
“I never told you that I did an internship at the hospital, now did I?  Actually it wasn’t a real internship considering that I was trying to impress my real boss at the time.  I was hoping to get the scoop on a scandal happening here, but instead I found one of the doctors shagging a nurse in one of the supply closets and that got me fired.  However, before that happened, I learned how the system here at the hospital works specifically on the computers and after a little tinkering, well I managed to gain a know how on the way things worked and viola,” she stepped back motioning to the screen before her, “I’m able to get what we need.  He’s upstairs.”
“But the nurse just said,” Guy gave her a strange look before watching her leap up over the countertop.  She extended her arm out to use him as a brace to keep her from falling and with a little assistance she was back on her feet again.
“She was just too lazy to really look,” Mindy explained quickly, “I just typed in a search for patients who fit what we know about the condition that Gabe was in.  Then I typed in a few other characteristics that I knew to be true and we got our answer.”
“Just like that,” Guy gave her a strange look.
“Just like that,” she nodded, “but you can thank me later once you get to see him.  Come on.”
Together the two headed towards the room where Gabe was.  As they stood outside the door, Guy looked in through the window before him noticing Gabe in the bed before him.  He took in a slow breath thinking about the fear that had consumed him when he’d gotten the call from Jade.  Now however he could see Gabe laying in the bed, with his leg propped up in a cast and various burns over his body.
“Go be with him,” Mindy encouraged sensing Guy’s hesitance.  He glanced down at her for a brief moment before nodding in silence.  His eyes spoke volumes about the gratitude he felt for Mindy and in that moment she watched him go into his lover’s hospital room, she tried her best to remember why she was here in the first place.  This was about Guy being with the man he loved and she was doing the things that best friends were meant to do.  She just wished that in letting go of him to give him the freedom to be with the man he loved, that she hadn’t been left out in the cold.
“Oh quit feeling sorry for yourself,” she spoke under her breath hating that she felt self pity at a time when things were so chaotic in the world around her.  Tonight had been something that had lead the small town of Coral Valley into disaster and she wasn’t about to keep standing around mourning about the fact that her own love life was in ruins.


“Maxwell, what seems to be the problem,” Richard questioned from the back of the private jet he’d been taking home to Coral Valley.  While business had kept him away from town longer than he’d anticipated, there was nothing like the reminder of home that had him eager to get on the ground again.  He’d been away far too long and right now all he wanted to do was touch base with his family.  Maybe even return to give things another try with Judy if he could.
“We’re experiencing a few difficulties landing sir,” the pilot explained hesitantly.
“What kind of difficulties,” Richard questioned in confusion taking a note of the time.  How he’d hoped to be home early enough to check in on Avery and Russell.  He’d also wanted to touch base with his son as well even though he knew how Guy’s loathing wouldn’t permit as friendly a reunion as the one with Avery would be. 
Taking a glance over at the oversized teddy bear in the seat beside him, Richard couldn’t help but smile.  Sure, he’d been busy with work, but nothing had kept his mind off of the things that really mattered.  When he’d spotted that stuffed animal in the window of the toy store he’d walked past on the way to his hotel when he’d needed a break from the realities of his job, he’d known this particular bear was the one.  This was the stuffed animal that no doubt was meant for his grandchild.  Smiling as he reached out to tease his fingers over the bowtie on the oversized bear, he heard the pilot speak to him again.
“I’m afraid we’re going to have to find alternate landing arrangements,” the pilot began to explain again, “It appears that the airport in Coral Valley has been closed down.”
“Closed down,” he repeated in confusion, “Why would that be?”
“I’m not sure sir, but we’ve been urged to seek an alternative route here,” the pilot continued to explain to him, “We can land in about twenty minutes outside of Coral Valley if that suits you.”
“That’ll be fine,” Richard replied turning his attention to the legal briefs he’d been stewing over up until this point.  Something didn’t feel right--didn’t seem right at all.  He reached for the television remote he’d had beside him hoping to uncover what was going on in Coral Valley.  Hitting a couple of buttons he was met with a fiery blaze before him while a news report began to rehash the details of the bombing.  Horrified Richard turned the volume up, but it wasn’t until he caught sight of Brant carrying Avery out of the burning building from an earlier report that he was at full attention.  Suddenly fear consumed him as he thought about his little girl.  Reaching for the call button again, he beckoned the pilot again.
“Yes sir,” the pilot questioned.
“Can you make sure that there is a car waiting for me on the ground as soon as we land,” Richard questioned with obvious worry in his voice.  “I need to get to Coral Valley right away.”
“As you wish sir,” the man replied leaving Richard to spent the next twenty minutes of his life praying that his daughter was alright.  He’d reached for the phone dialing the local hospital, but all lines were busy at the moment no doubt due to the tragedy.  Closing his eyes as he hung up the phone, he just prayed that somehow when he returned to town he wouldn’t find his baby girl losing everything that she’d worked so very hard to have in her life.


“Now aren’t you glad you decided to take me up on my offer for the night,” Hunt questioned with a smile leaning over Brooke in bed.  He placed a kiss over her shoulder hugging her petite form to his once again.  Sure, he’d had to work to get her to come over to his hotel suite, but once she’d agreed to join him for the evening they’d had a night that turned out to be nothing short of magic.
“Temptation certainly was a perk that brought me over here,” Brooke nodded in agreement, a smile spreading over her features.
“And hopefully satisfaction keeps you from leaving,” he turned her in his arms claiming her lips in an aggressive kiss.
“Leaving hadn’t even crossed my mind,” she curled her arms around his neck drawing him in nearer to her again, “You do have a certain way about you.”
“And I’m hoping that way is going to keep us from having to have to experience what we’ve been going through over the last few months,” he paused, his playful expression growing suddenly serious.  He gazed down at her, his eyes full of emotion and urgency, “Brooke, I love you and I don’t want us to have to keep playing these games.  I want to be with you--really be with you.”
“Hunt,” she began feeling her cheeks rise with color upon his words.
“I mean it Brooke.  I’m tired of us doing this--well not this in particular, but the sneaking around and the lying.  Your husband is a creep who doesn’t deserve you, but I can love you like you need to be loved.  We can run away together and…” he began desperately only to have her place her finger over his lips to silence him.
“Oh darling, please don’t do this now,” she curled her lip in a pout, “After the night we’ve had, why must you insist on spoiling it.”
“I’m only trying to make it better for us.  Brooke, I love you and I don’t care who knows about what we have together.  I’m willing to let the world see what we have and I just wish that you would…”
“Hunt, I’ve told you repeatedly that Richard would destroy me.  He would take away everything that’s ever mattered to me if I stand up to him.  He won’t let me leave him…” Brooke continued with heavy emphasis.  “He doesn’t believe in divorce.”
“So what?” Hunt threw back at her, “I can protect you.  I’ll take care of us and I promise you I’ll find a way to keep you happy.”
“Hunt, my darling Hunt,” she touched his face gently, “while I know you mean well, the truth to the matter is that in your youth, you’re not seeing things as they are.”
“What I’m seeing is that you keep avoiding the subject between us,” he scowled back at her moving away from her.  Collecting a sheet with his movement he began to slide off of the bed, “Brooke, I don’t see why you keep insisting that I’m too young to understand what’s going on here.  I love you.  Isn’t that enough for you?”
“Of course it’s enough for me, but for us--Hunt, you have so many dreams--so many things that you want out of life and if Richard was going to challenge what we have…” she began reaching out to him to prevent his retreat.
“To hell with him.  Let him try.  I’ll tell him straight up where he can stick his challenge to us.  Brooke, I’m not afraid of him and you shouldn’t be either.  I can protect you and keep you safe,” Hunt began again reaching out to her.
“Hunt, I do adore you, but what you’re asking of me,” she stared only to be silenced by the sound of her cell phone.
“Brooke,” his dark eyes pleaded with her,
“Hunt, you have to understand that right now just isn’t…” she began again only to take note of the urgency of the cell phone.  She raised her finger up to alert him to hold on.  Moments later she reached for her cell phone lifting it to her ear, “hello.”
“Are you alone,” the voice on the other end of the line questioned.
Immediately she sat up straighter, feeling a certain tension spread throughout her body.  She glanced over at Hunt before speaking up again in a hushed tone, “Now is not a good time.”
“Make it a good time because we need to talk,” the voice snarled at her.
Covering the base of her cell phone, Brooke glanced over at Hunt.
“Is it him?” he questioned with a sneer, “because if it’s your husband…”
“It’s not my husband,” she whispered waving her hand at him dismissively, “but I need to take this.  It’s about work and…”
“And nothing,” he leaned in towards her reaching for her cell phone, “we were in the middle of a discussion.”
“This can’t wait,” she wrenched her phone out of his reach, “It’s important.”
“I thought that we were important,” he curled his lip in a pout.
“We are, but right now,” she hesitated not wanting him to hear anything of what she needed to discuss, “I just need a few moments of privacy.”
“There’s nothing you could say that would shock me,” he shrugged his shoulders while laying back on the bed.  Propping his arms up over his head to get settled in, he let her know that he was not to be dismissed so easily.
“Fine,” she glared at him, his stubbornness irritating her.  Angrily she marched out of bed much to his dismay before the caller beckoned her again.
“Brooke, are you there?”
“I’m here yes,” she stopped mid-movement, “What is it?”
“Have you taken a look at the television recently,” the voice asked.
“Not in a while,” she admitted casting a glance over her shoulder at Hunt.  He smiled at her in a seductive fashion before discarding the sheet he’d covered himself with.  He was trying to bait her and if it had been anyone else on the phone, she would’ve taken it, but this, well this was too important to screw around on.
“Then why don’t you do so now,” the voice hissed back at her.  Reaching out across the bed, Brooke watched Hunt smile in the hopes that she was caving in, but when she reached for the remote control instead the glow in his face faded.
“Are you there yet?” the voice questioned.
“I’m working on it,” she frowned in response.
“Go to channel six and I think you’ll understand,” the voice urged while Brooke did as instructed.  She caught a news report about a fire--no make that a bombing, she realized, but then suddenly Brant and Avery flashed on the screen in the midst of the chaos. 
Turning it up to hear the report talk about the bombing, Brooke’s eyes widened in astonishment.  The reporter went on to talk of how a great many lives were lost in the fiery wrath the bomb had inflicted upon the otherwise small and peaceful town.  The report later went into the news on how Brant Ashford braved the flames to save the woman who’d rejected him not so long ago.  In the conclusion it showed Avery in Brant’s arms being taken to an ambulance.
“Did you see that,” the voice questioned impatiently.
“Yes, I did,” she nodded feeling a sudden knot in the pit of her stomach.
“Good, then I trust you know what to do with that information,” the voice spoke back at her, “Now would be the time to make your move if you catch my drift.”
“Of course, I’ll be right on it,” Brooke replied hearing silence on the other end of the line.  Hanging up the phone, she directed her attention to the television set once again.
“Hey, isn’t that your daughter,” Hunt questioned recognizing Avery from a photograph Brooke had in her New York office.
“That is,” she nodded putting on the emotions she should be feeling at a time like this.  Sure she should be horrified, but instead she felt empowered knowing that this accident would lead her one step closer to where she needed to be in ridding Avery of Russell and the baby.  Reaching for her clothing, she did her best to come off as being panicked.  “I have to go be with her at the hospital.  If she’s hurt…”
“I’ll go with you,” Hunt volunteered getting up and out of bed.
“You can’t,” Brooke answered too quickly, “I mean you shouldn’t considering that it will be a zoo there.”
“I don’t mind,” he shrugged his shoulders, “if you need me…”
“What I need is for you to stay here,” she tried to reason with him, “You see Avery and Richard are very close and if he discovers you are there, then there’s no telling what he’ll do to you.  He has a horribly wicked temper and…”
“Brooke, I’m not afraid of him,” he reminded her again.
“I know this, but right now…” she paused searching for anything to stop him.  She began to pour out the tears in the hopes he would get a hint, “Please don’t make this any more difficult than it already is.”
“Brooke, I…” he stopped himself hating to see her cry.  He let out a sigh of resignation, “Can I at least drive you over there?”
“Well you really shouldn’t, but…” she stopped herself thinking about the zoo she’d likely run into if she’d called for a cab.  Finally she nodded, “Alright, but only if it isn’t too much of an imposition.”
“It’s none at all,” he promised reaching out to her, “and I promise you that you’re daughter is going to be okay.  I’m sure the doctors are doing the best they can right about now.”
“I hope so,” she nodded in agreement vowing to herself that once she was able to get in and see Avery she’d do her worst.  No one would question a miscarriage after the bombing and if Brooke played her cards right, she’d make sure this was the beginning of the end for Avery and Russell forever.  Then, well only then would Avery live up to her true potential.


The doctors had come in to check on Avery once more, but she hadn’t had much to say upon their arrival.  Come to think of it, Brant was concerned with her eerie silence after Dave had come and gone.  Granted he knew how upset she must feel in a moment like this, but this silence was killing him.  He wanted to reach out to her--to take her in his arms and hold her--to make everything alright, but the sad truth was that he couldn’t.  He couldn’t bring Russ back even if he’d wanted to.
“He’s not dead,” Avery insisted interrupting his thoughts.  He glanced over at her only to discover her staring at him with her arms wrapped around her chest tightly, “If that’s what you’re thinking, you can just get it out of your head because my husband is not dead.  This is just some kind of misunderstanding and when I go down there to see that body, I’m going to see that someone else’s husband is gone.  Yes, this is his ring, but my Russ isn’t gone.  You’ll see.”
“Avery, I know how difficult this must be for you, but,” he started making a move in towards her only to watch her pull her legs up towards the rest of her body and away from him.
“Russ isn’t gone.  I don’t know how many times I have to tell you people that,” she snapped back at him, “My husband isn’t leaving me not today or anytime soon.  He loves me and we’re going to be together to raise our daughter.  You’ll see.”
“Avery, I wish that were true, but…” Brant began thinking about what Dave had presented them with.
“But nothing,” Avery shook her head at him, “I know how you felt about Russ and I’m not going to listen to you thinking he’s gone.  He’s not gone Brant.  Russ and I are married and that hasn’t changed…”
“I never said it did Avery, but you have to at least listen to what I’m trying to tell you.  I’m not trying to hurt you, but you need to see that…” Brant started watching her bring her hands up over her ears stubbornly.
“No, I’m not listening,” she began to hum a tune to herself in an attempt to drown out the sound of his voice. 
While she continued to hum her tune, Brant approached her only to be shunned by her when she looked away.  Okay so maybe this wasn’t how he’d planned on spending his time with Avery, but this wasn’t helping anything with her living in denial.  Right now she was behaving like a child and this wasn’t at all like the woman he’d known and loved.  Reaching out to her again, he forced her to look at him.
“Let go of me!” she squealed hitting at him before leaping up off of the bed.  Reaching out to her arm, she started to tear out the IV only to feel his arms squeeze around her in a quick movement to stop her from doing so.
“Avery, listen to me.  I wish like hell that Russell wasn’t dead, but we both have to face that reality that it could be possible.  So many lives were destroyed in that fire and if Russ was one of them, he wouldn’t want you to be doing this.  He would want you to be doing this,” he insisted feeling her writhe in his arms.
“I have to find him.  I have to be with him.  I have to…” she continued, her voice raising with each moment she struggled against him.
Moments later a nurse came in in the middle of Avery’s fit.  Seeing her straining against Brant, the nurse rushed to his aid hoping to assist him.  Another nurse followed and the third person grabbed Avery only to have her kick him square across the jaw.  The third man went flying across the room onto the floor while Avery wiggled even harder to break free.
“Avery, you have to calm down.  You can’t be doing this because the baby…” Brant began fearing what was happening with her.
“I need to be with my husband,” her voice rose with a fury until the nurse beside him jabbed her with a needle and Avery collapsed into his arms.
“What the hell did you just do,” Brant growled at the woman while he held onto Avery.
“I sedated her,” the nurse defended her actions, “She was going to hurt herself or someone else if she kept up like that.”
“She’s pregnant.  What the hell were you thinking?” Brant shouted, unable to contain his anger at the woman before him, “How dare you do something like that to her given all she’s been through…”
“She was fighting with you and in her frenzy, she was becoming a menace not only to herself but to…” the nurse began while the other man pulled himself up off of the floor.  The woman turned to address the male nurse, “We may need restraints…”
“If you even try to put them on her, I’ll have you fired on the spot,” Brant warned sharply, unwilling to let anyone else touch Avery.  Carefully he placed her onto the bed again, watching the color that spread out over her features.  He reached out to caress her cheek gently when the sound of footsteps rose from behind.  Glancing over his shoulder, Brant prepared himself for a battle when he noticed Brooke standing in the doorway.
“Oh my God,” she gasped in horror rushing over to the two of them, “What’s happened to my baby girl?”
“She’s just upset,” Brant explained glaring at the nurse once again, “and they aren’t helping.”
“I’ll send someone in to check on her IV,” the nurse who’d fallen to the ground replied behind a bloody nose before the two shuffled out of the room.
“See to it that you do,” Brant remarked sourly before turning to touch Avery’s face again, “Everything is going to be okay Avery.  I promise you I’m not going to let anyone else hurt you.”
“Brant, what’s happened to her,” Brooke questioned in confusion having missed most of what had taken place just now.
“She’s upset.  They came in here and misinterpreted what was happening and,” Brant paused thinking about the source of Avery’s upset, “I don’t know if you heard or not, but with the explosion…well, there’s no easy way to put this.”
“Put what,” she questioned in confusion wondering if the explosion had done the job for her after all.
“It’s Russ,” Brant explained solemnly lowering his head with his words, “they don’t think he survived the explosion.”
“He didn’t,” she fought to suppress the glee that very statement from Brant had brought out in her.  Clearing her throat again, she shifted on her feet, “Do you mean he’s…”
“Dead,” Brant finished with a nod before touching Avery’s cheek again, “and she’s taking this hard.”
“Of course she is,” Brooke replied moving in closer to her daughter, “and what of the baby?  Is the baby…”
“No thank God,” Brant let out a breath of relief before turning his dark eyes up towards Brooke again, “Avery and the baby will be just fine…except for the pain losing Russell.”
“I just can’t believe this,” Brooke replied glancing down at her daughter while wondering how in the world this one had happened.  Thinking about the phone call she’d received, she fought to keep the smile from returning to her lips.  So her partner had come through in ways she hadn’t even imagined.  Granted it was a bit bold of a move on his part if he in fact was the one behind the bombing, but she had to hand it to him, it had paved the way for greater things where Avery was concerned with Brant.  Now watching Brant take care of Avery, Brooke couldn’t help but feel a rush of enthusiasm knowing that with one problem out of the way she would soon eliminate the remaining mistake Avery had made in her life.  It was only a matter of time.


Ken sits alone in a quiet corner of the hospital. His hands clasped together so tightly his knuckles are white. His body hunched over, and his head bent down in starring at the floor. His body shakes with emotion filled gasps as an ocean of tears threatens to over take his face. Judy rounds the corner and sees him sitting there, clearly in agony. Her heart breaks for her friend knowing all to well the pain he's in. She walks to him quickly and sits down next to him. She places her hand over his clenched hands.

Judy: Ken.

Ken doesn't respond only continues his shaking and staring as if Judy wasn't even there. Still keeping one hand on his she puts her other arm around his trembling form and begins talking gently to him.

Judy: You are not alone. I know right now you feel like you are. But you aren't and you never will be. I know this pain Ken. You know, I do. When Carl was shot in the line of duty, I felt my whole life had ended. I didn't feel I had any reason to go on, anything worth living for. I felt so lost, so torn apart. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and die.
In a broken voice Ken responds never looking up.

Ken: How do you get through it? How do you live when your reason for being, when your life is no longer there?

Judy takes a deep breath tears filling her own eyes as she thinks back to that painful time.

Judy: It isn't easy. In fact it's probably the hardest thing you'll ever have to do. But it can be done. I know it sounds cliché but you really do have to just put one foot in front of the other.

Ken: I...I don't want to. I don't want to move on or forward.

Judy nods her understanding.

Judy: I didn't either. Believe me, when Carl died the last thing I wanted was to move on. But...but I didn't have a choice. Life was going to go on weather I wanted it to or not. So I had to try to make the best of it.

Ken looks at Judy with unspeakable anguish in his face.


Judy looks at him firmly.

Judy: Do you think I wanted to? Do you think I felt Carl's life didn't mean anything?! He was everything to me! I wanted to curl up and die believe me I did! But I couldn't! I had too many people counting on me to not move on. And I had to honor Carl's memory and the last thing he would've wanted was for me to give up! And I am sure that Caitlin wouldn't want you to either!


Ken can't hold back his emotions any longer. As he practically collapses into Judy's arms as gut wrenching sobs of grief echo out of his mouth. His body shaking with grief as waves of tears overtake his face. Judy holds him close to her and lets him cry. She gently rocks him back and forth offer what little comfort she can as he continues to grieve uncontrollably in her arms.


An ache began to throb in Grady’s temple as he stretched out in the cramped chair he’d taken to when his cabin fever had gotten the best of him.  Those who said that solitude was good for the soul were clearly nuts because this wasn’t helping him at all.  Nothing could prepare him for just how uncomfortable this place was and if he hadn’t been trying to stay sober, he could see how this place would drive a man to drinking.  Frowning at that thought, he extended his leg out across the floor feeling a stiffness up over his spine. 
While he’d hoped to find something to capture his attention last night, he’d merely sat in the chair eating the tortes--all three of them at that.  Now as the beginnings of the morning began to stake it’s claim upon him and his sweet tooth, he felt a groan spill from his lips.  He really shouldn’t have polished off that third torte.  He really knew better, but instead he’d given in to temptation.  Of course when Grady did that in the past it had always lead him to trouble.
“Which is the last thing you need right now,” he frowned kicking the empty pastry box aside before rising to his feet.  He raised his arms out over his head hoping to alleviate some of the pain that had centered in his spine, but alas a throbbing ache was the price he had to pay for night in the old, lumpy chair.  Groaning inwardly, Grady looked around the cabin needing to get a break from it all.  He walked over to the front door peeling it open to receive the first hints of the morning just beyond the walls that had locked him in last night.  How the contrast was enough to make him almost love the outdoors and the woodsy area considering how fresh the morning felt. 
Stepping outside of the cabin, Grady took a long look around admiring the beauty that surrounded him.  Sure he hadn’t been the one with the love for this type of place, but Russell had tried to remind him time and time again of the virtues associated with spending time in the great outdoors.  Naturally Grady had always blown his brother’s enthusiasm about such a place off as Russell’s great excuse to get out of their parents cabin so that he and Avery could have a great many sensual adventures that Grady would just as soon stay as far away from as possible, yet on a morning like this Grady could almost appreciate what it was that Russell took from this kind of atmosphere. 
Walking around to the back of the cabin, Grady’s eyes cast out across the water.  Unlike the thick blackness that had engulfed it last night, the morning breeze had cast a gently rift over the water’s surface.  The lake in itself mirrored the sky above offering up a cool, blue haze that was nothing short of mesmerizing.  Grady realized he could lose himself for hours in this very spot just letting the world pass him by had he been given a chance. 
Taking a seat on the grass beneath him, Grady stared out onto the water eyeing the island beyond the trees with great interest.  Sure, he‘d not given it much thought before last night, but now…well he couldn’t help but wonder what it was that had the people in this small town fearing a trip over there.  Truly there wasn’t a real haunting on the island because that kind of thing just wasn’t feasible and even if it was, well there was nothing a ghost could do to a person.  The only demons that truly surrounded a man were those from the past that refused to let old sins die without a fight.  Grady had experienced that all too well and as he stared at the island he wondered if perhaps the crazy rumors about the island had stemmed from those kind of feelings. 
Surely that had to be it, he reasoned to himself suddenly remembering his strange encounter last night.  Closing his eyes he could almost see it like it was happening all over again.  The way the moonlight hung over the trees--the warm lines of her body as he’d happened upon her.  Suddenly Grady felt a shudder press over him.  Just the very thought of having conjured up a naked Avery had him squirming where he sat. 
Okay, so yeah he’d seen her naked a couple of times in the past, but unfortunately before he let the alcohol keep him from really taking it all in.  Then again that day at Russ and Avery’s home when she’d kicked his ass had pretty much dispelled any notions he might have about thinking about her naked…ever.  Still, in being out in the water, perhaps Grady was reflecting on the past--perhaps in his own desperation he’d thought back to that one time when they were at the lake when they were kids.  He was with his college buddies and Russ and Avery were there.  She’d lost her bikini top due to some of his treachery when neither Russ nor Avery were paying attention, but still that couldn’t have been reason enough for him to think about her naked and in the flesh while he was alone and miserable wanting to be with Jade. 
If his mind was going to give him a good fantasy, it should’ve been Jade instead of Avery.  His subconscious should know better than to torture him when all he’d wanted was to be with his fiancée--to be free to share the life they deserved with one another.  Avery was someone he swore to himself that he would never in a million years want to be in that kind of situation with and yet the horrible image his brain conjured up last night was enough to try and kill him.  That much he was certain of.  Perhaps he’d drank away too many brain cells in the past.
“Well if you didn’t have a reason to sober up before, you have one now,” he grumbled trying to shake the thoughts of what he’d imagined.  If he was every going to retain some of his sanity in being trapped away from everyone, then he was going to have to focus.  He would have to put a leash on his subconscious and not allow it to take him to places that no man other than his brother should ever dare to drift to again.
Shrugging his shoulders Grady decided he’d had enough morning air and opted to pull himself up.  However before he made it to his feet, he noticed a curious sound coming from the island.  Taking another look across the water, he noticed smoke rising from the trees.  He couldn’t be sure it was a fire or something else altogether, but in that moment it had completely captured his full attention.  Was there some other kind of mystery happening that the people in town were unaware of?  If there was smoke, then someone had to be on that island.  Suddenly quite curious to do something other than sit, Grady headed back to the cabin knowing he’d come across a pair of binoculars earlier in the evening when he’d been lost in his boredom. 
Stepping inside the cabin, he heard the distinct buzz of the television set before him.  He’d left it on in his slumber and now the sounds were enough to remind him to never do it again.  Moving over to turn it off, he could make out a faint image before him.  He recognized the Pavilion before him, only it was in ruins.  Reaching for the volume control, he turned it up only to hear the news about the airport bombing.  Suddenly thinking about his plans to meet up with Jade, Russ and Avery later in the week, he felt his heart sink.  Their flight was supposed to leave around the time the bombing…
“No,” Grady insisted rising up to his feet again.  He watched the horror unfold before his eyes leaving him no room for curiosity about the island any longer.  As he watched the town he’d grown up in fall apart at the seams, a sudden fear consumed him.  He knew full well that Russ, Jade and Avery were leaving.  Tomorrow he would do the same and they would all meet up in a safe location the following day.  It was the perfect plan except…
“I can’t just sit here,” Grady announced to himself taking a quick look around the cabin before realizing that he had to find the answers to what went down in Coral Valley right away.  


Jade felt her hands trembling as she stood in the doorway to her brother’s hospital room.  While she wasn’t sure what she was up against in having seen Gabe in such a horrible condition earlier, it had shaken her up.  She wasn’t sure what would happen to him, but just knowing that her brother had been hurt as well, it had been killing her.  Now she slowly pushed open the door to his hospital room finding him alone in the room.  He lay in bed, his eyes closed and his arm bandaged up as the blanket that covered him came up to the center of his chest.  Tentatively Jade bridged the distance between them unable to contain the tears in her eyes when she noticed the scrapes and bruising over his face.
“Oh Seth,” she dropped down to his side, reaching for his hand, “Seth, how could this have happened?”
He began to stir upon her words, his eyelashes fluttering to open while he gazed up at her.  There was a moment of puzzlement behind his eyes before he spoke up hoarsely, “Jade?”
“Oh thank God,” she leaned forward hugging her brother as if she’d never let go.  She felt him cough beneath her and in that moment she released him, “I thought that I could’ve lost you.  When they explained that you were at the airport…”
“My flight was delayed,” he confessed in a tight whisper, “I was supposed to leave before but…”
“But you didn’t and now you’re here like this,” Jade couldn’t refrain from crying.  She reached out to touch his face before her fingers tapered off into his dark hair, “Why is it you always seem to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time?  First in the Earthquake and now in the bombing…”
“Bombing,” he repeated with obvious confusion.
She nodded, “That’s right.  There was a bombing at the airport and you were supposed to be overseas.  You weren’t supposed to be there when all hell broke loose.”
“You mean,” he blinked back at her with sudden realization, “Jade, I thought that you were leaving town…”
“I was, but when we got there, well, the bomb went off and,” Jade’s tears fell more freely, “Seth, I just don’t know what I would’ve done if I would’ve lost you.  You have no idea how terrified I was when I’d heard you’d been in there when the bomb went off.”
“Wait a second,” Seth tried to recall the things leading up to the moment in time when he’d blacked out, “How did…where…Jade, what about you?  Were you there when it happened?”
She nodded again, “I was leaving with Russ and Avery, but that never happened.  Their friend Kyle pulled me out before anything could happen to me.  I must’ve passed out but…”
“But nothing,” Seth’s eyes widened in response.  He lifted his arm out towards her only to wince in pain.  Looking to see the bandage that covered him from his elbow to nearly the edge of his fingertips, he found himself more clueless than ever about the world around him.  Clearing his throat, he looked to her again, “Jade, are you sure you’re alright?”
“I am now that I know you’re okay,” she nodded in confession wiping at her face, “When I heard someone say that Brant Ashford pulled you out of the fire…”
“Brant Ashford,” he repeated in confusion, “Brant pulled me out of there?”
Jade let out a soft sigh before taking in another breath,  “It seems like he’s always there when one of us needs saving, doesn’t it?  I mean first he saved me and now, well now he’s given me the greatest gift imaginable in saving you.”
“Oh Jade, if I had known that you were there…” Seth started thinking about what could’ve happened.
“It wouldn’t have mattered.  Someone wanted to hurt a lot of people and somehow they succeeded,” Jade leaned down to hug him, “but I just thank God that I didn’t lose you in the process.  I know I pushed you into going away, but when I started thinking about what it would be like to have you out of my life forever, well Seth, it terrified me.  You’re all that I have in this world--I mean yeah, I have Grady, but you’re my brother--my family and if you were taken away from me…”
“I’m going to be fine Jade,” he used his good arm to reach out to embrace her.  Somehow while he’d been oblivious to what had been happening around him, he knew now that he’d been blessed to be saved twice in a lifetime when he’d been on the brink of death’s door.  Now as he held his sister, he said a silent prayer that his life had been spared yet again.  However as her words began to sink in, he started to wonder about everyone else at the airport, “Do they know who did this?”
“Not yet,” Jade shook her head, “They’re still pulling people out of the wreckage.  Last I heard things were still up in the air.  The police are all over the place, but so far I’ve heard next to nothing…”
“And what about Russ and Avery?  Are they…” Seth questioned thinking about her travel companions.
“I honestly don’t know.  I came to see you as soon as I heard you were brought in.  I needed to know about you and nothing else mattered until I was sure that you were okay,” Jade admitted thinking about the friends she’d been with.  “I’m sure that they’ll be okay, but you, well I was really concerned…”
“Don’t be,” Seth tried to assure her, “I’m going to be just fine and there’s something else I wanted to tell you.”
“What’s that,” she questioned in confusion.
“I’m not going to take the job Jade.  I’ve thought about it long and hard and especially after this, I don’t want to leave you.  I don’t want to leave Coral Valley and if that means that I have to face the demons of the past, then so be it.  My life is here and I can’t ignore that.  I’ll just have to deal with what happens next.  If it means having to face reality that Blake and I are over, then so be it because my place is here--my family is here and I’m not about to walk away from that,” Seth confessed reaching out to hug his sister while saying a thanks that he’d had the opportunity to share this moment with his sister after what had happened in the world around him.  Sure, a new start had sounded like a plan, but given what had happened, he had no intentions of walking away from the life he’d made from himself.


Blake held onto Zack, feeling her own strength slipping away as they hugged one another.  The silence that surrounded the both of them during their sorrow had been overwhelming, but now, well now it was as if the world had closed in around them.  When the doctors had given them the news that Caitlin was gone, she’d thought her heart was going to burst into pieces.  Her best friend would no longer be a part of her life and it was as if a giant chunk of her life was taken from her in that moment. 
Of course she knew that was nothing in comparison to what Zack must be experiencing at the moment.  She felt Zack pull away from her, his eyes bloodshot and swollen from the tears he’d shed while holding onto her.  Now he seemed to be trying to pull off the stoic side that she knew he’d fought so hard to maintain.  However as his heart was breaking, it took everything inside of her not to reach out to him again.
“This is just so unfair,” Blake sobbed unable to keep her thoughts and emotions to herself.
“Caitlin is a wonderful person.  This shouldn’t have happened to her.  She should be with us right now,” Zack shook his head speaking the first words that had come to him since he’d heard the news on his sister.  “She should be here trying to keep things together--to pick up the pieces of what has been lost.  She’s always been good in tragedies you know.”
“She was the best,” Blake nodded in agreement, “I remember back in college when we had a girl in our dorm commit suicide, everyone was taking it so very hard.  Her roommate had found the body and Caitlin was one of the first people to go in there and try to help.  She was so good with people and always the first one to help when anyone needed it.”
“She was always too good for the rest of the world around her,” Zack nodded in agreement thinking back to his sister’s warmth and concern for the world around her.  Suddenly the thought of never seeing her smile again tore him apart.  He felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him as he turned to Blake, “I have to talk to my parents.  They need to know what happened.”
“I can call them if you need me to,” Blake suggested knowing how hard this situation was on Zack.
“No,” he shook his head adamantly, “they need to hear it from me and Johanna,” he paused thinking about his wife, “She’s going to be crushed by this.”
“She and Caitlin were friends I take it,” Blake noted thinking about the woman who had been a rival for Zack’s affection with her.  During the bombing a great many things had transpired. 
“They were good friends--especially lately,” Zack admitted thinking about the trip to Seattle, “Caitlin reminded me about how I should put a focus on the things that matter--the things that are really, truly important…”
“Like Johanna and your son,” Blake added thinking of when she was there with Johanna bringing Zack’s son into the world with her help, she found herself seeing things in an entirely new light.
“Yes,” he nodded in response feeling a moment of poignant sorrow and regret pass over him, “Blake about things…”
“Zack,” she reached for his hand squeezing it gently, “things with us weren’t meant to be.  I know that now and I just wish that they hadn’t gone this way with Caitlin.  She should be here with you sharing your son’s life.  She’s the most amazing woman in the world and to think that we’re never going to see her again…”
“I know,” Zack nodded in response pulling Blake into his arms again as the both of them were overcome with grief and sorrow.
“I just don’t know how after everything she’s been through that this had to happen.  Why was Caitlin the one to…” Blake cried harder thinking about what might’ve been.  “Ken loves her so very much.  I love her and we all…”
“Caitlin would want us to keep pushing forward,” Zack tried to remind her despite his own pain, “She wouldn’t want us to stop living our lives because of this.  She would want us to make the most of what we still have left here and keep fighting for the things that she believed in--for the beliefs she held…”
“They all seem kind of hollow without her.  Even now when I think about Ken,” Blake blurted out thinking about her brother’s breakdown.
“I’ll speak with him,” Zack nodded in response, “Caitlin would want that.”
“Caitlin would want a lot of things,” Blake continued, her voice raspy and tight with emotion, “but right now I think she would want you to be with your son.  She would want you to hold onto that beautiful baby boy of yours and your wife.  You need one another more than anything Zack.  You need to go to them.”
“Blake I…” Zack started finding himself at a loss as he looked to her realizing that not only had today brought about the end of his sister’s life, but something else had transpired between them--something mere words couldn’t even begin to touch upon.
“Go be with Johanna and just know that if you need anything--anything at all I’ll be here for you Zack.  I’ll do anything that I can to help honor Caitlin’s memory,” Blake continued urging him to be with his family.  Silently he nodded before mouthing the words thank you.  He gave her one last look before turning down the hallway to find his wife and share the horrible news with her. 
Once he’d slipped out of her line of vision, Blake found herself unable to hold back any longer.  Sinking to the ground with the wall behind her, she brought her hands up to her face shedding the tears that had consumed her with the knowledge that she would never be able to share another day with her best friend again.  While she and Caitlin thought that their friendship would have gone on forever, fate had ripped that hope away from them.  Life had given them a horrible twist that would leave Blake empty inside knowing that one of the most special people in her life had left her once again.  First her mother, then her father and now with Caitlin, Blake tearfully wondered when it would ever end.  Was she truly bound and determined to spend her life alone without those who she loved despite her desperate fight to hold on to them?


“I’m really worried about her Brooke,” Brant admitted thinking about everything that had happened over the last twenty four hours.  Now that he sat at Avery‘s side holding her hand securely, he couldn‘t help but wish that somehow he could change things--that he could pull Russell out of a magic hat much like a magician did with his rabbit.  Sure, Brant had always wanted to be with Avery, but not at all like this.  This wasn‘t at all what he‘d hoped would free her to be with him.  Right now she should be on her second honeymoon with the man who‘d lit up her world.
“My daughter is a survivor,” Brooke reminded him extending her arm across the bed to touch Brant, “and knowing what a trooper she has with you beside her…”
“Even so, it’s not enough.  It won’t ever be enough,” Brant continued allowing his thoughts of guilt and worry consume him.  He had no idea what the future brought for Avery now that Dave had given her news on Russell.  Sure, maybe the police were wrong--maybe the body they’d pulled from the fire wasn’t Russell Denton’s, but at this point given what Brant had witnessed about life and death in the hospital, he was starting to question everything.
“Maybe you should get some air,” Brooke suggested gently, her dark eyes beckoning him again, “You look as if you’re run ragged and I’m sure that you haven’t had a doctor take a look at you, now have you?”
“I’m fine,” Brant argued with her, “I didn’t need to be looked at.  I was just concerned with Avery and the baby…”
“This baby means a great deal to you, doesn’t it?” Brooke questioned with obvious curiosity watching Brant’s unwavering loyalty to her daughter grow with each passing moment.
He nodded, “This child means the world to Avery and anything that’s important to her, is important to me.  I’d move heaven and Earth to keep them safe and untouched by this if I could…”
“She’s very lucky to have you,” Brooke offered up thinking about her plans for the future, “She’ll surely need you to lean on considering all the misery that has come upon her.”
“I have no intentions of walking away from her,” Brant answered earnestly giving her hand a light squeeze.
“Even so, it won’t be of any help to her when you yourself are run ragged.  Why don’t you go for a walk--try to get some air or even some rest…” she suggested knowing that she needed time alone with her daughter if she was to complete her mission.
“I don’t know…” Brant shrugged his shoulders, his eyes returning to Avery again.
“Trust me, she’ll be in good hands,” Brooke offered again, her eyes glowing with anticipation before she threw out a polite smile, “Avery will be okay.  I’ll take good care of her until you return.”
“Maybe I could use a coffee right now,” Brant decided casting one last longing look over in Avery’s general direction before rising from his chair, “but I won’t be long.  The nurse should be in there any second now to check in on her, so don’t let them do anything without my permission.”
“You have my word on that,” she nodded in response watching his growing hesitance and knowing full well that with him in this frame of mind, she wouldn’t be able to risk giving Avery the injection.  If Brant wasn’t sure about leaving, it meant he’d make certain to have a hasty return.  Plans would have to wait, “I’ll keep a good eye on her.”
“Thanks Brooke,” Brant smiled back at her, “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.”
“We’ll be waiting,” Brooke watched him leave before she turned her attention to Avery, her smile fading.  Lowering herself in closer to Avery, she spoke in a soft whisper, “Tonight you’ve been given a blessing my child.  Your life is about to change for the better and soon, very soon,” Brooke ran her fingers through Avery’s dark hair while Avery lay sleeping--oblivious to the world around her, “Mommy’s going to do everything in her power to break you from the chains that Russell Denton put upon you.  You’ll have your freedom and only then will you be able to live up to your full potential--only then will we have everything that I’ve wanted for you, but for now sleep my child because you‘re going to need it.”


Brant walked through the hallway thinking about Avery.  With each step he took, he found himself longing to return to her.  Who was he kidding?  Coffee was the last thing he’d needed at a time like this.  He should be with Avery--helping her through her loss and being the one to protect her now that the world had turned on her.
“That’s it,” Brant spun around making his way to the room again only to be stopped by the sight of Susan stepping off of the elevators.  Frowning, he silently cursed to himself, “Oh hell no.”
Rushing over to prevent her from continuing on her path, Brant tried to think of a million and one reasons to get her out of the hospital.  Sure Susan might be there because she knew someone who had been hurt, but if Brant was to lay odds on Susan’s reasoning for her arrival, he’d say she fully intended to seek out his brother.  Given what Ken had gone through, Brant wasn’t about to have him experience the train wreck that Susan was no doubt going to bring with her.
“Hold it right there,” Brant stopped abruptly preventing Susan from taking a step forward, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’ve come here to see Ken,” she stated matter of fact, “so if you’ll get out of my way…”
“Oh no you didn’t,” Brant grabbed her arm, tugging her roughly towards the elevators, “You’re leaving.”
“The hell I am!” she squealed in response, “Brant let go.  You’re hurting me!”
“Not nearly as much as Ken will if he sees you here.  He doesn’t need this right now--not today,” Brant informed her sharply, “You have to leave.”
“And just why would I do a thing like that?  Ken needs someone to look after him and when he was in the explosion I’m sure he’d been hurt and I wanted to make sure…” Susan began to defend her position thinking about the man she’d coveted for months now.
“Ken doesn’t need this Susan.  You have no right to be here,” Brant growled down at her before standing in front of the elevators.  He pushed the down button while clenching his fingers around her arm tighter than before.  “Today is not the day for…”
“The hell it isn’t,” Susan sneered stomping her foot down on Brant’s allowing the high heel to dig into his toes.  He released her with a wince as she took a step back.  Tossing her hair back over her shoulders she eyed him with clear cut defiance, “Nothing is going to keep me from Ken.  No one is going to get in my way--not today.”
“Susan, right now I don’t think that this is the time to…” Brant began again reaching out to shove her into the now open elevator doors when the harsh, broken voice from behind beckoned the both of them.
“What the hell is this,” Ken growled while Brant spun around to face him seeing his brother’s eyes wild with a strange mixture of rage and misery.  Suddenly in that moment Brant released Susan knowing that by the expression on his brother’s face all hell was about to break loose.

...to be continued...