Episode Fourteen


Heather threw open the hotel room door, slamming her purse into the chair beside her as she let out a pinched laugh.  How dare Russell throw her out of his office when she was on the verge of a brilliant plan to acquire her piece of the Ashford empire.  Damn him for pushing her aside for that blonde twit in his office, but no matter, she would deal with him later and he would regret not hearing her out.  However, now she had to find a way to put her current plan into fruition before Brant got any ideas about bedding Avery once again.  The other night was too close for comfort and Heather refused to allow Brant the chance to get closer with his lady lawyer.  She would make damn sure Avery never got to experience the thrills of making love to Brant Ashford.  She would do whatever it took to see to it that Brant dropped Avery like a hot potato and that she would return to the mansion, living her days as Mrs. Brant Ashford where she was meant to be.
“One day we will be together, Brant,” she vowed looking around her hotel room as a frown touched over her lips.  While she’d been in a hurry to get to her room in order to plan the next step in her big scheme to get Brant back, the obviously overpaid, under worked bell boy made a point to tell her that she’d received a slew of messages.  Now as she kicked off her heels, she let out a groan thinking about the portly faced man behind the counter, who’d taken the liberty of gawking at her while she picked up her messages.  It wasn’t that she could blame him for staring, because well she was beautiful and every man was well aware of that, but the fact that he made her skin crawl at his repulsiveness was what did her in.  Even thinking back to his eyes over her, she contemplated taking a bath to rid herself of the memory of his gaze upon her.
“Well what do we have here,” she plucked through her messages seeing that William had called her once again--which more than likely was yet another plea to get her back to Los Angeles.  He just didn’t get a clue, she groaned inwardly as she dialed his cell phone number hoping that he wouldn’t get into another lecture about her intentions in Coral Valley.  She was determined to win Brant over and nothing would get in the way of it.  She’d just have to set him straight from here on out.
“Heather babe,” his voice beamed as he answered the phone, “I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for your call.  Where have you been?”
“I was out,” she frowned slightly as she sank onto the chair beside the phone, “What did you want?”
“I think I found your big break,” he explained simply.
“If this is another one of your ridiculous commercial pitches, you may as well hang up now because I’m not flying back to Los Angeles just for some damned commercial spot.  I’m better than that and you know it.”
“Heather, I am well aware of that,” he paused as something returned in his tone, “which is why I’m giving you the opportunity that none of my other girls will have.”
“I can hardly wait,” she rolled her eyes.
“Your enthusiasm is overwhelming,” he remarked, “but I’m willing to ignore it because I’m certain that after you hear what I have on the agenda for you, you’re going to wish I was there for you to thank me in person.”
“Somehow I doubt that,” Heather groaned running her fingers through her blonde hair.
“Heather how would you feel about being the next Julia Roberts or even the next Nicole Kidman?”
“I’m already getting bored,” Heather frowned slightly as she turned her attention to her nails.  How she needed a manicure, she thought as she waited for William’s big revelation.
“Well then maybe I won’t tell you about the new Douglas Mahoney film coming up,” he remarked.
“Wait a second,” she sat upright, “what did you just say?”
“I was going to tell you about the Douglas Mahoney film that he’s working on.  It’s said to be an even bigger project than Titanic, but if you’re more interested in staying in that one horse town chasing after Bart…”
“It’s Brant,” Heather corrected as a smile lit up over her features, “and I didn’t say I wasn’t interested.  I’d just like to weigh my options.”
“Well in that case, how would you feel if I told you that you wouldn’t have to leave that dump in order to audition?”
“I’d say that you’ve got to be kidding me,” Heather laughed lightly, “what’s going on?”
“It turns out that Douglas Mahoney’s only son happened to move out to that little hole in the wall and he’s new in town,” William explained simply.
“You don’t say,” Heather’s eyes perked up.
“He happens to be a fan of yours and when I spoke with Douglas, well he’d mentioned that Kipp had been following your career for some time and…”
“Kipp,” Heather’s nose wrinkled at the sound of his name, “His son is named Kipp?”
“Heather, Douglas and Kipp are very close and if Kipp was persuaded to see your talents, well I can almost guarantee a leading role in this upcoming project--”
“So where exactly is Kipp staying,” Heather questioned suddenly interested at the prospect of landing her first big film.
“He has a penthouse apartment on the north side of town near the lake, but he’s very eager to get in touch with you once he heard you were in town,” William explained, “and if you would be up to dinner with him…”
“When?” Heather questioned eagerly, “when can he meet me?”
“Tonight if you’re interested,” William explained matter of fact, “Just say the word and it will be done.  I can have him over to pick you up at around six thirty.”
“Well,” Heather pondered the thought realizing her plans for Brant were apparently useless tonight as Russell had evicted her so rudely from his office, “I suppose that I can do it.”
“Excellent,” William beamed, “Heather this is everything you’ve been waiting for.  Babe you’re going to be a star.”
“I’d better be,” she hung up the phone thinking to her plans for Brant.  Tonight winning Kipp Mahoney over should be a snap and she’d be one step closer to having all her dreams come true.  Soon she’d be a star and then she’d also have Mrs. Brant Ashford in her pocket as well.  Life was finally looking up once again.


"I'm on my way home. Do you need anything before I leave?" Dorothy asked of Grady as she slipped the strap of her purse over her shoulder.

"On your way out, could you tell Jade to come to my office?" Grady asked with a smile.

"Sure thing. Good night," She smiled as she walked down the hall. She knocked lightly upon Jade's door before peaking inside, "Grady wants you to come see him."

"Thanks, Dorothy," Jade replied as she finished writing upon her legal pad. As the secretary left, Jade tidied her work area before making her way down the hall to speak with Grady. She'd been anticipating this moment all day, but she wasn't quite sure what she could expect, "You wanted to see me?" She asked as she stood in his doorway, watching as he looked up from the work on his desk.

"Come on in," Grady said as he closed the file he'd been working on. He stood from his desk and motioned for her to join him on the sofa.

Jade sat on the sofa beside him and turned towards him, "You were right about the flowers."

"Cameron Stone, huh?" He frowned.

"Yeah, he invited me to dinner."

"He did?" His frown deepened, "I asked him not to see you again outside of professional business. I told him I didn't want any conflict of interest while we're working together."

Her eyes widened, "You did that?"

"Yeah, I did, and he agreed."

"He must just want to take me to dinner to explain. That has to be all it is," She reasoned, "Besides, I'm going to make it clear to him that I'm not interested in him. All my interest lies with only one man."

Grady softly grinned, "You get straight to the point, don't you?"

"Haven't I always?" She smiled as she reached out to take his hand, "You're the only man I want."

"You don't give up either," He stated as he felt her lace her fingers with his, "Why me?"

"Because you're not like other men. Other men only see the outer me. They only want some sex kitten who doesn't have a thought in her head. You talk to me, you value my opinion, and most of all you make me feel like I have something to contribute to the world," She paused, "Besides that, you're compassionate, thoughtful, dedicated, but most of all, you're sexy as hell."

He chuckled at her last statement, "You know I don't know why you'd think I'm such a great guy. Haven't I given you hell the last few months?"

"Yes, but everything worth having is worth going through hell for," She smiled, "And I truly believe you're worth it."

He paused as he gently squeezed her hand in his, "I don't know if this could ever really work between us, Jade."

"If you want to test the waters and go slow, hey, I think I've more than proven how patient I am," She said as she gently caressed his forefinger with hers, "But I want you, Grady. I want all of you, and I'm not giving up on you."

He shook his head with mild amusement before he looked back to her, "I'm not the bundle of joy you seem to think I am. I have a lot of baggage that comes with me."

"I've seen it," She teased, "And I'm not intimidated."

"Does anything even sway you in the slightest?" He asked boldly.

"Not where you're concerned," She smiled, "Come on, Grady. We all have a past, but it's the future we really have to be concerned with. What's done is done, but the things that lie ahead of us is where we should really focus our attention."

"And just where did you learn that philosophy lesson?" Grady teased with a slight grin.

"I'm serious," She said through a smile. She reached out to lift his chin so she could look into his eyes, "Tell me that I didn't imagine yesterday. Tell me that I didn't imagine this morning."

He gazed into her eyes, seeing a thousand rays of light within her, "You weren't imagining it."

"Am I crazy?" She questioned softly, "Or does this mean there's hope for you after all?"

"There should always be hope," He said barely above a whisper as he leaned in to kiss her.


Jade groaned as she heard Cameron's voice cut through the office, "Be right there," She called back to him as she looked into Grady's eyes, "I promise you that this will only be dinner, and it'll only be to tell him I'm not interested."

"I trust you, Jade," Grady assured her, "I always have. It's him I don't trust."

She nodded gently, "Good night, Grady," She said as she stood and left his office.

"Good night," Grady spoke into the open air as he watched her walk out of his office. He could only hope that Cameron wouldn't override Jade's intentions or side track her. His real concern was Cameron's intentions and whether he would let Jade break off their budding relationship as easily as she was hoping. Somehow, he got the distinct feeling it wouldn't be so easy, and Cameron would become even more dangerous than Grady feared.


Russell stood in his kitchen stirring the sauce in the pot before him as he checked the time.  Avery should be showing up soon and he wanted everything to be in order.  As the spicy aroma of his own culinary concoction filled the kitchen with it’s tempting, yet savory promises for their dinner, he smiled eagerly thinking to how he’d managed to talk Avery into dinner at his place after all.  Things were most definitely looking up as she had at least taken the liberty of calling to inform him that she’d rather be at home with him instead of murdering him out in public with far too many witnesses.  He’d taken it as a sign that she’d wanted to be alone with him, which wasn’t all together bad either, he mused placing a lid on the simmering pot as he heard the bell alerting him of Avery’s presence.
“On time as always,” he grinned thinking to the night before them as he wiped his hands off with a small towel before moving towards the front door.  Opening it, he greeted her with a wide smile as she stood on his porch looking up at him with moderate agitation, “good evening, beautiful.”
“Russ,” she shoved a pink box out at him as she entered his house taking a look around.
“What’s this,” he motioned to the gift she’d given him.
“It’s dessert,” Avery stated as she took a step further into his living room, “I thought I’d bring something with me.”
Closing the door behind her, Russ turned to take note of the slinky black dress she was wearing as her eyes scanned his living room curiously, “Given that dress you’re wearing, I’d say that you’re dessert and this is just a bonus.  That also means you have high hopes about tonight if you think we can make it to dessert.”
Avery turned to face him as a scowl pressed over her features, “I didn’t get dressed up for you,” Avery explained folding her arms in front of her chest, “I just thought I’d be different tonight since you were cooking.”
“Hmm, well whatever you want to call it,” Russ shrugged his shoulders as his gaze wandered over her, “I happen to like it.  It was always one of my favorite dresses you wore.”
“In that case,” she scowled back at him, “I should’ve worn something else.”
“It would be a pity to hide those legs,” Russ shrugged his shoulders turning his attention back to the box in his hands, “so what is this?”
“It’s ‘better than sex’ cake,” Avery explained simply setting her purse down on his coffee table as a smile touched over her features, “just in case you had any wayward ideas about tonight.  I figure that should tide you over should you get any unusual cravings.”
“There’s nothing unusual about the cravings you give me,” he teased stepping towards her as he leaned in to give her a quick kiss on the cheek, “Care to see what I’ve got heating up in the kitchen?”
“That’s a loaded question, isn‘t it,” Avery questioned biting on her lip as he brushed past her heading towards the kitchen again.
“Only if you see it that way,” he replied disappearing into his kitchen, “although if memory serves me right, you always did enjoy stealing a taste of the Denton Secret Sauce in the past while I was cooking.”
“You made the Denton Secret Sauce,” Avery questioned slowly following him into the kitchen as the aroma perked her attention, “Now I know you’re thinking about getting lucky.”
“Oh Avery, you know me better than that,” he pulled the lid off the pot stirring the sauce for a moment before lifting the spoon out towards her, “want a taste?”
“I think I’ll pass,” she smiled politely.
“You sure about that,” he extended it out towards her once again, “You’ll probably be kicking yourself if you don’t give it a try,” he winked at her, “Come on, you know you want to.”
“Russ, I really don’t…” she shook her head as he curled his finger at her.
“Get over here,” he insisted as she reluctantly took a step forward leaning in to taste the bite he’d held out for her.  Her dark eyes met his wearily as her lips tasted the zesty bite he’d offered her.  Slowly she let the sauce swirl in her mouth before she finally swallowed the sample he’d given her.
“It’s good,” she confessed as he reached out to wipe at her lower lip removing the traces that had remained upon her.
“Of course it is,” he agreed dipping his finger into his mouth as he licked off the traces of sauce he’d collected from the corner of her mouth, “Care to grab a couple plates?”
“I thought I was the one being spoiled tonight,” she gave him a disapproving look, “you invited me here, remember?”
“Seeing as you used to spend a great deal of time here, I thought you’d want to feel at home,” Russell pointed out as he stirred his sauce once again.
“I wouldn’t want to get too adjusted to this,” Avery sighed reluctantly moving over to retrieve a couple of dishes for them as he continued to focus his attention on the meal.
“I also bought a bottle of your favorite wine.  I thought it might be a nice peace offering,” Russell commented glancing over his shoulder at her as a smile touched over his lips.
“Russell Denton,” her voice chastised as he turned his eyes away from her, “when are you going to learn not to put your plates up on the top shelf?  How many times have I told you that not everyone has your height,” she reached for one of his chairs kicking off her shoes as she began to climb on top of it, “the least you can do is think of your company especially when you are asking them to help out in the kitchen.”
Despite the fact that he’d known she’d always hated this part about his kitchen, he couldn’t resist the urge to watch her climb up onto the counter pulling out the plates as his gaze lingered over her legs, and he took the time to admire them as she continued chewing him out.
“Avery, just get the plates and stop your complaining,” he laughed lightly as she popped her head out of the cabinet.
“Stop my complaining?” she repeated pulling a couple of plates down with her as she carefully maneuvered herself off of the chair she’d collected, “Are you out to purposely irritate me tonight?”
“Now why would I do something like that,” he arched a curious brow as her eyes penetrated him, “Avery, I just thought you’d be willing to help out…”
“Russ, you know the more time I spend here, the more I’m starting to think you went out of your way to annoy me by asking me here tonight,” Avery curled her lip in a pout, “I mean first you come over to my apartment leaving me no choice in the matter about dinner tonight and then I get to work and I found your little gift bag which by the way was completely unappreciated on my end.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he shrugged his shoulders looking back to the pot before him once again.
“You are such a horrible liar,” Avery hissed back at him, “you know damn well that you took advantage of the fact I wasn’t feeling well this morning and you planted those articles on Brant in my briefcase.  I have no doubt it was you and I know what you’re trying to do…”
“Avery, I’m just looking out for your best interest,” he stated simply stirring his sauce once again, “Brant’s actions speak for themselves and if the guy has a string of bad press behind him, then that is his fault, not mine.”
“Russ, you were trying to make him look bad in my eyes because for some reason that seems to be your latest mission in life,” she cut back sharply, “you seem to think that the more you make Brant look like a monster to me, the more open I’ll be to listening to your thoughts on him.”
“That was the plan,” he shrugged before throwing out a bright smile, “and it looks like you’re well on your way to listening.”
“I’m not going to listen to anything you have to say on the matter where Brant is concerned because clearly you’re delusional yourself,” Avery spat out as she placed her hands on her hips, “Stalking me and bursting into my hotel room on my vacation does not make you a sane individual.  That says that there’s something very wrong with you.”
“Paying a waiter to make Heather believe I was Brant doesn’t say much about you either, Avery,” Russ challenged turning around to face her, “you never did get to just what you were trying to accomplish with that.”
“I was trying to teach you a lesson,” Avery insisted firmly, “one that you clearly aren’t learning since you are hell bent on bothering me all of the time.”
“Bothering you,” Russell repeated wiping his hands off as he faced her fully, “It’s called being your friend, but I didn’t realize that being friends was such a bother for you.”
“It wasn’t before you started watching my every move like a hawk,” Avery stood taller, “and why is that exactly Russell?”
“Avery,” he sighed as he shook his head at her, “you’re never going to learn, are you?”
“Russ, I’m trying to live my life, yet you seem to keep popping up in all the wrong places at all the wrong times,” her voice rose with anger, “and yet you feel justified about it, don’t you?”
“When you’re about to get into bed with Brant Ashford, you’re damn right I feel justified,” he stated firmly, “because that would be the worst mistake of your life if you gave in to him.  Avery, he’s nothing but heartache.”
“That’s up to me to decide that, not you,” she snapped back at him as her eyes narrowed with anger, “You can’t pick and choose my friends, Russ.”
“He’s not your friend,” he argued with her, “he’s just excited by the challenge you provide him with and he’s doing this just to fulfill some sick and twisted fantasy of his about conquering a woman like you.”
“Russ, there is a lot you don’t know about Brant,” she hissed as her lip curled in anger, “a lot that you won’t even open your eyes and see about him.”
“Avery, you’re the one who’s approaching this thing with him with blinders on,” he groaned, “I mean do you think for one second that Brant Ashford has a sincere bone in his body?  That somehow he’s capable of giving you what you need in your life?”
“It’s not your decision to make Russell,” Avery snapped back at him, “If I want to sleep with Brant Ashford, I’m going to do it and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.  Plain and simple.”
“Avery, the only reason you could possibly want to sleep with Brant Ashford would be because you know that he’s not going to give a damn about you after it’s said and done.  He’s chasing you because you keep telling him no, but when you give in, he’ll dump you the way he dumped everyone else because he doesn’t know a good thing when it’s right before him.”
“Brant’s not like that,” she defended thinking back to the moment they’d had in her office.
“Avery, what dream world are you living in,” Russell blinked back at her, “that man is a train wreck waiting to happen, and you’re pushing yourself right in front of it.”
“The only disaster I keep placing myself in front of is the one with you,” Avery glared at him as she threw her hands in the air, “Keep the cake and forget dinner because I’m leaving.  This was a stupid idea,” she stalked past him as he reached out to her tugging on her arm and pulling her back to him.
“Oh no you don’t,” he shook his head as he collected her in his arms, “you’re not running away from me so easily.”
“Russ, if you’re just going to insult me and my decisions all night, then what is the point of dinner?” she challenged with a deep frown, “I already told you that you and I can’t have a conversation together without doing this, so why even bother?”
“Because we need to do this,” he urged squeezing her in closer to him, “in fact, here have another bite of the sauce.  Maybe that will lift your spirits,” he reached out for the spoon again holding it out towards her, “here.”
“I don’t want anymore sauce,” she shook her head in refusal, “I just want to go home.”
“Avery, just take it,” he nudged her with the spoon as she swatted at it pushing it away from her.
“I told you I didn’t want the damned sauce,” she threw the spoon into his chest as sauce splashed over the front of his shirt transforming it from a bright white to a deep orange shade.  Her eyes widened in surprise as she let out a tiny laugh.
“You think that’s funny, don’t you,” Russell glared at her as laughter spilled over her features, “Well I’ll show you funny,” he dipped the spoon into the pot before removing it and flinging sauce at her striking her down the front of her dress as her jaw dropped in shock.
“Russell Denton,” she grumbled his name as she wiped at the thick red line covering the front of her dress, “oh you’re so going to pay for that one,” she squealed as the sauce began to drip down her body, “You’re going down.”
“Take your best shot, Avery,” Russell dared watching her taking a step back as she reached over to the counter.  He watched as she began pulling the dessert she’d brought with her out of the box and she held it out towards him taunting him with it, “Avery, what are you doing?”
“Giving you an attitude adjustment,” she announced as she prepared to throw the cake at him.
A look of determination spilled over Avery’s features as she began to launch her dessert in his direction.  Russell realized she wasn’t joking as he saw the spark behind her eyes and he quickly ducked barely missing her assault as a groan flooded over her.  He stood upright laughter filling the heart of him as her failed attempt amused him.
“Ha, you missed,” he announced boldly sticking his tongue out at her as a thick pile of chocolate goop smacked him square across the nose.
“Like hell I did,” Avery laughed wickedly as she dipped her fingers into the cake she’d had sitting on the counter top, “did you really think I’d throw the whole cake at you and give you that much warning?  I so don’t think so,” she tossed another piece of chocolate cake at him, hitting him in the chest as he marched forward reaching for one of the pots on the stove.
“Oh no you didn’t,” he growled at her as reached out to her grabbing the top of her dress and pulling it forward as he dumped the caramel sauce he’d prepared for his apple strudel down the front of her, “have some sugar, sweetheart.”
“Russ,” she cried out his name as he dumped the pan down her dress before patting the material back against her chest, “Oh you,” she reached for the cake dropping it down on his head as she tried to untangle herself from his arms, but as the chocolate oozed down his features, his hold on her constricted and he wiped the chocolate from his face, pushing it right into the center of her face.
“Eat this,” he announced as Avery reached for the pan closest to her containing the Denton Secret sauce in protest and she began to splash it at him wildly.
“Take that,” she shouted as he tried to dislodge the pan from her hands, “and that, and that, and…” she stepped forward slipping on the caramel sauce Russ had dumped over her.  She fell into his arms, the pan of sauce flying into the air and spraying over them in a red wash of thunder as the pan fell to the ground with a thud.  Russell fell back tripping over the pan as she tumbled into his arms and within a matter of seconds the two found themselves on the floor covered in goop.
Laughter surrounded the two of them as Avery sank against Russell hearing the distinct sound of the squishing remains of dinner between them.  She wiped at her face, tasting nothing but chocolate upon her as he reached out to touch her cheek gently.
“Looks like dinner is a no go,” he laughed heartily his arm slinked around her waist as she pressed her palm into the center of his chest.
“I had high hopes for dessert,” she confessed mimicking his laughter as she leaned forward licking off some of the chocolate frosting that grazed his cheekbone, “hmm…not bad…”
“Let me just see about that,” he tipped his head up towards her collecting her mouth in a slow, surprising kiss.  His fingers smeared chocolate into her hair as he held her lost in the warmth of her in his arms.  Somehow while they’d made a mess of dinner, things between them seemed lighter, easier as he lavished her with kiss after tender kiss.
“Russ,” she breathed his name pulling back to gaze down at him as she found herself in a state of confusion in his arms.  Somehow this hadn’t been what she’d been planning on, but it almost felt right--too good to be real as there was something comforting about his hold on her.
“Shh,” he instructed placing his finger over her lips, “don’t say anything.  Please,” he begged of her as he drew her in closer to him, “just…please…” he whispered against her mouth coaxing her into another tender union.
Avery returned his kisses feeling the warmth and familiarity of him beneath her, the silence surrounding them as his hands cascaded over her curves, holding her over him.  Slowly his finger tips dipped over her waist, tracing a line over her body as his lips moved against hers slow and sensual and with each soft flick of his tongue against hers, Avery felt her heart pounding in her chest.  Her hands collided with his as his fingers collected the bottom of her dress pooling it up over her waist in a leisurely fashion.
“Russ wait,” she pleaded as she tugged on the material of her dress, dragging it down over her hips once again, “we said we wouldn’t do this.”
“Avery, this isn’t sex,” he whispered tightly as his fingers brushed up against hers teasing her gently with his touch.
“It feels like sex to me,” Avery confessed as he laced her fingers in his.
“It was never sex with us,” he pulled himself up off the floor into a seated position beneath her as he held her in his lap kissing her tenderly, “it was more than that.”
“Russ, if we,” she sighed against his lips, “when we…”
“Just touch me,” he pleaded with her his green eyes seeking out something from her as his palm pressed in against her cheek, “forget about what we say it is and just feel it.”
“Russ, I…” she began at a loss as she leaned into his touch feeling the warmth of him holding her.
“Just for tonight,” he spoke in a tight whisper as he hugged her against him, “just forget about what happens next…about running away and hiding from this…just…” the pad of his thumb brushed up against the hollow of her cheekbone tracing her vulnerable skin gently, “just feel…”
“Russell, I…” she saw the raw emotion behind his green eyes, the pain of the past haunting him as he held her and in that instant it felt as though a dam broke inside of her flooding her with all the emotions she’d kept contained deep in her heart from the moment she walked out of his life.  Leaning forward, she kissed him tenderly as a lump formed in her throat, her heart tearing her up inside as she wrapped her arms around him securely, “I want to feel again…”
“Avery,” he breathed her name showering her with tender kisses as tears glistened behind her eyes--the weight of the moment straining upon the both of them as he held her, longing to lose himself in the shadows of the past as the night called upon them in ways neither had imagined possible.


"Here we are again," Caitlin said with a grin as she sat at the table watching Kenneth take the seat across from her. She smiled as the waiter placed a wine list in Kenneth's hands, "So what will the wine be tonight?"

"Why don't you decide?" Kenneth suggested as he placed the list in her hands.

"I don't know wines," She frowned.

"You can choose one as good as I can," He shrugged as he glanced over a menu.

She groaned, "That is so not good."

"I trust you," He said with a grin.

"Well I don't," She said as she glanced over the wine selections, "I hope you're okay with a chardonnay."

"Chardonnay is good," He nodded before the waiter returned to their table. After they had ordered, the waiter retrieved the wine from the bar and filled their glasses. Once the waiter had left, Kenneth took a sip of the wine and smiled, "I approve."

"Well thank you," She said with a soft laugh, "So how are things going with the Midlands case?"

"Do we have to talk about work now?"

"Not necessarily," She shrugged, "So what would you like to talk about?"

"You," He said with a smile, "I told you I want to get to know more about you."

"Why don't we talk about you?" She said as she turned the focus on him.

"So what would you like to know about me?"

"Why aren't you married?" She asked before elaborating, "Brant's romances are wildly publicized, but you tend to keep your love life every private. Why is that?"

"Wow, talk about a direct question," He said with surprise. He took a moment before he replied, "Yeah, Brant likes to live his life for everyone to enjoy, but I don't live like that. I want to enjoy my own life, and I don't care what anyone thinks about it. That being said, I haven't married because the right woman simply hasn't come along yet."

"Do you want a family?"

"Yes, I do. I'd love to have a wife and kids to come home to. I'd love to have someone to give the world to. What fun is saving the world if you can't share it with someone?" He said with a slight smile.

"That sounds incredibly romantic, but guys never really mean that," She disputed his words, "Men always say that they want someone to share the world with, but in reality, they just want another trophy."

"I don't," He said as he met her eyes, "I have the Ashford money. I have a home, cars, everything that money can buy, but I don't have companionship. Sure I can have a woman whenever I decide to flash some Ashford money. It gets a lot of attention, but that isn't what I want. I don't want some just for thrills fling with someone who doesn't care about my vision of life."

"So what would you like in a relationship?"

"Trust, understanding, real emotion."

"The way you say that," She began, "It sounds like you've really been through the ringer where relationships are concerned."

"I've been through my share of bad ones," He admitted, "It's just that when there's money involved people tend to portray themselves in a totally different way than they normally would. I just want someone who can be themselves with me and won't care if I'm rich or poor."

"Don't we all?" She sighed as she looked to her wine glass.

"What about you? I can't imagine why you haven't been grabbed up and married by some lucky guy."

She broke an ironic smile, "Because the right guy certainly hasn't come along."

"So what do you look for in a relationship?"

"Compassion, honesty, tenderness," She mused as she met his eyes, "I just want to love and be loved…really loved."

"Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Why should it be so hard to find what we really want?"

"I don't know," She sighed as she sank back in her chair, "I'm not even sure if the right guy exists anymore."

"That's awfully cynical," He warned.

"I know, but cynicism keeps me safe. I've been through too much heartbreak. I don't want to go through that again."

"I can certainly understand where you're coming from," Kenneth nodded as he lifted his wine, "Here's to ending the heartbreak."

"Now that's something I can toast to," Caitlin said as she raised her glass wit his, hoping that the heartbreak in her life truly was over.


Grady sat at the bar, staring into his bourbon. Why he was sitting here drinking by himself was beyond him. Why didn't he just grab Jade and kiss the hell out of her, making her forget all about Cameron Stone? Why hadn't he found some way, any way, of keeping her from going to dinner with that man?

He groaned before he threw back the last of the bourbon and tapped the bar for a refill. He really didn't want to think about Jade being at dinner with Cameron, but after he'd let her walk out of the office, he hadn't been able to think about anything else. Was Jade right? Was he just being territorial? Or was his gut telling him that Cameron Stone was a shady character for a reason?

A set of perfectly manicured nails tapped the bar beside him, "Can I get a bourbon, straight up?" She asked as she sat on the bar stool beside Grady.

He turned and looked at her, watching the perfect pair of legs leading up to a short skirt with a white sleeveless blouse tucked into it. She threw her thick auburn hair from her shoulders as she glanced over to him and met his observing eyes.

"Hello to you too," Thea smiled, "Funny that we meet again so soon."

"Hmm," Grady nodded in response as he turned back to his drink.

"Grady, wasn't it?" She asked softly as her bourbon arrived, "You don't mind if I join you, do you?"

"No, go right ahead. I could use the conversation," He admitted, swirling the dark alcohol around his glass slowly.

"Don't tell me you're down and out at the end of the day?" She asked, taking a sip of her drink.

"This hasn't been the greatest day of my life, no," He frowned as he glanced to her, "And you? Just getting out of the office?"

She nodded, "Finally. I hate getting a new office up and running."

"Do you do that with Stone Corp often?"

"I travel with Cameron quite a bit, and when he decides to open a new set of offices, I have to make sure everything runs smoothly for him. It's my specialty."

"Sounds like you have a lot of pressure on you."

"It sounds that way, and I suppose it is. I enjoy the challenge, but finding the right employees is always a pain."

Grady smiled before sipping his drink.

"So what about you? What stress brought you out for a drink? The world of lawsuits getting you down?" She teased with a smile.

"Nah, lawsuits I can handle. It's people that tend to get to me," He admitted as he placed his drink upon the bar.

"Is there a wife at home waiting for you to bring home the big money?" Thea asked as she took another sip of her drink.

"No, I'm divorced," He informed her.

"Well, in that case, I won't be inviting trouble if I ask you to dance with me," She said with a luxurious smile, "I enjoy dancing, and I'd really like to share it with someone right about now."

Grady looked her over for a moment before nodding, "Why not…it beats sitting here staring at this drink."

"Let me choose a song," She said with a smile as she plucked some money from her purse and walked towards the jukebox. She glanced over the selections before placing her money into the machine and choosing a song. When the slow rhythm began to play, Thea slowly made her way back to him and extended her hand, "Come on."

He stepped off the stool and followed her onto the dance floor. He slipped his arms around her small waist as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She gazed into his eyes as she pressed her body against his.

"Hmmm," She purred as she melted against him, "You're a great dancer."

"You're not so bad yourself," He replied as he held her close to him, inhaling the sultry smell of her perfume. He closed his eyes as they danced, feeling her follow his lead effortlessly.

Thea slowly eased her fingers through the fringes of his hair while she whispered to him, "Thank you for this. You have no idea how badly I needed this dance."

"How can I refuse the invitation of a beautiful woman?" He asked with a soft smile curling his lips.

"Hopefully you can't," She said as she raised her eyes to meet his. She smiled as she eased her hand to his chest, lightly toying with the buttons on his shirt, "Where could a girl find a man in this town who might treat her to dinner?"

"I might be inclined to extend an invitation to a beautiful woman such as yourself," He replied softly, "And just what would you like to have for dinner?"

She allowed her eyes to play over his face and over his broad chest before she met his gaze again, "I think that's a loaded question."

Grady grinned, "What do you say we indulge in actually edible food first? Then we'll deal with the answer to that loaded question."

"You're on," Thea grinned brightly as he led her off the dance floor to continue their evening at a different venue.


Heather adjusted her lip gloss making sure that not a hair was out of place as she planned to dazzle Kipp Mahoney.  Who said blondes didn’t have all the luck, she mused hearing a knock at the door as she thought to the ways she’d wow him in her quest to be a star.  By the end of the night, she was certain that she’d have her audition and her name would be in lights as she always knew it would be.  Now as she drew in a slow breath, she forced a bright, beautiful smile ready to knock him off his feet as she opened the door to her hotel room.
“Well hello Heather,” Kipp’s dark eyes widened as she looked to him, “It’s really you.”
“In the flesh,” Heather extended her hand out to him watching him kiss the top of it as she tossed her hair over her shoulder throwing out a dazzling smile, “and you must be Kipp.”
“That I am,” he nodded his eager expressions giving him away completely as Heather realized that this should be a piece of cake.
“Well Kipp,” she touched his shoulder lightly, “William never mentioned just how handsome you truly are and when I’d heard that you’d wanted to meet with me,” she shrugged her shoulders in a flirty gesture, “well I couldn’t believe how fate was working in my favor.  I mean just the thought of being out with such an incredible, talented man like yourself…”
“Well, I don’t like to brag,” he adjusted his tie as a cocky smile swept over his features, “but I am good.”
“So I’ve heard,” she nodded reaching for her purse, “and hearing that luck would have you in Coral Valley, well it’s just truly kismet.”
“That’s what I was thinking myself,” his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, “when I’d heard that you were in Coral Valley, I couldn’t help but be surprised as I would’ve thought by now you’d be off in Paris or London on a shoot.”
“Well, it is down time at the moment,” she threw out a flirty laugh, “and I thought I could use a little pampering,” tracing the lapel on his jacket, she lowered her voice to a seductive tone.
“Don’t we all,” he gulped eating up her words as she kept spooning them out at him.
“So where are we going tonight,” Heather questioned curiously as she stepped out of her hotel room out into the hallway with him.
“Only the best place in town,” Kipp explained simply extending his arm out towards her, “I booked reservations for us at a place by the lake--it’s supposed to be something of an experience.  Of course it’s certainly not anywhere near the extravagance that the New York nights would hold, but I’d assume it’s the best we’ll be able to do in this place.”
“Coral Valley does tend to have rather limited resources,” Heather agreed after a moment’s hesitation, “which makes me wonder why you chose to wind up here.”
“I took a position at Stone Corporation,” he explained matter of fact as his grin widened, “I’m the in house council there.”
“Really?” her eyes widened feigning amusement as she placed her hand over her chest trailing her finger over the shallow line of her sinful red dress, “You don’t say.”
“That’s right,” he nodded proudly as he lead her towards the elevators, “It’s been a remarkable move and I’d like to think it’s something that will be the first of many things on the road to the top for me.”
“I’m sure you’ll have no problems getting there,” Heather rolled her eyes as he pushed the button to the elevator, “I am surprised however that you aren’t working closely with your father given that I hear he’s got that new project in the works.”
“My father’s life is film.  He lives and breathes the glamour and the ritz of it all,” Kipp shrugged his shoulders as he turned to her again, “but my passion runs deeper than that you see.”
“Deeper than being the head of Mahoney productions,” her tilted her head to look at him curiously, “and what might that be?”
“Why to rule the world eventually,” he mused with a cocky expression as the elevator doors opened, “Shall we?”
“But of course,” she nodded stepping into the elevators with him as she began to plot out the next course of action.
“I hope you don’t mind that I brought the limo tonight,” Kipp focused his full attention on her as he slipped his arm around her waist in a casual fashion despite the fact that they were nearly strangers, “I was hoping you’d enjoy traveling in the lap of luxury.”
“I have a feeling you wouldn’t accept anything less than the best,” she flirted returning the gesture as she turned towards him, sliding her arms around his shoulders, “given the kind of man you are…”
“I wouldn’t settle for anything, but the best which is why I was determined to meet you one way or the other,” Kipp acknowledged as he pulled her in closer to him, “You know I must confess that I’m your biggest fan.”
“Oh?” her lips curled in response, “Is that right?”
“That’s right,” he nodded eagerly as he lifted his fingers to touch her cheek gently mesmerized by her beauty, “I have all of your works at my apartment.  All of your calendars have made their way to my office as well as you’re very inspiring.”
“I’m flattered,” Heather threw out another stunning smile as she found herself bored with Kipp already.  Too much praise was never really a bad thing, but unless he could produce for her in the ways she wanted--specifically the role of leading lady, then he really was of no interest, “So about that movie your father is doing…”
“Ah yes,” Kipp nodded as a tiny laugh bubbled over him, “I was thinking about that recently.  It turns out he’s looking for someone in the lead role.  He’s looking for a woman who can dominate the screen, set the theater on fire and dazzle the world with her charismatic charm.”
“Hmm, sounds like it might be something I’d be quite good at,” she touched his lips tracing them with her index finger, “and seeing as you are my biggest fan, I’m sure you couldn’t agree more.”
“Honestly from the inception of the script, I thought you were perfect for the part,” he pressed a kiss over her finger tip, “and given this time we’re sharing getting to know each other, well I’m starting to think that perhaps you have a showcase of talents waiting to be displayed to me before this night is over.”
“Believe me,” she offered up confidently, “you haven’t seen anything yet,” she leaned forward dropping, a slow, seductive kiss upon his lips offering a hint of the passion she’d learned to portray in her acting classes before she pulled back. Given the expression on his features, she felt a strong sense of pride wash over her as he was completely lost in the spell she’d weaved and they’d only known each other for about five minutes.  Yes, she could see it now, Heather Gibbons--headliner out in Hollywood.  The role was as good as hers, she thought to herself as Kipp lead her out of the hotel and into the luxurious limousine he had waiting for her.  Tonight was certainly looking up, she laughed aloud knowing that it would only be a matter of time before she finally had it all.


The thick steam of the shower filled the master bathroom as Russell placed Avery down on her feet again--keeping her within arm’s reach.  The tension between them engulfed Russell as he noticed the nervous breath that escaped from Avery’s passion swelled lips.  Their eyes connected for a brief moment as he pulled her towards him jerking the sticky material of her black dress up over the curve of her hips.  She stood before him, fear shining behind her eyes as he placed a tender kiss upon her shoulder blade.
“Just feel,” he reminded her drawing her dress up over her body as she raised her arms allowing him to discard the garment as he took a moment to memorize her beauty.  Even with the shades of gummy caramel sauce drawing a distinct line over the valley between her breasts, she was beautiful, everything he remembered her to be and more as he peeled his own tomato and chocolate soaked shirt from his body.  Her arms embraced him as his lips beckoned her once again.
Avery sighed against his kisses as he knelt before her tasting the sweetness of her skin as his tongue flicked in over her naval haunting her with each familiar movement between them.  She enveloped him in her arms as his lips glided in over her hip in the faintest of motions.  His fingers dipped in beneath the soft fabric of her panties, drawing them down over her long, shapely legs as the barriers between them had been broken down.  Russell’s kisses tapered off over her body, leaving a path of desire over her body where his mouth touched her working his way over her heated skin.  As he returned to his feet again, Avery wrapped herself around him as his trousers fell to the floor in a soft whoosh.
“I think it’s time to clean up this mess we’ve made,” he whispered against the base of her throat as he hoisted her into his arms carefully setting her into the shower as the water cascaded over them, covering them in a cloud of steam as his eyes searched hers seeking out that thing they’d lost so very long ago.  He pressed the pad of his thumb over her parted lips now pulsing with the inflow of warm, sensual blood as an unsteady breath escaped from within.
Avery leaned into his touch savoring the ease at which he’d caressed her as her heart thudded in her chest.  Having sex with Russell was something she vowed not to let happen tonight, but as his words haunted her, she realized that he was right.  It had never been just sex with them--there weren’t words to express what it was they had when they were together, but whatever it was, it had drawn them ultimately back to one another--back into the arms of the love they’d left behind and as his kisses scorched her, she wrapped herself around him feeling the pulsating stream of water strike upon her silky nakedness.  Her finger tips cascaded over the muscular planes of his chest as he held her, his strong arms wrapping her up in a fountain of desire as his lips beckoned her, tearing down her defenses as she returned each kiss with eagerness.
“Russ,” she breathed his name her fingers fanning out over his spine as he pressed her against the shower wall, his kisses reaching down deep inside of her drawing her out from within.  Soft moans escaped her lips as he buried his head in the valley between her breasts, his tongue sweeping over the caramel that trailed over her savory curves.
Sliding her fingers through his chocolate hair, Avery leaned up against him, offering herself fully to his hungry explorations as the water cascaded over them.  Agonized gasps spilled from her mouth as she closed her eyes tantalized by his touch.  He lapped at the dried caramel, his tongue whisking over her swell of her breast causing a tremor to rush through her as his palms pressed in over her hips lifting her to his ravenous mouth.  She bit down on her lower lip feeling the steam surround them as he flicked her aching peak and his touch eased over the smooth contours of her hips, cascading over her.
“You’re so beautiful,” his words hummed over her body as he turned his attention to the unattended mound before him taking his time to remember all of her passionate responses as her moans surrounded him fueling his hunger for her more with each passing moment.  To hear her lost in the moment, craving his touch, it drove him wild as all his fantasies of them together again played out in his mind--except this time she tasted very real as she was in his arms, well within his reach.
Avery’s fingers threaded through his hair tightly demanding his mouth return to hers once again as her passion reigned free.  Her tongue lashed at his, plundering him with the passion she’d denied herself to feel over the years they’d been separated.  Feeling an overwhelming sense of confidence, she extended her hands out behind him, reaching for the bar of soap as her teeth tugged on his lip.
“You’re a very naughty boy, Russell Denton.  Look at the mess you‘ve made,” she chastised as she glided the slippery soap over his strong shoulders across his powerful arms as she leaned forward offering teasing bites upon him before tugging on his nipple with her teeth as he let out a harsh groan.
“Avery,” he hissed her name as her teeth sank into his body creating an exquisite combination of pleasure and pain all rolled into one as he yanked her up to him once again claiming her mouth with a wild intensity.  Their eyes connected for a brief moment before he slammed her against the shower wall, causing her to lose the soap as his tongue plundered within hers, waging war on her as he demanded control of her.  He coaxed her thighs apart feeling her tremble beneath his touch as he saw the raw desire reflected in the dark pools of chocolate before him.
“Russ,” she breathed his name as he brushed up against her thigh, teasing her with his throbbing shaft as his fingers dipped into her moist center.
“Tell me you want me,” he demanded tugging on her hair as his mouth plundered hers, “Tell me you want this…”
“I want this,” she cried out as her hands tapered off over his body, seeking out his aching need for her as her fingers curled around him in firm, determined strokes, “Russ please…”
“Oh Avery,” he groaned drawing her leg up over his hip as her words echoed through him.  His hot flesh slid into her causing her to cry out as he filled her completely with one solid thrust.  Their eyes connected as he stilled himself inside of her, both of them feeling the intensity of the moment as he withdrew from her body in a painfully slow motion.  She squeezed her thigh around him urging them towards completion once again as he delved deeper into her with each rhythmic push creating an erotic friction between them.
Avery threw her arms around him, her fingers digging into his shoulders as the hot water cascaded over them drowning their sounds of desire as he rocked inside of her again and again unable to deny how right their being together felt.  She buried her head in his shoulder as she matched his movements, the primal rhythm rising with the surrounding steam as he claimed her again and again.  Her heart was pounding, body on fire as she clamped down on his shoulders, her nails sinking into his muscled flesh.  He coaxed her legs around him completely gaining more control as their movements grew more frantic, desperate with the violent pounding of their hearts.
“Russ,” Avery cried out his name feeling a wave of pleasure surge over her as his body claimed hers again and again, “oh God…”
“Yes,” he murmured burying his mouth in her neck as her legs clamped around him giving in to the passion.
Avery bucked her body against his, feeling the ache burning down deep inside of her as desire ripped through her causing her to convulse in a chain of spasms taking him in deeper.  Crying out as his mouth savagely possessed her, she collapsed in his arms giving in to the shattering release of ecstasy as glorious waves of splendor rushed over them and he stiffened in release spilling himself inside of her with one final thrust.
The warmth of the water poured over their passion laden bodies as Russell squeezed her, feeling the earth move as his lips pressed against her shoulder.  Still buried within her, he fought for his breath as she seemed to melt against him--sinking into him in every sense of the word as they were one heart, one body, one breath together.  Her arms hugged him as her head remained upon his shoulder.
“Oh Russ,” she breathed kissing his neck faintly unable to contain herself as he gently massaged her spine feeling her tremble in his arms.
“Shhh…” he instructed holding her as he placed a tender kiss upon her damp skin.  Their eyes connected for a moment as she slowly detangled herself from his arms, sliding down his body.
“Russ, we…” she stammered at a loss as their lovemaking burned her down to the core.  Her knees were weak as his arms wrapped around her holding her against him once more as his lips coaxed her to sweet surrender.
“Tonight is ours,” he pleaded with her kissing her gently as they’d opened a door to the past and the world as they knew it came crashing down around them as their making love had started something that neither could begin to explain.  Still as Russ saw the first glimmer of regret, the first shades of doubt rising over her features, he caressed her cheek gently dropping tender kisses over her lips, “Let’s get out of here,” he suggested.
“Okay,” she nodded still wrapped up in his arms as he pulled her out of the shower.
Reaching for a towel, Russell wrapped her up securely as Avery looked around his bathroom seeing her dress laying on the floor.  A sudden sinking feeling swept over her as she thought to her promise to not give in to Russell.  Somehow she’d blown it as their love making was fresh on her mind--his passion still alive within her.  Closing her eyes, she tried to still her racing pulse as Russell stepped in behind her once again wrapping his arms around her waist protectively.
“What do you say we take a journey to the bedroom.  Maybe I can find a way to salvage dessert in there for us as I think I might have some ice cream in the freezer,” he suggested tipping down to kiss the back of her neck as she leaned in against him.
“What are we doing, Russ,” she sighed unable to give herself completely to the moment as a guilt tugged at her.
“Avery, we’re following our hearts,” he turned her in his arms seeing the lost look upon her features as he cupped her face in his hands, “You believe that don’t you?”
Tears glistened in her eyes as she offered a reluctant nod, “I don’t know…it’s just…it’s been so long since I’ve felt this way…so long since I’ve…” she looked to the floor as he reached out to her urging her to meet his eyes once again.
“We swore we wouldn’t analyze this,” he reminded her simply, his fingers sliding into her damp hair, “Avery, tonight is for us.”
“I know,” she nodded, “it’s just…”
“Just what,” he whispered against her mouth beckoning her into a kiss.
“It wasn’t like this with Bruce,” Avery blurted out a heat rising over her features, “he never made me…with him I never felt…“ she fought for her words, “It’s just been so long since I’ve just given in to what I was feeling…to my cravings…”
“It was always so strong between us,” his hands caressed the contours of her body before he lifted her chin to meet his gaze once again, “it’s still so strong…”
“I shouldn’t want you like this…shouldn’t crave you like I do,” Avery blurted out as she eased her arms around his body tugging at the towel he’d wrapped around his waist as her hands ached to touch him again, “I shouldn’t…”
“Yes, you should,” his towel fell to the floor as he scooped her up in his arms carrying her into his bedroom, “we should…” he whispered easing her onto the center of his bed as he vowed to remind her of how right they were together.
“Russ, I…” Avery breathed as he moved in over her pressing his finger to her lips.
“I know,” he whispered kissing her tenderly knowing their making love in the shower was only a taste of things to come for them as tonight was about new beginnings for the both of them.  The promise of passion still lingered between them and Russell vowed to open Avery up to the world she’d left behind years ago.  The flame was still strong between them and tonight they’d explore the fire without getting burned as there would be no analyzing things--it was what it was.

Grady smiled across the table at the woman who had somehow showed him a good time despite his total unwillingness to have fun. He shook his head slightly as he thought about how his drinking to forget about Jade's date had resulted in having one of his own.

"What?" Thea asked as she swirled wine in her glass, "What's that smile all about?"

"I'm enjoying myself," He admitted, "I haven't really enjoyed myself in a long time."

"That's truly a shame. A sexy man such as yourself should always avail himself to the pleasures of this world."

"I used to," He said as he thought about his past, "I was a bit of glutton actually, and I've learned my lessons the hard way."

"So you went cold turkey?" She asked in surprise, "Does that mean you try to live your life as miserable as you can?"

"I wouldn't go that far. I just don't go out looking for a good time."

"Then how do you find your pleasures?" She asked with a sultry smile.

Grady's eyes widened slightly as he grinned, "To be honest, they usually find me."

"Well, just call me pleasure," She smiled brightly as she reached out to lightly sweep her fingers over his hand, "I'm so glad we ran into each other. Here I thought this would be just another boring night to spend all by myself."

"Well we certainly wouldn't want that, now would we?" He asked as he leaned towards her, "You strike me as a woman who doesn't like to be alone."

"I don't. I much prefer to be in the company of an incredibly sexy man," She said as she took his hand, "And I have to tell you that I'm enjoying being with you. This has been an enjoyable evening."

He smiled slightly, "I'm glad I could make this enjoyable for you. I don't earn a compliment like that every day."

"You should," Thea smiled as she held his hand in hers while she used the index finger of her free hand to draw a soft pattern on the back of his hand, "You should be appreciated in all sorts of ways."

Grady dropped his eyes to their hands as she continued to stroke his skin. Instantly, thoughts of Jade assailed him, of how she had held his hand earlier, of how close they had been to savoring a sweet kiss. He pulled his hand away from Thea and took a deep breath, "I…think I need some air. Excuse me," He said quickly as he stood and left the table.

Thea sat back in her chair and bit her lower lip gently as she thought of his quick retreat. He may have thought he could avoid her, but he was wrong. She opened her purse and removed a small vial. She took his wine glass, opened the vial, and dumped the contents into the dark liquid. She swirled the wine to mix the concoction before placing his wine glass back on his side of the table. She sat back in her chair and smiled, waiting for Grady to return to the table.

After a few moments in the restroom and a good splashing of cold water upon his face, Grady returned to the table and took his seat, "I'm sorry about that. I guess I've just done a bit too much enjoying myself this evening. I'm not quite used to it."

"Well, how about one more drink before we call it a night?" She suggested as she raised her wine glass, "Here's to enjoying ourselves and allowing pleasure to find us."

Grady smiled as he took a long drink from his wine glass. Thea sipped her wine and smiled inwardly, knowing that Grady would never know what hit him and Cameron would be one step closer to getting what he wanted.


Heather smiled as she looked at Kipp across the rim of her champagne flute. She took a sip of the champagne within before she spoke, "Kipp, this evening has been just amazing. I had no idea that I could meet up with anyone in this town who could show me such a great time. Maybe there's hope for Coral Valley after all."

Kipp smiled with pride, "A woman such as yourself should always be treated to the utmost luxury that life has to offer."

She lowered her lashes with a soft smile, "You're so sweet for saying that."

"I'm serious," He said firmly as he placed his champagne upon the table and reached out to take her hand, "You're a beautiful woman, Heather. The men of this world are lucky just to have your beauty to look at, but I feel like the luckiest man in the world to be sitting here with you like this."

She flashed her million dollar smile at him, "I feel like a very lucky woman to be sharing this time with you as well."

"And the night is still young," Kipp smiled as he lifted her hand to his lips.

As he kissed her hand, Heather turned her eyes away from him. It was lucky she has the champagne to drink because her stomach was quivering at the thought of how thick she had to lay it on for this guy. She was doing her best to resist the urge to openly groan as he kissed the back of her hand once again.

"What the hell…" Heather questioned openly as her eyes fell upon the couple across the room. She recognized Caitlin immediately but the idea that she was here with Brant…who did that blonde twit think she was?

"Heather?" Kipp spoke her name as he noticed her distraction.

"Excuse me," She said quickly as she stood from her seat and stalked across the room. She closed the distance to the couple and stopped directly beside their table, "What the hell is going on here?" She asked as she planted her hands on her hips.

Caitlin groaned as she looked up to the model, "That's a good question. Why are you interrupting my dinner?"

"I think…" Kenneth began to speak.

"Don't think, Brant. It's not your best talent," Heather declared as she looked back to Caitlin, "I'm not about to let you get in my way."

"What are you babbling about?" Caitlin asked as she sat back in her chair, "Is this about Russell?"

"I don't know," Heather looked back to Kenneth, obviously under the impression that he was his twin brother, "Did you know that she was with Russell this morning? Probably getting orders about how best to get into your bed?" She scoffed, "As if she could even get that far."

"Look lady," Caitlin said harshly as she had felt the sting of Heather's barb, "I don't know what you think you know, but obviously you're totally screwed in the head?"

"Screwed?" Heather questioned as she grabbed Caitlin's glass of wine and dumped it over her head, "Now who's screwed?"

Caitlin looked up to Heather slowly as wine dripped from her hair. Rage flooded her blood as she glared at the model, totally prepared to rip the woman limb from limb.


Jade watched the waiter deliver their coffee before she focused her attention on Cameron. Every time she had attempted to talk her way out of their acquaintance he had shifted the subject to something else and virtually ignored her. Obviously she was going to have to be bold, straightforward and very to the point…even if she had to be rude about it.

"Cameron, we need to talk," Jade said boldly as she glanced to the coffee cup before her.

"Of course," He said as he focused his attention upon her, "We can talk about anything you'd like."

"How about this? This dinner. You wouldn't let me say no."

"You've enjoyed yourself though, haven't you? So what's the problem?" He asked with a shrug before sipping his coffee.

"The problem is that I like to make my own decisions. I hate having decisions made for me."

"But did I really make it for you?" He reasoned as he placed his cup upon the table, "You don't have to stay here, you know. You could leave at any time."

"But you haven't made it seem that way at all," She exhaled, "Cameron, this can't continue. You're a nice man, and I'm really flattered that you would ask me out to dinner, but…"

"No buts," He stopped her, "This can continue, Jade. Your boss has some antiquated notion about affairs between clients and legal personnel. I have no such notions. I'm very clear about what I want, and I want you. I'm not going to let some lawsuit stand in the way of that."

"What about what I want?" She questioned, searching his eyes, "Doesn't that matter at all?"

"Of course it does," He reached out to touch her hand, "What do you want? Anything at all, Jade, I can get it for you. I can give you the world…if you allow me the pleasure of your company."

Jade shivered as she felt his touch upon her hand. She looked away from him, "I'm not talking about money."

"Then what are you talking about?"

"Cameron, you're very attractive and I'm had a very good time with you, but I'm in love with someone else," She spoke with sincerity as she looked back into his eyes.

"No, you're not."

"What?" She gasped softly in surprise.

"You may have some unrequited infatuation for someone, but you're not in love. If you were truly in love, we wouldn't be sitting here together right now."

"Cameron, you didn't give me a choice," She countered.

He held her hand firmly, caressing her skin with the side of his finger as he held her eyes with his, "You'll see that I'm the right man for you, Jade."

"No," Jade countered as she attempted to free her hand from his, "I'm in love with another man. I'm not interested in you in that way."

"You will be," Cameron declared with confidence as he held her hand firmly, tightening his grip against her attempts to withdraw from him, "I always get what I want, Jade, and I want you."

Jade felt a shiver travel down her spine and into her very soul as she met his cold stare. No matter how she had argued in his favor in the past, she was now very frightened of Cameron Stone and felt as if she sat in the midst of a no win situation.

...to be continued...