Episode 145

“Are you always that hot headed?” Jade questioned folding her arms in front of her as Kyle shrugged pulling the bottom of his shirt down.

“Hot…yes, but that wasn’t hot-headed. You should see me when I am really mad,” Kyle raised his eyebrow looking up into her eyes.

“I know you’re mad, but that doesn’t mean you have to start something with Brant,” Jade lightly offered.

“I didn’t start anything, he walked into the room and started it…he’s the one who threw out the first punch,” he protested as Jade smiled arching her brow. 

“I don’t think you know how much you sound like a little boy right now,” Jade laughed as Kyle sighed.

“Listen, I’m sorry okay?” Kyle questioned letting his arms fall to his sides.

“It’s fine with me…anyways, did you see how badly you were beating him? And you even have a dislocated arm! You need to teach me some moves,” she laughed as Kyle smiled looking over at her.

“Any time,” he nodded as she pushed him back lightly. “What was that for?”

“Nothing, just trying to show what its like.”

“You? Never,” he smiled.

“You do know if you ever needed something you could come to me right?” she wondered as Kyle nodded smiling.

“I know you will and I will be there for you too,” he added as she grabbed onto his hand.

“I know things have been tough lately, but everything will get better. We can all get through it together,” she insisted as he looked down.
“See, I can’t see that happening, I feel horrible after what happened. I don’t think Avery could ever be the same…part of me believes that’s my fault,” he got out before trying to swallow the growing lump in his throat.

“Kyle it wasn’t your fault, you should know that,” she frowned touching his hand lightly.

“It really is though, all I had to do was take his place. Then I would be the one that is dead right now and he would be there for Avery and that little baby who is going to grow up never knowing their real dad,” Kyle looked down shaking his head lightly.

“Kyle, don’t say that. You know that Russell wouldn’t blame this on you. He wouldn’t want that either.”

“Either way I still feel horrible and that’s why no matter what I do, I am going to protect Avery and that baby with all my might. And believe me, I am going to find the person who did this.”


“What the hell do you think you’re doing Ashford,” Grady demanded shoving Brant back after he and Jade had split Brant and Kyle apart in the midst of a full out brawl with one another.
“It’s none of your damn business,” Brant snapped back at him, the fighting spirit very much alive inside of him.
“The hell it isn’t,” Grady snarled back at him, “Avery is my family and I don’t need you coming in here and upsetting her…”
“Grady, this is all a big misunderstanding,” Avery tried to explain thinking about how things had gone from bad to worse in the blink of an eye.
“You can say that again,” Brant frowned heavily, “One minute I leave you in here and then the next you have that lunatic coming by to see you…”
“Kyle is my friend Brant.  Despite what you think you saw, he’s…well he’s one of Russell’s best friends,” Avery began choked up on emotion.
“That’s right he is which gives him every reason to be here, but you, well you can leave.  No one needs you around Brant,” Grady stood taller, puffing out his chest all the while preparing himself for a fight if need be.
“I’m not leaving Avery.  She needs me right now,” Brant stated adamantly.  “I’m not walking away from her.”
“Fine, then I’ll just have to throw you out then,” Grady moved in towards him only to feel Avery place her hand on his shoulder.
“Grady don’t.  Please…” Avery begged of him unable to contain her emotions, “Russ wouldn’t want this.”
“Russ wouldn’t want this creep hounding you either,” Grady continued casting a glance over in her general direction.  “I’m not about to let this jerk step in and take advantage of a horrible situation.”
“Wait a second,” Brant finally stopped to think about the situation they were in, “Aren’t you supposed to be dead yourself, Denton?”
“Yeah well as they say you can’t keep a good man down, though in your case, well I’m pretty sure I can lay you out flat in less than ten seconds if need be,” Grady sneered back at him, his eyes full with a fire of rage and grief all rolled into one.
“Grady stop,” Avery began again before throwing out a pleading look at Brant, “Brant, listen there are a few things we need to talk about later, but right now, well right now I need to speak with Grady.  He and I have to talk and…”
“I’m not leaving you alone with him Avery.  I’m not going anywhere--not at a time like this,” Brant folded his arms in front of his chest stubbornly.
“Brant, please don’t fight me on this one.  I need to speak with Grady and this isn’t helping,” she explained with a heavy sigh, “Please…give us some time to talk.”
“Avery, I…” Brant began before finally letting out a reluctant sigh, “Fine…but I’m only going out into the hallway for a few minutes.”
“Why don’t you just go home,” Grady sneered back at him catching a hefty glare from Brant before Brant opened his mouth to speak.  Brant seemed to think twice of it, backing off before things could get ugly.  Seconds later he’d exited into the hallway leaving Avery and Grady some private time.
“What is he doing here,” Grady questioned gruffly finally turning to his sister-in-law.

“He pulled me out of the fire Grady,” Avery explained feeling a moment of weakness crash over her.  As if sensing the moment, Grady reached out to her bracing her up before she fell completely.
“You need to lay down,” Grady instructed eliciting a groan from her.
“I’m fine,” Avery insisted trying to regain her bearings.
“No, you aren’t,” he argued picking her up before she could further protest.  Carrying her back over to her hospital bed, he sat her down before they could get into a big debate.  Taking a seat beside her, he noticed how pale she seemed to be.  “Tell me something--anything to let me know you’re okay…”
“I said I was fine,” she snapped back at him knowing full well those words were the furthest from the truth.
“Yeah right and I’m the Easter Bunny,” he rolled his eyes before his gaze dropped down to her abdomen instinctively, “What about the baby?”
“She’s okay,” Avery confessed bringing her hand in over her stomach, “The doctors say that everything seems to check out with her.”
“Her,” Grady repeated in surprise, “You mean I’m going to have a niece?”
Avery nodded feeling her tears bursting from within, “Russ always said we were going to have a little girl and he was right.  I’m having his baby girl, but he’s not here to tell me ‘I told you so’.”
“Oh Avery,” Grady pulled her into his arms feeling her fall to pieces beside him, “God I wish it wasn’t true.  I wish that they were wrong.”
“Grady, they want me to go down and identify the body--to see that it’s him,” she gulped, her tears choking her words back, “They want me to…”
“It’s okay,” he pulled back enough to touch her cheek gently, “We’ll do this together.”
“But how,” she questioned painfully, her vision blurred by her tears, “Grady, how can I say good-bye to the only man who has ever really made me feel alive?  To the soul mate I was supposed to spend my life with?”
“I wish we didn’t have to say good-bye to him,” Grady confessed his own eyes filled with the bitter tears that had consumed him since Jade had told him the news about his brother.
“Then why did this have to happen?  Why Russ,” she broke down shaking like a leaf in his arms.
“I don’t know,” was all he could manage to get out before his tears overwhelmed him.  How he wished he’d had the answer to that question as it had been the one thing he’d been obsessing over since he’d discovered that his brother had been taken from the world.


“Jenna I wanted to tell you everything, but last night all I could think about was how grateful I was that you were alive,” Hart admitted his voice full of desperation, “Beth only broke the news to me when she thought that Sam was going to die.  Before that I had no idea that…”
“Sam,” Jenna repeated, “so your daughter’s name is Sam, huh?”
“Look Jenna,” he ran his fingers through his hair, “I never thought that I could have had a child with Beth.  It never crossed my mind that maybe just maybe…”
“You were sleeping with her once upon a time, weren’t you,” she spat back, her anger and feelings of betrayal overtaking her.
“Jenna, listen to me.  I never lied to you about my past with Beth.  She and I were together when she and Travis were married.  She was a bored woman and I was a stupid, foolish ass who thought it would be fun to have a go at her.  It was a time in my life that I wasn’t too proud of, but I can’t change it.  I can’t go back and erase what happened between Beth and I.  All I can do is keep moving forward and promise you that there is nothing between Beth and I.  It was never about love,” he started reaching for her hand only to feel her pull away from him.
“Yet, you both share a daughter Hart, so it can’t ever be truly over, now can it?” she glared over at him, feeling as if the man she loved was a complete and total stranger to her.
“Jenna, you have to believe me when I tell you that I had no idea that Beth was pregnant after our time together.  If I would’ve known that…”
“Then what?  You would’ve stayed with her?  You’d be with her right now,” Jenna questioned blinking back the tears that had stung at her eyes.
“No, Beth and I never would’ve worked.  The mere fact that we have a daughter is like some sick twist of fate…not that it’s Sam’s fault, but if there were ever two people who needed to stay the hell away from one another, it’s Beth and I.  Jen, she wasn’t anything special to me and I know how horrible that makes me sound, but it’s the truth.  I wasn’t in it for the long haul--just for the kicks of the moment.  It was in another life.  I was a different man…”
“Yet your daughter is a part of this life and I’m sure Beth is just loving that,” Jenna replied sourly thinking about the woman who’d posed a threat to their relationship.
“I don’t give a damn what Beth thinks,” he informed her point blank, “I went to see Sam last night--to try to make sense of things, but when I saw her with Travis, I knew that I couldn’t be the one to destroy things for her.  She thinks of him as her father and she loves him.  He loves her as well and I can see why Travis hates me so much.  Not only did I ruin his marriage, but his daughter--my daughter--is a constant reminder of that.  Yet, when he looks at her, Jen, I can see the love there--I know that they care about one another.”
“So what are you saying?  That you’re not going to tell her that you’re her father,” Jenna questioned in confusion.
“Not unless I have to,” Hart nodded in open admission, “Jen, according to Beth, well, Sam has been very sick most of her life and that’s part of why Beth returned to Coral Valley.  She came here in the hopes that I could provide some kind of help for Sam to treat the disorder she has…I guess that’s really the only reason she told me about Sam.  I think she figured if Sam was in dire need that I’d step up to the plate and do the right thing.”
“And how do you feel about that?” Jenna questioned, her voice softening with the moment.
“Well, as I said before I don’t want to shake up her world anymore than it already has, but the truth to the matter is that I would do anything I can to help her.  If she needs me, then I’ll be there.  I’ll offer whatever I can if it comes to that,” he explained shaking his head solemnly.
“And what about Beth?  What if she decides she needs you?  That she wants you back in her life again so that the three of you can be a family?” she asked feeling her insecurities causing a tension knot in her neck and shoulders.
“I’m not interested in being with Beth.  Jenna, I love you and only you,” Hart explained reaching for her hand once again thankful to discover that she didn’t pull away.
“But what if…” she started again.
“Jen, when your father found out that you were his daughter, you didn’t see him running to be with your mother, right?” Hart tried to reason with her.
“My father is a creep and a nut job,” Jenna scowled in response.
“Even so,” he squeezed her hand gently, “just because two people share a child together doesn’t mean that they have to be together in any kind of romantic sense.”
“But Hart this changes everything…” she began again.
“Not the way I feel about you it doesn’t.  Jenna, you are the only woman in this world that I have ever loved and I’m not about to let anyone take what we have away from us,” he confessed his voice tight with emotion, “I love you and I can’t imagine my life without you.  I don’t want to have to face that.”
“And what if Beth has other plans?  What if she decides she wants to find a way to get you back into her life?”
“Beth can go seek therapy for those issues of delusion because it’s never going to happen Jen.  I love you--only you,” he lifted her hand up to his lips kissing her palm gently.
“Okay, but you still didn’t answer my question,” she tried to remain firm in her resolve to stay upset with him, “How does Cameron know about this?”
“He was there when Beth told me the news.  She kind of blurted it out in front of everyone--Cameron--Wayne…” Hart thought back realizing that Cameron was just itching to find a reason to destroy him.
“Wayne,” Jenna’s eyes widened in surprise, “Why was Wayne there?”
“Because Sam is his girlfriend,” Hart paused thinking it over, “Oh God, my daughter is your brother’s girlfriend.”
Jenna let out an ironic laugh, “How messed up is that?”
“Hopefully not enough to make us guests on the Springer show just yet,” Hart replied with a sardonic smile hoping to lighten the mood.
“I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet, but we’re getting closer each passing moment,” she sighed heavily, her eyelashes fluttering with the moment before silence followed.
“So…does this mean you want me to leave,” Hart questioned uneasily fearing that he’d blown the greatest thing that had ever happened to him.
“No,” she squeezed his hand in hers, “that doesn’t mean I want you to leave at all.  I was just shocked and I didn’t know how to react.”
“Neither did I, but truth be told all the while I kept thinking about you--about us and how I hoped like hell you’d be willing to take another chance on me.  Jen, I love you and I’ve never felt so strongly about a woman before.  You are my heart and without you, well I’d be so very lost,” he explained in an impassioned tone.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Jenna promised tugging him in closer to her, “Come here you.”
“Right here,” he smiled hopping into bed beside her.
“Exactly right here,” she nodded snuggling into his arms and closing her eyes, “I love you Hart and that’s why I was so upset.  I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have you in my life.”
“We’re not going to have to face that, okay?  We’ve made it through so much already and we have a lot ahead of us.  It’s going to be okay,” he tried to assure her, keeping her close to him as he wondered if somehow his past with Beth would be the key to making the both of them miserable in the future.  No, he thought to himself while kissing the top of Jenna’s head, Beth would never be able to have that much power over him to destroy what he had with Jenna.  He simply wouldn’t allow it.


“Thank you for everything,” Deidra began making her way around her kitchen after she’d put together some tea for her and Dave.  “I know you have so much on your plate right now that for you to come over here like this is only…”
“Deidra, don’t you know by now I’d do anything to help you if I can,” Dave sighed heavily accepting the mug that she offered him, “Besides I can’t even think straight with work.  The FBI has swooped in and they’re making this their case with the bombing since it happened at an international airport.  To me that sounds like a really stupid excuse, but my men are playing second fiddle to the Feds.”
“That surprises me considering that they’d want to have some help on the situation--at least I would think they would,” she replied sliding in across from him at her kitchen table.
“Yeah well, this is the Feds we’re talking about.  It kind of speaks for itself,” Dave groaned inwardly, “You know I should’ve just stayed in medicine.  It sounds a hell of a lot easier than all of this.”
“Dave, you would’ve hated medicine,” Deidra pointed out with a slight frown, “In fact correct me if I’m wrong here, but you hated medicine.”
“It wasn’t medicine I hated but more so the things that were associated with the higher ups.  It wasn’t about saving lives anymore, but more so the glory that came along with getting your name out and about,” Dave shrugged his shoulders sipping his tea.
“So you thought you’d spend your life locking up the bad guys instead,” Deidra shook her head at him.  “I have to hand it to you.  You’ve got guts.”
“Or no brains,” he teased back laughing lightly only to hear her doorbell ringing.  He gave her a sideways glance, “Expecting company?”
“No, not other than you,” she replied with a slight frown, “Unless of course Andy had the papers sent over Fed-Ex or something.”
“Yeah well if that’s the case, let me handle that,” Dave suggested rising up from the chair he’d been seated in.  Setting his drink down he entered Deidra’s living room making his way to the front door in the hopes of dealing with whatever loser was waiting on the other side of the door.  Opening it with a scowl, he put out his best intimidating look.
“I’m sorry,” Dean began blinking back in surprise, “am I at the wrong address?”
“Dr. Carlisle,” Dave replied unable to mask his surprise, “What are you doing here?”
“I was hoping to meet with Deidra, but if I’m not at the right place…” Dean started apologetically as Deidra entered the room.
“Dean, what are you doing here,” Deidra questioned in confusion.
“We were supposed to go to dinner tonight, but if it’s a bad time…” Dean began apologetically looking between Deidra and Dave.
“Oh God, I completely forgot,” she brought her hand up to her face feeling suddenly foolish.  She’d been so caught up in Andy’s phone call that she hadn’t thought about her plans with Dean.  Bringing her fingers through her hair, she knew that she was no where near ready for a dinner date, but still now that Dean was here, she couldn’t send him away, “Come on in.”
“Are you sure,” Dean asked with a soft smile.
“Of course,” she nodded in response, “I wish that I’d remembered, but given the week I’ve been having…”
“Tell me about it,” Dean nodded in complete understanding, “though truth be told I think we’re all having one of those weeks.”
“Isn’t that the truth,” Dave thought aloud realizing that his words had escaped his lips.
“So Chief Warner, any leads on locating the source of the bombing?” Dean questioned making polite conversation.
“None yet, but I’m sure we’ll find that son of a bitch eventually,” Dave answered quickly in his best professional tone.
“I really hope so because what happened the other night was just truly devastating.  To think of the horrors that everyone went through…” Dean sighed hating to conjure up the thoughts that had haunted him since Caitlin Vaughn’s untimely death.
“It was a horrible, cruel twist of fate indeed,” Dave nodded again before looking to Deidra, “Not to get onto dark topics, but I should probably be leaving.”
“So soon,” Deidra frowned, “Dave, are you sure?”
“I have a lot waiting for me at the office and now that you’re in good hands,” he motioned to Dean, “You’ll be okay I’m sure.”

“Yeah, I will,” she smiled at him, “and thanks for being here.  I’m really glad that I didn’t have to go any of this alone.”
“Not a problem,” Dave reached for her hand giving it a light squeeze before turning to leave, “See you later Dean.”
“Likewise,” Dean nodded watching Dave’s retreat before turning to Deidra, “I really hope I wasn’t interrupting something important…”
“No, not at all.  I mean I was kind of slacking tonight because well I haven’t had the best of days,” she sighed heavily pushing a strand of her hair out of her face, “I don’t know if I’m really ready for a night out on the town truth be told.”
“Well, we could always reschedule,” Dean suggested sensing there was something major going on before he’d arrived.
“No,” she answered quickly--perhaps too quickly, “I don’t want to do that.  I was thinking that maybe we could just alter our plans a bit.  How do you feel about a night in?”
“As in our staying here,” he arched a curious brow.
She nodded, “My video library is getting dusty and it’s probably time to take some of them out again.  What do you say?”
“I say it’s a date if and only if you let me order something in,” he smiled at her, “My treat.”
“Actually there’s this really great little Italian restaurant down the street.  You could go pick something up while I get ready since I know I look terrible right now,” she shifted on her feet nervously.
“Deidra, you look beautiful.  You always do,” he informed her honestly, “but if it would make you feel better, I can do that.  Any preferences on what you’d like me to order?”
“You mean you haven’t weaseled that bit of information out of my secretary yet,” she teased with a tiny laugh.
“Well, that was something I thought I’d work myself up to next week,” he laughed lightly watching the way her smile seemed to light up her face.
“Hmm, well in that case surprise me,” she winked at him, “and maybe when you get back you’ll find there will be a few surprises in store for you.”
“In that case, I can’t wait,” he leaned in towards her to kiss her on the cheek gently before stepping back, “I’ll be back soon.”
“I’ll be waiting,” she nodded in response walking him over to the door.  Once he left, she closed the door leaning up against it while finding herself smiling.  Sure, she’d thought about how horrible her life was lately, but with Dean’s arrival, she felt hope, enthusiasm and a sense that maybe just maybe something wonderful was in store for her after all.


Diego stepped into Heather’s hospital room with two cups of coffee in hand after he’d taken a walk to the cafeteria.  Making his way towards the hospital bed, he cleared his throat to gain Sarah’s attention.
“I thought maybe you could use some of this since I know full well you’re running on empty,” Diego confessed watching her with sympathetic eyes.
“You’re one to talk,” Sarah shook her head at him smiling as she accepted the glass, “I don’t think I’ve seen you take a break yet.”
“I can’t help it,” Diego admitted taking a seat beside her, “I wanted to make sure that your nephew and Heather are both okay.”
“You must care for her a great deal,” Sarah noted thinking about how Diego sat at her sister’s side loyally.
“She’s very important to me yes,” he nodded in confession, “and I don’t want to see anything or anyone hurt her again.”
“Neither do I,” Sarah admitted with a heavy sigh turning her attention to Heather once again, “I know she and I haven’t been very close over the years, but still I never wanted this for her.”
“I don’t imagine you would,” Diego nodded in confession watching the expression that crossed over Sarah’s features, “So what happened between the two of you if you don’t mind me asking?”
Sarah lifted her eyes up towards him before letting out a slow breath, “Time and distance I guess.  Heather had big dreams and I, well…I had my own responsibilities.  One of us had to have them.”
“I can understand that.  Sometimes carrying the world on your shoulders can be a heavy load filled with unforeseen responsibilities,” Diego noted with a thoughtful expression.
“Yeah well needless to say Heather and I had our share of ups and downs,” Sarah explained with a sad smile, “She was always the beautiful one--the girl who would one day be a star.  I was going to be the one writing the stories about her--to be her publicist as she made it to the top.  Did you know that from the age of three she was convinced she’d be the next big thing in Hollywood?”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Diego offered up with a smile, “Heather’s something special.”
“Yeah,” Sarah nodded growing suddenly silent, “though I have to admit you’re a surprise.”
“How so?” Diego gave her a sideways glance.
“Well, for the most part Heather stuck to the Hollywood types.  She was into men who had money and power and absolutely no heart from what I’ve been told.  You don’t strike me as that type at all,” Sarah deduced before sizing him up, “You seem so kind and caring and wonderful and I guess I’m just a bit surprised that Heather found someone so very wonderful to share her heart with.”
“Oh we’re not…” Diego started feeling a moment of uneasiness overtake him, “I mean she’s married to Cameron and…”
“And he’s exactly the kind of man Heather spent her life chasing after, but you, well…you’re just an unexpected surprise,” she paused before adding quickly, “but a good one at that.  My sister has never really gone out of her way to find nice people to spend her time with and with you…well it just surprises me.”
“Then I suppose that I should be saying thank you…I think,” Diego smiled at her before turning his attention to Heather once again, “I just wish that I could’ve been able to prevent this from happening.”
“I think we all do, but with Heather,” Sarah began before eyeing Heather intently, “I have to know.  Are you with her right now being so good with her because her son is…”
“Is what,” Diego questioned noting the curious expression on her features.
“Is my nephew yours as well or is Cameron…?” she began uneasily.
“No, Cameron’s not the baby’s father,” Diego explained adamantly, “though he’d like to take credit for Heather’s son if it meant that he could get control of the boy.  Cameron is a very sick and twisted individual and…”
Before he could finish someone arrived at the room making a bold entrance before looking between them.  Finally he turned to Sarah, “Are you Heather Gibbon’s sister?”
“I am,” she nodded with a puzzled expression, “Why is something wrong?”
“Not at all,” he shook his head, “Consider yourself served.”
“Excuse me,” she blinked back at him feeling him slap an envelope into her hand before prancing out of the room with a shrug.  She looked down at the package before throwing a glance out at Diego, “What is this?”
“I think I might have an idea,” he nodded towards the envelope, “May I?”
“Oh of course,” she handed it over to him watching him open it before he let out an agitated groan.
“Oh this is just wonderful,” Diego shook his head angrily before offering the papers to Sarah once again.
“What are they?” she asked in confusion.
“It’s a motion from Cameron to have you removed from being the person making Heather’s decisions,” he still held a few papers in hand, “and these are from Douglas Mahoney as he too is staking claim of ownership upon his grandchild.”
“Oh God,” Sarah groaned inwardly, “So Kipp Mahoney really is the father after all?  When Douglas approached me, I thought that maybe just maybe there was a chance that he was wrong about that.”
“I wish there was, but unfortunately Kipp is that boy’s father,” Diego sighed heavily, “and Kipp is nowhere to be found at the time being.”
“So what does this mean,” she frowned, “Does Douglas have a chance at taking my sister’s son away from her?”
“It depends,” Diego admitted honestly, “In this town it could happen if he or Cameron pays off a jury because I’ll be truthful and tell you that’s happened before.”
“Well it won’t happen again,” Sarah vowed her eyes narrowing with anger, “My sister is going to be with her son and if she can’t be, then I’m going to make sure as hell that neither Doug or Cameron gets near him.  Even if that means I‘ll have to fight an ugly battle.”
“Sarah, things aren’t the easy going up against men like that.  You’ll need help,” Diego informed her honestly watching the expression that swept over her features.
“And I’ll have it with Kyle and with you, right?” Sarah questioned as if already knowing his response.
“Of course,” Diego nodded behind clenched teeth, “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that Cameron Stone doesn’t harm a head on that boy even if it takes me to my last breath in the process.  Cameron has already gotten away with too much and this time, well he won’t win.”


Ken stared blankly out the window finding that his attention hadn’t strayed from that very spot since his arrival at work.  While he’d tried to get things done, he was at a loss.  His mind was a blank and his heart was in shreds knowing that the woman he loved was never to be found again.  The love that had lit up his life was nothing more than a memory and with each passing second, his heart was chilled by the knowledge that he and Caitlin would never be together again. 
Hearing a knock outside his door, he strained to put himself back into the moment.  The last thing he wanted was pity or anyone walking around him like he’d been ripped to pieces in losing Caitlin.  While it was the truth, he didn’t need anyone else--didn’t want them as Caitlin was where he was still at.  Clearing his throat, he sat up straighter in his chair attempting to put on his best professional expression.
“Come in,” he spoke out to the person on the other end of the door.  A few seconds the door opened and he felt a gasp fall from his lips upon seeing Zack standing before him.
“Ken, have a minute?” Zack nodded, his face devoid of all emotions, but his eyes revealed the turmoil that he’d been wrapped up in.  Their bloodshot depths spoke volumes about the tears that Ken was certain Zack had shared over Caitlin.  It was a feeling that Ken could relate to and as he motioned for Zack to take a seat, he wondered what was on Zack’s mind.
“Hi,” was all Ken could manage to get out not knowing what to say to the man who knew only too well the horror that Ken was living with nowadays.
“I know I probably should’ve called first, but well…I guess I just couldn’t really say this over the phone.  It felt so impersonal and difficult and I just hoped that you’d let me come and see you,” Zack began uneasily shifting in the seat before Ken.
“I don’t mind at all,” Ken managed to get out feeling the obvious tension in the air as he looked to Caitlin’s brother.  Forcing himself to make polite conversation, he cleared his throat again, “So how are you holding you?  How’s Johanna and the baby?”
“Jo’s getting stronger each day and our son--well, the truth to the matter is that if Blake hadn’t stepped in when she did, I wouldn’t have him right now,” Zack admitted with a poignant smile, “yet when I think about how blessed I feel with his birth, I can’t help but think about the irony of it all.  Here I am happier than ever about this boy--about this baby that my wife brought into the world.  I remember not so long ago when I was terrified at the prospect of facing fatherhood--I wasn’t sure I was ready for it when I found out that Jo was pregnant, but then Caitlin got me to pull my head out of my ass.  She told me to stand up to the plate.  When she told me that, it was then that I knew that I had to do it.  I had to start thinking like an adult and now that I have she’s gone.  She’s not here to see my baby and see that I’ve changed…”
“I’m sure on some level she knows,” Ken offered up thinking about how excited Caitlin was about being an aunt.
“I’m sure she is,” Zack replied poignantly, “but it still doesn’t change the fact that while I’m experiencing one of the greatest miracles in this world, my heart has been ripped away from me in losing my sister.  It seems like a cruel twist of fate.”
“A very cruel twist,” Ken nodded in agreement hoping like hell not to fall to pieces as he spoke with Zack.
“Look,” Zack started shifting in his chair once again, “I hate to be doing this, but the funeral home has kind of urged me to get moving on the arrangements…”
“Arrangements…” Ken repeated blankly before understanding dawned upon him, “oh…”
“I don’t like any of this, but when I called my parents they felt that holding a service here would be best.  Caitlin had so many friends here that it was really her home.  I know that she’d want us to be together and they are flying out for the service.  I have the time and dates all written down given that I thought you should know,” Zack pulled a paper from his pocket handing it over across the desk, “It’s all inside from beginning to end.  Caitlin’s request was that she have her organs donated to those in need.  After she wished to be cremated and my parents have opted to honor her wishes.  When the service is over, they are going to take her back with them to Seattle.”
“As they should,” Ken nodded hating to think about Caitlin in such terms, “how are they doing?”
“I’d be lying if I said they were doing any better than we are, but for what it’s worth, they know she’s in a better place.  Caitlin had so much misery at the hands of Jimmy and all he did to her.  She suffered so much and now, well now the suffering is over,” Zack paused with another uneasy silence, “Although my parents do realize that she found real happiness with you.  They see that she was able to break free of the demons of her past and find something special with you.  You showed her a whole new world that she didn’t think was possible anymore.  You gave her a reason to believe in life and love and for that, we’ll always be forever grateful to you Ken.”
“I just wish I could’ve given her more,” Ken admitted poignantly knowing full well that while he was going through the motions with Zack in their conversation, life for him would never be the same without the one woman he loved more than life itself.


Diane pushed her way through the doors of the sports bar not giving a damn about work or anything else she’d left behind.  Just the thought of seeing Ben with that bimbo was enough to do her in.
“Work related my ass,” she cursed feeling her fingers ball up into fists at her side, “Of all the lame, stupid excuses to use Ben Walters, well I’ll show you.”
Stomping her way over to the bar, she was ready to say to hell with the world around her.  She’d had more than enough and if Ben was going to hold her hatred for Deidra against her, then forget him!  She didn’t need him lecturing her on what she did or didn’t need to do with her life.  He didn’t know the first thing about her evil, wicked sister and she wasn’t about to let him tell her that she was wrong for feeling the way that she did.  Deidra was the one to blame, not her.  If Ben really loved her, then he’d see that.  He would understand and he wouldn’t act like such an ass.
“Well, now here’s something I wasn’t expecting to see today,” J.T. interrupted her self loathing as he approached from behind the bar, “To what do I owe the honors Diane?  Rethink that hasty decision of yours?”
“Go screw yourself J.T.,” Diane sneered back at him in no mood for his incessant annoyance, “I didn’t come here for small talk.”
“No?” he arched a curious brow before reaching behind the bar for a glass and a few random bottles, “Well if you didn’t come here for small talk, then there must be something else on your mind.  Perhaps a tall, stiff one?” he wiggled his brow suggestively.
“I want a drink, not you,” Diane spat out at him bitterly before scowling further, “and if memory serves me correctly it wasn’t all that stiff back when we were together most of the time.”
“Oh harsh,” J.T. winced before recovering himself, “although you know at the time I think you were feeling quite differently.  You couldn’t get enough of me if I remember correctly…”
“Your memory is obviously more hazy than it was when you were strung out,” Diane spat out at him, still fuming over Ben and Carly having lunch with one another.  Was she really so irrelevant that he looked beyond her without an afterthought?  Was she really so unimportant that he didn’t try to fix things?
“Now Diane, I thought we were working on building towards a new beginning,” he mixed up a drink for her before handing it to her, “how about a peace offering?  This one is on the house.”
“Don’t do me any favors,” she shoved a few dollar bills on the countertop before making her away across the bar in an attempt to get away from him.
J.T. watched her attempting to decipher her mood as she stomped over to an empty table.  She threw her body down on one side of the booth before slumping over with obvious agitation.  Unable to resist a chance at getting closer to the one woman he wanted, J.T. motioned to the other bartender on duty.
“I’m taking a break,” he explained making his way over to the table that Diane sat at.  Sliding in across from her, his eyes never strayed from her, “Okay, so spill it.  What has Ben done now?”
“Don’t the words get lost mean anything to you?” she growled back at him.
“From most people, they rate some consideration, but from you, nope, not today,” he shook his head at her, “Today I’m very eager to get to the heart of the problem you’re having.”
“And I’d just as soon like to be left alone,” she hissed clenching her fists tighter than before.  Finally giving up on the moment, she reached for her drink downing it in one gulp.
“Hmm…okay since you’re not talking, let me take a stab at what’s upset you here.  Ben has proven that he isn’t man enough to keep up with you.  He’s shown his true loser colors,” J.T. arched a curious brow.
“You know what I don’t get,” Diane blurted out sharply, “Why would he just throw away something good like that?  Why would he just toss me aside as if I’m nothing?  I mean I’ve given him everything.  I’ve been beyond good to him and this is the thanks I get…”
“It isn’t right,” J.T. nodded in agreement reaching out across the table in an attempt to reach for her hand only to have her pull it away.  She waved her hand around in a frenzy.
“I mean I’m not perfect.  I know that.  Ben knows that too, but does that matter?  Oh no it doesn’t because as long as I’m good and I play by the rules he loves me, but if I dare to have my own opinions, well then to hell with me.  I mean that’s the attitude he’s taken.  He’s not really even looking at how that bitch has upset me.  He doesn’t see the pain I went through when she stole Andy from me.  He doesn’t acknowledge that little miss prissy isn’t a damn saint.”
“Ah, so he’s still giving you grief about Deidra,” J.T. realized noting the sourness in her tone, “Stupid jerk.”
“Exactly,” she nodded watching him motion to the bartender to work up another round for her.  “I mean what is so special about a whining, depressed, little, pathetic prude who sucks the life out of anyone who happens to cross paths with her.  I mean hey Andy wanted me.  He and I had something special from the first time I met him.  He fell for me, but then Deidra swept in with her little pampered princess act and he felt guilted into being with her…”
“Yeah well the little bitch got hers, right?  Andy left her, didn’t he?” J.T. arched a curious brow.
“Well yes, but still,” Diane shook her head at him, “It really isn’t even about Andy because I could care less.  It’s just that I never thought that Ben would be so blinded by her.  I mean what is so damn special about Deidra?”
“Not a thing,” J.T. thanked the waitress for the drink she brought over.  He handed it over to Diane, “You were always the beautiful, fun one.  Deidra was the stick in the mud.”
“You really think so,” she asked as if finally listening to him for the first time since she’d arrived.
“Absolutely.  Any guy who can’t appreciate your wild streak isn’t worth the air he breathes.  You’re the hot one Diane.  You’re the one who can drive a man crazy with just a look,” he reached out across the table to take her hand in his, “You always have been.”
“J.T. I’m just starting to feel like I’ve lost my charm…that…” she began pausing from her words when she noticed Patrick Sharpe entering the sports bar.
“You aren’t Diane.  Not at all,” he added hoping to catch a break with her when out of the blue she rose from her seat.
“J.T. I have to cut this short,” she explained in a rush of wind before leaving him alone at the table. 
Turning in his seat he watched her approach the new arrival, immediately laying the charm out on him.  If J.T. didn’t know better, he thought that Diane was blatantly flirting with the cop before her.  Sitting back and taking it all in, J.T. tried to conjure up an explanation as to why Diane would leap to flirting with someone new when she was torn up about Ben.  Suddenly it was very obvious--Diane was up to something, he realized.  Finally opting to get a closer look, he moved over to the bar where they were.
“So what do you say,” Diane questioned tossing her hair over her shoulder with an obvious attempt at flirting, “how about tonight?”
“Well I’ll be working a pretty late shift tonight, but what about tomorrow?” Patrick suggested leaning in closer to her, “I have a lot going on--in fact, I really shouldn’t have even stopped in to get a quick lunch on the road, but I couldn’t resist.  Something was telling me to stop by and obviously fate had a plan now that you’re here.”
“I’d say it did,” she nodded in agreement reaching out to touch his arm suggestively, “I missed you, you know.”
“Yeah well I’ve been busy otherwise I would’ve come to see you sooner at the hospital,” he explained giving her another long once over, “though you seem to be doing just fine.  You do realize I never meant to get you in the midst of shooting that monster.”
“Oh I know Patrick and in a way I think you saved my life that day by doing what you did,” she continued laying it on thick, “In fact that’s one of the reasons I was thinking about us having dinner with one another.”
“In that case, what do you say I pick you up tomorrow around seven?” he suggested with a white smile.
“I say you’re on,” she nodded eagerly, “and we’ll do something special.”
“I look forward to it,” he reached for his carryout before motioning to the door, “I’ve got work to do.”
“In that case, have a great day,” she waved him off watching his departure with curious eyes as J.T. stepped up behind her.
“Okay, I give.  What was that all about,” he whispered into her ear.
“That was none of your business,” Diane stated matter of fact before wrinkling her nose at him and walking out of the bar.
He chuckled lightly thinking about what he’d witnessed.  Shaking his head at her he moved in behind the bar again, “Oh but it is my business Diane because I’m going to find out exactly what it is you’re up to and when I do, well let’s just say things are going to change,” he explained to himself before getting back to work.  One way or another he’d find a way to put a halt to that dinner date tomorrow night.  He’d waited through one loser already and he wasn’t about to do it again.


Brant walked out of the room to see Kyle and Jade talking as he sighed to himself.

“You keeping your dog under control?” he questioned with a smirk on his face.

“That’s it, I have really had enough of you,” Kyle moved up before Jade held him back.

“You should get a leash for that animal,” Brant laughed as Jade glared right through him.

“Shut up Brant,” she said still holding back Kyle.

“Yeah Spanky shut up, you have no idea what your talking about,” Kyle spat out relaxing a little bit.

“My name isn’t Spanky,” he growled.

“What is it then Spanky?” he scowled over at Brant.

“It’s Bra….” he started before Kyle cut him off.

“It really doesn’t matter what your name is nor do I care,” he smirked before Brant moved towards him.

“Back up you two,” Jade pushed the both of them back.

“No, he wants me to finish kicking his ass,” Kyle stated pushing Brant back.

“You two are being real assholes right now I hope you know that,” Jade insisted as Brant spoke up.

“He’s the asshole who was bothering Avery,” Brant spat out before Kyle stood forward.

“I wasn’t bothering her! Anyways you’re the asshole who started this whole fight.”

“Shut up the both of you!” Jade sighed looking over at Kyle. “Brant is Avery’s friend and you are going to have to deal with that.”

“Avery likes this fool?” Kyle questioned with a laugh.

“The only reason she likes you is because you were friends with that piece of shit…her husband,” Brant scowled.

Kyle going past Jade, “Don’t you ever talk about Russell like that again or I swear, I will…”

“You’ll what?” he questioned with a scowl. “Push me around with your big muscles?”

 “You want me too, well then I guess I should,” Kyle walked forward.

“Would you two just stop?” Jade questioned as Kyle sighed.

“What am I suppose to do? He just talked shit about my best friend,” Kyle growled.

“You know Russell wouldn’t want you to be like this, for Avery’s sake you guys should just start getting along. The both of you are going to be a part of Avery’s life and to make it better for her, she should have her friends getting along.”

Kyle looked away tensing his jaw and looking back at Brant, “If it’s for Avery I would do anything for her.”

“Now you Brant,” Jade insisted as Brant sighed.

“I guess for Avery,” he shrugged.

“So now is the time for you to shake on it,” Jade protested as the two guys looked at each other. They went to shake hands before they both pulled back.

“I would never make piece with a piece of slime like him,” Brant scowled as Kyle clenched his fist tightly.

“Yeah, well…Avery doesn’t deserve a jerk like you in her life,” Kyle pointed out before Brant rolled his eyes.

“I don’t have time for this,” Brant said walking off.

“You know what,” Kyle started rubbing his chin.

“Kyle he isn’t worth it, he is just a jerk. Leave him alone for Avery.”

He looked down and back up as he nodded, “Okay, for her.”


“Are you sure you’re ready for this,” Grady questioned with obvious worry in his tone.  He reached out to Avery noticing how pale she seemed to be in this moment in time.  He hated to see her in such a state, but there was no choice in the matter.  They had to do this.  They had to see the truth with their own eyes before them if they were ever able to move forward with life.
“I’ll never be ready for this, but what choice do we have in the matter,” Avery admitted painfully not ready to say good-bye to the man she loved.  She inhaled slowly, hoping to clear her head after she’d insisted upon checking herself out of the hospital.  She’d listened to the protest of the doctor on staff at the moment in time, but the hospital was too much.  She needed to be with Russ--to be home and get back to being with the man she loved so very much if only in being near to the place where they’d spent their time planning their future.
“Avery, if you’re not ready for this, then I can…” Grady began feeling her fingers grip around his arm for support when the lab tech came in.
“Mrs. Denton,” he nodded at Avery, his voice cold and collected in an artificial way as if this particular situation didn’t phase him.  Though Grady suspected in his line of work he was used to this kind of shake up.  People lived and died everyday so the loss of his brother was of no consequence to he man before him.
“Yes,” Avery managed to get out putting out her best business as usual face for the man.
“We have the body ready for viewing,” he explained urging her to follow him.  A few seconds later they were taken to another room and the man nodded at another who was waiting for them.  The pulled back the curtains to reveal a charred body before them on the table.
“Oh my God,” Grady gasped noting the fact that the remains of the person in the room just beyond the window barely resembled anything human.  There were tattered remains of the clothing the man had been wearing before the fire and a patch of hair still remaining on the top of the nearly flesh free face that lay open mouthed on the table as if the man had experienced a painful, agonizing death.
“No,” Avery cried out, shaking her head at the thing before her before she turned to Grady, “Grady, that’s not Russ.  It can’t be him.”
“Avery, are you sure,” Grady asked noting the tears the built behind her eyes.
“That can’t be him,” she insisted with another nod, “He wouldn’t be…”
“Mrs. Denton the man was burned very badly and when they found the body, he’d been wearing the wedding ring,” the man with them explained, “When we were able to check the security tapes, we discovered that he’d been in the very same clothes that this man was in and…well, the dental record confirm what we believe to be true.”
“That’s not my husband,” Avery snapped back at him.  “My husband isn’t dead.”
“Mrs. Denton, bringing you down here was something we were against given that the forensics already gave us what we needed to know, but the police chief felt that you should have this for closure,” the man began apologetically.
“Damn you, that’s not my husband.  You lie,” Avery charged at the man, her anger overtaking her as she threw her fist into his stomach, sending him keeling over in agony.
“Avery,” Grady gasped watching her preparing herself to attack the man who’d delivered the horrible news about Russ.  Pulling her up into his arms kicking and screaming he tried to hold her back--to keep her from losing herself completely in that moment.
“He lies!” she screamed with such a primal ferocity unlike anything Grady had ever seen in her, “That’s not Russ.  It’s not him!”
“Avery, I wish it wasn’t, but if the evidence says…” Grady tried to still her in his arms finding it an increasingly difficult as she continued to writhe against him, “Avery please.  You can’t do this.  Russ wouldn’t want you to…”
“He wouldn’t want me to give up on him Grady.  He promised me that he would never leave me--that we’d have a long, full lifetime together,” she broke down into heaving sobs ceasing to fight against him any longer. 
Feeling her strength slipping away, Grady hugged her in against him while his own green eyes returned to the corpse before him.  He’d wanted to have some kind of clarity, but what he saw was nothing that came close to the memory he had of his brother.  Still the evidence had stated that the man on the table before them was Russ.  He still couldn’t make sense of any of it…it was just so wrong--so unclear and so out of place given how much more time they all should’ve had left together.
“It’s not him,” Avery repeated over and over burying her head in Grady’s chest as he glanced over at the man across the room.
“Can you please give us a minute,” Grady begged of the man before him.
“Of course,” the wounded man nodded in complete understanding clutching his abdomen as he made his way out of the room.
Once Grady was alone with Avery, he reached out to touch her cheek gently, urging her to meet his eyes again, “Avery, listen to me.  You need to calm down.”
“Grady, that’s not Russ.  It can’t be,” she argued refusing to accept this answer, “If he was gone, I’d feel it.  I’d feel something and this, it just doesn’t feel right.”
“Avery, he was in a fire--a fire that claimed so many lives.  I know this isn’t what any of us wanted or planned on but…” Grady began poignantly.
“Grady, can you tell me with a clear heart that you think that man in there is Russ?  That you’re willing to believe that he’s gone from our lives?” Avery asked her words coming out in small sobs as her emotions overtook her.
“Avery, I don’t know what I believe anymore,” Grady confessed eyeing the body once again, “but I know that Russ wouldn’t want me to let you hurt yourself or the baby by carrying on like this.  You need to calm down.  You need to…”
“Grady, I’m not going to calm down.  Not when…” she started hearing the door slam open as Grady frowned.
“Damn it!” he cursed, “I told you to give us a few minutes here.”
“I’m sorry Denton, but your time has long since run out,” another voice rose as Grady turned to look at the man standing in the shadows of the doorway.  Taking a step further into the room, the man glared at Grady immediately giving Grady an eerie feeling once he recognized Lt. Sharpe before him.
“What the…” Avery blinked back in surprise watching the man reach out to Grady tearing him away from Avery.
“Grady Denton, you’re under arrest for the attempted murder of Kipp Mahoney,” Patrick explained shoving Grady against the far wall before slapping the handcuffs on him.
“What the hell,” Grady tried to wiggle out of Patrick’s grip, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“My job,” Patrick shoved him once again, “and don’t think that this time you’re going to get away with anything.”
“Let go of him!” Avery shouted, charging towards Patrick with all of her might.  She pushed her fists into his shoulder, only to be shoved back by him with such force it sent her crashing down onto the ground.
“You son of a bitch,” Grady kicked at Patrick’s shin managing to get away from him long enough to go after the now fallen Avery.  Kneeling down in front of her, he watched her with worried eyes, “You okay?”
She nodded, “I’m fine, but they can’t do this.  They can’t…”
“Don’t make this any harder than it is Denton,” Patrick grumbled regrouping enough to pull Grady to his feet again.  He shoved him towards the door before looking to Avery again, “And don’t you think about trying any funny stuff or else I swear I’ll haul your ass in as well.”
With that Patrick shoved Grady into the hallway ready to take him down to the police station to stand trial for the crimes against him.  Laughing wickedly, Patrick continued to push a reluctant Grady down the hallway, “Did you really think you were going to get away with this Denton?”
“Grady,” Jade cried out approaching the men once she’d spotted what was happening.
“Go and check on Avery.  Make sure she’s okay,” Grady urged trying to keep his voice even, “and then find Kyle.  Have him come down to the station.  I’ll be fine Jade, but with Avery…”
“Grady, I’m not leaving you,” Jade insisted firmly, “They can’t take you.”
“Jade, listen to me.  You need to go check on Avery.  Make sure that she’s alright and then you both can come down to the station.  I’ll talk to Dave and I’ll fix this, but you…well please just go check on Avery,” Grady pleaded with her indicating something far worse was happening.
“Alright,” Jade finally reluctantly agreed watching Patrick haul off her fiancé as she was left wondering how this could happen.  After a few seconds of pondering she realized that there was only one answer and that answer was something that had haunted her ever since the day at the airport when she’d been confronted by evil first hand.  That evil had to be none other than Cameron Stone.  He was the only one who was cruel enough to pull such a horrible thing and as Jade felt her body tightening with anger, she vowed that Cameron would pay.


...to be continued...