Hunt stepped through the doors to the Ashford and Steiner offices
wondering how in the world he was going to keep pushing on with this
job--with this town when Brooke kept changing all the rules on
him. Taking in a slow breath, he thought about the job at
hand. He would just meet with Kenneth Ashford today and get it
over with. They would go through the typical rounds with one
another and he could go back to the hotel. Sure, it wasn’t that
Hunt didn’t enjoy this work, but at times like this, he hated when his
heart and his head just wasn’t into the situation. He wanted to
put work first, but when he had to worry about this and that, it left
him feeling like he was under some kind of jail sentence instead of
having time to live his live.
“Quit whining,” he thought aloud making his way through the second set
of doors. Eyeing the woman at the desk before him, Hunt inhaled
slowly before pushing Brooke and her issues out of his mind.
“Excuse me,” he spoke to the woman before him, “I’m here to meet with
Mr. Steiner again.”
“Ah yes,” Judy smiled up at him, “you’re the new interior
designer. You were here the other day, but well…things got a bit
“That seems to be the name of the game in this town, but I decided to
pay him another visit. Is he in his office?” Hunt questioned a
bit uneasily as he had a recollection of the last conversation he’d had
with the woman before him.
“Actually he’s running a bit behind this morning, but as before you’re
more than welcome to stick around,” Judy rose from her seat, “In fact I
was hoping you’d come by again.”
“You were?” he arched a curious brow.
“I was,” she nodded in response making her way over to the coffee
machine, “I was hoping we could chat for a minute. What did you
say your name was again?”
“Hunt. Hunt Lockhart,” he explained clenching the briefcase
he’d carried with him.
“Well Hunt, it’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Judy and I
help run these offices,” she offered her hand to him watching him
reciprocated the gesture. “So tell me how long have you been in
“Not long,” Hunt replied politely.
“I kind of figured,” Judy explained matter of fact giving him a brief
once over, “as you don’t exactly seem to be really familiar with the
“Why do you say that,” he asked giving her a sideways glance.
“Well because the other day you seemed a bit awkward when you were
here,” she reached for the coffee pot, “Can I interest you in a mug?”
“Oh no thank you,” he replied politely watching her with curious eyes,
“So it’s that obvious I’m not from this area.”
“Well that and your accent gave you away,” she confessed with a small
smile, “I’m guessing you’re from the New Jersey area, yes?”
“Wow and here I thought I’d gone and done really well in hiding the
accent,” Hunt shook his head, “I guess it’s true what they say about
never really letting go of it.”
“Actually my late husband did some of his undergraduate work out in
that area, so we spent about a year out there with our daughters,” Judy
explained, “and I just kind of took to the surroundings. Your
accent just seemed so very familiar.”
“Yeah well as I said I tried to get rid of it so that I could sound a
bit more worldly, but I guess the joke’s on me, huh,” Hunt smiled in
response easing up a bit with her.
“I think it adds character,” Judy poured herself a mug of coffee, “and
also I’m guessing that’s how you and Hart--Mr. Steiner came into
“Oh yeah,” Hunt nodded in confession, “His father and mine were college
“So it’s a small world after all,” she poured another mug full and
handed it to him anyways, “Here have some. Believe it or not it’s
a very relaxed environment here most of the time and we don’t need you
all tense before you meet with Hart. He’ll smell the fear a mile
“I’ll bet,” he accepted the mug before taking a sip. Feeling the
warm liquid settle his nerves a bit, he smiled back at her, “I guess I
needed this more than I thought.”
“Then I’m glad you finally caved in,” Judy confessed, “So Hunt, I take
it we’re not the only ones taking advantage of your talents here in
Coral Valley. I noticed that you were at the hospital last night
talking with an old friend of mine.”
“Oh?” he arched a curious brow, “Is that right?”
She nodded, “Brooke Morrison. She and I go way back and when I
caught you two with one another, well I wondered if you were perhaps
doing some work for her.”
Hunt paused for a long moment contemplating his answer, “More or less.”
“Hmm, well given Brooke’s tastes, I’m sure it’s very fascinating
work. What is it exactly that you’re doing for her,” Judy
questioned again finding herself more than eager to uncover what Brooke
was up to this time.
“Well I am actually…” Hunt began shifting on his feet as he thought up
a good answer. However, the doors to the office opened again and
Judy seemed suddenly distracted. He spun around to see a gray
haired man approaching. While the man looked somewhat familiar
Hunt couldn’t quite place the face.
“Judy,” Richard spoke in a smooth and even voice, “good morning.”
“Rick,” she nodded, her pleasant demeanor turning suddenly tense.
“I didn’t realize you would be here. Well, I mean I knew that you
would be here naturally, but I was hoping to have a word with
Ken. I was wondering if he was in and…” Richard paused taking a
mental inventory of the situation as he looked to Hunt. Finally
he turned to Judy again, “Do you think you and I could have a moment
with one another?”
“Actually I was about to get into something here with Mr. Lockhart,”
Judy replied coldly refusing to give in to any kind of request from
Richard for them to spend time alone together, “Though now that I think
about it, perhaps you two know one another. He’s doing some work
for your wife…”
“Your wife,” Hunt repeated suddenly very interested in the man standing
beside him, “You’re Richard Morrison?”
“The last time I checked I was,” Richard nodded with a polite smile,
“and you are…”
“Hunt Lockhart,” Judy piped in taking note of the strange expression
that crossed over Hunt’s features, “He’s doing some work for your wife.”
“What kind of work might that be,” Richard questioned curiously.
“I..uh…well…uh…” Hunt stammered.
“He’s in interior design,” Judy added noting that the color seemed to
drain from Hunt’s face.
“Really?” Richard replied, “Brooke never mentioned that she’s was
bringing someone in to…”
“There you are,” Hart began entering the office in a haste, “Hunt, I’m
sorry for being late again. My girlfriend is in the hospital and
it’s been absolute chaos for all of us. If you’ll just step
inside my office then I’ll be right with you,” Hart turned to Judy,
“Thank you so much for keeping him occupied. Rick, hey it’s great
to see you again. Come to see Ken?”
“Among other things,” Richard nodded before facing Judy once again.
“Well tell him I’d like to have a word or two with him later when you
finally do talk to him,” Hart added before motioning to Hunt, “Ready to
“You betcha,” Hunt clenched his briefcase tightly before quickly
following Hart into his office and closing the door behind him.
“He seems like a strange kid…far too nervous,” Richard noted with a
shake of his head, “Maybe he should stick to decaf.”
“Perhaps,” she agreed hating that Hart had arrived so soon.
“So Judy, can we talk? I think that we should really discuss what
happened the other night,” Richard began with a heavy sigh.
“Rick, it was a mistake and we’ll leave it at that,” Judy tried to
brush off his words, “So how is Avery holding up?”
“I’d be lying if I said that I think she’ll be okay. She checked
herself out of the hospital last night,” he informed her with a heavy
“She what?” Judy blinked back at him.
“Grady was arrested and she went after him in the hopes of settling
this thing that’s going on with him,” Richard continued to explain,
“The doctors told her not to make any impulsive moves just yet, but you
know my daughter…”
“Well if you think she’s pushing herself I can always call Deidra and
have her go over to speak with her. I’m sure that Deidra would be
more than happy to try to talk to her and get her thinking about her
health and the baby…” Judy suggested quickly.
“That might not be a bad idea,” Richard nodded in agreement,
“right now she’s going through so much with Russ being gone. This
bombing has changed so many things…which was why I wanted to check in
“I don’t think he’s taking things well Rick. He’s really upset
and while he’s trying to push himself I’m worried about him,” Judy
admitted poignantly, “Losing Caitlin was much like I’m sure it was for
Avery losing Russ. They both loved the two of them so very much
and now, well now it’s like everything has changed in a blink of an
“It’s awful how life works like that. One minute you think you
have it all, then the next…well, you just don’t know where you
stand. You don’t know where your happiness faded off to,” he
continued, unable to keep his eyes off of her.
“Sometimes that happiness just wasn’t meant to be. You only have
so long before that window of opportunity slips on by,” she replied her
voice thick with emotion as she thought about what might’ve been for
the two of them. “Anyways with Ken, I haven’t seen him this
morning. He hasn’t come in and I was about to give him a
call. Something tells me he’s at home dealing with the grief over
the situation he’s going through.”
“Well, then perhaps I should pay him a visit over at the mansion.
I just worry about him considering that he doesn’t really have anyone
to help him through this. Sure, Brant is his brother, but those
two are like fire and ice and with Blake…”
“I understand Rick and it’s good that he has you,” Judy smiled at him
gently, “Same goes for Avery.”
“Yeah well I wish there was a way I could take my daughter’s pain away,
but she’s got a long road ahead of her. She went back home last
night and Russell’s parents are over there with her now. I
suppose I can head on over to check on Ken before I go over to see her
“That’s probably best,” she nodded in response with another long
“Judy, we can’t just leave it at this. I really hate that there
is this tension between us. You know how I feel about things….”
“And you know how I feel Rick. You’re a married man and I’m not
about to ruin the stability that you have in your life.
Regardless of the situation, Brooke is still your wife and we, well we
are the past. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some things to get
to,” she finished brushing past him to find any escape available to
keep from showing him the truth behind her heart. As much as she
wanted to be with him, she refused to give in because she knew full
well that in loving him it would only spell disaster for her in the
A dull, throbbing ache swelled in the center of Ken’s temple, lulling
him back to consciousness after what felt like one of the longest
nights ever. Pulling together enough strength to lift his head up
off of the desk it had fallen onto moments after he’d returned to the
Ashford mansion, he looked around only to be blinded by the sun’s
bright and early rays.
“Oh,” he groaned feeling the pulsating in his head growing far worse
than he’d initially thought when he’d awakened again. He
stretched his foot out feeling the empty glass vodka bottle that he’d
swiped when he’d come home last night from the mini bar roll beneath
him. He groaned again, sliding his chair back only to discover
that he’d clearly passed out lost in his own moment of misery.
“Another morning, another day to fake it through,” Ken mouthed to
himself staggering out of the chair he’d been seated in. He felt
a moment of dizziness spread out over his whole body, sending him
rocking backward. He gripped his head trying to will the pain
away, but instead he only felt a deeper sorrow overwhelm him.
“You need to get a grip,” he instructed himself coldly making his way
out of his private office. He staggered into the foyer before
turning his attention towards the great room. There across the
way was the mini bar that he’d paid homage to Caitlin in the previous
evening. There before him lay out a vast array of poisons to help
him through this time. They beckoned him--spoke to him in ways
that no one else would understand. Their numbing comfort drawing
him in as he zigzagged over to the bar not giving a damn about his
Reaching for one of the bottles before him, Ken wrenched the top off
and brought the neck up to his mouth. Taking a long, hard gulp,
he felt the hot liquid burn at the back of his throat. Sure,
maybe this wasn’t the best option, but it was the only one that kept
him from remembering--from being haunted by the reality that the
Caitlin he loved was gone. In his dark, drinking binge, he could
escape her--or rather escape the world long enough to lose himself to
the almost forgotten feel of her in his arms.
“Caitlin,” he bellowed, lifting his head up towards the ceiling, “why
did you have to leave me?”
With no apparent answer coming from the woman he loved, Ken took
another sip of the vodka. There was something comforting about
it--something that brought him back to that world of freedom. He
wasn’t forced to be strong--to be the one who held the pieces
together. He was just a man lost in his misery. A man who
had held it all so very close and then had it all ripped away from him
in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t fair. Life wasn’t what
he’d hoped for. Nothing was what he’d wanted and as he thought
about that gun he’d brought home with him, it’s silent comfort seemed
to tempt him once again.
“We could be together again,” he could almost hear Caitlin’s voice
echoing in the back of his mind. Tears came to his eyes as he
thought about that very prospect. How he wanted that. How
he would give it all to be with her. He longed to hold her--to
keep her beside him and never let go. To love her without fate
pulling her from his life…
“Be with me, Ken. Come to me,” Ken heard Caitlin’s voice ring out
in the back of his mind. He could almost see her standing before
him--her blonde hair framing her soft features in such a way that he
could almost feel her. He could almost taste her nearness and
with tears burning behind his eyes he extended his arm out to hold her,
only to watch her fade away.
“Caitlin…please don’t go…” he broke down dropping the bottle in hand
with a thud.
“Ken, is that you,” Brant questioned entering the room to find his
brother staring blankly out at the world that seemed to exist beyond
the both of them. Moving in closer to him, Brant could see the
sheer despair that had overtaken his brother. “Ken…”
“She’s gone Brant. She’s gone and now there’s nothing left,” Ken
replied choked up on emotion before he turned towards the bar again, “I
can’t change this. I can’t make this go away.”
“Ken, you aren’t supposed to make it go away. You’re just
supposed to work on healing,” Brant’s voice grew pained at the
knowledge of his brother’s hurting, “You have to think about the good
times you and Caitlin had and you need to keep moving on. It’s
what she would want.”
“What the hell would you know about what she wants,” Ken spat at him,
his sadness turning to anger, “You never cared about her. You
never treated her like a person.”
“How I felt about Caitlin is irrelevant. I know that you loved
her and she made you happy. That in itself is something
special. I know how you‘re hurting,” Brant continued honestly.
“You don’t know the half of it,” Ken snarled at him, his brown eyes
transforming into a mask of rage, “For all I know you’re loving
this. I mean hey, you finally got rid of her Brant. She’s
finally out of my life so you don’t have to bitch and moan anymore!”
“Ken, I already told you that I never wanted this. Not like
this,” Brant began feeling his brother’s rage cut like a knife.
“Right, just like you aren’t jumping in your shoes that you can have
Avery. I mean that’s what this has always been about.
Caitlin didn’t agree with that view, but now there’s nothing to stop
you from claiming her--from making her yours,” Ken marched towards him,
his rage channeling out onto Brant, “Tell me brother, will you take
this time to manipulate her? To make her yours just like Nicholas
would? Will you be bedding her against her wishes and leaving me
to clean up the mess?”
That did it. Brant’s fists clenched at his side, “Ken, you’re
drunk and it’s not flattering.”
“Neither is the way you’ve been coveting Russell Denton’s wife,” Ken
snapped in response, “I’ve seen it for months Brant, but now, well now
nothing is standing in your way.”
“I didn’t want any of this,” Brant argued with him.
“Oh you wanted it,” Ken let out a wicked smirk, “but you just never
imagined it would all happen so easily for you. You never thought
that this bomber would come in and answer your prayers, but the truth
to the matter is that you got everything you wanted. Caitlin is
dead and out of my life. Russ left Avery all alone and hurting,
which opens a door for you.”
“Ken, I wasn’t responsible for what happened and we already discussed
this,” Brant frowned back at him realizing that the ground he’d thought
he’d made with his brother didn’t seem to matter.
“Oh we discussed it, but I’m sure you were just saying what you thought
I wanted to hear just like everyone else does. Sure, they say
that they sympathize and that they understand, but the truth is that no
one will understand. No one will be able to feel what it is that
I’m feeling and for you to stand there and pretend that you gave a damn
about Caitlin, well it’s an insult to my intelligence and to her memory
“I’ve never hid my feelings about her Ken, but as I said before I know
she made you happy. I wouldn’t have wished this upon anyone,”
Brant insisted again.
“Yet, you spent so much time trying to manipulate the cards in your
favor and hey, guess what Brant? The balls is in your court
now. You have that perfect little scenario you were hoping
for. May the rest of the world be damned,” Ken’s voice grew
louder by the moment, “The little bitch you viewed as a thorn in your
side is dead. I mean that’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it?”
“You couldn’t be further from the truth Ken,” Brant shook his head
poignantly. He opened his mouth to speak once again before
throwing his hands up in the air, “Go sober up Ken. You make a
“And you’re a horrible human being,” Ken lashed out at him, “You might
be pretending right now, but on the inside you’re gloating.
You’re loving that nothing is standing in your way and you’re about to
go in for the kill. I can see it and I’m not going to pretend
that I believe you’ve turned a new leaf. You’re ready to take
action and poor Avery doesn’t see it coming.”
“My relationship with Avery is irrelevant to what you’re going
through,” Brant snapped back at him, “You don’t understand.”
“Oh I understand Brant,” Ken stepped towards him, darkness behind his
eyes as he taunted his brother, “Just like poor Jade understood the
moment our father held her down in that hotel room against her
wishes. The way he violated her and hurt her again and
again… He got a rush off of it…just like you’re getting right now
with Avery. The taste of her misery pushed him on and that night,
well I think you felt that emotion yourself. You said it repulsed
you, but now, well I know you’re just itching to exude your power upon
Avery--to prove to her that you’re the man for her--the only thing she
needs. The savior in her life!”
“Shut up Ken!” Brant growled back at him having had enough.
“Well it’s the truth, isn’t it? I mean let’s face it Brant.
No one tells you no--not Avery, not Caitlin or any other woman for that
matter. Once you have it set in your mind you work your damnedest
to make your reality happen…even if it means taking out the opposition
in the process. So tell me how much did you pay to make Russ and
Caitlin disappear? How much blood money did it take for you to
ruin my life and Avery’s?”
“You go to hell,” Brant scowled in response having had enough. He
turned to walk away.
“Oh I’m already in hell thanks to you,” Ken rushed towards him,
throwing his fists into Brant’s back.
Brant buckled forward, barely having enough time to recover from the
fateful blow. Ken continued to pound away at him, screaming and
cursing with an inner hatred, a raw emotion that cut Brant to the
core. At first Brant had thought of reacting, but instead he
stood still--taking the hits Ken was giving him. This wasn’t
about Brant. It wasn’t about the things Ken had said in
anger. Ken needed someone to blame--someone to lash out at and
all Brant could do was take it in hoping that somehow in doing nothing,
it would allow Ken the chance to get some of it out. Finally Ken
took a step back, tears burning his brown eyes.
“What’s wrong with you coward? Aren’t you man enough to fight
me?” Ken shouted back at him, “Aren’t you going to prove to me what you
“I think I already have Ken,” Brant sighed heavily watching his brother
fall to his knees in sobs. Staying frozen for a moment Brant
contemplated his next move, but as his brother’s heartache moved down
deep into him, he stepped forward. Reaching out to Ken, he felt
Ken push him away for the briefest of moments, but finally his resolve
slipped away. Moving in beside him, Brant hugged his brother
tightly, feeling his pain vibrate over him.
“I don’t understand Brant,” Ken sobbed harder than ever, “Why her? Why
“I don’t know. I just don’t know Ken,” Brant held back on his own
tears wishing that somehow he’d had the answers and the solutions that
his brother was so desperately seeking out. It just wasn’t fair.
Johanna couldn’t help but smile as she watched Zack sleeping in the
chair across from her hospital bed. While she’d insisted that he
go to the hotel for the night to get a real opportunity to sleep, he’d
opted to stay with her and his son. It was something that she
felt she needed to have him do considering all that had happened, but
now that she was watching him lovingly, she had to admit she was glad
he’d stay. Slowly he began to awaken with a soft smile on his
“Good morning handsome,” Johanna greeted him while holding their son in
her arms, “how’s the neck doing?”
“It’s stiff,” Zack confessed with another long yawn before his eyes
fell upon his boy once again, “Hey when did he come back?”
“Not too long ago,” Johanna explained with a proud smile, “They said he
was hungry, but I think it had more so to do with the fact that he
wanted to see his daddy.”
“Now that’s certainly something I could wake up to each and every
morning,” Zack confessed practically leaping out of the chair to join
Johanna and their son on the bed. Carefully he maneuvered himself
in beside them, unable to take his eyes off of their boy, “So how is my
little one feeling this morning?”
“He was a little colicky when they brought him in, but I think we’ve
worked past it,” Johanna admitted with a slight smile, “though he does
tend to have a bit of his father’s stubborn streak.”
“I wouldn’t call it stubborn,” Zack reached out to offer his finger to
his son, “but more so part of the Vaughn charm that we men carry with
“He really is amazing,” Johanna admitted proudly thinking about how
their lives had changed so very much over the last couple of months.
“You’re the amazing one Jo,” Zack confessed reaching out to touch her
cheek gently. Urging her to look at him, he spoke to her
solemnly, “I mean here you are with me even after all the hell I put
you through. I was a complete ass to you time and time again and
I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve to have you as my wife or
to have our beautiful little boy. Jo, he’s so incredible and when
I think of how I could’ve walked away from all of this…”
“Zack, it’s in the past,” she reminded him with a sad smile, “What is
important now is that we have one another and that’s something that
isn’t going to go away.”
“I know,” he nodded feeling a lump forming in his throat, “it’s just
when I think of all the time it took me to get my act together.
If I hadn’t been set on trying to be the eternal bachelor there for my
years--if only I would’ve believed you from the start about how right
we were for one another…”
“Well, the point is that you believe me now,” Johanna smiled up at him,
“and our son believes that.”
“As he should,” Zack confessed turning his attention to his little boy,
“because I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that the
two of you are happy for the rest of our lives. He’s never going
to want for anything and neither are you Jo. Jo, I love you and
in us having this second chance, well it means everything to me Zack…”
“It means everything to me too,” she nodded in confession, “It’s
something that I’ve dreamt about for a very long time between us and
when I almost felt like I had to let go of it…”
“I wish I never put you in that position to begin with,” Zack sighed
heavily, “When I think of what a jerk I was…”
“Zack, all I ever wanted for us was to be happy together. It hurt
me when I thought that you didn’t want that for us. When I saw
you with Blake, I was so jealous and miserable…” Johanna paused
thinking about the woman who helped bring their son into the world,
“But I can see why you cared for her.”
“Even so, as much as I will always love Blake on some level, Caitlin
was right. My heart and my home is with you Jo. We have a
son together and we have always had this special bond between us,” he
leaned in closer to whisper in her ear, “You don’t take my crap and you
call me on my bluff. Together we just make sense…”
“In more ways than we ever realized,” she nodded in agreement looking
to their son, “Although there is something that’s been bothering me
about us that makes no sense whatsoever.”
“And just what might that be,” he replied with a worried expression.
“The fact that we haven’t taken the time to name our son. I know
that we haven’t had much time to really savor this given what we’ve
lost,” she began poignantly, “but I think it’s time to give
consideration to our little boy…”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Zack nodded in confession feeling a poignant
air over the moment. How he’d wanted to have Caitlin there beside
him--to share with his sister the one thing that had turned his life
around--to show her that he’d really grown up, but now he knew that day
would never come.
“Zack,” Johanna reached out to touch his arm gently, “What is it?”
“I was just thinking about Cait,” Zack confessed with a heavy sigh
before lifting his gaze up to her again, “I just wish that she could’ve
seen him--that she could’ve met our son…”
“I know you do honey and on some level I think she’s been the guardian
angel looking over him,” Johanna admitted before a though occurred to
her, “Would you like to hold him?”
“Do you even need to ask,” Zack’s eyes lit up at the thought of having
his son in his arms. Carefully he and Johanna exchanged their son
into his arms. Once their boy was situated, Johanna lay her head
on Zack’s shoulder to admire their child.
“I was actually thinking about this long and hard Zack and while I know
his name should be a mutual thing, well I got to thinking that we
should name him something incredible--something that represents who he
is and where he’s come from…”
“What did you have in mind Jo,” he questioned finding himself
completely mesmerized by their son in his arms.
“Well, the truth to the matter is that I was thinking about Caitlin and
I’d like to name him Michael…at least his middle name in her honor
since Michael is close to Michelle. I was thinking Cody
Michael…after your grandfather and Caitlin…”
“Jo…” he began finding himself speechless at her suggestion.
“I hope you don’t mind that I took it upon myself to come up with
that…” she paused wondering if he was truly okay with her words.
“Jo, it’s beautiful,” he admitted with tears in his eyes, “and in all
honesty, I can’t think of anything more perfect for our son.”
“I’m so glad that you feel that way Zack,” she smiled feeling her heart
warmed by his response, “because I knew that there were so many special
things about our son and his being a part of our lives. He’s a
“You’re right he’s our miracle. Our little Cody Michael,” Zack
replied with a proud smile feeling his heart overwhelmed with love for
the boy in his arms. While he was still lost in his grief over
losing his sister, the moment his son was in his arms, he felt a whole
new kind of love in his heart. He finally knew what it was that
truly made life worth living and in that instant he and Cody silently
bonded, he knew that wherever Caitlin was, she would be very proud of
him. He’s finally grown up and become a man who was ready to put
his family first in his life.
Blake rolled over in bed, extending her fingers out across the silken
sheets only to discover that she was very much alone. Frowning,
she sat upright and looked around the bedroom in the guest house.
Suddenly a fear consumed her as she wondered if her dreams that had
comforted her through the night had only been that. She flashed
back to the scene at the airport and now that she woke up without Seth,
a new fear rushed over her.
“Seth,” she spoke his name in a panic wondering if once again her mind
had been playing tricks on her. Had she and Seth never really
come together again? Was he really gone from Coral Valley and her
heart was toying with her imagination? She felt her pulse racing,
her heart pounding and in that moment she threw the blankets back
leaping out of bed.
Rushing through the small guest home, she made her way through the
hallway like a woman possessed until she was stopped dead in her
tracks. Looking down at the ground beneath her, she only started
to register the rose petals at her feet. They hadn’t been there
last night when she’d prepared a romantic evening for Seth, but now,
well now the balloons remained. She felt a breath of relief wash
over her at the realization that she hadn’t been lost in yet another
romantic fantasy about the man she loved. However, the rose
petals had posed a very curious question in the back of her mind.
“Seth,” she spoke his name once again before stepping into the kitchen
to find it empty. Her relieved smile faded a bit before she
noticed a small envelope with her name on the countertop.
Reaching for it, she pulled the card out from within.
“Meet me out back when you get this,” Seth’s words were scrawled upon
the page. His final words brought a smile to her lips, “Love
“Oh Seth,” she hugged the card to her chest before taking a step
towards the back door. Stopping just short of it, she took note
of the tiny, sexy baby doll nightgown she’d put on sometime last
night. It didn’t seem quite appropriate for a morning out on the
grounds. So with that thought in mind, Blake quickly returned to
the bedroom, slipping into a robe before heading out back into the
“Seth, where are you,” she questioned half expecting him to be on the
patio waiting for her. Much to her dismay she found yet another
card on the patio table. Walking over to the table, she lifted
the card, eagerly reading the secret message inside.
“You’re getting warmer,” his cryptic message explained leaving Blake to
further question what he was up to. Noticing the rose petals on
the ground before her, she picked up on the subtle hints Seth was
leaving her. Now armed with both cards in hand, she followed the trail
of rose petals, weaving her way through the gardens that she’d grown to
love so very much over her years in Coral Valley. Finally she
spotted another note at the end of the path of rose petals before
her. Bending down she reached for it catching nothing more than
the picture of Seth she’d taken when they’d been playing in the
fountain in their beginnings. Smiling, Blake knew exactly where
to find him.
“Ready or not here I come,” she mouthed making her way over to the
fountain only to find a small blanket spread out beside it. Atop
of the blanket lay a picnic basket and a bottle of wine on ice.
It seemed like the perfect start to what would clearly be a perfect
morning…except it wasn’t perfect just yet. While the whole
scenario was thrilling, there was no Seth. That in itself left
Blake feeling a bit unsettled. Looking around the area, she
searched him out with her eyes, but came up empty.
“Where are you,” she questioned to herself walking over to the blanket
and noticing yet another envelope. Groaning inwardly, she plucked
it up off of the ground reading the simple message.
“Sit down and close your eyes only then will you have your surprise,”
she read aloud wondering just what Seth was up to. She searched
the area once again before finally taking a seat on the blanket.
Carefully folding her legs beneath her Blake inhaled slowly before
doing as instructed. As she sat still, she could hear the sounds
of the garden springing to life around her. The cool wind
surrounded her sending a soft breeze through her hair while her
imagination ran wild. Unable to contain her eagerness, she
shifted on the blanket. Just when she thought she was about to
lose all control, that’s when she heard it. The first signs of
Seth’s presence surrounding her.
Moments later, she felt him move in behind her. He still hadn’t
said a word, but she knew. She could sense the warmth of him
behind her. Unable to contain the smile that spread over her
features, she spoke up in a low, sultry tone.
“Are you just going to stand there and gawk at me all day or are you
going to let me open my eyes,” she teased with a flirty giggle.
“Keep your eyes closed still,” his voice traveled with the movement he
made, “It’s almost time for the surprise.”
“Seth, I can’t wait forever. You know how I am about such
things,” Blake curled her fingers in her lap impatiently.
“I do and I must confess I’m very proud of you this morning for
indulging me thus far,” Seth explained with a hint of laughter in his
tone. Silence followed before Blake felt him move in on the
blanket beside her. He reached for her hand, tracing her palm
with his index finger before he addressed her once again, “Are you
ready for what happens next?”
“Seth, if you keep stalling, then I’m going to go insane,” Blake
whimpered in response half tempted to open her eyes and see what he was
“We can’t let that happen, now can we?” Seth mused with a smile of his
own before leaning in to place a tender, barely there kiss upon her
lips. Hungry for more, Blake reached out to him only to discover
he’d pulled away once again.
“Seth,” she curled her lip in a pout, “now you’re just trying to
“Not at all sweetheart,” he explained reaching for her hand, “Now I’m
going to give you something and then you can open your eyes.”
“Would you just give it to me already,” she pleaded with him eager to
get the show on the road.
“Okay,” he smiled dropping down his gift into her lap, “Open your eyes.”
“Finally,” Blake let out an enthusiastic cheer opening her eyes to find
an oversized floppy eared Snoopy dog in her lap. Eyeing it
curiously, she turned her attention to Seth again, “Okay…I give…what’s
“Well, I seem to recall your mentioning once upon a time that you had a
love for Peanuts there,” he began watching her eyes widen in
“And you remembered what I told you about my naming every dog we had
before I was the age of ten Snoopy,” Blake squealed hugging the stuffed
animal in her arms, “Oh Seth. I can’t believe that you did this!”
“For a minute there I was thinking that you weren’t going to like it,”
he admitted leaning back a bit to gauge himself for her reaction when
she discovered the hidden part of the gift.
“Oh no Seth. I love it. I love Snoopy and…” she hugged the
toy tightly only to feel something hard from within. Pushing the
toy away for a moment, she noticed a small box tied to Snoopy’s paw
with a red ribbon. Raising her eyes up to his once again, she
gave him a strange look, “Seth, what is this?”
“Just open it would you,” he laughed lightly before joking, “You know
how I feel about being put in suspense there.”
“Don’t you even start,” she waved her hand at him dismissively before
carefully untying the knot that kept the box with Snoopy. Once it
came free, she tore the wrapping off of it. Inside she found a
small, purple, jewelry box. Looking up at Seth with wide eyes,
she felt a breath catch in the back of her throat, “Seth is this what I
think it is…”
“Why don’t you open it and find out,” he suggested with a small smile
watching her do as instructed once again.
Quickly she pushed open the top of the lid only to have her breath
taken away in that moment. There before her in a soft, plush
casing was a sparkling, pink stoned ring before her. The cut was
unlike any other she’d ever seen as it seemed to have an old world type
flair to it‘s jagged shape. The way the sun fell upon it caused
it to send rays of light off in various directions through the
garden. Blinking back unable to find the right words, she stood
still mesmerized by what she had in her hands.
“Why don’t you try it on,” Seth suggested noting the strange expression
on her face.
“Seth…when did you…how did you…” Blake questioned in confusion knowing
full well that there was no way Seth could afford such an incredible
“It was my great-grandmother’s engagement ring,” Seth explained
reaching for the box. Carefully lifting the ring from the box, he
reached for her hand in an attempt to slide the ring on her finger,
“You see this ring has been in my family for generations. When my
great-great-great grandfather Athan was younger,” he paused with a tiny
laugh, “I’m sure this is going back more, but you get the point here…”
She couldn’t help but smile as he continued.
“Anyways, when he was younger he lived in a very poor area in
Greece. He spent his time working as a gardener for a very
wealthy family in the area. Clearly it was a less than
prestigious job, but in this time working at their palace, well, he was
working one day in the gardens and he spotted their daughter Sophia out
by the water. In that moment, he found himself completely
mesmerized by her beauty…and in that instant, he knew he had to find a
way to get to know her. Of course given her background and his,
he knew that a meeting was out of the cards, but after weeks of
watching her, he arranged for a chance encounter. He knew that
she took a stroll out in the gardens each and every night despite her
father’s firm wishes not to do so. You see she had a very strong
spirit and she was stubborn--which is a trait we in my family have
carried with us I must admit.”
“No, now I could never see that,” Blake teased before urging him on,
“So what happened?”
“Well, as fate would have it, Athan’s plan worked. Not only did
he happen to cross paths with the Sophia, but the it was love at first
sight for the both of them. After that night, they agreed to meet
up with one another each and every night after her father had drifted
off to sleep. It didn’t take long for the two to realize that
they were destined to be together. Time and time again, they’d
talked about running away with one another, but Athan wouldn’t hear of
it. He told Sophia if he was to win her hand, then he had to go
about it a deep and honorable way…”
“So what happened,” Blake questioned with wide eyes.
“He went to Sophia’s father and asked for her hand, but unfortunately
her father had strong convictions about the kind of lifestyle that he
wished for his daughter to have. He’d already picked out another
man--a warrior in town that he was about to offer Sophia to.
However because Athan had been a loyal servant for all those years,
Sophia’s father issued a deal to him. Perhaps only in an attempt
to humor the poor, love struck fool, Sophia’s father vowed to give him
two years to prove himself as a man who could provide for Sophia.
If by that time he was unable to do so, then he was to never to see
Sophia again and would be banished from the grounds. When Sophia
heard of this, she was devastated calling her father’s ultimatum cruel
and heartless. She begged Athan to run away with her--to take her
far from the life she’d grown to despise, but Athan assured her that
the day would come when he would prove his worth to her father.
Then and only then would they be free to share their love with one
“And was he able to do so,” Blake questioned curiously watching the way
his eyes seemed to glimmer with the tale.
“He set out on a mission to find a way to prove his worth. He
traveled overseas promising to return to Sophia, but as the days went
on, she found herself growing desperate to hear from him. After
nearly two years of nothing but growing anticipation, she feared that
her father was about to force her hand. Bastiaan, the man
who’d had his eye set on Sophia tried to persuade her to forget Athan
and be his. Time and time again she refused him, praying for the
safe return of her beloved Athan. Unfortunately time was running
out for them. Finally, after her father’s urgings, he informed
her that she would marry Bastiaan. The two were set to wed on the
same day that Athan’s time had run out. On that evening, they
would be man and wife and Sophia was never to see Athan again.
Feeling heartbroken, Sophia tried to run away--to get out of the
marriage, but her father’s guards kept her locked up until the
wedding. That night she prepared to lose herself forever--to live
a life without the only man she’d ever truly loved…”
“Oh Seth, that’s horrible,” Blake couldn’t help but gasp, “Please tell
me that she didn’t have to marry Bastiaan--that this ring isn’t a bad
“No Blake, it’s not,” he brushed his finger over hers, lifting her hand
to his lips, “That night, not only did Athan return and stop the
wedding from taking place, but he’d come home a great man of wealth and
power. While being overseas he was able to make a name for
himself--he’d done some mining and in that time, he’d come across one
of the most beautiful, precious stones he’d ever laid eyes upon.
Upon discovering it, the man he had been working for at the time had
offered him his pick of any of these stones he’d found. He
collected a few of pink diamonds to take back home with him, but with
one in particular, he had it set into a ring---this very ring.
The night he returned to be with Sophia, he presented her with the ring
explaining that the reason he hadn’t been in contact with her had been
because he had been lost at sea--that someone had sabotaged him on his
way home. Desperate and longing to be with her, Athan braved a
great many horrible conditions to make it back in time to seal their
fate with one another.”
“And only then true love won out, yes?” Blake urged him on, reaching
out to squeeze his knee gently, “This is where the happily ever after
“Well, yes and no. It turned out that Bastiaan was behind the
sabotage that Athan had experienced. He’d stepped in and tried to
keep Athan and Sophia apart. When Sophia’s father realized this
and he saw what Athan had gone through to win Sophia’s hand, well, he
remained a man of his word and after a few grueling obstacles, the two
were untied together, forever as man and wife spending their days lost
in love,” Seth paused, a sentimental smile crossing over his features,
“And to this day my family believes that anyone who wears that ring
will be blessed with the same kind of love and happiness that Sophia
and Athan felt for one another. This ring is a symbol of the
strength and power of love in my family and that was why when my
grandmother passed it on to me, she made me promise only to give it to
the right woman when I was absolutely sure.”
“Oh Seth,” Blake couldn’t help but feel the tears building behind her
“And I’m sure Blake,” he confessed reaching out to brush a tear away
from her cheek tenderly, “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my
life. You are the woman I was meant to spend my forever with…my
one true love and I know that this ring was made to be on your finger.”
“Seth, I don’t know what to say…” she stammered thinking about the
history and the sentiment behind the ring.
“Say that you’ll wear it with the same honor and love that my ancestors
have and that we’ll be able to follow in their footsteps with one
another. This ring was something that stayed in my family for
generations and I hope that with us, it will remain in our family for
generations to come. I want for us to one day be sharing this
ring with our great-great grandchildren Blake. I want to be able
to tell them the tale of how a natural disaster brought the woman of my
dreams into my arms thus making my life complete.”
“Seth, there’s nothing I could want more than to be able to share that
story and a great many others with our great-great grandchildren,” she
confessed throwing her arms around him enthusiastically, “I love you so
much and now that you’ve shared this ring with me….Seth, I swear to you
that I’ll wear it forever knowing that this ring is a symbol of our
being meant to be. This proves it and I know that from now on
nothing is going to keep us from sharing our love with one another.”
“Never again,” Seth promised stealing a kiss from her lips as the two
shared a tender moment with one another surrounded by the gardens much
like those in which his ancestors had fallen in love in so very long
Ria entered her kitchen realizing that sleeping in was exactly what
she’d needed. While she and Valerie had gotten into a few
conversations the previous night, she’d been so exhausted that they’d
finally agreed to put them on hold. However, after the morning
had slipped away, she found herself facing the beginnings of the
afternoon feeling refreshed and energized--eager to catch up with her
“So she does still live and breath,” Valerie teased watching Ria’s
arrival, “I was almost afraid I’d have to go in and administer CPR
“I’m sorry about that,” Ria scratched her head lightly, “I guess you
can say the hospital is taking it’s toll on me.”
“Somehow I don’t doubt that,” Valerie nodded, “though you know I still
don’t understand why you wanted to go through all the trouble and work
for that career. I mean sure eventually you get to enjoy the
perks, but by that time, well you’ll be ready for retirement.”
“Oh now that’s the most cynical thing I’ve heard,” Ria shook her head
at her, “Val, you should know by now that I love helping others.”
“Yes, I realize that, but you shouldn’t have to burn yourself out in
the process,” Valerie paused giving her friend a brief once over,
“Though you know if you’re looking to make a few quick bucks, well I’m
sure I could get you a job for this shoot I’m working on. You’re
cute and I’m sure that you’d get hired easily. You could enjoy
the life of travel and the perks of being a supermodel…”
“I’ll pass,” Ria groaned inwardly, “All I would need would be one
photographer trying to fluff my hair or have me pout my lips and I’d
vomit. I’m so not into that scene.”
“It’s really not that bad you know. It can actually be a lot of
fun going to exotic places and meeting fascinating people,” Valerie
tried to tempt her, “It opens you up to a world you never thought
possible outside the movies before.”
“I’ll still pass,” Ria moved across the kitchen to pour herself a mug
of steaming coffee that apparently Valerie had put on. After
filling her glass, she brought it up to her lips to savor her jolt of
caffeine, but she was met by a strangely herbal sour taste.
Spitting out the sip into the sink she turned to Valerie again, “What
the hell is this?”
“It’s Chinese tea and if you’d stop killing yourself with that diesel
fuel you had in that machine, then maybe just maybe you’d be feeling a
bit better about thing,” Valerie pointed out, “You know Ria, as much as
I hate to say it, you really need to spice up your life.”
“Okay, where the hell did that come from,” Ria blinked back at her,
“You’re in town less than a day and you’re already telling me what I
need to fix?”
“Ria, I took a look around the apartment and after I saw you last
night, well it didn’t take a genius to figure out that you’re seriously
lacking some excitement…not to mention some serious male attention,”
Valerie wiggled her brow at her, “What’s up with that?”
“I’ll have you know that I’m not lacking in that department,” Ria
divulged proudly, “As I’m seeing someone rather wonderful.”
“Oh really? And does Mr. Wonderful have a name,” Valerie
questioned with obvious curiosity.
“He does, but you’re not getting it after the string of insults,” Ria
curled her lip in a pout before forcing herself to drink down more of
Valerie’s miracle madness that had overtaken the coffee pot, “though I
will tell you that he’s very romantic, mysterious and sensual. I
wasn’t planning on us finding one another, but when we did…oh God Val
there aren’t even words that come close to describing what an adventure
“So then you’re having great sex,” Valerie nodded knowingly, “which
means you should be far more pleasant than you appear to be.”
“Oh bite me,” Ria stuck her tongue out at her, “I don’t hear you going
on and on about the men you’re working with. You haven’t been
boasting about some Don Juan you’ve met.”
“That’s because the man in the same profession as me are all gay,”
Valerie wrinkled her nose in disgust, “And if they aren’t gay, they’re
a horny cameraman who gets their rocks off by watching girls like
myself prance around in a bikini. I mean sure yeah some of them
are fun when you need a quick sexual vent, but when it gets down to it,
this scene seriously lacks substance.”
“And here you were trying to convince me that my life is lacking,” Ria
shook her head with a tiny laugh. “I think I’ll keep my life.”
“Oh Ria, it’s really not that bad,” Valerie watched her take a seat, “I
mean sure I’m really complaining right now, but there have been some
good moments. Ever hear of James Sterling?”
Ria’s eyes widened in response, “Who hasn’t? Oh God, I still
sneak into the on call room during my break to see if he’s on
television. He is the only reason I haven’t given up my soap
“Yeah well he’s the only reason I was able to enjoy a few orgasms out
in Los Angeles,” Valerie revealed with a laugh.
“Okay, I now officially hate you,” Ria curled her lip in a pout.
“That’s so unfair.”
“Yeah well you should hate me, but I have to tell you, that while he
was very talented, let’s just say things appear much larger onscreen
than they do in real life,” Valerie divulged with a wickedly delicious
smile, “and then there were a few directors who were trying to cast me
in some roles and they were fun. I mean the gifts are nice, the
attention is great, but…”
“But what?” Ria questioned watching her friend’s features change.
“But you never find that thing out in the whole Hollywood scene.
I mean yeah sure there are guys who want to sleep with you because
well, because you look great on their arm. There are guys who
want you at their side because it’s an image things and then others,
well they are such pathetic losers that they aren’t even worth
bothering with,” Valerie let out a heavy sigh, “They really don’t
compare to the real thing. I mean no matter how much fun and
exciting it is, it’s never like your first love…”
“First love,” Ria repeated suddenly thinking about their conversation
the night before, “Oh Val, please don’t tell me you’re still hung up on
“How could any woman not be,” Valerie replied with another long sigh,
“Ria, he’s like the model of perfection and if you look at him, you can
see why any woman wouldn’t want to forget him.”
“Val, I don’t think that going down that road again is exactly…” Ria
“I know I screwed up with him, but Ria, he and I had something that
really had substance. We had fire and passion and it was so hot
when it was happening. I mean sure he played hard to get, but
once I finally won him over…” Valerie licked her lips remembering her
lost love, “Seth, is the kind of man you could easily spend forever
with and never look back.”
“Yeah well, that wasn’t the problem with the both of you. It was
your looking forward that caused you trouble in the relationship,” Ria
rose from her chair, “You both wanted different things.”
“I know that, but Ria I made a mistake. I know that now and with
Seth, well there just hasn’t been anyone else like him. I know
now that there won’t ever be,” Valerie continued, her voice overcome
with emotion, “He was that one person I was destined to spend my life
with and I want to find a way to make that happen for us. I know
he was angry with me, but after I heard that he was leaving for
London--well I’ve been keeping up with his career and maybe now we both
want the same thing. Maybe now we can make it work and…”
“And if you’ve been keeping tabs on him Val, then you’d know that he’s
off the market,” Ria pointed out bluntly, “I hate to be the one to bust
your bubble, but Seth has moved on. It might’ve taken him a
little while, but he’s found someone new. He’s in love and he’s
happy--really, truly happy.”
“Oh come on Ria,” Valerie rolled her eyes, “I seriously doubt that
given the way he felt about me.”
“Val, Seth isn’t the same guy anymore. He’s not the high school
football captain that you were with. He’s not the jock who was
wrapped up in the small world that went with that scene. He’s the
man whose grown into a man of such a great character…”
“Ria, you don’t have to go on about his virtues. I’m well aware
of each and every one of them,” Valerie insisted with a simple shake of
her head, “I knew that his photography would pay off and if he was
willing to take a risk, he’d see that this kind of life was good for
“No, Val, it’s not. Seth is happy here in Coral Valley.
Yes, he’s had his share of ups and downs over the last year, but things
have really changed. He’s found someone who while is a bit
different for him, she makes him happy. He’s so in love with her
and even if they’ve had troubles recently, I don’t see that
changing. When Seth falls in love, he falls for life.”
“And you don’t think that applies to me,” Valerie frowned back at her.
“Val, you were both kids at the time. Seth wasn’t the same Seth
he is now. He loves Blake and that isn’t about to change,” Ria
informed her point blank before holding up her finger in the air.
“I’ll be right back.”
“Ria, I just don’t think that…” Valerie began wondering what her friend
was up to before Ria returned with a magazine in hand.
“Take a look for yourself,” Ria set the magazine down on the table
before Valerie, “this is Seth’s happiness and he’s worked like hell to
make it happen. He loves her and she loves him. See for
Valerie reached for the magazine, her eyes wandering over the page
before her. Suddenly her disposition changed completely as she
glared at the photo before her. “Oh hell no!”
“Valerie, it’s just how it is. I hate to be the one to tell you,
but that’s his future,” Ria explained to her friend using her trademark
bluntness to get her point across.
“The hell she is,” Valerie snapped, her eyes narrowing in anger as she
tore the magazine in half before throwing it on the floor. Her
blue eyes returned to Ria with a sudden darkness behind him, “there is
no way that will be Seth’s future. Not ever as far as I’m
concerned because I’m going to put a stop to it starting now!”
Sarah walked down the hallway of her apartment wiping her tired eyes. A
yawn escaped her lips as she remembered how Kyle insisted on taking her
home so she could get a good night’s rest. She walked into the living
room to see Kyle sitting on the back of the couch looking out the
window. His back faced her as she realized that his shirt was placed
neatly on the couch next to him. She walked over to him running her
hand down the smooth skin of his shoulder making him jump slightly.
“Are you okay?” she questioned watching him look over his shoulder at
her and looking back out the window. “Did you ever get any sleep?”
“No,” he sighed resting his head in his hands.
“What’s wrong Kyle,” she wondered letting her hand run down the firm
skin of his back.
“At this moment…” he started looking over at her with his intense
saddened eyes, “Just about everything.” Kyle slid down onto the couch
“Talk to me Kyle, maybe I can help,” she rested her hands on his
“See that’s the problem, no one can help. Nothing is going to make this
better, I just lost my best friend and there isn’t anything I can do
about it,” he stood up running his hand through his hair.
“Kyle, it wasn’t your fault,” Sarah sighed looking up at him.
“Then why the hell do I feel so bad? I made a promise to him; I told
him that I would take care of everything. Him, Avery, his baby…and I
broke my promise. I should have been in his place, that way I could
have died, not him. It wasn’t fair; he wanted to make his wife’s life
better for her. So they could live together and be happy. Doesn’t look
like it’s going to happen now,” he stated feeling his eyes start to
burn with tears behind his eyes.
“Kyle, you know that Russell wouldn’t want you to be gone right now,”
Sarah reminded him of Russell’s relationship.
“You know what, I do, he had so much of life he left behind. He had a
wife, a child, a family; he had so many people he would leave behind.
If I would have just made him stay out of this, Avery would still have
her husband. She would be happy and not like she is. That baby would
have a father they could grow up with…and I would still have my best
friend,” he took a deep breath.
“Kyle, everything is going to be okay, Avery knows you will be there
“See that’s not what she needs…She needs her husband, not me,” Kyle
paced back and forth. She watched as he covered his mouth and rested
his head against the wall. His right hand slammed against the wall as
she felt a pain deep in her heart. She got up going over him, resting
her hand on his back as he calmed down. “Why did he have to go? I just
can’t believe he’s gone, this was so unfair.”
“Maybe he is in a better place right now,” Sarah lightly said as she
saw Kyle’s head shake.
“The best place for him right now is with his family, that’s where he
belongs. He shouldn’t have gone, he had so many people he was going to
leave behind. At least if I went, I wouldn’t have had anyone to leave
behind,” Kyle rested his hand against his head.
“That’s not true,” she pulled him to face her, “I want you here…with
me.” Kyle didn’t say anything; he just looked into her deep brown eyes.
“I need you Kyle…and that’s never going to change.”
Kyle’s thumb caressed her cheekbone lightly running it along her soft
skin. She leaned in to his soft touch as he pulled her into a savory
kiss. As he kissed her, her hands ran up his back slowly taking in the
touch of his firm skin. His hands ran through her blonde hair as he
walked towards the couch and she followed him, not breaking the kiss.
Kyle fell down to the couch bringing her on top of him. He kissed her
passionately running his hands through her hair lightly as the
intensity built up in both of them. Kyle closed his eyes as a sigh past
his lips when her hands ran up his hard abdomen. He pulled her closer
to him as his lips trailed up the soft skin of her neck. Her hands
grasped onto his big arms as she felt the warmth of his mouth against
her skin. She pulled herself up straddling his waist as his big hands
ran up her legs lightly. Kyle leaned his body up kissing her deeply as
her hand found its way to the button of his jeans unhooking it.
“I can’t do this,” Kyle insisted sliding out from under her taking a
deep breath as his hand ran through her hair.
“Why? What’s wrong?” she questioned watching him buckle his jeans.
“It’s just when I get close to someone, they always get hurt. Sarah, I
don’t want that to happen to you,” Kyle sighed putting his arm over his
“That’s not true,” Sarah stood up touching his arm as he turned around.
“Alright, if that isn’t true, then what about Russell? Let’s see…look
at Avery. Grady, he’s in jail…no one is safe with me. Sarah, if you got
hurt, I could never live with myself. I just need, some time,” he
sighed as she nodded in understanding.
“Kyle, why don’t we just get some sleep?” she asked as Kyle nodded.
“Okay, I can handle that,” he smiled as she lay down on the couch and
he moved in next to her.
He wrapped his arm around her lightly as her hand rested against his
abdomen and she cuddled in closer to him closing her eyes. Kyle sighed
just looking up, thinking about everything that was going
Diego rubbed his neck and shoulder while thinking about everything that
had been happening over the last couple of weeks. While he’d
tried to keep it together, there was no way to do that under the
circumstances. He’d been terrified for Heather and for her child
in ways he thought he’d never feel again after he’d lost Maria.
He’d hated to be this open to his fears, but unfortunately the same man
who had brought them about the first time was running the show
again. If Cameron had his way, then Heather would be in a world
of trouble that not even she could get herself out of.
“Oh Heather,” Diego reached for her hand, lifting it to his lips for a
tender kiss before squeezing it gently, “Why didn’t you just let me
help you sooner? Why couldn’t we just find a way to do this
without having you wind up like this? If only…”
His words were put to an end when he noticed her movement beneath
him. Sitting up straighter, he felt his breath catch in the back
of his throat when she started to open her eyes. At first he
wasn’t sure whether or not it was just another reflex like it had been
in the past, but this time, well he noticed a significant difference.
“Heather,” he spoke out to her, “Heather, can you hear me?”
She turned her head in his general direction before blinking her eyes
once again. It seemed as if the light was bothering her eyes as
she closed them again.
“Heather…” he reached out to touch her arm gently, “Heather, please…say
“Diego,” she muttered his name, her head moving against the pillow
while a groan built up in the back of her throat, “Oh God…what
happened…why do I feel like hell?”
“You were in an accident,” Diego tried to explain smoothly, “You’re at
the hospital and…”
“The hospital,” Heather’s eyes snapped open at the sound of the word,
“Heather, as I said there was an accident and…” he began in an even
tone only to watch her shift up on the bed stiffly. She winced in
pain in her attempt to sit up and a moment later she fell back in
“What is wrong with me? What’s happened,” she asked in a tight,
raspy tone, her throat hurting her like mad.
“You were at the airport when a bomb went off--there was a fire and…”
he spoke up watching her eyes widening in horror.
“My baby,” she gasped bringing her weak hand over to her abdomen, “Oh
God, Diego, what happened to my son? Is he…”
“No, he’s not,” he shook his head noticing the glistening tears forming
behind her eyes, “He’s quite a fighter.”
“You mean he’s alive?” Heather couldn’t help but smile, “My baby is…”
He nodded again, “They had to do an emergency c-section and for awhile
it was touch and go, but now, well he’s getting stronger by the
day. The nurses say he’s a true miracle.”
“Diego I have to see him. I have to be with him,” Heather pleaded
with him, her tears still threatening, “I need to be with my baby…”
“Heather, right now he’s still too small for that and you,” he stopped
himself as his eyes pressed in over the bandages that were on her face.
“I what,” Heather questioned in confusion taking in his stare.
Immediately she brought her hand up over her face, feeling the wrap
that covered her. “Diego, what is it? What have they done
“Heather, you were in a horrible, tragic accident and so many died in
the bombing, but you were pulled from the fire. Kenneth Ashford
save you and you and your son were given a second chance…” Diego began
to inform her.
“A second chance at what,” she pulled at the bandages. “Diego,
what is this?”
“Heather you have to leave it right now,” he reached out to prevent her
from hurting herself only to feel her push him away weakly.
“No, don’t touch me!” she shouted pulling together all the strength she
had inside of her, “Diego, I want answers!”
“Heather, you can have them, but right now you need to rest.
You’ve been through a horrible ordeal and…”
“And nothing,” Heather ripped the bandage from her face tearing it off
in bunches, “I want this off.”
“Heather stop,” he tried to prevent her from doing any further opening
of her wounds, but it was too late.
“What is all of this,” she brought her hand up to her cheek feeling the
charred flesh for the first time. The texture was bumpy and felt
warm, yet mushy all at once. Her eyes widened in a look of sheer
terror, “Diego, what is this?”
“Heather, if you just try to relax I can get a nurse and,” Diego
reached out to her hoping to calm her nerves.
“No,” she shook her head in refusal to hear him. Pulling together
all the strength she had in her, she reached out across the bed seeking
out anything to tell her what she felt beneath her touch.
Reaching for a metal tray that had been there from earlier when Sarah
had been there, she pulled it towards her.
“Heather don’t,” Diego tried to rip it away from her hoping she
wouldn’t be able to see herself in the reflective surface.
“Let go of me,” Heather shoved him aside bringing the tray up to give
her a look at the damage that had been done. Hurriedly she
continued to tear away at the remaining bandage only to finally find
herself face to face with a distorted version of the woman she once was.
“No, oh God no!” she screamed in bloody terror dropping the tray as her
hands clasped her cheeks firmly.
“Heather,” Diego’s eyes glistened with tears at her reaction. “You’re
still healing. You’re…”
“I’m a monster Diego,” Heather cried out unable to contain her
horrified sobs, “What happened to me? Who could do this?
Why would they do this?”
“Heather, everything is going to be okay,” Diego watched her pull at
her face, tugging at the flesh that seemed so out of place.
“No, this isn’t okay. It won’t ever be okay,” she scratched as if
trying to remove the damaged tissue.
“Heather don’t,” he reached for her wrists to prevent her from hurting
herself any further, but he was met by protest. She screamed and
cursed at him until finally her strength left her.
“Oh God…Diego, I’m hideous…”
“No, you’re not,” he insisted shaking his head while holding her close
to him, “You’re an amazing woman who survived a horrible tragedy.
You’re a mother and…”
“And I’m awful. I’m just awful,” Heather sobbed harder than
before. “I should’ve just died. I would rather not live
than to face this. Look at me Diego. How can you even sit
there and pretend that I don’t repulse you?”
“Because you don’t Heather,” he confessed honestly, “Please listen to
“Diego, I’m a monster. Everything that I worked my entire life
for is gone,” Heather continued to cry, unable to get over what she’d
just witnessed. “It’s all over. I’m over.”
“No, Heather you’re not,” Diego tried to assure her, “Your life is just
beginning. You have a little boy who needs you very much and…”
“And I’m nothing to him. I don’t have anything to offer because
in all honesty if you were him, would you want to look at a face like
this,” Heather questioned broken by her emotions. “I should’ve
died Diego. I should’ve just died.”
“No Heather, please don’t say that. That wouldn’t have been
right,” Diego hugged her gently, “Your son needs you. I need you…”
“Why…why me…” was all she managed to get out as Diego pulled her into
his arms wondering the very same question. After everything
Heather had gone through--it just didn’t seem fair to do this. To
have her experience something like this was beyond cruel and he feared
for her with each passing second she fell apart in his arms.
“I’m in hell,” Grady thought to himself after having had spent a night
in jail. While Avery promised to set the wheels in motion, this
was the last place he wanted to be at with his brother’s death having
just taken place. He needed to be with his family--with Jade, his
parents and with Avery.
Just thinking about what she had to be going through was enough to make
him want to kick himself in the ass repeatedly for what he’d done to
hurt her and Russ in the past. They’d just wanted to find
happiness and like a true jerk, he’d found ways to step in and make
them miserable. Now he wished like hell he could’ve given them
back those moments he’d stolen from them. If only he would’ve
played it safe--if only he wouldn’t have allowed his blatant hatred for
a woman who truly loved his brother blind his judgment.
Thinking back to that night when they were all at the Ashford mansion,
well, it got Grady reassessing his life. He started thinking
about his drunken stupor and how his assaulting Kipp had given Cameron
just enough leverage to try to destroy him. He should’ve seen it
coming. Hell, he never should’ve agreed to the Stone case to
begin with, but like a fool he’d caved in.
“All because you’re a stubborn son of a bitch,” he mouthed to himself
pacing around the room as he remembered how he’d taken the job to stick
it to Avery.
Avery, he thought to himself hating the fact that he’d been out to
destroy her. In his uncalled for, out of line actions, he’d not
only wound up hurting her and Russ, but he’d hurt himself. He’d
ruined his happiness with Jade and if Cameron had his way, it would
never be well within the reach of repair.
“You’ve got a visitor Denton,” one of the guards broke him from his
endless mental torture session. “Your lawyer is here to see you.”
Immediately Grady rushed over to the bars ready to talk to Avery--to
tell her some of the things that he’d been thinking. While he
knew an apology would never be enough--that it wouldn’t bring Russ
back, he knew he owed her so much more for all that she’d done to help
him. She was his last hope and he needed to let her know that he
believed in her--that he trusted her with his life and that he would be
the kind of family that Russ would want him to be to her.
All the way down to the meeting room, he thought about what he would
say--what he would do and how he could try to fix things. There
had to be something he could do to make things right. There had
to be a way to make this situation better even if it would never truly
be right again. Unfortunately those words never came when the
guard let his ‘lawyer’ in.
“Grady,” Susan smiled at him, her usual cool demeanor shining through
“Oh hell no,” Grady growled rising up from the seat he’d taken.
“Guard, come back here!”
“He’s not going to come back in Grady, so why don’t you just sit your
ass down,” Susan demanded, her dark eyes narrowing at him. “We
need to talk!”
“You and I have nothing to say to one another and I’m out of here,”
Grady brushed past her, ready to kick the damn door down if he had
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Susan explained spinning around to
watch his fist ready to pound the hell out of the door, “If you call
that guard back in here, then I’ll tell him that you assaulted me.”
“You wouldn’t sink that low,” Grady spun around to face her.
“The hell I wouldn’t,” Susan marched up towards him, “After what you
did to me, you’re lucky that I don’t bury you myself. How dare
you lie about being dead?”
“Gee Susan, and here I was starting to think you didn’t care,” he threw
back icily, “What? Afraid you’d have to sport the mortgage
payment all on your own or did Ken put your in your place like I
suspected he would a long time ago?”
“Go to hell,” she threw back at him, slapping him hard across the cheek
as her anger bubbled over him.
He recoiled from the punch before standing up straighter, staring her
down with intense green eyes, “Believe me Susan every second I spend
with you, that’s exactly where I’m at.”
“You had no right to try to pull something like this off Grady. I
can’t believe that you were actually stupid enough to think you were
going to get away with it,” she chastised him, watching him take a step
away from her, “Did you really think that you could run forever?”
“You know, the thought really hadn’t crossed my mind, but if they
would’ve told me that I’d run into you, then yeah, I probably would’ve
kept on going,” he shot back icily.
“I can’t believe you,” she shook her head at him, boldly taking a step
towards him, “After everything that we’ve been through. After the
years we had together for you to go out of your way to hurt me like
“Oh spare me the sob story,” he rolled his eyes at her, “Susan, I’m the
last thing you care about. You proved that time and time again
when you opted to shag Ken out in the public eye.”
“If you would’ve paid me more attention…” Susan began to defend
herself. “If we would’ve been like we once were…”
“Then I’d be dead Susan because that’s what you were driving me
to. You wouldn’t have been happy with anything less than
that. It’s how you work,” he shot back coldly.
“Grady, I loved you. I loved you with everything I had and it was
intense. We had a passion that just can’t be swept underneath the
rug. It’s something that we could’ve kept burning for years…”
Susan extended her hand out to him only to watch him retract from her
like he’d been burned.
“Susan, the only fire I felt for you was raw hatred and after you left,
well even that faded out,” Grady spat out, his jaw tight with anger,
“You’re irrelevant to me and if you came here to try to cut me some
kind of break because your boss is calling the shots and pulling your
strings, then you can tell him to go straight to hell.”
“Grady, it doesn’t have to be like this. Things could be better,”
Susan smiled up at him, her eyes focused upon him, “Much better like
they once were.”
“Susan, whatever you’re selling I’m not interested,” he turned to leave
the room knocking on the door for the guard.
“He’s not coming back Grady,” Susan informed him bluntly, watching his
attempt to get away from her, “I told him it was important and we
needed to talk.”
“Well then I’ll just keep pounding until he realizes that it wasn’t
important at all,” Grady kept on knocking not bothering to look at her.
“Why do you have me so much Grady?” she tossed back at him, “Is hating
me really worth all of this? Am I that horrible?”
“In case you missed what I just said, I don’t hate you Susan.
You’re nothing to me. I could care less what you do with your
life,” Grady replied honestly. Turning around to look at her, he
watched her discard the jacket she had been wearing.
“Don’t you ever miss what we had with one another,” she questioned
rubbing her palms together before stepping in closer, “The good times
that we had?”
“They weren’t all that good and from what I do remember, I had to be
drunk to enjoy it,” Grady insisted tightly, moving back in closer to
the door as the idea of being near her made him sick to his stomach.
“Oh I don’t believe that for a second Grady. You can try to lie
to me, but you can’t lie to yourself,” she licked her lips before
bringing her hands up over the top of her blouse. One by one she
began to unbutton it.
“Susan, what the hell are you doing,” he blinked back at her with sheer
disgust before turning to the door again, “Guard!”
“Grady, you screwed up big time this time, but if you let me help you,”
Susan slithered up behind him, pressing her petite form up against his
back. Sliding her hands over his body, she fanned her fingers out
over the front center of his pants in an attempt to stir a reaction out
of him, “Together maybe we can work out an arrangement.”
Knocking at the door again, Grady called for the guard before dropping
his hands down to seize her wrist. She was relentless still
attempting to entice him and using his restraints to her advantage
until he spun around to face her again.
“Susan, let go of me right now, or this will get ugly,” Grady warned,
his voice devoid of all emotion. His eyes stared her down with
sheer repulsion and his features darkened with each passing second.
“You used to enjoy ugly Grady,” she ignored his protests, bringing her
hand up underneath his prison issue shirt. Stepping up on her
toes, she leaned in closer to him, “From what I recall, you thrived on
“I’m not that man anymore Susan,” he replied shoving her away from him
with a harder force than he’d intended. Fortunately it did the
trick as it sent her back into the table.
“Oh, but I think you are,” she licked her lips again, her eyes feasting
upon him before she regained her bearings. Taking a bold leap,
she rushed over to him, using her strength to leap on top of him.
“Susan, what the hell are you doing,” Grady tried to shrug her off of
his shoulders, “Get off of me!”
“Grady, come on. You know that’s not what you really want.
What you need is for the two of us to be together,” she mouthed harshly
in his ear, tugging on his hair as he continued to protest, “We can
just get off together before you condemn yourself.”
“The fact that I even married you says that I was a gluten for
punishment, but I’m not interested,” he continued to writhe beneath her
like a dog who’d just been drenched by a rain storm and wanted to dry
himself off. She was a persistent pain in the ass, Grady frowned
stumbling around the room with her on his back. God this brought
back so many horrible memories, he realized considering knocking her
into the wall behind him. Still, if a guard walked in that might
not look right.
“Grady,” she mouthed his name, biting down on his earlobe as that made
his decision for him. Slamming back into the wall, he sent her
crashing into it--finally freeing himself up enough for an escape.
Breathing heavily he made his way over to the door, only to feel his
footing go out. He fell backward realizing that in his haste,
Susan had recovered and tripped him. Now he lay on the ground
winded as she mounted him, her hands tearing at his pants in a fury as
if she was trying to recreate the old madness between them.
“Susan stop,” he tried to wrench her off of him, but before he was able
to accomplish the mission, the door to the room opened and a guard
stood in the doorway with Jade at his side.
“Jade,” Grady gasped her name immediately freezing up as her eyes fell
upon the scene taking place before her.
“Oops,” Susan feigned innocence as a laugh spilled from her wicked
features, “I guess we’ve been found out after all, now haven’t we
“Son of a…” Grady pushed Susan off of him before trying to get up off
of the ground. “Jade, I can explain…I…”
“Save it Denton,” the guard grumbled in response before turning to
Jade, “I was mistaken. You can’t be in here right now.”
“No wait,” Grady watched the door slam in his face before he could say
anything more to Jade--before he could explain to her. Somehow
everything made sense. This wasn’t about anything more than
revenge. Turning around, he watched Susan readjusting her
clothing once again. She wiped at the corner of her mouth before
she adjusted her skirt.
The door opened once again and Grady turned in the hopes of seeing
Jade, but now the same guard who had brought him down to the room was
standing outside the door by himself.
“Well Grady, I guess I should be going now,” Susan smirked with a
satisfied expression. Stepping towards him, she eyed him with
malicious intent before dropping her voice, “I warned you not to screw
with me. You brought this on yourself. Just remember that
because next time, well next time, you’d just better pray there isn’t
With those parting words, Susan exited the room leaving Grady to fear
what Jade had thought she’d seen. With everything else that had
been happening, it occurred to Grady that once again he’d played right
into Cameron Stone’s hands and he feared that this time it may have
cost him everything that he’d cared about. This time there was a
chance that Jade wouldn’t and couldn’t understand the truth. If
Susan had her way, then he and Jade would be over. That thought
in itself terrified him to no end.
Cheryl Denton picked up the photograph of Russ and Avery on their
wedding day and almost immediately her tears consumed her once
again. This just didn’t feel right--didn’t seem so very real and
now that she’d lost her youngest son, it felt as if a huge chunk of her
heart had been ripped from her.
“Honey, hey,” Elliot stepped in from behind her bringing his arms
around her waist, “there you are. I was starting to worry when
you didn’t come back.”
“I checked in on Avery like I said I was going to do,” Cheryl explained
with a sniffle, “but then when I passed by the nursery, I started
thinking about everything we shared with our son. Then I came in
here and I found this…”
Elliot looked over her shoulder at the image of their son smiling at
what appeared to be the happiest moment of his life. Placing his
head on her shoulder as he too was plagued by their recent losses, he
tried to be strong for her. “Cheryl…”
“Elliot,” she shifted in his arms uneasily, “What have we done that has
been so horrible for our family to endure this? I mean not even a
month ago I was burying my oldest son--making the world believe he was
dead and now my baby--our Russell is gone and Grady is in jail.
Elliot, how could this be happening? How could our family have to
face all of this?”
“Cheryl, we have to be strong,” Elliot began in his own patient tone
hoping to find a way to reach out to her without striking the wrong
chord about the situation.
“Elliot, how can we be strong when our son is dead? Russ is gone
and there isn’t any bringing him back. We’ll never see him
again. Avery will never see him again and his daughter,” she
choked up on emotion. Pulling out of his arms, she began to pace
around the nursery, “it isn’t right.”
“No, it’s not Cheryl, but…” Elliot offered up with a tired voice.
“This is my fault Elliot. I’m the reason this keeps happening to
us,” Cheryl blurted out tearfully, “It’s because of what I did that we
had to endure so much pain and now my sins are coming back to haunt
us. My sons are paying for what I did…for…”
“No, Cheryl, this isn’t about the past. What happened to Russ was
a horrible, tragic accident that hurts like hell, but this wasn’t
because of you,” he stepped forward reaching out to her, “This isn’t
about the past.”
“Elliot, think about this. Ever since I invited trouble into our
lives, it’s been hanging over our head just waiting to strike,” she
continued poignantly, “We’ve known all along that one day something
would happen and…and I…I just never thought that it would end up
costing me Russ.”
“Cheryl, you can’t do this. You can’t blame yourself for what has
happened to our boys. I don’t know how things got so very far out
of control, but we need to stay together. We need to be a family
and lean on one another more than ever. We need to be here for
Avery and for Grady. Grady is going to need our support more than
ever and with our granddaughter…” Elliot tried to reason with her.
“That baby is going to grow up without her daddy Elliot. She’s
never going to know the wonderful man that he is all because Russ was
in the wrong place at the wrong time. If we would’ve tried to
stop this sooner--if we could’ve helped Grady…”
“We will help Grady and with Russ, we’re going to honor his memory and
do everything in our power to be there for Avery and the baby.
You know that would be what Russ would want. He wouldn’t want to
see you blaming yourself for something that was beyond our control…”
Elliot began again.
“Elliot, we both know that the moment I made that mistake…” she
“It wasn’t a mistake Cheryl. It was something we grew stronger
because of. When it happened, well I’ll admit I was upset, but in
retrospect, I wouldn’t have changed a moment of the lives we’ve made
for ourselves. Our sons--our boys have been everything to me and
I love them both so very much.”
“I know you do,” she nodded in confession, “and Russ idolized
you. He couldn’t have asked for a better father…”
“And I couldn’t have asked for a better son. From the moment he
came into this world, I knew that he was destined to be mine. We
had something special between us and Cheryl, I love him with all my
heart. I’ll always love our son…both of our sons,” Elliot
confessed hating to see his family torn apart at the seams.
“Oh Elliot, I just wish there was some way we could fix this…some way
that we could make this better…” Cheryl burst into tears unable to hold
back any longer.
“So do I Cheryl. So do I,” he whispered thinking about the son
that had been brought into his life. At the time he’d first
learned about Russell’s coming into the world, he’d been confused,
hurting and so very lost, but from the moment that he held Russell in
his arms, he loved him with all that he had. Just like he’d loved
Grady--just like he would continue to love his sons even if time and
fate had other disastrous plans for the family. Somehow they
would find a way to keep pushing on. They had to.
Avery lay in bed tossing and turning amidst the emptiness that
surrounded her. While she’d been insistent upon leaving the
hospital, nothing had prepared her for the loneliness of being home
again without Russ. Sure, Cheryl and Elliot had been gracious and
as comforting as possible at a time like this, but it still didn’t
change the way things were. Russ wasn’t there to smile at her or
say just the right thing to make her feel better. He wasn’t there
to give her the warmth she needed surrounding her. No more would
she lose herself in his arms--to the comfort and love that only he
could provide her with.
“Russ, where are you,” Avery cried into her pillow fingering his side
of the bed. Her heart ached as she thought about that person
she’d seen earlier at the morgue. It couldn’t have been her
husband. He wouldn’t have done that to her. He had to be
“Oh Russ,” she sighed knowing that her mind was playing tricks on her
as she jumped between disbelief and the attempting to make sense of it
all. It was too much--too fast and her mind was
overwhelmed. She knew that…understood it more than she wanted to
“Don’t cry Avery,” she heard a voice speak out to her. “I’m still
“Russ,” Avery gasped sitting upright on the bed. Her eyes shifted
around the bedroom, seeking out the source of the sound.
“I’m still with you baby,” his voice continued to echo in her mind, “I
haven’t gone anywhere.”
“Russ, where are you,” Avery questioned throwing the blanket back and
springing out from the bed. She eyed the room frantically making
her way into the master bathroom in the hopes that he would be there
waiting for her, “Russ?”
“Come to me Avery,” she heard him speak among the shadows in the room,
“Come be with me.”
“I’m coming,” she vowed following the sound of his voice through her
bedroom, “Where are you?”
“You know where I am. Come to me,” he urged her on again as Avery
opened her bedroom door. She heard the faint voices of Elliot and
Cheryl talking, but in that moment all that mattered was finding Russ.
“Avery…be with me…” his voice whispered in the back of her mind guiding
her through the hallway towards the backdoor. Unlocking it, she
stepped out into the night feeling the dew beneath her toes.
Moving quickly through the backyard, she felt a chill overtake her.
“Where are you? Russ, please talk to me,” Avery begged of him,
her eyes scanning beyond the property line into the trees that extended
beyond their home, “Russ…I’m here. Russ!”
“Avery, over here,” he confessed from the far end of their
property. Turning towards the source of the sound, she could see
him masked behind shadows beneath the amber hues of the sunset.
He was there--with her and he was extending his arms out towards
her. Temporarily blinded by the light above, Avery began to speed
up towards his silhouette. She felt her heart pounding, her mind
reeling with questions as she wanted nothing more than to be with
him--to feel him hold her again and tell her everything was okay.
“Come to me baby,” he pleaded with her once again, his voice growing
more urgent by the second as she did as instructed.
“I’m coming Russ,” Avery shouted out feeling the distance between them
growing smaller, “Russ, I’m almost there. I’m…”
“Avery,” Kyle shouted out to her watching her coming dangerously close
to something from the trees. He couldn’t make out much more than
the movement as the leaves blew, but something about her motion had him
concerned. Rushing forward, he tried to keep an eye on her, but
in the blink of an eye she vanished.
“Oh God no,” Kyle cried out sprinting into the wooded area. He
surveyed the trees finding nothing, and his worst fears began to
consume him. “Please not Avery…where is she…”
Second passed and yet it felt like an eternity until he spotted her on
the ground curled up in a ball and sobbing uncontrollable.
Immediately his heart sank and he rushed over to her side.
Kneeling on the ground beside her, he touched her shoulder gently.
“Avery, talk to me,” Kyle pleaded with her. “Please…”
“He was here Kyle. He was here,” Avery’s brown eyes shown with a
strange mixture of emotions. It was something he couldn’t quite
read, but as her voice shook with emotion, his concerns overtook him.
“Who was here Avery?” he asked blankly noticing the way she’d started
“Russ was here. He came for me,” Avery replied giving him a
glossy eye look before she collapsed on the ground.
“Oh God no,” Kyle pulled her up into his arms in a panic. Swiftly
he rushed towards the house praying that whatever was happening to
Avery, it wasn’t about to take her and the baby under. “Just hold
on Avery. Please hold on.”