Episode 155

Seth ran his fingers through his damp hair before wiping at the steam that covered the mirror in the small bathroom.  While he’d been less than thrilled to discover J.T. on his doorstep seeking out Jade, he had other more important things to think about--starting with Valerie’s return to town.  When he’d heard the news, he’d been in a state of shock, but now, well now he couldn’t help but think about what that might mean to his future.
“It won’t mean anything,” Seth vowed closing his eyes as he thought back to the woman who’d once meant a great deal to him.

“Come on Seth.  Just play along,” Valerie’s voice had beckoned him through the dark hallway.
“Val, I’m not in the mood.  Where are you?” Seth called out to her, his own words echoing in the emptiness that surrounded him.  The thick blackness surrounded him, but it was nothing in comparison to the haunting feel that this new place had brought about in him, “Enough with the games already, where are you?”
“I’m right here,” her voice boomed through the darkness only to be revealed when the lights snapped on.  It took his eyes a moment to adjust, but within a matter of minutes, he discovered her standing before him motioning to the oversized print of her that hung upon the wall in front of him.  She smiled proudly before motioning over to him, “What do you think?”
“I think that you probably paid way too much for that,” he couldn’t help but tease noticing that the word “Modern Vixen” hung over her image as if displaying the top of a magazine layout over the photo that he‘d taken of her not so long ago.  Unable to refrain from a teasing grin, he stepped in towards her, “Where did you come up with that thing?”
“Seth, I don’t think you understand,” she reached out to lace her arms around his waist tugging him in closer to her, “It’s the real thing…”
“What do you mean the real thing,” he looked up at the cover layout once again.
“It means that when I spoke with someone through an agency, well they liked our work.  They thought you had an eye and you showed me like I was meant to be seen,” she tipped up on her toes, her hands roaming down over his spine, “You know what this means, don’t you?”
“That you’re going to make a few extra bucks with this one--that is if you haven’t spent them all on that oversized print,” he couldn’t help but tease.
“No, Seth, it doesn’t mean that at all,” she declared solemnly, “It means I’m going to be a star--we’re going to be stars.  I can feel it happening for us already.  We’re going to make it big time.  You’ll see.”

Suddenly in the back of Seth’s mind that image was replaced with another, more haunting one.  He could see Valerie standing at the train station walking out of his life and out of Coral Valley forever.  Even now he could feel the emptiness that her departure had brought to him for a brief moment in time.  Sure, they might not have had that begin all, end all kind of love between them, but when he’d witnessed just how easy it had been for her to walk away from him and never look back, he’d been careful to keep his heart guarded.  He never wanted to experience that kind of loss again, so he’d shut himself down--that was until Blake walked into his life.
“Blake,” Seth spoke her name feeling himself warm up to the thought of the woman he planned on spending his life with.  Never before had he felt so sure about anything--so strong about his feelings.  When he and Blake had first met, there had been an instant chemistry between them--a sizzle that had gotten deep into his system, but more so it was that initial spark that had prompted him to risk it all to be with her.  She was that special something in his life he’d waited forever to find and only in loving and almost losing her did he see just how truly important love was in his life.
“Nothing is going to get in the way of what we have Blake,” Seth vowed hearing the phone ring in the other room.  He’d secured the towel around his waist tighter than before racing out to catch the phone, but at the last minute the machine kicked in.
“Seth, hey it’s me…” Blake’s voice boomed in over through the apartment.
“I’m here…” he spoke frantically as he pulled the phone off of the receiver.  “Blake, I’m here.”
“Thank God.  I was starting to worry,” she replied with a breath of relief, “I’d called a few times, but when you weren’t answering, well I was afraid that I’d missed you.”
“I was in the shower,” Seth confessed with a simple shake of his head.
“Hmm…that sounds yummy,” Blake practically purred into the phone, “I’m sorry that I missed that one.”
“I’m sure we can fit in an encore performance later on if you play your cards right,” Seth teased in a seductive undertone in his voice.
“Oh I’m very tempted to take you up on that…more than you can even begin to imagine, but right now, well right now I have other plans in mind,” she explained quickly, returning to her original intentions for making the call.
“Okay, I’ll bite.  What’s on your mind?” Seth leaned on the arm of the couch, his grin still spreading over his features as he thought of the woman he loved.
“Well, I can’t really say much more than that I have a few things to do really quick before I come over.  I’ll be there shortly and then I’ll explain.  Until then, why don’t you pack an overnight bag?”
“An overnight bag,” he repeated with obvious amusement, “I’m intrigued.”
“You’re going to be much more than that when you discover what I have planned,” Blake spoke into the phone hurriedly, “But for now just make sure that you’re packed up and ready to go when I get there.”
“Okay, I’ll work on it,” he decided thinking about what Jade had told him, “and Blake?”
“Yes,” she replied quickly, her voice full of enthusiasm and mystery.
“I love you,” he spoke solemnly from his heart, hoping to convey that message to her.
“I love you too Seth,” she replied saying a quick good-bye, but not before warning him to be packed and ready.
Hanging up the phone, Seth couldn’t help but chuckle at her enthusiasm.  Somehow he knew he’d never get bored with Blake’s spontaneous, fun loving nature.  He had no idea what she had on her mind, but somehow whatever it was she had planned for tonight, he found himself more than eager to discover what it was.  Looking to the answering machine, he noticed that there were about a dozen messages blinking back at him.
“I know you were eager Blake, but gees…” he laughed lightly pressing the playback button ready to hear what she had to say to his machine.  The first message came up almost immediately.
“Hey sexy.  Are you there?  If so pick up?” there was a pause, “Seth, honey, I need to talk to you.  It’s imperative that we get in contact with one another before tonight…oh…grr…I’ll call back later.”
That message got an even greater laugh out of him.  Now to the next one.
“Seth, where are you?  It’s Blake again.  Honey I don’t mean to be a pain in the ass, but I really, really need to talk to you.  I tried your cell, but you’re not answering that either.  Oh well if you’re not there when I come over I’m going to camp outside your apartment.  I mean it.  You’re mine tonight Seth.  Do you got that?”
“I do now,” he chuckled listening to two other messages from Blake when the fifth caught him off guard.
“Seth, hey, I’ll bet you never thought you’d hear from me in this lifetime again, did you?” Valerie’s voice slurred in over the machine, “Well, the truth is that I’m back in town again…though I’m sure that Jade already told you that.  Listen, I’m sure that you’re not really interested in seeing me, but I need to see you.  We need to talk--about the past--the future…  Seth, please when you get this, just call me back and…”
Seth pushed his finger on the machine to stop the message.  He’d already heard more than enough.  Standing up he pushed the erase button before going to get ready.  Whatever it was that Valerie wanted, he wasn’t interested.  His life was perfect without her and he wasn’t about to go inviting trouble around again.  This was for the best and in not acknowledging Valerie’s return, he was certain that life would go on much more smoothly.  At least he hoped so.


Sarah got up hearing the sound of her doorbell ring through her house. She opened the door to not only see a dozen roses in front of her, but the face of the man she loved.

“Hey,” Kyle smiled walking in handing her the roses.

“I didn’t know if it was you for a second, I couldn’t tell with all the roses in front of your face,” she smiled grasping onto the flowers.

“I know what you mean.  Though how many people in this town actually are this big and have hair like me…I have no idea,” he smiled feeling her hit him in the arm lightly.

“Why did you bring me these?” she questioned seeing his jaw drop.

“I had to have a reason? I couldn’t just bring flowers for the woman I love?” he laughed kissing her lightly.

“Alright, I like that answer,” she stated feeling his big hands run up her arms.

“I knew you would,” Kyle smiled kissing her quickly, “So tell me, what’s wrong?”

“Well,” she started walking into the kitchen setting her flowers down and walking back to only see him sitting on the couch with his jacket off. “Heather.”

“What did she do this time?” Kyle sighed as she took a seat next to him and he wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

“I don’t think she loves me.  She never did,” she stated feeling his cheek run along her soft skin.

“Don’t say that, she loves you…Heather has just made some mistakes in the past,” Kyle stated pushing a piece of hair from her face lightly.

“Yeah, she hurt me a lot all the time,” Sarah laughed.

“Tell me what’s going on.  I’m all ears you know,” he insisted pulling her closer to him.

“Well she stole all the guys who ever liked me when we were younger for sheer sport for starters,” she shrugged seeing him shake his head.

“Explain me then,” he whispered raising his eyebrow curious to know what she was going to answer with.

“You can’t tell me that you never liked Heather,” Sarah stated with a slight hesitant laugh.

“Yes I can,” he nodded smiled, “From the moment I laid eyes on you, I was in love.”

“You don’t mean that,” she smiled feeling his hand on her leg.

“I mean it.  I never believed in anybody or anything, but I started to believe when you came into my life. I was a nobody Sarah, you made me a somebody…you’re my life,” Kyle stated seeing her eyes look up into his.

“You mean it?” she questioned feeling his mouth cover hers.

“With all my heart,” he stated breathing against her mouth.  He curled his arm around her, hugging her body closer to his as their kisses grew in intensity.  Within a matter of minutes, the passion singed between them sending them into a whirlwind of feeling.  Her fingers grasped onto the bottom of his black t-shirt pulling it over his head as he kissed her lightly.

“I have to tell you something,” she started as he kissed her deeply leaning her back on the couch.  “There’s something that…”

“Do you think it can wait?” he questioned running his hand across her face before he drank of her luscious lips. 

“Yeah…” she breathed feeling him kiss her again.

She felt his hot breath against the skin of her neck as her hands worked on unbuckling his belt. The doorbell rang as Kyle growled sitting up.

“Damn, this is not happening,” he started with a frown.

“Kyle, it’s…” she began in frustration.

“I know,” he nodded reluctantly getting up, “I’ll get that.”

“Alright,” she sighed watching him walk around the corner.

Kyle opened to door to see Blake standing before him.  Once she saw him her eyes got wide.

“Yeah?” he questioned watching her shake it off getting over the initial shock.

“Are you guys ready?” she questioned watching Kyle raise his eyebrow.

“Say that again,” he blinked back at her watching her nod.

“Are you two ready?” she repeated yet again wondering if she came at the wrong time seeing him with no shirt on and his belt undone.

“Ready for what?” he asked with a sheer look of confusion realizing that suddenly his night was altered now that Blake stood at Sarah’s doorstep looking ready to explore a new adventure that he was sure would leave him far from where he wanted to be with Sarah.


“Does this mean I am getting another chance?” questioned Hunt holding out the chair for Mindy.

“I don’t know it’s totally up to you,” she shrugged watching him take a seat across from her.

“Well, what’s that suppose to mean?” he questioned watching her fold her hands out in front of her.

“That means, as long as you don’t try and hurt me again…you will have your chance,” she stated watching him nod.

“Again, I am really sorry about that…I made a huge mistake in doing what I did that night. I never meant to hurt you,” he insisted seeing her nod as it relieved some pressure off his chest.

“I think this a start to helping yourself get better there,” she smiled seeing him grin.

“Believe me, this is the smallest to the closet thing you will be getting from me…I need to make it up to you in a better way. What I did wasn’t that nice, I need to prove myself worthy,” he smiled watching he shake her head.

“Whatever you say. I think the grocery store proved yourself worthy,” she laughed seeing him shrug.

“Well actually, that was an accident. To make you laugh I want it to be intentional,” he insisted touching her hand lightly.

“That accident may have been not on purpose, but that was the best way to get the attention of anyone,” she smiled seeing him shrug.

“Well you know,” he was stuck on words not really sure what to say out of embarrassment.

“To tell you the truth I think you caught the eye of a couple of people including an old man,” she smirked watching him shrug.

“What can I say, I’m too good not to look at,” he stated watching her raise an eyebrow.

“I wouldn’t get too cocky now.  You’re not that hot,” she said watching his eyes grow big.

“You don’t think I am that hot?” he questioned trying to act shocked.

“I think you’re okay,” she nodded.

“Well that’s a good start,” he smirked knowing it was only the beginning.


Carly sat in her hotel room thinking about her exchange with Kenneth Ashford.  While she’d expected a lot of things in being around him, she’d never anticipate the cool reception that she’d received.  Something had clearly shaken up his world and after she’d left his office, she found herself far more worried about him than she’d wanted to be.  Even now as she stood in front of the mirror halfheartedly taking in her appearance, she decided to take the time to look into what had happened to Ken, but first she had to stay focused.
Hearing a knock at her door, Carly situated the tiny red dress she’d put on knowing full well that it was one of Dave’s favorites.  Sure she’d come into town thinking about her personal life second, but in seeing Dave again, well she couldn’t help but feel hopeful about the night at hand.  Okay, so she wasn’t looking for romance, but being around Dave was a good way to start the evening.  Hearing the knock once again, she took in a slow breath hoping to remain focused.
“Remember this isn’t about making up for lost time,” she tried to convince herself as she made her way to the front door.  Opening it up, she found herself met by a bouquet of roses much to her surprise.  Seconds later she witnessed Dave emerging from behind the display, a goofy grin spreading over his features.
“I thought we weren’t making this an official date,” Carly threw out a pointed look despite her own enthusiasm about what he’d offered her.
“It wasn’t, but I saw these on the way over and they seemed to be meant for you,” Dave confessed with a soft smile, his words warming her from her head to the tips of her toes, “I hope I’m not crossing too many lines with them.”
“Well, normally I’d say you were, but tonight, well this hotel could use a bit of livening up,” she confessed stepping aside to put them in some water, “Come on in.”
“So you’re staying at a hotel,” Dave noted taking in the surroundings.  Sure enough the place did look a bit bare which was a first for Carly considering that she was usually surrounded by a little bit of everything.
“Temporarily,” she explained further from the kitchen, “I’m hoping to move into the new place within a week, but I’ve been having some issues with the contractor.  It turns out one thing isn’t right and with one thing, well it leads to another and then…”
“Then you’re spending your time and money in hotels,” Dave noted with a knowing expression as she returned to the living room area once again.
“Pathetic, isn’t it,” she tucked a loose strand of her dark hair behind her ear.
“Not nearly as pathetic as it could be,” Dave smiled at her, “I mean it’s kind of like an all expense vacation of luxury here at the hotel with the service and the availability of whatever you want at your hand…”
“Yeah other than that whole lacking the all expenses paid part,” she couldn’t help but laugh back at him, “but seriously, should we get down to business?”
“Actually I was hoping we could put that on hold for a little while,” Dave stepped further into the room, “as I wanted for us to talk about a few other things first…”
“Such as?” she eyed him intently.
“Such as that red dress,” Dave couldn’t help but notice her little surprise for him.
“Oh this old thing,” she waved her hand dismissively, “Is there a problem with it?”
“No, not at all,” Dave shook his head, his eyes still fixated upon her, “though it does remind me of that time down in Bermuda when it started to rain while we were walking the beach that one night…”
“You mean that night after we danced the day away underneath the stars,” Carly questioned with the beginnings of a smile herself.
“That would be the one,” Dave nodded in response, his eyes wandering over her curves suggestively, “Of course on that night, well we were both soaked and that dress was far more revealing…”
“No, I think that happened after you decided to brave the storm and get rid of the dress,” she took a small step towards him, “That’s back when you were bent on being a wild man--on taking a risk…”
“And you were right there with me, wanting me to play it safe, but instead you enjoyed my every moment of breaking loose,” Dave continued to move in closer to her until they were almost nose to nose.  He felt her lean back against the couch a bit to position herself as their eyes reconnected.
“We had a lot of fun back then, didn’t we,” she smiled, her gaze dropping down to his lips longing to recreate that particular moment he’d brought to mind.
“More fun that I’d ever thought possible,” Dave nodded in agreement, his heated breath striking against her skin in a sultry swirl of temptation and provocative longing.  “It was so good between us…”
“Unforgettably good,” she confessed in pure harmony with his statement.
“And yet,” he inched in towards her, his lips a whisper away from hers.  She tilted her head up towards him, her eyelids fluttering ever so slightly at the thought of things to come between them, but instead he pulled away from her leaving her in a state of confusion, “you decided to go off to New York and say to hell with what we had.”
“Dave, that’s not how it happened,” she frowned immediately feeling her wall of defenses fly back up at his accusatory tone, “You know damn well I asked you to go with me.”
“And leave my life in Coral Valley behind?  No, see that wasn’t what we’d talked about.  I mean somewhere in the midst of it all I was under the strange misconception that when you’d mentioned wanting to raise a family here with me and share forever that you really meant it--not that you wanted to fly out of town as fast as you could to the big city life.”
“Dave, you’re making me sound so cold hearted and cruel when that simply wasn’t the case,” she insisted with an impatient huff, “I gave you plenty of opportunity to…”
“No Carly, you were the one with the opportunity.  You just were hoping I could tag along for the ride, but I didn’t take the bait,” he answered sharply, the old feelings of hurt returning to him.
“That’s not at all what my asking you to leave with me was about,” she continued with a scowl, “and neither was tonight.  I didn’t ask you out to have us rehash this again and again…”
“Well see there’s yet another judgment error on your part.  I asked you out and whether or not you want to listen to it, I think I’m well within my rights to talk about the situation,” he folded his arms in front of his chest in a fighting stance, “You know Carly, that was always one of the problems with you.  You were so quick to try to wax poetic on the situation, but to hell with anyone who tried to alter your version of reality or tried to challenge your set of values.  Your career was top priority and I wasn’t.  Plain and simple.”
“That’s so not true even though you’re simply being an ass,” she threw her hands in the air dejectedly, “I don’t know why I even bothered to agree to this.”
“Because you thought you’d kiss up a bit in order to win your case,” Dave rolled his eyes, “I’ve seen this in the past time and time again…”
“Come again,” she blinked back at him with obvious confusion.
“Oh there’s a big case with political precedence and then Chavez practically salivates to get it in her favor.  She knows the elections are coming out again and she’s just itching to see this one work out the way she wants it to.  So this time around, she did a little digging and instead of sending an inexperienced, sex kitten she keeps on reserve, she brings you back putting you right in front of me in the hopes of getting the police support on her agenda…”
“Now wait just a damn minute Dave.  If that’s why you think that I’m back here…” she replied taken aback.
“Oh I’m sure it is Carly, but you can tell Chavez it’s not going to work.  She’s not going to win the election by using me or my men to do it.  She’s not going to manipulate the legal system yet again and if she thinks that a few dates and beyond with you will sway me, well then she’s got another think coming,” Dave blurted out defensively.
“Dave, that’s not what’s going on and if you really think so little about me--if you really have lost that much faith in me, then…” Carly started up again.
“Then what?”
“I thought you trusted me.  I thought that you and I had something special there once upon a time…” she tried to appeal to him once again.
“Had being the operative word Carly.  I moved on with my life and clearly that’s how it was meant to be.  I don’t need to look back…” Dave continued attempting to stay focused on what he’d planned to say to her when he’d arrived.
“Don’t worry about it because I’m not about to travel down that path again,” she replied defensively fighting the disappointment that flooded over her.  She marched over to the door opening it widely for him to exit, “and as far as I’m concerned, I don’t plan on making this a part of my future either.  You can leave now.”
“I thought you’d never ask,” Dave remarked reaching for his jacket before making his way towards the door.
“Good,” she shot back at him icily, “and I suppose then we have nothing more to say.  I’ll see you in court.”
“That you will,” Dave nodded refusing to look back at her for fear of revealing what had really gotten him so worked up.  It wasn’t that he’d hated her--or that he’d really felt that Chavez was playing him yet again, but more so he feared what a night alone with Carly would do for him.  After she’d left him, he’d fallen apart and if he was to go down that road again…well, it could damn well be the end of him.
“And Dave,” Carly beckoned him once again, “Just to let you know…when this goes to court, I will win, but I’ll do it based upon my own merits not on anything else.  You’ll see.”
“I’m sure I will,” was all he could get out before hearing her slam the hotel door behind him leading him to the realization that once again he’d be spending the night alone as the odd man out.  Still it was better to be alone than to open his heart up to Carly again.  If he did in fact let her in, then he’d be devastated if she ever decided to leave again.  That simply wouldn’t do and if it meant being distant, then so be it.  He wasn’t about to fall in love with the woman who’d taken his heart and run with it in the past.  Never again.


Shannon opened the doors to Angle’s bar sighing knowing she was going to regret even coming here. She was tempted.  Everything was going on so fast and it was so hard all the while reminding her of what she‘d worked so hard to leave behind.  Still this time she couldn‘t help but find herself falling back into that old place--that time when things felt easier. She looked around the place seeing people in the corner as she walked to the bar side.

“Can I get you a drink, sweetheart?” questioned a bald headed man with a goatee.

“No Mr.,” she started looking for a name.

“Just call me Steve, full name Steve Austin,” he smiled watching her nod.

“Steve Austin,” she repeated giving him a strange look, “You wouldn’t happen to be the…”

“No maam,” he shook his head at her, “we’re no relation, but some say we have an uncanny resemblance.  What do you think?”

“I think that those who say it need to get their eyes checked,” Shannon couldn’t help but roll her eyes, “You’re much better looking than he is.”

“Thanks maam,” he winked at her “I tend to think so too and hey if you need anything, just yell okay?”

“Thanks, Steve,” she smiled watching the larger man walk to the other end. She jumped only to feel a hand on her shoulder. She turned around to see the face of the guy who hit her. “What are you a stalker now too?”

“No, I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” Don stated watching her stand up. “I’m a doctor, it’s my job to take care of people.”

“Yeah well Don I’m not one of your patients,” she growled watching him sigh.

“I would just feel a lot better knowing you were okay,” Don sighed watching her put her hands on her hips.

“You mean mentally or physically? Cuz, you are sure bothering the shit out of me,” she scowled watching him look down.

“Listen, I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to hit your car,” he sighed watching her walk over to the bar.

“Steve,” she yelled out watching him walk back towards her.

“Yeah hot stuff?” he questioned moving in closer to her trying to hear her over the music.

“I think I will take that drink now,” she smiled watching him nod.

“What would you like?” he questioned watching her shrug.

“Whatever you think is the best,” she grinned seeing him wink at her.

“You’re asking the wrong guy sweetheart.  I like just about everything,” he nodded watching her shrug.

“Whatever you think you make the best I’ll have,” she stated seeing him go behind the bar to only to come back with a drink.

“Here you go,” he smiled handing her the drink.

“Thanks Austin,” she nodded seeing him wave to her.

“You think that’s a good idea?” he questioned watching her shrug.  “I mean don’t get me wrong a drink can take the edge off, but given the bump we just had…”

“I don’t know what’s a good or bad idea anymore,” she informed him looking at the drink starting to feel a panic before she took it drinking it all.

“All the more reason not to be drinking like that.  If you let me take you to the hospital…” he started with worry evident in his voice.

“Listen Don,” she gave him a pointed look, “you can stand there and try to lecture me all you want, but in about two seconds I’m walking away.  Or you can shut up, get yourself a drink and try to help me salvage the rest of this miserable day I’ve been having.  The choice is yours.”

“Listen,” he started watching her take a seat on the barstool.  Reluctantly he moved in beside her, sitting next to her, “I’m real sorry, okay?”

“Yeah whatever,” she scowled getting up.  “Like I said before unless you’re in the business of getting yourself a drink and lightening up, well, I’m just not interested.

“Wait a second,” he called out to her getting up and going after her knowing full well that tonight was going to be one, crazy night.  He could feel it.


“Close your eyes,” Dean instructed watching the sparkle behind Deidra’s eyes, “I mean it.”
“Okay, fine, but I don’t know why you just won’t tell me what it is you have on your mind here,” Deidra did as instructed taking in a long, slow breath.
“Just trust me on this one,” he urged her leading her through the darkness until he’d found his place for them.  “Now stay here and keep your eyes closed.”
“I hope you realize that I have a lot of faith in you to let you take me out like this,” Deidra noted with a soft smile.
“And I promise that it’ll be worth it,” he whispered warmly against the back of her neck before stepping away.  He glanced back over his shoulder at her through the darkness, “Now keep your eyes closed.”
“They’re closed already,” she curled her fingers into her thigh listening to see what Dean had planned for them.  They’d taken a walk through the park earlier until he’d urged her to close her eyes.  They’d been closed for a while until he’d given her a few seconds to keep them open. 
“Okay, you can look now,” Dean informed her giving her permission to take a long look at her surroundings.  While she wasn’t quite sure what she’d walked into the candlelight flickered around her revealing the atmosphere surrounding them.  She noticed an oversized play area before her alongside of a sign alerting them that they were at Toby’s Playland.  Turning to look at him curiously, she opened her mouth to speak.
“Before you say anything, I have to explain myself,” Dean stepped forward, a smile upon his face, “Toby and I go way back.  He and I got to talking about how you’d been having a bad run of luck and well, I was hoping that maybe tonight we could forget about all the serious, depressing things going on and we could focus on something that we could both enjoy.”
“You mean like pizza and video games,” she gave him a curious look.
“It sounds stupid, doesn’t it,” Dean couldn’t help but grin.
“No, not at all,” Deidra took another long look around eyeing the play area before her.  She spotted a little netted in spot filled with little plastic balls and almost immediately she kicked her shoes off, “because I see a place that’s exactly where I’d like to be.”
“Is that right,” Dean questioned watching the way her eyes filled with an obvious plan.
“That’s right,” she reached out to bunch the fabric of his shirt up in her hand.  Drawing him nearer to her, she planted a quick kiss on his lips before stepping back, “Take your shoes off and meet me in there in five minutes or else…”
“Or else what,” he questioned curiously.
“You don’t want to know,” Deidra teased with a menacing laugh before rushing over to the play area.
Opting not to argue with her, Dean kicked his own shoes off as well before chasing off in the general direction she’d headed in.  He looked around the area before pushing the mesh netting leading to the entrance of the play place out of his way.  Taking in a slow breath, he carefully swung his leg over into the plastic balls, hearing them squish underneath his foot.  His other leg followed suit while he tried to survey the area.
“Deidra,” he spoke her name while tentatively taking in his surroundings.  He tried to see through the shadows that surrounded him, but much to his dismay he couldn’t find her.  Frowning slightly he wondered where she could have disappeared off to until he felt the distinct thump of something striking the back of his head. 
“What the…” he spun around only to feel another one of the little plastic balls launched into his chest.
“Ha, got you,” Deidra popped out from beneath the blanket of balls she’d been hiding under.  Before Dean could get out a word, she threw another and then another until he found himself ducking to get out of her way.
“No fair,” he asserted scooping an armful of balls up and launching them at her with his pitching arm.  Before he knew it the two of them were engaged in a very heated dodge ball game with one another.  He watched her prance around, ducking out of his attempts to get her until finally an idea formed in the back of his mind.  Sliding down into the mountain of balls that surrounded him, Dean carefully inched in closer to her.
“You can run, but you can’t hide,” Deidra squealed out oblivious to what was going on at her feet.
“There’s no need to hide,” Dean roared tugging on her leg and dragging her down into the balls with him in a whoosh of noise.  Pulling her closer yet, he smiled as he lay over her, a proud, victorious expression on his face, “Gotcha.”
“Or so you think,” she wrinkled her nose at him before worming out of his reach.  Pushing through the balls, she continued to laugh until she’d come close upon the corner of the closed in area.
“Now what was that you were saying,” he questioned bringing his arms out on both sides of her to cage her in.  She spun around to face him, her dark eyes sparkling with eagerness as she tilted her head up to look at him.
“I was saying that you haven’t captured me yet,” she mouthed in a low, sultry whisper watching him descend towards her.
“You sure about that,” he questioned claiming her lips with a heated intensity causing a fever to burn from the top of her head to the tips of her toes.
“You might be getting close,” she declared curling her arms around his neck and kissing him once again.
“How about now,” he nuzzled his nose against the side of her neck.
“I think it’s a good start,” she divulged with a cryptic smile all the while knowing the truth that somehow he’d captured her heart from the moment he’d rescued her in that parking lot from Bruce.  That was all it took for her to see that she’d found a man well worth keeping around.


Ken staggered through the front doors of the Ashford estate struggling to remember how he’d even gotten there in the first place.  It seemed as if life was just one, big blur especially after he’d lost Caitlin.  The fact that he’d had way too much to drink at work hadn’t helped, but quite honestly at this moment in time, he really didn’t give a damn about that.  He just wanted to crawl into bed, pass out and fast forward through yet another miserable day.
“But we’re one step closer to together again,” Ken thought to himself using all his efforts to climb up the never ending staircase to his room. 
While he’d gotten a brief phone call from Zack about the memorial, he knew it just wouldn’t be the same.  Caitlin was being cremated and the service was in spirit only.  He knew that he’d have to stand there in front of a group of people and share his thoughts and feelings with them, but somehow saying that this sucked and it was the worst possible thing to ever happen to him didn’t quite seem exactly moving.  Still, he’d tried to drink those thoughts away, yet after Zack had called they still haunted him.
“I’m coming Caitlin,” Ken whispered in a groan finding himself winded as he made his way to the top of the staircase.  He looked just beyond where he stood, seeing the hallway narrow and then spread out enough for him to feel as if he’d stepped into some kind of funhouse.  Walking in a zigzag pattern to his room, he managed to push the door open long enough to step inside.
“Ah, there you are,” he spoke out loud with a crooked smile through the darkness.  Hurriedly, he stumbled over to his bed and flopped down upon it not bothering to change out of his suit.  It had been a day from hell to say the least, but in his dreams he found freedom--he found solace and more importantly he found his Caitlin again.  She was with him--in his arms, in his heart and they could be together forever.  Closing his eyes, he willed his mind to lose sight of reality and drift to where he’d wanted to be with the woman he loved.      “I’m right here…Caitlin, where are you?” he spoke aloud feeling the blackness shift to a bright, white light.  Suddenly he felt the teasing pull of fingers over his shoulder.
“I’m right here,” she whispered warmly in his ear causing him to turn around in the midst of the clouds that surrounded them in his dream.  “I’m still with you Ken.”
“Oh Caitlin,” he spoke her name throwing his arms around her in a heated embrace.  Reaching out to touch her cheek gently, he feared that she would slip away from him--leave his life forever, but instead she leaned into his touch, bringing forth so many beautiful moments he longed to explore still with her.  She smiled at him, a warm and true gesture and as he traced the lines of her features, she spoke up seductively, “Make love to me, Ken.”
“You have no idea how much I’ve wanted to hold you like this again,” Ken confessed feeling her fingers fan out over the front of his jacket.  He could feel the warmth of her body spanning out across the center of his chest, urging his jacket open. 
He leaned forward to kiss her again, but instead he was met by nothingness.  The white clouds had faded and he was back in the darkness.  Letting out a long sigh, he thought about taking the journey to the guest quarters where the winery was housed, but instead he closed his eyes once again dwelling on what he’d lost.
“I’m right here,” he heard a voice rise above the darkness.
“Caitlin,” he spoke her name, his eyes opening once again to see the blurred image over him.  As he opened his mouth to speak once again, he felt her press her index finger over his lips to silence him.
“I’m with you Ken,” she continued, her blonde hair falling forward to tease against his face with the movement.  He placed his hand upon her hips only to discover the smoothness of her bare skin over his.
“But I thought that you’d left me…that you were gone--that…” Ken began in a whirlwind of confusion as he saw nothing more than her golden tresses lingering over him.
“I’m right here,” she mouthed just over his lips, the heat of her breath burning him down to the core, “and I don’t plan on leaving you--ever again.”
“Oh Caitlin,” he threw his arms around her kissing her eagerly--knowing that this moment had to be some kind of gift his subconscious was giving him.  He’d been so lost without her--so miserable and this dream was so real--so perfect.  Almost immediately he felt her ease him out of his shirt and jacket and despite the heaviness in his limbs, he sat upright to accommodate her persuasions.
“That’s a good boy,” she breathed nibbling on his ear teasingly before spreading her fingers down over his muscled chest.  She shifted beside him, turning her attention to his belt buckle making quick work of removing the barriers between them.  She moved over him once again, her lips devouring his heated skin as her kisses trailed over her chest leading down his body, “I want you so bad Ken.”
“I need you,” he whispered her name, his fingers threading through her blonde hair to urge her up towards him.  However, she was not to be deterred from her agenda.  Carefully, she tugged his pants down over his legs, leaving him only in his boxer shorts.  Watching the desire that spread over his features, she felt a proud smile tickle over her lips.
“I need you too Ken,” she replied dipping her hand inside his boxer shorts to find him more than ready to be with her.  She took her time teasing him until she felt his body moving in response to her.  Seeing that kind of encouragement from him, she dropped her fingers down underneath his waistband knowing that there would be no turning back after this.
“I love you Caitlin,” Ken moaned in a low, aching tone as she climbed up over him, straddling his body.
“Forget Caitlin,” Susan whispered licking her lips before leaning down to kiss him once again.  She positioned herself over him, ready to join them together as one when she realized that Ken had passed out and with him went any hope of her seduction coming to fruition.  Frowning she smacked the side of his face watching the way his head turned in his clear cut alternate state of consciousness.
“Ken,” she spoke his name again, her voice rising with anger and disappointment as she watched him lost in his moment of drunken stupor.  She moved her hands over his body again, hoping to entice him into joining her for this magical moment between them, but alas after a few minutes she realized it was no use.  Instead she opted to slide in beside him, curling her arm around his waist as she lay her head on his chest.  Closing her eyes she listened to the sound of his heart beating beneath her.
“Sooner or later Ken, we will be together.  It’s only a matter of time before you realize that I’m all the woman you’ll ever need,” Susan vowed taking this night’s disappointment and putting a positive spin on it for things to come between them in the future.  Now that Caitlin was out of the way, she had no doubt in her mind that Ken would be hers again.  It was only a matter of time.


Brant sat in the living room thinking about Kyle’s arrival at the house.  While he completely loathed the jackass, the fact that Kyle was still a part of Avery’s life made Brant wonder just what Kyle’s intentions were.  His first instincts were to brush up on Kyle’s history and see what the guy was all about, but instead he forced himself to take the moral high ground.  Okay, so that was a bit of a stretch there in the sense that he’d still been tempted to call his own investigator in, but instead he’d found himself wrestling with the excess energy by looking around Russell’s library.
“Boring, boring, boring,” Brant thumbed through the books before him until he found one that looked a bit different from the rest.  Curiously he reached for the book swiping it from its place before moving back over to the couch,   “And just what do we have here?”
Sitting down in on the center of the couch, Brant opened up the leather bound book to discover Russell’s handwriting.  Upon further inspection, his eyes fell upon the words before him much to his own surprise.

“How on Earth could she think that *I* was Brant? Is she really so charmed by him that she would fall for his very silhouette? This calls for drastic action. Avery isn't going to like what I have to do, but I'll do anything…and I do mean ANYTHING…to keep her from destroying her life with Ashford. I'd never forgive myself if Avery fell into Brant's clutches. Somehow, some way, I will save Avery…even if that means saving her from herself.”

“Well now,” Brant looked up from the page he’d opened up to.  So the almighty Russ was intimidated by Brant’s presence in Avery’s life.
“Well good,” he muttered aloud pondering what he’d read before he contemplated delving further into what was so obviously Russell’s journal.  He eyed the living room for a brief moment before turning his attention to the book in his lap once again.  Tempted to keep reading, he opened to yet another page, but before he could read what was on it, he closed the book.
“I can’t do this,” Brant thought aloud surveying the room once again before his eyes fell upon the leather bound cover before him.  He tapped on it with his finger tips before curiosity overtook him and he opened the book once again.  Reading another passage to himself.
“That woman…that sweet beautiful woman…Avery simply defies description. With all the English language at my disposal, all the journalistic training I’ve had, I just can’t seem to come up with the right words to describe how I feel about her. But Brant Ashford…now that one is easy. He makes me want to vomit…we’re talking projectile here. An engagement party? Is he insane? Like Avery needs to be thrust even further into the media spotlight. He doesn’t care about her. He just wants to flaunt her in everyone’s faces to show that he can have every woman. Well I’ve got news for him. He can’t have every woman. He can’t have HER. He can’t have MY Avery.”

“Is that right,” Brant closed the cover of the book, having had enough of what the late Russell Denton had to say about him.  While Brant wasn’t looking for Russ to die like he had, clearly there were some issues that would live on long after Russ was gone.  Issues that would still be sore spots.
“But not tonight,” Brant rose up from the couch, making his way back over to where he’d located the journal to begin with.  He began to put it back when he heard a sound from behind him.
“What are you doing?” Avery questioned in confusion, watching him standing before her with his back to her.
“Nothing,” Brant quickly pushed the book back in it’s place before turning around to face her again, “I thought you were sleeping.”
“I was trying, but it just wasn’t happening,” Avery confessed with a heavy sigh, “My arm kind of hurts and wouldn’t you know it?  That’s the side I’m ready to sleep on…”
“Well, that’s not going to help anything,” Brant reminded her with a simple shake of his head, “thought I have to admit I’m not really getting any rest either.”
“Let me guess,” she gave him a pointed look, “You’re plotting ways to get back at Kyle for pissing you off, right?”
“As much as I’d like to say I was, I gave up on that about an hour ago,” Brant shrugged his shoulders, “but you can’t blame me for being just a tad bit upset with the guy.”
“I guess I should be willing to give you points for honesty,” Avery offered with a polite smile, while tying her robe up tighter, “Kyle’s a bit rough around the edges and hard to take to someone who doesn’t know him, but he’s really a good guy.”
“Very loyal to Russ, huh?” Brant noted arching a curious brow.
Avery nodded, “Even though they haven’t talked in years, when Kyle came to town, you would’ve thought it was like they were kids again.  Amazing to think that Kyle and Grady were best friends in college considering how attached he and Russ are to one another…”
“Yeah, you’d think that Kyle was Russell’s personal attack dog with the way he hates me,” Brant frowned thinking about the muscle bound meathead who annoyed the hell out of him.
“He doesn’t hate you.  He just doesn’t trust you,” Avery shrugged once again.
“Same difference,” Brant insisted.
“Not really, but you’ll learn that the longer Kyle is around,” she explained with a soft sigh, “Eventually he’ll warm up to you.”
“Hell will probably freeze over first,” he scowled back at her.
“Perhaps, but right now I’m thinking that I’d really rather not get into this grudge you and Kyle have against one another.  I’d just like something like tea perhaps.  You interested in any?”
Brant nodded, “Sure, but only if you let me make it for us.”
“You make tea,” she gave him a strange look.
“Yes, I make tea,” he nodded with a proud smile, “Does that really surprise you?”
“Honestly yes,” she confessed, “You don’t strike me as a tea kind of guy.”
“Yeah, well there’s a lot about me that you might be surprised with, starting with my increasing abilities to pamper a woman when she needs it the most,” he moved in closer to her.  “Why don’t you sit down for a few minutes and I’ll bring things out when they’re ready?”
“I can help,” Avery offered catching the expression on his face, “I can you know.”
“I’m well aware of it, but tonight, you take it easy.  Let me help you for a change.  It’s the least I can do,” Brant insisted slipping away into the kitchen leaving her to her thoughts.
Looking around the living room, Avery began to reflect upon all the wonderful memories she and Russ shared with one another in that very room.  She thought to the day that she’d first asked him to marry her and how their lives seemed to have so much promise ahead of them.  Things had seemed so right--so perfect and now…well, it was as if a huge hole had been ripped out of her heart.  Her dream had been taken from her and what was left was the reminder of what should’ve been.
“I wish you were here Russ,” Avery spoke aloud before taking a seat on the couch.  She hugged one of the pillows before curling up against another.  Closing her eyes she found herself thinking about the happiness she’d felt when she and Russ were together.  She could so very clearly recall his words of love and his promises of forever and as she lost herself to those memories, she drifted off to sleep.
“Here we are.  Tea is ready and waiting for your approval,” Brant announced entering the room only to discover her sleeping on the couch.  He felt a small smile spill over his lips as he set the tray down on the coffee table.  Stepping towards her, he took a moment to just watch her taking in the beauty before him.  Finally unable to resist, he leaned in beside her reaching out to touch her face gently.
“How is it that you always manage to fall asleep on me just when I think we’re getting somewhere with one another,” he questioned softly, moving in to brush a chaste kiss against the top of her forehead.  He watched her for another moment before finally taking a step back.  He contemplated leaving her there to sleep, but knowing that the couch couldn’t be all that comfortable, he made another decision.
“Come on,” Brant whispered carefully pulling her up off of the couch, “Let’s get you to bed sweetheart.”
With those words Brant carried Avery to her room, making sure to tuck her in carefully before taking a seat beside her.  While he was sure that he was crossing some kind of line, right now that was irrelevant as he knew she needed him.  Whether or not she wanted to admit it, they needed one another and for tonight and however long she needed him, he would be at her side.  Settling in on the pillow beside her, he kept his eyes upon her until he too drifted off to sleep dreaming about a future that he’d always wanted between them.


Seth sighed clicking the remote constantly changing channels thinking about Blake’s phone call.  What was she up to? Better yet what was he going to do about Valerie being in town? She could possibly screw up what him and Blake had if she wanted to given her nature.  Of course as long as he didn‘t let her upset things, then maybe just maybe it would be okay. The doorbell rang as he stood up walking to the door.

“Hey,” Blake smiled wrapping her arms around his neck.

“What are they doing here?” questioned Seth looking at Sarah and then Kyle seeing two bags over his shoulder.

“I would like the answer to that question too,” Kyle pointed out as they all walked in the house.

“So where exactly are we going?” wondered Seth watching Blake smile and shrug.

“You’re just going to have to wait to find out,” Blake chuckled watching Seth raise and eyebrow at her. “Grab your bags now because we’re leaving.”

“How am I suppose to drive if I don’t know where we are going?” questioned Seth seeing Blake pick up his keys.

“I’ll drive,” Blake shrugged, “Sarah will help me navigate.”

“Something about this doesn’t seem right,” Kyle stated feeling Sarah smack him on the arm.

“He’s right it doesn’t,” Seth agreed.

“Well it doesn’t matter what you two think because either way you two are coming with us,” Blake grinned as Seth grabbed his bags.

“Fine, I trust you,” Seth shrugged as the women walked out the doors first.

“If I were you, I wouldn’t,” Kyle laughed as both the girls elbowed him in the stomach. “What? I was just kidding.”

“Sure you were,” Sarah rolled her eyes as they got into the car.

“So where exactly are we going?” Seth questioned leaning towards Kyle talking almost in a whisper.

“I have no idea,” Kyle shrugged as Blake looked back.

“Be patient you two will find out soon or a later,” Blake smiled watching Kyle shrug,

“I’m hoping it will be closer to soon, instead of later,” Kyle stated hearing Seth laugh.


Jade entered Grady’s office thinking about all the dreams and plans they’d made for one another in this very place.  She thought about how she’d fought like hell to keep him in her life--to find a way to get him to notice her, and now that they had found happiness with one another, she knew that it was just a matter of time that it was ripped away from them completely. 
Walking around his desk, she found his old, blue sweater draped over the back of his chair.  She could remember all the countless times she’d encouraged him to get rid of the old, scraggly thing, but he’d insisted it was his ‘thinking sweater’ and that it had helped him gain clarity during times when that felt like the last thing in sight.

“Grady, you can’t seriously believe that old sweater will do the trick,” Jade could hear her own voice commenting on it as she reached for the sweater in the present holding it up to her face.
“I think this sweater more than does the trick,” Grady had informed her, “Don’t you have something that helps you?  Kind of like a security blanket?”
“Are you saying this hideous sweater is your security blanket?” Jade had voiced her displeasure with it.
“I’m saying that it’s a great help to me in figuring things out,” Grady repeated firmly.
“Yeah, then why isn’t it helping you figure out where you should be with me,” Jade could see herself swiping the sweater from him.  She quickly tugged it on over her head despite the fact that she’d been teasing him about it.  She could remember flapping her arms around at him, “Well, what do you say to this?”
“I say you’re trouble,” Grady had expressed his thoughts straight to the point.
“Yeah, well you should try trouble sometime Grady,” Jade had threw back at him suggestively bringing her hand to the center of his chest, “You might find you enjoy it every now and then.”

Now as she held his sweater up to her face, she could smell the scent of him so clearly as if he was standing right there with her.  Hugging the sweater closer to her, she closed her eyes imagining his arms around her instead of the sweater she was holding.  Fighting to keep it together, she inhaled another breath taking in the scent of the man she loved when suddenly she heard the sound of footsteps from behind her.  Spinning around, she lowered the sweater to discover Cameron standing in the doorway.
“I noticed the front door to the offices were open and since I’m still a client,” Cameron entered the room, walking in a smooth, solid stride of determination, “I thought I’d come inside and say hello.”
“You’re not welcome here,” Jade answered tightly, immediately on edge by his presence.
“But as I said before I am a client and I’m in need of legal representation,” he stated with a cryptic smile, his eyes taking her in shamelessly.
“No, you’re in need of a good therapist considering you’re a sociopath,” Jade remarked sourly, “which is something that I can’t help you with, so get the hell out of here!”
“Such bitter words from such beautiful lips,” Cameron made a tsking sound as he rounded the corner of the office.  His eyes fixed directly on Jade while his smile slowly faded, “You know this could’ve been avoided Jade.  All of this could’ve been prevented if you’d cooperated.”
“I wasn’t going to let you touch me,” she spat out at him clinging to Grady’s sweater to help her keep her strength while he stood before her. “You repulse me Cameron.”
“That’s too bad because I’d always hoped we could be friends,” he shook his head at her, “You know how important you are to me.”
“What I know is you’re a sick monster who takes pleasure in hurting others.  I could never be friends with someone like that,” she wrinkled her nose at him.
“And yet you’d stay true to that belief even if it means that man you love staying in jail for the rest of his life,” he let out an ironic laugh, “and here I thought true love was supposed to know no limits and bounds.”
“The truth will set Grady free,” Jade answered flatly, “and sooner or later that will happen.  He will be proven innocent.”
“Ah yes, our legal system is just and fair in your mind, now isn’t it,” Cameron couldn’t help but laugh at her, “Did I ever tell you cute it is that you cling so hard to your beliefs like that?”
“Did I fail to mention that I’m a black belt in karate?” Jade questioned ignoring his smugness, “Or that perhaps you should rethink coming in here before I call for security?”
“You wouldn’t do that,” Cameron took a swift, solid step towards her, “You’re smarter than that.”
“And so is Grady’s defense team,” Jade stood taller, glaring up at him all the while refusing to let him frighten her, “They will get Grady out of jail and when they do, well I can promise you that you’re days are numbered Cameron.”
“Is that right,” he laughed lightly, “You really believe that you’ve got something on me there to take me down?”
“Oh I’m sure that sooner or later it’ll happen and when it does…well you’re going to wish you never set foot in this town,” Jade spat back at him, “That much you can be sure of.”
“Fine, then you have your dreams and I have mine,” Cameron leaned in closer to her, “Before this is over you will be mine Jade.  While you might be hesitant now, there is no denying the fact that we were meant to be together.  You might think you know it all, but in time you’ll grow to love me as I love you.”
“Go home to your wife Cameron,” Jade hissed in response clenching her fists at your side, “After all she’s the one who married you for the one thing you’re good for--your money.”
“You know,” Cameron started to sneer, but stopped himself taking a step back.  He adjusted his tie and flashed her a bright, enthusiastic grin, “Jade, you can try to fight it, but sooner or later we will be together.  I have no doubt in my mind about that.  One day neither will you.”
“Get out,” Jade hissed at him, reaching for the telephone, “Get out or I swear…”
“I’m leaving, but just know we’ll meet again,” Cameron promised slipping out of the office leaving Jade to realize that while Grady was away Cameron was sure to keep popping up.  Sure, she stood up to him this time, but she had a feeling that after tonight things were going to get worse--much worse!

...to be continued...