Thea looked to the clock just beyond where Diego stood. Finally
she turned her eyes to him once again, “So what do you say?”
“I think that you’re full of it if you want my honest answer,” Diego
folded his arms in front of his chest, “So why are you really
here? What did Cameron send you for?”
“Cameron didn’t send me. I came on my own to see you because I
felt that you should know that…” Thea began as her pager went
off. Reaching for it casually, she eyed the number before a smile
pressed in over her lips, “Actually I suppose since you aren’t in the
mood to listen to me, then you’ll just have to see how this plays
out. Naturally Cameron will be starting with Heather and if you
don’t believe me, then maybe it’s past time you take a look for
“What do you mean take a look for my…” Diego stopped himself
mid-sentence as he was overcome with a sudden realization, “Heather…”
“Well, I think my work is done here,” Thea smirked wickedly rising up
from the couch to sling her purse over her shoulder tentatively, “but
you can just go and enjoy your day…”
“What have you done to her,” Diego questioned approaching her with a
frown, “What is he planning?”
“Why don’t you go see for yourself,” Thea threatened, a smirk spreading
over her features, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Heather,” Diego gasped realizing that in his time talking with Thea,
he’d left Heather open for anything Cameron had planned for her.
Remembering the mystery page to his office, he feared that he’d made a
huge mistake in walking away from Heather.
Racing to the elevators, Diego pushed the button--finding that the
elevator wouldn’t be there fast enough. Sprinting over to the
stairs he ran down three flights until he was on her floor.
Feeling his heart pulsating in his chest, he rounded the corner of the
hallway to enter her hospital room.
“Heather!” he spoke her name frantically only to discover that it was
empty. He searched around for any signs of her, but he came up
empty. There was nothing--no inkling of her still present in the
room and a sudden fear overtook him. “Oh God, no!”
Rushing out into the hall again, Diego searched around until he spotted
Heather’s nurse. Frantically he pulled her aside, “Where’s
Heather? Where is she?”
“I…I tried to stop her from leaving. Doctor’s orders were that
she stayed, but her husband insisted that…” she began clearly shaken by
“No,” Diego shook his head fearing what Cameron may be doing at this
very moment. Looking to the nurse again, he questioned further,
“How long ago did he take her out of here?”
“About five minutes ago she was wheeled downstairs to his…” was all she
was able to get out before Diego ran over to the elevators once
again. Thankful that the doors opened this time, he stepped
inside praying that it wasn’t too late. He hoped that Heather
hadn’t done something stupid once again.
As the elevator doors opened, he sprinted out into the lobby seeking
out any signs of Heather, but it was too late. She was gone and
now he feared for what happened next. As he stood alone in the
center of the lobby area, he said a silent prayer that Heather hadn’t
just made the biggest mistake of her life. Heading back to the
elevators he began to ponder what it could possibly be that Cameron had
done or said that had persuaded Heather to leave.
“Diego,” the nurse he’d spoken to earlier approached him. He
looked up as she quickly stepped towards him, “there’s something you
need to see.”
“She’s gone,” Diego shook his head, “How the hell could this have
happened? Who would’ve given her permission to just walk out like
this? Does Dr. Carlisle know about this?”
“I’ve paged him, but as of this moment in time, I haven’t been able to
reach him,” she explained further, “but while Heather is gone, her
son’s still here.”
“Come again,” he blinked back at her, “Are you saying that?”
“She left without her baby because there was no way she was going to
take him out of here with her given the state he’s in,” the nurse
explained leaving him to wonder just what in the world was going
on. Still knowing that Heather’s son was out of harm’s way was a
bit of a relief, but not much now that he’d wondered just what Heather
had gotten herself into all over again.
“Welcome home sweetheart,” Cameron mused with a proud grin helping
Heather into the bedroom he’d kept her in before the accident.
She was unusually quiet, but that was a refreshing change for him he
realized. Convincing her to come home had been easier than he’d
anticipated and now, well now he was going to enjoy the perks of having
his wife home. It brought him one step closer to where he wanted
to be in his quest to take down Douglas. “I hope you can make
“I’ll try,” Heather nodded feeling a shiver race over her as Cameron
stepped in behind her bringing his hands over her shoulders.
“Oh come on. It won’t be that bad,” he spoke
gently before he urged her to spin around and face her. He
noticed the cascade of blonde hair in front of her face to cover her
injuries. Reaching out to her, he pushed her hair back while
tilting her head upward, “Let me look at you.”
“Cameron, I don’t want to let you…” she started feeling his urgent
insisting. Letting out a slow sigh, she stood upright, feeling
the light fall upon her burned skin. He shook his head at her,
skimming his fingers back behind her ear.
“You know this all could’ve been avoided if you’d only behaved,”
Cameron shook his head, “You’d still be beautiful Heather. You’d
be flawless, but with the way you misbehaved, this is the mark you’ll
have to bear.”
Heather said nothing, feeling a shiver rush up and down her spine as
she thought of the chilling confrontation they’d had in her hospital
room. While she could still hear the threats he’d waged upon her
now, his reminding her of her injuries were only adding to the pain
inside of her.
“It’s okay though because I promise you sweetheart if you play along
with me and do things as they are meant to be, then you will be
beautiful again. You can have your old life back and we can be a
family,” Cameron urged her to meet his gaze, “You want that, don’t you?”
She said nothing fighting the tears the threatened. She closed
her eyes thinking back to their confrontation at the hospital.
“Heather, now I realize this must be difficult for you, but as soon as
our son is home, then the healing can begin,” Cameron continued in a
patient, yet menacing tone, “I’ve hired a nurse to come in and take
care of you until the time is right for your healing process to go to
the next level. When we bring our son home we will have him
transferred to a private facility where he can be well taken care
of. As soon as your bitch sister is eliminated, then we can all
get what we want.”
“I won’t let you touch my son,” Heather replied tightly thinking of the
ways in which Cameron had hurt her over the duration of their marriage.
“You won’t, will you,” he questioned in a threatening tone, tugging on
her hair roughly. He pulled her over to a mirror, shoving it in
front of her, “Look at you Heather. You’re hideous. No one will
ever look at you again unless it’s out of pity and even then you’ll
terrify those who once adored you. You’re never going to be what
you were unless you give me what I want…”
“You’re not going to use my son as a pawn in your twisted plans,” she
bit back feeling him shove her in closer to the mirror.
“Look at yourself Heather. You’re not going to be able to charm
any man anymore. You have no other options,” Cameron hissed in
the back of her ear, “With a face like that, no one will dare dream of
pampering you. I’m your only option. With me you can fix
this--you can have your beauty back again and together we can make you
“I won’t let you take my son,” Heather spoke tightly.
“You don’t have a choice. You’re my wife Heather and that boy is
mine. He belongs to me just like you belong to me and if you even
think about challenging that fact, then I swear to you, this face you
have now will be mild compared to the one you’ll have when I’m through
with you. I’ll destroy you and everything you care about,” he
warned her sharply his hand moving in over the center of her abdomen,
“and you know that I’m just the man to do it. You can’t stop me,
so it would be best not to try.”
“Heather, I’m talking to you,” Cameron replied breaking through her
tortured thoughts, “well, what do you say?”
“Whatever you want Cameron,” she answered broken by her tears, “I just
want to make you happy.”
“That’s a good girl,” he smiled proudly bringing her in for an embrace
knowing full well that he was one step closer to making his plans for
Heather’s son into fruition at long last. Nothing could stop him
“You never told me your thought on this whole thing,” Don pointed out
leaning against the outside the wall.
“I don’t really know what my thoughts are on this whole thing,” Shannon
stated holding her head feeling it ache.
“Listen, I am so sorry that this happened like this…if it was really my
decision, I would have proven my love to you. I‘m into romance,
not doing things unconventional and reckless like this on a whim,” he
smiled watching her roll her eyes.
“You don’t even know me,” she scowled watching him shake his head.
“That doesn’t mean anything. We have as much time as we need to
get to know each other. Last night we must‘ve seen something in
one another to take this leap together,” he informed he with a slight
“Yeah it was called too much tequila,” Shannon groaned in response.
“Maybe, maybe not,” he added pondering the situation once again, “I
mean if you are willing to try this whole thing out, then I’m there all
“I don’t really know about this whole thing. I mean I met you two days
ago and I am already married to you,” she stated watching him
nod. “This doesn’t even fit into my life. I’m not prepared
for something like this. It’s just insane if I try to think
rational about this…”
“I know what you mean and this whole thing is kind of weird,” he
started before he was cut off by her laugh.
“A little weird, this takes the whole cake,” Shannon laughed watching
“I’ve seen worse things work out than us. I’ve seen a lot of
people do crazier things, so why can’t we work?” he wondered watching
her shrug. “I mean hey, maybe we could have some fun with this.”
“You keep acting like it’s something simple like you and I had a mix-up
at the store--like you have my groceries and I have yours, but this is
marriage. Marriage Don.”
“Which is all the more reason for us to think things through before we
jump the gun on this one,” he urged her once again.
“Jump the gun? Don, would you listen to yourself for a
second? I’m a FBI agent who can’t afford the luxury of a life and
you’re a doctor who cares about everyone. This isn‘t going to
work for my life at all. We‘re like night and day and to think we
can force this situation…ugh, it‘s just so…impossible,” she sighed
walking passed him.
“Impossible? Hey, wait where are you going?” he yelled out trying
to catch her as she squeezed past the people walking by.
“I need some time to think,” she stated looking behind her as she
opened the door.
“Wait,” he yelled out before she slammed the door shut and he ran into
the closed door. “Good job Don.”
He sighed looking down at his watch as he walked down the steps of the
“So are you going to tell me where we are going or not?” wondered an
“Boy, you aren’t the least bit patient are you?” laughed Hart resting
his hand on top of hers.
“Why are we stopping at the movies?” questioned Jenna watching Hart get
out of the bar helping her out. “I thought that you’d said you
just wanted to settle in for a quiet evening and…”
“You’ll see,” he winked at her only making her more curious by the
They walked into the movies as she realized there was one weird quality
about this whole thing; there wasn’t a person in sight.
“Why are there no people here?” Jenna was surprised by the less crowded
“See that’s one of the following surprises…I rented it out. It’s just
going to be you and me here,” he smiled enclosing his fingers with
“What are we seeing?” she titled her head as they took a seat.
“I hope you get comfortable because it’s going to be a while,” he
informed her as the screen came on.
“How did that…” she started as the lights dimmed and he smiled as the
screen came into vision.
“Oh my, it couldn’t be a showing of all the Star Wars…could it?” he
“You didn’t,” she chuckled watching him nod.
“I did…I figured you might appreciate a little time together since
things have been so hectic lately. Besides, it gives me an excuse
to be alone with you so that we can make out in the back row,” he
teased wrapping his arm around her and kissing her lightly. “Now be
quiet, the movies are starting.”
“I have a very good feeling about this,” Avery began thinking about
what Brant had uncovered. She looked at the time realizing that
while it was getting late, she was still ready to burn the midnight
oil. “I really think that we’re going to be able to get that son
of a bitch this time.”
“I just hope that when it gets time to go to court that people will
start seeing Cameron as the monster he really is,” Jade admitted
shuffling a few papers herself, “At least I hope we have enough for us
to get Grady out of jail.”
“We’re going to get him out of there Jade,” Avery promised looking over
at the woman who was head over heels in love with her brother-in-law,
“Grady is innocent and we’re going to show everyone in Coral Valley the
“I know,” Jade nodded, “Deep down I’m sure of it, but you know I can’t
help but be worried. Somehow it seems like every time things
start getting good, well, something happens to tear my happiness away
“Not this time,” Avery squeezed her hand supportively, “We’re going to
free Grady. You have my word on that.”
Jade smiled, “I really hope you’re right on this one Avery. If
all this information Brant uncovered does pan out, then well, Grady
will be home again.”
“That’s right,” Avery added thinking about Brant’s help in all of
this. While he’d been working furiously to try to expose Cameron
over the last few hours, she knew that Brant really didn’t have a
vested interest in Grady’s case. Still he was aiding them in the
preparation for the trial--that is until he went off to pick up some
Chinese takeout. “Brant’s done a great job tonight.”
“He’s been amazing,” Jade’s voice grew a bit quieter, “but then again I
guess I shouldn’t really expect much less from him. He’s a bit of
a puzzle, but when you need him, he always follows through--at least
“You say it like it’s been done before,” Avery noted the strange tone
in Jade’s voice. Looking up she noticed the faraway look in
Jade’s eyes, “Jade, hey what is it?”
“It’s nothing,” Jade shook her head before returning to the moment,
“but you know despite coming off as a pompous ass, Brant has his finer
points about him.”
“I know that,” Avery agreed, “and sometimes he hides it, but deep down
he’s got a good heart.”
“He does,” Jade paused dropping her fingers into her lap. She
grew silent again as Avery reached out to her.
“Jade, we’re going to beat this. You have to believe that,” Avery
spoke up encouragingly.
“I know,” Jade nodded, “it’s just in thinking about Cameron and his
intentions, well it makes me sick. The man is so disgusting and
vile and when he looks at me I think about when I was…”
“You were,” Avery watched Jade’s expression drop.
“It just brings back some really bad memories,” Jade pushed her small
fingers through her dark hair uneasily.
“From when you were raped,” Avery couldn’t help but ask watching the
shock and surprise over Jade’s features.
“How did you…” Jade’s jaw nearly dropped.
“Russ told me about it,” Avery admitted wondering if she’d crossed too
far of a line with Jade, “I’m sure that you would’ve rather he didn’t,
but with the way our relationship was, well…he told me about Cameron
“And how this feels like déjà vu all over again,” Jade
let out an exhausted sigh, “Right down to Brant playing the hero, it’s
like my own personal hell all over again.”
“Jade, Cameron’s not going to get the chance to…” Avery stopped herself
thinking about what she’d heard Jade say to her, “Wait a second.
Back up. What about Brant?”
Jade turned her head upward revealing the tears that threatened, “He
was the one who saved my life that night. He was the only person
who was there for me after what they did to me. I just kept
remembering how I thought I was going to die after those men raped
me--how I couldn’t understand what was happening until it was too
late,” she paused broken up by emotion as her tears fell down her face,
“I remember laying there after wishing that I would die--feeling like I
should’ve died. I was so hurt and confused and just when I was
sure that I was going to be taken from this world, Brant stepped in
like an angel and pulled me from the darkness. At the time I’d
been too drugged up to fully understand, but if he hadn’t taken me to
the hospital that night, well, I don’t think I ever would’ve been able
to make it through the night.”
“But how did Brant…” Avery asked with obvious confusion, “How did he
know that you…?”
“His father raped me Avery,” Jade blurted out behind a cascade of
tears, “That son of a bitch was the first one to have his way with me
and after him, well he let his other associates take a run at me.”
“Oh my God,” Avery gasped in horror, “You mean Nicholas Ashford was the
“He took away my innocence,” Jade began to sob overcome with emotions,
“I was only fourteen when my father gave me over to that bastard and
now that Cameron is trying to stake his claim on me, I just don’t know
if I can be strong enough to…”
Avery watched as Jade broke down into full blown tears. Reaching
out to hug her, Avery felt Jade’s pain pouring from deep within.
No wonder Grady had been so desperate to eliminate Cameron, Avery
thought to herself remembering the ways in which Grady had attacked
Cameron when he’d walked in on Cameron trying to corner her.
Grady was doing what was necessary to protect the woman he loved from
being hurt again, but Cameron was determined to stop that from
“Jade, you’re strong enough,” Avery finally insisted supportively,
“You’re one of the strongest women I know. To have experienced
what you did was beyond horrible, but you made it through the
nightmare. You’re a fighter and Cameron can’t take that away from
you. No one can.”
“Deep down I know that, but when I think of how Cameron manipulated the
legal system,” Jade sniffled attempting to wipe at her own streaming
tears, “God, I feel so pathetic for crying like this. I never
should’ve even started this to begin with…”
“You didn’t start anything Jade. This wasn’t your fault.
Clearly this has been on your mind for a while and I can see why you’re
afraid. I can see why we need to make sure Cameron is
stopped. I don’t want you to ever have to feel like the walls are
closing in on you again,” Avery admitted feeling for the woman beside
her, “No woman should ever have their rights violated like that by any
man. It was wrong and it never should’ve happened.”
“Yeah, well that’s what I got for trusting in men,” Jade let out an
ironic, pained smile, “My father was quite the gambler and I really
thought that he loved me--that he wanted to play an active part in my
life again. Seth warned me, but I was just so stupid--too damn
stupid not to realize what he was up to…”
“Everyone wants to believe that their father is a good person,” Avery
offered supportively, “I know what it’s like to be alienated from a
parent and wanting them to be proud of you. It’s been the story
of my life with my mother, but it never worked out for us.”
“Yes, but your mother didn’t pimp you out to men she was in debt to,”
Jade snapped in response before taking in a breath, “Look Avery I’m
sorry. This is just a touchy subject for me…”
“Jade, I won’t pretend that I know what it is you went through, but I
will say that I’ll do anything I can to help you,” Avery replied
supportively, “You’re like family Jade and I hate to see you hurting.”
“I just wish,” Jade wiped at her tears, “I mean before Grady I didn’t
believe in love. I didn’t trust men and I sure as hell didn’t
want to fall in love. The only guy I could count on was my
brother Seth, but then when I started working for Grady my life
changed. I started to believe in love and happily ever afters,
but now Cameron’s trying to take that away from me…”
“He won’t win Jade,” Avery promised reaching out to hug her, “We won’t
let him win.”
“What if we don’t have a choice in the matter,” Jade sobbed into her
“There’s always a choice,” Avery whispered supportively, ‘You can’t
forget that. We can’t stop believing that.”
“I can’t believe you took dance lessons,” Sarah yelled to Kyle who was
in the bathroom and just got done with his shower.
“I figured I didn’t want to end up breaking your toes again,” he
laughed walking out with a towel wrapped tightly around his waist and
his hair wet.
“What are you doing now?” she questioned watching him from the bed.
“Nothing, I just left my bag,” he pointed to his bag picking it up.
“Oh,” she laughed lightly.
“Why do you have a problem seeing me in a towel or something?” he
wondered tilting his head at her.
“No, not at all,” she shook her head lightly watching him smile.
“Good,” he winked at her as he walked back to the bathroom turning the
He walked back out in a pair of workout pants and he took a seat next
to her on the bed, “Are you watching wrestling?”
“Yeah, I am. Why?” she wondered watching him shrug.
“I don’t know, I just always watched that. Never did I know you liked
it too,” he shrugged watching her smile.
“Do you have a problem with that or something?” she wondered poking him
in the stomach lightly.
“No, I like this guy,” he nodded to the screen seeing two people
“Which one Randy Orton or Triple H?” she questioned watching him raise
“Are you kidding me? Randy Orton is a joke. Triple H is my favorite all
the way. He has awesome moves,” Kyle informed her watching her
“All the way, he is totally my favorite…and he is the hottest one too,”
she pointed out tilting her head toward the screen.
“What about me, I’m hot too, right?” he got out before she laughed.
“You come pretty close to him, but I don’t know,” she shrugged feeling
him pushing her back lightly on the bed getting above her.
“That’s it,” he started grabbing the remote from her hand turning off
the television, “No more wrestling for you. I mean he is not a bad
looking guy, but I should be the only guy you keep your eyes on.”
“Are we getting a little jealous now?” she questioned watching him get
“I have nothing to be jealous over because I have you and that Triple H
will never touch you,” he stated pulling her up to him kissing her
“You have a good point there,” she smiled watching him go to the
balcony opening the doors and stepping outside.
“You know it’s a beautiful night,” he stated.
As soon as he stepped outside it started raining and Sarah laughed,
“Not anymore it isn’t.”
“Well,” he started running into the room quickly shutting the door, “I
think that was two showers in one night.”
“Too bad, I should have locked you out there and made you beg to come
in,” she laughed feeling him push her back tickling her lightly getting
on top of her.
“Is that so?” he questioned seeing her face turn red from laughter.
“Who is going to be the one begging now?”
“Not me,” she said through the laughter. “Stop…okay you got me.”
“That’s what I thought,” he grinned lying down on the bed next to her.
“You tired?” she asked before he wrapped his arm around her waist
pulling her closer to him.
“Yeah,” he whispered closing his eyes. “Sarah?”
“Yeah?” she whispered listening to his light breathing.
“Thanks for everything. It really did help,” he informed her
wrapping his arm around her tighter.
“I’m glad,” she smiled feeling him lean over a little bit kissing her
lightly letting his lips linger lightly.
“I love you,” he whispered lightly resting his head against hers
“I love you too,” she smiled feeling him kiss her forehead and then
laying back down.
“Night,” his soft voice went through her head as she cuddled into his
“I love this,” Blake sighed feeling Seth’s big arms wrapped around her
“What?” he questioned kissing her cheek lightly letting his lips
“This…what we have here. I can’t believe we are going to have more
nights like this together for the rest of our lives,” she smiled
setting her hands on his arms.
“I love every moment I have with you,” he informed her as she turned
around and he ran his hand down her face.
“I can’t wait to be married to you,” she stated resting her head
“You don’t have to worry, I’m all yours,” he stated running his hand
through her silky hair.
“I know, but something just keeps getting to me. Like somehow something
is going to go wrong,” she told him looking into his eyes.
“Blake, nothing is going to take me away from you. Where did you get
that thought into your mind anyways?” he questioned resting his hand in
“I don’t know, it was just a worry I always had growing up. I would
find prince charming and then some evil witch would come and steal him
away from me,” she shrugged watching him smile.
“Well, I’m not that prince charming…I am going to stay with you forever
and that’s a promise,” he assured her kissing her forehead lightly.
“Something about the way you say that makes me believe you even more,”
she leaned up pulling him into a savory kiss.
“I love you and I always will. You have nothing to be worried with me
loving you,” he promised her kissing her once more.
“I know and I will always love you too,” she replied to him hugging him
close to her.
“I hope this last forever…I love having you in my arms,” Seth stated
kissing her forehead lightly.
“I love being next to you and I can’t wait to spend the rest of our
lives together,” she smiled as he leaned down kissing her lightly.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were stalking me,” Valerie
commented hopping up on the treadmill beside the one she’d spotted J.T.
running on. Earlier they’d first met one another at the bar, but
now, well now that she was working off the drinks she’d had earlier,
she noticed that they had another common interest.
“I’d say that you’re the one stalking me,” J.T. replied keeping up the
pace he’d had going before she arrived, “Though I should say I’m not
surprised to see you here after the little chat we had
“You have yet to entice me,” Valerie remarked setting the pace on her
“Oh you’re so full of it,” J.T. pointed out coming to a stop as his
workout came to a close. He tilted his head to look at Valerie,
seeing that she was rather stunning. If he hadn’t been completely
invested in Diane, well…that was another story. Leaning over the
treadmill, he spoke firmly, “You’re intrigued admit it.”
“I am not,” Valerie insisted with a huff. “I’m not at all
interested in what you were telling me earlier because it’s useless
“Fine, then have it your way,” J.T. shrugged moving back and going to
retrieve his water.
Valerie caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye in the
mirrors in front of her. Okay, so sure maybe she was well aware
of the fact he’d mentioned that he might be working out at this
particular gym when he’d propositioned her, but she’d decided that she
didn’t need him. She could get Seth back all on her own, or could
“Of course you can,” she thought to herself with a scowl. She
started to pick up the pace on her jog when she noticed J.T. eyeing her
intently. Yeah, so he was really the one with the problem, she
couldn’t help but grin noticing the way his eyes were roaming all over
her body. Sure enough he had to be anything but helpful when
clearly he was just some loser wanting to get laid, “I almost believe
what you’ve said so far.”
“Fine,” he stated taking another sip of his drink, “then I guess it’s
been fun while it lasted. Good luck getting Seth away from the
woman he loves because it’s never going to happen.”
He turned around and walked away causing her to scowl as she brought
the treadmill to a stop. Turning her head, she watched his smug
retreat and a groan spilled over her lips. Stepping off of the
treadmill she followed him, her determination bubbling over her.
“I really don’t need you, you know,” Valerie pointed out in a huff,
“Seth and I are meant to be together and that’s going to happen.
There’s not a thing that his little fiancée can do to change it
“Is that right,” J.T. glanced over her casually before continuing on.
“That’s right. I mean yes she might think she’s the one in
control right now, but she’s so far from it. She’s not going to
spend the rest of her life with him because that wedding will never
“Well, then I guess it’s settled. You’ve made your mind up, so we
really don’t need to keep having this discussion,” he shrugged again
before entering the men’s locker room.
“He will be mine,” Valerie commented, her voice dark and cryptic as she
waited for J.T. to return. After he didn’t, she looked around the
gym before heading into the men’s locker room.
Not caring if anyone was paying attention to her or not, she boldly
approached him, watching him strip down from his gym shorts.
Pausing in her momentarily, she took the time to appreciate his well
sculpted backside before letting out a small whistle.
“Okay so now you may have something worth taking an interest in,” she
couldn’t help but tease folding her arms in front of her chest as he
spun around to see her standing behind him.
Reaching for a towel to cover himself up, J.T. blinked back at her with
obvious surprise, “What the hell are you doing in here?”
“Continuing our conversation since you took your own sweet time coming
back,” she explained matter of fact, her eyes trailing over the
contours of his chest.
“Yeah well in case you didn’t notice, the sign out there at the door
said ‘Men’s Locker Room’,” he insisted taking a long look around at the
stares they were getting from the other men in the room.
“Do you think I care about technicalities?” Valerie questioned taking a
long look around the room at those who were gawking at her.
“Besides I don’t mind.”
“I think that they might,” J.T. spoke up in a muted whisper, the color
rising in his cheeks.
“I highly doubt it,” she shook her head at him dismissively.
“Look we can talk out there if you want to, but you can’t be in here
because…” he started stunned by her approach despite his own boldness.
“Oh would you just relax,” she grumbled back at him before spinning
around to address the small crowd. Tentatively she smiled at the
group, “Boys, do you really mind my being in here?”
No one said anything as all eyes were upon her. She expanded her
grin before surveying the room. Oh yeah, she was certain she
could work this crowd for sure. Reaching down over her body in a
seductive fashion, she pulled her shirt up over her torso before
dropping it to the floor to reveal her half naked form to gawking eyes.
“I was about to take a shower,” she batted her eyelashes at the three
men closet to where she was standing, “Anyone care to join me?”
“Okay, that’s enough,” J.T. reached for her arm, dragging her in closer
to him. He glanced over her shoulder at the men she’d stunned to
silence. One of them grabbed a towel seemingly ready to take her
up on his offer while practically salivating, “Actually boys we’re
about to have a private conversation in here, so if you could give us a
A few men grumbled and complained while one shouted out the phrase
‘lucky bastard’, but the group reluctantly complied to J.T.’s request
leaving him alone with the ever bold woman before him. Frowning
as he faced her again, he shook his head at her.
“Are you happy now,” he grumbled in response.
“Not until you give me something good to work with,” she insisted
quickly, “I want to hear your offer again and see if it’s worth my
“I thought you were convinced that you had it all covered,” he folded
his arms in front of his chest realizing that wasn’t the smartest of
moves as his towel dropped down to the ground. He bent over
picking it up in a haste, but he knew that the slip hadn’t been lost on
She licked her lips seductively before speaking up again, “Look, I want
Seth back as much as you want Diane. While I hate double crossing
a friend to get what I deserve, well there are extenuating
circumstances in this particular scenario. So much so that I
might be tempted to let you help me…but strictly as a backup.”
“Is that right,” he smirked in response.
“That’s right,” she nodded back at him, “if your brother really has the
inside scoop on Seth and knows how to help me keep him far from that
little bitch, then I’m all for taking the time to get to know him.”
“I’m sure I can arrange a meeting with Cameron for you. Since I
know that Seth has done a few jobs for him, well, I’m sure that Cameron
would be more than happy to put you in the loop,” J.T. continued eyeing
her intently, “but I hope you also realize that this is going to cost
“I’m well aware of that part of the deal,” Valerie nodded in complete
understanding before taking a step back, “and I’m more than willing to
“Even if it means turning your back on your little buddy there,” he
arched a curious brow.
“I don’t think you get it J.T., but eventually you will,” she confessed
shimmying out of her shorts and discarding her sports bra as well to
reveal her brazenly naked form before him, “I always get what I
want. That’s just simple how it goes. Understood?”
J.T. opened his mouth to speak, but found that he was at a loss. He nodded
in response to her words as she approached him. Unable to help himself,
his gaze dropped down to her breasts before she reached for the towel he was
wearing ripping it off of his torso with one swift movement. She gave
him a quick once over before draping the towel over his shoulder.
“You get me that meeting with your brother and I’ll see what I can do,”
she offered up tossing her hair back over her shoulder.
“Consider it done,” he nodded in response finally finding the words to
speak as his cool and calm demeanor returned to him.
“Good, then it sounds like we’re about to be in business with one
another,” she smiled approvingly.
“So it does,” he agreed with a smooth, solid grin of his own.
“Well, since we’ve got that out of the way I’m taking a shower now, but
we can continue this later,” she blew a kiss at him before disappearing
into the showers. J.T. couldn’t help but turn around to watch her
exit as he wondered just what in the world he was getting himself
into. Still as he thought about the progress he’d made with
Diane, he realized that desperate times called for desperate
measures. Perhaps working with Valerie would be beneficial after
all, he decided. Turning his attention to his locker, he began to
get dressed while whistling a tune knowing that the games were about to
Brant entered Avery’s house with two bags in hand all the while
thinking about what he could to do help get rid of the problem with
Cameron. While he knew he’d made a dent in uncovering what it was
that Cameron was all about, he was certain that he would find a way to
take down the man who was hell-bent on destroying his company.
“I’m back,” Brant announced carefully closing the door behind him only
to discover that the lights were off in the living room. He
stepped further into the room surrounded by darkness as a frown spilled
over his features, “What the…”
“In here,” Avery’s voice rose from the shadows guiding him towards the
kitchen area. Stepping inside, he noticed that she stood in front
of the door wall, a steaming mug in hand as she gazed out into the
backyard. The room was illuminated by the faint flicker of
candlelight and it was obvious that she had something on her mind.
“Hey, what’s going on? Where’s Jade,” Brant questioned in
“She went to bed,” Avery explained not bothering to look back at
him. She kept her eyes on the yard and there was a bit of
distance in her voice.
“Is she feeling alright?” Brant set the bags down on the tabletop,
carefully making his way over to her, “Are you okay?”
Avery nodded before finally facing him, “I’ll live. I mean isn’t
that what’s important?”
“It’s more than important Avery,” he approached her, “what happened
while I was gone?”
“I’m just worried. That’s all,” she explained her voice smooth
and even, “I’m afraid that this time I’m not going to be able to pull
through--that I might fail and then Grady and Jade can lose everything.”
“Avery, you’re not going to fail,” he assured her, “I know how much of
a fighter you are and you’re going to make miracles happen.”
“Given the way that things have been going lately, I don’t know if
that’s entirely possible,” Avery closed her eyes thinking back to her
conversation with Jade, “If I slip up and fail them…”
“You won’t fail them,” Brant reached out to touch her arm gently, “You
haven’t failed me yet, so this time I’m sure it won’t be any
different. You’re going to win this one.”
“I have to win this one,” Avery nodded in agreement opening her eyes up
once again. In silence she took a long, hard look at Brant
thinking about what it was that Jade had told her about him.
While she’d always regarded Brant as someone she could appreciate and
enjoy his company, tonight, well tonight she was seeing an altogether
“What is it,” Brant questioned in confusion, “Avery, what’s with the
“Nothing, I just…” she stopped herself thinking about the right words
to say at a time like this.
“Just what?” he asked again feeling her tense up. He watched her
walk away from him, her fingers curled tightly around the mug while she
walked around the kitchen.
“I guess tonight I just came to some realizations about things--about
this world we live in and overall I think I’m terrified,” she continued
dropping her voice, “I mean first Russ dies and now with Grady…”
“Avery, we’re going to put that madman in jail. Hell, while we
knew we had a battle against us with him going up against BBK, well
this thing will go away. Grady’s not going to spend his life in
“But if he does and Jade loses him,” Avery choked up on emotion,
“Brant, she can’t lose him. If he were to be out of her life like
that, then there’s no telling what could happen to her.
Emotionally she’s already been so very hurt and…”
“And what,” he questioned feeling an uncanny feeling in the pit of his
stomach when he recognized the expression on her face. Cautiously
he spoke up again, “Avery, what’s really going on?”
“Jade told me everything,” she finally blurted out after a long pause,
“She told me how you were the one to help her after she was raped by
Hearing those words Brant felt as if the wind had been knocked out of
him. He stood in the darkness stunned by Avery’s words and yet
nothing he could think of could make him come up with the right words
to respond to that statement. Instead it was his turn to look out
onto the night in the hopes of finding some clarity.
Avery watched him through the darkness setting her mug down on the
tabletop. She tried to find her own thoughts and make sense of
them, but instead she was rendered silent. She opened her mouth
to speak again, but was interrupted by the sound of Brant’s voice.
“I failed her that night Avery,” Brant hung his head down shamefully,
“When I found her in that hotel room, I knew that I was already too
“What happened wasn’t your fault,” Avery spoke up solemnly, “How could
you have known that she…”
“I didn’t even know her at the time,” Brant broke through her words,
“I’d never seen her before that night, but after I’d found her, I knew
that I’d be haunted by that image forever. Still, when I saw her
again, I didn’t realize that she was the one…”
“Brant,” Avery spoke his name taking a step towards him.
“You know up until that pointed I wished like hell I could’ve been like
my father--that I could’ve held that kind of power over people. I
mean I spent my whole life wanting to be him--to prove myself to him,
but then, well then I saw him for what he really was,” he sighed
heavily closing his eyes as he found himself burned by the chilling
memory, “That night I’d scored a big deal for the company…I’d been
working on catching his eye--on really showing him that I was the
better man to run the company. I was in this competition with Ken
to be my father’s right hand man and I was so damn smug. Here I
thought that I’d finally made it--that I would be a shoe in for the CEO
one day. I was so thrilled and when I got the call to go over to
that hotel I really thought I had it made….only when I got there, it
wasn’t my father that was waiting for me. It was the remains of
the life he’d destroyed. I walked into that building thinking
that I’d uncovered the key to winning my father over, but instead I was
left to pick up the pieces of his night of terror on Jade.”
“Brant, it wasn’t your fault that…” Avery felt him trembling beneath
her touch as she reached for his shoulder.
“Avery, I knew that my father had a blatant disregard for women,” Brant
spun around to face her--a faraway look behind his eyes, “I knew that
he’d viewed them as trophies to tote around on his arm and that night I
was supposed to be there. I was supposed to be helping him pitch
another deal he’d had going, but I wanted to show him what a big shot I
was. I went off to work another deal and by the time I got there
to brag, Jade was half dead. If I would’ve just arrived on time,
then I could’ve been able to stop it--I could’ve…”
“Brant, what happened that night was horrible, but you did the best
that you could. You took care of her and you helped her…” Avery
offered up noting the tears glistening behind his eyes.
“I should’ve been there to stop it. I should’ve made that son of
a bitch pay for what he did. I should’ve done more, but I was
afraid,” Brant confessed choked up on emotion, “I feared what would
happen if I crossed him. I spent my whole life just wanting him
to think the world of me, but then after I saw what he did…I wanted
nothing more than to break away from him. I’d always tried so
hard, but then for me to have to face that--to see his true nature…”
Avery rubbed her hand up and down his arm gently, her eyes filled with
“That night was the night my father became dead to me,” Brant bit back
on his words, “and the irony of it was that when he’d discovered all
that I’d done in taking care of his little ‘situation’, that’s when he
named me the next CEO of BBK. Ken was repulsed by it, but I vowed
to make things change. I promised that when it was my time I
would bring the company and the Ashfords into a new era. I swore
that I wouldn’t fall down that same path that he did and I fought like
hell to keep from being like him…”
“You’re nothing like him Brant,” Avery touched his cheek gently, her
own eyes filled with tears, “You never were like him.”
“I just should’ve done things differently…if I’d gone to the police
that night instead of just the hospital. If I would’ve…” Brant
broke down unable to contain the feelings from within. He slumped
down onto the floor overcome with the nightmare that he’d fought so
hard to push away. Bringing his hands up to his head, he tried to
will his thoughts to the present far from where they were at this point
in time. “I should’ve done the right thing. I should’ve
seen justice for Jade instead of cleaning up Nicholas’s latest mess.”
“You did more than clean up his mess,” Avery sat down beside him, “You
saved Jade’s life. She told me about how she would’ve died that
night if it wasn’t for you. She explained to me how you helped
“But if I would’ve really helped her, I would’ve called the
police. I would’ve told them about what my father and his friends
had done. I should’ve…” he choked up again.
“Brant, you couldn’t have known. I’m sure when you got there you
didn’t believe that your father was capable of such evil. Jade
said when you found her, she was barely alert. I’m sure when you
saw her, you weren’t sure what was happening. That you…”
“Deep down I knew Avery. It went without saying, but I always
knew and I swore to myself that I would never be like him…that I would
never turn into that kind of son of a bitch, but in not doing more…” he
bellowed in response.
“No, Brant, you’re nothing like him. You did what you could and
even now you’re fighting to save Jade’s life again. You’re doing
what you can to help give the man she loves his freedom and that means
the world to her. It means the world to me that you care enough
to try…” Avery reached out to him, curling her finger underneath his
chin. His dark eyes raised to hers and she met him with a
poignant smile, “Brant, you saved her life and you’ve saved mine.
The fact that you’re going all out to do the same for Grady tells me
what kind of man you really are…”
“Avery, I thought I was in control of this, but once I fell in love
with you all the rules changed,” Brant revealed ashamed of his actions,
“I lost grip with reality and I did things--things that weren’t
“Brant, it’s okay,” Avery insisted cupping his face in her hands, “It’s
all in the past.”
“No, Avery, I swore to myself that I’d never be like him, but that
night at the party when I forced myself on you--when I kissed you like
that…” Brant turned away from her, “When I tried to bully you into
marrying me, I finally saw my true colors. There’s no fighting it
Avery. It’s inevitable. I’m bound to become Nicholas
“No, you aren’t,” Avery snapped back at him, “You’re nothing like him
and for the record when you proposed to me, I thought it was one of the
most generous, selfless, wonderful things anyone had ever done for
me. Here you were ready to be there for me and my daughter no
questions asked. You knew that she wasn’t your baby, yet you
still were ready to stand up and do the right thing…”
“By taking you away from Russ?” he faced her again his face doubtful.
“You’d thought he’d betrayed me. I was upset and you were trying
to heal that hurt,” Avery reminded him simply, “In your own way you
were trying to save me from the pain I was going through.”
“But I only ended up causing you more,” he dropped his head down again.
“No, Brant you didn’t cause me any pain. If anything, you showed
me what kind of man you really were and it was then that I knew how
special you were,” Avery admitted with a small smile, bringing her hand
in over his leg gently, “I still see it.”
“Avery, it’s just that I wish…” Brant began feeling her squeezed his
“Brant, we can’t go back in this lifetime--only forward and if you keep
blaming yourself for the things that were out of your control…” she
appealed to him, “I mean when I think back to what it was like when I
lost my baby before. Time and time I kept blaming myself for the
miscarriage and it almost destroyed me. I pushed away everyone
that ever really mattered and I tried to make myself suffer for the way
the horrible thing that I’d done. It took me a long time to see
it, but it wasn’t my fault. It was a bad situation that I was put
in and now, well now I try to remember that.”
“Avery, you should’ve known from the start that it wasn’t your fault,
but with my father,” Brant looked to her again.
“Your father was a horrible, wicked man, but you aren’t that Brant,”
she slid her fingers into his hair gently, “You could never be that.”
“Sometimes I’m afraid of becoming that man,” he confessed his eyes
fixed upon her. Cautiously he reached out to caress her cheek,
his words mesmerizing as he continued, “Sometimes when I’m with you I
feel myself losing control--it’s as if I can’t stop things from
happening no matter how hard I try.”
“Brant, you don’t have to stop them,” Avery replied with a small smile,
“You just have to be true to who you are.”
“Who I am wants you more than anything,” Brant divulged leaning in
towards her, “You’re so deep in my system Avery that I can’t think
clearly when we’re together. I need you so very much and when I
touch you like this,” he teased a lock of her dark hair between his
thumb and index finger, “well it’s as if I’m going to melt into pieces
because it’s never enough.”
“Brant…” she spoke his name not quite sure what to say as his lips
descended upon hers. She tasted the saltiness of his kiss,
feeling his arms surround her as her heart pounded in her chest.
He hugged her closer to him, his lips taking the time to taste and
tease her own luscious mouth as they sat together on her kitchen floor.
“I need you so much Avery,” Brant mouthed hotly, his fingers threading
through her dark hair as he began deepening the kiss.
“Brant, I…” she whimpered in response, feeling her arms curl around his
shoulders, drawing him in nearer to her. It was as if everything
made sense in this moment--as if their coming together was something
that was meant to be--that was.
“I love you,” he murmured urging her in onto his lap as they sat on the
kitchen floor. She closed her eyes feeling his lips place
feathery light kisses over her neck while his hands traveled over her
skin, up over her soft curves. She felt the first breath of night
air upon her shoulder as his mouth continued it’s sensual path over her
shoulder, taking her robe down with the movement.
“Brant,” she tipped her head back giving in to this moment of craziness
between them when she heard a voice from behind.
“Forget me already, did you?” Russell questioned as Avery opened her
eyes to see him standing outside the house just beyond the glass of the
door wall. His arms were folded in front of his chest and his
eyes were full of a look of betrayal, “So this is what I get for
offering you true love? This is what I’m worth to you?”
“You’re worth everything to me,” Avery blurted out as Brant continued
to kiss her neck.
“You’re worth everything to me too Avery,” Brant muttered against her
skin, feeling the warmth of her driving him on.
“Yeah right,” Russell shook his head at her, “You wouldn’t know the
first thing about love if it bit you in the ass. You’re a whore
just like Grady said you were. He was right about you all along.”
“No, he wasn’t. He’s not right about me,” Avery argued with him,
shaking her head in protest, “I love you.”
“Avery, what are you talking about?” Brant questioned in confusion
pulling away from her. “What’s wrong?”
“Yeah Avery, why don’t you tell him what’s wrong? Tell him all
about how you pledged eternity to me, yet five minutes after I’m gone,
you’re ready to go at it in our kitchen,” Russell sneered at her, “That
says a lot about what kind of bitch you really are.”
“Russ, I love you,” Avery argued with him, “how can you say those
“I only call them like I see them and right now what I see is a woman
who never deserved me in the first place,” Russ scowled at her as Avery
rose up from Brant’s lap in a panic.
“Russ wait,” Avery reached out to the door wall struggling to open it
as Brant sat on the floor witnessing her have a conversation with
“Avery, hey,” Brant jumped to his feet only to watch her tear open the
door wall and run into the night.
“Russ please, don’t go,” Avery cried out, her words echoing through the
night, “Please don’t leave me. I love you. I do love
you. I’ve always loved you…Russ!”
“Avery, hey,” Brant raced up behind her placing his hand on her
shoulder. He seemed to startle her as she spun around to face him
“He can’t leave me Brant. He can’t think that I didn’t love
him--that I don’t love him. I do love him. I love him more
than anything and I want him back,” she broke down into full blown
tears, “More than anything I want him back again.”
“I know you do,” Brant replied pulling her into his arms as he looked
around the backyard wondering what it was that she saw. As far as
he could see there was nothing but darkness surrounding them.
Still, as he held her, listening to her cry about the man she’d loved
with her whole heart, he realized it was too soon. He’d pushed
things too hard and that Avery was no where near ready to move on
now. Given the caliber of emotion that he’d witnessed when she
rushed off after the invisible phantom of her husband, Brant wondered
if she’d ever, truly be ready to share her heart with him.
“I can’t believe this,” Shannon sighed to herself running her hands
through her hair as she heard a knock on the door. “Who is it?”
“Room service!” a person yelled from the outside of her door.
“I didn’t get room service,” she whispered to herself opening the door
to have some little guy roll a table into the room.
“Dinner for two,” he smiled walking out of the room and shutting the
door behind him.
Shannon tilted her head raising an eyebrow picking up the letter that
was attached to the dozen red roses that lie in the middle of the table
between the two candles.
I understand that this whole thing is a little weird, but all I am
asking for is a chance for you to get to know me a little bit before
you get rid of me. I completely understand if you don’t trust me at
first, but I want to have at least one chance for you to get to know
me. I just want to try and live this to the fullest. I want to be the
best man I can be and that’s all I am asking for…time to show you just
what kind of guy I really am. If you want to give me a chance to really
prove myself to you, I will be in the lobby until 10. If you don’t
show, I understand…I will never bother you again after that.
She looked over at the clock that lie on the table and it was nine
fifty eight. She thought for a long second sighing. She couldn’t
hurt this guy. Something about him just kept drawing her back to him.
She hardly knew him, but somehow she couldn’t let him go. She quickly
ran to the door opening it to only find him standing there in a white
jacket ready to knock. He put his hands in his pockets smiling.
“I knew you wouldn’t get rid of me,” he smiled as she rolled her eyes
slamming the door in his face.
He tilted his head shaking it lightly as she opened the door smiling,
“You can come in now.”
He shrugged with a slightly smile walking past her and into her room as
she shut the door behind him ready to give things a chance even if it
was one of the hardest things to do.