Episode 159

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 yourself…”
“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 his approach.
“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 yourself comfortable.”
“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 beautiful.”
“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 now.


“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 shrug.

“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 the way.”

“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 him frown.

“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 hotel slowly.


“So are you going to tell me where we are going or not?” wondered an eager Jenna.

“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 second.

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 movie theatre.

“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 hers.

“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 questioned sarcastically.

“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 truth.”
“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 from me.”
“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 for me.”
“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…”
“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 man who…”
“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 happening.
“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 shoulder.
“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 light on.

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 wrestling.

“Which one Randy Orton or Triple H?” she questioned watching him raise an eyebrow.

“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 nod.

“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 off her.

“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 lightly.

“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 lightly.

“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 arms.


“I love this,” Blake sighed feeling Seth’s big arms wrapped around her waist.

“What?” he questioned kissing her cheek lightly letting his lips linger.

“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 against him.

“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 hers.

“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 earlier.”   
“You have yet to entice me,” Valerie remarked setting the pace on her own treadmill.
“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 information.”
“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 she?
“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 either.”
“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 happen.”
“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 moment alone…”
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 time.”
“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 Valerie.
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 you.”
“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 pay up.”
“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 begin.

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 confusion.
“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 different one.
“What is it,” Brant questioned in confusion, “Avery, what’s with the look?”
“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 jail.”
“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 your father.”
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 late…”
“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 emotion.
“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 her…”
“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 exactly…”
“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 eventually…”
“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 leg gently.
“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 things?”
“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 herself.
“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 again.
“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.

...to be continued...