Episode 162

Brant reentered Avery’s room with a smile on his face.  While this wasn’t exactly how he’d planned on doing this, he was certain that somehow he and Avery could really, truly make this work.  Smiling wider as he saw her standing over by the window, he pulled the bunch of roses that he’d brought with him out from behind his back.
“For you my darling,” he held them up to her face, catching the first hints of a smile that swept over her lips.
“Brant, they’re beautiful, but you really shouldn’t have gone all out and…” she began to protest now facing him fully.
“It’s our wedding day,” Brant reminded her with a proud smile, “Of course I should.  I made the phone calls I’d mentioned to you and I worked in a few favors.  I have to go get my quickie blood test in a few minutes here…but after that, well it seems like in a couple of hours or less we’re going to be married.”
“Great,” Avery smiled briefly before turning her attention to the crimson colored bouquet in her hands.  She closed her eyes after a moment taking in their sweet scent.
“Avery,” he reached out to touch her shoulder gently, “Are you sure that…” he paused hesitating momentarily, “Are you sure that you’re okay with this?  This is what you want, right?”
“It’s our only option,” Avery explained reopening her eyes again, “It’s for the best.”
“Even so I just want to know that this is something that you want to do,” Brant confessed a bit of hope building in his heart, “I want to make sure that you’re sure…”
“I’m sure,” Avery promised him as the door opened and a nurse stepped inside.
“Mr. Ashford, they’re ready for you downstairs,” she explained politely as Brant nodded alerting her that he’d be there shortly to finish what he’d started.
Once the nurse left he turned to Avery again, “Well I guess the next time I see you, it’ll be time.”
“Already,” Avery’s eyes widened in surprise.
Brant nodded before taking in a slow breath, “Though there’s something else I was hoping to give you before I left.”
“What’s that?” Avery questioned with a small smile.
He cleared his throat again, “I’m having someone bring you over a dress.  I know it’s nothing special, but I thought that you should have a little something for today.  I mean I know it’s not exactly romance and tradition, but I’d still like today to be a bit memorable.  I mean it’s not everyday that I get married.  Though if you don’t like it when it arrives…”
“I’m sure it’s perfect Brant,” Avery assured him quickly, “I’m sure whatever you picked out will be fine.”
“Then I guess this is the part where I say I’ll see you soon and we’ll get this show on the road,” he winked at her before reaching for her hand and taking it within his, “Avery, I swear to you that I’m going to dedicate my life to making you and your daughter happy.  I’m going to give you what you’ve always dreamt about.”
“I know you are Brant,” she offered locking gazes with him for a moment.  Finally he stepped back opening his mouth to say something more, but instead he just smiled before slipping out of the door to leave her with her thoughts of their impending matrimony.
“You’re doing the right thing,” Avery hugged the roses closer to her chest as she thought about what came next.
“Are you?” a voice beckoned her from behind.  Turning around she noticed Russ standing over by the window in the very spot she’d been standing in moments ago.  His green eyes fell upon her with obvious upset and concern before he stepped forward, “Is that really what you think this is?  The best?  For who?  Brant?”
“Russ, I have to do this,” Avery explained desperately, “if I don’t, then Grady is going to spend his life in jail.  I’ll spend my life in jail and our daughter will be without both of her parents…”
“So you’re going to turn to Brant?” he frowned deeply, “You’re going to marry a man who fought like hell to keep us apart?  This is something he’s waited for a long time Avery and now you’re going to give him everything he’s ever wanted.  Brant’s finally won, hasn’t he?”
“No, this isn’t about winning,” she shook her head at his words, “Russ this is about self-preservation--it’s about what is right for our family…”
“Having Brant Ashford raise our daughter is far from right Avery.  That little girl should be with her parents.  We should be the ones doing this together, not you and Brant,” he bridged the distance between them extending his arm out towards her, “This should be our time.”
“You have no idea how much I want that Russ, but when you left me…” she felt tears threatening, “I don’t have another choice.”
“There’s always another choice,” he reached out to skim a tear from her cheek as her lower lip trembled.  Gingerly he brushed the pad of his thumb over her tender flesh, “Avery, you don’t love him.  You could never love him--especially not like you loved me.”
“This isn’t about love.  This is about…” she began to argue again.
“About Brant having what he wants.  Avery, he wanted to keep us apart since the moment we found one another again.  If you let him do that now…” he pleaded with her, his green eyes full of a sudden desperation.
“Russ, you’re dead!” she snapped back at him overcome with tears, “You left me.  I didn’t leave you.  I love you and God knows I want nothing more than for us to be together, but now that you’re gone…”
“I’m not gone Avery,” he explained desperately, “I’m never gone…”

“I can’t do this without you.  I need you so much, but you’re…” she dropped her head into his chest feeling his arms wrap around her, “Russ, you promised me forever…”
“And we’ll have that, but you have to have faith in me Avery.  You have to believe that our love didn’t die--that it’s still very much alive.  That I’m…” he continued kissing the top of her head.
“That you’re what,” she questioned squeezing him harder than before as she looked up to him, “That you’ll make this right?  That you’ll save me?”
“Avery,” he eased his fingers through her dark hair lovingly, “I never left you.  I’m not gone…”
“Russ, you keep saying that, but every time I try to find you, you leave,” Avery insisted, “I can’t keep doing this.  They think I’m crazy and it’s starting to make me think that maybe they’re right.”
“They’re wrong.  They’re all wrong Avery and if you hold out hope for us…” he took a step back, his eyes growing dimmer by the moment, “Avery, we can still be together.  We can still have everything if you just stop fighting what it is that brought us together in the first place.”
“Russ, I love you.  I want to be with you,” she reached out to him extending her fingers out further to try to pull him in closer to her again.
“I’ll always love you Avery,” his voice began to fade as the vision of him began to do the same.  Slowly he disappeared into the air leaving her with an emptiness inside as his words rang out in her ears.  She dropped the flowers taking a step forward only to hear a knock on the door.
“Russ?” she questioned spinning around only to discover a nurse standing before her.
“This just arrived for you,” she explained holding out the dress garment bag that she carefully held on one arm, “I was told you’d know what to do with this.  Where would you like it?”
“Over there,” Avery motioned to a chair just beyond where she stood.  The nurse did as instructed before leaving Avery alone again.  As Avery approached the dress, she reached out to touch the bag wondering if she could really go through with this.  Would she be able to marry Brant Ashford and live with herself in the morning?  As time went on, she was starting to question her ability to do such a thing.


“Just look for any evidence if there is any. Maybe we can find something leading us to who did this,” Kyle sounded very perplexed as he looked around the office.

“Who would want to steal all of this?” Don questioned looking up at Kyle who was now inspecting the broken lock.

“That’s what we are trying to find out,” Kyle confirmed looking over his shoulder at Don and then back to the lock.

“The lock’s broken.  I think you should be able to realize that by now,” insisted Don seeing Kyle’s head shake lightly.

“I know that smart one,” Kyle started rolling his eyes, “Just keep looking.”

“How are we supposed to find anything?” Sarah questioned looking around. “I mean we would have to be like those people on CSI to find anything.”

“Then I guess I should be a new cast member on that show,” Kyle smiled seeing the strange reaction on everyone’s face.

“What is that suppose to mean?” Don questioned seeing Kyle motion everyone towards him.

“Have you had any long blonde haired people searching your files lately?” Kyle questioned holding up a piece of hair.

“Other than you, no,” Don shook his head squinting to see the long strand of hair.

“Well that really narrows it down,” started Shannon rolling her eyes, “How many long blonde haired woman could there possibly be in Coral Valley?”

“If that was sarcasm, you might want to think about this. Who has this hair and is possibly involved with this?” Kyle pointed out raising an eyebrow.

“You can assume things,” Don protested, “That could be your hair.”

“Don!” Shannon growled hitting him in the side.

“What?” Don questioned, “I mean he does have long blonde hair.”

“I’m glad you pointed that out, but think this over. My hair is dark blonde and this my friend is light,” Kyle raised his eyebrow seeing Don shrug embarrassed.

“I was just saying,” Don shrugged watching Kyle shake his head.

Sarah’s cell phone rang as she walked to the back of the room leaving the others to talk.

“Hello?” Sarah answered her phone flipping back her hair.

“Sarah, it’s Diego,” his distraught voice lightly came out.

“What’s wrong?” she questioned with worry.

“It’s Heather,” Diego declared worrying Sarah even more.

“What is wrong with Heather?” she wondered with fear growing for her sister.

“It’s Cameron, he took her out of the hospital. They left little Charles over here. What are we going to do?” he questioned hearing only a sigh come from her.

“I’ll be there as soon as I can be, then we will come up with a plan,” Sarah sighed as he agreed with her.

“Who was that?” Kyle questioned putting his hands on her shoulders making her jump as she put her phone away.

“It was Diego,” she explained seeing his face turn pale.

“What’s wrong?” he wondered seeing her look away from him and back up.

“Cameron took her out of the hospital,” she informed him seeing his face turn red with anger.

“He what?” growled Kyle closing his fist tightly.  He thought about it for a moment about to turn around to take care of the situation when Sarah reached out to him.

“Kyle wait…we are going to go see Diego,” Sarah insisted watching him nod and walk over to Don and Shannon.

“We have to go, keep looking okay,” Kyle asked watching them nod as Kyle and Sarah walked out the door. 


“Comfortable darling,” Cameron questioned entering the room he’d set Heather up in.  He noticed that she lay in bed gazing up at the ceiling as if lost in her own contemplations.  No matter, he shrugged continuing in towards her.  “So how are you feeling?”
“Does it really matter,” Heather replied with a slight scowl unable to refrain from the bitter undertones in her voice.
“If I said it did,” Cameron raised a curious brow.
“Then I know you’d be lying, so how about we get right to the point,” she suggested with a heavy frown, “What is it you want Cameron?”
“What does every man want?” he remarked taking a seat on the edge of her bed, “Happiness?  Health and family…”
“Meaning that this is where you start talking about my son again,” she noted tightly.
“We’ll get back to that, but for now I was thinking that perhaps we could get talking about my sister-in-law.  It seems she’s one opinionated little twit, isn’t she?” he half inquired, his dark eyes demanding answers from her.
“Sarah isn’t at all anything you should waste your time worrying about,” she groaned inwardly before muttering under her breath, “because I sure as hell don’t.”
“Hmm, well then it won’t be any problem if you start talking about her and telling me everything there is to know about her.  Given that she’s made it her mission to see to it that our son remains under her watch, well I think it would be best that we work on putting an end to that…unless of course you want your sister to keep our boy away…” he threw out a warning look.
“My sister is an impossible bitch and she’s not going to be easy to convince to do anything to the contrary,” she paused thinking about what she was saying.  Did Sarah really have that kind of power over what happened with Heather’s son?  Was she holding some kind of cards in the matter?  Plus, was this really such a bad thing?  Was being with Cameron a good thing for her son?  Heather really had her own views on that one that well beyond these thoughts in her head.
“Yes, well she’s going to need a bit more persuasion and maybe if we get into what it is that makes her tick--what it is that she cares about and how she’d feel if she had it taken away from her.  Maybe starting with that muscle bound meathead Kyle Houston,” he suggested leisurely running his fingers over the comforter beneath him, “I’d imagine him disappearing from her life would cause a great disturbance, wouldn’t it?”
“You mean you’d go after Kyle?” Heather’s jaw dropped in horror.
“You make that sound like it would be upsetting to you rather than Sarah,” Cameron seemed suddenly interested.  “Did Mr. Houston happen to set his sights on the wrong sister?  Should I be jealous?”
“It’s not like that,” she replied tightly with a shake of her head, “but if your problem is with Sarah, Kyle isn’t going to let that happen.  Furthermore just because he’s stupid and wants to protect her doesn’t mean that you have to go after him.”
“And just why not?” he arched a curious brow.
“Because he’s not…he’s not part of this okay,” Heather fingered the blanket that fell just below her navel, “Kyle is a good guy and he’s not a part of this.  He doesn’t need to be…”
“Heather all I want is for us to be a family.  I want your boy here so that we can work on fixing the mistakes we’ve made in the past,” he reached out to touch the side of her face, careful to avoid the heavy burns that lingered, “We have a chance to fix those things that almost destroyed us before and in being a family…”
“What about Kipp?” she asked surprised by the expression on his face.  When he said nothing, she continued to probe further, “You promised me when we were wed that you’d allow me to see him…that you’d take me to him and that I could be with him again.”
“And you expect me to believe that you actually cared about that offer I laid on the table,” he chuckled overcome with obvious amusement, “Heather I know that you never cared about Kipp, so why start pretending now?”
“He’s my son’s father,” Heather replied closing her eyes and thinking back to another time and place when life had been far less complicated--a time when she could‘ve made things right by changing one simple moment that would‘ve made all the difference in the world.

“What’s this?” Heather asked as she looked up from the box.

“It’s a step towards our future together,” Kipp said happily, “It’s a step in the right direction.”

She glanced back to the box, wondering what luxurious token Kipp had purchased for her now. Whatever it was, she knew it would be beautiful. However, she was afraid she knew exactly what awaited her in the box, and it wasn’t something she would be receptive to.

“I don’t understand,” She said softly as Kipp slipped out of his chair and knelt down beside her, confirming her worst fears.

He gently took her hand and looked up into her eyes, “Heather, you mean the world to me. Being with you has been a dream come true, and I can’t imagine what life would be like without you. The truth is I don’t want to imagine it. All I want to imagine is a life with you, to hold onto you for the rest of our lives, to make love to you every night and wake up every morning with you in my arms, reminding me that I’m the luckiest man in the world. I want to spend the rest of my life making your dreams come true, and I know that I could do that if you’d allow me the privilege,” He said as he took the box from the plate and opened it. He turned it towards her as he took her hand, “Allow me that privilege. Allow me to love you for the rest of our lives, Heather. Please,” He said as he offered her a hopeful smile, “Please grant me the privilege of being your husband. Marry me?”

Heather blinked as she swallowed a lump in her throat. While she’d never felt an emotional connection to Kipp, he’d certainly stirred a few emotions within her with his speech. He’d been heartfelt, sincere, and oddly enough spoke as if he were actually in love with her. While his proposal had been much more romantic than Brant’s, she couldn’t give him the same answer she’d given her former fiancé.

“Kipp…I don’t think now is the time,” She said brokenly.

“What? Why?” He asked as his face became a mask of pain and confusion.

“Because you and your father are divided right now, and an engagement should be a time of celebration and of families coming together. I really think you should reconcile with your father before we take a step like this.”

“But Heather…don’t you see? You mean more to me than he does. I don’t need him to make us complete. This is about you and me.”
“I know that, but I think you’re just reaching out right now to make some kind of connection.”

“No, I love you, Heather.”

A chill ran up and down her spine as she thought of the love in his eyes when he’d proposed to her.  If she’d only given Kipp half a chance, then she might not be in this living hell that she’d pushed herself into by marrying Cameron.  She could’ve been able to spare her son some of this pain and herself some of the grief she’d been going through.
“Don’t even try to convince me that you cared because we both know better,” Cameron warned cutting like a knife through her thoughts.  “Now about your sister…”
“No, I want to know where Kipp is,” Heather insisted with an impatient huff, “I want to know what you’ve done with him.  Where is he?  Tell me.  You owe me that much.”
“Kipp is dead Heather and if you keep asking questions, then you might be able to join him very soon,” Cameron sneered down at her, “Would you like for that to happen?”
“You murdered him, didn’t you?” Heather demanded feeling her own worries mount with each word she spoke, “You got rid of him so that he wouldn’t come back to challenge you, didn’t you?”
“Kipp was a vegetable and what Grady Denton did to him was a tragedy…” he continued feigning innocence, “Of course you were really the one to drive the stake through his heart the night he found you in bed with Russ Denton.  Funny how one lover lead your other lover to end his life and by the hand of Russell’s psychotic brother…”
“Grady didn’t hurt Kipp.  He didn’t play a hand in what’s happened to him.  I know Kipp has to be out there,” Heather probed further.
“You know nothing other than I saved your life by marrying you.  Again and again I have shown you extreme patience and understanding.  If you’d like for that trend to continue, then you’d be best suited to stop asking about Kipp and start talking about Sarah,” he warned sharply, a venom behind his words.  Frowning he rose to his feet again, “I’ll give you some time to ponder that, but just know that if you aren’t cooperative and a strong part of my cause, then you might be finding you and Kipp are reunited sooner rather than later one way or another.”
With those final words of warning Cameron walked out of the room leaving Heather to wonder just what she got herself into in marrying Cameron.  Despite the fact that he’d promised to help her from day one, she could see that he had his own agenda.  The question was, would she be able to beat him at his own game before it was too late?  Or had she already paid the ultimate price for trying to stand up to him?


Jade entered her apartment thinking about what she’d just witnessed on the news.  While she didn’t have the first clue what happened to Avery’s mother, she was certain that this accident couldn’t help in adding to the stress level Avery was feeling.  First it was bad enough that Avery lost Russ, but to now have her mother go through something like this.  Jade shuddered at the thought even knowing that Avery and Brooke had a strained relationship.
“Well, well, look what the cat dragged in,” Seth teased from where he sat on the sofa with Blake in his arms, “and here I thought that I’d never see you again stranger, but since you came bearing gifts, well you’re allowed inside.  What did you bring me?”
“I brought myself an ice-cream cake and I fully plan to eat it all myself,” Jade informed him point blank with a heavy frown.
“Uh oh, this can’t be good,” Seth sat up straighter shifting Blake around in his arms as his teasing demeanor disappeared and was replaced with that of heavy concern, “Jade, what’s wrong?”
“Have you ever have one of those weeks?” she questioned throwing her hands up in the air, “No, I take that back…how about one of those lives?”
“Oh boy,” Blake noted rising up from the couch, “It sounds like it’s time for a bit of an intervention here.  Trust me you don’t want to eat that whole ice-cream cake by yourself.”
“Sure I do,” Jade clenched the cake closer to her chest, “Given the week that it’s been thus far I think I’m more than ready to splurge.”
“You probably shouldn’t because you’ll hate yourself in the morning,” Blake continued taking a step closer towards her, “Trust me on this one.”
“Blake’s right,” Seth nodded in agreement feigning an air of seriousness, “set the cake down very slowly.”
“Oh would you two cut it out already,” Jade shook her head at the both of them, “You’re just saying all of that because you want a piece yourself.”
“Okay, so maybe you’re right,” Blake couldn’t help but laugh lightly, “but seriously if you want to talk, we’re here for you.  Plus, I’m glad you’re here.  I was hoping to run a few ideas by you for the wedding…”
“Don’t tell me you two have already started in on that one,” Jade gave her a curious look before smiling, “Okay that was a stupid thing to say.  Of course you’ve already started in on that.  So how’s it going?”
“Well, it would be going better if Seth and I had a chance to talk to you because we were both kind of hoping that,” Blake shifted on her toes lightly, “that maybe just maybe you’d be thinking about, well…”
“Yes?” Jade questioned giving her a long look.
“Standing up in the wedding for us,” Seth finished with a bright smile, “I told Blake that you’d love to, but she wanted to ask you before you were committed to the whole ceremony and everything…”
“If you make me wear puke orange or vomit green then I swear I’m not showing up,” Jade warned them with the beginning of a smile, “but other than that, I’d be more than happy to take part in my big brother’s special day.  I mean it’s not like this kind of thing comes along very often.”
“Thanks Jade,” Seth reached out to embrace her overjoyed by the idea of her taking part in the wedding.
“Yeah, yeah, I know I’m the most wonderful sister in the world,” she hugged him in response before taking a step back, “and don’t you forget it.”
“Trust me I could never do that,” Seth assured her as the phone started to ring.
“That could be the cake maker,” Blake explained quickly, “I gave her your number since I knew we’d be here tonight and well…”
“You should probably go answer it then,” Seth shook his head laughing as Blake raced over to the phone to answer it.  Sure enough it was someone from the bakery and within a matter of seconds she was rambling on and on to the person on the other end of the line.
“So you’re really going to do this, huh?” Jade noted motioning for Seth to follow her into the kitchen as she prepared to open up the cake.
“Blake’s the one.  I know that this was something I was meant for,” Seth admitted honestly, “Granted I never really thought that either one of us would be able to find any kind of happiness after the way we grew up, but now, well now in being with Blake, it’s like everything I ever thought was out of my reach is right before my eyes.”
“You have no idea how long I’ve waited to hear you say something like that,” Jade couldn’t help but smile at him, “Your happiness is so very important to me Seth and I’m glad that you and Blake were able to make it work.”
“For a while I was afraid it never would,” Seth confessed thinking back to the time he and Blake had been apart.
“I know the feeling,” Jade sighed heavily thinking about the situation she and Grady were in.
“Hey,” Seth touched her arm gently, “Grady is going to get out of this mess and when he does, well, you’ll be the one asking me to give you away.”
“I’m starting to wonder if that day is ever going to come,” Jade confessed poignantly, “While I want to believe that Grady will get his freedom, I’m starting to think that the odds are just stacked up too high against us.”
“True love always finds a way Jade,” Seth informed her supportively, “You just have to keep on believing that.”
“I want to,” she admitted with a heavy sigh, “believe me it’s the one hope that I keep holding onto.”
“Okay, I’m back,” Blake announced prancing into the room, “We’re all set up for a cake testing next week as they’re having the best of their best sent in and…am I interrupting?”
“No, of course not,” Jade smiled back at her, “you’re just in time for the cake cutting.”
“Awesome,” Blake continued further into the room, “here let me help.”
“The plates are over there,” Jade motioned for a cabinet when Seth’s cell phone started to ring.
“I’ll be right back since it looks like it’s my turn now,” Seth explained exiting the kitchen and leaving Jade and Blake alone together.
“So, you really think you’re ready to help me splurge on this thing,” Jade motioned to the cake she carefully unwrapped.
“It looks delicious, though I’m sure if I keep finding ways to splurge like this, I might not be able to fit into a wedding dress,” Blake laughed lightly, “Horrible as it is, I’m such a sucker for sweets.”
“Believe me I know,” Jade nodded in agreement, “put me in front of chocolate and that’s all it takes to pull me under.”
Blake laughed as well, “Believe me I know…” she paused for a moment, “And Jade?”
“Thank you…I mean I know that you and I haven’t always had the best of a relationship given what a bitch I was to you when we first met, but well, I really respect you and I know how important your being in our wedding is to Seth,” Blake took in a slow breath, “It’s important to me too and I really hope that one day we can work on becoming better friends.”
“I’m sure we can do that,” Jade couldn’t help agree to her suggestion, “Hell, we’re going to be family sooner or later so I kind of already consider you the sister I never really had growing up.”
“I kind of feel that way about you as well since I never had a sister either,” Blake replied brightly, “and given all that Seth has said about you, well I already know that you’re the best.”
“I’m okay,” Jade insisted modestly as Seth entered the room looking rather perplexed.
“Damn it,” he cursed, his eyes narrowing with obvious tension.
“Seth, what is it?” Blake questioned with worry.
“That was Thea--Cameron’s assistant,” Seth explained tightly, “she called tonight because she claims Cameron is agitated and he wants that microfilm…”
“What?” Blake blinked back at him, “Tonight?”
Seth nodded, “Yeah and she’s arranged for me to meet her in the next half hour or else…”
“That son of a bitch,” Jade slammed her fist into the countertop.  “First he goes after Grady and now he’s moving in on you.  Seth, it has to be some kind of trap and…”
“And if I don’t go, then things are only going to get worse,” Seth insisted trying to alleviate her worries somehow, “Jade, I’ll just go over to Thea and stall a bit longer…”
“Seth, you can’t do that.  You’ve done that for so very long already that Cameron isn’t about to let that happen again.  If he wants that damn microfilm…” Blake started with a frown.
“Then he’s going to find a way to get it out of you,” Jade clenched her fists at her side, “Right about now I’d like to kick box a hole right in the center of his chest.  That would make things so much easier…”
“No, it really wouldn’t,” Seth sighed hating the position that he’d put himself in when he’d tried to help Jade in the past, “I’ll come up with something.”
“No, you can’t go there empty handed,” Blake insisted taking a step towards him, “I’ll call my friend and get that copy I had made.  You can take that with you when we go and…”
“No Blake,” Seth shook his head at her, “we’re not going anywhere.  I’ll meet with Thea alone because I don’t want to drag you any further into this than I already have.”
“Seth, don’t be stupid.  You can’t go alone.  There’s no telling what that monster will do,” Jade argued with him.
“She’s right Seth.  It’ll be a big mistake if you go by yourself.  I want to go with you,” Blake insisted firmly, “That way I know you’ll be okay.”
“Blake, you’re not coming with me.  You and Jade can stay here while I’m gone so that I know you’re both safe,” he replied reaching out to her.  “You have to trust me on this one.”
“You aren’t the one we don’t trust,” Jade informed him point blank, “It’s Cameron that we have to worry about…”
“I can hold my own against him Jade.  I’m ready for just about anything he has planned and I can take him,” Seth tried to argue.
“That’s what Grady said too and look what happened to him.  I don’t want the same thing to happen to my brother,” Jade informed him with a heavy frown, “It’s too risky.”
“Fine, then I’ll call someone to go with me.  I’ll call Lance if that will make you feel better,” Seth offered watching a momentary second of relief pass over Jade’s features.
“Who’s Lance?” Blake questioned in confusion.
“He’s someone who I know will keep Seth out of trouble,” Jade admitted with a breath of relief, “but don’t think that I like the idea of either one of you getting wrapped up any further in any of this.  Cameron is dangerous and not even Lance will be able to outwit him if Cameron has an agenda.”
“Hopefully it won’t get to that point,” Seth replied before turning to curl his arm around Blake’s waist, “but before I call him, maybe you should make that call to your friend.”
“I still don’t like this,” Blake added bringing her fingers in over his chest, “Just promise me that whatever happens, you’ll be careful.  That this Lance guy really can help you with this…”
“If anyone can do it, then Lance is the guy.  I’ll be okay Blake,” he promised leaning in to kiss her as he wondered if he could really pull this scam off after all.  Still given the level of severity he would face if he didn’t hand over something to Thea, he was willing to take the risk and try. 


“I’m glad you could have lunch today,” informed Mindy smiling at her mother.

“I know, it’s been so long since I have gotten to talk to you,” Paula acknowledged taking a sip of her water.

“I know…so, you have Grady Denton’s case coming up,” Mindy blurted out watching her mother look up.

“Why yes I do,” Paula nodded seeing Mindy nod.  “It’s a very big case for me as it’s gotten a lot of press lately.”

“Well since you’ve seen that, I think you should also know that I believe that Grady is innocent, you should know that. He is a really great guy, you know?” Mindy assured her with a slight shrug.

“I realize that you’re loyal to his brother, but Grady Denton is no Russell and…” Paula interjected.

“And nothing.  That doesn’t change the heart of the man that he is.  He’s done a lot of wonderful things for the world around him,” Mindy continued to inform her with a heavy frown.

“I’m sure that he has,” Paula added folding her hands out in front of her listening as her daughter started to speak up again.

“And that’s all you have to say?” Mindy’s eyes widened in response.

“What more would you like to know?” Paula questioned with a curious expression.

“Well for starters, what’s your point of view on this? You think he is innocent, right?” she questioned with a frown seeing her mother shrug.

“I really can’t say anything, sweetheart.  You know in my line of work that I can‘t just blurt out an opinion on a case that I‘m taking part in,” Paula declared seeing Mindy frown.

“But,” Mindy started before someone grabbed her arm.

“Mindy, can I talk to you real quick?” Hunt questioned with a smile as Mindy got up and followed him to the other room.

“What is it?” Mindy asked not knowing how he knew she was there.

“Look I know this might seem a bit impulsive, but I was over at the other end of the restaurant and well, here you were.  I figured it was yet another one of our crazy little signs that we keep having between us and well, I was wondering if we could go out again, if that’s possible?” he shrugged seeing her smile.

“Gee, you don’t waste any time do you?” she couldn’t help but laugh lightly at his enthusiasm in his approach.

“Not when I see something so very special before me,” Hunt added with a sparkle behind his eyes, “So what do you say?  Do I get another change to show you I’m not a total screw up?”

“I suppose,” she shrugged her shoulders playing with him a little bit before he threw out another pleading look.

“Oh come on.  Do I have to make an ass of myself yet again because you know I can if need be,” he started to walk away from her, but before he could go, she caught his arm in hers.

“Hunt, of course we can,” Mindy assured him seeing him smile.  “I’d love to spend some more time with you.”

“Soon?” he questioned with a smile upon his features.

“As soon as I can,” she nodded feeling him wrap his arms around her lightly.

“I really like the sound of that,” he confessed tilting his head down closer to her, “because you just have this mesmerizing way about you Mindy Carmichael.”

“Funny because I was thinking that very same thing about you,” she confessed tipping up on her toes as if anticipating a kiss from him when she suddenly realized where she was.  She took a step back remembering her mother before clearing her throat again, “How about you call me later tonight to talk?”

“Fine, since you put it that way, consider yourself ready to engage in a very scintillating conversation and maybe we can plan something fun along the way,” he whispered leaning in closer to her once again.

“Hmm…you do have a way with temptation, don’t you?” she teased back feeling a moment of flirty playfulness over her.

“I’d like to think so,” he mouthed taking a quick look over her shoulder to see her mother looking at them rather impatiently, “but I guess this is the part where I say I’ll see you soon, huh?”

“If you’re lucky,” she winked at him before turning around to rejoin her mother again.

“Tease,” he smiled to himself watching her walk back to the table as he realized that somehow despite the things that had been happening in his life, he clearly had hit the jackpot in finding her.

“Who was that?” Paula questioned seeing Mindy shrug with a little grin.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about that,” Mindy winked watching her mother laugh lightly with amusement.  She stole a glance over in the general direction that Hunt came from only to see him leave the restaurant.  Still she remained smiling at the thought of coming into contact again with him later.

“Fine, if you don’t want to tell me…you don’t need to,” Paul informed her watching Mindy nod.

“Fine, I wont,” Mindy shrugged taking a sip from her water knowing that this time she wasn’t going to offer any insight into her mysteries to her mother.  Let Paula Carmichael be the one trying to figure things out for a change.


“Diego?” Sarah questioned putting her hand on his shoulder as he jumped unaware of her and Kyle’s presence.

“Sarah,” Diego slightly smiled watching her frown.

“What exactly happened?” Kyle wondered folding his arms out in front of him willing to help out with the plan. 

“Cameron took Heather out of this hospital and back to his place,” Diego informed Kyle seeing him tilt his head.

“What about the baby?” Kyle questioned with worry behind his features.

“Don’t worry, Charles is still here,” Sarah assured him running her hand against his shoulder.

“What makes him think he can do this?” Kyle wondered not understanding why everyone puts up with this guy.

“That’s just it, Cameron doesn’t think about what he does. If we don’t get her out of there he might hurt her somehow,” Diego pointed out seeing Sarah sigh.

“What’s the plan?” Sarah questioned seeing Diego slightly shrug.

“I don’t care what the plan is, but he can’t come in here and take away someone who is like a sister to me,” Kyle growled turning around.

“I understand that,” Diego started before an angered Kyle cut him off.

“I know you understand, but I am going to do something about that Cameron,” Kyle scowled walking towards the doors feeling Diego pull him back by his shirt.

“As much as I think Cameron deserves what you want to do to him right now…I think that I have a better plan,” Diego guaranteed him watching Kyle raise an eyebrow.

“What could be better than nearly killing that guy?” Kyle questioned with anger behind each word wanting to break every bone in that mans body.

“I don’t know if this would be the best thing to do, it might be a little risky,” Diego shrugged looking over at Kyle who nodded.

“Everything I have been doing lately is a little bit risky, I think I can handle it,” Kyle informed him with willingness to help them.

“Okay,” Diego nodded seeing Sarah nod.

“What’s the plan?” she questioned with a slight shrug wanting to help her sister in almost everyway possible. “I’m up for almost anything.”

“Whatever you need me for I don’t mind helping,” Kyle confirmed seeing Diego look a bit unsure, but he knew that somehow his plan would work out.

“All right, this is what we are going to do,” Diego started taking a deep breath ready to unmask his latest plan to save Heather from the horrors he was certain that Cameron had in store for her. 


“So this is where you go when you get pissed?” Blake questioned with a slight smile looking around the place.

“Well, yeah. The gym is the best place to blow off some steam…I mean really. You don’t have to go and beat up the people that are annoying you, so you do that to a punching bag or something,” Jade shrugged with a slight wink.

“I guess we should get some pressure off then,” Blake declared walking over to the punching bag and holding it. “Now take a shot.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Jade smiled kicking the punching bag right in the middle.

“Nice shot,” Blake insisted seeing a guy come up from behind Jade.

“Hey sexy,“ JT’s voice came from behind Jade causing her to freeze up instantaneously.  “Long time no see.”

“Too soon in my book,” Jade remarked groaning as she refused to register the man behind her.  She kicked out at the bag before her again.

“Oh now is that the kind of attitude that you should have for old friends,” he shook his head at her, “I think my feelings are hurt.”

“That would be a first,” she scowled catching his reflection in the mirror, “So what do you want JT?”

“I just thought I’d ask and see how you are doing here?” JT questioned from behind Jade putting one hand on her shoulder.

“Let me think about this,” Jade started as she folded her arms out in front of her. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to work out,” JT replied seeing Jade smile, “but of course when I saw you it piqued my curiosity on what it was you were doing here today of all days.”

“Oh my, my being here…at a gym.  Gee I can‘t imagine what in the world I might be doing, but I can assure you that it wasn‘t a way of finding some kind of connection with you, so how about you do us a favor and back off?” Jade laughed turning around and rolling her eyes. “Better yet why don’t you just leave us alone, okay?”

“How are you going to make me?” JT questioned standing at full ground trying to intimidate her.  “I’m starting to think all this sarcasm is really just your way of letting me know you’ve missed having me around there.  It’s been way too long Jade.”

“Just leave,” Jade yelled looking over at Blake who wasn’t sure what to do.

“I’m not leaving,” JT protested not moving an inch.  “At least not until you find a way to make me happy in…”

“Listen buddy,” started a muscular man behind JT as he grabbed him by the shirt, “The lady said leave.”

JT stumbled as he fell to the ground by being pushed back, “Fine, I wasn’t doing anything.”

“And you aren’t going to start anything, so my suggestion to you is to leave,” the man replied with a slight smile turning around to face Jade as JT walked off slowly.

“Thanks Kellen,” Jade smiled as he hugged her lightly.

“No problem girlfriend,” Kellen laughed with a slight wink of his eye. “Who is this?”

“Oh, this is Blake. Blake, this is Kellen…my private trainer.  He is a lifesaver on so many levels.  Aside from being my own personal bodyguard at the gym when a loser hits on me, he‘s always one of the best workout coordinators in this town,” Jade stated as they shook hands.

“Always full of flattery.  No wonder you’re my favorite client Jade.  Also, I must say that it’s very nice to meet you Blake,” Kellen guaranteed her after letting her hand slip from his.

“You too,” Blake nodded not knowing exactly what to say.

“Kellen, Blake’s engaged to my brother,” Jade pointed out as Kellen gasped.

“Seth?” he questioned seeing Blake nod brightly. “You lucky bitch.”

Blake laughed with a slight blush, “Thanks, I think.”

“Believe me, it’s a good thing,” Kellen assured her. “He is so hot and so many of the trainers out here will be bummed to see he‘s off the market.  With gluts like that, well it was a sin that he was single so long, but you…oh girlfriend you are just too cute.  You and that luscious stud will look so adorable together.  Have you started making plans for the big day, yet?”

“Actually we were working on them a bit, but at this point we’re still dealing with the whole issue of caterers,” Blake confessed thinking about the last phone call she’d gotten before she and Jade arrived at the gym.

“Oh honey, if you’re looking for the best of the best, we need to talk.  I have a friend who puts on the most chic, elegant meal to seduce your palate that I have ever experienced.  He would probably be more than happy to cut you and Seth a deal since he’s been a big fan of Seth’s himself.  Seth did a layout for one of his lover’s fashion shows in doing the photography for him and I’m sure that he’d love to pencil the both of you in…” Kellen continued enthusiastically, “Oh I just love weddings.”

“You know what? Why don’t we all hang out and you could teach us some more stuff while you and Blake talk wedding things,” Jade suggested seeing Kellen nod eagerly.

“No problem, I would love to given all the knowledge I have in these particular areas.  By the end of the day, I‘m going to give you both something to think about,” Kellen declared as he walked over to the punching bag. “However for now, let’s start here.”


“How dare he do that,” growled JT slamming one of the lockers roughly. “He has no right.”

He opened his locker and grabbed his phone quickly dialing a number.

“Yeah I have something to tell you,” JT roughly commented.

“What happened to you?” the woman questioned.

“It was nothing Valerie, just some guy pissed me off,” JT replied hearing her laugh.

“Well, what was it exactly that you wanted?  Did you set up that meeting with your brother for me like you‘d promised?” Valerie wondered as a smile spread across his features.

“Not yet, but I just encountered something better.  I just thought you should know that Blake is back in town which means Seth can‘t be far behind.  Right now she‘s working out with Jade, so I‘d imagine that you‘ve find your dream lover alone if you went searching for him,” JT nodded to himself in approval.

“That’s good news, thanks,” Valerie smiled with devilish thoughts running through her mind on what she could possibly do next.

“Yeah, I figured you could continue down your dark and twisted path for her and Seth since you‘ve been salivating over the idea lately,” JT pointed out hearing her laugh.

“I always can…I think I will,” Valerie confirmed hearing him laugh deeply.

“Have fun,” he replied turning off his phone and throwing it back into the locker.

“Oh, I intend to,” she grinned to herself on what she was one day going to do.


Seth stood in the darkened alleyway thinking about his promise to Blake and Jade.  While he wasn’t happy about the circumstances around this meeting, he hoped that somehow things would work out for the best.  All he had to do was give Thea the copy of the microfilm and make it look convincing enough.  That would be the end for him.  He could be free of this ridiculous association he’d fallen into with Cameron.  This would be the way out.  He just had to play it cool.
Hearing the sounds of heels clicking on the damp sidewalk, Seth turned towards the source watching as Thea emerged from the darkness looking like a vision sprung forth from the night.  Her all black attire rivaled that of mobsters in the old time movies and other than the sleek hint of red over her full lips, she would’ve fit right into that persona.  Tilting her head up slightly, she flashed him an icy smile that alerted him that she meant business.  In that moment his heart began to pound and his heart raced.
“It’s good to see you’re on time Seth,” she greeted him with a low, sultry slur despite her own wicked intentions.  She eased her fingers down over the center of his chest, “I’m glad that you’re here like this on such short notice.  I was starting to think that you’d forgotten about the arrangements we’d made.”
“I haven’t forgotten,” he answered tightly reaching into his jacket pocket and withdrawing the envelope he’d brought with him, “I have the microfilm right here.”
“Excellent,” she swiped it from him, pulling it from within the envelope to take a quick look at it, “You didn’t try to steal a glimpse at this, now did you?”
“Given that I don’t know the first thing about microfilm, no, I wouldn’t think of it,” Seth shook his head at her.  “Now, I assume we’re finished here…”
“Not yet,” Thea noted reaching out to curl her fingers around the center of his shirt, “You didn’t really believe you were going to get out of this that easily, did you?”
“Yeah, I kind of did,” Seth replied with a sarcastic drawl, standing taller as if to prove to her that he wasn’t nearly as intimidated as she wanted him to be.
“Hmm, well this was one part of what Cameron wanted from you.  I’m sure that he’ll be very happy about that, but with you and I, well we did make arrangements for another job, remember?” Thea threw back at him with a clucking noise, “And here I heard that you were thinking about leaving town when I’d already offered you a chance at your dream job.”
“Thea, I don’t want to work for Cameron’s wife,” he groaned in response, “I have my own thing going and…”
“And nothing.  We made a deal Seth. I bought you time and you owe me that much,” she shoved him back into the brick wall behind him.  She stepped in closer, her nails scratching wickedly down the center of his chest, “You owe me that.”
“Thea, it’s done,” he swore to her with a determined expression.
“It’s over when I say it’s over,” she scowled slapping him hard across the right side of his face before she used her index finger to trace his lips tentatively, “and it’s not over yet Seth.”
“I don’t…” Seth began feeling her rub in up against him.
“I know what you’re thinking.  You’ve had a job well done and you want a vacation.  Well it just so happens that the little bitch Cameron married will have a vacation herself, but when the time is right…and it will be sooner or later, I fully expect you to do what I’ve asked of you,” Thea warned him with obvious menace behind her words.
“And if I choose not to,” Seth questioned tightly.
“Then expect to be met by dire consequences,” she promised before blowing a kiss in his general direction.  “And you wouldn’t want that.”
“Thea,” he started with a heavy frown.
“Listen to me Seth,” she smoothed her hands out over his shoulders, sliding them down over his arms, “You’re a smart guy, but sometimes smart guys tend to think that they can take a step outside where they belong.  Why I remember this little bitch that Cameron had working for us.  He was a decent enough lawyer, but when it came down to impressing me, he fell horribly flat on the task.  Before long he wound up pissing me off one time too many and things got ugly.  Little Kipp thought he could outsmart me, but he was wrong.  Don’t you make the same mistake.”
“What?” Seth blinked back at her catching her words as surprise registered behind his eyes.
“I said that it would be best for you to remember your place before things got ugly between us.  I’d really hate for that to happen,” she waved her finger at him taking a step back and waving, “I’ll be calling again soon Seth.”
With that she spun around and walked away leaving Seth to think about her words.  Once her car had sped off Lance stepped out from the darkened corner of the alley he’d been sitting in observing the entire exchange.
“What the hell just happened there?” Lance questioned with a shake of his head, “Who does she think she is?”
“Someone who may know a lot more about turning my sister’s life around than I ever thought possible,” Seth realized wondering if Thea somehow held the key to getting Grady out of jail.  After her last statement, he wondered just what it was that Thea knew about what had really happened to Kipp Mahoney.  Perhaps it was time that he find a way to discover just how much it was that Thea knew one way or the other.


Avery felt her heart racing in her chest as her body grew tight with anticipation.  Now as she stood at the end of the small chapel at the hospital ready to make things official for her and Brant, she felt her stomach tied in knots.  Just as he’d promised Brant had spun together a quick wedding ceremony and she had to admit that it did look beautiful.  The flowers that lined up and down the rows were beautiful no doubt and now as she found him standing near the altar, she forced a small smile.
“For you,” the nurse offered the beautiful bouquet over to Avery.  “I figured you might need this.”
“Thanks,” Avery smiled in response taking in one last breath before the music started.  She took her first step forward feeling as if this scenario was beyond surreal--it was like she’d stepped into a dream and now she’d been stuck inside it.  Though this wasn’t anything that anyone else was to blame for, but her for throwing Brooke out that damn window.  Still she couldn’t escape the sinking feeling that surrounded her.
Turning her eyes to the altar again, she noticed Brant standing there with a polite smile.  He looked so happy and eager and nervous all at once as Avery contemplated what he was giving up in agreeing to marry her.  He’d wanted to help her--to be there for her since Russ had died, but she was certain he’d never expected something like this.  Even now she felt guilt eat away at her in what she was taking away from him in bringing him into a marriage where his wife would be less than he’d hoped for.  She carried with her so many problems--so many issues and to put them on Brant was so completely unfair.  Still with each step she took, she noticed the warmth radiating behind his smile.  Maybe they could make this happen for them after all.
“Avery,” he spoke her name, a gentle kindness behind his voice as he reached for her hand pulling her in closer to him.  Their eyes connected and a few of her worries seemed to melt away.  “You look beautiful.”
“The dress is beautiful,” Avery replied thinking to the gown he’d selected, “Given that we didn’t have much time for this, well I’m impressed…”
“I was hoping you’d like it,” Brant smiled down at her, obvious emotion behind his eyes as he reached out to touch her cheek gently, “I meant what I said before.  I promise you that I’m going to do everything I can to protect you.”
“I just don’t want you giving up something that you’ve been waiting your whole life for just to protect me,” Avery offered giving him another chance to back out of their arrangement.
“Avery, this is everything I’ve waited my whole life to find.  This is what I want even if it’s happening for different reasons than what I’d planned on,” he confessed leaning in closer to her and brushing his lips against hers tenderly.  As they parted, his brown eyes searched hers completely, “Avery, I love you and I want this for us.  I want to marry you today more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.”
“Brant, I know you say that now, but what happens when you see that I’m not what you were hoping for?  That this situation isn’t anything close to being what you wanted and…” she started to argue feeling like hell for having put him in such a position.
“Avery, this is what I want.  This is where we were meant to be.  Sure, I hate that it’s come about in such a way, but I’m sure that in the long run, we’re both going to be very happy.  You believe that, don’t you?”
“I want to believe that,” Avery admitted honestly, “You have no idea how much I want to believe that things will be alright again one day.”
“They will be because together we can make anything possible,” he confessed reaching for her hand and lacing their fingers within one another as the preacher arrived standing in front of them.
“Are we ready to start,” the man asked looking between Brant and Avery.
“I’m ready,” Brant nodded in confession before turning to Avery once again with hopeful eyes, “the question is, are you ready for this Avery?  Are you ready to get married?”

“I’m ready,” Avery replied in an attempt to keep herself cool and even as she prepared for this turning point in her life.

“Then shall we begin,” the man before them offered as the both nodded.  After a moment of silence he looked to the book before him, “Today we come together to celebrate the union of Brant and Avery as they enter the sacred bond of marriage.  In God’s eyes marriage is something that is not taken lightly as it’s not only the union of two people in the eyes of the law, but it’s also the representation of two souls merging with one another bound together for eternity.  Marriage is about give and take, through the good times and bad.  It’s something that should be entered into without any false pretenses or misgivings as this sacred bond is meant to be embraced with love and…”
His words were lost as Avery focused on Brant thinking about the last time she’d stood in the front of a church pledging her love to the one man she’d thought she’d spend forever with.  Even now as she thought back to that special Christmas Eve when she and Russell had gotten married, she found herself choked up on emotion.

Avery inhaled a slow breath as she focused on Russell thinking of how long they’d waited for this moment to arrive and before she knew it, the man standing before them had focused his attention to Russell explaining that Russell had wanted to say his own vows to Avery. She waited watching as he lifted her hand to his lips once again before speaking.

“Avery,” he whispered her name as though it was a heartfelt promise from the deepest part of his soul allowed to break through the surface at long last, “I’ve spent my whole life loving you and now as we stand here before God on this island pledging our love to one another, well, I think it’s only fair that you know that there has never been anyone, but you in my life. When I saw you that first day on the playground in your plaid skirt and pigtails you took my breath away and I knew then that you’d be the one woman I’d spent the rest of my life with,” he smiled as he saw the tears glistening in her eyes. Reaching forward, he brushed at a tear that slipped down her cheek as he continued, “I know that our life together has been on a winding road that’s given us a great many ups and downs, but now that we’re standing here together at long last, I know in my heart that nothing else in this world will complete me the way your love has. With each breath I take, I fall more and more in love with you and I know in my heart that through the years, we’ll have it all together. Through the laughter, the tears, the joys and sorrows that may come to us, I know in my heart that our love will strengthen and through the years when we’re with our family, that I will always think of you as the one woman in this world that I was destined to find. My heart is yours and I give you all of me as you’re everything to me. I love you with all my heart Avery and I pledge my heart and soul to you, uniting us as one from here on out as with you is the only time I feel free…alive and knowing that we’ll have the rest of our lives to love one another, it gives me a sense of hope that I thought had left me a long time ago. Avery Morrison, you are my heart, my soul, my one true destiny and it is here before God that I pledge my all to you for the rest of our lives on and beyond as you’ll always be my forever love.”

“Oh Russell,” she cried out unable to contain herself as he held her hand to his chest over his racing heart as she felt her own heart filling with love for him.

“I love you Avery,” he offered up tenderly.

“I love you and I hope you realize I was completely unprepared for this one,” she whispered behind blurred vision as she spoke up hoarsely.

“I think it’s okay this time,” he spoke up encouragingly, “You can wing it.”

“I hate having to wing it,” she answered with a tiny sniffle as her smile widened and she took in a breath, “Here it goes. Russ, you are by far the most stubborn, impossible man to live with, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ve given me more headaches than I ever could’ve imagined with your always proclaiming to know what was right for me. Time and time again I told you that I didn’t need you to play my white knight…that I didn’t need your rescuing me, but now as I look back on those days, I see just how wrong I was. You weren’t doing what you did because you were out to annoy me, but because you saw what I didn’t. You reached deep down into me and you sought out my heart and in a way you saved me from myself. You taught me how to love and from the first time I slugged you on the playground, well I knew that I would’ve be able to get rid of you,” she offered up with a teasing laugh as he couldn‘t help but smile at her, “but somehow I knew I never wanted to either. Time and time again I let circumstances get in the way of what I felt for you and even now when I think of how close I came to losing you, well I know now that a life without you is one that wasn’t meant for me. It’s true that I gave up on love a long time ago, but with you, you’ve opened my heart to that again. You forced me to face my inner demons and you loved me in spite of them. You always saw me for me and just when I think I can’t go on, there you are like a beacon in the night bringing me safely to shore--back into your arms and the love that’s made my life so very complete. You’ve given me the greatest miracle in my life and I know that I’ll never be able to show you all the ways in which you’ve turned my life around. You always talked about soul mates and happily ever after, but I never truly believed until you forced me to face my fears--until you showed me that it was all out there waiting for me with you. Russ, time and time again I’ve foolishly blown off what we’ve had, but now, well now I can’t help but embrace the love you’ve given me. You hold the key to my heart and my soul belongs to you as it should’ve been long ago. From this moment on, I swear to you that I’ll be everything you’ve ever dreamt of and I won’t run from the things that truly matter in our lives as you are my once in a lifetime. Russell Denton, you are the only man in my heart and when I think of spending the rest of my life with you, I know in my heart that just being able to do that makes me the luckiest woman alive as you’re the most incredible man I’ve ever known,” she reached for his hand bringing it up over her own pounding heart, “You were my first kiss, my first real love and now I know that you’re the only love that was meant for me. I love you so very much…oh how I love you and I know now that loving you is where I always want to be…forever…”

With tears in her eyes Avery returned to the moment seeing her groom to be before her.  In so many ways Brant was the perfect man for her--the right man now that Russ was gone, yet the memory of her late husband remained.  The love that they’d shared could never be erased as what they had was something--something that just couldn’t leave her even if she had to take this next step with Brant.    
“Brant, do you take Avery to be your lawfully wedded wife to have and to hold from this day on till death do you part?” the man questioned as Brant reached for Avery’s hand squeezing it gently in his.
“I do,” Brant replied with such certainty behind his eyes as he smiled down at her.
“And do you Avery take Brant to be your lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold from this day on till death do you part?” the man questioned as Avery stared blankly before her.  An uneasy silence surrounded the room as Brant’s smile faded.
“Avery?” Brant coaxed her to come back from wherever her thoughts were.
“Huh?  What?” she blinked back at him before offering up a quick apology.  “Could you repeat the question?”
“I said do you take Brant to be your lawfully wedded husband to have and to hold from this day on till death do you part?” the man replied with a polite smile as Brant eyed her with a newfound urgency while he waited her answer to what was now the million dollar question.  As he waited for her answer he just wondered if her response would be the one he’d hoped for or would today be the final blow to his hopes of spending his life with her?   

...to be continued...