Episode 165

“No that can’t be right,” Richard shook his head unable to believe the words that his daughter had uttered, “You couldn’t have married Brant.”
“Yes, I did and I have,” Avery nodded eagerly, “Brant’s my husband.”
“Excuse us,” Richard reached for his daughter dragging her to the other end of the small chapel in the hopes of making sense of what was unfolding right before his very eyes.  “Avery, what has gotten into you?”
“Daddy I love Brant,” Avery blurted out in a muted whisper, “We’ve been attracted to one another for a long time and this has been a slow build to what happened today.  We decided that we didn’t want to wait another minute given everything that’s happened.  We were engaged before and then when we talked about it and how fast life can pass you by, we just decided to go for the gusto.”
“That’s bullshit Avery,” Richard shook his head disapprovingly, “I know for a fact that you don’t love him.  Hell, I would have to wonder if you really even liked him, so why don’t you start by telling me the truth about what’s going on?”
“Daddy, I’m doing what’s best for everyone,” Avery frowned in response, “this is what I want.”
“No, it’s not what you want and if he’s bullying you into this farce of a marriage by manipulating you and…” Richard’s voice rose with obvious emotion.
“Look I hate to break up the family reunion, but I need to talk to Avery,” Dave marched up towards her, “because there are a few questions I have on my mind about what happened in your office.”
“Dave, now is not the time.  As you can see my wife is upset and she’s been injured herself today,” Brant explained boldly reaching out to bring his arm around Avery’s shoulders, “She doesn’t need this kind of harassment.”
“I really don’t care what you think she needs as she’s been placed at my crime scene at the time when her mother was thrown out that window.  I have a witness who can verify that there were some words exchanged between Avery and her mother before…” Dave continued to inform the group.
“Bruce Mathis threw Brooke from that window,” Brant cut him off abruptly.  “Yes it’s true that Brooke and Avery were having a disagreement due to the fact that Avery and I had decided we were going to elope tonight.  We both had discussed the matter in depth for a while now and we decided that life was too short to wait around for happiness to come your way again.  We’d made the decision to take off tonight to get married and when Brooke heard the news she was upset that we hadn’t included her in the process.”
“So you were fighting with your mother about getting married?” Dave questioned very skeptically.
“That’s right,” Avery nodded in response, “She thought that I was moving too fast given that, well…she was just worried about the decision I’d made and I tried to explain to her that it was really something I wanted to do.”
“And in the middle of their arguing Bruce came out from Avery’s private bathroom,” Brant continued to explain to Dave, “He’d snuck in earlier in the morning, sabotaging the security cameras as well on his way up.  Since no one was there, no one knew that he was lurking.  Naturally given his obsession with Avery, when he’d heard the news about our getting married, he came out from where he was hiding and he threatened Brooke and Avery.”
“Is that right,” Dave questioned doubtful before looking to Avery, “So you’re saying that Bruce attacked you and your mother?”
She nodded, “That’s right.  I wasn’t really sure what was happening, but before I knew it, he was out there in the middle of my office.  He grabbed me and he stabbed me with something in the back of my neck…”
Dave watched her lift her hair to show him the mark that remained from her earlier struggle.  “And then what happened?”
“Then Brooke stepped in.  She jumped him in an attempt to help Avery get away from that madman.  The two struggled and Bruce threw Brooke out the window before fleeing from the scene,” Brant hugged Avery closer to his body as her tears threatened, “It’s okay sweetheart.  You’re going to be okay.”
“I was just so afraid,” Avery began to sob into his chest, “I’ve never seen him like that.  Even when he attacked me before…”
“Bruce attacked you before this encounter,” Dave questioned watching the genuine fear cross over her features.
She nodded, “I wasn’t going to say anything, but a few months ago after he’d found out that I’d move on with my life, he attacked me.  I didn’t feel it was important to share with anyone after I’d thought he’d died because I didn’t want to tarnish his reputation, but the fact is that he was waiting for me in my apartment and he tried to kill me.  If Brant hadn’t come in when he did then or even today…”
“Funny how Brant seems to be in the right place at exactly the right time,” Richard couldn’t help but remark watching the way that Brant held Avery in his arms.
“So I take it you witnessed Bruce attacking Brooke then, yes?” Dave pulled out a pad of paper jotting down a few notes.
“Yes, I did and when I walked in, I came in just in time to discover Avery on the floor and Bruce sending Brooke out the window.  I tried to stop him, but she’d already fallen,” Brant continued to spin his tale, “Bruce then lunged at me knocking me down in the process before he fled from the scene.  I called security as soon as possible, but unfortunately he’d evaded my men.”
“And where were you after he left,” Dave wrote a few more things down.
“I was with Avery.  Bruce had knocked her out and I was worried about her.  I’d called for an ambulance and had her brought over,” Brant informed him with a look of seriousness and worry, “I trust you have your men looking for him.”
“I hadn’t heard about his involvement until now.  The witness I spoke with only mentioned hearing Avery and Brooke arguing with one another,” Dave informed them with a heavy look of skepticism.
“I see,” Brant nodded in response before pulling a card out of his pocket and handing it over to Dave, “Well if you’d like to hear more about what happened today, then you can direct all questions to Jim Westenheimer.  He’s my head of security over at BBK.  He’ll be able to tell you what my men have to say about the chase after Mathis.  They might be able to provide some insight for you.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Dave replied taking the card as he looked to Avery wondering what else had transpired leading up to the accident, “Avery, I may have to ask you a few more questions about what happened.  There are a few things that I’d like to further discuss.”
“Not now.  She needs her rest,” Brant argued.
“No, it’s okay,” Avery shook her head with a sniffle, “I think I’m up to this.  I just want to do what I can to help bring the man who did this to my mother to justice.  If there’s anything I can help the police with, then I’ll be more than willing to cooperate.”
“Thanks Avery,” Dave’s skepticism faded a bit with the expression on her face.  Finally thinking about what had happened on the island when she and Russ were on their honeymoon, Dave realized that the monster they’d been dealing with had returned again.  This time his destruction could cost Brooke Morrison her life it would seem, “I’m going to have to have you tell me everything that happened today so that I can go back and get my best investigators on this…”
“Of course,” Avery nodded in response ready to deliver one of the biggest lies of her life.  She just hoped that somehow the police would believe the tale that she and Brant had spun in a moment of haste with one another.  At this point, she knew it was her last chance at holding onto everything.  Dave had to believe her and Brant’s version of the truth or else her life was over.


Blake stepped into the Ashford guest house thinking about everything that had been happening lately.  While she and Seth had faced many problems and come out on top of them, she thought of all those they’d cared about and what they were going through at a time like this.
“Hey, are you okay,” Seth questioned stepping in behind her.  He bent down to rest his head on Blake’s shoulder before nuzzling his nose against her cheek gently, “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“I was just thinking about Jade,” she confessed with a heavy sigh, turning to face him, “I mean I know she and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on things, but I like her.  I really like her and I can only imagine what she’s going through right now in not being able to be with the man she loves.  You can see that being apart from Grady is destroying her and I wish that there was something more that we could do to help her.”
“You and me both,” he replied honestly taking a step back as they entered the living room area, “I hate that Cameron is trying to do these things to destroy all the progress she’s made in her life.  For so many years she was lost within herself, but that changed when she started working with Grady and then when she fell in love with him… Hell, I feel horrible for all the grief I gave the two of them about being together…”
“You were just being a protective big brother,” Blake spun around to wrap her arms around his waist, “She understood that.”
“Yeah, but now when I think about how much time I had put a strain on their relationship.  Maybe if I would’ve been more focused on taking Cameron down instead of trying to try to keep Jade from a man who really, truly loved her…”
“What Jade and Grady have is real Seth and I’m sure that love will find a way for them,” Blake replied hopefully, “I mean look at us.  We beat the odds together, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we sure did,” he smiled brushing a loose strand of her blonde hair from her eyes, “and I must say I can’t be any happier about that than I am right now.”
“You and me both,” Blake agreed tipping up on her toes to kiss him tenderly before taking a step back, “Hungry?”
“That depends,” he teased with a small wink, “What do you have in mind?”
“I was thinking dinner,” she explained running her fingers in over his chest, “and then maybe a little dessert.”
“Hmm…that does sound rather tempting,” Seth curled his arm around her waist pulling her in close to him again, “but under one condition.”
“What’s that?” she questioned lightly, her eyes dreamily returning to his sensual lips.
“That you let me cook for you.  Let me take care of dinner tonight…” he suggested in a low, sultry tone, “The other day when we went shopping I picked up a few things that I’ve been tempted to whip up for you.”
“Is that right,” she couldn’t help but grin as he squeezed her in his arms.
“That’s right,” he explained, “and given all you’ve been going through to plan this wedding, well it’s the least I can do to pamper my bride to be.”
“Say it again,” Blake pleaded with him curling her arms around his neck.
“I said it’s the least I can do to pamper my bride to be,” he repeated pulling her up off of the ground and into his arms more completely.
“Again,” she breathed sweeping her lips in against his for a desire laced kiss.
“Which part,” he questioned carrying her across the living room.
“The part about being your bride to be,” Blake confessed with a dreamy expression, “Seth, right now all I want to think about is what will happen after we’re married…when I’m Mrs. Seth Alexander.”
“It’s a day I can’t wait for,” Seth confessed in response, “This is going to be our dream come true Blake.”
“I’ve wanted this for so very long,” she replied leaning in to kiss him again when a faint beeping sound from across the room caught her attention.
“What was that,” Seth asked leisurely.
“Answering machine.  Maybe it‘s the florist.  I‘d hoped we could make an appointment and when Donna wasn‘t in…,” she explained feeling him ease her to her feet once again.
“Why don’t you go check and see,” Seth suggested with a small smile, “It’ll give me time to work on what I have planned in the kitchen.”
“It’s a deal,” Blake nodded in agreement rushing over to listen to the machine while Seth walked off to start his magic in the kitchen.  She pushed the button on the machine ready to hear about an appointment, but instead Zack’s voice swept through the room.
“Hey Blake, it’s Zack.  Listen I don’t mean to bother you, but I just thought we’d touch base about Caitlin’s memorial.  I wasn’t sure if you wanted to get up and speak or not, but I told the minister to leave some space open in case you had something you wanted to say.  I know how much she means to you and this might be asking a lot, but…well, just let me know if you’re up to it.”
As the message faded off, Blake felt as if she’d been kicked in the gut by the reality that her best friend was gone from her life forever.  She reached for the phone to dial Zack back at the number he’d given her, but instead she found herself overcome with emotion.
“Hey, what time is our…” Seth stopped himself upon discovering her in tears over by the phone, “Hey, Blake, honey what happened?”
“It was Zack,” she replied feeling him pulling her into an embrace, “he called to ask if I wanted to speak at Caitlin’s memorial.”
“Oh Blake,” Seth hugged her tighter than before.
“I can’t believe that I didn’t think about that…that the whole thought of the memorial had slipped my mind in between all of the wedding planning.  I mean she’s my best friend in the entire world and for me to just ignore what is going on…” she cried into his chest.
“Hey, you didn’t forget.  You were just thinking about the things that are happening for us,” he brushed his thumb over the tears that fell from her cheek, “Blake, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“I know that, but I’d always kind of believed that when my big day came--you know when I was getting married that Caitlin would be there and we’d be sharing this together,” she confessed holding him closer to her, “I just never thought that when I got married that I’d be doing it not only without my parents, but without my best friend in the whole entire world.  Even now, I can’t believe she’s gone.  So many things have happened and to think that I can’t ever talk to her about this--that she can’t share this with me…”
“Blake, I know it’s no consolation, but there’s no doubt in my mind that wherever Caitlin is, she’s looking down at us taking everything in,” Seth tried to assure her, “I’m confident that she’s feeling your enthusiasm and she too is happy that you’ve found some happiness in your life.  She wanted that for you Blake…”
“I know, but it’s just so strange not to have her here with me going through the plans--through the little steps towards the happiest day of my life,” she continued poignantly, “I always envisioned her being my matron of honor and that we’d get married close to one another--have children around the same time and we’d spent our lives closer than ever.”
“I wish that could’ve happened for the both of you,” he whispered warmly kissing the top of her head, “how I wish that I could make that happen Blake.”
“But it can’t ever happen,” Blake sobbed harder than before, “My best friend is gone.  She left this world before she could live out all these dreams that you and I are sharing with one another.  She and Kenny came so close to having it all and then fate tore it away from her.  It was a horrible, cruel twist and now…”
“Now we have to find a way to say good-bye to her,” Seth thought about how the memorial would be an emotional time for Blake, “but you have to realize that she’ll always be with us in spirit.”
“I know that,” she wiped at her face, “I really do, but how can I stand there in front of her friends and family and tell them that I’m okay with this?  How can I pretend that in losing her things will ever be alright again?”
“You don’t have to pretend Blake,” Seth reminded her, “On some level it’ll never be okay, but what you can do is hold your head up high and honor the memory of Caitlin.  You can tell the world all the things that you love about her and share that special part of her with them.”
“But what if I get up there to talk and nothing comes out?  What if when I’m there I freeze up and nothing happens,” she questioned clearly upset by the prospect of what lay ahead.
“Right now is a time about healing Blake.  No one is expecting you to be overjoyed about saying good-bye to someone who held a special place in your life.  As you said Caitlin was your best friend and you’re being asked to do something incredibly difficult, but I know you.  Tomorrow you’ll go in there and you’ll say what comes from your heart.  You’ll honor Caitlin’s memory and I know that wherever she is, she’ll still know how much you love her.”
“It just hurts so much without her,” Blake admitted crying into him as Seth held her hoping to soothe the pain she was feeling the best that he could.  While he knew that tomorrow would be difficult, he was well aware that Blake had a long road ahead of her.  This was one of the greatest times of their lives, yet so much tragedy surrounded them.  He just hoped that whatever happened next that somehow he and Blake could find the strength to pull together and beat the odds that had taken their friends lives apart in the past.


Jade knocked on the door lightly as the door opened and Gabe was standing before her.

“Hey what’s wrong?” he questioned motioning her to come in and sit down.

“It’s Grady,” she sighed sitting down on the couch lightly.

“What about him?” he questioned sitting down next to her as she sighed looking down.

“I’m just afraid that I may never be able to be with the man I love and it scares me. I mean, he may never get out. We could never live our lives together,” Jade sighed feeling Gabe’s hand on her back.

“Come on, don’t think that way. You know he is going to get out,” Gabe assured her as she looked up at him.

“I know I want him to get out, but I just want to know he is going to get out. Not sit here waiting,” she shook her head lightly looking up at him.

“You should know by now, Grady is innocent and they will see that,” he promised her with a slight smile. “Now cheer up.”

“A little easier said than done,” she laughed as a little girl ran up to Gabe.

“Daddy who is she?” Brittany questioned holding onto her daddy’s hand.

“This is my friend Jade,” he smiled as Brittany turned to her.

“Hi Jade, I am Brittany,” she swayed lightly after Jade laughed.

“Well, hi Brittany it’s nice to meet you,” Jade nodded as Brittany jumped up and down.

“Oh, I got a new Barbie…do you want to see her?” Brittany asked eagerly.

“Of course I would,” Jade nodded lightly.

“Alright, I will go get her,” Brittany got out before she excitedly ran to the other room.

“So where is Guy?” Jade questioned looking over at Gabe.

“Well, he’s with his mother,” he started before Jade cut him off.

“Why don’t you go with him?” she wondered as he shrugged.

“I can’t do that, I mean I have to stay here with Brittany. Mindy is out on a date,” he pointed out seeing Jade smile.

“How about I baby sit?” she questioned seeing him shake his head.

“I don’t know,” he declared unsurely.

“Trust me, everything will be fine,” Jade assured him standing up and pulling him up to. “Now go to Guy.”


“I have had so much fun tonight,” Mindy smiled as they walked down the street hand and hand. Another date went by and every minute she had with him was getting better and better. 

“I know what you mean,” Hunt nodded getting a glimpse of the TV sitting in the window of one of the stores. “What the?”

“Oh my god, who would have don’t that to Brooke?” Mindy questioned seeing the news and what had happened to Brooke.

“I don’t know,” he stuttered not wanting to worry, but he couldn’t help not to.

“I wonder if she is okay,” she almost whispered thinking about Guy and how he must be so worried right now.

“I don’t know, I hope so. What kind of person would do this?” he questioned to himself hoping that Brooke was okay. He couldn’t help to worry about her, how could he not?

“She is Guy’s mother,” she stated with a sigh, “I should go see if he is okay.”

“What do you mean?” he wondered looking over at her.

“Or should I go?” she asked wanting to know his opinion.

“I think you should go, I mean what do you want to do?” he wondered looking down at her.

“Well, Guy is one of my best friends and I may not like Brooke, but I should go see if Guy is holding up,” she declared looking away from him.

“You know what? I think I will go with you. Just to you know, make sure he is okay too,” Hunt shrugged not knowing what she would say or if she would find it odd.

“Are you sure? I mean you don’t have to,” she assured him watching him shake his head.

“No, it’s okay,” he declared seeing her half smile.

“Okay, well let’s go,” Mindy nodded wanting know if Guy was okay. It might not have been the best time to worry about him around Hunt, but obviously he understands.


“Grady,” Elliot almost whispered seeing Grady turn around and walk over to him.

“Dad,” Grady smiled hugging him before sitting back down.

“How are you holding up?” Elliot questioned before hearing a deep sigh come from Grady’s lips.

“I don’t know, I’m kind of worried,” Grady shrugged seeing Elliot frown.

“About what? I mean you didn’t do anything, right?” Elliot wondered seeing Grady nod.
“Of course I didn’t do anything, but I’m worried about Avery and Jade. I mean Avery shouldn’t be able to take this right now. I don’t know how she is holding up,” he started looking down at the desk that his hands rested upon.

“You have nothing to worry about Grady, Avery is doing the best she can to get you out of here.,” Elliot promised seeing him nod.

“Well, I know she is trying hard and I believe in her, but what about Jade?” Grady questioned thinking of how bad she must be feeling right now.

“She is holding up, isn’t she?  She‘s strong and she‘s been working alongside of Avery to find a way to fix this situation.  I’m sure she has,” Elliot wondered seeing Grady shrug.

“You see she acts tough, but what if I don’t get out of here? How is she going to take that? I mean how am I going to take it?” Grady questioned with a deep sigh.

“You have to be confident son,” Elliot protested seeing Grady roll his eyes.

“How can I be confident when there is nothing going towards me getting out? Nothing is going to get me out,” Grady protested standing up and resting his hands on the table.

“How do you know that?” Elliot questioned looking up at him, “I’m sure you will get out of here. You didn’t do anything,” Elliot reminded him.

“Well yeah,” Grady started as he rubbed the back of his neck, “Make the judge believe that.”

“They will,” Elliot nodded knowing what Grady was worrying about, was the same thing he was worried about too.

“Just promise me one thing,” Grady sighed seeing his dad nod, “Take care of Jade if I don’t get out of here.”

“Don’t say that, you will get out of here,” Elliot promised seeing Grady nod. Just the thought of him never getting to be with Jade again got to him. He never wanted to lose her, but the way it was looking, he was. 


“I don’t think my daddy would ever do this with me,” Brittany smiled pulling Jade’s hair into a pigtail.

“I think he should.  It’s fun,” Jade smiled looking up at Brittany who had just finished with Jade’s hair.

“I don’t think he would do stuff like this with me,” she shrugged standing up and grabbing an M&M from the bowl and eating it. “You have one.”

“Why thank you,” Jade thanked as Brittany held up the bowl motioning her to take one.

“These are my favorite candy,” Brittany noted taking a handful and putting them in her mouth. “This one time, I ate a whole bag.”

“Oh my,” Jade laughed seeing her nod.

“And daddy was mad because I was up all night,” Brittany laughed seeing Jade smile.

“He shouldn’t have been, I mean these things are so addictive. It wasn’t your fault,” Jade assured her as Brittany nodded.

“That’s exactly what I told him,” Brittany squealed excitedly as she sat down next to Jade.

“The Lion King is coming on, do you want to watch it?” Jade questioned turning on the TV.

“Yeah!” Brittany answered excitedly. 

Jade changed the channel to only freeze seeing a news blurb on Grady’s trial. Her throat became dry thinking about it, she couldn’t believe this.

“What’s wrong?” Brittany questioned touching Jade’s hand as she shook out of it.

‘It’s nothing,” Jade lied seeing Brittany frown.

“You’re lying to me,” Brittany frowned pulling her up from the couch and turning on the radio. “I know how to make you feel better.”

“How’s that?” Jade questioned with a smile seeing Brittany start jumping around.

“Dance with me,” Brittany squeaked grabbing her hands as Jade jumped up and down with her.

“This is fun,” Jade pointed out as Brittany smiled.

“I told you so,” Brittany smiled looking up at her.


Blake snuggled in closer to Seth in front of the fireplace thinking about the talk that they’d had with one another.  Maybe Seth was right.  Maybe now was a time for healing, she thought laying her head on his chest.
“You know, I have to say that I feel so very lucky,” Blake confessed with a small smile, “I feel like in being with you like this, it’s made everything that is happening around us seem a bit more bearable.”
“I just wish that there was more I could do,” Seth admitted running his fingers through her long, golden tresses, “I hate to see you hurting like this.”
“I just wish that it was easier, but I guess when you love someone, it’s never easy to let go of them,” Blake gazed over to the fire again, “Though I’m sure Caitlin would be happy for us.”
“I’m sure she would,” Seth nodded in agreement, “She was an incredible woman and I’m just sorry that I didn’t get to know her better than I did.”
“She knew we were meant to be together,” Blake couldn’t help but smile, “Even after we’d had our falling out, she still knew that I loved you.”
“I’d never stopped loving you or wanting to be with you when we were apart, but I thought you were happy with Zack.  I believed that he was the one who could give you what you wanted…” he started thinking back to that painful time they’d been apart.
“Zack was and is someone special in my life,” she shifted in his arms, her blue eyes reaching down into his dark, soulful expression as she cupped his face in her hands, “but you’re the man I was meant to share my life with.  You’re the man I love…the only man I love.”
“I know that now,” Seth replied with a small smile, “and while I thought I’d lost you forever, I’m glad that I was wrong.  I know now that destiny had other plans for us…”
“And when we get married, it’ll only solidify what it is we’ve worked so very hard to have with one another,” Blake reminded him with a blissful grin, “Seth, I can’t wait to be your wife.”
“I can’t wait for that to happen either,” Seth’s grin expanded, “although I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately…I mean I’ve been thinking about what happens after the wedding.  Obviously we’re going to have to find a place to live and…”
“Well I’d kind of thought that we’d move in here together,” she admitted looking around the guest house, “I mean it’s kind of already our own special place and…”
“And wouldn’t you want for us to find our own place outside the estate,” he gave her a long, serious look, “You know as our way of trying to break out on our own?  Naturally I didn’t think that we’d stay at my apartment since Jade is there, but…”
“Well I thought we’d go house hunting, but for now I thought we could stay here.  It’s quiet,” she leaned forward kissing him seductively, “intimate…”
“Yes, but Blake, I was thinking that we should get a house of our own--you know a place where we could be together without your brothers keeping a watchful eye on us,” he explained pulling away from the kiss, “You know a place where we could raise our children the way that we wanted to--not in the fashion that everyone else will tell us to.”
“You mean you’re really serious about this?” she questioned with a small frown, “You want us to leave the Ashford Estate?”
“Well, you said it yourself that you wanted to move onto a new level of our relationship.  I’ve been saving some money and I’m sure that if we looked around, we could find something small that would be a good starter home for us,” he offered up with hope behind his eyes, “Now I know it won’t be much, but it will be our own little something…”
“Seth, I want that.  I really do, but maybe we should wait for a while and stay here.  I know how hurt Ken is and with Brant, well they need me.  I can’t just abandon them while they’re going through what they’re going through.  We’re family and…” she started to explain.
“Blake, I’m not asking you to abandon them, but I am suggesting that we think about our finding a place of our own.  It’s not that this house isn’t nice enough, but Blake, honey wouldn’t you want to be somewhere that we can start fresh?  Where we can have our own memories without the past getting in the way,” he questioned massaging his fingers over her spine.
“Of course I want that, but I just need to make sure that my brothers will be okay…just like you want to be certain that Jade is alright before we go off and get married,” Blake dropped down to kiss him again, “You understand, don’t you?”
“Of course I do,” he nodded in response, “and I’m sure that we can work something out.  Maybe we can find something in a halfway point…where we can be by both Jade and your brothers.”
“See, now that sounds like something we can work out,” Blake decided conceding to his idea a bit, “We can find something that works for the both of us without giving up what it is we’re both attached to.”
“It’s not about giving anything up Blake, but about moving forward with our lives.  You are ready for that, aren’t you?” he asked searching her eyes for a response.
“Of course I am,” she curled her arms around his neck enthusiastically, “especially if it means becoming your wife and having a few beautiful babies with you.”
“Babies,” Seth murmured in response, “now that is a subject I hope we’ll be in agreement on as I want to have at least half a dozen little ones with you…”
“Half a dozen,” she repeated with wide eyes, “Well if we’re really going to shoot for half a dozen, maybe we should reconsider living out here at the guest house.  That way we could have Brant, Ken and Annie to help out when…”
“Blake,” he frowned pulling back ever so slightly, “listen to me.  I know that you’ve grown up in this lifestyle and you’ve had thing a certain way, but for me, well it wasn’t like that.  In my family, you had to work your way into what you wanted.  You had to make decisions and sacrifices and…”
“And you’re saying that I didn’t?” she frowned not liking where this conversation was headed.
“Blake, all I’m saying is that if I can’t provide for you as a husband…if I have to depend on what you have for us to make it, then I’m no where near being the man you need,” Seth argued with a heavy sigh, “Don’t you see how important this is to me?”
“And don’t you see that I don’t care about that,” she shook her head not seeing the problem with what he was saying to her, “Seth, I have more than plenty so if we use that to get us where we want to be…”
“Blake, you’re not getting it,” he pulled away from her, taking in a deep breath as he tried to explain what he was saying, “It’s just that…well, right now I know that I’ll never be like Ken or Brant.  I won’t be able to buy us a house like the one you’ve grown up in, nor will I ever be able to give our children everything that you had.  I know that and believe me I hate it, but at the same time I’ve got my pride and with the way that we do things…”
“Seth, you don’t have to be embarrassed about where you came from,” Blake reached out to touch his leg gently, “I love you regardless…”
“I understand that, but Blake,” he rose from the couch pacing around the room and bringing his fingers through his hair, “To be a man--to really be the kind of man that you need, I’m going to have to do this my way.  I’m going to have to prove myself…”
“You’ve more than proven yourself Seth.  I know that you’re the man I love and whom I want to share my life with,” she rose to her feet as well, “I want us to have a family together.”
“Then please, please understand what I’m trying to tell you,” he approached her reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “Blake, I want to show you that I can provide for us--that I can find a way to make all of our dreams come true without you having to feel like you’re the one who is financing it all.  Even with our wedding--in my family, well we’ve kind of always worked together.  We didn’t have the best of the best, but what we did do came from a lot of heart.  I want for us to have a wedding and a marriage like that with one another…”
“Seth, are you saying that you don’t want us to go through the makings of a big wedding?  That you don’t want me to do what I’m doing?” she blinked back in confusion.
“Blake, when I pictured us getting married, I didn’t expect it to be a big tabloid headliner,” he admitted honestly, drawing her closer to him, “I’d always thought that it would happen down by the lake where we had one of our first dates.  That we’d be together on the beach close to sunset in a private, intimate ceremony pledging our love to one another as the amber hues in the sky faded to darkness.  Then when we came together for that first kiss as husband and wife, well it would be the most perfect, memorable moment for us.  It would be all about us and everything else, well it would just kind of fall into place…”
“So all this time we’ve been talking about a big wedding, that’s not been what you’ve been hoping for?  What we’ve talked about in holding the ceremony here at the mansion…” she began surprised by his declaration.
“I want whatever you want Blake, but I just need you to know that for me, I don’t need to be flashy or go out in expenses.  I just need you,” he cupped her face in his hands, “I’ve always needed only you.”
“Oh Seth,” she tilted her head up to taste his lips, feeling the desperation and longing behind his feelings on the subject.  Sliding her arms around his waist, she hugged his muscled body in against hers before they finally parted, “Seth, you’re what I want.  Sure, a big wedding is something that a girl always dreams about, but to tell you the truth, what I want more than that is you.  I want for us to be together--to have the kind of life that I’ve always fantasized about and if it means our finding a way to do it without having my family always overlooking what we’re doing, then that’s fine with me.  I don’t need to spend my life here at the mansion.  I don’t need to hide under being an Ashford, but you have to understand that adjustments won’t be easy for me.  It’s all I’ve ever really known except for when I was away at school…”
“What was that like?” he questioned seeing the glow that spread over her cheeks.
“It was amazing.  I was finally on my own and I could experience the world as me instead of as what everyone expected me to be.  It was something I’d always wanted and with us,” she squeezed him in closer to her, “I’m sure it’s exactly what we need together.”
“Then I take it you’ll consider what I’ve proposed,” Seth inquired watching her smile expand.
“Of course I’ll consider it.  I think that you’re right.  We need something more than what living here would do for us.  We need to find a place of our own and maybe after the memorial we can start looking around,” she nodded in agreement, “Seth, I really want for us to find a way to make things happen for us because of us and not because of what everyone else has to say on the matter.”
“You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that and just know that I’m not trying to push,” Seth started after a moment’s pause, “If you really don’t want this then…”
“Then I’ll push right back because I’m not one to cave easily to an idea I hate, but this, well this might work.  I mean we could try it and if doesn’t work out…” she started feeling him steal another kiss.
“It will work out,” he pulled her into his arms completely, “We’ll find a way to make it work for us Blake.”
“I know we will,” she replied enthusiastically kissing him again only to hear the sound of knocking at the front door.  The bell rang promptly after before the two of them exchanged curious looks.
“I wonder if it’s another delivery about the wedding.  I’d ordered a few sample catalogues and…” she explained excitedly before pausing, “unless of course you think I should just scrap the idea altogether about us getting married here…”
“Blake, that wasn’t what I’m trying to say,” he decided after a moment’s contemplation, “how about we compromise somehow?”
“Such as?” she gave him a curious look.
“Well, since you’ve agreed to think about our finding a place of our own once we’re married, what if you and I still have our wedding here?  We could have it by the fountain that you love and maybe we’ll just try to make it a bit more personal than we’d originally planned on, yet still give it enough to let you have the fairy tale you were hoping for,” he suggested watching her face light up.
“Oh Seth,” she squealed excitedly throwing her arms around him again and kissing him as she found herself overcome with excitement, “I think it sounds perfect.  I love it!”
“I’m so glad to hear that,” he hugged her in response before hearing someone at the door again.  “And hey, you know now that we got that out of the way, why don’t you get that door and see what’s here?  Maybe we can find something we like for our wedding?”
“You’re so on,” Blake decided rushing over to answer the door only to discover no one was there.  Looking down she noticed a small package on the ground before her.  Taking a step out into the yard, she noticed it was empty.  Still, with the box in front of her, she figured that the delivery man must’ve given up and just left the house when she hadn’t answered.  Bending down she picked up the box carrying it into the house with her.
“Oh this looks like it’s going to be good,” she smiled noticing that it was wrapped in a wedding themed gift wrap.  Her grin expanded as she wondered if Seth had sent this package as a bit of his surprise for tonight.  That thought in itself had her ripping and tearing at the paper to discover what was within.
“So, tell me what do we have tonight to look through,” Seth questioned entering the room to discover her standing at the table frozen in a state of shock.  He spoke her name again finding that he got no reaction from her before he reached out to touch her shoulder, “Blake, what is it?”
“Seth, it’s…it’s horrible it’s…” Blake let out a pinched scream before turning around to bury her face in his chest.
“Blake, what is it?” Seth questioned in confusion.  He felt her tremble in his arms and as his gaze drifted to the contents of the box.  At first he noticed a thin layer of lace peeking out from within, but as he leaned in closer that’s when he found the first red stains that surrounded the gift that lay within.
“What the…” Seth released Blake to move forward only to discover the small blonde Barbie doll that lay from within.  She was dressed in a white, wedding dress with a knife plunged through the center of her chest and the words, “Die Bitch” written over the train of the gown in the deep crimson shade.
“Oh God,” Blake gulped taking another look at the doll, “Seth who would do something this horrible?  Who would be so sick…”
“I don’t know Blake,” Seth replied pulling her into his arms thinking about this disgusting package and who might’ve been twisted enough to do such a thing.  He flashed back to his encounter with Thea and he wondered if it had been her or was someone else pulling their strings?  Either way as Blake cried in his arms, he vowed to find whoever was responsible for this and make them pay for upsetting her.


Judy sat at her apartment thinking about the phone call Richard had received earlier.  That on top of the news focusing on the story about Brooke’s accident had Judy more worried than ever about the man she loved.  While she was sure that he and Brooke were close to an end of their marriage, she knew what kind of guilt would be eating at him at a time like this.
Contemplating her next move, Judy heard the sound of the phone ringing.  Reaching for it she answered hastily hoping that Rick was calling to let her know that he needed her.
“Mom,” Deidra’s voice spoke excitedly over the line, “hey how are you?”
“Deidra, honey, it’s so good to hear your voice.  I’ve been trying to get into contact with you over the last couple of days, but…” Judy began thinking about the way life had been lately.
“I’m out of town.  Dean took me to this place and…well, I just wanted to call in check in with you to see how you were doing.”
“I’m alive.  That should count for something, right,” Judy offered with a small smile.
“That doesn’t sound too promising.  What’s going on mom?”
“Well,” Judy hesitated, “Brooke Morrison was in an accident.  She was thrown from one of the offices at BBK and she’s in the hospital right now.  They aren’t sure if she’ll make it or not…”
“Oh my God,” Deidra gasped in shock, “Mom that’s horrible.  How is Rick holding up?”
“I don’t know,” Judy paused, “That’s what I’m worried about.  He was with me when he got the call and then he just left…”
“Mom, maybe you should go check in on him.  I mean he probably shouldn’t be alone at a time like this,” Deidra suggested.
“He has his family honey.  I don’t think that he needs me around considering that…” Judy started to make an excuse.
“Mom, if he’s hurting he’ll need as much concern as he can get.  You’re very important to him and I’m sure he’d want you there.  It’s a good idea to at least check in on him.  It can’t hurt anything as far as I’m concerned.”
“Yeah, well I’m not sure his family would feel the same way,” Judy paused thinking the suggestion over.
“Avery loves you and besides, I think your being there would help.  He’s going to need someone to talk to and you’re good at that.  You should go,” Deidra coaxed her on again.  “Just think about it mom.”
“Maybe I will,” Judy pondered it for a long moment wondering if she could really go and be with Richard when Brooke’s life was on the line like it was.  Perhaps it wasn’t the best of times, yet as she thought of how upset Rick had been when he’d gotten the call, she couldn’t help but worry about him.  Maybe she would stop by the hospital after all.


Guy stood in the hallway outside where his mother was wondering how in the world his mother had come this close to death again.  While Avery had told the story of Bruce Mathis attacking her, Guy was more determined than ever to find the son of a bitch that had hurt her.  To think of that man terrorizing not only Avery, but his mother again and again only angered him to the core.
“Guy, there you are,” Gabe spoke up in a breathless tone rushing over to his lover’s side, “When I heard the news about your mother I came right over.”
“Oh Gabe,” Guy threw his arms around Gabe in an embrace, “you have no idea how much I needed to see you right now.”
“That’s why I’m here,” Gabe confessed holding him tighter than before, “What’s going on?”
“They don’t know what’s going to happen with Mum, but with Avery, well she went off and married Brant and…”
“Brant?  As in Brant Ashford?” Gabe raised a curious brow, “but I thought that your sister was married.”
“She was, but when her husband died…” Guy shook his head, “that’s not important.  Right now I’m just worried about my mother.  The doctors are being vague and given that she was thrown fifteen stories, they say it’s a miracle that she’s alive right now.”
“Yes it is, but your mother has proven time and time again that she can beat the odds.  Perhaps in this situation it will be no different.  You have to believe that she’ll come through this one okay…” Gabe offered touching Guy’s face gently, “You have to be strong…”
“I’m trying, but at the same time when I think of all the things that monster has done to her already,” Guy shook his head, “I just don’t understand why the police aren’t catching him.  How can he just keep getting away with all of this?  How is it he can keep hurting those I love and…”
“Guy,” Mindy rushed over to him after she and had gotten off the elevators, “how are you?”
“I’ve had better days, but I’m glad you’re here,” Guy admitted embracing her readily, “I just don’t know what’s going to happen next.  As I was telling Gabe they aren’t saying much about my mother at this point.”
“What happened,” Hunt questioned speaking up from where he stood behind Mindy, “Do they know who did this?”
“Bruce Mathis,” Guy informed him with a heavy scowl.
“He’s he same son of a bitch that kidnapped Brooke not so long ago,” Mindy continued to explain to Hunt.
“Kidnapped,” Hunt blinked back in confusion, “Brooke was kidnapped?”
“That’s right,” Guy nodded, “About a month or so ago, the son of a bitch kidnapped her and held her for ransom.  He’d put her through hell and we thought that it was over, but now…I just don‘t know what I‘m going to do if we lose her this time.  Before was hell, but now…”
“You’re not going to lose her Guy.  You have to believe that,” Mindy replied reaching out to embrace him again as Hunt took a step back thinking about what Guy was saying.  Suddenly he felt a sinking sensation hit him in the center of his stomach as he wondered if something about this story wasn’t adding up.  He flashed back to his time in New York and suddenly he felt very out of place.  Looking to Mindy and Guy again he started to wonder if maybe just maybe there was something more leading to this shocking turn of events. 


Brant followed Avery into the hospital room watching as she took a seat on the hospital bed.  He could tell by the expression on her face that she was still worried about what had taken place with Dave downstairs.  They’d told their story--said what was needed and as she sat on the edge of the bed, he could still feel her worries about what had taken place.
“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” Brant approached her reaching out to take her hand in his, “Dave isn’t going to question what we told him.  When he finds the evidence that Bruce was there…”
“He’s not going to find any evidence of that,” Avery replied in a muted whisper, “Brant, we both know that…”
“Avery, I told you that I’d take care of this and I did,” Brant continued to explain in a hushed tone of his own, “When we left your office I put the wheels in motion for fixing this.  I called in a few favors and I guarantee that when the police do a search of your office, they’re going to find that Bruce was in fact there.”
“What do you mean?” Avery questioned in confusion.
“Let’s just say that I left them what they will be looking for,” Brant offered bending in closer to her, “They won’t ever question our story.”
“You mean you set this up to look like Bruce was the one that…” Avery stopped herself suddenly realizing what he was telling her, “You mean you’d already thought up our story when we left the office?  When you were bringing me here?”
“I didn’t have all the details worked out, but yeah, I thought it was some pretty quick thinking myself,” he grinned brightly, “Wouldn’t you agree?”
Avery grew unusually silent before a moment of anger flashed behind her eyes.  Rising from the bed she started to pace around the floor, “You mean to tell me that you came up with all of this before I even arrived at the hospital?  Before I suggested that we get married?”
“Well yeah it was kind of a spur of the moment kind of thing, but then when I heard your idea on what we should do, well I figured that our getting married would be an even better way to seal the deal,” Brant nodded in confession watching the way her face twisted, “Avery, you said it yourself our being married was the best possible solution.”
“That’s when I thought we didn’t have any other choices Brant.  Little did I know that you were about to set up a crime scene so that it looked like Bruce was the one that did this.  If you would’ve said something sooner, then…” Avery snapped back at him, her voice lowering as she didn’t want anyone to hear what they were saying, “Brant, how could you do this?”
“Hey, you’re the one who wanted to get married.  You were the one with the idea and I asked you if you were sure,” Brant reminded her folding his arms in front of his chest, “I asked you point blank if you were positive that this is what you wanted and you said yes.  You were the one who stood with me before God pledging yourself to me.”
“That’s because I thought that we didn’t have any other way out of this.  That’s because I believed…” she stopped herself throwing her arms in the air, “This is all been about what you wanted, hasn’t it?  This whole thing was just one more little ploy you had to win me over when…”
“No, that’s not what this was about Avery.  I didn’t know that any of this would happen and when I walked into your office,” he stopped himself before taking a step towards her, “now you listen to me and you listen good.  You were the one who wanted to get married.  I just did what you asked of me and you have to admit that right now not only did we come up with the perfect alibi for you, but we’re not going to ever have to worry about this again.”
“Brant, you married me knowing full well that you’d faked a crime scene so that I wouldn’t get this pinned on me,” Avery shook her head at him, “You’d already come up with a cover story…”
“One that I was risking my neck for you to make happen,” Brant reminded her, his jaw tightening with his words, “Avery, I’m sticking my neck out on the line for you and for me to enter into this like I have knowing what could happen to me for planting evidence…”
“You still should’ve said something sooner than you did.  If I would’ve known about this before we got married…” she stopped herself.
“Then what?  You wouldn’t have done it?” he arched a curious brow before reaching for her hand to flash the ring he‘d given her in her face, “After all I’ve done for you, you’re saying that you would’ve taken this back.”
“Brant, we aren’t in love,” Avery argued with him wrenching her hand away from him, “and if you think that this marriage is going to be the key to making it happen…”
“Avery, I’ve taken a big risk for you tonight.  I’ve done things that I swore to myself after dealing with my father that I would never do.  When I did what I did for you back in that office…” Brant snapped back at her following each movement she made through the room.
“So what?” Avery spun around to face him, her eyes filled with a sudden rage, “Now I owe you for that?”
“Avery, that’s not what I’m saying,” he shook his head at her, throwing his arms up in the air, “Are you really that stupid that you can’t see why I’ve done all of this for you?”
“To get the big prize right,” she wiggled her finger at him, feeling the weight of her new wedding ring upon it, “I mean that’s what this is about, right?”
“No, this is about the fact that I love you Avery and I’d go to the wall for you,” he took a bold step towards her, his face a mask of sudden seriousness, “I’d do anything to protect you all because I love you…”
“But Brant, you know that my heart is…” she spoke up again feeling a pang of guilt hit her in the abdomen.
“With Russ, yeah I get that.  I’ve got that from the moment you ran off to be with him, but guess what?  I don’t care about that.  I don’t care that you’d choose him over me in a heartbeat if he was still alive.  I know that I won’t ever replace him, but at the same time I know that you and I have something special between us.  I know that you can’t see it now, but eventually you will and when you do…”
“Then what?” Avery questioned in confusion, “Do you think we’re going to fall into happily ever after with one another?  That we’ll fall in love and have all the makings of a fairy tale romance?”
“What I think is that we need each other and in time you’ll see that you need me as much as I need you.  Avery, I love you and I’m not about to lie about it,” he touched her cheek gently, “While tonight might’ve been about strategy for you, it was real to me.  I’ve wanted to marry you from the first moment I lay my eyes upon you and now that I’m your husband, you’d better be damn sure to know that I’m not about to blow off what that means.  We’re in this together and I’m not about to walk away from that.”
“Brant,” she opened her mouth to speak before stopping herself, ‘I’m not asking you to, but this is just all overwhelming for me.  I swore to myself after Russ that I would never, ever…”
“Avery, this isn’t about Russ.  This is about self-preservation,” he explained curling his finger underneath her chin to lift her gaze to his, “and what we did was what was best for all of us.  For you, for me and most of all for the baby.  We had no other choice in the matter.  Our getting married was the only solution.”
“Brant, I…” she started to speak before letting out a small sigh, “I know.  You’re right.  This was the only way and I’m sorry that I yelled at you.  I guess I’m just wound up so tight now after all of this that I can’t think clearly.  Brant, I feel like I’m losing my mind and after everything, well I don’t know if that’s really happening or not.  I’m so afraid that I’m going to lose all control and…”
“And I won’t let that happen,” he promised pulling her into his arms supportively, “Avery, I swear to you I’m not going to let anyone hurt you from here on out.  I’ll keep you safe.  I swear to it.”
“Brant, I’m just so afraid,” she confessed burying her face in his chest as the door to her hospital room opened up and Richard stepped inside to see them together.
“So am I,” Richard remarked sourly closing the door behind him, “So why don’t the two of you quit with the lies and tell me exactly what is going on right now so that I can fix this once and for all?”
“Daddy, I…” Avery nearly leapt out of Brant’s arms finding herself at a loss as the door opened again and a nurse stepped inside.
“Mr. Morrison, I’ve been looking all over for you,” the nurse explained hurriedly, “The doctors wanted me to find you because your wife…she…”
“She what,” Richard questioned in a panic, “What’s wrong?”
“She’s awake,” the nurse explained, “and she’s talking to the police chief right now.”
“She’s what,” Avery took a step forward, her face growing pale in the moment.
“She’s coherent and she’s speaking with the police chief about what happened to her,” the nurse informed her quickly.  “He’s in there right now and…”
“Brant we have to stop her,” Avery spun around to face her husband fearing what could happen if Brooke opened her mouth about what really happened in the office.
“I’ll take care of it,” Brant promised assuringly taking her hand in his as Avery feared that this marked the beginning for the end for her once her mother told Dave her version of how she fell from that window. 
Despite the fact that Avery knew full well that Brooke attacked her, she was certain that Brooke would tell the tale in such a way that Avery would spend the rest of her life suffering for it.  Suddenly as she felt the walls closing in on her Avery realized that things were finally over for her.  There would be no saving herself now!


...to be continued...