Episode 166

Ken stepped out of the shower, tying up the sash of the white hotel robe he’d had sent up after he and Carly had decided to work their way out of bed.  Looking over at the steam filled mirror before him, he wiped away at the smoky film to catch a glimpse of Carly’s silhouette from within the shower.  Turning around to gaze at her once again, he reached for her robe as well, “Did you get lost in there?”
“I was just thinking about taking a few minutes more to enjoy this heat.  I haven‘t had a really good, hot shower in a long time like this one,” she explained over the sound of the water, “You don’t mind, do you?”
“Not at all,” Ken leaned back on the counter taking in the sight before him as he’d purposely left the shower door open enough to get a good view of her.
“Ken, come on,” she threw out a pointed look, “Unless you’re going to get back in here, then quit gawking at me.  Better yet, if you’re really finished in here, how about you get us a bite to eat?  I’m kind of hungry.”
“What are you in the mood for,” he asked setting her robe down on the counter once again.
“Something spicy perhaps,” she shrugged her shoulders before reaching for the shower door and bringing it to a sudden close, “and see if they can speed it up because I’m famished.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he replied whistling a little tune to himself as he exited the bathroom making his way over to the bed again.  Looking down at the mattress he thought of what they’d experienced with one another throughout the evening and for a moment he felt a sudden jolt of guilt pass over him.  His thoughts turned to Caitlin and in that moment he sank down on the bed remembering all too well the things he and Carly had done to one another.
“Ken, make sure you get some dessert too.  Something sweet to counteract the spicy always works,” Carly announced popping her head out from the bathroom to discover Ken plopped down on the bed staring off into space.  Bringing the towel over her damp hair she entered the bedroom, taking a seat beside him.  Placing her hand on his knee gently, she spoke up again, “So this is the part where the fun ends and the regrets set in, huh?”
“No, no that’s not it at all,” he shook his head at her.  Lifting his head up again, he saw the concerned expression on her face, “Carly, that’s not what I was…”
“Yes it was,” she replied with a small sigh of her own, “and truth be told that’s kind of why I stayed behind in the shower.  I started thinking about us…about this and…”
“And somehow Dave came to mind, huh?” Ken questioned watching her face drop with obvious sadness.
“I don’t know why I feel like a horrible person for this given that Dave and I aren’t together.  We weren’t together the first time that you and I started this and when you and I were together tonight, well Dave had pretty much told me how much he hated me the last time I saw him so I guess that should say something…” Carly explained dropping the towel she’d been using to dry her hair into her lap.
“Yet it doesn’t change the way you feel about him, does it,” he reached for her hand offering a gentle squeeze, “You still love him, don’t you?”
“That makes me sound completely insane, doesn’t it?” she questioned cocking her head to the side to see the way he was looking at her.  Somehow she found herself surprised by the way he was watching her with compassion and understanding.
“No, not at all,” he answered honestly, “Believe me if Caitlin was still alive and we were in the position you and Dave were in, you can believe that I’d still be doing everything I could to find a way to get her to take me back into her life.”
“Yeah, well the point is Caitlin isn’t here and with Dave, well I don’t think he’d take too well to the fact that I happen to enjoy having sex with his best friend when we’re both down in the dumps about life,” she confessed with an ironic laugh, “Do you have any idea how horrible that sounds?”
“Not nearly as horrible as you’re going to start feeling if you think about it that way,” he reached out to touch her, skimming the backside of his hand against her cheekbone tenderly, “Carly, Dave doesn’t need to know about this if you’re serious about trying to fix things between you.”
“Ken, it doesn’t even matter anymore,” she sighed, “I blew it and it’s over.”
“Why does it have to be?” he questioned curiously, “I mean I never really understood why you left in the first place.”
“I thought I wanted more,” she shrugged her shoulders, “but I guess when I got to where I thought I wanted to be, it wasn’t anywhere near the happiness that I’d left behind here in Coral Valley.”
“Dave should’ve tried to stop you,” Ken pointed out with a frown, “When you left town, he should’ve done everything in his power to get to that airport and see to it that your flight never took off.”
“I think by that point in time he was about ready to see me leave and never come back,” Carly offered up with a sad expression, “He didn’t like ultimatums and that’s kind of what it became at the end.  One huge horrible ultimatum where our careers got in the way…”
“If it were me, I would’ve said to hell with my career and made damn sure that I gave you all the reasons in the world why we were meant to be together,” Ken added sliding his fingers into her damp hair, “You know I was almost tempted to do that myself after I woke up and found your note at the hotel after you’d left me.”
“You were not,” she remarked with a shake of her head, “Don’t try to flatter me.”
“I’m being totally serious,” Ken continued adamantly, “It was a long time since I’d had my world rocked like that and then when I woke up and you were gone…”
“You were probably very relieved that you didn’t have to deal with the consequences of it all,” Carly added with a tiny smirk, “I did you a huge favor.”
“No, you did me a huge disservice,” Ken argued with her, “You gave me a taste of temptation and then you took it away from me.  You forced me to take extreme measures to find something not even remotely close to being comparable…”
“Is this the part where we get into your shameless exploits with Susan Denton because if it is, I’m going to pass on that one,” she wrinkled her nose in response.
“No, this is the part where I tell you that I enjoyed making love to you,” Ken leaned in to kiss her seductively, his breath cascading over her lips with each feathery motion he made over her mouth, “very, very much.”
“Don’t tease Ken,” Carly mouthed in response feeling his arm slide around her waist, “because you know it’ll only lead to trouble again.”
“I’m not teasing,” Ken confessed honestly, his nose nuzzling her neck before his lips returned to hers again, “I still enjoy making love to you.”
“That isn’t at all obvious,” she teased in spite of herself, “but at the same time we both know that it ends as soon as we leave here.  We can’t keep this going considering that you have a life to lead and I have…”
“A trial ahead of you--one that I think you’re really going to have some issues with,” Ken nodded in understanding, “This Mahoney case is a big one for you, but I have to tell you that I think that you’re going to find someone else is pulling your strings there.”
“What is that supposed to mean,” she questioned withdrawing from the kiss.
“That I don’t think what you’re up against is at all representation of the real evidence in the matter,” Ken continued pondering what he’d caught in the papers, “Grady Denton didn’t kill Kipp Mahoney.”
“And we shouldn’t be having this conversation,” Carly reminded him pointedly.
“I realize that, but I’m just telling you what I think,” Ken explained dropping his hand down over her leg before guiding it into his lap, “Given that this entire night shouldn’t be happening, I think I’m entitled to share my opinion with you.”
“Fine, then since we’re keeping this between us, I have to tell you that the evidence against Grady is air tight.  There’s no way that he didn’t pull the trigger that night,” Carly explained, her dark eyes fixed upon Ken.
“I see what you’re saying, but I’m guessing that the evidence was fabricated.  There’s no body, no motive and in all honesty the way I see it, there’s no murder,” Ken continued much to her dismay.
“Ken, there’s plenty of motive there given what I was told about Grady and Kipp’s interaction hours before the shooting.”
“Grady and Kipp connecting with one another in the first place was probably just some kind of fluke given that the only person Grady has ever had issues with was Avery Morrison,” Ken argued tugging on the sash of her robe to pull her more completely into his lap.
“And you,” Carly remarked pointedly, “I’m sure that he wasn’t too thrilled to have you sleeping with his wife.”
“Come to think of it,” Ken scratched his head pretending to think it over, “Yeah, he might’ve been just a little tad bit pissed about that whole thing with Susan and I there.”
“Yet you really didn’t give a damn about consequence, did you,” she questioned searching his eyes watching as his expression shifted and a dark, twisted smirk spread over his features.
“Not at all,” Ken boasted with an amused chuckle, bringing his hands up over her spine, “although I do have one regret about the situation.”
“What’s that?” she questioned curiously feeling his fingers tease within her hair.
“That I shouldn’t have been with Susan,” he mouthed leaning forward to tease his lips over her neck hungrily.  He tugged on her hair roughly tipping her head back enough to give him the leverage he wanted before he pushed her onto the bed beneath him, “It should’ve been with you.”
Their eyes connected for a moment before she threw her arms around him, finding herself turned on by his bold, direct approach as he held her.  Feeling his hand slide up her outer thigh, she wrapped her leg around his torso squeezing him in closer to her.  Their kiss continued to intensify, tongues teasing until finally they parted both breathless.
“And here they say Brant was the dangerous one,” Carly chuckled in spite of herself, “This town really has no idea about what kind of man you really are Kenneth Ashford.”
“Only the select few have been fortunate enough to experience it,” Ken informed her reaching for her hands and drawing them up over her head before plunging his mouth to hers again in a heated frenzy.
“And once they do it haunts them forever,” Carly replied watching the way his eyes feasted upon her.  There was something about the way he looked at her--something primal and sensual, yet wild and free at the same time.
“That’s kind of the point,” Ken winked before devouring her lips again while peeling away at the robe she was wearing.  Within a matter of seconds they were together and naked rolling around on the bed ready to delve into another fit of passion with one another, yet before things came to fruition a voice sounded through the hotel room.
“I have no comment at this time other than to say that we’re doing all we can to get this investigation going,” Dave’s voice passed over the room falling directly to the bed as Ken and Carly stilled from the movement between them.  Parting slightly Ken looked up to see his best friend on the television set before him speaking with a reporter.
“What the…” Carly noted feeling Ken roll off of her as she too was drawn to the television set.  Hearing Dave’s voice was like a sharp, biting moment of reality causing guilt to kick at the center of her stomach as she sat up reaching for her robe.
“And that’s what Chief Warner had to say about this shocking turn of events over at BBK Pharmaceuticals…” the news went on to say before an image of Brant flashed over the screen.
“Son of a bitch,” Ken cursed with a scowl throwing the sheet aside as the story went on to talk about what went on at BBK from what they knew.  Suddenly he found himself overwhelmed with a new feeling that was entirely independent of what was going on with him and Carly.
“Ken, hey,” Carly spoke to him watching him search the hotel room for his clothes.
“I can’t believe that yet again Brant is in the center of controversy.  He never quits, does he?  And now with this…” Ken shook his head, “I need to get over to the hospital and see what else he’s gotten himself wrapped up in.”
“I don’t see how you can get upset with him for what happened,” she motioned to the television once again, “From the sounds of things it appears that whatever went down over there wasn’t really involving your brother…”
“Trust me if something’s happened to Avery, Brant is going to be right there with her somehow,” Ken shook his head, finding himself wrapped up in a new kind of anger that had stemmed from something deep inside of him, “My brother just doesn’t think where she’s involved.  He’s got it in his mind that…never mind.  I just have to get on over there.”
“Not like that you aren’t,” Carly announced springing up from the bed, “if you’re this upset, well then you’re not going alone.”
“Carly, I have to talk to my brother.  I have to see what’s going on and…” Ken began again.
“Ken you can talk to your brother all you want and you don’t owe me any explanations, but given how upset you are about whatever it is you think you saw on television, well you probably shouldn’t go alone.  We can go together and then call it a night.  At least let me drive you over since we took a cab here…” she suggested watching his face twist with some mysterious look of anger over something she couldn’t quite understand.
“Fine,” Ken finally agreed, “but I’m warning you that you might not like what you see when it gets down to it.”
“Yeah, well that’s the story of my life, but just remember before you get in there with the guns blazing that you might want to think about what’s really bothering you.  I mean maybe you’re not upset with Brant.  Maybe this is about Dave being on television when we were about to…” she trailed off, her cheeks growing red with obvious embarrassment.
“No this is about Brant,” Ken sighed heavily, “Unfortunately that’s the story of my life as it’s always about Brant.”


Dave stood at the side of Brooke Morrison’s bed thinking about all the details he’d been given over the last few hours.  There were a great many things that he was still curious about and now that he looked down at the very frail looking woman before him, he attempted to figure out the best way to handle this situation.
“Mrs. Morrison,” he spoke out to her gently, “can you hear me?”
She let out a groan as she strained to turn her head towards the source of the sound.  Her eyelashes fluttered as Dave knelt in closer to her.
“Can you hear me?” he repeated watching her nod.  “Good.  Now I’m going to ask you a few questions and if you can’t talk, then will you at least try to nod for me like you just did?”
She nodded again.
“Okay Brooke, then let’s start with what happened in your daughter’s office when you were there,” Dave questioned in a clear and even tone, “Do you remember what happened to you?”
Brooke lay still for a long moment before nodding.
“Okay, you’re doing good Brooke,” Dave looked up to see a nurse entering the room.
“You can’t stay in here too long,” the nurse explained with a slight frown, “the doctors won’t be happy that I let you in here…”
“This will only take a few more minutes,” he explained simply turning his attention to Brooke again, “Now Brooke, I know that this is difficult, but can you remember who pushed you out that window?  Do you remember what happened?”
Brooke’s eyes widened in response to his question as Brant approached the room.  Standing outside he looked to see what was going on, but he was still too far away to hear what was happening.  Frowning as he moved in closer yet, he heard the tail end of Dave’s question.
“Brooke, do you remember who pushed you from that window,” Dave repeated as Brant felt his heart pounding in the center of his chest. 
He had to find a way to stop this, Brant thought to himself.  He had to find a way to keep Dave from learning about what Avery had done, but now as Brooke lay before Dave ready to give him all he needed to take Avery in, Brant knew he had to act fast.
“Brooke, I need to know who did this to you,” Dave explained in his best professional voice, “Can you nod and tell me who the person was who did this to you?”
Brooke finally nodded, her eyes still full of pain and fear.
“Brooke, was the person who did this to you Bruce Mathis,” Dave questioned quickly watching Brooke’s eyes widen with obvious confusion before they went from wide to white when she suddenly started to convulse before him.  Leaping from where he stood Dave took a step back to call for the doctors, but instead he was met by them bombarding him from the doorway.
“You’re going to have to leave,” another nurse who had entered the room pushed him aside as the doctors went to work on Brooke.  Dave watched them working away to stabilize her before he was finally flung from the room.
“How’s she doing,” Brant questioned as Dave spun around to see him standing close to him.
“Not good,” Dave frowned in response, “and after this…”
“I just hope that she’ll be okay,” Brant replied with a heavy sigh, “To think of what that man did to her.  I hope that this time your men won’t let him get away.”
“Presuming he was the one responsible for all of this,” Dave noted thinking about Brooke’s reaction to his question.  Something about it just felt off--it felt strange and yet after her body had gone into convulsions, he knew he couldn’t find out what it was that she was thinking at that point in time.
“Given what that man has done to my wife, I’d think you wouldn’t question the truth when it’s right before your eyes,” Brant snapped back at him, “Not only has that man committed multiple murders in this town and around the world, but he’s tormented a great many of the Coral Valley citizens…including Deidra Byrne, whom I thought was a good friend of yours the last time I’d checked.”
“I’m well aware of that situation, but that’s irrelevant to what is happening now with Brooke,” Dave cut back sharply.
“Is it?” Brant inquired with a curious lift of his brow, “Because from the way I see it, if Bruce came back to finish the job with Avery and Brooke, well there’s no telling what it is he’ll do next where Deidra is concerned, now is there?”
“I think we’re finished here,” Dave scowled back at him feeling a chill cut through the air at the mention of what Bruce had done to Deidra in the past.
“Of course we are,” Brant nodded appropriately, “seeing as my mother-in-law is obviously in no position to talk about things.”
“Not yet anyways,” Dave noted glancing back to the room he’d come from.
“Yeah well from the looks of it, you have a job to do that extends beyond your being here,” Brant remarked sourly, “and remember what I said.  Talk to my security people.  Maybe they can help you pull the slack for what your department has been lacking lately.  Just a thought,” Brant finished walking away from Dave knowing full well that for now Avery’s secret was still safe.


“You like this movie?” Jade questioned seeing Brittany shrug and frown.

“I don’t know. The Lion King is cool, but it is so three years old,” Brittany smiled hearing Jade laugh as the doorbell rang.

“I’ll go get that,” Jade sighed walking to the door seeing Cathy before her.

“Is Guy here?” Cathy questioned with a smile trying to look in the apartment as Jade walked in her way.

“One, no he isn’t and even if he was…why would he want to see you?” Jade wondered with a scowl seeing Cathy smile.

“Oh Jade, come on.  I didn’t even realize you and Guy were friends.  Somehow you don’t strike me as, well classy enough to be his type of friend,” Cathy gave her a once over, “You and Diane both tend to strike me as bottom feeders.”
“Actually I was just thinking the same thing about you.  Besides, I really don’t think Guy would want to see you,” Jade motioned to shut the door in her face only to be met by Cathy‘s foot placed in the doorframe.

“Of course he would want to see me,” Cathy winked trying to look in the room once more.

“Well, he doesn’t want to see you so why don’t you buzz off,” Jade scowled seeing Cathy gasped.

“How dare you speak to me like that, no one talks to me like that.  I won‘t hear of it especially not from someone who is dating a murderer,” Cathy squeaked seeing Jade‘s reaction to her words.  “You made a big mistake Jade.  I will not tolerate your talking to me like this.  You have no right to say such things considering that…”

“Well, I just did so get over it,” Jade laughed lightly keeping her own anger at Cathy‘s comment under wraps for the time being, “For your news, Guy will never like you, so get over yourself.”

“But,” Cathy mouthed before closing the door to only shake her head to think of how dumb that girl was.

“Way to put it to her,” Brittany smiled from next to Jade making her jump slightly.

“Yeah,” Jade laughed seeing Brittany fold her arms out in front of her with a slight pout.

“I never liked her either,” Brittany informed as Jade raised her eyebrow in curiosity.

“You know her?” Jade gave her a strange look.

“Of course I did, her daddy used to date my daddy,” Brittany shrugged her shoulders, “but then my daddy finally got smart and got rid of him.  Not a moment too soon I tell you.”

“I can’t argue that point,” Jade nodded in agreement.

“Well now that she’s gone, can we get back to the movie,” Brittany suggested  smiled running back to the television to watch the rest of the movie making Jade think of the possibilities.  “Come on Jade.  You don’t want to miss a minute more of it.”

“You’re right I don’t,” Jade added making her way over to Brittany all the while realizing that Cathy Ashley wasn’t worth getting worked up over to begin with.


Marc Ashley sat at his bar having a drink when the news of Brooke Morrison’s unfortunate accident interrupted his otherwise calm and quiet evening.  Turning around from where he stood, he reached for the remote turning the volume up on the television.  He made his way over to the black leather chair he’d had set up in the middle of the room and with obvious interest he took in what was being said.
“Well,” Marc smirked raising his glass to his lips before taking a long, slow sip.  He shook his head again setting the glass down as he thought of what he was seeing before him, “You just can’t seem to keep yourself out of trouble, can you Brooke?”
Shaking his head again, he pushed mute before reaching for the phone an altogether topic of interest in mind.  Dialing a familiar number, he felt a smile tickle over his lips at what he was about to do.
“Hello,” the voice on the other end of the line picked up after three rings.
“Noelle, darling it’s Marc.  I hope that I haven’t caught you at a bad time,” he offered in his usual smooth and even tone.
“I’m scheduled for a massage in fifteen minutes, so make it fast,” she warned him sharply, “To what do I owe this honor?”
“Such impatience,” he sighed back at her, “You know how I so wish you’d learn to control that bothersome little tick.”
“And judging by your smugness I’m assuming you’ve come into contact with Gabe,” she replied sourly, “Let me guess he’s giving you exactly what you want from him.”
“Quite the contrary unfortunately,” he frowned in response, “Although I’m not going to pretend that in telling you this that I’m not aware of the pleasure you’re deriving from that knowledge.”
“For all I care you and Gabe can both rot in hell with one another,” Noelle hissed in response, her words filled with obvious venom, “but I want what’s mine.”
“And you’ll get that Noelle when I get what should be mine,” Marc informed her bluntly, “I’ve made that very clear from the start of all of this.”
“I know what you’ve said, but I haven’t seen any progress and I feel as if I’ve wasted far too much of my time on this matter to begin with.  If Gabe is willing to pay up, then I’ll be more than happy to cut my ties to him and his miserable little…” she stopped herself a small sound coming from her end before she talked to herself again, “Relax Noelle.  This isn’t helping anything.”
“No it’s not and your therapist was right to get you on that mantra,” Marc reminded her before reaching for his glass again, “Now if you listen to me, I can guarantee us both everything it is we’re looking for.  If we continue to work together on this…”
“I want what’s mine Marc and I want it sooner rather than later so unless you’ve got a surefire way of making that happen,” she warned him icily.
“Why Noelle, you should know by now I wouldn’t have called if I didn’t have a plan,” he smirked thinking about the latest and greatest idea he’d conjured up, “and this one, well this time I’m sure that we’re going to find a way to make it happen for us once and for all.”
“We’d better,” she warned him with a pouty tone, “because I’m getting tired of just waiting around for things to just happen.”
“I can assure you darling, the wait is almost over,” he explained filling her in on the details of his surefire plan to get Gabe where they both wanted him to be once and for all.


Guy paced the hall again finding that this waiting did nothing for his nerves.  Mindy had insisted that he get a bite to eat, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  He had to stay close to where his mother was if only to be able to hear the first word on what was happening with her.  When he’d discovered that she’d awakened for a moment, he’d been so full of hope and enthusiasm about her full recovery, but now with everything up in the air, he wasn’t sure what would happen.  He just prayed that this wasn’t the last straw for his mother in holding on to life.
“Guy, you’re going to run yourself ragged if you don’t at least try to calm down,” Gabe’s voice broke through his tortured thoughts, “Mindy was right.  You should try to find a way to unwind.  When was the last time you ate something?”
“That’s not important,” Guy shook his head, “All that matters is being here for Mum.”
“Guy, if you’re like this, you’re not going to be helping anyone,” Gabe placed his hand on Guy’s shoulder stopping him mid-movement, “You have to listen to me on this one.  You have to try to relax.”
“Relax?” Guy repeated with an obvious frown, “Would you be able to relax if it was Brittany in there fighting for her life?”
“Of course I wouldn’t, but at the same time I’d try to have a little faith that things would turn out for the best,” Gabe paused, “I know that’s easier said than done, but at this point it’s the best you can do.”
“But even that’s not good enough,” Guy ran his fingers through his dark hair, “I just don’t understand how this could keep happening to her.  I mean how could someone so utterly evil be able to run around town repeatedly throwing out random acts of terror?  I thought he’d leave her alone after he got his money…”
“Madmen very seldom are satisfied with what they’re given, but when the police find him,” Gabe began supportively.
“At this point I feel like they’re never going to find him.  If they would’ve been able to do it, then they would’ve done it by now,” Guy explained desperately, “I mean how much more does he have to do before he takes everything away from me?”
“Oh Guy,” Gabe reached out to embrace him not caring about who saw them together, “that’s not going to happen.”
“Then why does it feel like it keeps happening over and over again,” Guy questioned sobbing on Gabe’s shoulder as his lover held onto him.
“It’ll be okay,” Gabe whispered in his ear, “It has to be okay.”
“But what if it isn’t,” Guy questioned tilting his head up to look into Gabe’s eyes, “What if it’s never okay again.”
“It will be,” Gabe stroked his cheek gently, his eyes reaching down deep into the sadness that surrounded Guy, “You have to keep the faith that one day things will have a way of working themselves out.”
“That’s still easier said than done and you know it,” Guy reminded him with a scowl.
“Even so, you didn’t let me give up the faith when I was having problems myself, so I’m not about to let you slip into that dark path Guy,” Gabe explained tenderly, “We’re in this together and whatever you need, I’m here for you.”
“I know you are,” Guy nodded quickly, “I realize that and it’s all the more reason why I love you.”
“I love you too,” Gabe replied touching Guy’s face in an intimate movement before leaning in to kiss him tenderly.  Guy’s arm curled around his shoulders, drawing him nearer to him for the moment they’d shared with one another despite the situation that surrounded them.
“I really do love you,” Guy breathed as the parted from their kiss, “I don’t know what I’d do without you in my life.”
“You won’t ever have to worry about that,” Gabe assured him, “because I’m always going to be here with you.  For now however, why don’t we find Mindy and Hunt and try to get you something to drink at least?  You’ll need something to help you unwind a bit.”
“I don’t know if it’ll do any good,” Guy confessed with a heavy sigh.
“Maybe not, but it’s worth a try right?” Gabe threw out a pointed look watching Guy nod.
“You’re right,” he agreed in response, “You’re absolutely right.  A drink might be a good thing right about now.”
“I thought so,” Gabe smiled at him, leading Guy away from the hallway completely unaware of the fact that Judy, who had come looking for Richard, had taken in the whole exchange between them all the while getting the surprise of her life now that she’d unknowingly stumbled upon Guy’s secret love life.  Making her way fully into the hallway she watched the two lovers leaving together as she wondered if Richard knew the truth about his son.
“Judy,” Richard questioned rounding the corner to find her standing in the hall, “What are you doing here?”
“I thought that maybe you could use someone to talk to right about now,” Judy confessed pushing what she saw aside as she looked up to Richard seeing the worry and exhaustion behind his eyes, “I hope I’m not out of line in coming here.”
“No, not at all,” he reached out to embrace her, “You have no idea how much I need you right now.”
“I’m here and I’m not going anywhere,” she promised hugging him in response not quite sure if it was her place to be with him at this moment in time, but in her heart she knew there was no place she’d rather be.


“Hello?” Kyle answered his phone quickly as he stood up.

“Kyle, it’s Shannon,” Shannon quickly got out.

“Hey, what can I do for you?” Kyle questioned knowing the only reason she would ever call him is to tell him some good news.

“Well, we found something,” Shannon started with a sigh, “But it isn’t really good for us.”

“Well what is it?” Kyle wondered wanting to know what exactly it was they could have found. “I think just about anything will help at this moment. No matter how small it is.”

“Well, we found the place Kipp Mahoney was taken to after he left the hospital in Coral Valley,” Shannon started before she was cut off by Kyle.

“Where?” he questioned eagerly.

“Well, that’s the thing it doesn’t have a name,” Shannon began with an unsure tone, “The only thing that we can tell you clearly is Susan Hastings had something to do with this.”

“Susan,” Kyle began with a deep scowl, “I’ll do what I can, but I have to stay with Sarah right now.”

“I understand, just do what you can okay?” Shannon questioned hoping he could possibly solve this.  “Don and I will try to dig around and see if we find out anything more.”

“Alright,” he sighed hanging up the phone.

“Kyle,” Sarah began as she ran her hands along his shoulders making him lean back into her touch, “You should go and try to find what you can.”

Kyle turned around to face her not exactly sure he wanted to leave her right now, “What about you?”

“I will be fine,” she hushed him as he hugged her lightly, “I don’t think there is much more you could do right now. You should go and help Grady.”

“Are you sure?” Kyle questioned leaning in and kissing her lightly before leaning his forehead against hers.

“Positive,”  Sarah assured him knowing he had to help his friend. There was really nothing else he could do for her right now, he did all that he could.

“Okay,” Kyle sighed not wanting to leave her, now of all times, “I promise I will be back, okay.”

“It’s okay,” she laughed as he kissed her quickly and walked to the door.

“Love you,” he smiled before walking out. He was about to do one of the most risky things he could do, but he had to get something to help them along this case. Even if it meant risking some things.


Cheryl sat in her living room thinking about the things that life had sent her way.  Closing her eyes she thought to Grady’s being in jail fighting for his life while Russ had passed on.  Somehow none of it seemed fair, Cheryl reasoned feeling a shiver race up and down her spine.  Unable to contain herself, she felt her tears threatening.
“Meow,” Rusty called out to her jumping onto Cheryl’s lap as she opened her eyes to discover Russ and Avery’s kitten before her.  Smiling to herself, she pet the top of his small head thinking about how she’d offered to help keep an eye on Rusty while Avery prepared Grady’s defense.  The kitten had already made himself comfortable in the Denton home, yet it was obvious from the expression in his big, green eyes that he was missing his ’parents’ like crazy.
“You miss your daddy, don’t you,” Cheryl questioned rubbing Rusty’s ear and hearing him purr in response.  It was in that moment that she thought back to another time long ago when things were easier, much less complicated.

“Grady hurry up!” a ten year old Russell had squealed from behind the bedroom door.
“I’m doing the best I can,” Grady’s voice sounded as well when Cheryl began to approach, “It’s not my fault that Avery was so clumsy.”
“I’m not clumsy.  You’re just stupid,” Avery explained with an impatient huff as Cheryl knocked on the bedroom door wondering what her sons were getting into.
“Just a second mom,” Grady called out from behind the door, but judging by his tone, trouble was brewing.
“What’s going on in here,” Cheryl questioned opening the door to discover Russ, Grady and Avery all seated together on Grady’s twin bed looking guilty as sin, “What are you all doing?”
“Playing video games,” Russ explained.
“Looking at baseball cards,” Grady replied at the same time.
“Talking sports,” Avery added in unison with the other two.
“Well, which is it,” Cheryl folded her arms in front of her chest and offering up a pointed look.
“Well, we were playing a sports video game and since it’s only two players we were looking at my baseball cards in the mean time,” Grady replied unconvincingly when a sound rose from underneath the blanket the trio was seated upon.  Cheryl’s eyes followed the source of the sound only to discover movement from underneath the blanket.
“What is that,” she’d questioned as Russ slid over to shield the movement from her view.
“What’s what?” Russ replied feigning innocence.
“That,” Cheryl motioned to the comforter only to discover another movement on the floor underneath Grady’s pitching glove.  “What in the world…”
“It’s nothing mom,” Grady explained hurriedly rushing over to swipe the glove up and shove it behind his back.
“Grady Aaron, what are you holding behind your back,” Cheryl questioned with a slight frown.
“Mom, don’t get mad at him.  It’s all my fault,” Russ stood up from where he sat, his green eyes full of worry.  “Grady didn’t want to do it, but I begged him to and now, well it’s just that they had no place else to go and…”
“Who had no place else to go?” Cheryl questioned in time to see Avery pull the comforter back on the bed to reveal the trio of kittens that play underneath.  It was at that same moment that Grady pulled his glove out in front of him to show his mother a forth kitten.
“What in the world…” Cheryl’s eyes widened in surprise, “What are these kittens doing here?”
“We saw their mother get hit on the way home from school and I’ve been giving her the leftovers from my lunch,” Russ explained desperately, “We’re all that they have now that their mother is gone and we couldn’t turn them away.”
“Yeah mom,” Grady added holding the kitten in his hand up to show her, “Just look at them.  They need us and they’re part of our family now.”
“You can’t get rid of them Mrs. Denton because they have no where else to go,” Avery piped in pulling two of the kittens into her lap while Russ reached for the third.
“Mom, I know dad said that we couldn’t have any pets just yet, but I swear I’ll take really good care of them.  I’ll clean them and feed them and work to pay for their food if I have to,” Russ pleaded with her.
“And I’ll help too,” Grady added eagerly, “I’ve been saving up all summer for a new skateboard, but I can use the money to help Russ with them.”
“I don’t know how your father is going to feel about four kittens running around the house,” Cheryl replied honestly.
“We can convince him if you help us.  Mom, he’ll do whatever you say.  You can persuade him into letting us keep the kittens,” Grady urged her on.
“Yeah mom, if anyone can do it, it’s you,” Russ nodded as well.
“Please Mrs. Denton.  Don’t make these kittens be homeless again.  They need a good home,” Avery curled her lip in a pout, “They like it here and they already love Russ and Grady.”
“Yeah mom,” Grady insisted, “and you’re always saying that no matter what family doesn’t turn it’s back on family.  We can’t turn them away now that they’re our family.  We have to be strong for them because they can’t be strong for themselves right now.”  

Now as Cheryl returned to the present, she found herself remembering how together she, Grady and Russ had been able to persuade Elliot to let them keep the kittens.  Even now she couldn’t help but smile at her boys as she remembered the good times with great joy.  Looking down to Rusty she was reminded all over again of her son’s kindness.
“Your daddy was a great man just like your Uncle Grady,” Cheryl insisted hearing the front door open.  Looking up she noticed Elliot coming inside.
“Hey honey,” Elliot greeted her with a tired looking expression.
“Elliot,” Cheryl’s eyes lit up at the sight of her husband, “how did it go?  How’s Grady?”
“He’s worried,” Elliot revealed knowing there was no point in trying to lie to his wife, “He’s concerned about Avery after everything and…”
“And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about her as well.  Is he afraid that she won’t be able to help him now that Russ is gone,” Cheryl questioned with heavy concern.
“He knows the stress she’s under and beyond that he’s worried about what will happen during the trial.  Given the lengths someone has gone to in order to frame him, I can’t blame him for feeling apprehensive,” Elliot admitted moving in beside her, “As much as I’d like to say that this is the light at the end of the tunnel, I get the feeling that things are going to get harder before they get better.”
“That’s what worries me,” she revealed laying her head on her shoulder, “I mean first we lose Russ and now if we lose Grady…”
“We won’t lose Grady,” he tried to assure her hoping his words weren’t a lie, “Cheryl, we’ll find a way to bring him home again.”
“I just don’t understand how things keep happening to us Elliot.  I mean I know I haven’t been perfect, but why our boys?  How is it that they keep becoming targets when I’m the one who should be suffering?  Russ never should’ve been taken from us like this and now with Grady…”
“Cheryl this isn’t your fault,” Elliot shook his head refusing to let her beat herself up any further than she already had.
“Elliot, we lost our son.  Our Russ was taken from us and now with Grady,” she broke down in tears, “What if this doesn’t turn out like we’re hoping?”
“We can’t think like that,” Elliot replied curling his arm around her as he said a silent prayer that this upcoming trial wouldn’t take their eldest son away from them forever.  Too much misery had come their way and he was hoping that somehow fate would try to throw them a miracle.  Though after they’d lost Russ, Elliot knew that even if Grady’s name was cleared life as they knew it would never be the same again.


“So you’re saying that she didn’t tell him anything,” Avery questioned from her hospital bed as Brant took a seat beside her.
“She didn’t say a word,” Brant nodded in confession thinking back to what he’d witnessed with Dave and Brooke, “She wasn’t able to tell him one way or the other what happened before she started to go into convulsions.”
“Yes, but before that?  Did she leave him indication that maybe just maybe…” Avery began worriedly.
“Avery, it’s taken care of,” Brant promised her, “Your mother was in a horrible, tragic accident and while I hate to be the one to bring reality into this situation, it doesn’t look too good for her.  I’m not sure if she’ll pull through this one.  She looked pretty bad the last time I saw her.”
“I’d be lying if I said that upset me,” Avery confessed, a cold and hollow tone sweeping over her, “After what she tried to do to me--to my baby…” she shook her head adamantly, “She got what she deserved.”
“Avery, listen to me,” Brant touched her shoulders firmly, “You can’t go around saying things like that.  You need to let everyone believe that you’re still upset about what Bruce did.  You have to act as if you and Brooke were both caught up in a moment of terror and…”
“And I was Brant.  She tried to kill my daughter,” Avery insisted firmly, “You saw the marks on me Brant.  You saw what she tried doing…”
“Avery, there was so much glass in the accident that…” he started to remind her.
“That you think all I had happen to me was glass cutting me,” she motioned to her neck again, “Brant, do you really believe that glass did this?  That the shattered window stabbed me in the back of the neck and tried to hurt me?”
“The toxicology report came back negative.  The lab said that nothing was there and if she did do that to you then…” Brant began with a heavy sigh.
“What do you mean if?  Brant she tried to murder my baby.  She started saying and doing these things and…” Avery’s voice rose with obvious emotion.
“Avery, it’s over now,” Brant pulled her into his arms keeping her close to him, “You don’t have to worry about her anymore.  Everything is going to be okay now.”
“It’s never going to be okay.  It’ll never be okay again,” Avery replied breaking down into tiny sobs as he moved in closer to her, “You think I’m crazy, don’t you?  You think I made this all up in my head just like you believed that my seeing Russ was a hallucination.”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying Avery, but you have to at least see where I’m coming from on this one,” Brant wiped at her tears, “You have to let me fix this and try to figure it all out…”
“Brant, I’m telling you the truth,” Avery tilted her head up towards him, “You said that you wanted to help me and if that’s true, then believe me.  Believe in what I’m telling you…”
“I want to believe Avery, but…” Brant stopped himself shaking the thoughts from his mind, “None of that matters.  Right now I just want to take you home.  I want to get you into bed to rest and then we’ll figure out what happens next.”
“Brant, I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep for a while.  I don’t know if the doctors are going to release me and now…” she started with worry evident in her tone.
“Avery, you’re safe.  You’re going to be okay,” he curled his arm around her drawing her nearer for an embrace, “It’s all going to be nothing more than a bad dream that tomorrow morning you can push behind you.”
“We both know that’s not how it is Brant,” she shook her head at his words, “We both know it’s a lot more complicated than that.”
“Even so, you’re my wife and I’m going to do all that I can to shield you from anymore pain,” he promised smoothing his finger through her dark hair, “I mean hey you know tonight would be the beginning of our honeymoon if you want to be technical.”
“Honeymoon,” she repeated with wide eyes gazing up at him, “You mean you’re actually thinking about us having a honeymoon and…”
“And if you think I’m trying to get you out of here so that we can consummate the marriage, you can breathe now,” he replied catching the shocked look that crossed over her features, “It’s not even crossed my mind for tonight.  Well, okay so maybe it’s crossed my mind, but then again I’m a man and sex happens to pop in there at least a million times a day, but at least this time I’m at least being a bit proper about it.”
“How do you figure,” Avery questioned with a skeptic look.
“Well for starters, I can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to be making love to my wife,” Brant divulged tracing her jaw line feeling her tremble beneath his touch at the heat behind his words, “which is a first for me since I’ve never been married before.”
Avery let out an ironic laugh in spite of herself, “And I’m also guessing you never expected to be married like this either.  I’m sure you were hoping for more starting with a bride that was head over heels in love with you, right?”
“Oh now come on sweetheart,” Brant teased his fingers into her hair gingerly, “you know you’re crazy about me even if you can’t admit it to yourself just yet.”
“Brant, right now I just can’t…” she started only to feel his index finger press in over her lips.
“I know,” he nodded in complete understanding, “but in time, well in time I’m sure it’ll change.  I have a good feeling about us Mrs. Ashford.”
“Mrs. Ashford,” she repeated feeling as if she’d betrayed Russ with what she’d done.
“That’s right,” Brant continued clearly oblivious to the guilt that was riding her in that moment in time, “You’re my wife now and with that comes my love and protection.  I am going to protect you Avery.  I swear to you that I will.”
“I’m just so afraid of what will happen if anyone figures out the truth.  If Brooke wakes up again and she tells Dave what really happened,” Avery confessed with a wrinkle of her nose, “Even if it’s her own twisted perception of the situation.”
“I highly doubt that she’ll wake up again after what I saw tonight,” Brant informed her honestly, “and if she does, well, then we’ll find a way to deal with her.  If she tried to hurt you like you say she did, then she’s not going to get away with it.  You have my word on that.”
“Brant, you’ve already gone out of your way time and time again putting yourself at risk to help me.  I can’t ask you to do anything more than you already have considering that…”
“Avery, as I told you before and I’ll say it again, I’d do anything to protect you and make you feel safe.  Absolutely anything…” he whispered warmly over, his breath skimming over her face as he held her.
“Brant, you know you don’t have to,” Avery began feeling a tiny shiver race up over her spine.
“For you, I do,” he nodded in confession tipping down to tease his lips against hers in a tender, feathery light kiss when he heard the sounds of footsteps from behind where they sat together.
“Now why doesn’t this surprise me,” Ken demanded with a frown watching his brother intently.
“Ken, what are you doing here,” Brant replied clearly surprised to see his brother standing before him.
“That’s what I’d like to know Brant,” Ken motioned over to Avery realizing what it appeared to be that he’d almost walked in on, “What have you done this time?”
“Ken, I don’t know what you think you saw just now, but…” Brant started stammering a bit as Ken glared at him.
“Oh I’m pretty damn sure what I saw.  Her husband isn’t even cold yet in the grave and you’re finding a way to manipulate this situation in your favor considering that…” Ken began on a tirade when another sound rose from the hall.  Seconds later Carly entered the room with an apologetic expression on her face.
“Sorry about that,” Carly started clearing her throat as she looked around the room suddenly feeling very out of place, “I tripped there.”
“I see,” Brant noted folding his arms in front of his chest as he looked between Ken and Carly getting a sudden vibe from the both of them.  Turning to his brother again, he gave Ken a stare down, “Now what was it you were saying about Avery’s husband, Ken?”


“Who would have done this?” Blake questioned as a tear ran down her cheek.  Despite the fact that she’d tried to stay cool and collected after the horrible package she’d received, there was no staying in control.  It had freaked her out beyond belief.

“I don’t know, but is okay.  This package is nothing Blake.  Don‘t let it ruin today.”

“That’s easier said than done,” Blake groaned in response, “When I think of what was inside…”

“Then don’t think about it,” Seth hushed running his hand through her hair. “I guess this would be a bad time to give you the present I got you.

“What present?” Blake quickly looked up making Seth laugh lightly.

“Just a second,” he motioned her to wait while he ran into the kitchen grabbing something.

“What do you have?” she questioned seeing him come into the room carrying something behind his back.

“I always heard that patience was a good quality,” Seth began seeing her shrug.

“Yeah it is, too bad I don’t have any,” Blake giggled pulling his arm out showing the bundle of flowers that were in his hands.

“Oh Seth, they are beautiful,” she smiled jumping his arms to hug him tightly.

“I take it you like them,” he laughed letting her back down following her into the kitchen as she grabbed a vase.

“Of course I do,” she began happily putting the flowers into the vase feeling his arms wrap around her lightly.

“You feel better now?” Seth questioned kissing her cheek lightly feeling her hands pull his arms tightly around her.

“How is it that somehow you always have a way of making me smile,” she questioned leaning into his touch.

“I guess I just have a gift for it,” he teased with a small wink, “Seriously Blake, just forget about what someone sent.  Think about the good things that we have going.  I mean that’s a much better option, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess.  Though I still wonder who would have done that,” she sighed making him think until it finally came into his mind.

“I think I do,” Seth whispered to himself shaking his head lightly a little bit angered of the person who did this.

“What did you say?” Blake wondered looking up at him.

“Nothing, I love you,” he smiled kissing her lightly.

“Seth, you said more than that,” Blake replied with a warning look.

“I might’ve but you know what,” he insisted taking in a slow breath, “I don’t want to think about this or about anyone who is out there to ruin our day.  In fact right now all I want to think about is you and spending this day with you.  Do you think we can do that?”

“Well, I’d enjoy that, but I know it’ll be easier said than done with that package,” she began eyeing the box on the table top.

“I have a quick remedy for that,” he promised disappearing with the box before returning a few minutes later, “The package is no more.”

“What did you do with it?” she questioned curiously.

“It’s out of sight and hopefully I can make it out of mind,” he replied curling his arm around her.  Pulling her flush against him, he offered up a wicked grin, “In fact, I think I know a way to make that happen if it hasn’t already.”

“Is that right?” Blake raised a curious brow.

“That’s right,” he nodded in confession leaning down to kiss her, “What do you say you and I get working on practicing for making those beautiful babies we’re going to have in the future?”

“Well, since you put it that way,” Blake couldn’t help but grin as she threw her arms around his neck, “I think that might be a wonderful distraction for us.”

“Oh honey, by the time I’m done with you, it’ll be more than a distraction,” Seth promised hoisting her up into his arms as he vowed to see to it that the person who’d sent her such a cruel gift would pay for their actions.  


Susan walked to her door opening it to find an angered Kyle standing before her as he leaned against the doorframe.

“Kyle? What are you doing here?” Susan questioned with a slight smile.

“Susan,” Kyle glared through her before pushing his way through and slamming the door behind him and grasping tightly around her wrist. “You want to know what I am doing here?”

“Yeah, I would also like to know why you are trying to hurt me,” Susan replied looking over at Kyle who had a devilish look in his eyes.

“That’s funny Susan,” Kyle laughed pushing her roughly up against the wall as his expression turned to deep anger. “How about you tell me what I want to hear?”

“Oh my, Kyle you are bad, just like you were when you were younger,” Susan smiled seeing Kyle shake his head.

“I don’t want to hear what I was like when I was younger, I want to know what you did to Kipp,” Kyle scowled seeing her smile.

“What makes you think I had absolutely anything to do with this?” Susan questioned with a smile feeling Kyle’s grip on her wrist tighten.

“Because you are a conniving bitch who only cares for herself,” Kyle pointed out hearing her laugh.

“You know, you are kind of hot when you are pissed,” Susan laughed making Kyle turn his head the other way becoming pissed off.

“Listen bitch, I am not leaving,” Kyle raised his voice, “Until you tell me what you did with Kipp and if not for your own damn good, do it for Grady.”


...to be continued...