Episode 169

“So what exactly were in those papers, I mean what information was on there?” Shannon questioned taking a sip of her water. They had gone to dinner to discuss everything.

“See that’s the thing, I really don’t remember…all I do know is that he was one of my patients, that wasn’t dead when he was under my care,” Don shrugged unsurely.

“Well, try and think Don. It could really help,” Shannon lead him on only hearing silence from his as he tried to think.

“I really don’t know,” he repeated trying to think of anything that would point out at him.

“Just be smart for once Don,” she scowled before rolling her eyes and tapping her fingers along the table and his hand covered hers.

“You see that’s the point, I didn’t know back then that those papers could help someone get out of jail,” he informed her wanting her to be in the position he was in, it was hard.

“Too bad you didn’t keep them in a safer place,” Shannon yawned before hearing a silence from him and he looked up.

“What’s wrong?” he questioned his eyes looking strong with eagerness.

“I was hoping that you would know something,” she nodded before he rolled his eyes and sighed.

“That’s not what I was talking about,” Don started leaning forward, “What is it about me that you can’t love? I mean, am I really that bad of guy.”

“Don,” she sighed not wanting to get into this now, as she looked the other way.

“Please, just let me know. I really want to give this a try, all I need is your help…is it me?” he questioned looking to other side. “If it is me, I mean I could try my best to change for you.”

“It’s not you,” she started feeling bad for some reason. It was just the way his voice sounded so sad and how his blue eyes searched for an answer.

“Then what is it exactly? I mean I want to be with you, even if it takes me forever to get you to like me,” he informed her touching her in a way making her look up into his eyes.

“Don, not here,” she sighed blocking her eyes from his, it was almost like they were hypnotizing her making her heartache.

“Please Shannon,” Don begged as she stood up. “Wait, I’m sorry…you don’t have to tell me.”

“It’s not that Don, I just…I really can’t tell you right now,” she stated sitting down seeing him shake his head.

“I’m willing to wait if that’s what you are worried about,” he assured her looking up and seeing her nod.

“I understand that, one day there might be a chance, but I can’t tell you a lot of things right now,” she shrugged seeing him nod.

“I wont push you into anything you don’t want to do,” Don half smiled before taking a sip of his water.


Brant stood outside Avery’s door thinking of all the reasons why he should do as she asked and leave.  He’d done enough damage and he was certain his sticking around wasn’t going to help, yet he swore to himself that he’d find a way to make things better--that he could fix this.  Looking down at the wedding ring in the center of his palm, he wasn’t sure he could ever repair the damage that had been done.  He knocked on her door again before speaking up at long last.
“Avery, please talk to me.  Just open up,” he begged of her half expecting no answer, but instead he was met by her angry stare when the door flung open.  There were tracks of tears lining down her cheeks as she eyed him with a look that truly broke his heart.
“I told you to leave,” she shot back, her voice full of venom, “I don’t want you here Brant.”
“Avery, you have to at least hear me out,” he insisted pushing his way into the bedroom.  “I know what Johanna told you sounded bad, but…”
“Bad,” she repeated with a huff, “Bad doesn’t even begin to cover it Brant.  All this time Russ said he didn’t trust you--that he thought you were up to something, yet I kept defending you.  I kept telling him that no you weren’t like that…that you of all people would never try to deliberately hurt me, but then I hear this and…”
“Avery, I made a mistake,” Brant cut her off, his guilt ridden words pouring out of him with each painful jab at his heart, “Yes, I hired Johanna to come to town and entice Russ into leaving, but I was doing it for you.  I thought it was best if he…”
“You weren’t doing it for me,” she scowled back at him, folding her arms in front of her chest, “You were doing it for you.  You wanted Russ to be gone more than anything in this world and now that he is, I’ll bet you’re just thrilled.  You finally won Brant.  You got the prize…”
“No, Avery, that’s not how I wanted it,” Brant turned his head up to fully look at her from where he sat on the edge of the bed, “I never, ever wanted it to be like this.  I didn’t want Russ to die.”
“Yet you didn’t want him to be a part of my life either, right?” she glared at him, “You know I thought you were different.  I thought you had a heart…that you cared and…”
“I do,” Brant blurted out, “Damn it Avery I care about you so much that I’d do anything to make you happy--absolutely anything.”
“Including paying Johanna off to take away the man I loved, right?” Avery sneered in response, “You make me sick.”
“So take a number.  I make myself sick Avery.  I’ve made a lot of really stupid, horrible mistakes, but with that, well it’s not what you think it was,” he insisted pleading his case with her, “When I brought Johanna in it was right after you and Russ split.  When he betrayed you with Heather I saw how it hurt you.  I watched the way he tore your heart apart and I knew that I had to keep that from happening. When I watched you crying--when I felt your pain, Avery, you have no idea how much it hurt me.  I hated what he’d done to you--hated that he’d taken something so beautiful between you and ripped it to shreds.  When I called Johanna it was when we were on the island.  I did it because I knew that when we got back home to Coral Valley if you had to face Russ and Heather together it would kill you.  I didn’t want that happening,” Brant revealed with a shake of his head, “I had no idea that things would turn out like they did.”
“Which means you didn’t think that Russ and I would ever repair things like we did, right?” she questioned with an angry glare.
“No, I didn’t,” Brant answered honestly, “and I still never got why you let things come together again after he betrayed you.  Avery, if you were mine, I never, ever would’ve looked at another woman.  I would’ve taken what we had together very seriously…”
“So did Russ.  He and I love one another.  We’re soul mates and what happened was a mistake…” Avery insisted thinking back to the night she’d found Russ in bed with Heather, “He didn’t know what he was doing and…”
“And yet you were willing to give him a second chance,” Brant tossed back at her, “He made love to another woman when he said his heart belonged to you, yet you stood there and forgave him for that.  You gave him another chance and you found it in your heart to move beyond it, so why can’t you give me that same chance?”
“Brant, that’s different.  This is…” Avery stammered a bit.
“It’s what?” Brant questioned with obvious confusion, “Yes, Avery I shouldn’t have tried to meddle like I did, but that night at the mansion…when your heart was breaking and you begged me to take all the pain away that’s what I was trying to do.  I didn’t want to see you ever hurting again like you were that night.”
“Brant, don’t,” Avery tried to block out his words.
“Avery, that night at the mansion--at the party when I kissed you,” he confessed pouring his heart out to her, “It did something to me.  When you pushed me away and looked terrified like that, well, I saw you there I thought about Jade and about how I’d failed her.  I thought about what my father had done to her and I found myself becoming the same thing.  I thought I’d hurt you and in turn I ran away from it.  I couldn’t face the monster I’d become.”
“Brant please…” Avery started watching the strain over his features as tears came to his eyes.
“I know that you probably won’t believe a damn word that I’m saying to you now, but it’s the truth.  That night so many things happened and when I saw you there crying…hurting…” Brant’s voice cracked with emotion, “Avery, I thought it was because of me.  I thought that when I’d touched you like that, well that somehow I’d hurt you--that I’d really done something horrible to you and I hated myself, but then when I heard what Russ did.  When I learned of how he’d hurt you…I knew I had to protect you.  I had to shield you from that and that’s what I was trying to do.  It was wrong and I know that now, but when I’m with you, I can’t help myself.  I want to protect you and keep you from ever feeling the pain you’ve endured already in your life…”
“Brant, you shouldn’t have done that,” Avery’s voice softened as she thought back to the turn of events leading to this moment in time.
“Avery, I love you and I know that you don’t love me like I wish you would, but that time on the island when I asked you to marry me…that was coming from my heart.  For the first time in my life I feel like I have a purpose--that I have some kind of meaning in this world and that’s to be there for you.  I know you love Russ and I know that you two have a child coming into this world, but Avery, if you just shut me out now for what I’ve done…”
“Brant, I can’t deal with this right now.  I have Grady’s trial coming up and…” Avery choked up finding her own words caught in the back of her throat.
“Avery, I never meant to make your life difficult and I’m sorry for what I did in bringing Johanna to town.  I shouldn’t have tried to take matters into my own hands, but with you…” he took a step towards her, unsure of whether or not she’d push him away from her, “Avery, when I’m with you, you make me feel like I could be a better man…that I could be that someone I always felt was so far out of my reach.”
“You lied to me Brant.  You purposely tried to sabotage my happiness with Russ,” Avery pointed out firmly, her eyes unwavering from their lock on him, “You deceived me and now you expect me to trust you--to give my life to you…”
“Avery, I’m not asking for your life…just a chance…a chance to prove myself to you.  Avery, I know I’m a screw up.  I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t deserve you--I don’t deserve any of this, but if you’ll just let me try…”
“Brant, you’re asking a lot out of me,” Avery’s voice softened a bit while he took another step towards her.
“I know I am, but you thought I was worth taking a chance on yesterday when you married me.  You believed I was worth trusting and it’s with that thought in mind that I’m begging you to try to forgive me for this,” Brant continued to move in closer to her, “Avery, I know I’ve been horrible…that I’m not Russ and I’ll never be like him, but I do love you.  You and your daughter are the most important things to me in this world and I swear to you if you’ll just consider giving this another try--if you reconsider letting go of us, then I swear to you that I will do anything and everything in my power to prove myself to you.  Avery, whatever you ask of me, you’ll have it.  Whatever you need, it’s yours, but please, please don’t walk away from me.  Don’t leave me like this when all I’ve ever wanted was to be there for you…”
“Brant,” Avery opened her mouth to speak finding no words coming out as her heart was tangled up in knots.  Finally she felt her words returning, “You shouldn’t have lied to me.”
“I know that and I’m so, so sorry,” he revealed choked up on emotion, “I swear to you that I won’t ever do it again.”
“You’d better not because I’m telling you now if I ever hear of you doing something like what you did again, then that’s it.  I’ll take my chances in jail,” Avery explained firmly, refusing to buckle to her emotions.
He reached for her hand bringing it in over the center of his chest.  His eyes met hers and they shared a long moment of silence between them.  Finally he spoke up from his heart at long last, “Avery, I swear to you that I will do everything in my power to regain your trust.  I won’t deceive you like I have in the past and know now that my intentions with you are genuine.  You’re my wife and that means everything to me.  You mean everything to me.”
Avery stood firm, remaining silent for a long moment before finally nodding, “Fine, but just know that it’s going to take time before I can really feel like I can trust you again.  After knowing what you did…even if you did it for the reasons that you say you did…”
“That was the only reason I did it and I wish like hell I could take it back,” Brant divulged with a small sigh, “God how I wish I could take it back.”
“You and me both,” Avery replied taking a step back, “bur right now…I need some time to think.  I just need…”
“Space,” Brant finished with an understanding nod, “and I’ll give you that.  I swore to you that I wouldn’t push and I’m not going to do that, but just know that when you’re ready, I’m here.  We can work through this.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Avery nodded again watching him open his mouth to speak before he took a step back.
“I think I’ll go see if I can get a hold of Ken again,” Brant motioned to the door before exiting.  Once he left Avery sank down on the bed, reaching for the necklace she’d been wearing.  Pulling it out, she eyed the wedding ring Russ had given her.  Lifting it to her lips, she thought of the day that she’d pledged her love to him.  How she’d wanted those days back again--how she longed for that happily ever after that had evaded her and in that moment of reflection she found herself overcome with tears knowing that life would never be the same again.


“What’s on your mind?” Kyle questioned as Sarah raised her head from his chest. He had spent the night last night to make sure she was okay.

“I was just thinking about the baby,” she sighed as he wrapped his arm around her so she could snuggle in closer to him.

“Just how he might be coming home, here. I am going to take care of him Kyle, like he is my own,” Sarah smiled as he leaned forward and kissed her lightly.

“You know, I am pretty good with kids,” he grinned standing up from the bed that they were laying on.

“Where is this leading?” Sarah questioned raising her eyebrow as he lightly pulled her up to him.

“It means I want to be there, to help you and to take care of little Charles,” he stated as she leaned up kissing him lightly.

“You mean it?” she wondered with a slight sign of happiness behind her voice.

“Well, if I someday plan on being that little guy’s uncle, I am going to have to practice first,” he shrugged with a slight wink.

“What do you mean by that?” she questioned eagerly seeing him smile and shake his head lightly.

“You’ll see, soon or a later,” Kyle promised her with a slight smile.

“How are going to keep coming back and forth between houses?” she questioned as he grinned.

“I’m not going to,” Kyle smiled lightly, “I was thinking that I could move in here with you.”

“You want to live here with me?” she wondered with a smile.

“I want to be anywhere you are, that’s just my life,” he let her know as she nodded.

“When?” she questioned quickly, “I mean when are you moving in?”

“Today, as long as I go and check in with Avery and she is okay,” Kyle sighed looking up at her.

“Okay,” she nodded lightly with a slight glimmer in her eye.

“I’ll be back,” he winked before kissing her lightly and leaving.


Ken sat at the bar thinking about the fine mess he’d made of his life.  Lifting the glass to his lips, he felt the burning liquid finally lose it’s sting.  He was officially numb and it didn’t matter anymore.  None of it mattered.  The damage had already been done.  He’d hit rock bottom and there was no turning back from here on out.
“Hey, how about another,” Ken smacked the top of the bar commanding the bartender’s undivided attention.
“The bar’s closed buddy,” the bartender informed him with a simple shake of his head, “You’ve had enough.”
“Not nearly enough,” Ken reached into his pocket withdrawing another wad of cash and setting it down on the bar, “Keep them coming all night.”
“Sorry man,” the bartender pushed the money towards Ken again, “I can’t take your money, nor can I serve you another drink.  You’re done.”
“Oh come on.  I haven’t had that many,” Ken sneered in response trying to shove his money at the man before him once again.
“I said you’re done,” the bartender repeated firmly, “but if you’d like me to call for a ride for you…”
“Screw you,” Ken shot back sourly standing up and walking away from where he was at.  He stammered no more than two feet away from the barstool when a voice beckoned him.
“I’m sure I could find you more of what you’re looking for,” Susan sauntered over to him, a wide grin spread over her features.  She stopped right next to him, giving him a long look, “Ken you look like hell right about now.”
“Given that you’re here, I’m starting to think that’s exactly where I’m at,” he hissed pushing his way past her through the crowd.
“Ken, wait a second,” she reached for his arm, attempting to draw him back to her, “You can’t just walk away from me like this.”
“Watch me,” he mouthed with a cold, harshness in his tone.
“Ken, you’re being irrational,” Susan chased after him not taking a hint, “We should at least talk about this.”
“Talk?” he repeated his voice raising with the moment, “You want to talk Susan?  Well, fine.  Let’s talk.  Irrational would be your thinking that you’ve got a shot with me.  We’re over.  Finished and nothing you can do or say is going to change that.  You’re nowhere near the woman that Caitlin was.  You’ll never come close.  You were pathetic when we found our way to one another and you‘re pathetic now.”
“You don’t mean that.  You can’t possibly mean that,” Susan balked back with a haughty laugh, “I know you better than that Ken.”
“No Susan, you knew what I wanted you to know and that’s all there is to it,” Ken sneered in response, “All you ever were to me was a distraction from reality when nothing better came along.   You were nothing then and you’re nothing now.  That’s all you’ll ever be Susan.  That isn’t going to change.”
“We’ll just see about that,” Susan watched his retreat clenching her fists at her side.  While Ken was clearly lost in a drunken stupor, she knew that she would find a way to persuade him to come back to her.  She would have him again.  She was certain of it.
“No, we won’t,” Ken muttered to himself stumbling out into the night as he’d heard Susan’s parting words.  How he’d hated her--hated everything that she’d represented in his life.  Though right now maybe that’s what he deserved, he realized as the bitter chill of the night’s reality struck down on him. 
Ken continued to stumble away from the bar debating where else to pick up where he’d left off when the sound of his cell phone assaulted his ears.  Reaching into his pocket, he fumbled with it for a long moment before finally answering, “What?”
“Ken, where are you,” Carly questioned in a panic, “I got your messages and I’m worried.”
“Hey sexy,” he spoke in a slur bracing himself up against the brick wall behind him, “don’t be worried about me.  I’m just where I was meant to be.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me, right?” Carly’s voice grew heavy with worry, “I heard about what happened at the memorial today.”

“Word sure travels fast in this neck of the woods, doesn’t it?” he spat out at her.

“Ken, where are you?”
“In hell, the only place I belong,” Ken announced to the night air, an ironic laugh sweeping over him, “Care to join me?”
“I’m coming to get you.  Ken, tell me where you are,” Carly pleaded with him, “Tell me exactly where you’re at and I’ll be right down there.”
“Now Carly, babe I know you’ve missed me, but maybe tonight isn’t the best of times to…” Ken started with a heavy sigh.  Turning around to see Susan standing outside the bar he’d just exited, he finally caved in, “On second thought, the night’s been lonely without you.”


Guy opened the door and stepped inside the apartment finding the lights were turned down low.  He set his keys on the table top half expecting the beginnings of a romantic evening, but instead he was met by the sound of Gabe shuffling through some paperwork from inside the small desk area.  Stepping forward he could see that something was clearly bothering his lover.
“Gabe, what’s going on,” Guy questioned stepping in the doorway as he noted the expression on Gabe’s face, “I would’ve thought that you’d be resting by now.”
“I can’t rest.  I can’t even think about it now that Noelle has pulled this,” Gabe sighed bringing his fingers through his blonde hair, “If I even think about resting, then I could lose her.  She’ll take her away from me and…”

“And what,” Guy asked making his way into the room further, “Gabe, what’s going on?”
“Noelle is suing me for full custody of Brittany,” Gabe explained worriedly.  “I got these papers today and…”
“Let me see that,” Guy reached for them looking them over as he saw that what Gabe was saying was true, “But I don’t understand why would she do this?  She’s not even around Brittany and then for her to try to do this…she can’t get away with it.”
“According to her lawyer here, she’s got a good case.  She’s spouting off about abandonment and how there isn’t stability for Brittany with me,” Gabe shook his head with obvious disgust.  “You have no idea how many times I’d thought about doing this myself, but I didn’t want to hurt her.  I’d felt that I’d already put her through enough, but then to get this…”
“Gabe, I’ve told you that you’re too good to her.  You give her everything she wants--pay her an ungodly amount of money to live in a lifestyle that a queen would be more than satisfied with,” Guy shook his head at the thought, “She’s not going to win this one.”
“She’s Brittany’s mother and in the eyes of the law, that’s a very strong bond,” Gabe sighed heavily feeling an ache throbbing in his temple, “Somehow I knew this day would come and I wanted to be prepared but…”
“But you will be.  It’s obvious who the better parent is,” Guy reached out to touch his shoulder gently, “Brittany loves you and you two were meant to be together.  If anyone should have full custody, it’s you, not Noelle.”
“That’s easier said than done,” Gabe admitted with a sigh, “which is why I wanted everything to be in place.  I wanted to establish that she would have stability and a family with me, but now…”
“Now nothing.  You can beat this.  Noelle isn’t going to take her away,” Guy tried to assure him, “In fact, I think I know a way I can help.”
“Guy, with what’s going on with your mother, I can’t expect you to…” Gabe started thinking about the situation his lover had been put in recently.
“Trust me on this,” Guy squeezed Gabe’s shoulder supportively, “I want to help you in this.  That’s what love is all about.”
“You have no idea how much your wanting to be here means to me,” Gabe offered up with a small smile.”
“You can thank me when Brittany is staying with you as she should’ve always been,” Guy replied hoping that he could find a way to help his lover through the tough times that he was certain lay ahead for him.


Kyle opened the door to what used to be Russell and Avery’s house using the key that Russell once gave him. He shut the door behind him and turned around to find Brant right in his face.

“Man, Spanky you should watch where you stand I could have punched you if you scared me,” Kyle half smiled seeing the irritated look on Brant’s face.

“You know that’s breaking and entering?” Brant pointed out before seeing Kyle take the key from his pocket and holding it out in front of Brant’s face.

“I call it coming home and checking on the people who live with me,” Kyle shrugged pulling the key back before Brant tried taking it from his hand.

“I demand that you leave right now,” Brant yelled grabbing Kyle by the jacket making Kyle push him back.

“Where is Avery?” Kyle questioned rolling his eyes after getting no answer from Brant as he turned around, “Fine I will go find her myself.”

“No, I will not let you see my wife,” Brant demanded making Kyle stop dead in his tracks and turn around slowly.

“Your what?” Kyle questioned looking a slight bit pissed off and confused.

“You heard me,” Brant smiled folding his arms out in front of him, “She is my wife.”

“What did you do to her?” Kyle wondered grabbing him by the collar of his shirt. “You’re lying.”

“Get your hands off of me,” Brant scowled seeing Kyle glare right through him.

“Kyle, let go of him,” Avery sighed from behind him making Kyle turn his head to look towards her. “He is telling the truth, we’re married.”

“You’re what?” Kyle questioned dropping Brant and walking towards her. “Why would you do that.”

“I have my reasons,” Avery promised in a way looking up into Kyle’s worried eyes.

“It had to be a pretty damn good reason,” Kyle slightly laughed trying to take his anger away.

“What does you mean by that?” Brant wondered as Kyle shook his head and ignored him.

“You want to explain to me why you are married to that nagging loser?” Kyle tilted his head in curiosity eager to hear why she was married to Brant.

“It is a long story,” Avery noted seeing him nod.

“Well, I got a long time…so why don’t you tell me,” Kyle smiled waiting to hear the exact reason why she was with Brant.

“Fine,” she breathed in deeply before grabbing his hand and pulling him into the kitchen.


“Trying to burn the remote down?” Don questioned as Shannon’s finger repeatedly clicked the buttons on the remote.

“Don?” Shannon questioned seeing him look up at her from the couch and stand up.

“Yeah?” he wondered seeing her roll her eyes.

“Do me a favor and shut up,” Shannon scowled before he rolled his eyes and walked over to the window looking out into the evening.  Still feeling unsettled he began to pace around the room once again right in front of her.

“Whoops,” Shannon sighed as she dropped the clicker on the ground as Don looked down. She bent down to pick it up before colliding her head with Don’s. “Ouch.”

“I’m sorry,” he apologized handing her the clicker and looking at the television. When she dropped the remote, it went to a music channel making him smile. “This is a good song.”

“Your point?” she questioned seeing him half grin and hold his hand out to hers.

“Dance with me,” he winked before seeing her shake her head in disagreement.

“No way,” she declared backing away from him.

“This isn’t me trying to hit on you or something, it is just a dance,” Don shrugged seeing her sigh and shake her head.

“I’m not a big dancer,” she stated looking up at him and he shrugged.

“Then let me teach you,” he insisted grabbing her hand and pulling her up to him.

“No,” she sighed and slightly laughed seeing him frown.

“You are going to dance with me,” he assured her, “Just move your feet with mine.”

“Don,” she started before he put a finger in front of her mouth hushing her until she finally went along with him.

“That’s more I like it,” he smiled swooping her around real quick, “You aren’t as bad as you say you are.”

She gasped as he pulled her up to him a breath away from his face, “Maybe its because you have never really watched me dance by myself.”

“Well, obviously you are kind of afraid to dance in front of me…so lets just dance together right now,” he suggested seeing her nod.

“Alright,” she started looking up at him, “But if your hands go anywhere they shouldn’t be, you’re a dead man.”

“Fine,” with me he nodded and then simply winked at her not wanting to start up an argument. 


“I’m waiting,” Kyle tilted his head looking at her tapping his foot on the floor lightly.

“Don’t do that, you look like my dad,” Avery sighed looking the other way before hearing him laugh.

“You are trying to get off subject,” Kyle pointed out making her look up at him, “That’s not going to happen.”

“Alright, alright,” she sort of snapped at him and then calming down realizing he was just trying to make sure she was okay and he wanted to be there for her. “Have you heard about my mom yet?”

“Yeah,” he started before his eyes got wide and he got it, “Oh my god. Are you okay?  I heard about what Bruce did and…”

Avery gasped feeling him wrap his arms around her tightly, “You didn’t even hear the whole story.  Bruce wasn‘t there Kyle.  He didn‘t have anything to do with what happened to my mother.  She came to my office and we got into a fight.  A really, really horrible fight and things got ugly.  We started screaming and before I knew it…”

“Knew what?” Kyle asked watching the color drain from her features.

“I did it Kyle,” Avery blurted out fighting the tears that she held inside, “I’m the one who did it.  She was right there and then I…”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Kyle started seeing how upset she was.

“No, you’re not getting it.  Kyle, it’s not okay because you’re not seeing the truth about this.  You’re not seeing what I’ve done,” Avery insisted desperately.  “You don’t understand.”

“Unfortunately I think I do.  What you‘re telling me is that you were the one who…?” Kyle trailed off backing up and looking at her with a worried expression on his face.

“Well, yeah, but I had a very good reason to Kyle.  I didn‘t mean to but she drove me to it.  She kept baiting me and threatening me.  She attacked me and…,” she sighed looking up into his confused chocolate brown eyes. “She tried to drug me Kyle.  She went crazy on me and before I knew it she was trying to kill my baby--Russell‘s baby.” A silence overcame Kyle as she folded her arms, “You don’t believe me, do you?”

“Of course I believe you, I mean I would have thrown her out the window days ago if I‘d thought she‘d pull something like that,” Kyle scowled before making her slightly laugh. “I’m not kidding.”

“Kyle, the only thing is…they didn’t find the needle she tried to kill my baby with.  No one will ever believe the truth because she took the evidence with her.  Kyle, I didn‘t mean to do it, but after what she started saying about Russ--what she was saying about me and the baby…,” Avery sighed and her eyes started to burn until he pulled her into another hug.

“Hey, everything is going to be okay,” he hushed her while running his hand through her hair lightly. “Sweetheart, the only thing I don’t understand is why you didn’t come to me first, I would have fixed this for you somehow.”

“There wasn’t any time,” Avery explained desperately, “with Grady’s trial right around the corner and with the fact that the evidence had gone missing, I had to act fast.  I had to find a way to protect my daughter.”

“Avery, the police would’ve believed you.  I’m sure knowing what kind of woman Brooke is…” Kyle started with obvious worry in his tone.

“Kyle, no one was going to believe me.  They all think I’m crazy.  Since Russ died everyone thinks that I’ve lost my mind.  They think that I’m making things up, but I didn’t make this up.  I wouldn’t make this up,” she continued her voice rising with emotion.

“Avery, I believe you,” he reached out to her touching her arm gently, “Avery, you know me.  You know I have complete faith in you.  I would’ve done anything to help you if I would’ve known.  I would’ve…”

“Brant was right there,” she started to think of her reason, but at the moment she found herself more flustered than ever about what had happened--about what was happening in her life.  “He’s helping me.  He’s keeping me safe.  He saw what happened and he married me so that I could keep the secret about what really happened.  Oh God and now in telling you, I‘ve just ruined all of what I‘ve worked so hard for with Brant.  If someone asks you, then you can‘t lie and…”

“Avery, sweetheart, you know that I wouldn’t dream of doing anything to hurt you,” Kyle offered honestly seeing her twisted features.

“Brant and I have worked so hard to make this cover story believable, but now…” she shook her head, “I told you and now if push comes to shove…”

“That’s not going to happen.  Listen to me Avery. I love you like a sister, I would have married you if that‘s what you needed to be protected in this.  I won‘t say anything and if you‘re worried I can bump off your husband now and help in my own way by taking his place,” he stated before cutting himself off and seeing her bite down on her bottom lip trying not to laugh. “That came out wrong, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, it kind of did,” she laughed lightly before seeing him lick his lips and shrug lightly.

“Whoops, well let me start over,” Kyle started smiling, but then turning back to serious, “I just talked to a friend, and you can get a divorce I know it.  If you think marrying Brant is the answer.  If he‘s blackmailing you in any way, then tell me and I can…”

“Kyle, it’s fine,” she assured him feeling bad seeing the worried expression on his face.

“Are you sure?  Because if there‘s something you‘re not telling me…” he questioned lightly as she put her hand on his shoulder.

“I’m positive.  Brant is doing all of this to help me.  He‘s gotten me this far and I‘m sure that as long as I don‘t keep shooting my mouth off and the police keep believing the story we told them, then everything will be fine,” she nodded as he looked down at her.

“Just take some of my advice, don’t tell Grady…he would go nuts if he found out,” Kyle sighed putting his hands in his pockets.

“Grady,” Avery repeated thinking of the consequences of her actions, “Oh God, he’s going to kill me if he finds out.”

“That’s why I’m telling you don’t say anything to him just yet,” Kyle pleaded with her, “At least not until the trial is over.  If he knows about this, then he’ll close himself off and…”

“And we won’t be able to get him out of this.  You’re right,” she rubbed her palms together.  “We have to keep this to ourselves.  Grady can’t know.”

“I know that’s asking a lot from you, but do you think that you can handle it especially now?  I mean if it’s too much…” he began.

“No, you‘re right Kyle.  It‘s for the best and I can find a way to pull through this.  I can make it through the trial without Grady knowing.  I can do this,” she agreed seeing him shrug.

“I know you can,” Kyle paused wondering if he could really get back to what he’d come here to speak with her about, “Listen Avery, there’s something I think we should talk about--something that might not be right for the time, but well…”

“What is it Kyle,” she questioned wiping at a tear that slipped down her own cheek, “What’s on your mind?”

“It’s Sarah…well, she’s going through some rough times right now and she needs me,” Kyle began with a hesitance.

“Kyle, if she needs you, then that’s where you should be,” Avery insisted reaching out to touch his hand, “If you’re asking my permission to do that, then Kyle you should know that you don’t have to.  I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” Kyle questioned seeing her nod.  “I just…I don’t want you thinking I abandoned you.  After Russ died, well I just knew that you needed me and…”
“And you don‘t need to give up your life for me.  Kyle, I‘m not your responsibility.  Russ wouldn‘t want you to give up your life worrying about me.  If Sarah needs you, then go be with her.  She‘s the woman you love and your place is with her, not worrying about me and my problems,” she started with a smile.

“I just…I still don’t feel right leaving you on your own like this.  I promised Russ that I would protect you and,” he started worriedly.

“Kyle, I can hold my own.  Sure, I might get in trouble, but you know that as well as I do,” she pointed out firmly, “Besides you’re welcome back anytime.  It‘s not like you‘re leaving the country, right?”

“Not the last time I checked,“ he nodded pulling her into a hug once more, “Promise me if you need anything you will call me.”

“I promise,” she nodded as he backed up and shrugged.

“You will be hearing from me,” he waved goodbye before walking out of the kitchen and into the other room catching a glance of Brant. “You.”

“Me?” Brant questioned pointing to himself as Kyle nodded. “What?”

“You touch her while I am gone, I will kill you. I mean it literally, I will hunt you down and I will break every bone in your body,” Kyle started before Brant cut him off so he couldn’t say the rest.

“Okay,” Brant nodded, “I wont touch her…I get it.”

“Good,” Kyle smiled lightly before waving, “You will see me again.”

“I know I will,” Brant faked a smile before Kyle walked out the door. “And it’s a damn shame too.”


Carly pulled into the crowded lot downtown wondering just what kind of trouble Ken had gotten himself into after they’d hung up the phone.  She couldn’t shake the eerie feeling that disaster was evident, but in staying true to who she was, she wasn’t about to walk away from Ken.  She needed to find him and make sure that he didn’t do something stupid tonight.  He would’ve done the same for her and she was here to return the favor.
Stepping out of the car, she surveyed the parking lot noticing a rowdy crowd up ahead.  They were clearly caught in their own drunken hazy and as Carly pulled her jacket around her shoulders.  If she could avoid that mess and find Ken, she’d call it a night for sure.  Stepping towards the building before her, she could hear the hoots and hollers of those from just beyond where she stood, but she was doing her best to ignore him.  Locating Ken was top priority.
“Ken, where are you,” she questioned with a frown glancing over at the club window only to spot him inside on the dance floor.  Shaking her head, she took in a slow breath before making her way through the crowd, weaving her way over to him.  Once she’d approached him, she could smell the strong scent of alcohol over him--there was no denying that he was soaked in it as he was talking to two barely legal, shameless blondes who were giggling like no tomorrow before him.
“Ken, hey,” Carly poked at his shoulder to catch his attention.  He spun around to see her, a drunken grin spreading over his features as he threw his arms out towards her.
“Carly babe,” Ken threw his arms around her enthusiastically, “I was starting to miss you.”
“Yeah I can tell,” Carly offered up with a pointed look, “Who are you friends?”
“Oh well, you see this is Candi and Mandi,” Ken nodded to the two buxom blondes before them, “They were about to show me their little act they have going over at Club Extreme on the weekends.  Did I tell you that they’re dancers?”
“Yeah, I’ll bet, but you know tonight I think we should just skip over the dance number,” Carly spoke sharply glaring at the two girls just beyond her, “I think it’s time to call it a night ladies.”
“Oh, but Kenny promised us that we could take a ride in his car,” one pouted before the other spoke up in an equally nasal whine.
“He said we could go play at his mansion,” the second girl stomped her foot.
“Sorry ladies, but he’s mine tonight,” Carly tugged on his arm, pulling him away from the bar before he could get himself into more trouble.   
“Hmm, see now that’s what I’m talking about,” Ken dropped his hands over her bottom, giving her a firm squeeze, “Tell me Carly…how are you feeling tonight about exhibitionism?”
“I think we’re going to pass,” she pulled his hands off of her all the while keeping her tone firm and even, “We’re going to get you home so you can sober up.”
“I don’t want to sober up,” he shook his head in refusal, pulling her in against him boldly, “I just want you.”
“Yeah well Ken as much fun as we have together, I’m not going to do that when you’re like this,” Carly warned him, feeling herself shudder at the smell of the overwhelming alcohol on his breath, “Come on.  We’re leaving.”
“But the night is young and so are we,” Ken curled his lip in a pout before leaning in towards her, “Carly, you know you want me.”
“Not like this I don’t,” she shook her head before placing her hand in the center of his chest to stop him from kissing her, “Ken, let’s get out of here.”
“Why so soon?  I thought we could have some fun and with the girls,” he glanced over towards the bar.
“They can find another sucker to play tonight,” Carly grabbed his hand tugging him across the dance floor towards the exit, “You’re coming with me.”
“Fine, but you can’t cut off all my fun just yet.  I expect something big when we get back to your place,” Ken slurred staggering along with her.
“Oh you’ll get something big, but it’s not what you’re expecting.  I think we’re going to have to sober you up here,” Carly informed him pushing him out into the night, “Ken, I can’t believe that you would do this.”
“Do what?  What’s wrong with me having a good time?” Ken questioned in a pout, “There’s nothing wrong with that Carly.  You said it yourself that you like my wild side.”
“Your wild side yes, but this goes beyond what I like about you letting loose Ken,” Carly informed him bluntly, “This isn’t at all attractive.”
“That’s because you’re not looking hard enough to find it, but we can work on that,” he assured her bringing his fingers up through the back of her hair to pull her to him in a rough kiss.
“Ken stop,” Carly replied pushing him away as they stood underneath the neon light in front of the club, “This isn’t helping at all.”
“Not yet, but I’m working on it,” he chuckled inching in towards her once again when Susan approached the two of them.
“Well, what do we have here,” Susan questioned with a sarcastic tone, “Little Miss Goody-Two Shoes coming to save the day or to seduce the victim?  Tell me does Dave know you‘re in town or better yet that you‘re out tonight with Ken?”
“Oh would you just shut up Susan,” Ken shouted back at her with a shake of his head, “How many times do I have to tell you to get lost?”
“As many times as it takes for you to get it out of your system before you realize that we’re meant to be together,” Susan declared boldly taking a step towards Ken and Carly,  “There’s no point in fighting it you know.  We belong together Ken and if you just give me a chance to show you what a good time we could have together tonight…”
“Just back off Susan,” Carly stepped in between them, “Go away.  Ken doesn’t need you harassing him.”
“But he needs you coming in and playing his hero?  Is that it?” Susan eyed her with obvious interest, “I think you’d be best to just walk away and let me take care of this Ms. Matthews.”
“Look Susan,” Carly moved in closer to her, “While I realize cheap and desperate might be in this season for you, it’s not at all appealing.  What you need to do is find yourself someone who is pathetic enough to actually believe you’re worth wasting their time on.  When you do, well why don’t the two of you just disappear together and never come back again?  Until then, back off and leave Ken alone.”
“Or what?” Susan dared her, “What could you possibly do to me if I don’t?  Why should I feel threatened by you?”
“Because things will get ugly--very ugly if you keep bothering him.  In fact,” Carly continued to warn her, but then thought twice of it, “On second thought, you’re not worth wasting the energy on.”
“Oh that’s right.  Run away.  Your type always does because they don’t have the balls to step up to the plate,” Susan sneered in response clenching her fists at her side, “You think that you’re so smart--that you’re so much better than the rest of us, but when it gets down to it, you’re pathetic.  You’re nothing and…”
“And you’re really irritating,” Carly glared at her, “but I’m not wasting my time on this any longer.  Ken, come on.  We’re leaving…”
Carly spun around to discover that Ken had walked off in the middle of her conversation with Susan.  She searched the parking lot hearing the sounds of Susan still shouting at her from behind, but that was irrelevant as she searched for Ken.  Finally she spotted him over by the men that had caught her attention when she’d first pulled up.  Whatever he’d said to one of them had prompted one of the men to throw one of the beer bottles at him.  The crashing sounded throughout the night as Carly felt Susan approaching her.
“Hey, I was talking to you,” Susan reached out for Carly’s arm.
“Back off,” Carly warned shoving Susan aside before approaching the group hoping that Ken hadn’t done something completely and utterly stupid that would land him in far more trouble than he’d imagined.  Rushing over to try to stop a fight from breaking out, Carly realized that it as already too late.  Two of the other men were closing in on Ken before she could intervene.
“Ken,” Carly called his name watching the first of the three men throw a punch out at him.  Feeling a moment of panic sweep over her, Carly ran to the scene hoping to keep all hell from breaking loose, but Ken reacted with a pounding thrust into the man’s abdomen.  The man balked backward stumbling and groaning before a second approached.
“Ken stop it,” Carly cried out seeing a third man pound down on the back of Ken’s neck and shoulders sending him crashing down to the ground.  Unprepared for the blow he’d been given, Ken tumbled to the ground, a pile of his former self while another man kicked at him.
“Stop it!  Stop it!” Carly shouted making her way to the group, “Let go of him right now.  Back off!”
“My, my, my,” the first man Ken had struck slurred, taking his time to give Carly a once over, “Look at this.  He has his little girl fighting his battles now.  Come here sexy and maybe we’ll think about letting your boyfriend go.”
The third man laughed wildly before kicking Ken in the stomach once again.
“I said stop it!” Carly warned sharply pulling her pepper spray out of her purse and aiming it at the group, “I’m not afraid to use this if I have to.”
“Oh how cute,” the first man chuckled with obvious amusement, “Look Hank, she’s going to mace us.  Can you believe that?”
“Do you really think that’s going to make a difference princess,” Hank replied reaching out hard to yank on Carly’s arm.  She pressed the button on the pepper spray, aiming directly in his face as he squealed in horror.
“It looks like it did the trick to me,” Carly remarked with a sneer turning to address the other two men before her, “Now do any of you want a piece of this?”
“I think I might,” another voice rose from the darkness and Carly found herself caged in the arms of yet another man she hadn’t spotted in her approach.  He used one arm to squeeze her in against him while his other hand tugged at her hair, forcing her head back, “Just what do we have here tonight, boys?  Entertainment?”
“Let go of me or I swear to you,” Carly warned him attempting to wrench herself out of his arms.
“You’ll what?” he questioned gruffly, his hand tugging her hair again roughly, “hurt me?”
“You’ll only wish I’d stopped at hurting you,” Carly mouthed behind the wince his sudden pull on her hair had elicited.
“Hmm, well guess what sweetheart.  I like to play rough,” he informed her gruffly, his hand tearing at the front of her blouse.  “Come on boys.  I think we have a wild one tonight.”
“I see that and I’m just dying to try a piece of her,” Hank explained with a lecherous smile, moving in closer to Carly.  She bucked against the fourth man attempting to get out of his vise grip, but his hold was too much--too strong.  Shifting her gaze to the ground again, she noticed that Ken still remained where they’d left him moments earlier as she’d become their latest focus.
“You so don’t want to do this,” Carly warned with an air of disconcert as she stared down the man before her, “I’m warning you.  You have no idea who I am and if you even think about touching me…”
“Oh I’ll more than think about touching you,” the man growled reaching out to tear open the front of her blouse. 
It ripped with one quick sound and in that moment Carly knew that she couldn’t just stand back and ignore what was going on.  She’d been trained for these kind of situations as Dave had taught her a few things about self-defense.  Remembering his words, she used the second to assess the situation before her foot came crashing down on the man behind her.  He released her with a yelping sound as Hank approached.  Carly kicked her knee up to get him right straight across the groin before she turned her attention to the other man approaching.  He made a move to reach for her, but she ducked at the last minute, escaping his attempt to snag her.
“Ken, come on.  Let’s get out of here,” Carly shouted out looking to the ground again only to discover that Ken was gone.  She felt a moment of panic surround her before the screeching sound of tires rose from the parking lot.  Looking up, she saw the headlights before her coming at full speed until finally the car pulled up and the door opened revealing Ken at the wheel.
“Get in,” he ordered as Carly didn’t hesitate knowing full well that the men wouldn’t be hindered much longer. 
Sliding into the seat beside him, she felt her heart pounding in her chest, her mind a whirlwind of panic as she spoke out, “Just drive.  Let’s get out of here.”
Ken didn’t have to be told twice.  He shifted his car into gear and sped off into the night leaving the cursing, drunken bikers in the dust behind them.  Once they’d made their way out of the downtown area, Carly finally found her breath.
“Are you alright,” Ken questioned glancing over at her to discover her shirt in ruin.
“I’ll be okay,” Carly replied doing her best to cover herself up, “What about you?  Are you hurt?”
“I’ll live,” Ken insisted turning his attention to the road, “but what the hell did you think you were doing?  Why did you think that you could take those guys on?  What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking that I didn’t want you dead.  That despite this stupidity streak you’re on that I didn’t want to have to be going to your funeral in the morning,” Carly snapped back at him before looking straight ahead of her, “Ken, watch out.  There’s a car.”
“I see it,” Ken snapped back at her doing his best to maneuver out of the way of the approaching headlights, but it was too late.  While he’d managed to get out of the way of the truck that was approaching, he’d somehow managed to get up onto the sidewalk and before he knew it, the ice-cream shop before him was closer than he’d realized.
“Ken stop!” Carly’s words screamed in sheer terror as Ken realized it was too late.  The last thing he could remember was the blood curdling scream Carly let out before the sounds of busting glass surrounded him leading him to the darkness that only disaster could bring at a time like this.


...to be continued...