Brant sat at his desk thinking about the strange turn of events that had
come about in his life lately. Sure things werent perfect, but as he
thought about how long hed waited to have Avery in his life it just
felt too good to be true. Hed hoped for so very long that shed
start to feel something for him as well and sure she was fighting it, but
he was sure in time that would change. With a small smile he thought back
to the kiss theyd shared before Guy arrived. It had been brief, but
intense and the sparks between them were more than obvious. He was certain
that shed felt it too until she pulled away from him. Even now he was
tempted to go and seek her out, but hed promised himself that hed
give her time. She needed to figure things out for herself and he wanted to
give her room to do that.
Shell come around, he muttered to himself leaning back in his leather chair as he could still taste her kiss upon his lips. Grinning like a schoolboy Brant closed his eyes thinking about the future that was in store for him and his wife.
Oh Brant, he could hear her calling to him from across the room. Opening his eyes he saw her standing in the doorway wearing a sexy, black satin and lace nightgown, I was wondering where youd drifted off to.
I was just giving you and Guy some time alone, Brant confessed with a warm smile, I thought you looked like you could use some space.
That was very thoughtful of you, but right now I have to admit theres far too much space between us at this very moment, she wiggled her finger at him, Get over here you handsome man you.
Over there? he nodded towards the doorway watching her fingers tease down the front of her nightgown seductively. He eyed the path shed taken with her index finger, his throat going dry with every slow movement hed made.
Right here, she purred arching her head back as he slid out from behind his desk. Boldly he approached her moving in close enough to bring his hands out on the wall on both sides of her.
Right here, he questioned with a sexy smile feeling her hands slide out over his waist, then up and over the steely contours of his spine.
Exactly right here, she nodded curling her fingers through his hair roughly before devouring his lips with her tempting, luscious mouth.
Being a man who didnt need to be told twice, Brant tugged her into his arms eagerly--the urgency of the moment continuing to build between them. His hands roamed over her curves greedily, his mouth consuming ever erotic inch of her as his patience seemed to have paid off.
I need you Brant, she moaned rubbing up against him, I need you right now.
Let me take you upstairs, he groaned feeling her body entice him further.
Forget upstairs. I want you right now, right here, she nibbled on his earlobe, scratching her nails in over his back before their tongues tangled once again. Their bodies collided against one another--his pulse racing out of control as his hands slid down over her bottom lifting her up ever so slightly against his throbbing need.
I love you, he groaned against the base of her throat, tasting the sweetness of her skin.
I love you too, she purred, melting against his touch.
Oh Angela, you have no idea how long Ive waited for this, Brant confessed feeling her stiffen against him as she pulled away from his touch.
Angela, she gave him a strange look, Who the hell is Angela?
Avery, Brant gulped taking a step back only to discover the woman hed had on his mind standing in the middle of his study.
Go on Brant, Angela taunted folding her arms in front of her chest as she glared over at him, Tell your wife all about our time together. Im sure shed love to hear all about the torrid details. Come on. I dare you.
I can explain. I can Brant gasped, his eyes snapping open as he felt his body laced with perspiration. Somehow hed drifted off in his office while waiting for Guy and Avery to finish up with one another. Now as his heart rate quickened he thought back to that Christmas hed shared with one of the most erotic women hed ever met. Angela had been sinfully tempting and everything hed hoped for when Avery hadnt been in his life. She was fuel to his fire--the source of an ache that still stirred up inside of him and ultimately shed thrown him out on his ass in a heartbeat.
This is ridiculous, he shook his head bringing his fingers through his dark hair. Angela was his way of dealing with losing Avery. She was fun while it lasted, but it was a fling. A simple, enjoyable couple of days that meant nothing. Hed done that before and was able to walk away with a fond memory every now and then. Angela was no different well, other than the fact that she looked very much like his wife. If hed had them side by side, there would almost be no way of telling which woman he was with--which woman hed been losing himself to.
Just stop, Brant cursed under his breath, his gaze turning to the ring on his finger, You have absolutely everything youve ever wanted now that Avery is your wife. Youre not about to let someone youll never see again destroy that. Avery is the woman you love. Avery was what you wanted then and shes everything you need now. You love Avery.
Still as he opened the top desk drawer, he saw the clippings that his private investigator had sent him. Fingering them carefully he could feel himself slipping back into that holiday theyd spent together. Things had been so intense, so exactly what hed needed at a time when hed hit an all time low, yet that was then. This was now.
Brant, he heard Avery call out to him. Quickly he shoved the clippings in his top desk drawer vowing to get rid of them in the morning. He didnt need his fantasy girl any longer now that he had the woman of his dreams as his wife. Sure things hadnt exactly gotten off to a great start with him and Avery, but this, well this was forever. He was going to work, he promised himself before turning his desk lamp off and going to see what his wife needed.
Angela gazed out the window thinking about the plans shed made for
the day. Sure when shed gotten up this morning shed had every
intention of going with Kevin down to the pier as promised, but after the
way shed felt earlier, she knew the last place she needed to be was
on the water. Shuddering as a chill crept in over her, she placed her hands
over her arms in a feeble attempt to get warm, but it was useless. There was
no fighting this feeling that had overtaken her lately and sure maybe she
shouldve stayed in bed, but she had to do something to keep her mind
I wish you couldve done with me on the water today, Kevins voice rang through her head.
Trust me Kevin. You wouldnt want me there. Besides I might head over to my office for a bit. I want to check on my latest patient, shed explained simply. He could use some of my attention.
What you could use is a day of Angie. Thats why I asked you out on my boat, hed reminded her sounding less than pleased with her decision.
I understand that, but trust me Kevin. Today is not a day for sailing. Ill sleep in for a while and then maybe Ill make it to the office, shed lied knowing full well that the moment she hung up with him shed be at her office trying to make sense of what lay before her.
Fine, but know that I will check up on you later and youd better be resting, hed warned in that same parental tone hed used with her time and time again after her last big slip up. Still now was completely different.
Sorry Kevin, but I have work to do, Angela thought aloud turning her attention to the desk before her. Sure, she couldve taken the easy way out this morning, but that simply wasnt her. It simply wasnt what shed wanted especially when staying at home meant shed have to think about the last person in the world she wanted to think about. However, in trying not to think about him, the damage had been done.
Damn it, Angela replied with a heavy frown returning to the window once again as a heat started to spread over her features. Closing her eyes she thought back to that time at the beach house when shed really thought shed found someone special--that shed foolishly fallen under the notion that great sex could turn into something more. Hed been so gallant, so charming and for a brief moment in time shed thought that maybe just maybe he could be someone shed find herself falling for.
Whatever business you had with Angela, well its over, Brant decided pushing his way in front of the man who quite possibly couldve held a few inches over him in height, It ended the moment you hit her on the beach and now Id strongly suggest you turn around and get out of here before things get ugly.
Look Romeo, you dont know who youre dealing with, George replied shoving his hand into Brants chest as Brant seized the mans arm throwing him down against the coffee table before him. With a simple twist, Brant had the man immobilized as the man tried to struggle against the hold Brant had on him.
No. You dont know who youre dealing with now, do you? In fact given that you know very little about me, well it would be in your best interest if you pay close attention to what Im about to tell you Brant began in a menacing tone.
Go to hell, George growled back at him despite the disadvantage hed had in this particular arrangement as Brant shoved him harder against the top of the coffee table.
Nope, wrong answer, Brant hissed, a darkness in his tone as he pushed on Georges arm just a bit to give it a little extra effect, Now you listen to me buddy. I strongly suggest you leave Angela alone because I swear to you if I ever hear about you laying a hand on her--if you even think about touching her, doing anything to hurt her or hell even looking at her the wrong way, well youre going to have to answer to me and I swear to you if I find out that youve done something to her that isnt on the up and up, Im going to hunt you down and make sure you feel the hurt you think you can press upon others. Do I make myself clear?
Brant, Angela gasped as she stepped into the room with the sheet wrapped around her unable to believe what was happening, What are you doing?
Just getting better acquainted with George, Brant explained fishing into Georges back pocket for his wallet and releasing him as he took a good, long look at Georges drivers license.
Youre insane, George hissed rubbing at his elbow as he turned to Angela, and you, well you
Go to hell George, Angela huffed in response bunching the sheet up around her body tighter, The deals off as Im not going to do that article for you. Nothing you can offer me is worth what youre trying to do here.
Youre going to regret this Angela, George threatened as Brant reached out to him again seizing him by the collar as he lifted him up off of the ground.
Im already not liking your tone George, Brant threw him a menacing glare, which means its time for you to apologize.
When George remained silent, Brant shook him for effect before George belted out in a slow whimper, Im sorry Angela.
Tell her that you realize you made a mistake with your offensive behavior and youre never going to lay a hand on her again, Brant ordered in a more abrasive tone.
I was wrong Angie and words cant even begin to express how sorry I am, George muttered fearfully as Brant glanced over at Angela awaiting her response to the situation.
Apology accepted for now, she answered with a nod of her head as Brant dropped George sending him crashing to the ground before Brant tossed his wallet at him right into the center of his chest.
Get out of here, Brant grumbled in response watching George stumble around on the ground as he followed him out towards the door, and remember I know where you live which means if I find out that youre screwing with her in any way, youre a dead man. Do I make myself clear?
Crystal, George nodded quickly rushing off of the property as Brant slammed the door shut behind him.
Rubbing his hands together Brant returned to Angela with a proud smile beaming over his handsome features, That felt good.
That was good, she couldnt help but grin in awe of him as she rushed over to him throwing her arms around his neck excitedly leaping into his arms as her sheet fell to the ground, and I dont know how I can thank you enough for that as I never had the balls to just tell him where to stick it
Thats what you have me here for, Brant curled his arm around her spinning her with each step he took as a laugh bubbled over him, Itll show him not to mess with you
God, I dont think Im going to have to worry about him ever again as you came on like a wild man with the way you dealt with him, she boasted proudly, Oh I just cant believe how good you are. I mean you stepped into the role of the perfect heroic type telling him where he could go and
I did, didnt I, Brant grinned excitedly, and damn that felt good.
Try being on this end, she laughed in response feeling excitement curl over her down to the tips of her toes, I mean you had it going on Brant. You were just like the protective boyfriend stepping up to save the woman he loves and she paused as a moment of reality fell upon her and her smile faded, though youre not the boyfriend
Maybe not, but well, he hesitated before he squeezed her in against him dropping a tender kiss upon her lips, Maybe its a role I might be interested in researching on for the future.
How stupid shed been to actually think that something couldve
come from that weekend, she frowned to herself. She reached out to close the
blinds in her office having had more than enough of the day outside of the
four walls shed tried to hide herself in. Sure, Brant had been full
of promises, but she shouldve known better. The whole situation was
bad--really bad and for her to have thought that she couldve spun some
kind of fairy tale romance from it, well it just proved that shed been
more delusional than ever after her husband had died.
Things just hadnt been the same for her ever since that morning when shed gotten the call about his car being pulled from the river. Shed thought that maybe hed run out on her with one of his groupies, but then well, when he didnt return to tell her what a bitch she was for making him miserable, she thought that something mightve happened--something major. Sure, the world had known him as the infamous Cody The Killer Meloni, but shes known him as Cary Vincent Meloni--one of the first men shed ever truly loved. Things with Cary were hot and heavy and intense. God were they intense and Angela had thrived on the drama. Theyd had some good times, but mostly in the beginning and all the while Kevin had called her insane for getting into the whole relationship. Still, when shed discovered that Cary had vanished from this world it changed her perspective on things. The truth about what kind of man Cary had been came to the surface making her feel like one of the stupidest women alive.
No more stupid mistakes, she had reminded herself vowing to never, ever fall down that dark road again. She wasnt about to get her heart broken by some big muscle bound overbearing hothead who was all about proving what a god he was to everyone but his wife. That had been the past and though Angela still admitted shed felt very strongly about what shed once had Cary, she shouldve known it was doomed. With Cameron stepping in like he did shouldve been a sign.
God, what is wrong with you, Angela groaned bringing her finger through her dark hair, First you start thinking about Brant and now Cary. You must be in the mood for some self loathing. The fact is that Cary is dead and Brant, well hes the past. Hes gone and out of your life forever.
Well almost forever, but the part of him that still is remains youre not going to let it haunt you. she paused taking a moment to look at herself in the mirror, Hes nothing and you know that.
Thats it, Angela snapped ready to do what she came to do this morning. Reaching for a few mints to tuck into her pocket, she made her way out into the hallway taking her time getting to the first patient on her list. She entered his room to find him in very much the same state as hed been in since hed been transferred here months earlier. Now looking at him, she felt a pang of sadness sweep over her.
Here I am thinking about my failed relationships while youre fighting for your life, Angela reached out to push a strand of his dark hair from his face, It doesnt seem fair, now does it? Still, dont you worry. I dont care what the charts are telling me. Im going to pull you out of this. Ill find a way to help you. You have my word on that.
There you go again, Kevins voice caught her off guard causing her to nearly leap out of her skin, making promises you cant keep, huh?
Would you stop doing that, Angela chastised him, Dont sneak up on me. Im more than likely to turn around and deck you one day for that.
Hey, I cant help it if youre edgy, Kevin entered the room, a full smile spreading over his features, I told you to stay in bed today.
Yeah well if I did that Id get nothing done. You know I have work to do, she replied with a heavy frown turning her attention to her patients vitals. Im needed here.
Angie, what you need to do is rest, he reached out to touch her arm gently, If you keep working yourself like this, it isnt going to help anything.
Look Kevin, I dont want to hear it, she glared up at him, Im not in the mood.
Yeah, well whether youre in the mood or not, the fact is you cant avoid this much longer. Youre a doctor. You know what the risks are by ignoring the obvious signs, he shook his head at her, I realize that youre still a bit shell shocked, but its been a couple months Angie. You should really be letting someone help you with whats going on
I can take care of myself, she insisted with a small hiss, as you just said Im a doctor, remember?
Yes and they say that doctors make the worst patients which in your case is very true. You shouldve stayed home and rested. You shouldnt be here working with him when you know that hes still the same as he was yesterday and the day before, Kevin frowned down at her, Angie, youre pushing yourself too hard.
Spoken from a man who takes his job of being glued to my hip so seriously he cant go out and have any fun, she shook her head at him, Kevin, why didnt you go out sailing? Why not take that blonde you were spending time with along for the ride?
Because she was a flake and besides, he paused his thick gaze weighing down upon her, you need me.
No, I dont, she argued with him, You just dont want me to run off and get you into trouble with Cameron again. Thats really what this is about.
Damn it Angie. You know me better than that. Youre my friend. Can I help it if I care about what happens to you and he started his voice raising with emotion.
Just stop Kevin, she brushed past him dismissively, I dont want to hear it. Not now. I still want to check in on the castaway that we picked up the other day.
Angie, dont walk away from me, he snagged her arm with his palm before pulling her aside, I could tell by the sound in your voice--hell, even by the look in your eyes right now that you know Im right. I know you well enough to know that youve been bothered by that jerk you met before for a while now. I know thats why youre refusing to listen to me.
Hes a thing of the past Kevin. I never shouldve told you about him in the first place, she insisted trying to wrench out of his hold on her.
See now thats where youre wrong. You shouldve told me about him a lot sooner so I could find him and break his legs and his neck for what he did to you. I knew that I shouldnt have let you sneak out like that when you did. That book deal was bound to go sour and if I wouldve known youd pick up some guy in the process he frowned with obvious disapproval.
Look Kevin, it was my mistake. Im dealing with it. Youre not my father and I dont need to constantly hear the lecture. Ive lived and Ive learned, she huffed impatiently, I realize whats next.
I dont think you do. I dont think that youre taking the time to really view this seriously. You should be doing so much more for yourself right now and if youre not going to do it, then Ill have no choice but to bring Cameron into this, he released her folding his arms in front of her chest.
You wouldnt dare, she grumbled in response calling him on his bluff, You know better than to do that to me.
Fine, maybe I wont call him, but what I will do if you dont start taking better care of yourself is find a way to drag you down to see someone myself. I dont care if you go kicking and screaming Angie. Im not about to let you get out of this. Youve already cancelled two appointments
Thats because Ive been busy, she waved at him dismissively, and Im still busy. I have a patient that needs me and
Angie, what you need is to take time for you--really take the time that you need to come to grips with things. You need to quit letting the memory of that jerk haunt you and start moving forward with your life. All I need is a name and I swear to you if I ever come into contact with him, then hes a dead man. Ill make sure he never hurts you
Kevin, hes the past. You said it yourself, she pleaded with him, and us going another ten rounds about this isnt going to help anything. Whats done is done and now Im moving forward. If I get a little wrapped up in work, well thats good for me. Being here is very therapeutic.
Its an avoidance tactic and I know that Angie. Youre caught up in ignoring the reality that he started watching her move past him, Hey where are you going?
I have work to do and Im not about to continue this debate with you. Its over Kevin. If youre really upset then you make the appointment and Ill go, she called back refusing to look back at him as she entered her patients room to check on his condition.
Fine I will, but this time you wont weasel out of it Angie, he replied with a huff knowing full well that while shed always been impossible, this situation with the mystery man shed encountered had made her far more miserable than shed ever been. She was stubborn and reckless and Kevin knew where that always lead to with her--trouble.
Valerie licked her lips, taking a good look at her reflection in the small
compact mirror as she prepared herself for the night to change everything
for little Ms. Ashford. Smiling to herself she vowed that she would deliver
the final nail in Blakes coffin so to speak.
What are you waiting for, JT questioned with an impatient huff, The bar to close?
Im just making myself perfect for my grand entrance, Valerie explained brightly, I want both Blake and Seth to remember this for always.
Yeah well if you dont hurry up, I think theyre going to be too wrapped up in one another to care what it is you have to say, JT reminded her harshly casting his gaze out over the crowded dance floor where Seth and Blake danced together seemingly lost in the moment.
Yeah, well she can enjoy it while she can because after tonight its over for that little bitch. No one takes whats mine and gets away with it, she declared snapping her compact shut before looking up at JT. How do I look?
Devastating, he waved his hand at her, Now are you going to make a move for it or what?
Look, Ill do this at my own pace. I dont need you rushing me, she eyed him intently, Besides I thought you didnt care about my cause.
I dont, but I know as long as youre miserable youre not going to help me get closer to mine. You still owe me that address, remember? he tapped his fingers on top of the bar impatiently.
I havent forgotten, she leaned forward teasing her fingers over the center of his chest, and soon Diane wont forget where it is she belongs either. If she means that damn much to you, then shes clearly wrong for Ben.
Ben has no business moving in on my girl. Diane and I are meant to be together, JT replied behind a clenched jaw.
Yeah, well well work on that, but first things first, she grinned hearing the song come to an end, Its time to work my magic.
Finally, JT grumbled watching her work her way through the dance floor in search of Blake and Seth. However after a few seconds of searching she returned with a scowl on her face.
That wasnt them, she hissed, her eyes wild with vehemence, JT, that wasnt them at all.
Val you and I both saw them with our own eyes. They were over at that table and then they were dancing and, he turned to look over at the table theyd been seated at only to find a tip for the waitress laying on the table top. Son of a bitch. You missed them!
No we missed them, Valerie tossed her dark hair back over her shoulders, and this is all your fault. I cant believe you kept me busy for as long as you did when all I wanted to do was go and confront that little witch.
I kept you busy? JTs eyes widened in response, You were the one worried about your makeup and your looking beautiful.
You sicken me, she clenched her purse at her side, and just for that, youre not getting that address out of me. If you can screw up my plans, then I will be more than happy to return the favor.
Oh no you dont, JT caught her arm before she could stomp away, A deal is a deal Valerie. You owe me that address and youre not leaving here until I get it out of you.
Its not with me, she curled her lip in a pout.
Fine, then Im going with you because one way or another I will find my way to Diane, he vowed knowing that nothing would be able to stand in his way ever again when it came to the woman he wanted.
Thanks guys, Sarah smiled as they pulled up to her home to drop her off. I had a really great time.
Me too, Seth nodded slowly, We should really do that again sometime.
Yeah, maybe you could bring Kyle next time, Blake suggested with a slight shrug.
That sounds like it would be fun, Sarah stated smiling, Well I guess I should get going.
Are you sure you want to go home, I mean you could have an all night party with us, Blake declared seeing Sarah shake her head lightly.
You know that sounds really good, but I am really tired. I just think I am going bed, Sarah shrugged before opening to door.
Are you sure? I mean, we dont mind hanging out all night, Blake insisted before seeing her nod her head. I mean we could even hang out here if you want.
I will be fine, Sarah laughed before getting out of the car and waving telling them that it was okay for them to leave.
She walked up to her door as she pulled her keys out of her pocket slowly. She went to her door, but when she reached it the door creaked slowly. She looked carefully seeing that the door had been broken into. She panicked as her fingers slowly pushed open the door looking into the dark room. She flipped the switch up as the light spread across the room.
Oh my god, Sarah gasped looking across the disastrous room, What happened in here?
Everything she owned was thrown to the ground and most of it broken. Her television had been cracked open and her glass cups were broken on the floor. She walked through the mess trying not to step on anything. As she walked to her kitchen she saw the roses that Kyle had gotten for were all torn up and thrown onto the floor. She reached down picking one of the pedals holding it in her fingers as she shook her head.
Who could have done this? Sarah questioned with a deep sigh before letting the rose petal fall to the ground.
She stepped over a few broken pieces of glass before coming over to a broken DVD that was cracked into many pieces. She picked up the pieces to the DVD and saw that it was the one Kyle had bought for her. She felt a short pain of sadness as she frowned.
This has gone too far, she stated before getting slightly worried if there was still someone there.
Susan eyes followed Jades every movements as she walked up to the cashier. Susan had spotted Jades arrival moments earlier when shed come in with a handsome man trailing behind. That in itself had Susan very curious as she wondered if maybe Jade wasnt as saintly as shed tried to be. Perhaps this was something Susan could use to her advantage as she wondered if perhaps Gradys latest fling too had a taste for extracurricular activities.
What could she be doing? Susan questioned never taking her eyes off Jade.
Susan gasped as she saw the cashier put the item into the bag.
Oh my god, Susans jaw dropped astonished seeing what it was.
It was a pregnancy test, how could Jade be pregnant? This was going all wrong.
Jade cant be pregnant, Susan protested with a sigh shaking her head, Grady is mine.
Anger overcame Susan as she went to go into the store, but a thought overcame her. There was no way in hell Jade would get away with this latest move. If she was in fact pregnant Susan would have to take matters into her own hands.
Your lucky that you have that hunk with you tonight, Susan declared with a devilish grin, If he wasnt with you, you would be in some serious trouble.
Susan stayed outside the store a few more minutes before thinking everything over. This really wasnt worth getting aggravated over. Grady would never be able to get out of jail and they would never be able to be together. Just that thought made Susan smile. This was all worth fighting over. Grady couldnt get out of jail, she wouldnt let it happen.
So what do you say we try something different for a change, Brant
suggested entering the living room with a box tucked under his arm, I
found this in the attic the other day after I was looking for something of
my mothers for Blake. I guess it kind of felt like something that might
come in handy and tonight seems to be good for it.
What is it, Avery questioned turning her attention away from the fireplace to look up at him.
Its monopoly, Brant explained with a simple shrug, Given that neither you nor I have been in the best of moods lately, I thought that maybe there would be nothing like a little competition to get the fires burning.
So you thought youd bring in monopoly to tap into my competitive streak? she questioned giving him a strange look.
Absolutely, Brant grinned revealing his dimples with the sparkle that followed, I mean hey I know youre at your finest when youre fighting there.
So now youre saying I like to fight, huh? she questioned watching him slide one of the coffee tables over to the center of the floor in front of the fireplace.
No, not at all, Brant shook his head before reaching for a couple of oversized throw pillows and placing one on each side of the small table, but at the same time I know how you feel about winning. Ive seen you in action and I think tonight youll prove yourself a worthy adversary.
Is that how you view me these days? she questioned lazily watching him work to set up the game for them, An adversary?
Of course not, Brant shook his head adamantly, but Ive learned the first step in building a relationship is having the ability to laugh with one another. That and also being able to spend quality time with one another unwinding.
Unwinding, she repeated with a look of skepticism, so you thought that playing the never ending game of monopoly would help us unwind?
Maybe, maybe not, he shrugged, but it might help us both relax a bit if were willing.
I should probably be up front and tell you that Im rather good at this game, Avery couldnt help but smile at his attempt to lighten the situation between them.
Yeah, well I should probably do the same and tell you that Ive actually played this game to the point that Ive won and cleaned house with everyone else, he teased with a small chuckle, so feeling up for a little friendly competition now?
Oh youre so on, Avery nodded enthusiastically making her way to the floor across from him, Youre so toast Brant.
Well just see about this, he reached for the little metal pieces before motioning to her, Any preferences?
Ill take the car, she decided leaning in over the table, so that I can run you over when I win this.
Ah, confident are ya, he laughed lightly reaching for his own piece, Well just see about that by the time this is over.
Youre the dog, she arched a curious brow, interesting.
Do you have a problem with my being the dog? Brant questioned curiously.
Oh no of course not, she shook her head all the while fighting to suppress the smile that teased at the corners of her lips, Its very fitting.
Hey, Brant paused for a moment, I object to that--at least I think I do.
Well do you or dont you, she arched a curious brow before leaning in closer to him, Of course you know this indecisiveness isnt going to help your game tonight.
Oh believe me I already have my own strategy planned here, he promised reaching for the money, unless of course you think youve already figured me out.
I think it would take me decades to truly figure you out Brant, she confessed honestly.
He glanced up at her again with obvious interest, What would you say if I told you that I felt that way about you as well?
Id say good, Avery replied after a moments contemplation, I wouldnt want to be an open book. Theres no fun in that.
You have a very valid point there, but then again, if there was ever anything you wanted to know about me, well you do realize all you have to do is ask, he offered up while fumbling through the paper money, You know that dont you?
I suppose, she shrugged reaching to sip the drink shed had with her earlier, though as it stands I think I know enough
Enough for what? he asked, To trust me? To think about the possibility of what it means for me and you being together like this?
Were just playing a friendly game, she reminded him, I dont think theres much thought involved in it.
Maybe not, but you know thats not what Im referring to, he frowned slightly.
Then what are you referring to, she questioned curling her legs underneath her while she readjusted her body on the floor.
Us, he admitted sheepishly before dropping his hand down underneath the table to touch her knee gently, Im referring to what we have together Avery.
Brant, I dont think now is the right time to get into that, she replied uneasily, I thought we were going to play a game here.
We are, but at the same time, well I just kind of wanted to talk about this distance weve had between us over the last few days. I know full well that I could never, ever replace Russ in your eyes, but as your husband I also want you to be well aware that I would really love for you to give me a chance here.
Brant, Im trying, Avery paused for a long moment thinking about what shed happened upon last night when shed tried to give something to Brant. Its just that its
I know its not going to be easy, but I remember a time when you used to want me Avery, Brant pointed out with a small sigh, God, even now I think about that night in the hotel room when we almost made love. If Russell and Heather hadnt gotten in the way like they did, then theres no telling how things mightve turned out.
Why is it so important to you that you get the opportunity to seduce me, Avery asked bluntly, I mean is that really what youre hoping for with this marriage?
No, he shook his head, thats not it at all, but
But what? she frowned, But until we sleep together its always going to bother you?
Avery, thats not what Im trying to say. I mean yeah, sure Ill be honest with you and tell you that Ive been thinking about it--a lot actually, but Im a man and its in my nature. Its kind of like breathing at times. You try not to think about it, but
You just cant help yourself, right, she frowned again, Its just a guy thing, huh?
Avery, I love you. Ive never lied to you about that and yes, the idea of making love with you is something thats been haunting me from the first moment I met you, he confessed reaching out across the table to take her hand in his, Ive wanted you for longer than I can remember and even now even in touching you like this Avery, its not enough. Itll never be enough.
Brant, I just dont know if I can she withdrew from his touch, her gaze traveling to the game board on the table before her.
Im not asking for it now. Hell, if it takes a long time, then so be it, but all I want is for you to open yourself to the idea that maybe one day we could well that we could explore the possibility of what if
Brant, I know how much that seems to mean to you, but after last night, she paused knowing that she couldnt keep the truth from him any longer. Shed screwed up and she had to face that whether she liked it or not, I need to talk to you about Ken.
Ken, he frowned slightly, What about him? Avery, if this is about what he said earlier, well, youll have to try to ignore him. Hes set on being an ass right now and in his path of self-destruction hes ready to take down everyone who crosses paths with him. Its not right at all what hes doing, but I promise you that Im going to find a way to get him in check
Brant, you dont understand. Its not about what he said. Its about what I think hes done what I think Ive done, she started feeling her throat go dry as her heart started pounding in her chest, Brant, I really thought that I was doing something for you last night, but then when you were gone, well Ken mightve I think he may have been
I thought I heard someone still up, Heathers voice swirled through the room as she stood in the doorway. She looked between the both of them tentatively, I hope Im not intruding.
No, of course not, Avery offered a polite smile, not knowing where this kindness towards Heather had generated from, but at the same time she found herself dreading like hell telling Brant about her suspicions. Is something wrong?
I just couldnt sleep, Heather admitted looking between the both of them, but if Im bothering you
No, not at all, Avery shook her head before turning to Brant, right?
Of course not, Brant decided forcing a polite smile, did you need something?
I guess I just kind of felt restless. I was thinking about Charles, Heather started uneasily, I just miss not being with him.
This situation isnt forever Heather, Brant tried to comfort her with his words.
It feels like it, Heather confessed with tears behind her eyes, I just wish that I could be with him--that I could hold him and make up for the mistakes Ive made so far.
Hey, its going to be okay, Brant rose to his feet, making his way over to embrace her, Heather, I told you once we take Cameron down, then you can have that life you always wanted.
I know, but its the waiting thats killing me, Heather replied sniffling on his shoulder before her eyes fell upon Avery, who still remained seated upon the floor. Heather took a step back almost immediately, Im sorry.
Dont be, Brant tried to assure her, In fact, why dont you join us? Ill go get us each a round of drinks and then we can get started.
Oh I dont want to intrude, Heather stammered a bit.
Its no intrusion, Avery added with a polite smile, Were in for a hearty game of monopoly if youre interested and as Brant said youre more than welcome to join us.
Well, since you put it that way, sure, Heather smiled back at her, why not?
Excellent, then Ill be right back, Brant replied reaching for Averys glass before exiting the room temporarily.
Thanks, Heather began moving in closer to Avery and taking a seat on the floor.
For what, Avery glanced over at her.
For being nice to me, Heather replied in a low tone, Given whats gone on between us, well I know that you dont really have any reason to do so.
And I really dont have a reason not to either, Avery explained drawing in a slow breath, Youre trying to help us clear Gradys name and that means a lot to me.
Even so, I feel like I owe you some kind of apology about what happened before, Heather paused for a long moment, you know with what happened with Russ
Its the past, Avery stiffened at Heathers mention of Russ.
Even so, I just need you to know that when I did what I did, well I dont remember how I wound up in bed with him, but I can promise you that I thought that it was Brant I was with. I really, truly believed that I was making love to Brant, Heather paused biting on her lower lip nervously, not that it really helps the situation now given that you and Brant are together and
And I said its the past, Avery replied quickly, We can leave it at that.
Okay, Heather nodded, but for what its worth, I just want you to know if I could go back and change that night, I would. I never meant for anything to happen like it did for any of us. If I couldve somehow spared Kipp the pain that I put him through
I wish that things had turned out differently, but obviously your husband had an agenda that none of us were aware of even then, Avery answered snidely before taking in a slow breath, Im sorry. I know its not your fault. You had no idea what Cameron was.
No, maybe I did in my own way. I was so bent on hating the world for what I felt it had done to me. I wanted Brant back so bad Heather trailed off, I guess in my own way I just wanted to hurt him.
And now? Avery questioned protectively, Do you still want to hurt him?
Not a chance, Heather shook her head urgently, I dont want to hurt him at all. He saved my life and for that Ill be forever grateful. Hes a great guy you know.
Yeah I know, Avery nodded thinking to all that Brant had done for her.
Youre really lucky, Heather added with a sad smile, because at one time I wouldve given the world to be in your position. I wanted to be Mrs. Brant Ashford more than you can imagine, but I guess fate had other plans for us all.
Yeah, I guess it did, Avery nodded in response turning her attention to the fire once again as she wondered how shed been lucky enough to wind up with the love of a man like Brant. Heaven knew she didnt deserve to have him, but now that she did, she realized she had to find a way to be what he wanted as he deserved so much more than shed given him.
Angela stood over by the window dwelling on what Kevin had lectured her about.
Sure, he mightve had a point, but she didnt need to hear it day
in and day out. She knew what she was doing. She was well aware of what was
expected of her and the last thing she wanted was to listen to him telling
her about yet another mistake he felt she was making.
Its none of his business, Angela tried to tell herself when she heard a sound from behind her.
Turning around, she noticed that her castaway that had washed up on the beach was no longer sleeping. His eyes were open and he made a small couching sound. Immediately she pushed her own self-loathing thoughts aside as she moved in closer to him.
Hey you, Angela smiled down at him seeing the confusion and disorientation behind his eyes, can you hear me?
He nodded with another cough before his lips parted and his voice came out in a low, raspy whisper, Wh-where am I?
Youre in the hospital, she explained smoothly hearing him cough again, Would you like some water?
He nodded and she reached over to pour him a glass of water. Leaning in closer to him she raised the plastic cup to his lips giving him a second to sip. Much to her surprise he gulped it down, eagerly seeking out another glass.
More, he pleaded with her, his hand rising up off of the bed to catch her wrist, please
Of course, she nodded giving in to his request. This time he used his own grip to take hold of the glass. He drank heartily before his gaze returned to her. Immediately she was taken by the expression on his face. There was something about his eyes--something about the way he looked at her. Even though the sun and the heat had caused him to wash up on her shore less in a than proper fashion, she could sense something about him--something that told her the shadow of a stubble over his face had been very foreign to him. Shed been wrong somehow. He wasnt like the others that had washed up here--at least thats what her instincts were telling her.
Who are you he questioned after a long moment of silence.
Im your doctor, she explained smoothly, You washed up on the shore and I brought you here. You were dehydrated and you needed medical attention
I did, he questioned with obvious confusion looking to the IV line in his arm.
Thats right, she nodded in response, youve been out of it since I brought you back here, but now well, can you tell me what your name is?
My name, he repeated with a blank expression on his face.
Yes, your name, she encouraged him, Can you tell me that? Can you tell me what happened to you?
I was he paused clearly flustered as he shook his head, I was in the water. It was all around me. There was this bright light and and it was so
So what, she questioned prompting him further.
Wet, he replied with a small cough, I kept looking for something to hold onto and then
Nothing, he shook his head. Painfully he raised his palm up to his face, running his fingers through his dark hair, I dont know.
You dont know your name or what happened to you? Angela questioned patiently.
Any of it, he blurted out in frustration, I dont know anything about how I got here. All I can remember was water. Lots of water
Its okay, Angela offered up in an encouraging tone, given what youve been through it might take you a couple of days to regain that knowledge. You may have
I have to get out of here, the man explained desperately, I cant be in here. I need to go.
Go where? Angela watched him shuffling with the sheet that lay over him.
I just have to get out of here. I need to he started to pull at the IV line in his arm.
I cant let you do that. Not yet not when she reached out over him to stop him from hurting himself, You need to relax. You need to just calm down and give yourself time to figure it out when
I cant relax. I need to get out of here. I need to be, he continued to protest until his penetrating gaze fell upon hers. Suddenly his movements were stilled as he looked to her. His eyes widened, his lips parting as he extended his fingers out and up towards her face, I remember
You remember? she repeated catching the strange way he was watching her.
Yes, I remember, he repeated with an emphatic nod, his fingertips grazing her cheek gingerly in a surprising movement. His index finger pressed in over the center of her lips, teasing over her bottom lip in a slow, seductive movement, I remember you.
Me? Angela nearly choked on the word after the way hed reached out to brush his palm against her face. No, you must be mistaken.
No, its the one thing Im sure of, he insisted reaching out for her again, I know your face. I remember you
Thats impossible. Unless of course youre thinking about the beach when I found you, she stammered a bit taken by his words, Other than that we dont
Yes, we do, he nodded urgently, his hand curling around her arm in a surprisingly tender motion, Im sure of it.
No, she shook her head stumbling back a bit too caught off guard to say much more when the door to the room opened.
Angie, look Im sorry about what I said before. I was just , Kevin started entering the room only to discover Angela and the patient in an awkward position with one another. Hey, whats going on?
Kevin, Angela let out a small breath of relief still shell-shocked by the way in which her patient had touched her. Her face was burning hot at the simple contact hed made with her. She thought of the sentiment behind his eyes when hed reached for her. Quickly she focused upon him again seeing confusion register over his features before he fell back onto the bed unconscious.
Angie, what in the world Kevin started watching her lean in over the patients bed, Was this creep bothering you?
No, hes just confused, Angela did a quick check of his vitals, and obviously hes far from getting through whatever happened to him.
For a minute there, when I walked in and saw you both I just thought, Kevin started still a bit surprised by the color in her face, are you sure that
Im positive, she nodded, now would you just give me a hand here? I just want to make sure hes alright.
Okay, Kevin shrugged his shoulders knowing full well that there was more to the story than Angela was telling him. He stepped in closer watching her work on her patient as his gut instincts told him that somehow this man was bound to be nothing but trouble.
Sarah picked up the phone with her shaking hands dialing a number slowly. The sound of the ringing made her even more scared looking behind her back.
Hello, Diegos voice made her jump from just the sound of another person.
Diego, its Sarah, her voice sounded scratched and jittery making him know something was wrong.
Sarah, whats wrong? he questioned quickly scared if someone did something to her.
Someone broke into my house, she informed him looking around into the reckless room.
Is everything okay? he questioned quickly standing up from where he was sitting.
Well, I am okay, but everything in my house is mess, Sarah stated with a frown picking up another piece of glass from the floor.
What do you mean? he wondered looking at his watch to see what time it was.
I mean some of my things are broken and they are all over the floor, she got quickly showing that she was slightly out of breath.
Everything is going to be okay, are you alright? he questioned worrying about her condition.
I am fine, she replied taking in a deep breath, I am just a little scared right now.
Is Kyle there with you? he wondered wanting to make sure she had someone with her to make sure she would be okay.
No thats why I called you, she began to explain to him, Kyle is out of town and I am here alone. I am sorry I called you, but I couldnt think of anyone else to call.
It is okay, he hushed her before grabbing his coat, I will be right there okay?
Alright, she nodded before looking around her house. Just make sure you say that it is you.
I will do, he agreed before walking towards the door, Do you have something to protect yourself right now?
I have a baseball bat, she replied grabbing the baseball bat that lie on the couch next to her.
That will be perfect, he nodded to himself opening his door, Just stay where you are and I will be right there.
Alright, she agreed before looking around the room worriedly, Diego?
Yeah? he questioned before shutting his door making sure nothing happened.
Hurry, she got out before hanging up the phone.
She looked around her house and took in a deep sigh.
Who would have done this? she asked herself thinking of all the possibilities. This was crazy; this type of thing was going a little too far.
Kevin grabbed his papers off from the desk of the post office.
Thank you, Kevin smiled sliding the mail into his pocket as he started walking out he noticed two people he had never seen before. The guy looked suspicious and for some reason there was something about him that put Kevin immediately on edge. Hed known the type oh too well in the past and in seeing a man like that on the island he had a feeling that trouble was to follow. He knew it wasnt right, but eager to see what they wanted he listened into their conversation.
So where do you think we should look? the man questioned as he looked around the post office.
I dont know, maybe we should start asking people, the woman suggested before Kevin heard the man laugh.
Yeah, Ill go up to someone, the man began to laugh as he started to talk again, Excuse me maam have you seen this dead guy?
Dead guy? Kevin questioned to himself lightly, not loud enough for them to hear him.
Thats not funny, the woman hissed before hitting the man in the chest.
I was just saying, the man shrugged before looking back towards Kevin as he looked away.
Well, it could work, the woman stated before speaking up again, It could work.
Fine, we can do it your way, the man shrugged before pointing her direction, Next time we are going to do it my way though.
Whatever, the woman shrugged before Kevin saw the two of them walk in his direction as he looked down.
Excuse me sir, the man caught his attention making his look up.
Yes? Kevin nodded seeing the man pull his wallet out of his pocket.
My name is Kyle and this is my girlfriend Shannon, Kyle got out slowly before opening his wallet. I was wondering if you have seen this man before?
No man, Kevin shook his head slowly before looking at the picture next to the one the man was showing him. It was a picture of Angela and this guy with his arm around her. A slight bit of anger came above him as he fought it back. Sorry.
Its no problem, Kyle smiled before putting his wallet away, Thanks for your help.
No problem, Kevin nodded before walking away and taking one glance back at the two seeing them ask someone else. That has to be the asshole who hurt Angela.
He had a sudden urge to go back there and give that a guy a piece of his mind, but he decided it wasnt worth it as long as the guy wasnt looking for Angela.
Gabe knocked on the door not wanting to pressure Jade, but at the same time
he remembered how shaken up shed been at the prospect of what she was
about to face. He could only imagine how difficult this could be for her with
Grady behind bars. That itself put a bit of a challenge in front of her. Still
hed offered to be her support system every step of the way.
Everything okay in there, Gabe questioned through the door only to feel it open.
Hey, Jade offered up a weak smile looking up at him.
So how are we doing, Gabe asked gently not wanting to push her too hard, too fast.
We have to wait a little while, Jade explained stepping out into the hallway with him. I was going to do it in there, but well, after about a minute I realized that I cant do this waiting alone. Ive never been good at that sort of thing.
Neither have I, Gabe openly admitted, I have no patience when it comes to waiting for the important things. Still, since we have a little time left, how about some tea?
Tea sounds good, she nodded following him into the kitchen, You know I never thought it would be like this. I mean, sure I guess I always thought that one day I might be a mother for real, but I just never imagined it would kind of fall into my lap like this.
I know you and Grady obviously werent planning this, but if you are pregnant, Gabe started reaching for a couple of mugs for them.
Then it opens up a whole new world of complications, Jade sighed bringing her hand in over her abdomen, Not that I dont want this, because in a strange way I do, but
But youre scared, Gabe motioned for her to sit at the table, Youre afraid of what comes next, huh?
Well yes, that and then theres she paused clearing her throat uneasily, Gabe, there are so many other things going on here. Things that Ive never told anyone before--not even Grady
Jade, if you want to talk, then you know Im here for you, he returned to the kitchen table to take a seat across from her, but if youd rather not
No, I think I want to, she insisted reaching out for her steaming mug, In my own way I think I need to.
Okay, he reached out to squeeze her hand supportively, talk to me sweetheart.
Its just she paused contemplating her words as a lump of emotion built in the back of her throat, Its just so complicated you know. I mean sure I guess I kind of always knew that this would come up, but
But you werent expecting to find motherhood threatening to come at a time like this, Gabe offered watching her features darken a bit.
It seems to come at times when Im just not prepared for it, Jade paused choked up on emotion. Her eyes misted over as she began to divulge a secret that only Seth had known the truth about, I told you that when I was fourteen I was raped
I know, he nodded before squeezing her hand supportively, and that was a horrible, horrible ordeal for you to have to have gone through. I wish like hell you didnt have to face something like that
Yeah, well I did and just when I thought the nightmare was over, well a short time later I discovered that I was pregnant, Jade confessed painfully, At the time I was in a strong state of denial. I had a nervous breakdown after what those monsters did to me. Sure, Seth did all he could to try to make the whole situation easier on me, but then when I found out about the baby, it was like I was living through the rape all over again
Oh Jade, Gabes eyes glistened with emotion, I had no idea
No one did, she admitted with a painful expression, Seth and I were the only ones who really knew about the baby. At the time Id been taken to the hospital things were different than they are now. It was a different place and time and when I ended up being pregnant, well I had one of two choices. I could either keep my baby or I could terminate the pregnancy. Either way it was something that I knew would change my life forever. Even now when I think about it
Oh Jade, Gabe got up from where hed been seated to move over to the table and embrace her. She broke off into tears of anguish as he held her, Im so sorry.
I just never thought that something like that would happen to me. That I would end up having to go through something like that and then to be pregnant I mean my God I was only fourteen, she continued shuddering at the memory, I remember hating them all--hating the world--hating my father for what hed done to me and hating what those men had turned me into. My life wasnt mine any longer and I resented that baby. I hated what was growing inside of me and then when I had to make a choice
Jade, Im sure that you did what was right for you, Gabe tried to soothe her tears knowing full well that pain like what shed endured would never completely fade away.
I made an appointment for an abortion, Jade explained, her voice hollow and empty, I knew it was the only choice I had in the matter. Seth and I argued about it, but it was what I had to do. I couldnt be a mother then. I couldnt have that baby.
Of course, he nodded, you were only a child yourself.
It was unfair and it never, ever shouldve happened to me, Jades voice grew empty as she thought back, but then when I went in for my appointment, they did an ultrasound and I saw the baby. I saw the life growing inside of me. Gabe, despite how much I hated being pregnant, I saw my child and that changed things for me. I knew then that I couldnt go through with the abortion. I couldnt kill my baby when what happened wasnt the babys fault.
So youre saying that you Gabes eyes widened with obvious surprise.
She nodded, I wanted to keep my baby. Even though Id been so bitter about it at first, I decided to stay pregnant. Seth promised hed help me with what was going on and we left town. We went to stay with an aunt of mine while Seth worked to help me prepare for the baby. God, he gave up so much in order to help me through this situation. I mean he had a scholarship in the making to go to one of the Big Ten colleges for football, but he threw it away to help me and my child even knowing where my baby had come from. Hes an amazing man and Im lucky to have a brother like him but evne with all Seths help it wasnt enough. I tried so hard, but it just wasnt good enough
Her voice tapered off as Gabe noticed the strange expression that crossed over her features. It was as if she was reliving her own private hell all over again.
I carried the baby almost completely to term, but then there were complications and tears streamed down her face, It was in part to my being so young and then after the ordeal and the breakdown I tried so hard but
Oh Jade, Gabe felt her hugging him tighter than ever.
My son died because I wasnt able to get out of what they did to me. I hated him in the beginning--hated him so very much that it ended up killing him when I finally realized how wrong I was Jade sobbed into his chest, I lost my baby because I wasnt strong enough.
No, Jade, thats not what happened, Gabe shook his head as he tilted her head up towards him. He wiped at her tears, It just wasnt the right time. Your son knew that as much as you loved him his place wasnt in this world. Hes with the angels, you know?
I know, she nodded biting back on her tears, but after that, I just never thought--I mean I never believed that I would be facing this again. I mean sure okay maybe I thought about what it would be like to be a mother and have a family, but for so long I blocked out what happened. I went on living like my son never existed. I went on pretending that I could ignore what happened, but then when I started to suspect that I could be pregnant
It call came rushing back to you, he noted watching her face twist with emotion.
It sounds crazy, doesnt it? Jade sniffled, I mean here I am at one of the worst possible times in my life wondering if I could be pregnant and my boyfriend is in jail with the possibility of never getting out.
Thats not going to happen, he tried to assure her, Grady will beat this.
Im just not so sure. Gabe, when I was pregnant the last time things were so wrong. My child was created out of hatred and rage, but with this baby--if I am pregnant, then that means that the love Grady and I have with one another is responsible for this, a small smile spread over her features, Itll be a life created out of love and what we have
Which is all the more reason why its right for you if you are in fact pregnant, Gabe wiped at her tears, Maybe fate is trying to give you and Grady a reason to believe.
But if Im not and this is all for not Jade trailed off, dropping her gaze to the floor, I mean I know all the reasons why its not the right time, yet Im so afraid if Im not pregnant--that it means that Im being punished all over again. That somehow Im paying for what happened with my son
Jade, you did all you could for your son. Im sure of it, Gabe insisted with a small sigh, Sweetheart, I see the way you are with my daughter and there isnt a doubt in my mind that you gave all you had for your boy. Even under the circumstances that surrounded you, I know you and your heart. Youre full of a lot of love Jade and Im sure that if you are in fact pregnant, then youre going to give that child all of whats inside of you. Youre going to be a wonderful mother and whether its today or a few years from now, I have no doubt in my mind that you and Grady will have that family that youve dreamt about. Youll have your happiness Jade.
I hope youre right, she leaned into him hearing the alarm go off alerting her that it was time to find out the answer to the question that had haunted her. Clearing her throat, she felt her fingers tingle a bit with nervousness before she looked to Gabe, I guess the mystery is now over huh?
So it would seem, he tucked a strand of her dark hair back behind her ear, Are you ready for this?
Ready as Im ever going to be, Jade admitted with a weak smile hoping that whatever the results told her that she would be able to find a way to make it work.
As shed told Gabe the last time this came up, shed had mixed emotions, but now, well now the idea of having Gradys baby was something that would change her life forever. Before Grady shed known a life of pain and heartbreak, yet even in facing what theyd gone through with one another, she had to admit that in loving him shed finally found a slice of heaven. They had something together that shed always longed for and as she made her way back into the bathroom ready to see what fate had in store for her, she wondered if maybe just maybe things would start looking up for them.
Well, Gabe questioned from the hallway watching as she reached for the test ready to see what they had to tell her, Jade
She eyed it for a long moment feeling as if her breath had been stolen from her throat. Her eyes misted over and as she felt Gabe reach for her shoulder, she couldnt help but be bowled over with emotion.
Jade, what is it, he asked watching as she spun around to face him once again.
Gabe, the test is positive, she blurted out with a tearful smile, Im pregnant.