Episode 192

Anger grew in Grady’s body as he saw his mother and Susan begin walking towards him.

“What is she doing here?” Grady questioned demanding an answer as he stood up.

“Calm down son,” Elliot hushed grabbing his shoulder so he could hold him back.

“Why should I?” Grady wondered shrugging his shoulders, “All she ever does is cause trouble.”

“Grady,” Susan frowned as Grady glared right through her, “I found that very harsh.”

“Harsh?” Grady questioned with a sarcastic laugh. “I’ll show you what harsh is.”

“Stop it Grady,” Elliot pleaded as he held his son back from making a big mistake with Susan.

“She has something that could help you,” Cheryl informed Grady with a sigh seeing the confusion on Grady’s face. “She knows where Jade is.”

“What?” Grady questioned with emphasis behind his voice, “What do you mean?”

“You heard right Grady,” Susan smiled as she folded her arms out in front of her. “I know where Jade is.”

“What are you waiting for then?” Grady wondered as he sat down on the couch watching her take a seat.

“For you to calm down and take the time to actually listen to me,” Susan informed him as Grady nodded.

“I’m listening,” Grady smiled sarcastically before rolling his eyes, “Are you just screwing around because if you are, you can get out of my house right now.”

“I know where she is Grady,” Susan repeated as he shrugged and she shook her head, “If you give me…”

“Susan,” Elliot called out catching her attention, “Stop playing games, this is a serious thing.”

“Fine,” Susan rolled her eyes before getting ready to explain what was going on. “Cameron has Jade.”

“I couldn’t have guessed that,” Grady snarled sarcastically before standing up, “Where does he have her?”

“That’s the thing,” Susan frowned before biting on her bottom lip, “I don’t know.”

“What?” Grady questioned yelling out, startling everyone, “You said you knew where she was.”

“Well, I knew who had her,” Susan replied with a frown, “Cameron has her and he wants to make sure that no one ever sees her again.”

“I’m going to get that…” Grady began as he walked to the door furiously.

“Wait,” Susan called out making Grady turn around, “If you go now…he will know I told you.”

“What is your point?” Grady wondered with a shrug before seeing her frown.

“Well, I think the best thing to do right now is just wait and get some help,” Susan suggested with a frown.

“She is probably right,” Elliot, agreed before shaking his head lightly, “I really don’t know what is going on, but I think we need some more evidence before assuming things.”

Grady wanted to go get Cameron and make him pay for what he did, but he knew his father was right and that’s what killed him inside. The best thing he could do now is just wait.


“I can’t believe it Ben,” Diane began with a sigh shaking her head, “My best friend is out there and there is nothing I can do about it.”

“She will be okay,” Ben promised her as he wrapped his arms around her lightly, “You know that Jade is a strong woman…she will be fine.”

“I know she is a strong woman, but there is just a fear inside of me that I can’t get rid of,” she began to explain with a small frown, “A fear that I will never get to have another laugh with my best friend again…let alone ever see her again.”

“Trust me,” Ben began with a sigh as he shook his head slowly, “You will get to see Jade again, I promise.”

“I know that you,” Diane began before she was cut off by the ringing of Ben’s phone.

“Give me one second,” Ben paused with a sigh as he took his phone out of pocket. “Hello. Yeah…I’ll be there.”

“Who was that?” Diane questioned with a frown as Ben took in a deep breath.

“That was my boss,” Ben informed her shaking his head slowly, “They want me to come into work. “Will you be okay, if you aren’t I could call them back and say I can’t make it.”

“No,” Diane refused as she shook her head, “You need to go to work, that is really important.”

“Are you sure?” Ben questioned uneasily, “I mean I could stay here with you, I would love to.”

“No Ben,” she hushed before beginning to talk again, “I will be fine…you don’t have to worry.”

“Well, what will you do when I am gone?” Ben wondered worriedly before seeing her smile.

“I don’t know, maybe I will go see Blake and Seth,” she suggested to herself, “You know, to see if anything else has changed.”

“Alright,” Ben sighed as he slowly pulled her to him, “I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too,” she smiled before kissing him lightly, “Now you should get going.”

“Alright, I promise I will be back as soon as I can,” Ben declared with a wide smile before walking out the door.

Diane took a seat on the couch as she shook her head slowly. How could something like this have happened?


“I can’t believe it,” Deidra sighed as she took a seat next to Judy, “I am so in love with this man.”

“Dean?” Judy questioned seeing Deidra turn and look at her like she was crazy.

“Of course Dean,” she laughed before starting up again, “He is so romantic and…he is the perfect man.”

“Dean is really special to you then, huh?” Judy wondered seeing Deidra fold her hands out in front of her and nod.

“He is so great to me,” Deidra informed her closing her eyes picturing his face, “He is the man of my dreams and I think I really love him.”

“Wait one second,” Judy, sighed holding her hands up in the air, catching Deidra’s attention, “Don’t get hooked too easily.”

“I’m not,” Deidra, protested shaking her head, “I know what Dean is all about. You don’t have to worry.”

“I always have to worry about you Deidra,” Judy informed her as she took in a deep breath. “I just want you to be safe.”

“I am safe with Dean,” Deidra insisted before holding her hands up in the air. “I couldn’t be happier.”

“I can see that,” Judy smiled before enclosing her fingers together in her lap, “I just want to make sure that you are being careful and keeping yourself safe.”

“Believe me, I am safe with Dean,” Deidra sighed thinking back to the moment when Dean saved her, “I feel like I am always safe with Dean…he is like my protector.”

“Your protector?” Judy questioned with a laugh. “What am I supposed to be?”

“Believe me, you are on my top too,” Deidra smiled before Judy look towards her slowly.

“So tell me more about Dean,” Judy replied before seeing Deidra shrug.

“There are so many things about him,” Deidra stated before seeing Judy shrug.

“Tell me some of the things he has done for you and maybe I won’t be so worried about him,” Judy suggested before seeing Deidra nod.

“Alright, good enough,” Deidra sighed before trying to think of one of the many things that Dean has done for her. Dean was just a great guy and he was perfect all around.


“I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for me today,” Mindy began with a small smile tilting her head up to meet Hunt’s bright gaze. “I know this wasn’t on your top ten list of things to do, but…”

“But what?” he questioned with a small smile of his own, “Don’t you think by now that I’d find any excuse I could to spend the day with a beautiful woman like you?”

“Oh you’re good,” she swatted at his chest playfully, “An insatiable flirt even at the end of a long, grueling day of apartment hunting.”

“Now, now, when you say it like that it makes me feel as if you think all my praise is insincere, which by the way is as far from the truth as you can imagine,” he continued watching her and loving the way her eyes seemed to sparkle when she looked at him. There was just something about being near her--something about having spent the day prancing all over town with her that made him realize that life was truly worth living after all. He could sense that she still wasn’t quite sure how to take him, but for what it was worth, he was going to try and find a way to convince her that he was the real deal--even if it took a lot of convincing, “Besides, I’m thinking about finding a place myself since the whole idea of staying at a hotel isn’t exactly working with me or my checkbook there.”

“Oh you seem to be doing just fine,” she motioned to the outfit he was wearing, “You’re always in the best of the best.”

“Cheap designer knockoffs,” he revealed with a small shake of his head, “though if they convinced you…”

“They didn’t,” she threw out a pointed look, “I was just being polite.”

“Oh is that what you call it,” he laughed lightly pulling her into an embrace before teasing his fingers in over her rib case to make her laugh. He continued to tickle at her, until she bucked in against him.

“Hunt stop,” she squealed back at him, “Hunt…”

“Not until you admit that you didn’t have a first clue about the clothes being a knock off.”

“What does it matter,” she laughed wildly spinning in his arms only to face him. She saw the mischief burning behind his own handsome features as she slid her fingers in underneath his shirt and felt the smooth expanse of his body burning beneath her touch. It was in that moment that all thoughts of what they were fighting about were lost--the tickle torture ceased to be something of interest as she shivered beside him. He too seemed to ease up on his jabbing and as Mindy felt his fingers curl in over the small of her back, she realized she’d been breathless.

“Mindy,” he spoke her name in a soft, sexy whisper.

“Hunt,” she fluttered her eyelashes fighting to come up with some kind of reasonable, logical something to say, but she found herself at a loss. The only thing that she could focus on was the strength of his arms that surrounded her, the scent of him as their eyes were locked upon each other and in that instant, Mindy felt an explosion of sensations touching from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. Her face was burning hot and as the outer side of his palm grazed her cheek tenderly, she forced herself to look away. “How about a truce?”

“A truce,” he questioned blankly watching her pull away from him. She took a step or two back before clearing her throat uneasily.

“For the tickle torture,” she nodded in confession before giving him a long once over, “I really didn’t know they were a knock off.”

“Good because they aren’t,” he chuckled with a sexy wink, “I was just testing you.”

“Yeah well, I’m surprised that you know so much about fashion,” Mindy eyed him intently, “I mean don’t get me wrong. I like a man that knows how to dress and has a sense of style, but not many men have that.”

“So what are you trying to say? That it’s a rare quality in men?” he arched a curious brow.

“Not necessarily, but with most men that I know who possess that quality, well they are…” she stopped herself.

“Are what?” he questioned again.

“Usually gay,” she bit on her lower lip nervously before asking the dreaded question that suddenly racked over her brain. “Hunt, I need to know, are you gay?”

“Gay,” he blinked back in confusion seemingly shell-shocked by what she’d just asked, “You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”

“Well, I really enjoy being with you. You have an eye for fashion and you’re an interior designer,” she started to reason feeling her hopes build only to fall again at the thought of what was happening. Could it be she was falling for yet another gay man?

“So you’re saying all interior designers are gay,” he questioned with a wry expression.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying, but…” she shifted on her feet nervously.

“Then what are you saying?” Hunt asked again, “Mindy I would’ve thought by the fact that we have this chemistry and we kissed…”

“Look Hunt, it’s not you…it’s just,” she paused feeling a moment of apprehension overtake her, “Look, my last relationship, well it ended badly. You see he and I had something really special, or at least I thought it was special. Things were normal for a long time--hell, better than normal and we had this chemistry, but…”

“But he was gay huh?” he questioned watching her nod.

“Yeah, that’s about where it was,” she confessed with a small sigh, “and it took me a long time to get over him. At one point in my life I kind of figured that the whole idea of getting over him wasn’t ever going to be happening, but now…”

“Now what?” he asked seeing her inner struggle.

“Now I’m thinking that I was wrong to be thinking that in the first place. I mean sure, maybe I’m jumping the gun here, but when I first met you I thought we had a spark going between us, but then, well then I wasn’t sure and now that we’ve gotten closer and I’ve really started to like you, well I just see so much happening here. Of course I’m afraid I’m seeing what I want to see and not what’s really there and if I’m jumping the gun or reading things wrong and…”

Her words were brought to an abrupt halt as Hunt leaned forward, curling his arm around the back of her neck to pull her to him. Their eyes connected for a brief moment before his lips descended over hers in an urgent, passion filled kiss. She felt his left arm slide in around her waist, pulling her in against his hard, lean form. As his mouth tasted of hers, sparing no expense in kissing her completely and thoroughly, she felt her knees grow weak. She arched up into him and just when she thought she’d fly away to the heavens, he pulled away from her.

She was breathless--her heart pounding, mind reeling with possibilities, lips longing for another kiss and when he smiled the warmth and sexiness of him nearly bowled her over. He slid his thumb over her swelled lower lip before flashing her another sexy smile.

“Now I should hope after that kiss, you can see exactly where this is going for us Mindy,” he mouthed in a small whisper, his breath washing over her skin and setting her body ablaze, “because I’d hate for my intentions for us to be anything, but clear.”

“Oh they’re clear alright,” Mindy managed to get out realizing that as much as she’d hated to admit it, Hunt was the real deal and with each passing second she found herself falling harder than ever for him.


Avery stood on the patio feeling Heather’s words come back to haunt her. As much as she hated to admit it, Heather was right. She should’ve known the difference. She’d known Brant and Ken long enough to decipher between the two of them. Hell, she and Ken had gone to college with one another. She’d even kissed Ken by mistake one time and in kissing him, she’d felt the difference, so what had made that one night cause her to forget that? How could she have given herself away to someone other than her husband when she’d been so sure that she knew what she was doing? She should’ve felt it--should’ve been able to reason out what was happening, but instead all she’d managed to do was screw up the last best thing in her life.

“Oh God, how could this happen,” she questioned clenching her hands around the railing on the patio ledge. She felt her tears spill down her face in a damp heat, but it did nothing to erase the chill that had consumed her. She should’ve known--should’ve felt that something was wrong. She shouldn’t have allowed herself to fall into the trap that Ken had set and ultimately she was as much to blame as Ken. She should’ve known. She should’ve stopped it.

Keeping her eyes closed, she felt the whisper of the night winds upon her, haunting her every breath as her heart ached. She’d wanted so badly to refrain from making the mistakes that had torn her life apart in the past, but now she was down in it further than ever. She’d lost it all and it was only a matter of time before her history of bad choices lead her to destroy her daughter’s life. She’d lost Russ, she lost Brant and now she felt more alone than she’d ever been in her life. After she’d made love to Ken, there had been an emptiness, but it was nothing in comparison to what she felt right here and now. It was truly a hollow, dull, incomprehensible ache that filled her all over.

She broke down into tiny sobs, dropping her head down as she tried to think about anything, but the expression on Brant’s face right before he walked out on her. It was just too much, too overwhelming and as she could clearly see that look of disappointment in his eyes, she knew too well that she’d failed him. She’d promised to be the kind of wife he’d longed for--the kind of wife that he’d needed, but even with her attempts, she’d brought him nothing but misery. Heather was right. He should just cut his losses now and never look back. That would be the smartest thing to do. Hell, she couldn’t blame him if he was out filing for the divorce right now. Maybe even an annulment given that she’d taken the time to sleep with his brother, but not even bothered to let him touch her.

Hearing footsteps behind her, Avery tried to rouse up enough fight in her to defend herself as she was certain that Heather was back for more, but she just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t find it in her heart to stand up to the truth and try to defend her reasoning. She was wrong and nothing she could do would ever change it.

“Just say what you have to say and get it over with,” Avery’s weakened voice blurted out as she tried to brace herself for what she deserved. Instead she felt the warmth of a hand upon her shoulder and a slight nudge urging her to turn around. She pulled her head up, reluctantly facing what was waiting for her. Turning around slowly, she opened her eyes to discover Brant standing behind her, his dark eyes now filled with a concern and poignant sense of loss.

“Brant I’m…” she began with shaky words, only to feel his large hands cup her face in a tender, protective movement.

“I’m sorry Avery,” his own eyes were clouded over with tears. His words were a muted whisper, but they were raw with the overwhelming emotion, “I’m so sorry for all of this.”

“Oh Brant,” Avery leaned into him, feeling as if she’d fall to pieces as his arms enveloped her. She buried her head in his chest breaking down into tiny sobs as he squeezed her tighter. She wasn’t sure how or why, but he’d come back to her. He was there with her holding her and kissing the top of her head as she felt his own tears falling freely from his face into her dark hair.

“I’m so sorry,” he repeated over and over again, the strain in his voice cracking with each emotional apology he delivered, “I never meant to fail you. I tried so hard to keep you from hurting, but I couldn’t stop it--I couldn’t save you…”

“Brant, this wasn’t your fault,” she tried to reason with him in between broken sobs, but as they clung to one another, she knew that there were no words for what was happening between them. There was nothing to say that fit the moment between them as he had her wrapped up in his arms. He squeezed her closer to him, taking in her grief and in turn offering his own as the night surrounded them.

“I just wish I’d known--that I would’ve been there for you. Avery, I never, ever would’ve put you in that position if I could’ve helped it. I wouldn’t have let him touch you--wouldn’t have let him hurt you,” he confessed with an achingly painful tone.

“You were doing what you needed to do,” Avery trembled in his arms, her words rising from shaky lips, “You saved Grady.”

“But I should’ve saved you,” he curled his index finger underneath her chin, tilting her eyes up towards his, “You should’ve been my first priority.”

“You saved a man’s life Brant,” Avery reminded him desperately, “What you did that night…”

“Was something I’m always going to live to regret, but as much as I know how hard it has to be for you to look at me--to see me like this before you after what Ken did, I couldn’t stay away,” he revealed with obvious agony behind his twisted expression, “Avery, I know that the kindest thing I could do for you right now is let you go--to let you get as far away from me, from this family as possible, but when I walked out that door…well, I just couldn’t do it. I got into my car and I kept thinking about Ken…about you and about what I could’ve done to stop this…”

“Brant…” she began feeling him press his index finger against her lips to silence her as his words continued.

“I just couldn’t do it Avery. I wasn’t strong enough to keep you safe. I wasn’t able to be the man you needed--to give you the protection that I promised…to…to spare you from this curse,” he blurted out, his words pouring from him like a river of guilt, “I swore to myself that I’d never allow another woman to be hurt like that--to be broken to pieces by my family, by the man who destroyed our lives. Avery, I thought that we’d overcome it. That we’d evolved past the monster that Nicholas was, but in reality we’re all so far gone. Sure, Blake hasn’t been touched by it, but…”

He stopped himself as another harsh reality hit him, “She has been. I spent so many years trying to keep this from Blake--to hide what that bastard did and now, now when Blake has everything she’s ever wanted, she has to face the fact that the man she loves will always harbor that hidden animosity about our father raping his sister. She’ll never have him look at her like she’s something that hasn’t been tainted by our father. Sure, Seth loves her, but he’ll never think of her like the rest of the world. She’ll always be the daughter of the man who raped his sister and Ken,” he groaned in agony, “I’d thought that he could deal with this--that if any of us would be able to rise above it, it would be him, but after what he’s done to you…”

Brant released her feeling his own body overtaken by the powerful realization of how his family had been damned. He couldn’t help but shiver slightly at the thought of what his brother had become.

“I saw the signs. I knew he was falling into darkness, but I wasn’t there…” he trailed off lost in his own moment of contemplations.

Silently Avery moved forward, easing her fingers up over his chest, over onto his face. She caressed the side of his face, wiping at a tear as his dark eyes fell upon hers. She clearly felt sympathy, pity or perhaps something more, but Brant couldn’t give her that much of a burden to carry with her. He tried to look away, but the force of her touch was too powerful to release him.

“I should’ve found a way…to spare him…to spare you…” he was broken by his emotions, “All I wanted was for a second chance--for a way to find the kind of life that the Ashford curse wouldn’t allow us to have. I wanted to prove myself to you--to show you that I could love you like you deserved to be love, but ultimately I failed you as well. You’ll never look at me the same way knowing what my brother has done. As much as I want to kill him right now, at the same time I know what he has to be going through. I’ve tasted the darkness--I’ve seen the beast inside myself time and time again, yet…”

“You’ve held back,” Avery spoke up solemnly, “You’ve fought the battle against him, and you didn’t let him win. Even now you’re not letting him win.”

“Ken was always so strong. He was always the one who was above it. He didn’t seem to be destined to be like dear old dad, but now when I think of what he’s done to you--of how he hurt my wife…” Brant shook his head poignantly, “Avery, I know this is something that we’ll never be able to get over. I can’t imagine how you must feel in being this close to me--in being near me when I have the face of the man who hurt you…of a man who violated you in ways that…”

“Brant,” she pressed her fingers over his lips, tracing the outline of them in a slow, tentative fashion before she fanned her thumb out to catch one of his tears. “I don’t see him…”

“How can you not,” Brant questioned painfully, “How can you not see the man who destroyed you? Avery, I’m just like him. I’m still prey to the curse…”

“No, Brant, you aren’t,” she shook her head adamantly, “You aren’t anything like Ken. You didn’t hurt me and you haven’t let me down. I was the one who made the choice…”

“You thought you were with me. My God, you were deceived into believing that my love for you was what was alive in that room--in that bed…” he shuddered at the thought.

“But it wasn’t real. It wasn’t real at all. Even when I came to you Brant--when I came to Ken,” she shivered at the memory, “I wasn’t coming to you because I wanted to be there. I was doing it because…”

“Because what?” he watched the distance build behind her eyes.

“Because I thought it was what I had to do,” she blurted out painfully, her eyes glazing over once again, “I did it because I thought it was what you wanted and I wanted to be the kind of wife that you needed. I made lo…”

She stopped herself from finishing the phrase and corrected herself, “I gave my body to him because I wasn’t ready to give you my heart. I thought that you’d be happy with what I could offer then, but it was wrong. It wasn’t about love. It was going through the motions and now that I look back upon it in a way I’m relieved that it was Ken. Yes, I hate what happened, but in it’s own way, this situation has changed me…”

“It’s changed all of us and I know now that it’s something that you’ll never be able to forget and I can’t expect you to do that. After what my brother has done,” he started apologetically.

“Brant, what Ken has done hurts. It still hurts, but it wouldn’t ache nearly as much as losing you now would,” Avery blurted out honestly, “I wasn’t ready to give you my heart then. I wasn’t ready to give you the love you needed or deserved because I was too damned set on talking obligation--on thinking about this as a contractual deal and I wouldn’t invest myself in it.”

“You had no reason to given the way I’ve been behaving. I’ve been an ass Avery, and after what Ken has done, well I can’t blame you if you want to walk away and never look back,” he began caught up in the overwhelming realization that fell upon him.

“That’s just it Brant. I don’t want to walk away--I can’t walk away,” she confessed, her words rising up from the night as she gazed up at him, “Brant, this isn’t about all those false pretenses we had about our relationship. This isn’t about saving me from Brooke. This is about saving me from myself and you’ve done that.”

“Brant, you’ve turned my world around and as much as I’ve fought to keep you in the dark, the truth is that if I lost you here and now, it would truly be the end of me. Losing you would be the death of all those dreams that I’ve been too afraid to share with you. When I was with Ken, I lost a huge chunk of myself, but Brant, when I’m with you--when we’re together like this, I realize that it’s in being with you--in touching you and holding you that I feel alive again,” she confessed in a shivering inhale, her touch sweeping in over his damp cheek, “Brant, being with you is the only time in my life that I feel alive anymore and it’s a feeling that I can’t let go of. I won’t let go of you and when I thought I lost you tonight…”

“You didn’t lose me Avery,” he replied whispering warmly over her lips. He stepped in closer to her, his palm curving in over her hip to draw her nearer to him, “far from it. I was afraid that I’d lost you.”

“That’s just it Brant,” Avery answered with a muffled sob, “you couldn’t have lost me because before tonight--before this time we’ve spent together, I was never yours, but now…now…”

“Now,” he repeated watching her tremble with emotions.

“Now I want that to change. I want it to change for us…tonight,” she revealed throwing her arms around him in a moment of sheer desperation and neediness. She curled her arms around his neck and rose up on her toes as her lips devoured his. He felt the hunger behind her touch, the fire behind her kiss as his arms draped around her body.

The winds whispered their warm promise of passion as their kiss continued. He felt her heart pounding relentlessly against his. He steadied himself on the patio as he lifted her in his arms, bringing her up off of the ground over onto the picnic table. Carefully he set her down just long enough for him to take a step back and look into her eyes. He could see the love behind them, the raw intensity of her emotions, of the impact of what she was telling him and in that moment, he realized he’d never loved her more than he did tonight. When he’d thought about what it had meant to be faced with losing her, he knew that he wouldn’t be able to bear such a fate. He couldn’t bring himself to lose the one good thing in his life.

Moving forward, Brant smoothed his fingers through her dark hair, watching as it slowly danced in the twilight, moving with the breeze that surrounded them. In the first hints of the amber sky, she was radiant, truly inspiring as his lips caressed hers with a gentle ease. He didn’t want to make another mistake--didn’t want to do something to erase the feelings that had brought them closer together. Tonight he wanted to share the world with Avery and explore what it was that had brought her to passion--to heaven--to the heart of who she was. He wanted to learn all about the woman he’d pledged his life to and as he swept her up into his arms, he felt her holding onto him, leaning into him for support, for comfort and with the truth burning in her soul. She had faith in him and she was opening herself to him completely even after the horrors his brother had inflicted upon her. She wasn’t afraid to hide from him any longer and in turn he would find a way to give her all that she deserved tonight. He would find a way to make things right for her. As he carried her into the house and up the long, winding stairs to his bedroom, he vowed that tonight he would find a way to keep his wife from ever experiencing a moment of misery ever again at the hands of the Ashford curse.


“Are you feeling better about yourself now?” Shannon questioned walking over to Kyle who was now staring out the window as if he was in some type of daze.

“Not really,” Kyle shook his head before looking back at her only to see her frown, “Am I supposed to feel good after I almost killed a man?”

“Kyle, stop it,” Shannon demanded watching Kyle look down at his bloody shirt, “You need to change your shirt.”

“Yeah,” Kyle nodded before looking out the window once more as Shannon walked over to her bag grabbing something out of it.

“Here,” Shannon called out making Kyle turn around catching a shirt she had thrown at him, “Put that on.”

“Okay,” Kyle nodded pulling off his bloody shirt and setting it down on the desk. “Who does this shirt belong to?”

“Don,” Shannon informed Kyle watching him pull the black shirt down his body.

“He won’t get mad that I am wearing it?” Kyle questioned smoothing the shirt down.

“He may get a little paranoid,” Shannon, laughed before shrugging, “But if I say it is okay, it is okay.”

“Since you put it that way,” Kyle grinned before sitting on the edge of the desk as Shannon snapped her fingers, “What?”

“You just smiled,” Shannon stated seeing Kyle shake his head, “Yes you did.”

“This isn’t about me smiling,” Kyle replied with a frown, “This is about me almost killing a man.”

“Well, that is a big thing,” Shannon nodded before rubbing her hands together, “But you need to forget about it and cheer up.”

“Cheer up?” Kyle laughed sarcastically, “I’ll be sure to put that on the list of things to do. I’ll put it at the bottom.”

“Come on,” Shannon pleaded before walking towards him, “You have to be ticklish or something.”

“No you don’t,” Kyle slipped off the desk before she could touch him, “You are not going to tickle me.”

“You need to cheer up,” Shannon repeated before circling around the desk after him as he began to laugh as she chased him, “Alright, I am done now…you are laughing.”

“I’m not laughing because I feel better, I am laughing because you are an idiot,” Kyle informed her as she frowned.

“That wasn’t nice,” Shannon shook her head, “I was just trying to help you out.”

“I think I am going to need a lot of help after what I did,” Kyle replied looking down to the ground as she frowned and shook her head.

“The only person who is going to need some serious help is Ken,” Shannon began trying to cheer him up, “One, he needs a psychiatrist and two, he is going to need one heck of a dream catcher.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Kyle questioned raising an eyebrow in curiosity.

“It means so he can get you out of his dreams…he will be wetting the bed every night if he thinks about you,” Shannon laughed hearing a tiny laugh come from Kyle before he became serious.

“That is not funny,” Kyle protested as she rolled her eyes nodding slowly.

“That’s why you laughed,” Shannon pointed out before Kyle heard his cell phone begin to ring.

“Just a second,” Kyle held up his finger hushing her before answering his phone, “Hello?”

“Kyle, it is Elliot,” Elliot spoke clearly as Kyle nodded, “We need to talk to you.”

“Is everything okay?” Kyle questioned in a hurry, “Is Grady alright?”

“Grady is okay,” Elliot promised him before he began to speak up again, “I just think we need you here right now.”

“I will be over in a couple of minutes,” Kyle replied as he looked down at his watch. “I’m coming right now.”

“Is everything okay?” Shannon questioned as she saw Kyle hang up his phone and put it back in his pocket.

“Yeah,” Kyle nodded before turning around quickly, “I have to get going.”

“Are sure everything is okay?” Shannon questioned as Kyle walked up to her. “Are you going to be alright?”

“I’ll be fine,” Kyle promised hugging her lightly, “Thanks for everything.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she sighed as she watched him walk out the door quickly.

Kyle took things too hard…he always blamed himself for everything. If Sarah wasn’t with him, she had to cheer him up. She couldn’t just let him worry all the time. She was a good friend to him; she just wished he was going to be okay.


Diane grabbed her purse walking through the hallway to the door. She was about to go and visit Seth and Blake before the doorbell caught her attention.

“Who could that be?” Diane questioned to herself before looking down at her watch. “That can’t be you Ben.”

Diane walked to the door opening it as a frown spread over her features.

“Diane,” JT smiled before shaking his head, “You don’t seem too happy to see me right now.”

“That’s because I’m not,” Diane informed him with a sarcastic smile, “What do you want JT?”

“You of course,” JT winked before she rolled her eyes and rested her arm on the doorframe.

“Don’t be stupid,” she replied before shaking her head, “Tell me what you want or else I will shut the door in your face.”

“You look like you are about to go out,” JT pointed out before she nodded.

“I could have been,” she stated before shaking her head, “What do you want JT?”

“I already answered that question,” he replied licking his lips slowly, “I don’t think you understood that.”

“Alright, better question what are you doing here?” she questioned one last time. “Alright, I am closing the door in three seconds.”

“Alright, I’ll talk,” JT frowned before rubbing his hands together slowly.


Angela stepped into the semi-crowded bar realizing that it had been a while since she’d been in here. Sure, Kevin had tried to drag her in the other night, but she hadn’t actually absorbed the atmosphere until tonight. The scene was buzzing with activity and Angela had to laugh at how wild a night could get on this little island considering that it was kind of an escape from reality.

An escape, she thought to herself with an ironic laugh. That thought in itself made it seem as if this place was a place for those who wanted to leave the past behind. Of course taking a long look around at those who were at the bar, you might think that other than those that grew up on the island, it was a place for folks to come to forget their past. Perhaps in some ways she could almost even understand them coming to forget what was behind them. Sure there were days where she wished she could do that herself, but tonight, well tonight was about enjoying herself.

Scanning the bar, she spotted Nick pouring a beer to one of the locals and immediately she felt a smile spread over her features. Sure she’d thought she’d keep a distance after the strange morning she’d had with Nick and Kevin, but tonight, well tonight she’d found herself drawn to this place--drawn to the man without a memory as she wondered how he’d be doing with his new position behind the bar.

Taking in a slow breath, Angela stood up straighter before making her way over to the bar with a confident stride. Sliding into one of the bar stools before the counter top, she leaned forward, just watching Nick in action. Regardless of the reasoning he’d landed behind the bar, he seemed to be doing quite well at entertaining a few of the local ladies who clearly couldn’t keep their eyes off of him. Okay, so maybe he wasn’t the best with the bartending, Angela chuckled to herself watching him nearly drop the bottle he’d been holding when he’d tried to toss it in the air to impress the small crowd around the bar, but he was certainly something.

Just as soon as he’d almost lost the bottle, he’d recovered and did a little spin to try to offset his clumsiness. In his spin he spotted Angela out of the corner of his eye and he said his polite good-byes to the other bar patrons. Grinning, he approached her before leaning in over the counter.

“You’re impressed, aren’t you?” he flashed her a sexy smile reaching out to casually touch her fingers with his before pulling back to lift his hand up over the corners of the towel he’d had carefully placed around his neck.

“What with you?” she wrinkled her nose with a small laugh, “Nah, I was just wondering how many bottles you’ve broken tonight and how long it’ll take before Marta fires you.”

“Fires me,” he repeated with wide eyes, “Why Angel Baby, I don’t think she’s going to want to fire me given that I’m good for business.”

Angela followed his nod as he motioned over to the bar where a group of young women were clearly gossiping about the hot new thing behind the bar. Angela let out a tiny laugh before shaking her head at him, “So you’ve got your own fan club already?”

“So it would seem, but they don’t interest me nearly as much as you do,” he leaned in over the counter reaching for her hand, “Besides, if I had a fan club, well let’s face it, I’d want you to be president.”

She rolled her eyes at the line before pulling her hand away from his, “I think you’re impossible Nick. You really are.”

“Impossible is a step up from irritating though,” he winked at her once again before giving her a sideways glance. His fingers tugged on the ends of the small, white towel around his neck before he puffed his chest out proudly, “and we all know that impossible is one step below irresistible.”

“Oh boy,” she groaned inwardly, “and to think that I was afraid you’d still be feeling like hell after your eat off against Kevin.”

“Pfft,” he waved his hand dismissively, “that’s nothing.”

“Nothing?” she repeated with a hearty laugh, “You two were both ridiculously idiotic this morning in doing that.”

“Ridiculously idiotic?” he repeated with a cryptic smile. He leaned in over the bar once again before his intense eyes fell upon hers, “I wouldn’t call it that at all considering that you were worried enough to come on over and check in on me.”

“Oh so this was just a twisted ploy of yours to get me here to take notice and worry about you, huh?” she lifted a curious brow, “How shameful.”

“Oh it’s not shameful,” he reached out from behind the bar to get her a glass, “Besides I’m touched by the gesture.”

“Well don’t be because I wasn’t out here to see you,” she lied holding back on her true thoughts by offering up a bit of sarcastic wit, “You’re not that important you know.”

“Oh yes I am,” he laughed lightly setting the glass on top of the bar before reaching for one of the hoses and pouring a drink inside, “Besides if you’re nice to me I’ll have drinks on the house for you all night.”

“All night huh?” she repeated with a small smile, “Well as much as I appreciate that, you and I both know that I couldn’t possibly drink that. Pregnant, remember?”

“It’s cranberry juice,” he assured her sliding the glass closer to her, “with an added bonus.”

“Yeah and just what might that be,” she questioned reaching for the glass and instinctively fingering the rim.

“As long as you swear not to share it with anyone,” he curled his finger in towards her urging her to lean in closer to him. Reluctantly she did as he instructed and as his mouth was just above her ear he whispered, “It’s my own secret ingredient.”

“And this tells me nothing,” she turned her head towards him, almost catching his mouth with hers in the process given the close proximity between them. Quickly she sat back in her seat, putting an emphasized distance between them. She grabbed the glass, lifting it to her lips before fighting to find something to say, but much to her dismay nothing came out.

“It’s lime juice,” he explained out of the blue before his smile faded and he turned suddenly serious, “So tell me about the father…”

“What?” she questioned in confusion.

“The baby’s father,” Nick repeated with a tone that lead her to believe while he’d been trying not to intrude up until this moment in time, that trend wasn’t about to continue.

“I’d rather not,” she shook her head in refusal, “I already told you too much.”

“Yeah that you met the guy and had something brief and it went sour,” Nick nodded remembering the small confession she’d made to him, “and I’ve heard Kevin make cracks about the ‘jackass’ that hurt you, so am I to assume they are one in the same?”

“You know Nick while you get paid to be the pop psychiatrist behind the bar, I really don’t think you’re in a position to be doctoring your doctor tonight,” she replied sharply, curling her lips in a scowl in the hopes that he’d get a clue and back off. “Remember it’s my job to try to fix you, not the other way around.”

“Why can’t it be mutual,” he inquired opening his mouth to say more, but he was stopped by the sounds of one of the locals at the other end of the bar calling for him. Holding up his finger he alerted to Angela that he’d be right back before he zipped off to the other end of the bar.

Shaking her head Angela let out a breath of relief grateful that she’d been taken off the spot. While she knew that Nick meant well the last thing she wanted was to have to get into a whole lengthy discussion about how she’d met Brant when she’d felt vulnerable and caught up in her own misery. He’d walked into her life at a time when she’d given up on the world around her--when she’d decided to lock herself away, yet in those couple days they’d spent together, he’d turned her world upside-down. Even now she found that her nights were haunted by the memory of their passion--of the fire that burned between them and that in itself made it all the more aggravating. If he’d have been a horrible lover--a vile and disgusting person, then maybe just maybe she would’ve never looked back, but the truth was that even in her fury, she found herself longing for him. She couldn’t honestly say that there wasn’t a day when she didn’t at least think about him once or twice--didn’t wonder where he was or how he’d react to knowing that their weekend had resulted in a new life.

“No,” she mouthed to herself catching a glimpse of her reflection in the mirrored wall behind the bar. Brant was a married man with a wife that clearly was something of, well of a sick kind of joke that she’d fallen victim to. Brant hadn’t been interested in her. He’d just been fulfilling some kind of twisted fantasy that married men liked to do every now and then to spice up their lives. While she’d really started to fall into the traps that romance had tried to warp her mind with, for Brant it was just a fling--just another romp before returning to wedded bliss.

“Hey, where’s the fire,” Nick questioned catching Angela’s wrist after she’d slammed down the glass she’d been drinking from. His concerned gaze fell upon her as he’d noticed a difference in her demeanor from the time he’d walked away from her, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she sighed emphatically, “Nothing’s wrong Nick. Nothing’s really right either, so I guess you could say that I’m in a moment of stand still.”

“Hmm, well I think I have a remedy for that one,” he pretended to think it over for a moment before taking off the apron he’d been wearing. He held up his finger to silently request a moment before he walked behind the bar. A few seconds later he returned stepping out from behind the bar to move in beside her.

“Nick, what are you doing?” she questioned feeling him pull her up off of the bar stool and into his arms.

“Just come with me,” he urged leading her out towards the dance floor.

“What about work? You’re supposed to be tending the bar,” she protested heavily as he weaved her through the crowd towards the center of the dance floor.

“I told Martha this was an emergency and she didn’t argue with me,” Nick explained pulling her fully into his arms, “Now dance with me before I have to start singing to you, which I can promise you is something that you’ll absolutely loathe. If you thought you were feeling bad before, well…”

“You’re not going to really give me a choice in this matter, are you?” Angela replied knowing it was a fruitless debate to begin as Nick started to move with her in his arms. While she’d wanted to protest--wanted to argue with him or come up with something witty, the truth was in being in his arms it felt right. Together they moved on the dance floor dipping and swirling to the beats in that moment Angela realized that Nick was exactly the kind of mystery she needed in her life. Sure, okay so maybe she’d experienced attraction first hand and it blew up in her face with Brant, but with Nick, well maybe just maybe having someone on the outside would help ease her mind off of the reality that had surrounded her since she’d walked away from Brant. At least that’s what she was hoping for.


Brant pushed open the door to his bedroom with a small, carefully positioned kick. Once inside, he nudged the door back into position with his behind as Avery nibbled on his lower lip, lovingly doting on him while her fingers spread over his dark hair. He could feel his desire for her mounting with each passing second, but as he gently lowered her onto the center of his bed, he vowed that tonight he’d do his best to take things slow. He didn’t want her to remember what it had been like when she’d been deceived by his brother, but rather he wanted to make a night she’d never forget.

Moving in over her, Brant braced himself up on his elbows keeping a distance between their bodies for fear that he’d lose control completely at the faintest brush of her body against his. He turned to his side, opting to lay beside her while his fingers eased in over the base of her throat. He circled his index finger up across her chin, making a small path to her lips before he leaned in closer to her, caressing the sweet swollen flesh with his own ravenous mouth. She tasted like liquid fire, like all the temptations in the world that had been forbidden thus far, yet as her tongue massaged his gently, he knew he would never be able to resist.

Sliding in a bit closer, he dropped his hand down over her hip, tracing and retracing the curves that so beautifully shaped her exquisite body. She was warm, welcoming and as he touched her he thought about all the nights he lay in bed awake thinking about doing just this. Carefully he brought his hand in up over the soft, elusive patch of skin just beneath the hem of her shirt. Her body seemed to sizzle with excitement, her flesh alive with the passion that carried over her. He continued to tease his fingers over her abdomen, moving over the soft swell of her body where the realization of her daughter came to mind.

“Avery,” he pulled back, seeing the longing look behind her eyes, “I want…”

“…you,” she finished throwing her arm around his shoulders to draw her in against him again. Her lips were scrumptious, her body ablaze with desire and as Brant melted into the kiss, he thought about how long he’d waited for this.

“Avery, I just don’t want to…” he started breaking away from the kiss.

“To what?” she questioned confused by his hesitance--worried about the expression on his face.

“To hurt you,” he explained sliding his palm up over her swollen abdomen, “I know that you’ve been under a tremendous amount of stress lately and with your daughter…”

“Brant,” she spoke his name, a slightly amused smile spreading over her face despite the seriousness in his tone, “are you trying to say that you don’t want to make love because of the baby?”

“No,” he shook his head adamantly, his eyes perusing her body greedily as she lay beneath him, “it’s not that because believe me I want this more than anything--more than you can imagine, but…”

“But what?” she questioned curiously.

“I just don’t want to…” he searched for the right words, “I mean I don’t want to do anything that could, well…you know…”

“No, I don’t know,” she shook her head incredulously, “Brant, what are you trying to say?”

“I just don’t want to do anything that could hurt her,” he motioned to her abdomen once again, “I mean given all that you’ve been through, well, if this is going to put her at risk somehow…”

“Brant,” she spoke his name fighting to suppress the amusement she had at his apprehension, “just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean that we can’t…”

“Are you sure,” he gave her a long look, “because I mean I know that you clearly have…well, never mind, we’re not going to talk about it because it’s an off limits conversation, but…”

“Brant,” she extended her hand up to caress his face gently, “just because I’m pregnant does not mean that this is off limits. Russ and I read up on this and I can do this, well, we can do this until pretty much my due date.”

“Oh,” was all he could say as she fell into silence. He watched her look away for a moment before he cleared his throat uneasily, “So…”

“Yeah,” she sighed meeting his gaze before she dropped her head back on the pillow, “so nothing like a mood killer than my being pregnant and our mentioning your brother and my dead husband, huh?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it a mood killer, but more of a buzz kill,” he groaned finding himself falling back onto the mattress beside her. He closed his eyes wondering why the hell he’d been stupid enough to bring up her pregnancy in the first place. Sure it was a fact of life that was unavoidable, but to bring it up right before they were about to… He shook his head again thinking about how stupid he was for even asking. He should’ve known that it was okay to…

“Brant,” she spoke his name, breaking him from his thoughts.

“Yes?” he opened his eyes to gaze over at her. He found that she’d moved onto her side, bracing herself up on her elbow to stare at him. Her dark hair surrounded her face, while her eyes were filled with a sudden seriousness.

“You know…as much as I hate to say it, well…” she trailed off, dropping her gaze over his body before involuntarily licking her lips.

“Maybe we’re rushing it,” Brant finished watching the fullness of her bottom lip as he thought about what they were about to get into with one another. How he wanted to nibble and tease, tantalize and caress that mouth of hers. To be lost in those lips for hours--oh what a piece of heaven that would be.

“Maybe we are,” Avery nodded in agreement watching him for a long moment of silence before she pressed her palm into the center of his chest positioning him back on the bed again. She could see the surprise that registered over his features as she climbed in over him. She dug her fingers into the buttons on his shirt tearing them open as he leaned up to pull her shirt up over her head. As she worked his shirt down over his arms, his mouth moved in over the top swell of her breasts, tasting the temptation of her body while they worked together to free his hands.

Once he’d rid himself of the shirt, he planted his palms on her spine, nudging her in closer to him. His lips traced over her body, his tongue making swirling, sweeping motions over her collar bone as her head tipped back. She arched slightly forward giving him more intimate access to her body as one hand slipped up to unclasp her bra. In a matter of seconds, he’d peeled it away from her body, taking a brief pause simply to appreciate some of the finer points of pregnancy and Avery.

The other night he’d merely been eager to touch her, to have his dream of them together come to life, but now as he noticed the fullness of her breasts, he could see oh too well how pregnancy suited her. She was glowing, radiant as she tossed her dark hair back over her shoulders. He raised his hand up to cup her breast in hand, feeling her shape into his touch. Leaning forward, he placed a kiss over her tip, nibbling upon her sensitive flesh as she began to whimper. Flicking her with his tongue, he felt her body move over his writhing and grinding over him in a torturous fashion. He lapped at her body, learning all her amplified responses to his attention.

“Brant,” she purred his name in the most sensual melody that had touched his ears. She scratched her nails down over his back as he divided his attention between the intimateness of her femininity. The low hiss of her breath escaping her lips drove him on, keeping him grounded as she was being moved to the heavens above him. He felt her press in over his body, over the ache that she had stirred up inside of him and he knew if she’d kept up at such a pace, it would be the death of him indeed.

“Avery wait,” he breathed her name, letting his words spill out over her bare skin. He squeezed at her hips gently trying to curb some of her movements, “slow down…”

“Brant, it’s just that…” she started with a soft purr before his hand found it’s way to her cheek.

“Sweetheart, we’ve got all night,” Brant assured her, “we don’t have to rush this.”

“I’m not trying to rush this,” she explained scratching her nails over his chest lightly before her finger tips pressed in over his belt buckle, “it’s just that…well…this is how I do things…”

He opened his mouth to speak, but instead was met by the feel of her teeth pressing in against his shoulder. Her hands dropped down to the center of his lap, feeling her fingers slip inside the zipper of his pants. Immediately he was at full attention closing his eyes as her fingers stroked and teased his yearning body.

“I don’t mind being here,” she mouthed in his ear, tracing a line up over his neck with her tongue before nibbling on his earlobe, “just as long as you don’t mind my taking the reigns in this.”

“As much as I love the thought of you doing what you’re doing,” he reached down to still her very eager hand over his body, “we’re going to have a big problem if you keep that up.”

“Oh I’d say we have something big to work with, but it’s most certainly not a problem. In fact, I think it‘s something we should explore for a bit before we get to the main event. What do you say,” she licked her lips before pushing him back onto the mattress, a sharp and determined look crossing over her features.

“Avery,” he groaned feeling her return her attention to him again. She worked his pants down over his hips, taking his boxer shorts with the movement before her lips traveled over his naval. She kissed him tentatively, her lips stirring up a fire inside of him, a primal desire that so readily brought his fingers into her dark hair. He closed his eyes feeling his body ease willingly into her hand, into the idea of what she was trying to do for him. He teased his fingers through her hair, tightening his grip on her as he felt her lips move dangerously close to meeting their mark on his body. That was enough to get him over any of his previous fears about being with her.

Swiftly, he pulled her up to meet his aching lips. He kissed her greedily before pushing her onto her back. Climbing in over her, he devoured her mouth, sinking all of his efforts into the kiss and trying to get her out of those damned slacks that were seemingly stuck beneath his fingers.

“Son of a…” Brant cursed under his breath realizing that her zipper was stuck. “This can’t be happening.”

“What’s wrong?” she questioned feeling him move away from her, “Brant?”

“The damned thing isn’t budging,” he explained with a groan tugging and tearing at it with no such luck. The fabric had bunched up in the teeth of the zipper and there was no way he was going to be getting Avery out of the slacks tonight or any night for that matter without taking drastic actions. Groaning he got up off of the bed and stalked off towards the opposite end of the room.

“Brant, where are you going?” she questioned in confusion sitting up only to discover him pulling a pair of scissors out of the top drawer. Her eyes widened with a look of sheer horror before she shook her head at him, “No way. No damn way.”

“Avery, I’m just going to cut that thing open and,” he started to explain his remedy to her.

“No, uh uh,” she shook her head at him, “you’re not bringing those things to bed with you. No way in hell.”

“Avery, it’ll just take a second,” he continued to explain nearly tripping over his own sagging pants that now bunched up around his ankles.

“No Brant, there’s no way that,” she stopped herself finally realizing that he stood before her in all his masculine glory exposed to her surprised eyes. She couldn’t help but stare at him for a long moment before she shook her head, “no, Brant you’re not getting near me with that thing.”

“Avery, I swear it won’t hurt. I mean okay, so there might be one moment where you’ll be worried about it going in there, but once it’s inside the hole, I swear to you that it won’t be a problem for us. Hell it’ll be just a small step in getting us to where we want to go. Trust me on this, it won’t hurt a bit,” he insisted holding the scissors carefully in hand.

“No I’m not about to let you slip up and get that thing inside of me. I’m not going to let you poke me with that,” she sprung up from the bed, “Brant, if you even want to think about getting close to me tonight, you’ll put that awful thing away.”

“Avery, I’m telling you I’m an expert at this sort of thing,” he moved in closer to her, “Just let me just go for it and then we’ll, well we can get back on track here.”

“No way. Brant it’s not happening,” Avery argued bringing her own hands over her slacks, “if it’s getting off I’ll do it myself. I’m perfectly capable.”

“Trust me it’ll be easier if you just let me get inside and pop it out,” Brant moved forward again, feeling his pants catch at his ankles before he groaned. He bent down and pulled his pants up realizing that once again the mood had shifted for the night. “Avery, come here.”

“No!” she snapped at him, “You’re not getting near me with that.”

“Fine, but at least let me try to help you. If you stay in those, then you’re going to be feeling miserable,” he insisted watching her fight with the clasp.

“I said I can get it,” she insisted tugging again.

“Let me take a look,” he pleaded with her. He moved in closer to her, but watched her retreat.

“Just put it away Brant! Put it away because I don’t even want to look at that. Don’t come near me with it!” she warned with a screech when the door burst open and Heather nearly collapsed onto the floor.

“What is wrong with you?” Heather demanded as she held a glass in hand, “I mean honestly Avery Brant’s a wonderful man and…”

“Heather, what the hell are you doing in here?” Brant questioned quickly zipping his pants up as Avery squealed and ran into the bathroom slamming the door behind her.

“Saving you from making a big mistake with her,” Heather explained matter of fact, “Brant if she can’t appreciate how wonderful you are, then it’s high time you find yourself a woman who can…”

“Heather, that’s not at all what’s happening here and now if you’ll excuse me, my wife and I were…” Brant objected to her arrival. He noticed the way she looked at him and immediately he was on edge.

“Brant, if the little witch can’t appreciate your finer points, but she’s stuck on Ken’s, well that just proves she doesn’t deserve you,” Heather stepped in closer to him, her eyes filled with a sudden determination, “I know how special you are and I never once complained about your wanting to be with me. I happened to like everything you brought with you to the bedroom.”

“You would,” Avery hissed stomping out of the bathroom in one of Brant’s robes, “and not that it’s any of your business, but I wasn’t objecting to Brant.”

“It was the scissors,” Brant held them up to show Heather.

Heather’s eyes widened, “Oh my. Brant, I knew you were into kink, but don’t you think that’s a bit much?”

“The scissors weren’t for that. They were for…,” he started to explain himself before a frown touched over his lips. “Never mind, it’s none of your business what they were for. What the hell were you doing outside my bedroom door?”

“Probably hoping that you and I were filing for a divorce,” Avery folded her arms in front of her chest before glaring at Heather, “and it’s obviously not happening, so why don’t you get lost?”

“Actually, I could care less about the state of your marriage because I have my own problems to deal with,” Heather rolled her eyes in response before turning to smile at Brant, “though it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you two split up.”

“Go to hell,” Avery glared at her again.

“Go screw yourself,” Heather spat out at her, “oh wait you’d rather screw Ken instead.”

“You stupid little,” Avery marched towards her only to be caught by Brant’s hold on her. He pulled her in beside him before he directed his attention to Heather.

“What is it you want Heather since obviously you came here with a reason?” Brant asked impatiently.

“I did,” Heather adjusted her clothing, “The hospital has been calling every five minutes. It turns out they’re having problems with Ken.”

“What kind of problems,” Brant frowned.

“I’m not sure, but they said it was imperative that you get over there and see him,” Heather glanced over at Avery bitterly, “maybe he wants to compare notes on your wife.”

“That’s it. I swear to God that I’m just going to knock you down where you stand,” Avery wrestled against Brant’s hold on her.

“Tell them I’m not interested,” Brant tried to be calm against his wife’s anger.

“I would, but Dr. Reynolds called and I told him you’d be down there shortly. I wouldn’t have said it if it didn’t sound urgent, but unfortunately it did,” Heather finished with a wicked smirk before giving them both a once over, “So whatever it is you’re up to, you should probably finish fast.”

“That stupid…” Avery growled watching Heather prance out of the room victoriously.

“Ignore her,” Brant pleaded with his wife letting her go as he thought about his brother.

“So what are you going to do?” Avery questioned looking to him.

“If they want me down there, well I should probably go,” he hesitated as a scowl pressed over his face, “It’s not that I want to, but…”

“But he’s your brother and you can’t ignore that,” Avery nodded accordingly, “Brant if he needs you, then you should be there.”

“You need me and I want to be here for you,” he confessed reaching for her hands. He brought her fingers up to his lips and kissed them tenderly “Avery I want tonight to be about us.”

“And if something happens with Ken, you’ll always regret not seeing him,” she paused thinking about her own issues with Ken. Despite what he’d done to her, he was still Brant’s brother and that was reason enough for her to try to encourage Brant to be there. “Kyle did a number on him tonight and given what happened…”

“He deserved all that he got and more,” Brant grumbled before his thoughts shifted to the look on Ken’s face when he’d been pounded on by Kyle. He seemed so out of it…so…

“Just go,” Avery squeezed his hands in hers, “Go see him Brant.”

“But what about you?” he questioned worriedly.

“I’ll be here. I might have the door locked when you get back, but I’ll be right here waiting for you,” she assured him with a soft smile.

“I hate doing this,” he confessed with a small groan.

“So do I, but maybe it’ll give us all the clarity that we all need. Despite what’s happened with Ken and I, I know that he’s your brother and you care about him. Hell, he was my friend for so very long and that’s what makes this difficult,” she admitted painfully, “I hated seeing Kyle hurt him like that, yet…”

“Yet he deserved a lot worse for what he did to you,” Brant nodded in complete understanding.

“No one deserves what happened tonight,” Avery revealed with a poignant sigh knowing that this wasn’t going to be easy now that the truth had come out. Still when she thought about the way Ken looked when the paramedics pulled him out of the house, “not even Ken.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Brant sighed wondering how in the world he was going to face his brother after Ken had done his best to try to destroy one of the best things that had ever happened in Brant’s life.


JT leaned against Diane’s doorframe as he smiled widely down at her as she frowned.

“I’ve missed you so much,” JT informed her with a frown, “I was expecting you to call me sooner after we made love.”

“Shut up,” Diane snapped before shaking her head, “Don’t ever talk about that again.

“That hurts Diane,” JT frowned shaking his head slowly, “When we made love you loved it.”

“I didn’t love anything about you,” Diane replied sharply. “I don’t love anything about you.”

“Oh come on,” JT sighed looking up at her with wide eyes, “You love me and you know it.”

“Get over yourself,” Diane rolled her eyes before seeing JT shrug. “You were less than perfect.”

“You say these lies, but you know you want me,” JT pointed out to her as she shook her head, “You keep telling yourself lies so you will try and not believe your true feelings for me.”

“You mean the hatred I have towards you?” Diane questioned with a snarl before he rested his hand over his chest.

“Oh Diane, that breaks my heart to hear you talk like that,” JT sighed before reaching out to touch her before she pulled back in time for him to miss her. “How about me and you go back there and make up like we did last time?”

“Make up?” Diane wondered with a laugh, “You have to be kidding me right?”

“What else would you call it?” JT questioned before she nodded slowly.

“I could see where you get make up from,” Diane pondered his answer before seeing him smile.

“Really?” he questioned seeing her nod, “Does that mean you want to you know.”

“Actually, I thought of it more like a goodbye,” Diane informed him as she slammed the door in his face making him jump back as he heard the door lock.

“She loves me,” JT laughed before shaking his head and he began to walk down the hallway slowly.

Diane rested against the door taking in a deep breath. JT was like a bad nightmare coming back to haunt her repeatedly. He was going to ruin everything if she didn’t do something about it.


Kevin entered the bar hearing the smooth, strumming beats of music from the 80s filling his ears. The electric guitar and the metal waves mixed with some of that trademark eighties synthesizer brought a smile to his face. This was always a fun night at the club, he thought to himself soaking up the atmosphere as he entered the bar. On a great many nights like tonight in the past he’d actually been able drag Angela out on 80s night and get her to enjoy herself. Of course tonight she’d refused his offer yet again and while Kevin wanted to try to encourage her to get out and live a little, he decided to give her some space. Top that off with the fact that he knew full well that Nick would be working tonight and that in itself sealed the deal. Being around Nick was the last thing Kevin wanted where Angela was concerned.

Feeling his smile fade as he thought of the man who’d been the latest interest in his best friend’s life, Kevin decided that maybe it was time to lay down the rules with good old Nick. Heading directly to the bar, Kevin was surrounded by the usual crowd. They all waved and smiled as Kevin stepped in beside the bar. He greeted them all before surveying behind the bar for Angela’s latest buddy. Surprisingly Nick was no where to be found.

“Well maybe things aren’t so bad after all,” Kevin quipped with a small smirk before seeing Martha come out with a couple of drinks for a few regulars at the end of the bar.

“Kevin, darling, it’s good to see you,” Martha smiled up at him, wiping her brow before moving in closer to talk, “What can I get for you tonight?”

“The usual,” he replied with a smile of his own, “I’m surprised you had to ask.”

“Well I didn’t really. I was just making sure,” she replied handing him his drink before leaning in over the bar, “So what’s on your mind Adonis? I can see you’re just dying to ask me something.”

“Well, since you asked, where’s Nick?” Kevin questioned with a sly expression wondering if Angela’s latest beach find hadn’t made the cut after all.

There was a chorus of laughter from the girls around the bar as Kevin wiggled his brow at them. He looked to Martha once again before offering up a slightly relieved smirk, “Fire him already?”

“No, not when he draws in this kind of crowd,” Martha replied with a very pleased smile before motioning to the center of the dance floor, “I wouldn’t dream of firing him, though he’s really heating up the dance floor with Angela.”

“What?” Kevin’s jaw nearly dropped as he followed the direction of Martha’s giggly eyes. Spinning around he watched Nick and Angela completely engrossed in a very sensual, very touchy feely kind of dance and it was then that Kevin decided that Nick’s fun was about to end.


“Feeling better,” Nick questioned keeping Angela close to him as the slow, subtle tones of the power ballad rocked around them.

“Of course I am,” she smiled up at him, her dark eyes unconvincing as he spun her around.

“You’re a horrible liar,” Nick wrinkled his nose at her, “but since you’re not happy yet, well I’ll have to keep working at it.”

“Nick, it’s not you. It’s me. I mean tonight when I decided to stop by, well I guess I was just kind of worried about you, but then…” she trailed off her gaze wandering out over the dance floor.

“Then what?” he inquired dropping his hand down over the small of her back, “What’s wrong?”

“I guess I never really expected to be enjoying myself like I am,” she blurted out honestly before a color rose over her features.

“Ah, so I am at least elevating your mood a bit, huh?” he flashed her a sexy smile, “So we are making progress then, yes?”

“Don’t let it get to your head,” she warned with a small smile, “I don’t need your ego getting any bigger than it already is.”

“I think I’m about to object to that. I don’t have a big ego, but I can assure you what I lack in ego, I can more than make up for in,” he started suggestively before she placed her hand over his mouth to silence him.

“Now don’t go and start getting cocky on me,” she paused thinking about what she’d said. She shook her head at him unable to quell the blush that burned at her face causing her face to scorch with embarrassment, “You know what I meant.”

“Oh I know what you meant,” he nodded with a tiny laugh, “and judging by the expression on your face, you knew very well what you meant when you…”

“New subject,” she cut him off abruptly taking the lead and twirling around on the dance floor a bit when the speed of the music picked up. She ran her hands over her body watching his eyes follow the movement before she trailed her fingers in over his chest.

“Okay, then how about we talk about you,” he proposed bringing his arm around her waist to pull her in flush against him, “Tell me more about who you are…”

“And ruin all the mystery we have in our relationship,” she shook her head at him before spinning out of his embrace. “Never.”

“Oh now come on, you know you’re just dying to tell me something you’ve never told another person before,” he reached out to her again grinding his body against hers only to feel her throw her arms around his shoulders.

“Shouldn’t you be back behind the bar right now?” she arched a curious brow up at him.

“Maybe, but right now it’s not about what I should be doing. It’s about what I want to be doing right here, right now with you,” he confessed with a certain sparkle behind his intense eyes.

The music seemed to set the room spinning as Angela’s hips bumped in against his to the pulsating rhythm of the music. She spun away feeling him step in behind her, his hands moving up and over her hips, learning her curves as she threw her arm back out around his neck. She tilted her head back seeing the way his deep gaze penetrated her. Her breath came out in a shivering inhale as he spun her in his arms again urging her to face him. Finally, her lips parted as she spoke up with broken words.

“Wh--what is it you want to be doing Nick,” she questioned feeling his breath over hers, the beginnings of their first intimate union sending her mind racing with possibilities of what could happen if she let her guard down long enough to take him on as a lover. Sure, she’d tried to play it cool, but as she remembered their suggestive conversation seconds earlier, another altogether different heat spread out through her body. His hands curved in over her waist, tugging her greedily in against him and as her fingers fanned out over his shoulders, squeezing the muscled contours enthusiastically, she knew that there was no mistaking the fire there. Leaning up ever so slightly, she opened herself to the idea of kissing him--of the thought of tasting his lips and of bringing an end to the obvious sexual tension burning up bouncing off of the both of them.

“This,” he replied sliding his thumb out over her cheekbone to coax her closer yet when all of a sudden the music came to an abrupt stop. Then as if they’d stepped into a nightmare, Angela felt someone in the crowd pull Nick away from her. Her eyes widened in horror as the music shifted and the club roared with cheers. She heard a bell ringing from up at the bar and in that moment she knew what was happening. With the first chords of the out of tune, drunken slurs that surrounded her, she knew full well what was happening.

“Happy Birthday to you…” the people around her sang gleefully, clearly out of tune, but too out of the realm of feeling insecure about it to care. They continued to belt out the tune as Nick was helplessly dragged over to the bar--to the ringing bell where Marta and the rest of the bar continued to serenade him. It was a tradition around here for the birthday boy or girl at the bar to be given such treatment--to be put on the spot and humiliated as the center of attention when the moment arose. Of course while it was a tradition on the island, it wasn‘t at all a tradition for Nick. No, this wasn‘t something he‘d planned--something he was prepared for. The look on his face said it all as he tried to tell them that he wasn‘t in fact celebrating his birthday, but in traditional Marta fashion with her enthusiastic wails of the song and in leading the rest of the bar along with her, Nick‘s explanation wasn‘t heard. He just stood there like a deer in the headlights seeking Angela out from the crowd.

“Oh Nick,” she began feeling a new sensation overtake her as she thought to how this might’ve happened--to who would’ve done such a thing. Nick knew it wasn’t his birthday. Angela knew that as well and no one else would’ve thought to do such a thing. No one except…Kevin.

“Angie,” Kevin’s voice piped in gleefully in the back of her ear as if he’d known exactly the moment that he’d popped into her head. Immediately she stiffened at the sound of his voice, but she refused to give him the satisfaction he was seeking out. She spun around to face him with an unimpressed expression.

“You did this, didn’t you?” she questioned watching that certain sparkle of mischief behind his eyes as he shrugged his shoulders.

“I don’t have the first clue what you’re talking about,” he lied shrugging once again, “I guess someone thought it was Nick’s birthday.”

“Oh I’m sure they did,” she glared at him opening her mouth to say something to him again, but instead she opted for a different approach, “though you know I’d hate to leave Marta with false illusions about what today is for Nick.”

“Now, you know I don’t think she’d mind,” Kevin motioned to over by the bar where someone had just dumped a beer over Nick’s head causing him to jump in a state of shock, “I think Nick’s probably having the time of his life tonight. Who are we to spoil that?”

“You know,” Angela stood taller, puffing her chest out as she glared up at her best friend. Drawing in a slow breath, she felt the mood shift as she nodded again, “You’re right. Why spoil the night for Nick when it’s full of so many possibilities?”

“Exactly,” Kevin added ready to say something more when she leaned in closer to him.

“Maybe this is good for Nick because tonight is going to be a night of new beginnings for him if you know what I mean,” Angela patted his chest briefly before winking up at him.

“Oh I’ll bet it is,” Kevin laughed lightly before catching the way she’d delivered those words. His smile faded and before he could reply he watched her weave her way through the crowd up to the bar where Nick was being serenaded and doused with beer. Suddenly he realized his plan had hit a snag. “Angie wait!”

But it was too late as Angela made her way up to the bar to push her way to Nick’s side. She saw someone else was about to dump another beer over Nick’s head, but instead she snagged the glass away at the last moment.

“Now wait a minute here,” Angela shouted out over the crowd waving her hand to silence them all. It took a few minutes, but finally she’d captured the crowd’s attention. She lifted the glass again as if to lead the bar in a toast before speaking up again. “Now while I’m sure Nick appreciates all of you taking the time to take part in this celebration for him, I’m afraid that I’m not going to let him be christened in beer all night when he’s got something bigger waiting for him around the corner.”

“I do,” Nick’s eyes widened watching her lift the beer mug higher. He was already working on trying to squeeze out some of his shirt as he watched her tip the glass towards him.

“Oh yeah, you do,” Angela nodded confidently grabbing the center of his shirt and yanking on it forcefully. She pulled an off balanced Nick towards her before lifting the glass to the crowd, who as if on cue saluted her. “You see they have other traditions on the island that go along with this.”

“Another one,” he half gulped watching her nod before she set the beer mug back on the bar. Her grin widened as she directed her attention to him once again.

“Another one indeed as it’s time for me to give the birthday boy my gift,” she blurted out throwing her arms around him and pulling him to her in an impromptu kiss.

“No,” Kevin gasped watching Angela practically throw herself on her latest find. As Nick’s surprised shifted from shock to enjoyment, Kevin watched Nick slide his beer soaked arms around Angela’s waist. She dropped her own hands down to Nick’s bottom giving it a firm squeeze before they parted.

“Let’s get out of here,” Angela purred still clenching onto the front center of his shirt before addressing the crowd once again, “Sorry folks, but the birthday boy is all mine. It’s time for his spankings.”

There was a muted whisper that fell over the patrons of the bar before the crowd roared and cheered emphatically. Angela looked to Marta before winking at her.

“You don’t mind if I borrow your bartender for a while, do you?” Angela questioned brightly watching Marta’s face light up with eagerness and perhaps a spark of jealousy at what Angela was about to get herself into.

“No, not at all,” Marta shook her head before waving them on, “You two kids have a good time and let us hear all the details tomorrow.”

“Oh I’m sure you’ll hear them tonight because Nick and I aren’t going to be shy about enjoying ourselves so I’ll just apologize for the noise right here and now,” Angela promised before rising up on her toes to nibble on Nick’s lower lip once again. She gave his bottom a firm squeeze before motioning to the exit, “Ready lover?”

Nick remained speechless watching her with a curiously confused expression, but as she laced her fingers in his bringing his hand up to her lips, he felt his heart pounding in his chest. He felt her lips press in over his fingers, all the while his throat constricting at the very sight of her clearly erotic display. She slid one of his fingers into his mouth, suckling upon the small trace of liquid upon them before she released him. She looked to the crowd again before noticing Kevin watching in horror, “Oh and by the way tonight the drinks are on Kevin Adonis.”

There was another cheer that rang out through the bar before Kevin stepped forward to try to stop Angela from leaving with Nick, but it was too late. He watched in horror as Angela lead Nick out into the night and it was in that moment that Kevin feared he’d made perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in his life in trying to keep his friend out of danger.


Brant stood outside the door to Ken’s room at the hospital and as he felt himself preparing for this moment, he knew that there were no words to truly describe what he was feeling at this point in time. Sure, he could march in there and say what was on his mind, yet it would never be enough. Even now as he flashed back to the twists and turns that had taken his brother down this dark and horrifying road. There was no way that things would ever be right again and yet Brant found himself wishing like hell that he’d been able to stop Ken from taking the path that lead to the most destruction.

“You can do this,” Brant instructed himself, pushing open the door to his brother’s hospital room only to discover Ken laying on the bed before him looking like death warmed over. He inhaled slowly thinking about all the things that his brother had clearly done since Caitlin died, but now, well now in seeing his brother looking so miserable Brant began to feel sorry for him. As awful as it sounded after Ken had hurt Avery the way he had, Brant still wouldn’t have wished this upon him. Carefully closing the door behind him Brant began to approach Ken.

As if reading his brother’s mind Ken spoke up gruffly, “Don’t pity me Brant because when it gets down to it, you’re just like me. We’re one in the same.”

“No,” Brant shook his head adamantly, “we aren’t.”

“Aren’t we?” Ken challenged turning his head to face his brother. Unlike what Brant had imagined Ken to be like when he’d first stepped into the room, Ken had a smug, wicked expression on his face. The lines of his jaw were cold and taught with clear cut anger that he contained from within and his eyes, well his eyes were a sure sign of the turmoil from within.

“No, we aren’t,” Brant insisted again, “we’re nothing like one another Ken. At one point in time I thought that…”

“That what? That I was just going to bend over and take it like I always do?” Ken arched a curious brow before letting out a hollow laugh, “Deny it as you will, but the truth to the matter is that we’re one in the same. You’ve spent a great many months trying to manipulate Avery into bed. You’re just upset that I was able to follow through where you couldn’t.”

“You lied to her!” Brant snapped back at him, “You deceived her into thinking she was with me.”

“Did I?” Ken questioned venomously, “Is that what she’s trying to tell you Brant? That I forced her into something? Because you and I both that’s not true. Sure, Avery might have a flair for dramatics, but the truth to the matter is that she wanted me that night--every second we were together she wanted me.”

“She thought you were me,” Brant reminded him abrasively, “She never would’ve fallen into bed with you if…”

“Brant, I realize you’re trying to rationalize this one, but think about it. Avery and I have been friends for years…”

“Which makes this all the more horrible Ken. How could you do something like this to her? How could you turn into the man that we spent most of our lives hating?” Brant questioned shaking his head at him, “I feel like I don’t even know you anymore.”

“You never knew me Brant. You never wanted to know what I was. All that mattered to you was what you could do to get ahead. You didn’t care about anyone or anything, but yourself and even right now as you stand before me in a pathetic attempt to pass judgment upon me, the real reason behind this is because you’re upset about what my actions have done to effect you. You could care less about Avery and what she’s going through. This is all about you and we both know that.”

“No Ken,” Brant’s voice raised with anger, “this is about how you violated my wife--how you tricked her into sleeping with you and…”

“Your wife has known me most of her life. Hell, she’s kissed me before Brant,” Ken taunted him, “long before the night I held her in my arms and made her my own.”

“You son of a,” Brant lunged towards his brother, his hands grasping around Ken’s neck in a fury. He began to squeeze as Ken let out a high pitched wail of laughter.

“Go ahead and do it,” Ken taunted him feeling the grip of his brother’s fingers over his neck, “Show Avery how much you care about her by becoming exactly what you despise. Do it Brant because I’d love to see you try to talk your way out of homicide charges.”

Brant squeezed harder feeling the urge to strangle his brother grow with each second the blood pumped through his veins, but as Brant thought about what killing Ken would mean, he backed off. He reluctantly tore himself away from his brother before standing up and adjusting his tie in an attempt to stay calm.

“You’re not worth it,” Brant scoffed fighting the anger tearing him apart inside.

“That’s what I thought,” Ken sneered up at him, “You’re not man enough to be a husband to your wife let alone a murderer.”

“You had no right to do what you did to her,” Brant waved his finger at him wildly.

“I did what Avery wanted to do Brant. She was so needy and clingy,” Ken licked his lips, “and I gave her everything she was asking for that night. She wanted me to hold her--to be with her and I did just that.”

“And the world be damned right?” Brant growled at him before shaking his head with obvious disgust, “What about Caitlin? What would she think if she saw what you’ve become?”

“Caitlin’s dead,” Ken answered flatly, “She can’t see anything.”

“But if she could, she’d be sickened by the monster you are. You aren’t anything like the man she fell in love with,” Brant lashed out at him.

“As I said, she’s dead, so what difference does it make,” Ken answered coldly, “The dead can’t pass judgment on the rest of us who are still trapped in hell.”

“Maybe, but then again, you’re allowing yourself to be lead around by a ghost. You’ve turned into the monster of a man that you and I both agreed to steer clear of. You’ve become everything you hated and in the process you’ve lost yourself.”

“Oh I’m well aware of what I am. It’s people like you who live in denial Brant,” Ken glared up at him from behind a black eye, “The world is cold and ugly and it only gets worse. You never wanted me to be happy with Caitlin. You never wanted me to have love in my life and you‘ve won Brant. The only woman I‘ve ever cared about is gone forever and now it‘s your turn to suffer.”

“And what about Carly? I thought that she was someone special,” Brant threw out at him bitterly, “I thought she was someone you cared about.”

Ken seemed to be effected by Brant’s words momentarily before he continued on his tirade, “You‘ve done nothing but try to destroy my life so I thought I‘d return the favor.”

“You raped my wife. You took advantage of her in this quest to take me down,” Brant reminded him harshly, “You’re nothing like the man you wanted to be. You’re just another version of Nicholas.”

“It’s in our blood Brant,” Ken replied icily, “We’re both bound to become him. Sins of the father as they say and one day, mark my words you’ll be where I’m at right now.”

“No, I won’t be because I’m not at all like you. I’m not going to become this,” Brant added sharply, “I wouldn’t dream of turning into what you are. You repulse me.”

“But I surely didn’t repulse your wife,” Ken jabbed twisting the knife further.

“Don’t you dare talk about my wife again,” Brant warned him icily, “because I swear to you if you even think of coming near her, I won’t hesitate to kill you myself.”

“She’s only with you because the man she loves is gone Brant. You won her by default because Russ left her life and we both know that,” Ken watched as Brant started to turn away from him, “We both are well aware that if she loved you--if she had any inkling of consideration for you and your marriage, then she wouldn’t have fallen into my arms. She wouldn’t have made love to me if she cared that damn much about you. Face it Brant. No matter how much you give and give to Avery, she’ll never truly be yours. She doesn’t love you and she never will.”

“I mean it Ken,” Brant sneered ignoring his brother’s harsh words, “if you even look at her the wrong way, it’ll be the end for you. In fact, from where I stand you should really start thinking about what comes next. Rape is a serious offense in the eyes of the law, but a sharp witted lawyer like yourself should realize that. Granted dear old dad might’ve been able to get away with it, but you on the other hand, I’ll make sure that you’re not so fortunate. I’m not about to let this one pass by.”

“Hmm, well you know in being a lawyer like I am, I’m also well aware that attempted murder is also grounds for some imprisonment time,” Ken challenged watching Brant stand still. Brant slowly spun around to face him with angry, yet surprised eyes.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? No wait, I don’t care what it is you’re after,” Brant turned to leave again.

“Avery told me all about what she did to Brooke--about how you helped her cover it up by enlisting help to create a cover story,” Ken blurted out wickedly, “and if you or your wife even think about trying to drag our family business out in the legal system, then I swear to you I’ll go to the Feds and tell them everything I know about Avery’s lies and her actions against Brooke.”

“Brooke told the FBI that Bruce was the one who tried to kill her,” Brant answered flatly, “They already know what happened.”

“They know what you want them to know, but I can promise you that by the time I’m through with them, they’ll know the truth. They’ll know every last detail from the moment she pushed her mother out of that window to your bullying Brooke Morrison into saying that Bruce Mathis was the man who’d hurt her. They’ll know all about your deceptions and it’ll be the end of Avery…” Ken warned him with a glare.

“No one will believe you alone,” Brant dismissed his words.

“Oh, but they will,” Ken promised him, “because I know what it takes to win Brooke over and by the time I’ve let her in on what’s really happening, she’ll be more than happy to cooperate with me. She’ll have no choice, but to tell the truth about what her precious daughter did to her.”

“It’ll never happen Ken. I’m not about to be intimidated by you. You’re just grasping at straws,” Brant replied with a sneer.

“More like the facts that your wife threw out at me before I had her screaming in a state of pure bliss,” Ken licked his lips as if tasting Avery upon them, “One thing about your wife is she’s got quite a mouth on her. Not only does she use it very well in the bedroom, but she’s just full of gossip after a few orgasms.”

“You sick bastard,” Brant snapped having had more than enough of his brother’s taunting. Unable to quell the urge to destroy him, Brant moved forward again ready to finish the job that Kyle had started on Ken. He threw himself forward tossing his fists out left and right at his brother--into the man who’d tried to goad him. At long last Brant had snapped and there would be no turning back.

“Brant!” Don’s voice roared through the room as Brant felt himself being pulled off of Ken’s still form.

Brant struggled, but Don dragged Brant away and it was in that moment that Brant realized that Ken hadn’t put up a fight. Now laying broken and battered on the bed, Brant realized that Ken was getting exactly what he wanted. He wanted an out--a way out of the life he’d been left with and Brant was providing him with that.

“Brant,” Don seemed to shout his name again before Brant felt himself being dragged out of the hospital room. Once in the hallway Don let go of him.

“Don, stop,” Brant finally snapped out of his enraged daze.

“Look, I was about to leave when I got the run down on what was going on with Ken,” Don shook his head poignantly, “I was hoping the rumors I heard weren’t true, but after seeing what I did…”

“My brother’s lost his mind,” Brant tried to shrug off the feeling building up inside of him.

“I can see that, but right now your killing him isn’t going to solve anything,” Don tried to rationalize with him.

“What would you do if it was your wife?” Brant challenged watching the way Don’s features seemed to darken at what his friend was saying to him.

“Brant, I honestly don’t know what I’d do, but as your friend I have to stop you from doing something you’ll live to regret,” Don pointed out with a small sigh, “Ken’s in a bad place right now.”

“Yeah, well something tells me he’s never coming back from it,” Brant replied with a grumble.

“Maybe not, but right now I think it’s best if you put some distance between the two of you,” Don urged him gently, “Go home and be with your wife. She needs you and I think that’s really where you belong at a time like this.”

“I know,” Brant nodded trying to calm himself down a bit, “Deep down I know that.”

“Then go to her,” Don suggested once again, “As for Ken, well let the doctors take care of that. I’ll check in on him before I leave and if you need anything, well call me and I’ll see what I can do. Just don’t fall into Ken’s trap. That’s what he’s hoping you’ll do. He’s trying to bait you and it’s working.”

“Only because he used my wife to get to me,” Brant sighed knowing that his friend was right, but still as he thought about the way Ken was about the situation, Brant realized that the problems were far from over.


Carly rushed into her hotel room feeling the walls closing in around her as she flashed back to what had happened with Ken. The scene kept replaying in her mind over and over again. It was there before her in vivid color--all the horrible, disgusting details of what he’d done with Avery coming back to haunt her and in that moment she was overcome with a sudden nausea. Feeling the bile up in the back of her throat, she rushed into her bathroom, overcome with the sudden urge to throw up. Her body was shaking, heart pounding in her chest and as the tears burned down her face, she fell before the toilet, body rocked over with shivers and dry heaves. Her sobs poured out of her, her face burning with frustration and embarrassment over the love she’d thought she’d found, but she’d been wrong. As always she’d made the wrong decision and it was coming back to haunt her.

“It serves you right,” she could hear a voice in the back of her head saying over and over again as her tears consumed her. She knew better than to get wrapped up in something with Ken. She knew not to go down that road and yet she’d fallen for him. She’d gone out on a limb and made the single biggest mistake in getting involved with a man set out to destroy the world around him.

“What was I thinking,” she thought aloud realizing that this was about more than just her. When she thought about Avery--about what was happening with her, she couldn’t help but feel worse knowing full well that Ken had clearly taken advantage of a situation. He’d somehow gained Avery’s trust only to rip it down, and for what? For the satisfaction of knowing that he’d found a way to make everyone in the world miserable around him. Was that what Ken was all about? Sick and twisted games that hurt people? Was that why he’d come to her? To hurt her? To hurt Dave?

Dave. The thought bore down on her in a long rush of guilt. Of all the people in the world she’d hurt, she knew that he’d be effected the most by this. He’d been nothing, but wonderful to her and this was what she gave him. Sure they hadn’t been a couple in a long time, but after their newfound attempts at getting close to one another, only for her to go off and do something stupid, well it was just too much. She had gone too far and now she knew she would have to pay for her actions somehow.

“I can’t stay here,” she thought to herself managing to do her best to try to pull herself together after she’d moved beyond the chills that had rocked her body. Rising to her feet again she looked in the mirror trying not to think about how this would be taking her under. Sure, she’d lost her job--she lost Ken, but somehow she would be able to move on. She was a fighter--someone who could endure and this would be no different.

“I just have to get out of here,” she mouthed quickly brushing her teeth and slapping on some make-up in a haste. She wasn’t sure where she was going to go, but she needed to get out. She needed to have some time away.

Making her way to the hotel room door, Carly threw it open with the full intentions of fleeing, but instead she was met by Dave’s wounded expression. She saw him holding an envelope in his shaky hands as he raised it up to her face, waving it at her in an attempt to try to push upon her the emotions that he’d been feeling in this moment in time.

“How could you do this?” he questioned, his voice broken by his emotions as Carly stared at the envelope knowing full well what was within, “Carly, how could you do this to me? How could you…with Ken?”

“Dave, I can explain. I…” she started in a feeble attempt to explain herself, but instead only tears poured out. She felt him hold the envelope out towards her, looking as if he’d hit her with it, but instead he threw them on the ground at her feet.

“I thought that I meant something to you--that we meant something to one another--that…” Dave started to scream at her, when he realized that her crying had been present since the moment she’d opened the door. He realized that something more was happening than his confronting her, “Carly?”

“I’m sorry,” Carly stammered knowing she had no excuse for any of what had happened, “Dave, I didn’t want to hurt you. I wanted to tell you--to let you know about Ken and I, but…Dave, it was a mistake…”

“You’re damn right it was. I mean first you seemed like you wanted something with us, but then,” he shook his head at her, “Now I know what it was that prompted you to ridicule me on the stand. All those talks about Deidra, they weren’t about Deidra or me at all. They were about you--about you and Ken and what you were doing. That’s what this always was about, wasn’t it?”

“Dave, I screwed up,” she blurted out in between sobs, “I didn’t mean to hurt you and I didn’t plan for this, but I ruined everything. I don’t expect you to forgive me or even to not hate me because I deserve everything you feel and more, but…”

“But what?” Dave questioned stiffly trying not to be effected by her tears.

“But nothing. Dave, you need to go. Just leave and pretend I was never a part of your life. You deserve so much better than what you have in me. You need someone who can love you--someone you love and someone who…” she choked up before she could complete her words.

Dave stood in silence for a long time thinking about the other things he wanted to say to Carly about her fling with Ken--about the news that had come his way via the police station about Ken at the hospital, but instead he felt an ache inside of him at her pain.

“I failed you Dave. I screwed up and if it’s any consolation to you, Ken played me. I made a mistake in trusting him because I now know that all he wanted to do was to destroy the world around him. He wasn’t with me because he cared about me. He was with me because…”

“Because he knew that I loved you,” Dave finished bitterly. He shook his head as he too had come to that realization once he’d been faced with the news of Carly’s affair with Ken. He could still remember clearly when he’d walked into his office and found the envelope that contained photos of Ken and Carly together. He’d been hurt--upset and wounded, yet at the same time he’d felt as if it was déjà vu of his teen years when Ken had stolen Deidra from him. Only now it was another time and another place with another woman that Dave had once loved.

“I was too stupid not to see it. I really thought that it was something special…that Ken and I were…” Carly broke down completely falling into the doorframe.

Taking in a slow breath Dave stepped forward surprising the both of them when he pulled her into his arms. He felt her tears and in those moments of holding her and listening to her sobs, he felt his own anger with the man he’d once called best friend consume him. There were no words to explain what he felt in a moment like this. Sure, he’d been betrayed--he’d been played for a fool and yet as Carly fell to piece in his arms, he realized that there had never been a time in his life when he felt she needed him more. Squeezing her in his arms, he kissed the top of her head gingerly wishing like hell that he could’ve somehow stopped this from happening--that he could’ve kept her from going to Ken. He remembered his own indifferent attitude with her and in that moment Dave felt guilt over his own actions knowing that he had played a hand in Carly’s running to Ken in the first place.

“I’m sorry,” Dave whispered in her ear surprising her with the gentle ease behind his words.

Carly stiffened in his arms before looking up at him, now completely aware of the fact that he was holding her, “What did you just say?”

“I said I’m sorry,” he confessed painfully, “If I would’ve quit trying to push you away, then you never would have gone to him. You never would have…”

“Dave, don’t,” she pleaded with him, “Don’t apologize to me because I’m the one who wronged you. I’m the one who did all the wrong things and…”

“And I’m the one who kept you at arm’s length,” Dave continued adamantly, “I know how Ken works. All the signs were there when you voiced your insecurities about Deidra. He played us against one another and then, well he found a way to turn you against me.”

“I should’ve fought harder with what was going on inside of me, but Ken’s not to blame for this. I went to him willingly. I was so lonely and…”

“And I left you open to him,” Dave insisted with a sad sigh, “Carly, I know you and I know how you feel about things. I know how Ken feels about the world around him right now and…”

“And there’s no excuse. I betrayed you and I can’t be forgiven for that. I wanted to tell you. I went to your office to try to break the news to you, but you weren’t there and…” she sniffled before lowering her head, “Now it feels like the world is falling apart around me.”

“I’ve been in that same place since I found those photos in my office,” Dave confessed heavily, his heart hurting with the admission.

“I don’t know who put them there. Chavez threatened me if I walked out on the case. She said if I didn’t win, that she’d tell you about Ken…that she’d destroy me with you and…” she began.

“I don’t care how they got there. I don’t care what happened with Ken,” Dave insisted firmly, his finger curling in underneath her chin. He urged her to look up at him once again as their eyes connected. “All that matters to me right now is what it is you feel about me--about us…”

“Dave, I blew it for us. I threw away the best thing I ever had in my life with you and I know now that we can’t get it back ever again. If you want to hate me forever…” she began painfully, “well I can’t say I blame you.”

“I don’t hate you. As much as knowing about you and Ken is killing me, the truth is that I don’t hate you. I could never hate you Carly and even now,” he paused struggling with his nagging emotions, “well I don’t ever want to go back. We can’t ever do that.”

“No we can’t,” she nodded in the painful realization, “and I’m so sorry that it’s come to this.”

“Carly, I need you to tell me something. I need you to be totally honest with me about this one thing,” he pleaded with her, “and no matter how much it hurts you have to be up front with me.”

She nodded, “I’ll try.”

“Okay,” he paused sliding his finger up and out over the hollow in her cheekbone, his dark eyes reaching into hers, “Carly, right now the truth is all that I care about is what you feel for me.”

“How I feel for…” she gazed up at him blankly confused by his words, “Dave, I don’t understand.”

“I know you had something with Ken. I know that things have happened--that he’s found a way into your heart--into your life, but what I’m asking--what I’m trying to say is…well, I won’t lie to you and tell you it didn’t hurt when I saw those pictures. I’m not going to tell you that I wasn’t bitter or angry or ready to lash out at you in a rage because I was all those things. In some ways I’m still feeling all of that, yet…”

“Yet what?” she asked in a small voice.

“Yet the idea of losing you forever to Ken is something I don’t want to face,” he revealed with raw, unmasked emotion as his fingers slid into her hair, “I know that he’s managed to seduce you in a great many ways, but I need to know if somewhere inside your heart there’s still room for me. If maybe there’s a chance we can fix this somehow.”

“You mean,” her jaw dropped in astonishment.

“Carly, I don’t care what happened between you and Ken. I came here to tell you that on top of everything else,” he explained his voice impassioned by his emotions, “and regardless of what was going on between the two of you, I came here today to tell you that it doesn’t matter. I’m not about to let history repeat itself twice over. I lost you once and I’ll be damned if I lose you again to Kenneth Ashford.”

“But Dave…given what I did to you--how I hurt you…” she stammered seeing a different side to the man she’d once been engaged to.

“It doesn’t matter. I mean, yes, it does and I’m not going to lie to you about that, but at the same time I’m not going to pretend that I don’t love you. All my life I’ve been playing it safe--I’ve been living by the rules--by what the world around me wanted me to be, but now, well now I know where my heart is and if it’s not too late, I’d like for us to start over. I want for us to get that second chance that we should’ve had when you left town the first time. If I could go back to that, well, I would’ve found a way to keep you from going because Carly having you in my life was the only time I was ever really happy. It was the only time I was ever really myself and when I’m with you, well as strained as it’s been, it’s only been because deep down I know that I didn’t give you all that you needed, but I want that to change. I want everything to change for us and if it’s a battle for your heart, well then I’m going to do everything in my power to win you back because I love you and I want to be with you.”

“Oh Dave,” Carly threw her arms around him unable to contain the surprise that rocked over her body, “I don’t deserve that. I don’t deserve you.”

“What you don’t deserve is to be stuck in the middle of a war that began long before you came into my life,” Dave whispered holding him in his arms all the while feeling the animosity over what Ken had done to persuade Carly into his life. Regardless of what had transpired between Ken and Carly, one thing was for certain, Dave was going to put an end to it starting now.


“So now that we’ve got that problem out of the way,” Hunt began lacing his fingers with Mindy’s before raising them to his lips, “Am I to assume that we’re okay now?”

“Well,” Mindy pretended to think it over before a smile touched over the corners of her mouth, “I think we can work on getting there. Of course I might need a little bit more convincing from you with a few kisses here and there…”

“I think I can arrange that,” Hunt promised leaning in towards her in the beginnings of a small, sensual kiss when the sound of his cell phone invaded their moment. He groaned slightly before ignoring it and going in for the kiss regardless.

Mindy squealed with a tiny sense of enthusiasm as she threw her arms around him enjoying that he’d thought she was far more important than anyone who might be calling. Sliding her arms in around his neck, she kissed him again with a newfound intensity and the phone silenced. Unfortunately it was only momentarily before it began again.

“Damn it,” Hunt cursed under his breath pulling away from her with a frown, “just give me a second.”

“As long as you promise to come back to me, you can have all the time in the world,” she smiled at him watching him walk away as she sank back onto the bench they’d been seated on moments earlier after their stroll through the park.

“I swear I’ll be right back,” he assured her before answering his phone in an agitated voice, “What?”

“Where the hell have you been?” Brooke demanded, “I’ve been trying to reach you for the last hour or so and you’re no where to be found.”

“I’m busy,” Hunt paused before realizing that Brooke was in fact talking with him, “Hey, wait a second I thought that you were…”

“Laid up in a hospital,” she questioned with a haughty laugh, “You didn’t really think that a little fall out of the window could take me out like that, did you lover?”

“Listen it’s not a good time,” he began glancing over his shoulder at where Mindy sat swinging her feet over the bench she sat on. She looked so very beautiful and as Hunt watched her, he felt his heart flutter a bit.

“Not a good time? I was just in a coma and when I woke up, you were the first thing on my mind. I almost died and you’re lucky that I’m still around, yet you’re going to tell me it’s not a good time,” Brooke replied incredulously, “After everything I’ve done for you, I would’ve thought that you’d give me more than this considering that…”

“Look, I don’t mean to be rude because that’s not it at all, it’s just that I’m with someone at the moment and…” he began to explain feeling a moment of guilt ride over him at the memory of all that Brooke had done for him.

“With someone or not, it’s irrelevant. I want to see you at the hospital right now. Hunt, please, don’t make me wait,” she begged of him, “I need to see you.”

“I just don’t think that I can…” he started with a heavy sigh.

“Hunt, I promise you if you come over here, it’ll be well worth your while. I just received a call from one of my associates that I’d talked to you about. They wanted me to set up an appointment for you to come and see them, but if you’re too busy…” she trailed off giving him a crumb that she knew would entice him.

“Look, I really can’t…” he began again.

“Opportunities like this are once in a lifetime, but if it’s no longer important to you,” Brooke remarked sourly.

“No, that’s not it. It’s just…” he sucked in a sharp breath before feeling his heart sink, “I’ll be there when I can.”

“That a boy,” her voice purred with triumph, “Don’t make me wait too long lover.”

“I’ll get there when I can,” Hunt replied hanging up the phone knowing full well that he had to set things straight with Brooke once and for all. As he returned to Mindy he could see her playing with a wildflower she’d picked from beside the bench.

“For you,” she explained holding it out to him. She noticed the frown that touched over his features and as he approached her, her own smile faded. “Hunt, what is it?”

“I hate to do this, but something came up,” he began apologetically, “I have to cut this short.”

“No,” Mindy curled her lip in a pout, “You can’t be serious.”

“I wish I wasn’t, but unfortunately I don’t have a choice in this matter,” he reached for her hand pulling her up off of the bench and into his arm, “but promise me that we’ll find a way to reschedule.”

“Gee, I don’t know. It all depends on what you’re running off on me for,” she teased lightly trailing her fingers over his chest.

“I promise you that it’s not something that I want to be doing, but I have to,” he sighed heavily before embracing her, “Just tell me we can give this another try sometime soon.”

“I promise,” Mindy hugged him in response as Hunt wondered how he was going to be able to find a way to rid himself of Brooke’s place in his life. He’d just spent the last few weeks with Mindy feeling wonderful and as he longed to stay with her tonight despite his promise to meet up with Brooke, he realized that it was time for things to start to change.


Kyle knocked on the door to the Denton household before stuffing his hands in his pockets as the door opened.

“Kyle,” Elliot sighed before opening the door more and letting him in. “I’m glad you could make it.”

“What are you talking about?” Kyle questioned with a slight smile. “I wouldn’t miss…”

“Hello Kyle,” Susan smiled as his eyes reached her, “How are you this fine day?”

“What the hell is she doing here?” Kyle questioned angrily before looking at Grady.

“She has got some information on where Jade could be,” Grady informed her as Kyle laughed.

“Probably locked up in her basement,” Kyle growled before Elliot patted him on the shoulder.

“Calm down and listen to what she has to say Kyle,” Elliot suggested as Kyle bit down on his bottom lip.

“You have to be kidding me right?” Kyle questioned looking over at Grady who shook his head.

“I had to listen to it and now you do too,” Grady stated as Kyle walked over and took a seat to listen.”

“I’m all ears,” Kyle snarled before Susan rubbed her hands together slowly.

“Well, all I know is that Cameron has her and he is planning to take her away forever,” Susan began trying to sum up all the things she had said earlier, “I have a lead, but I am not completely sure where she is.”

“Bullshit,” Kyle shot back shaking his head slowly, “Give me some proof.”

“Kyle,” Grady sighed looking over towards Kyle, “I didn’t believe her at first either, but as I am thinking about it…what else do we have to go off of?”

“You are serious about this whole thing?” Kyle questioned as Grady nodded slowly.

“Yeah, I think I am,” Grady answered as Kyle leaned back into the couch.

They had to be crazy to believe someone like Susan. Could she be telling the truth? All Kyle could hope was that Grady wouldn’t end up getting screwed over in the end. Could this possibly help them any? On the other hand, could it turn out to be a disaster?


...to be continued...