Episode 195

Avery let out a soft sigh, stretching out on top of the bed only to feel a warmth beside her. Opening her eyes she looked up to find Brant laying on his side, propped up on his elbow just watching her. He seemed content from his perched position on the center of the bed. She couldn’t help but smile up at him before stretching her hand out to touch him.

“Sleep well,” he questioned leaning into her hand. Her fingers pressed in against the side of his face tenderly as she nodded.

“Better than I have in a long time,” she confessed, “You?”

“It was nice, but this,” he leaned in closer to her, his mouth hovering in above hers in a torturous position before he closed the distance between them. He kissed her gingerly, taking his time to savor the first breath of the morning with her, “is even better.”

She smiled as they parted, “Yes, it was. Much better.”

“So tell me something beautiful,” Brant teased his index finger in over the center of her lips, “How is it that I was able to be this close to you all night long, yet we wake up this morning completely dressed?”

“It could be because we were both exhausted by the time we made it to bed,” she added with a tiny, infectious giggle before he leaned forward nibbling on her lower lip again, “I take it you spent the night dreaming about the possibilities of waking up beside me naked, huh?”

“Of course I did,” he nodded in confession, “but when I woke up, well as disappointed as I might’ve been about the whole naked part, I have to admit I was beyond thrilled to find you here in my arms. That more than makes up for the other stuff.”

“Oh right,” Avery rolled her eyes, “Now you’re lying through your teeth so you can hide your true colors about wanting to ravish me right now.”

Brant snickered in response unable to contain himself. Color rose in his cheeks before he let out a breath, “Okay, guilty as charged, but can you blame me?”

“For wanting me,” she shook her head again, “no, but some might call you crazy after everything I’ve put you through. Most men would’ve gone running by now.”

“They might’ve, but most men are idiots. Deep down I’ve always known you were well worth the wait,” he replied in a firm, steady voice.

“And now that we’re married and you’re still waiting?” she arched a curious brow.

“I find myself eagerly anticipating when the right moment happens upon us,” he whispered stealing another kiss from her before the sounds of tapping on the door invaded the moment.

“Clearly this morning isn’t the right moment,” Avery couldn’t help but laugh lightly feeling Brant’s body tense up at the intrusion.

“We’re going to have to work about some privacy for us,” he grumbled before painting on a fake smile. He sat up a bit before addressing the person outside the door, “Just a minute.”

“We’ll have to arrange something,” Avery promised before getting up herself, “although maybe this is a sign. I promised Cheryl that I’d stop by for breakfast. She wanted to talk a bit more today and…”

“And you should be there,” Brant nodded hearing the knocking once again, “I’m coming already.”

“I’m willing to bet it’s Heather yet again needing your attention,” Avery rolled her eyes kicking her legs over the side of the bed. She stood upright stretching out for a moment.

“If it is, well, I’m going to have to lay down the law with her where her timing is concerned. Starting now,” he promised opening the door fully prepared to give Heather a piece of his mind, but instead he found himself face to face with his grandfather.

“Brant,” Augustus’s voice beckoned him with that same cheerful, timbre that had always been a positive plus to the older man’s thick, heavy accent, “how are you sport?”

“Augustus,” Brant’s eyes widened as he found himself face to face with a man he hadn’t seen since the time that followed shortly after his father’s memorial, “What are you doing here?”

“Hoping to surprise you,” Augustus let out a robust laugh, “and clearly I have. May I come in?”

“Well, I…” Brant stammered a bit not quite sure what to say to his grandfather. He heard Avery coming out from the bathroom and her voice beckoning him before Augustus wiggled a curious brow at him.

“Your wife?” Augustus questioned curiously before trying to steal a peak into the room. “Is this a bad time? Should I come back or can I come on in and congratulate the two of you?”

“Well, I…I mean…” Brant attempted to come up with some kind of reason to deny his grandfather access, but instead he found himself opening the door and turning to Avery, “Avery, you’re never going to believe who is here.”

“Oh I’m sure I can guess,” Avery began with a very thick air of sarcasm before her eyes fell upon the new arrival. Immediately her tone shifted and a smile lit up over her features, “Augie, what are you doing here?”

“I came here to see how my grandson is treating you Bella,” Augustus explained stepping forward to meet Avery halfway in an embrace, “When Annette told me that you two had found your way to matrimony, I realized I had to see it with my own eyes to believe it.”

“Well, it’s true,” Avery beamed at his arrival. “We’re married.”

“And here I thought you were smarter than that Bella,” Augustus winked at her, “He hasn’t bribed you into this, has he?”

“Of course he hasn’t,” Avery laughed lightly at the Ashford patriarch’s playful nature. He’d been one of the bright spots in Avery’s time working for the company. When she’d been doing some things overseas Nicholas had sent her to meet with Augustus. Sure, she’d heard horrible things from Brant’s father about Augustus, but when Avery first met him in Europe, she’d found him to be completely charming. The two had spent a great deal of time with one another and she looked to him as a mentor in her own way.

Even now she could recall all the talks they’d had about her miserable state of affairs when it came to her romance with Bruce. Time after time Augustus had tried to fill her head with stories of romance and passion and about a time when she would be with her Mr. Right. Back then she’d known in her heart that she’d found her Mr. Right in Russ, but she’d let him go and Augustus was one of the few to tap into that part of her broken heart. A true romantic and a dear friend, Augustus had won a place in Avery’s heart during her time overseas.

“You look radiant Bella,” Augustus kissed Avery’s cheek gently before taking a step back to give her a long once over. His lips upturned in a pleased smile as his gaze fell upon her abdomen, “I see my grandson has kept you quite busy here, hasn’t he? Getting a jump start on having a family, huh?”

“Well…” Avery began as he reached for her pulling her into another enthusiastic embrace.

“That’s wonderful news Bella,” Augustus announced proudly before releasing her. He glanced over at Brant approvingly, “It’s nice to see he’s finally found someone to get him back in line.”

“We’re still working on it,” Avery replied taking note of the time. A frown curled over her lips now that she knew of their surprise guest, “I hate to leave, but I promised someone I’d meet with them for breakfast this morning.”

“Already?” Augustus frowned slightly thinking about the catching up he had to do with Avery and Brant, “Well, I suppose I would like to talk to my grandson alone for a bit. You must have dinner with me tonight--both of you since I’ll be in town for a while.”

“A while?” Brant stepped forward catching the last part of his grandfather’s statement, “You’ll be here for a while?”

“That’s right,” Augustus nodded, “Annie called me and suggested that I pay everyone a visit. She thought I was needed here.”

Brant caught that last hint of seriousness in his grandfather’s voice and judging by the expression on his face, he knew only too well what his grandfather was referring to. Taking in a slow breath Brant had a sudden feeling that things were about to get intense after Avery went off to meet Cheryl.

“I didn’t think you’d mind my sticking around for a bit, do you Bella?” Augustus glanced over at Avery with a warming smile.

“Not at all,” Avery stepped forward to embrace him once again, “It’s good to have you back in town.”

“It’s good to be back,” he replied exchanging a few more pleasantries with her before Avery took off to meet up with Cheryl.

Once Brant and Augustus were alone, Brant watched his grandfather transform from charming to a mask of utter seriousness. Brant sucked in a sharp breath knowing full well what was coming.

“Brant…” Augustus spoke Brant’s name in a firm, yet parental tone, “I’m glad that we had a moment alone. After Annie called me I was most distressed to learn about what’s been going on with Kenneth…”

“He brought it on himself,” Brant defended his position in what was happening in the Ashford household, “I’m not sure what you’ve been told, but given what I did, it wasn’t enough.”

“Putting him into a hospital bed wasn’t enough?” Augustus frowned disapprovingly.

“Not after he violated my wife like he did,” Brant shook his head at him adamantly, “I’m sure you’ve already seen Ken and got his side of the story. I’m sure he filled your head with notions about how Avery wanted him--how he did nothing wrong, but that’s as far from the truth in the situation. Ken’s delusional right now and…”

“Brant, I didn’t fly out all this way to give you a verbal lashing if that’s what you were expecting,” Augustus raised his hands in the air defensively, “I’m well aware of what’s going on with Bella and before get a lecture myself, why don’t we go somewhere else to chat? Like civilized adults perhaps?”

Brant’s lip curled in a frown before he finally nodded, “Fine, but I’m just telling you now, with Ken, well, he’s gone too far. He’s turned into the thing that we swore we’d never become. He’s taken his grief and channeled it into the evil our father once had around here.”

Augustus nodded poignantly, “Yes, but there’s a big difference between Nicholas and Kenneth. Kenneth can still be saved.”

“Not from where I stand,” Brant argued with him, unwilling to cut his brother any slack after he’d thought about what Ken had done to Avery.

“Perhaps now you feel that way, but in time you’ll see that Kenneth has more going on than either one of us can really, truly begin to imagine,” Augustus started watching Brant open his mouth in protest, “but before we get to that, why don’t we go out into the gardens and continue this discussion over a cappuccino?”

Brant thought twice of it before finally nodding knowing full well that there was no point in arguing with his grandfather. Still as Brant thought about the things his brother had been capable of lately, a part of him still maintained that despite his grandfather’s efforts, Ken was too gone to be pulled back to where he once was.


Kipp stepped up to Sarah’s door knocking lightly hearing something knock over before the door opened.

“Sarah,” Kipp smiled trying to look around her, “Is everything okay in there?”

“Don’t worry,” she hushed him looking back at the mess she just made, “I just knocked something down it was nothing.”

“It doesn’t look like nothing,” Kipp frowned following her into the house shutting the door behind him, “What is this?”

“It was just a vase,” she informed him as he bent down picking up some of the pieces from the ground. “You don’t have to help me.”

“No, I want to help,” he insisted with a smile before picking up one of the roses, “You have a lot of roses.”

“Yeah, they are all from Kyle,” she replied with a smile, “He tends to bring me one as often as he can.”

“You’re a lucky girl,” he flashed her a smile before standing up, “Where is your garbage?”

“It is right in the kitchen,” she answered watching him walk into her kitchen and then returning, “Thanks, you really didn’t have to do that.”

“I wanted to,” he explained with a wide smile, “I couldn’t let you cut yourself.”

“That was very nice of you,” she thanked him as she folded her arms out in front of herself, “So what did you want to talk about?”

“Yeah, that,” Kipp nodded biting on his bottom lip roughly, “I thought I should come here and tell you something, something really important.”

“What is it? Is everything okay with Charles? Is he alright?” Sarah questioned hurriedly worried that something might be wrong with her nephew.

“He is alright, calm down,” he hushed her resting his hands on her shoulders gently; “It does involve him thought.”

“What’s wrong?” she wondered as he walked to her couch motioning her to sit down too.

“Well, I decided that I am going to try and get full custody of Charles,” he informed her with a deep sigh, “I just feel it is the right thing to do.”

“Why are you telling me this?” she questioned as he grabbed her hand in his gently.

“You see, I might not want your sister to be in his life, but I want you to be in his life,” he began to explain before shrugging, “You were the one that has been taking care of him this long and I need someone to help me out.”

“I’m honored,” she smiled hesitantly before taking in a deep breath, “Are you sure that’s what you really want?”

“Sarah, I am one hundred percent sure,” he assured her standing up quickly, “I mean what kind of mother would she be? You have been his mother since he has been born.”

“I fully support you, but are you sure this is something you want to do?” she wondered seeing him nod slowly.

“I don’t want her anywhere near my son,” he repeated closing his eyes tightly, “He needs someone in his life who is actually going to love him and not treat him like he is nothing. So will you help me out?”

“Sure,” she agreed before nodding slowly, “I would do anything for Charles. Anything.”


Nick walked out into his living room feeling the first rays of the morning fall upon his bare chest. He rubbed at his eyes wondering how it was he’d managed to fall asleep in the midst of his night with Angela, yet when he thought back to Kevin busting in on his almost intimate moment with Angela. Even now he found it painful thinking about what had exploded in his living room when he’d opted to give the two of them space. Somehow after that Nick must’ve drifted off to sleep too exhausted to keep up with the debate. Last he’d heard though, Angela was winning it. Still, he had to admit it was one hell of a night.

Bringing his fingers up through his dark hair, Nick heard a slow groan rise from the far corner of the room. Following the source of the sound he moved through the living room to find Angela balled up on the sofa, clad in one of his oversized nightshirts he’d picked up shortly after his release. He stood over her in silence watching the way she shifted before him, the way her dark hair seemed to collect around her face and in that moment he found her to be more beautiful than ever.

“Stop staring,” Angela groaned from behind closed eyes. She stretched out over the couch letting out a small yipping sound in her stretch before she growled up at him again, “I mean it.”

“How do you know I was even looking at you,” Nick tossed back at her with a small smirk watching as she opened her eyes to glare up at him.

“I just knew,” she groaned before bringing her hands up into her dark hair. She sat upright letting out another yawn before turning her attention to him again, “I hope you have some strong coffee in here.”

“You’re in luck,” Nick smiled down at her, offering her his hand in an attempt to help her up, “that’s the one thing Marta felt I couldn’t live without when she helped stock this place.”

“Smart woman that Marta,” Angela mumbled taking his hand in hers. She pulled herself up onto her toes before moving beyond him to investigate the coffee situation in the kitchen, “I hope you have a coffee pot as well.”

“I was going to pawn it for a baseball bat for the next time Kevin tried to attack me, but I haven’t gotten to it yet, so it’s all yours,” Nick replied watching her bring her hands out over her lower back in another small stretch. With the movement Nick’s shirt crept up over her body revealing her perfectly toned, sun kissed thighs to his curious eyes. She tossed her hair back over her shoulder, smiling at him with heavy emphasis despite the exhaustion that still lingered over her.

“That might not be a bad idea, but I’ll tell you what. You keep the coffee pot and I’ll loan you my bat the next time Kevin shows up,” she promised moving around the kitchen and pulling the coffee pot to her.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he nodded leaning in against the door frame, unable to take his eyes off of her, “though I’ve gotta ask. Where’s Kevin?”

“I made him go home,” she shrugged her shoulders continuing to work on making the morning’s brew for them.

“I see,” he noted giving her a once over unable to resist taking in how adorable she did look, “and how did you accomplish such an impossible feat?”

“I told him that I’d kill him if he didn’t leave, and that seemed to do the trick,” she teased with a playful air in her tone.

“Coming from you I can see why he might be afraid,” Nick noted with a tiny laugh before moving in to join her in the center of the kitchen, “Though for a while there I thought you two would be arguing into the next century.”

“Kevin’s very protective of me,” she confessed with another simple shrug while measuring the coffee grounds before her. “He’s been a part of my life for so very long that he’s worried about the direction I’m taking with my life.”

“And you don’t want him to be worried about your decisions?” he arched a curious brow watching her bite down on her lower lip as if in contemplation.

“It doesn’t matter what I want because Kevin is stubborn and bullheaded and he’s going to do what he’s going to do,” she admitted with a small sigh, “and in some ways I find that very honorable, but last night he was just being a pain in the ass.”

“A pain in the ass with some strong feelings about you and the men you choose to spend your time with,” he noted remembering all too well how Kevin’s jealousy seemed to be more deep rooted than Angela was playing it to be.

“Kevin can think what he wants and he can have his feelings, but he doesn’t make the rules for me,” Angela turned to face him, “I choose who and when and that’s all there is to it.”

“I see and when Kevin and you clash on this issue, rather than accepting it, he just tends to bash in the heads of the men you care to spend your time with,” Nick noted with a pointed expression, “or if need be, he humiliates them at the bar, huh?”

“That trick was so not funny,” Angela wrinkled her nose at the memory, “but he won’t be doing that again. I promise you.”

“Hey, as much as I know the guy hates me, I think it’s very honorable that he’s looking out for you. I have to say I kind of envy him for having that place in your life,” Nick replied with a small shrug.

“Envy him? Why? Because I wanted to knock his teeth in last night?” Angela blinked back at him incredulously.

“No, not because of that. Because he’s been able to spend time with you and get to know you in ways that I’m sure I won’t even get close to,” he confessed after a moment’s hesitation, “I mean it’s obvious that you two care a great deal about one another.”

“We do,” she nodded, “but I see Kevin like a brother. He’s been a part of my life for so very long that I know I couldn’t live without him and it’s not that I want to, but at the same time I don’t try to dictate his love life.”

“Yet he feels compelled to play referee to yours huh?” Nick watched her closely.

“It’s part of who he is,” she blurted out, reaching out to tease her fingers over the center of his bare chest before stepping forward. She tilted her head up to meet his intense eyes, “but I don’t want to talk about Kevin. I’d much rather talk about you and how you’re feeling this morning.”

“A lot more,” he pause searching for the right word as her nails scratched lightly over his chest, “enthusiastic than I was a few minutes ago.”

“Enthusiasm is a very good and powerful trait,” she added tipping up on her toes to take his bottom lip between her teeth. She tugged on it in a small nibble, before dragging her tongue over the full, sensitive flesh. Instinctively Nick curled his arm around her small waist returning the enthusiasm behind her kiss before pulling back.

“Just what is it you think you’re doing this morning?” he questioned breathlessly seeing the spark of desire burning behind her eyes.

“What ever do you mean,” she feigned innocence, sliding her palms fully over his abdomen, loving the raw feel of his body tensing beneath her touch. She felt his breath move in up and out over his lips onto hers as the first green flecks of arousal sparked behind his eyes.

“What’s this,” he questioned pressing in against the countertop as her hands explored the contours of his body greedily.

“I’m just working on your checkup,” she confessed lacing her fingers over the front drawstring on his sweatpants, “As your doctor I think you’re more than up for a complete physical, don’t you agree?”

“As much as I’d like to, well,” he sucked in a sharp breath, “maybe we were tempting fate last night. I mean I don’t want Kevin to come in with another repeat of last night.”

“Kevin’s busy Nick,” she mouthed stepping up on her toes to capture his mouth again before speaking in a low, husky tone, “but right now, well right now I find myself thinking about that whole business about my letting you seduce me.”

“Is that right,” Nick couldn’t help but smile feeling the warmth of her body pressed in against his.

“That’s right,” she nodded with a sexy smirk, “and the way I see it, maybe I’ve been playing this all wrong. In fact, the way I look at it, I’d much rather be the one seducing you.”

“Seducing me,” he sucked in a sharp, painful breath feeling her rub her hips decidedly against the center of his pants. There was fire burning beneath her, an explosive force just begging to be unleashed as her mouth moved in over his neck. He felt her nibble on the taut muscle in his shoulder before her hands tapered off in underneath his sweatpants seeking out all the right pleasure points.

“Angela,” he sucked in a desperate breath, feeling her skilled caress over his body. His eyes fell upon hers and she smiled up at him--a flirty, playful expression spilling over her face. He closed his eyes inhaling sharply before looking to her again and trying to make light of the situation brewing between them. “Now under other circumstances I’d imagine that this would be when you wanted me to sit back and let you tell me what it is you want me to do, right?”

“No,” she shook her head decidedly, “this is the part where I suggest you and I get naked together and see where the day takes us.”

That was all it took as Nick pulled her into his arms. He felt her wrap her legs around his waist, determined to enjoy whatever she’d started this morning. He stumbled around the kitchen, moving haphazardly over to the center island where he maneuvered her in his arms. Clumsily he used his right arm to clear off the few things that were on top of the island before laying her down before him. He watched her writhe on the countertop before pulling him in for another desperate kiss.

Nick kissed her, taking his time to explore her neck as his fingers made quick work of the shirt she’d been wearing. Slipping his hand inside the fabric, he could feel her warm body springing to life against his touch. His fingers explored the soft flesh beneath him, cupping and shaping her breast before his mouth moved in over her again.

“Nick,” she moaned against his lips arching up into his touch when he felt a swirling sensation press in over his head, bringing out voices hidden somehow in the back of his mind.

His lips continued to devour Angela, but somehow in that moment he saw himself in another place and time--in a familiar setting with Angela sprawled out naked before him. He could see himself quite clearly admiring her beautiful body, arousal pressing over his synapse as the words fell from his mouth.

“Tonight I want to explore every erotic inch of you,” his voice echoed in his head before he’d kissed her heatedly, “and I’m not taking no for an answer as we’re going to do this the way I’ve dreamt about doing this from the moment I had you back in my kitchen…”

The picture then shifted to Angela’s lips curled in a half-hearted protest. Her words a blur as he eased her back onto the countertop. He could see himself using some kind of sash on an apron of sorts to tie her hands up over her head--to get her to submit to whatever he desired. Even more vivid to him came the sounds of pleasure that had erupted from her parted lips--the way her body ached for his touch--needed him with every well planned caress.

“Nick,” Angela’s voice roused him from the moment only to leave him back in the moment as he sat on the kitchen floor, dazed and confused.

“Wh-what happened,” Nick questioned clearly confused as Angela looked into his eyes seemingly gauging herself for whatever was happening between them.

“We were kissing and then you,” she paused clearly shaken by whatever had happened between them, “You were kissing me and then you passed out. I think you might‘ve hit your head on the corner of the cabinet, but I‘m not sure. You were with me for a second, but then when you passed out…”

“Passed out,” Nick blinked back at her. He offered up a sideways glance before his gaze lifted up to the island in the center of the kitchen. Things were still where they’d been the night before, thus proving that they’d never made it to where they’d been in his mind. They hadn’t been on top of the island engrossed in one another. “I don’t understand.”

“We were standing by the sink right here. I was teasing you rather,” she felt a blush rise over her features as she continued, “suggestively and I kind of crossed over my boundaries there.”

“How?” he questioned remembering the heat that had radiated through his body at the feel of her fingers touching him intimately. Judging by the expression on her face, she clearly felt embarrassed about what was going on between them, “Angela what happened between us?”

“I teased you about a physical and then the next thing I knew you were on the floor passed out,” she frowned with a shake of her head, “Nick, that’s not a good thing. I realize that I might’ve jumped the gun here, but…”

“But nothing. Angela I had something--,” he hesitated wondering if he should share his thoughts with her, “I saw us.”

“Saw us?” she repeated noting the expression on his face.

He nodded, “You and I were making love. We were on the island in the center of the kitchen, but not this kitchen. It was somewhere completely different and we were on fire. The electricity between us was…it was out of this world.”

“Obviously you hit your head harder than I thought in the fall,” she reached out to touch his hair gently to feel for a bump, but instead she felt him catch her wrist to hold it.

“Angela, were we lovers? Was I the guy who fathered your baby,” he questioned trying to come up with a reasonable conclusion to what his mind had come up with. “Is that why Kevin hates me like he does?”

“Nick,” she opened her mouth to speak but came up empty, “Why would you think that?”

“Because it felt so real. Everything about it. The sounds, the taste, the touch…Angela, I felt us together. I felt how hot we burned with one another and it was too good to be an illusion. Our making love felt so powerful so…”

“So clearly fantasy,” she sighed heavily moving in beside him, “Nick as much as I want you, and believe me I do, the truth to the matter is that we haven’t been lovers at this point. I didn’t know you before you wound up on the beach and now, well now maybe I’m doing this all wrong.”

“Wrong?” he tilted his head to look at her, “No, Angela, this isn’t wrong. I’m telling you it felt so right--so real--so…”

“Not what you’re thinking,” she blurted out putting an end to his questions about their past with one another, “As easy as it would be if you were the father to my child, the truth to the matter is that you aren’t. The baby’s father is long gone and I don’t anticipate ever seeing him again.”

“Then why would I dream about us? Why would I be seeing us like that? Like I’ve been seeing,” he questioned with an exaggerated breath, “Angela, it felt so real--so…”

“It’s probably your imagination picking up where we left off by the sink,” she added with a small smile, “because given what you’ve told me it sounds like it was exactly where we were headed together.”

“So rather than staying conscious and making love to you, I pass out and let my mind do all the work huh?” he shook his head before letting out a small groan, “Now that’s just so wrong.”

“You’re telling me,” she leaned in against him resting her head on his shoulder, “though maybe before we take things to the next level, we should get you into the hospital just to make sure that nothing else is happening.”

“Angela, I’m fine,” Nick began to argue with her.

“Maybe you are, but after what I just saw, well I’d just like to cover all my bases,” she pleaded with him reaching for his hand, “Don’t argue this one with me. You saw where that got Kevin last night.”

“I’m still yet to see Kevin. Whose to say that you didn’t off him and bury the body?” he eyed her intently.

“You never know,” she teased up at him, “but seriously I just want to run a check up on you and I promise this time I’ll be strictly professional.”

“Truth be told I kind of enjoyed the deviation from the norm. It was rather arousing,” Nick couldn’t help but tease leaning in closer to her. He rest his forehead on hers gently, “I like where we were headed before I passed out.”

“Yeah, well I enjoyed it too,” she confessed closing her eyes and allowing herself to feel his breath over her, “but before we finish what we started, I just want to double check things.”

“You’re just making sure I’m up to the challenge you have laid out for me, right?” he questioned with a sexy smile.

“Oh I’m sure you’re more than up for it, but I just want to double cheek before I work you too hard. After all I have such plans for us and high hopes,” she tilted her head up to claim his lips in a slow, exploratory kiss.

“I promise not to let you down,” Nick replied holding her in his arms as they sat together on his kitchen floor. Still as much as Angela tried to convince him that his mind was getting ahead of itself, in holding her, he had a feeling that there was more to the story than he was seeing. This wasn’t the first fantasy he’d had about her in the waking hours and now, well now he was more determined than ever to follow his instincts about her even if it meant working on creating a few of those real life fantasies along the way.


Kevin took in a deep breath staring up at his ceiling, he had been in bed since he came home, but he never went to sleep. He had so many things going through his mind that he couldn’t even think about sleeping. He didn’t even have the strength to get out of bed as he shook his head slowly putting his hands behind his head.

“Why won’t you listen to me Angela?” he questioned to himself sighing deeply. “I am just trying to protect you, can’t you see that?”

He closed his eyes remembering what had happened just a few hours earlier. They had some fights sometimes, but she never treated him like this before.

“Why can’t you just realize I am trying to help you?” he questioned once more before rolling his eyes. “Great, now I am talking to myself.”

He shifted in his bed slowly rolling onto his side grabbing the picture of him and Angela off his nightstand.

“Things were so much easier back then,” he sighed running his fingers along the picture lightly, “What happened that made this so wrong?”

He set the picture back down looking at the clock before realizing it was still early enough to go and talk to her.

“I have to set things straight,” he strongly stated getting off the bed slowly and grabbing his shirt off the ground and pulling his shirt down his abdomen.

As he went to open the door he shook his head slowly thinking back to last night when he tried to apologize and tell her why he was doing all these things.

“It’s not going to work,” he insisted to himself before pulling his shirt back off and throwing it behind him, “She doesn’t want to hear what I have to say.”

He fell back onto the bed before pulling the sheets over his body. He tried to close his eyes and think about something else to calm himself down, but the only picture in his mind was Angela.

“I have to set things straight,” Kevin opened his eyes rolling over and grabbing his phone, “Please say you are home.”

He dialed the number before rolling back into the middle of the bed hoping to hear an answer.

“Hello?” the voice answered as Kevin smiled widely hearing the voice of his cousin.

“Seth, it’s Kevin,” Kevin informed him trying to start a conversation, “How are you doing?”

“Kevin, I haven’t heard from you in so long,” Seth tried to laugh, but was only come over by sadness, “Things aren’t going so well Kevin.”

“What do you mean?” Kevin question raising an eyebrow slowly. “Is everything okay with you and Jade?”

“I’m fine,” Seth assured him only to let Kevin hear him take in a deep breath, “It’s Jade.”

“What’s wrong? Is she okay?” Kevin wondered only hearing silence from the other end of the telephone as fear overcame his body…Seth was never like this. “Seth?”

“She’s missing Kevin,” Seth informed him slowly, “No one can find her.”

“What?” Kevin questioned sitting up quickly and draping his legs over the side of the bed. “How long has she been gone?”

“A few days,” Seth answered as Kevin stood up quickly, “We are still looking for her.”

“Oh my god,” Kevin took in a deep breath, “I will be there in a few hours; I need to come and help.”

“No, don’t come here…we have everything under control,” Seth assured him as Kevin’s jaw tightened.

“Are you sure? I mean I don’t mind coming,” Kevin insisted as grabbed his shirt off the ground. “I can be there in a few hours.”

“Everything is okay,” Seth repeated before getting back on the subject, “I promise if we find anything wrong I will call you, okay?”

“Alright,” Kevin agreed before sitting back down on the edge of the bed, “Tell me everything that happened.”


Avery knocked on the front door to Grady’s house wondering how the night had gone after she’d left. She waited for a moment only to feel a sense of nervousness rush over her. She knew that now was a time of heavy tension and the longer Jade was missing, the harder this all would be. Drawing in a long, slow breath Avery reached out to knock on the door once again only to discover Kyle standing before her.

“Kyle,” her surprised eyes glanced up at him, “what are you doing here?”

“More than likely the same thing you are,” Kyle replied opening the door to let her inside, “Couldn’t help but want to see how he’s doing, could you?”

“Do you blame me,” she questioned honestly, “The love of his life is missing and he’s a wreck.”

“I think we all are at this point,” he confessed with a small, tired sigh of his own.

“Where is everyone?” Avery looked around the living room.

“Grady’s in his room with Cheryl and Elliot was going over to the paper this morning. He had an interview set up with that editor you’d scouted,” Kyle explained with a small frown, “He tried to cancel, but the guy had already flown into town.”

“I didn’t realize that was today,” Avery frowned slightly thinking about the arrangement she and Elliot had made in the hopes of keeping Russell’s dreams alive with the paper.

While Avery herself knew nothing about the newspaper business, Elliot had suggested that maybe together the both of them could find a way to keep the Courier above water in the name of preserving Russell’s memory. Avery had gone so far to spot the potential new editor online in one of her small breaks in between preparation for the trial. The man she’d found seemed like a great candidate and when she’d spoken with him, she’d been more convinced, but now given the situation that hung over everyone this morning, it felt like a really bad time.

“I wish he would’ve reminded me,” Avery stared with a small frown, “because I would’ve just went to interview him myself.”

“I think Elliot needed a break from reality for a few minutes,” Kyle admitted running his scraped fingers through his long, blonde tresses, “We all do at this point.”

“We do,” she nodded in agreement before a moment of silence fell between them, “but Kyle, well, there’s something that maybe we should talk about. Something that’s not really related to what’s going on with Jade…”

“If it’s about the other night,” Kyle started uneasily, “Avery, I know I just reacted and…”

“And you were doing what you felt was right. I know that it isn’t an easy situation, but for what it’s worth,” she reached for his hand taking it in hers, “I appreciate your being in my corner on this.”

“I just hate the idea of someone hurting you like that,” Kyle confessed with a poignant shake of his head, “If Russ was alive--if he had any idea of what I let you get yourself into…”

“Kyle, you had nothing to do with what happened. It was a situation that I put myself into,” Avery started to remind him.

“But if I would’ve told you the truth about Russ--if I would’ve stopped him from going to meet with that person. Damn it Avery you have no idea how many times I think back to that night--how many times I find myself wishing like hell that I could find a way to change his mind--to stop him from seeking out that information. You made me swear to you that I’d keep him out of trouble, but I failed you. I failed the both of you.”

“No, Kyle, you didn’t fail us,” Avery shook her head at him, “Kyle, you’ve been a wonderful friend and when I think of all you have done for Grady. Even now as you’re working like mad to try to help him find Jade…”

“But that doesn’t erase what happened with Russ. Avery, if I could’ve stopped him from chasing down that wild lead, then you wouldn’t have been hurt like that. Ken wouldn’t have gotten an opportunity to get to you. You wouldn’t be married to Brant and…”

“Kyle, listen to me,” Avery pleaded with him, “You can’t keep doing this. You can’t keep going back to things we can’t change.”

“Avery, I still wish…” he began again the pain evident behind his eyes.

“Kyle, I wish it too, but as much as I want Russ back in my life I have to face the fact that it’s never going to happen. I’m never going to have the dreams I wanted with him and our daughter is never going to have her father in her life,” Avery choked up on emotion, her eyes filling with tears, “but Kyle we can’t go back--only forward.”

“The other night I could’ve killed him Avery. I wanted to--more than anything I wanted to kill him for what he’d done to you, but what’s worse is that I wanted to hurt myself for ever giving him room to move in on you like that,” Kyle confessed painfully, “Avery, there are so many things wrong about your being married to Brant. So many things that…”

“That we can argue about for hours on end, but it’s not going to change the reality of the situation,” Avery paused sensing the need to say so much more to Kyle, yet she found herself at a loss, “Kyle, I know that this is hard for you, but I need you to know that regardless of what’s happened--regardless of what happens next, I know in my heart that you’ve been an amazing friend. There are no words to express how much you mean to me--to all of us.”

“I just wish that things weren’t falling apart for everyone I care about like they have been. First Grady, then you and now Jade,” Kyle shook his head, “It’s just a never ending nightmare.”

“It’s going to get better. Kyle it has to,” Avery squeezed his hand in hers once more before letting go, “What about Cameron? Did he give up any information?”

Kyle shook his head, “No, that’s the problem. He’s still proclaiming his innocence and given what I’ve learned about the man I get the distinct feeling that he’s not about to crack anytime soon.”

“Well maybe we can find a way to work on changing that. He seemed a bit uncomfortable around me. Maybe if I step in and try to shake him up a bit,” Avery suggested.

“No,” Kyle replied firmly, “you’re not going anywhere near that man. I don’t want you caught up in any of this.”

“If you haven’t noticed I’m already caught up in this,” Avery reminded him sharply.

“Not like you’re suggesting,” Kyle walked across the room and reached for his jacket, “and as long as I’m around, you’re not going to either.”

“Kyle, where are you going?” she asked watching him move towards the door to leave.

“I’m keeping you from getting in over your head. There’s another way around this,” Kyle announced motioning to Grady’s bedroom, “If he asks, tell him I’ll be back in a bit. I’m going to get more information if I can.”

“But Kyle where are you going,” Avery questioned watching him walk out of Grady’s front door as she wondered just what kind of miracle he was going to try to pull out of his hat. She just prayed that somehow Kyle would find the answer and get a way to have Cameron talk before it was too late.


Diego went to the door of his office opening it after hearing someone knocking as he smiled seeing Sarah before him.

“Sarah, what are you doing here?” he questioned moving back giving her room to walk in as he shut the door behind her.

“I was just coming to check on you,” she sighed as he shrugged slowly. “After the other day, I didn’t know if you were okay.”

“What makes you think I wasn’t okay?” Diego wondered raising an eyebrow slowly seeing her shrug.

“Well, my sister is very talented at ripping some guy’s heart out and serving it to him on a platter,” Sarah frowned as Diego took a seat and she sat next to him.

“I’m used to her treating me like that already,” Diego replied before shaking his head, “You don’t have to worry about me.”

“Why do you put up with her?” she wondered shaking her head slowly, “You deserve a lot better than that.”

“If you put up with her your whole life, than I say you are the stronger one,” Diego insisted winking at her before smiling widely seeing her frown.

“You deserve someone so much better than her,” she repeated before resting her hand on his gently, “I don’t know why she treats you like that. You are a really great guy.”

“Well, I guess a part of me just wanted to believe that she was actually going to change,” Diego thought before laughing lightly, “Of course I didn’t know how wrong I actually was.”

“It’s not your fault the way Heather is,” Sarah informed him sighing deeply, “She has always been like that. She makes some guy fall for her completely and then she treats him so bad that she breaks their heart right in half.”

“She didn’t break my heart;” he replied rubbing his hands together lightly, “Part of me also knew that she was the person who wasn’t going to change for anyone or anything.”

“Unfortunately, that’s how my sister works,” Sarah sighed closing her eyes tightly thinking back to the past, “She never liked me or anybody. She just did what was best for her.”

“See, I don’t know how someone can’t love you,” Diego shot out before laughing, “You are always trying to help no matter what is going on. Just like you are doing right now.”

“Well, you are my friend and I can’t let a friend sit here alone,” she smiled before touching his shoulder gently. “Isn’t that what friends are supposed to do?”

“If you ever have any romance trouble with Kyle, I will be here for you,” Diego informed her with a wide smile; “I don’t mind you helping me out. It is actually nice having someone who is actually normal around.”

“What is normal?” Sarah questioned seeing him shrug and laugh lightly.

“I sure know it isn’t Heather,” he answered her questions as he looked over towards Sarah. How was Sarah so nice and her sister was completely different?


“There you are,” Heather marched into Brant’s library in a panic, “I’ve been looking for you all morning.”

“Just a minute Heather,” Brant waved at her dismissively before he hung up the telephone he’d been on.

“No, I’m not going to wait just a minute,” Heather demanded stalking towards him, “Brant I need you now.”

“Damn it Heather. One second,” he insisted turning to look at her, his lips curled in a bit of a frown, “Okay, I’ll bite. Where’s the fire?”

“The fire is right here,” she explained slapping the envelope that Kipp had given her down in front of him on the desk top. “This is the emergency and last night when I went looking for you, well your room was locked and…”

“It could’ve been because I was sleeping and needed some alone time with my wife,” he reminded her with a scowl.

“Yeah well forget your wife right now because I have a SERIOUS problem on my hands Brant. I need your help more than I can imagine,” Heather declared her voice shaking with emotion, “Brant, he can’t get away with this.”

“Away with what,” Brant’s frown intensified as he reached out over his desk to see what the fuss was about. Pulling the pages out of the envelope, his eyes scanned what had Heather in an uproar. He glanced up at her, “Is this for real?”

“Of course it’s for real,” she hissed down at him, “That little weasel is trying to single-handedly ruin my life and take my son away from me in the process. Brant we can’t let that happen!”

“Weasel,” Brant repeated with an arched brow, “so I take it the engagement is off?”

“It’s more than off,” Heather snapped back at him, “I gave that little worm the best of myself and this is what he thinks he’s going to pull on me. Like hell am I going to sit back and let it happen, which is exactly why I need your help. Kipp thinks that he’s entitled to Charles, but Charles is my son. It’s my life and I refuse to let that idiot have my baby.”

“Okay, well Heather, first of all I think you’re going to need to calm down,” Brant tried to reason with her seeing the hysterical look behind her eyes, “I’m sure that we can find a way to talk to him and make some kind of amicable arrangement possible between the two of you. I mean the guy was crazy about you once and you wanted to marry him…”

“I wouldn’t marry him if he was the last pathetic excuse of a man left on the planet. That little weasel is going to pay for ever thinking that he could cross me--especially now that I have you in my corner. Brant you have to help me fix this,” Heather threw her arms around him desperately, “You promised that you’d help me fix my face, so I’m sure compared to that this is small potatoes.”

“Heather, he’s Charles’s father. This isn’t as simple as you think it’s going to be. He has a right to know his son,” Brant reminded her with a heavy sigh knowing that this was yet another drama he didn’t need in his life, “Surely you two can come up with something that will put Charles’s best interest in mind. I mean maybe if you and Kipp sit down and talk…”

“There’s no point in talking to him. Brant, he’s evil. He only proposed to me so that I’d be suckered into ending my marriage to Cameron. In fact, he even went a step further and got Cameron to sign divorce papers. Yes, he was good in letting me keep part of the company Cameron started for me, but he’s still pulling the strings. Brant with a father like his, Kipp is sure to use that kind of power and influence to show the world that I don’t deserve my son.”

“Heather, I’m sure that he wouldn’t go that far. Kipp seems fairly reasonable and…” Brant began again watching the tears spill down her face.

“Brant please,” she hugged him tighter before, her words coming out in heaving sobs, “if you ever cared about me at all--if you ever loved me if even for a moment, then you’ll do this. You’ll help me keep my son. Brant I’m begging you. Don’t let me lose everything like this. If I didn’t have Charles, well I know it would be the end of me.”

“Heather, I don’t think that…” he started feeling her shiver in his arms.

“Please Brant, I can’t lose him,” Heather broke down in his arms causing his heart to melt a bit.

Instinctively he wrapped his arms around her keeping her close to him. He closed his eyes and thought to how he wasn’t able to save Avery from all the pain that had come her way, yet with Heather, well maybe there was a way he could find a way to help her fix the problems in her life. He did care about her once upon a time and maybe in helping her it would be what he needed to help himself in bringing the pieces of his life together again.

“Alright,” Brant sighed heavily, “Heather I’ll see what I can do.”

“You will?” she questioned behind desperate eyes.

He nodded, “I don’t know what I’ll be able to come up with, but I’ll try.”

“Oh thank you Brant,” she hugged him excitedly, “You won’t regret this.”

“I hope not,” he thought to himself as his thoughts turned to the many things happening in Coral Valley for him and his family. Helping Heather might not have fit into fixing all that was wrong, but maybe it was a good start on some level. It might make up for all those things that he’d let fall completely apart in the past. At least he was hoping.


Don peaked his head in Shannon’s office seeing her at her desk as he smiled knocking on the doorframe gently as Shannon looked up at him.

“Come in,” she moved her hand motioning him to walk forward as she bent back down looking through her papers quickly.

“Busy?” he questioned shutting the door behind him as she nodded slowly. “I just came to see if we could talk about…”

“I can’t find it,” Shannon growled cutting him off as some of the papers fell to the ground.

“Here, let me help you,” Don insisted as he walked over to where the papers had fallen as he leaned down, as did she.

“I can find it myself,” she replied as he rolled his eyes slowly watching her flip through the papers.

“What does it look like?” Don questioned seeing her sit back and raise her hands in the air.

“It’s a yellow sheet and it,” before Shannon could finish Don already had the paper in his hand as she raised her eyebrow at him in curiosity. “How did you do that?”

“It was the only yellow paper,” he informed her with a smile setting it on her table gently before scooting the other papers together, “I’ll help you get this up.”

“No, it’s okay,” she sighed scooting forward her hand touching his as he looked up at her, “Don.”

“Yeah?” he questioned leaning closer to her breaths away from kissing her as she pulled back.

“What was it that you wanted to talk about?” she wondered trying to not lose her cool.

“Well,” Don sighed standing up slowly straightening his shirt before looking up at her, “You see…”

Before he could finish what he was about to say his cell phone began to ring.

“That thing seems to be ringing off the hook lately,” Shannon pointed out as Don looked at the number walking to the corner as Shannon watched him.

“I have to go,” Don informed her as he hung up his phone quickly, “Can we talk about this later?”

“If I am home,” Shannon shot out before seeing him nod, “I am really busy with work and it seems you are too.”

“Yeah, well,” Don began slowly before walking towards the door, “I hope to see you later.”

“Bye,” she sighed before looking at her papers as he shook his head and walked away slowly before she took in a deep breath. “What is it Don? What are you hiding from me?”


“Take your shirt off,” Angela ordered gently nudging Nick back on top of an exam table. She saw the expression on his face before she shook her head at him, “and no I’m not trying to get to you naked.”

“Sure, sure,” he laughed lightly pulling his shirt up over his head with a tiny smirk, “You’re just appreciating the view all over again, aren’t you?”

“Maybe a little, but I told you I was serious about giving you a complete exam,” Angela reminded him firmly, “After what happened in your kitchen, well I just want to be sure about a few things…”

“I told you already the only reason I passed out was because of the heat of the moment,” he teased with a playful wink, “You said it yourself things were pretty intense before I hit my head.”

“I said I thought you hit your head. I don’t know if that’s really what happened, so I just want to be sure,” Angela explained in her professional tone that let Nick know she was no longer flirting and was all about being a doctor.

“Fine, but when I get a clean bill of health from you, I expect us to pick up where we left off before,” Nick insisted with a sheepish grin, “After all I really think this is just all my imagination getting the best of me considering that I’ve been having a lot of fantasies about the two of us lately.”

“And that concerns me,” she paused seeing the expression on his face, “Nick, you keep fading in and out of the moment and I have to wonder if it’s your subconscious trying to recall what happened before you came onto this island.”

“Angela, the only thing I’m seeing are visions of you and I making love,” he reached out to her, skimming his fingers in gently over the top of her hand, “You keep telling me that’s not a part of our past with one another, so perhaps I’m psychic and I’m seeing premonitions of us together in the future.”

“Not if we don’t make sure you’re okay,” Angela replied firmly thinking about the way he’d just collapsed on her, “I might want to get you in for a CAT scan just to be safe and…”

“And I think you’re worrying far too much,” Nick started to argue with her only to hear a tapping sound at the door. He looked up to see Kevin standing in the doorway looking rather perplexed.

“Angie, got a minute?” Kevin questioned with a frown.

“Kevin, I’m in the middle of something right now and…” she turned around ready to lash out at him once again, but the expression on his face clearly said it all. Immediately she stood taller sensing that something was wrong.

“Look, I don’t mean to bother you, but…” he paused with obvious hesitation, “I just wanted a few minutes with you.”

“Nick,” Angela looked to the man behind her.

“Go on,” Nick nodded motioning for her to go talk to Kevin, “I can wait.”

“Alright,” Angela replied following Kevin out into the hallway. Carefully she closed the door behind her, looking up to see the worry crease in his brow, “Kevin, what is it?”

“Look, I know you’re probably not too happy with me right now, but I needed to talk to you. I just…” he cleared his throat uneasily.

“Kevin, what’s wrong,” she reached out to touch his arm sensing his hesitation, “Look, last night wasn’t the first fight we’ve had over the years, so don’t think that it changes anything for us.”

“That’s not it,” he tried to explain, “it’s just that…”

“That what? Kevin, you’re scaring me. What is going on,” she reached out to him, touching his arm gently, “Kevin talk to me please.”

“It’s just,” he drew in a slow breath, “I was upset about last night. I hated our leaving things off on a sour note between us, so I thought that I’d call my cousin to get some kind of perspective on the situation. You know find a way to fix things between us.”

“Kevin, you should know by now that wasn’t necessary. Sure, I was upset, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still love you,” she offered with a light squeeze of his arm, “Don’t you know by now that even when you annoy the hell out of me, you’re still my best friend in this world? I know why you were doing what you were doing to try to help me…”

“I’m glad to hear you say that, but this isn’t about us. It’s about my cousin,” Kevin shook his head poignantly, “He was upset. Something’s wrong and while I had to pull the information out of him, from the sound of things, well, it would seem that his sister has gone missing.”

“Missing,” Angela repeated with wide eyes, “like how?”

“Like her boyfriend went to her apartment to check in on her and she was gone. There were signs of a struggle and…” Kevin shook his head clenching his fists at his sides, “She’s just been through so much already in her life that--well, I just can’t imagine how this could’ve happened.”

“Wait a second,” Angela paused realizing what he was saying to her, “Are you talking about that cousin of yours that was raped before?”

He nodded, “She’s already been through so much in her life and from what Seth was telling me she had some situation going on with her boyfriend--something about him being put in jail wrongly accused of something.”

“That’s horrible,” Angela shook her head at the thought, “and now she’s gone missing?”

“Seth thinks it’s tied into the man who put her boyfriend in jail, but he didn’t have time to get into specifics. He was really upset and well, it just felt like there is more to this story than he was telling me,” Kevin explained with a heavy sigh, “I offered to go out there and help in the search, but he won’t hear of it.”

“Why not?” Angela frowned, “Kevin, if your cousin is missing and it sounds like something serious you should be there. Hell, we should be there. I can take some time away from the clinic and we can fly out to where they live.”

“Angie, I can’t ask you to…” he began looking down into her concerned eyes.

“Kevin, you didn’t ask me to. I offered,” she reminded him pointedly, “Besides if someone in your family is in trouble or hurting, it feels like it’s my family. I want to be there for you any way that I can.”

“Angie, I just don’t know what to do…” Kevin started feeling as if things were falling apart at the seams after he‘d learned of his cousin‘s disappearance.

“It’s going to be okay. Somehow it has to be,” Angela replied curling her arms around him in a tight embrace as Nick opened the door to the exam room. As he watched the exchange between Angela and Kevin, he wondered if there was a lot more to their story than either one of them was telling him. Still, regardless of what was or wasn’t happening with Kevin and Angela, Nick knew that he couldn’t bear the thought of walking away from her. He had to find out what it was about her that had drawn Nick in with this immediate, magnetic bond between them.


“Did you tell your cousin what was going on?” Blake questioned setting her hands on Seth’s shoulders gently rubbing them.

“I told him the small things,” Seth informed her taking in a deep breath, “We didn’t need him worrying too.”

“Well, he does have the right to know,” Blake declared before frowning, “I mean he is family.”

“Yeah, but we don’t need another me,” Seth shook his head before standing up slowly, “Anyways, I told him I would call later to keep him informed.”

“If you think that’s the best idea,” she shrugged thinking of how worried Seth’s cousin must be feeling already.

“I’ll get that,” Seth took in a deep breath hearing someone at the door to only feel Diane’s hands wrap around him and hug him tightly.

“Seth, how are you feeling?” Diane questioned as Seth saw Ben behind Diane.

“I’ve felt better,” Seth replied before shaking his head slowly as he motioned the two to come in.

“Have you heard anything on Jade?” Ben questioned walking into the middle of the room looking back at Seth to only see him shake his head. “Nothing came from Cameron?”

“Not a word,” Seth answered shaking his head slowly, “I guess he is trying to say he doesn’t know a thing.”

“That is such a lie,” Diane shot out before shaking her head, “Where there is trouble, there is Cameron.”

“I just wish that Jade could be found,” Blake sighed sitting down on the couch as Ben sat down next to her.

“Well, the best thing we can do is keep faith that she is still alive,” Ben stated shrugging slowly, “If we don’t have at least that, what else is there to go off of?”

“What is this with everyone and faith?” Seth questioned shouting out. “Faith won’t bring back Jade.”

Everyone became silent as Seth held his hands up in the air shaking his head slowly.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout, but I am just worried okay?” Seth took in a deep breath as Diane nodded slowly.

“I understand Seth,” Diane hushed him before shaking her head, “None of us know what you are going through.”

“You have the right to be worried,” Ben added before shrugging, “If you didn’t worry about her, you wouldn’t be doing a good job at being her big brother.”

“I am obviously not doing that right now,” Seth shot back before shaking his head slowly, “If I was a good brother, I would have Jade right here with me and she wouldn’t be missing.”

“You can’t blame this thing on yourself,” Blake frowned seeing Seth shake his head quickly, “You didn’t know anything about this, how could you have stopped it?”

“I could have been here for her,” Seth replied shaking his head slowly, “I should have protected her and done nothing less than that.”

“Seth, you didn’t know it was going to happen,” Diane repeated what Blake had just said.

“I don’t care,” Seth yelled before shaking his head slowly, “There isn’t a moment where I replay that moment in my head when I should have waited for her instead of just leaving her alone to be taken.”


“Sorry I am late sir,” Don smiled walking up to a table seeing the hospital’s Chief of Staff, Isaac Reynolds stand up slowly.

“It is alright,” Isaac grinned before motioning Don to take a seat before doing the same thing. “I called you here for a very important reason.”

“What is that?” Don questioned seeing Isaac smile. “Is everything okay?”

“Well Don, I was wondering if you wanted your job back,” Isaac offered as Don raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

“Could you repeat what you just asked me,” Don blinked nervously, “I think I just misunderstood you because I thought you asked me if I wanted my job back.”

“You didn’t misunderstand me,” Isaac shook his head slowly before tapping his fingers along the table slowly, “That was my exact question…so what do you say?”

“I…I don’t know,” Don sighed shaking his head slowly not knowing what to say.

“This is an offer of a lifetime son,” Isaac informed him before seeing Don’s surprised expression. “What is it that you are trying to hold back for?”

“Well, I am very busy lately now that I am married and…” Don began to think of something to say before he was caught up by his own confusion.

“How about this, I will give you some time to think about it and then we could meet up again later and talk this whole thing over,” Isaac suggested seeing Don nod.

“That sounds great,” Don agreed before Isaac patted him on the back, “See you later sir.”

“Please call me Isaac. I expect to be hearing from you Leveski. Call me when you made up your mind,” Isaac smiled before walking away to leave a confused Don sitting at the table all alone.


Avery knocked on the door to Grady’s bedroom not really sure what she’d find inside after Cheryl had mentioned he was in bad shape. She waited for a response from within, but when she was met with nothing more than silence, she turned the knob on the door surprised to find it unlocked. Slowly she pushed the door open, popping her head inside to see him sitting on the center of his bed looking down at a framed photograph he’d held on his lap.

Taking in a slow breath Avery closed the door behind her before making her way towards Grady. She could see the faint outline of the photograph he was holding. It appeared to be a picture of him and Jade with one another and suddenly she could remember only too well what it felt like to be in a position like this wondering where the one you loved was. She could recall clearer than ever how she’d felt when they’d first told her Russ was missing--that he was dead. Only unlike the situation with Russ, there was still a chance for Jade. She had to be still out there somewhere and it was only a matter of time before the police found her. At least that’s what Avery was hoping for.

“She’s so beautiful,” Grady spoke aloud surprising Avery with the raw emotion behind his voice, “She deserved so much more than I could give her. Time and time again I wondered why she was wasting her time on someone like me, but now, well now I can’t help but feel like this is somehow my fault.”

“Grady, they’re going to find her,” Avery replied smoothly taking a seat beside him on the bed. She reached out to brush her fingers over his leg before she turned to take a long look at his face. She could see the raw, painful emotion over him as he tilted his eyes up to look at her.

“I wish I could believe that was really what’s going to happen, but you know how Cameron has been fighting to tear our relationship apart. The man is pure evil and now that he’s not giving up where he’s taken her to,” Grady began painfully, “Avery, what if he hurt her in an attempt to hurt me for getting out of jail?”

“He wouldn’t do that Grady,” Avery insisted squeezing his leg gently, “Cameron’s a maniac and he’s got a vendetta against you going, but I know how he views Jade. The last thing he’d want to do is hurt her. He’s got this obsession and…”

“And that’s what worries me. Jade wasn’t interested,” Grady reminded her point blank, “She never returned his advances and now that he felt desperate and cornered…”

“If he’s behind her disappearance, then the police are going to find her. Cameron can’t get too far now that he’s behind bars,” she reminded him hoping that the police would be able to shake the truth out of Cameron.

“And what if it’s already too late? Avery, what if I lost her because I was released? What if Cameron went crazy and he hurt her? What if…” Grady trailed off.

“Grady stop this. It’s not helping anything for you to torture yourself like this. They are going to find Jade I’m sure of it,” Avery added gently, “You have to believe that. Wherever Cameron has taken her, they will find her. Jade is a fighter and I know in my heart that she’s not going to give up on trying to get back to you.”

“I know that, which is why I’m worried,” Grady confessed, “What if something goes wrong? What if someone hurts her?”

“Grady, you need to think positive. You have to believe that somehow things will have a way of working themselves out,” she replied with a sad smile, “I mean hey we’ve been in tight spots like this before and you know how it turned out. We were able to get out of them. Jade’s always been a very strong-willed, very passionate woman. She’s not going to stand back and allow someone to keep her prisoner. I know she’ll fight her way back.”

“She never should’ve been put in this position in the first place,” Grady replied painfully turning his attention to the photo once again, “All she wanted was to be happy--to have a life with me and now, well now I feel as if the life she was dreaming about was what took her under. That our love has only brought her misery and pain…”

“No, Grady that’s not true. Jade loves you and you are the best thing in her life. She loves you with her whole heart and your love means everything to her,” she insisted feeling the walls closing in on him.

“Then why did this have to happen? Why couldn’t our love keep her safe from all of this,” Grady questioned finally at his wits end as he broke down in Avery’s arms. She reached out to him pulling him into her lap. He lay his head down on her legs falling to pieces as Avery stroked his hair gently allowing him to share his pain with her in these silent moments between them. Bringing her arm around him, she held him close to her watching the way in which he clenched the photo to his chest as if his life depended on it. She knew too well what it had felt like to be in his shoes and for his sake she prayed that things wouldn’t turn into the nightmare that her life had become. She hoped above hope that Cameron didn’t find a way to rob Grady of the one true happiness in his life.


Kyle knocked on Susan’s door hard until the door finally swung open and he saw Susan smile widely.

“Kyle, what do I owe this wonderful visit for?” she questioned seeing him walk into her apartment, shutting the door behind him. “Sure you can come in.”

“I know I can,” Kyle nodded as he looked down at her, his eyes fierce, “I need to know the whole story Susan.”

“Well, if you insist,” Susan shrugged sitting down on the couch patting it motioning him to sit down.

“I’m comfortable right where I am,” Kyle stated as she frowned shrugging slightly.

“If you are too lazy to move over here, then I guess I am too tired to talk,” she smiled as Kyle rolled his eyes taking a seat on the couch far from her.

“Well, me and Grady were never a steady couple, but boy…” Susan began as Kyle interrupted her.

“That’s not what I was talking about,” Kyle shot out as she slid closer to him, “I was talking about Cameron and Jade.”

“What?” she questioned as she ran her finger along his massive chest slowly. “I told you everything I know.”

“Somehow,” Kyle scowled grabbing her hand pushing it away from him, “I don’t think you are telling me the whole truth.”

“Well, what do you expect me to tell you?” she questioned as he raised an agitated eyebrow.

“I just want you to give me some answers,” Kyle answered feeling her hand run up his leg slowly as he swiped her away from him.

“Fine, but you have to answer some questions for me first,” Susan agreed as Kyle shook his head slowly.

“That’s not how this is going to go,” Kyle shook his head, laughing lightly.

“Fine, then I guess I won’t remember what I was going to say,” Susan held her head as Kyle nodded.

“What is it that you want to know?” he questioned angrily as she shrugged looking up into his fierce chocolate brown eyes.

“Well, you and this Sarah girl…are you guys serious?” Susan wondered as Kyle laughed

“This is completely irrelevant to what we were talking about,” Kyle shot back as Susan held her head.

“I think I am getting a case of amnesia,” she informed him as his jaw tightened with anger.

“Fine, I will tell you anything you want,” Kyle replied as she smiled widely.

“I think I am going to like this,” she winked as Kyle rolled his eyes. “So where do I begin?”

“Why don’t you tell me what you know about Jade first?” Kyle questioned as she shook her head quickly.

“Are you kidding me?” she wondered with a quick laugh. “And take the chance of you walking out on me without even answering my question?”

“Just go on with it alright? I don’t have all day,” Kyle sighed as she wiggled her eyebrow at him.

“I have so many things to ask you,” Susan smiled widely as Kyle rolled his eyes.

“Great,” he whispered as he felt her come closer to him, this was going to be a long day.


Cameron paced around the small holding cell feeling the walls closing in around him. His claustrophobia seemed to be growing more and more by the moment with each passing second that he sat in this ridiculous predicament. The sooner he found his way out of this, the better, he reasoned wishing like hell that there was a way to change what was happening around him. Hearing footsteps from the hallway outside the cell he rushed over to the bars.

“Where the hell have you been?” Cameron snapped seeing Kipp approaching, “I’ve been in here far too long already and you promised you’d make miracles happen.”

“I’m doing all that I can for you Cameron, but we’ve run into a temporary snag,” Kipp frowned back at him.

“What kind of snag?” Cameron scowled back at him shaking his head with obvious disgust, “You promised me that once I signed those damned papers that you’d have me out of here. Instead I’ve sat in a jail cell for far too long already and I want out.”

“Unfortunately it’s not going to be that easy. Given what Grady Denton was just through with the legal system, he’s gained a bit of sympathy from the judges around here,” Kipp explained smoothly, standing taller despite Cameron’s icy glare.

“And what exactly does that mean for me,” Cameron growled back at him, “I had nothing to do with what went on there.”

“Officially, but you know how it is in a small town. Rumors circulate and the talk of the town is about how you were out to get Grady. People haven’t forgotten what went down in the courtroom,” Kipp reminded him pointedly, “and given that Grady’s beautiful fiancée is missing, they aren’t likely to start forgetting.”

“I don’t give a damn what the peons in this town think. I just want out of here,” Cameron sneered in response.

“Well see now that’s where our problem comes in. Because you’ve done your best to piss off half of Coral Valley, no one around here is willing to do you any special favors. My work can only go so far and I’m doing all that I can,” Kipp shrugged casually.

“Which means what exactly?” Cameron sneered in response curling his fingers around the bars on the cell.

“That you’re going to have to be stuck here for a while. The bail hearing has been postponed,” Kipp replied point blank.

“What?” Cameron questioned incredulously. “What are you trying to say?”

“That right now you’re stuck here,” Kipp explained again, “So you may as well make yourself comfortable because right now my hands are tied.”

“But…” Cameron started watching Kipp start to walk away, “Hey, where do you think you’re going?”

“You pay me to do my best, so I’m going to do my best,” Kipp waved at him before turning away with a tiny snicker knowing full well by the time he was through with Cameron, it would be nothing short of his worst. Hearing Cameron’s screams of protest as Cameron stood in the jail cell cursing and shouting at him all the way out, Kipp let out a laugh knowing that payback was long overdue.


...to be continued...