Episode 197

“What is so important?” Shannon questioned her throat feeling dry as she watched Don pace back and forth in the middle of the room before pausing.

“Well, you know how I have been trying to tell you something?” Don questioned seeing her nod before starting again. “You see…this is really important and I can’t wait anymore.”

“Alright, you got my attention,” she pointed out watching him take in a deep breath before walking towards her. “Shannon.”

“Yeah?” she questioned as he grabbed her hand in his gently. “Spit it out Don.”

“Alright, well I have…” he paused in the middle of his sentence before raising an eyebrow, “My phone is ringing.”

“Answer it,” she frowned watching him step back and pull the phone out of his pocket.

She was really starting to get tired of that phone. It seemed like every time they tried to talk, that thing would be ringing and he would be gone in an instant.

“Who was it?” Shannon questioned seeing him hang up the phone before he turned around to face her with a frown.

“It was work,” he informed her with a sigh thinking for words to explain what was happening before she threw her hands out in the air stopping him from any further talking.

“Let me guess…you have to go to work now?” she questioned seeing him nod slowly.

“I’m really sorry,” he apologized looking towards the ground as she shook her head.

“Can you at least tell me what has you so upset lately?” Shannon questioned folding her arms out in front of her chest.

“I really have to get to work,” he replied with a groan, “It is kind of an emergency.”

“Fine, but sooner or later I would like to find out what you have been trying to tell me,” she declared as he nodded slowly.

“I promise you I will tell you when I get back,” he assured her before rubbing his hands together slowly, “Until then though, I have to go to work.”

“Go,” she shot out before laughing, “You know, every time I try to talk to you…I always get cut off by that damn phone.”

“I know and I apologize for that,” Don hushed her before biting on his bottom lip, “I just need you to know that this whole thing is going to be over soon.”

She said nothing as he slowly walked out the door closing it behind him.

“Yeah, I hope it is over soon,” Shannon shook her head slowly in disbelief before taking in a deep breath. “If you are working so much, why don’t I do the same thing?”


“So you’re sure this is safe, huh?” Nick questioned looking out over the ledge where he stood awaiting his time to leap over the rocky edge.

“Yep, it’s completely safe,” Kevin replied with a quick nod, casting his eyes out over to the beach area where Angela lay out on a blanket, keeping her eyes near the top of the waterfall. Even now he was certain that she hadn’t been able to concentrate on anything else--on any other moment than the one in which her little boy toy moved in over the falls. Thinking back to the kiss that Nick planted on Angela’s lips, Kevin felt his own body ignite with a spark of animosity. “Don’t tell me that you’re chickening out on me already.”

“No, I wasn’t saying that,” Nick turned to face him seemingly feeling Kevin’s unspoken taunting, “I was just more worried about Angela since she’s not too happy about my doing this.”

“Angie likes to complain about taking risks, but she’s notorious for doing them herself,” Kevin hesitated before continuing, “Like the one she took with the putz that got her pregnant.”

“You really don’t like the guy, do you?” Nick questioned watching Kevin’s jaw tighten with anger.

“If I was able to get my hands on him, I’d ring his neck. Truth be told I don’t take too kindly to people moving in on Angie when she’s vulnerable. Quite honestly that type of guy pisses me off,” Kevin explained with a grim expression.

“I can’t say I blame you. She’s an incredible woman,” Nick shrugged before turning his attention to the falls once again. “She’s a brilliant, beautiful, intelligent woman who has a lot going for her.”

“Which is exactly why she doesn’t need yet another putz stepping in and trying to complicate her life even further,” Kevin stepped in closer to Nick, his eyes narrowing with undertones of menace, “I’d hate to see her hurt again.”

“So would I,” Nick nodded before catching Kevin’s expression, “You don’t trust me for a second, do you?”

“Given that you’ve been going out of your way to find a moment to pull Angie into bed with you,” Kevin shook his head at Nick before folding his arms in front of his chest, “Not on your life.”

“Well, then I guess this means that the whole notion of our being pals just got tossed out the window, didn’t it?” Nick noted standing a bit taller in an attempt to keep from letting Kevin’s size intimidate him.

“I’ll do whatever makes Angie happy, but the truth to the matter amnesia-boy is that I’m watching you,” Kevin took a bold step forward, his words striking with a ferocity that Kevin had kept under wraps until now, “and if you break her heart, well let’s just say I’d break your neck for starters…”

“Then I guess this is the point where I tell you that I don’t plan on breaking her heart. I know she’s someone special and I just want to find a way to get closer to her,” Nick offered up in his own defense.

“Yeah well I think you’re getting too close. I know your type and I don’t trust you. Whatever you are--whatever you’re forgetting about your life before Angie, well I’m certain it’s nothing but trouble and in case you haven’t noticed trouble is the last thing she needs in her life right now,” Kevin warned him with an icy glare.

“So I take it this is the part where you decide since we’re up here, you’re going to give me the lecture in the hopes that I don’t follow in the footsteps of the loser before me with her, right?” Nick questioned turning his eyes out towards where he saw Angela seated on the blanket, waving her hand up at them.

“No, this is the part where I tell you to back off,” Kevin waved over at Angela offering up a big smile before he thrust his hand forward shoving Nick off of the cliff with one strong, solid sweep.

Before Nick knew what was happening, he felt the ground beneath him. His legs kicked out wildly, his hands grasping for nothing more than the air that surrounded him and before he knew it, he felt the crashing waves of the waterfall surround him. He opened his eyes seeing the fury of the movement above the surface, but the pull below the waterfall’s powerful bottom seemed to draw him further down. Nick tried to use his arms to anchor himself, but in that moment he realized that the current was too strong--the waterfall was too domineering and in that moment Nick found himself submitting to the water’s demands.


“I don’t know what game it is you’re up to Heather, but it stops here. I’m not going to let you destroy my grandson like you tried to do the last time you were in his life,” Augustus announced with a roar once he’d pulled Heather aside to allow Brant and Avery some privacy with one another. “I’m on to you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Heather feigned innocence shrugging her shoulders slightly, “Brant and I are friends and…”

“Cut the theatrics Heather. The only friend you have is one in yourself because your type very seldom finds a friend,” he took a long, determined step towards her, “and for the record, my grandson is not your friend. He‘s merely being polite and letting you take advantage of his generosity.”

“Brant cares about me,” she spat back with a small huff, “We were once engaged to one another, remember?”

“Oh I remember and I must say you have no idea how enthused I was to discover that he’d finally called it off with you. He had no idea what kind of headache he would’ve been in for had you two followed through with one another,” he groaned in response shuddering at the thought.

“Brant and I were very good together. Just because you were too ignorant to understand what we had…” she began in her own defense.

“Heather you might’ve had a love affair with my grandson, but it was his money that truly persuaded you to be interested. You weren’t thinking about his heart or about who he was. All you were concerned about was furthering your career and looking out for your own best interest. That’s exactly what landed you in bed with that movie tycoon and…”

“And that was a mistake,” Heather blurted out emphatically placing her hand over her chest, “One that I’ll live to regret the rest of my days, but now Brant and I have turned over a new leaf. He’s my friend and he’s helping me pull my life together again.”

“There isn’t enough help in the world to make that one possible,” he shook his head at her before eliciting another groan, “Heather, just know that I’m watching you. If I think for a second that you’re going to cause my grandson problems in his marriage, then I will take it upon myself personally to find a way to eliminate the problem. Do I make myself clear?”

“You can’t stop me from being here if that’s what Brant wants,” Heather stomped her foot and folded her arms in front of her chest defiantly, “And he does want that Augustus. He asked me to stay here while I’m fighting to keep my son in my life.”

“Whatever my grandson said he must’ve been mistaken with his words because I’m sure that the last thing he and his wife want is to have to deal with the likes of you,” he frowned down at her.

“Whether or not Avery wants me here, Brant does and I’m not doing anything wrong. He offered help and I merely accepted,” she snubbed her nose at him, “That doesn’t at all make me a bad person.”

“If I believed a word of the story you’re trying to sell me, I might be half convinced, but I know you better than that. You’re a horrible actress and experience hasn’t changed that,” he leaned in towards her, his dark eyes narrowing with warning, “If I were you I’d tread very carefully on the waters around me because the wrong move might lead you to nothing but the sharks.”

“I can more than hold my own,” she huffed glaring up at the man who was putting a wrench in her plans.

“All the more reason for Brant to find a way to send you on your way,” he wrinkled his nose at her before taking a step back. He wiggled his finger in her general direction before warning, “I’m watching you.”

As he walked out of the door Heather mocked his words placing her hands on her hips, “I’ll be watching you,” she repeated rolling her eyes. “As if you can do anything Augustus.”

Taking a step towards the doorway she listened to hear if he was still out there or if Brant had returned. When she was met by silence she walked over to one of the sofas to think about what he’d said. How dare he think he could intimidate her. Who did he really believe he was?

“There’s no way I’m going to let you ruin my plans for a future with Brant,” she announced clenching her fists in her lap. “Brant and I need one another and you can’t keep us from coming together.”

With a determined huff she sat straighter before opting to lean back on the leather sofa. Making herself comfortable she closed her eyes and thought about all the plans she had for Brant, but then she was reminded of Augustus’s words.

“He’s wrong,” she told herself with a small smile, “I’m one hell of an amazing actress who is about to play the performance of her life in the name of getting back what’s mine. Soon Brant will be eating out of the palm of my hand and there isn’t a damn thing that Avery or Augustus will be able to do to change that.”


“Brant, you can’t be serious,” Avery shook her head at him still unable to believe how he’d just opened their lives up to Heather’s repeated intrusions.

“Avery, she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. What was I supposed to do? Throw her out on the street?” he questioned raising his hands in the air.

“That’s one idea,” she muttered under her breath catching the look of disapproval from him. “Seriously Brant she’s trouble.”

“Yeah well trouble or not, I can’t just let her lose her son. What kind of person would I be if I did that to her?” he questioned with a sigh bringing his fingers up through his dark hair, “You couldn’t expect me to leave her with nothing there, could you?”

“Brant, she’s not your responsibility. She quit being your responsibility the moment that you two broke up,” she reminded him with a groan.

“Avery, she helped us clear Grady’s name. She crossed Cameron and risked her own safety to help us get Kipp back home to clear his name. Surely that in itself should count for something.”

“I appreciate that Brant. Don’t get me wrong because I really, truly do, but at the same time I know Heather. She’s not happy that we’re still together and the longer she stays under this roof with us, the harder she’s going to try to convince you that I’m not worth your efforts,” Avery sighed emphatically, “I mean with all we’ve gone through between us over the last few weeks, I don’t think Heather lurking around is going to help anything.”

“Avery, it’s only temporary,” he explained desperately.

“Does Heather realize that?” she questioned with a frown, “I mean because judging by what I walked in on, she seemed to be under the preconceived notion that she’d be here for a while. You know like maybe for oh say…forever.”

“Avery I’m sure that Heather knows that this is just temporary. I just want to help her keep her son and then after, well I’m sure that we can help her go somewhere else where she and Charles can be happy…” Brant started to explain his reasoning.

“Don’t you get it Brant? Heather’s not going to be happy until she’s back with you again. That’s really what she’s aiming for and you’re being naïve and playing into it. You’re giving her exactly what she wants, yet you’re not seeing it,” she shook her head at him.

“Avery, I’m trying here. You can’t expect to have me toss her out to take care of this on her own. She’s married to a madman, she’s got Douglas and now Kipp Mahoney after her not to mention that she’s been in a horrible accident that left her disfigured,” he pointed out in an attempt to get her to see where he was coming from.

“And I lost my husband in that accident. Your brother lost Caitlin and the rest of his life, but that hasn’t changed the fact that life goes on for everyone here, has it?” Avery snapped back at him before throwing her hands up in the air, “Never mind. I give up. You’re not going to see it my way, so why am I even bothering here?”

“Avery, I’m trying to do the right thing.”

“The right thing would be getting rid of Heather. It would be making her leave because Brant the woman hates me. She’d like nothing better than to see you and I split up so that she can have you…”

“Avery that’s not going to happen. I’m not at all interested in Heather like that,” he paused watching her face closely. After a moment’s contemplation he finally spoke up once again, “Tell me is this really about my inviting Heather to stay here with us or about the fact that the almighty Russ fell victim to her charms and wound up in bed with her?”

“Go to hell,” Avery lashed out at him unable to repress the urge to hit him. Her anger coiled throughout her body and almost as soon as she’d slapped him, she felt a nagging guilt wash over her.

“Truth hurts, doesn’t it?” Brant replied sharply feeling his own frustrations mounting after the week he’d had.

“Yeah I guess it does,” she nodded clenching her fists at her sides before taking in an exaggerated breath, “but you don’t have to worry about me any longer. As far as I’m concerned Heather can stay here for all eternity because I’m not going to fight this one any longer.”

“That’s not what I was gunning for Avery, but if you think about this…” he started watching her face twist with anger further than before.

“No, I got the point and hey it’s fine with me. As far as I’m concerned you and Heather can live here in the mansion and have your happily ever after because I’m done. I’ll go back to my home with the memories of my dead husband to keep me content,” Avery threw back at him sourly before stomping out of the room in a rush of anger.

Brant watched her retreat, hearing the stomping movements of her walking away. He turned around looking to his desk thinking about how Avery had so clearly overreacted to what he’d done to try to help Heather. Pacing around the room, he tried to take it all in--to calm down enough to think rational. So what if Avery wanted to have a tantrum? If she wanted to act like a child, then she could be treated like one. She could go home to live with her precious memories of Russ and he’d stay here at the mansion with…

“With what?” he questioned aloud thinking about what Avery had said about Heather. Thinking to what he’d said to her--to how he’d thrown the past in her face, he felt suddenly horrible about the way things had gone with the two of them. Turning to the door, he rushed out after her hoping that it wasn’t too late to fix the damage between them.


Richard entered Brooke’s hospital room seeing her sleeping on the bed before him. He thought about the conversation he’d had with Judy not so long ago. He thought about how he’d promised to find a way to make things happen for the future for him and Judy, yet Judy had reminded him over and over again that he had to find a way to be there for Brooke during her recovery. Now as Brooke slept, he tried to remind himself of that, but deep down he wondered if things would be that easy for him when it came to breaking things off. Yes, he didn’t want to hurt Brooke, yet the longer the two of them stayed together, the more painful it was for all involved.

Stepping further into the room, Richard focused on Brooke, watching as her eyes began to open. She saw him standing across the room and her lips upturned in a small smile. She curled her finger motioning for him to come over and join her.

“Richard,” she smiled up at him, her eyes full of exhaustion as she let out another yawn, “I was wondering when you’d come back into town.”

“I’ve been back for a couple of days,” he confessed with a small smile, “but the last time I was here, you were sleeping.”

“I wish you would’ve waken me,” she reached out for his hand, “if I would’ve known you were here, I would’ve fought the pain killers long enough to say hello. I missed you.”

“I’m glad to see that you’re awake,” Richard replied taking a seat at her bedside, “We were all hoping for you to pull through.”

“Knowing what I had to come back to gave me all the strength I needed to return to you,” she squeezed his hand gently in hers, “I know that you and I haven’t had an easy year, but I think the fact that we’ve been able to overcome so very much already speaks volumes about our relationship.”

“Brooke, right now I think we should focus on your recovery. That’s what is important,” he replied dodging the issue a bit.

“I know that, but what got me thinking is that maybe you and I should find a way to solidify this union that we have with one another. Richard, we both know things haven’t been easy for us over the years, but I hope that can change. In fact when I woke up I started thinking about what is really important in life and with Avery marrying Brant, well it made me realize that you and I really didn’t go about things the right way the first time.”

“Well Brooke, I…” Richard started uneasily.

“Richard, I know that we’ve gone about this all wrong, but maybe it’s time we think about getting things to where they should be--say in the form of us renewing our vows,” she blurted out watching as he nearly choked on the idea, “Richard, are you alright?”

“I’m fine I just…” he started uneasily not really sure how to response as the door to the room opened and Guy stepped inside.

“Mum, you’re awake,” Guy beamed making his way towards her, “How are you feeling?”

“Much better than I have been in a long time,” she confessed, “Your father and I were just having a wonderful discussion and…”

“And we’re so glad you’re here,” Richard replied moving out of the way to let Guy get in to greet Brooke, “She’s missed you.”

“Yes I have, but…” Brooke started stretching her arms out to embrace Guy.

“Mum, I’m so glad you’re awake,” Guy began shifting the bag he’d brought in with him around in his hands, but before he could stop it from happening, the bottom of the bag ripped open spilling the contents he’d picked up at the local coffee house out with him.

“Brooke!” Richard gasped watching Guy’s drink spill out over the top of his wife’s hospital bed sheet.

“Oh my gosh,” Guy added horrified by what he’d done. Immediately he stepped aside reaching for the box of Kleenex on the table beside where his mother lay, “Mum, I’m so sorry I… Let me clean this up.”

“Guy, it’s really no problem,” Brooke waved her hand dismissively thinking about what she’d initiated with Richard before their son’s arrival.

“Mum, I’m so sorry. Let me get this up and,” Guy began pulling the sheet from his mother’s body in a hurried attempt to keep the coffee from burning her, but much to his dismay her legs were already a bright crimson color.

“Guy, I can barely feel it and as I was saying before,” Brooke looked up to her husband. She saw the color drain from his face as he stepped forward.

“Brooke, are you sure you can’t feel that?” Richard questioned in a bit of a panic himself.

“Of course I can’t. It was nothing more than just a…” she stopped herself when she too saw the damage that had been done by her son’s slip and fall. She opened her mouth to speak, but then found herself attempting to move out of the bed, to try to get some of the steaming liquid off of her legs, but instead she felt herself glued to the bed. Her eyes widened, her heart pounding furiously in her chest as she fought with herself desperately trying to tear herself up off of the bed.

“Mum?” Guy questioned seeing the strain behind her features as she tried to maneuver herself out of the bed without success.

“I can’t feel my legs,” Brooke began horrified, “I can’t move them. Richard, what’s happening to me?”

“Brooke, are you sure that…” he moved in beside her seeing the tears of frustration burn behind her eyes.

“I’m sure. I can’t move. I can’t feel any of that,” Brooke confessed in a panic wondering if fate had finally dealt her a hand that she was completely unprepared for.


Ken sank back onto the hospital bed wondering why in the world he’d even agreed to letting Deidra keep him here for another day or so. It wasn’t as if there was anything more that anyone could do at the hospital, so he couldn’t see the point of being laid out like this when he had other, more important things to be doing. Groaning in frustration, he turned the television off and closed his eyes.

He could still see the expression on Dave’s face in their earlier confrontation and the smugness made Ken want to throw up. Just who did Dave think he was coming in here to taunt Ken? Where did Dave get off in trying to tell Ken what he could and couldn’t do? That wasn’t about to happen. Not now. Not ever.

“I’m going to get out of here soon,” Ken reminded himself knowing that while he might be down, he was still far from out. If Dave Warner even thought he was going to try to step in Ken’s way, Ken would make sure that Dave was put to an abrupt ending himself if need be. Even now, Ken could feel his blood boiling at Dave’s attitude. Why if Ken was in better shape at the moment, then he’d…

“Ken,” he heard a voice beckon him. He opened his eyes to see Carly standing beside his bed much to his own surprise. He blinked a few times wondering if he was hallucinating as she stepped forward.

“Carly,” he questioned uneasily seeing the unsure expression that swept over her face. He could tell she was hesitant, yet the fact that she stood beside him after she’d sworn she never wanted to look at him again, gave him some hope, “what are you doing here?”

“I was asking myself that same question on the way up,” she confessed mildly, turning her attention to the far wall of the room before taking in a slow, nervous breath. Finally she forced herself to face Ken again, “Your pit bull tried to stop me on the way in the first time, but I figured that maybe I’d try to bend the rules again. I mean I came this far, right?”

“My pit bull?” he gave her a strange look before the thought registered, “Deidra?”

She nodded, “If anyone in this world ever wanted me dead, then I think she would be it.”

“Yeah well if anyone in this world didn’t want me dead at this point, I’d think I had it made,” Ken offered with a light smile hoping to clear the air a bit between them, but she remained firm and unyielding in her composure.

“I don’t want you dead. I just want…” she struggled for the right words, “I want to understand--to know why what we had wasn’t enough.”

“Carly, it was more than enough,” he reached out to her surprised that she didn’t pull away. His hand brushed up against hers, feeling a tiny shiver race over her as she closed her eyes, “What we have is more than enough for me. I’ve been stupid and…”

“And you threw it all away,” Carly reopened her eyes to reveal the tears that overtook her, “I told you that sooner or later falling in love for me becomes a mistake and what happened before just proves it.”

“Carly, this wasn’t because of you. This was because of me. Because I’m an idiot and I wanted the world to suffer the way that I was suffering when I lost Caitlin,” Ken confessed painfully, thinking back to all he’d done over the last few weeks, “I wasn’t trying to hurt Avery and I wasn’t trying to hurt you with any of this.”

“What did you think was going to happen? That everyone would just excuse your actions because you’re in pain?” she questioned her voice cracked with emotion, “Ken, it’s part of being alive. You feel pain and you hurt, but you find a way to move on. You try to endure and thrive beyond that ache inside of you…”

“And I did all of that and more with you,” Ken pleaded with her, “Carly I love you and…”

“No,” she shook her head at him, “just stop. Don’t say it.”

“But it’s true,” Ken began desperately, “When Caitlin died I thought that was it for me. I thought that I’d reached the end of my rope, but then you came into my life. You gave me a reason to believe again and while I wasn’t planning on it, something happened. Something awakened inside of me and I knew that what we found in one another was…”

“…based on a lie,” she cut him off abruptly, “Ken, you weren’t with me because of what we had--because of what happened four years ago. We weren’t together because of any of that. You were just looking for a way to hurt Dave and I was the fastest method of making it happen--just like you used Avery to get to Brant.”

“No, that wasn’t the same thing,” Ken insisted with a shake of his head, “What happened with Avery was a mistake, but with us…”

“Ken, there is no us,” she threw back finally unable to contain her tears, “I don’t know why I even came here. This was a mistake.”

“No Carly wait,” he squeezed his fingers around her wrist using all his strength to pull her in closer to his bedside, “This wasn’t a mistake. It’s as far from being a mistake as I can imagine.”

“Ken, if you really loved me then, well, we wouldn’t be here like this right now dealing with this,” she sniffled unable to hold back on the ache that tore away inside of her.

“And if you didn’t love me, then you wouldn’t be standing here like this with me. You would’ve left and never turned back, but you couldn’t do that,” Ken’s eyes fell upon hers. He sat up straighter in his hospital bed urging her in closer to him. Reaching out to wipe at her tears he locked gazes with her once again, “Carly, you still care about me. You still love me and that’s why you couldn’t walk away.”

“No, that’s not it. Ken I came here tonight for closure--for…” she began to explain finding her words coming to a premature ending. Before she knew it, she felt his arms around her, his lips pressed to hers reminding her of the passion they’d shared with one another. His hand snaked around the back of her neck, up into her dark hair as the kiss intensified and Ken prayed that he’d be able to remind her that what they had was worth fighting for.


“I can’t believe this,” Dave growled slamming his door shut behind him, “How can I be this upset about Ken?”

Deep down he knew why he was mad at Ken, he just couldn’t believe the person he had become.

“He’s not even worth it,” Dave concluded going over to his desk and sitting down in his chair roughly. “He isn’t even good enough to be in my mind.”

He shook his head slowly thinking of all the times Ken had actually screwed him over. Everyone always thought he was perfect, but Dave knew sooner or later it was going to stay.

“What?” he questioned angrily hearing someone knock on the door as heard a voice yelling through the door.

“You have a visitor,” an officer informed him as Dave rolled his eyes, “They say it’s important.”

“I am kind of busy right now,” Dave replied only to hear the person begin to talk up again.

“No, I really think you would like to see this person,” the officer exclaimed as Dave sighed in deeply.

“Fine, send them in,” Dave ordered hearing the door open while he looked at the papers on his desk, “I don’t have a lot of time so can we make this kind of fast.

“Why big brother, you don’t want to talk to your little sister?” a younger woman questioned as he looked up quickly with a wide smile.

“Cori? What are you doing here?” Dave wondered getting up quickly and walking over towards the woman wrapping his arm around her tightly. “How is my little sister doing?”

“Oh you know the usual,” Cori laughed as her brother hugged her tightly.

“With you…I don’t think I know your usual anymore,” Dave grinned as he let his sister go. “So when did you get in?”

“Today,” she answered with a smile, “I figured the first thing I should be doing is telling you that I am here.”

“How long are you staying?” he questioned eager to know if he could spend some time with his sister.

“A while,” she replied with a laugh, “I actually got a job over here.”

“Really?” Dave wondered seeing her nod, “Here take a seat and tell me all about it. I want to know how the trip was and everything.”


Kipp limped through the doors of the physical therapy office before resting against the wall taking in a deep breath, his leg hurt so badly. He slowly rubbed his leg gently before shaking his head.

“I know I should be checking in with you Angela,” Kipp sighed in deeply before shaking his head, “I can’t do that now…not when I am trying to get my son.”

Kipp walked very slowly following a woman to one of the rooms before she helped him sit down on the table.

“Someone will be right in here to help you,” the nurse informed him with a smile before leaving the room.

Kipp heard a knock on the door before someone wearing a hood came in.

“Sorry I was late, I had some work to finish at the gym I work at,” the man apologized before sliding his coat off so Kipp could see his face as the man picked up a chart not even looking at him.

“Oh my god,” Kipp gasped looking at the person before him, “Kellen?”

“Do we know each other?” Kellen questioned looking up at Kipp who nodded quickly as Kellen tilted his head trying to picture his face. “Oh that’s right…we were hanging out with Sarah. Your name is Kipp right?”

“Exactly,” Kipp nodded before watching Kellen walk towards him, “What are you doing here? I thought you were at the gym.”

“I do work at the gym, but it doesn’t pay enough,” Kellen informed him before frowning, “I have a license to help people like you.”

“People like me?” Kipp questioned with a laugh. “You mean crippled people?”

“I’m not sure I would call them that,” Kellen frowned before looking down at Kipp’s leg. “So let’s take a look at your leg.”

“Okay,” Kipp nodded watching Kellen roll the pants up his leg slowly, “So what are we going to do through this whole thing?”

“Well, I plan on actually making your leg stronger so you can get a brace for a while and actually walk by yourself,” Kellen informed him touching Kipp’s leg. “Try and move your leg up.”

“Okay,” Kipp obeyed Kellen’s hand rested over his knee as Kipp tried pushing it up, but only groaned in agony. “I can’t get anymore.”

“Alright,” Kellen sighed grabbing a clipboard and writing something down, “You do better than some of the people I have…they hardly even try. They think they are doomed.”

“I may be doomed with some things, but I don’t want to be stuck with this,” Kipp replied hearing Kellen laugh.

“That’s always the way to go sweetheart,” Kellen winked before walking over to the counter picking something off of it and grabbing a chair sliding in front of Kipp.

“What are you going to do with that?” Kipp wondered seeing Kellen look down at the object.

“Well every time you come to see me,” Kellen began holding the object up so Kipp could see it, “I am going to be measuring how much your knee actually bends.”

“Great,” Kipp sighed as Kellen frowned, “I can tell you already…I’m not going to be a very good patient.”

“I really don’t think that, but let’s try. Try bending your leg…use as much power as you can,” Kellen ordered putting the measure against Kipp’s knee. “I feel bad for you, hopefully this is the only thing you have to deal with.”

“Yeah, I wish,” Kipp grunted as his leg began to spread with pain as he turned red.

“Don’t kill yourself,” Kellen shot out before seeing Kipp take in a deep breath, “Want to talk about it while I get you some ice for your leg?”

“That would be great,” Kipp nodded watching Kellen walk out the door for a moment and coming back with a big bag of ice, “So where I do I begin?”

“With whatever is bothering you,” Kellen answered handing him the bag of ice before taking a seat next to him.

“Sometimes I just don’t understand women, there is this girl Heather who I had a child with,” Kipp informed him before going on seeing that Kellen was paying pull attention to him, “Well, I used to love her before I found out she was only using me.”

“I hate people like that,” Kellen cut him off before shaking his head slowly, “People like that are just so damn depressing.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Kipp laughed thinking back to what he was talking about, “Well, I am going to take her to court and try to win full custody over my son.”

“Go you,” Kellen smiled widely patting his good leg lightly, “The girl is a real pain?”

“You can say that,” Kipp agreed before taking in a deep breath, “I can tell you now that she wouldn’t be a good mother at all. I tell you, I think I am going to give up on women. All they seem to do is hurt me.”

“Honey, that’s why I never started on them,” Kellen replied with a laugh elbowing him gently as Kipp raised an eyebrow at him. “Here, lets go do another workout for you leg.”

“Okay,” Kipp nodded as Kellen helped him off the table and helped him to the door.

“You can keep talking if you would like,” Kellen offered with a smile helping him down the hallway, “You can start from the beginning if you’d like.”

“Sure,” Kipp shrugged before biting on his lower lip in pain, “It will be a long, long story.”

“I don’t care honey,” Kellen cut him off with a laugh, “We obviously got quite a while.”


Angela stood up dusting herself off as she saw Kevin emerging from the water. The beads of water glistened on the bronzed expanse of his chest and as she pulled her sunglasses up over her head to take a better look, she could see his white smile growing.

“What did you think of that dive Angie?” Kevin began to boast shaking his head to allow the water to fall from his hair, “I’d have to say that was one of my best.”

“I can’t really argue that, but with Nick,” Angela looked past him to the water.

“The guy is an amateur,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders before leaning down over the blanket to pick up one of the towels Angela had waiting for him. He quickly ran it through his hair before holding it around his neck in an attempt to soak up the sun. “I tried to give him a few pointers, but he just couldn’t seem to grasp what I was telling him on the way down.”

“Yeah I saw his less than graceful spill and I have to admit it worried me,” Angela confessed still keeping her eyes upon the water, “Kevin, did you see him out there?”

“Who me?” Kevin shrugged once again, “Oh I don’t know. Maybe he felt he’d embarrassed himself too much that he decided to pack it up and go home.”

“I didn’t see him come out of the water,” Angela replied with a frown. “I was hoping I’d see him before now, but…”

“But what?” Kevin turned to look at her seeing the concern crease in her brow, “Maybe he’s hoping to try to be more graceful the second time and he went up for another jump.”

“No,” she shook her head before taking a step towards the water, “Kevin, I didn’t see him out there or up on the rocks.”

“Then maybe he’s hiding,” Kevin discarded the towel he’d had, “who cares?”

“I care,” Angela spun around to face him. She watched Kevin start to sit down on the blanket and she placed her hands on her hips impatiently, “Kevin you need to go look for him.”

“No I don’t,” he waved his hand at her dismissively before eyeing the picnic basket, “I’m sure he’s fine and besides I’m hungry.”

“Hungry or not, I’m not about to let you eat until we find Nick,” Angela marched towards him, her eyes narrowing with anger. She stood before him tapping her foot impatiently, “You’re going to go look for him.”

“Angie, I didn’t have breakfast this morning or anything more than a small snack and now,” Kevin started to argue with her seeing the way she glared down at him. He opened his mouth to speak before he saw something else flash behind her eyes, “What?”

“You pushed him didn’t you,” Angela accused, her voice growing wild with anger, “That’s why he went down like he did, wasn’t it? You threw him off of the rocks, didn’t you Kevin?”

“Now why would I do something like that,” Kevin questioned innocently. “I told you the guy has no sense of grace or balance there.”

“Kevin, if you hurt him--if you threw him off the ledge and there’s a chance he hit his head on the way down--if there’s a possibility that he hurt himself because of something stupid that you did…” she wiggled her finger at him angrily, “then you tell me right now.”

“Angie, I swear that I didn’t,” Kevin started to defend himself before realizing that it was useless to lie to her. He shrugged again reaching for a drink from inside the picnic basket, “Okay so maybe I might’ve given him a small nudge there, but he made the jump all on his own. He did this all on his own and you can’t blame me for…”

“Kevin Adonis!” she shrieked, her voice growing louder by the second, “Are you trying to tell me that you shoved him off that ledge and…”

“I did not shove him,” Kevin objected, “He went up there on his own accord…”

“After your taunting,” she reminded him sharply, “and if something has happened to him, then I swear to you that…”

“That what? Angie, I can’t help it if the guy has no sense of balance. He’s the one who went up there and if he went under, well he should have enough common sense to pull himself out. He’s going to be fine. He’s a big guy and…” Kevin started knowing that he was going to be in for it judging be the expression on Angela’s face. Finally setting his drink aside, he let out a groan, “but if it means so much to you, then I’ll go look for him.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Nick’s voice rose from just beyond where they were on the beach. Angela turned around to see him approaching with an armload of fruit. “Sorry for disappearing.”

“Nick, where were you?” Angela questioned rushing over to him, “I was worried that something happened. When I didn’t see you come up out of the water, I panicked and…”

Kevin shook his head at Angela, unable to refrain from rolling his eyes at the exchange between the two of them.

“I’m fine,” Nick assured her with a small smile, his damp hair sticking to the sides of his face, “I guess you could say I’m not made for cliff diving like Kevin is, but when I surfaced, well I ran into Martha on the shore not far from here. She saw we were having a picnic and then she gave me all this…”

“Now why doesn’t that surprise me,” Angela couldn’t help but laugh reaching forward to take some of the fruit from his hands, “I can’t believe that I didn’t see you come up from the water.”

“Well what can I say,” Nick shrugged his shoulders before his gaze traveled over to Kevin, “I guess I was just given a surprise twist on the way down.”

“It looked more like you fell flat on your ass to me,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders in an attempt to play it cool after what he’d done to guide Nick down.

“Yeah, well as I said I think fate played a hand in what happened with my fall, but hey I couldn’t be perfect the first time I suppose,” Nick added eyeing Kevin suspiciously, “Though I think we should totally go up there again and give it another try.”

“You do?” Kevin and Angela replied in unison.

“Oh yeah I do,” Nick nodded before moving in over the blanket on the opposite side of Kevin, “only next time I think Kevin should go down first and show me how it’s done.”

“You know that might not be a half bad idea,” Angela agreed taking a seat between both men completely unaware of the animosity brewing between them. She continued to talk about the beach--about the weather and the day they’d happened upon, all the while oblivious to the real story of what had happened on the rocks.

While Kevin fully expected Nick to tell on him for what he’d done, he had to admit he was surprised that Nick hadn’t said a word to make him look bad in Angela’s eyes. Still as Kevin watched the man that Angela had taken to, he had to wonder what angle Nick was going to work because most men wouldn’t let something like what had happened on the rocks go unsettled. Regardless, whatever it was that Nick had up his sleeve, Kevin would find a way to deal with it sooner or later.


Sarah went to her door opening it up to find an exhausted looking Kyle before her.

“Kyle,” she smiled widely letting him walk in tiredly, “You look horrible.”

“I feel it too,” Kyle informed her as she frowned leading him to the couch where they sat down.

“What’s wrong?” she questioned enclosing her fingers with his as he closed his eyes and leaned his head against the back of the couch. “You look exhausted.”

“I don’t think I have had a real night sleep in at least a month,” Kyle replied thinking back to everything he had been doing for so long as her fingers squeezed his hand tightly. “I have just been everywhere and it’s…I don’t even know how to think anymore.”

“Tell me about it,” she laughed before focusing back on him, “What’s got you feeling down?”

“I know I shouldn’t be getting all this out on you, but I have to let this out somehow,” Kyle gulped down before feeling her fingers run along his neck slowly.

“Go ahead Kyle,” she whispered leaning forward and kissing his neck gently as he leaned in to her touch. “I don’t mind listening.”

“Well,” he began before cut off by the lump in his throat, “Jade is missing, no one can find her…no one.”

“Have you tried the police?” she questioned backing up quickly slightly worried as she saw him nod. “They are already helping…they think Cameron has something to do with it.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” she declared nodding before giving her attention back to Kyle. “Keep going.”

“Well, that’s the thing that I have been so busy with and I kind of got myself into trouble,” Kyle informed her with a frown, “Brant kind of got me out.”

“What do you mean you got yourself in trouble?” she wondered watching him shift in his seat uneasily before resting his elbows against his knees.

“I almost,” Kyle began not wanting to think of how he acted, “I hurt someone Sarah…I really hurt someone. I almost killed him.”

“You are kidding right?” Sarah wondered with a tiny laugh watching him stand up quickly. “Oh my god, what happened.”

“I caught him and Avery in a conversation and, I heard that he raped her,” Kyle looked away from her as she rested her hands against his muscular shoulders. “I felt like I could keep going Sarah…I really did.”

“Who was it?” she wondered watching him look back at her before biting down on his lip. “It was Blake’s brother, Ken.”

“Ken?” she questioned surprised seeing him nod. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, I just don’t know what I am feeling right now,” Kyle replied looking down at his hands, “I had his blood covered on my hands…my shirt. That happened once Sarah…I never wanted it to happen again.”

“Come here,” she frowned pulling him down into a hug, “You were protecting Avery…you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I had no conscience Sarah, nothing to stop me from killing him,” Kyle whispered feeling her hand run up his spine lightly, “I don’t want to ever feel that way again.”

“You wont,” she hushed making him look at her, “You are fine and he is too. I love you and I know you are a wonderful man so don’t think anything different.”

“I love you too,” he smiled running his hand along her cheek lightly before kissing her gently, “I don’t know how I would live without you.”

“Well, I don’t think you are going to be losing me anytime soon,” Sarah breathed against his lips, “I plan on being with you for a very long time.”

“I know, but before something big happens between us,” Kyle sighed shaking his head slowly, “I have to change my ways and be a better man for you. I can only imagine how Blake feels about this whole thing right now.”

“You are a perfect man,” she assured him before leading him back to sit down on the couch. “With Blake, I don’t think she will be mad at you.”

“Yeah,” Kyle laughed before shaking her head slowly, “Hey Kyle, you almost killed my brother, let’s go have breakfast with Sarah.”

“It’s not that bad Kyle,” Sarah tried to assuage his worries about what had happened.

“No Sarah,” he sighed heavily remorse and regret filling his tired eyes, “It’s worse.”


“I can’t stand seeing him hurting like this,” Blake confessed more so to herself above anything else as she and Diane stood with one another in Seth’s kitchen. Diane looked out to where Seth and Ben were talking to one another before she nodded as well.

“Seth and Jade are so very close, so I know this has to be killing him. Hell, it’s killing me to think that my best friend is out there and no one knows anything about where she is,” Diane felt a shiver race through her body. “It just feels so wrong.”

“I know,” Blake nodded in agreement, “I mean at this point the police should’ve heard something.”

“Though they say sometimes no news is good news. If someone hurt Jade…” Diane trailed off fearing that the worst could’ve fell upon her best friend in the world. Almost as soon as the thought hung over her, Diane tried to shake it off. “No, I can’t think like that. They are going to find her.”

“They have to,” Blake added not wanting to let any negative thoughts hinder their hopes for Jade returning. She looked out into the living room again thinking about how hard this was on her fiancé and her heart broke in two. She couldn’t hear what he and Ben were talking about, but given the expression on their faces, she knew that it was about Jade’s disappearance.

“I just never thought that this could happen. I mean if Ben and I hadn’t been gone, then Jade might not have been alone and…” Diane started feeling guilt sweep in over her.

“Seth and I were with her right before all of this happened. There was no indication that she was in any kind of danger, but now in retrospect,” Blake shook her head feeling a chill creep in over her spine. “I just wish that we would’ve stayed here.”

“Judging by what everyone has said, I don’t doubt the psycho that came in here would’ve stopped until they had her,” Diane turned to look at Blake, “What scares me more is the idea of what they could be doing to her right now.”

“Hopefully this is all a misunderstanding and Jade will come walking through that door soon,” Blake replied hating to think of what could happen the longer that Jade was missing.

“I wish it were that easy, but…” Diane began hoping that her intuition about her friend being in grave danger was wrong, but before she could try to talk herself out of the way she felt, she heard her phone ringing in her pocket. Instinctively she reached for it, pulling it to her ear and answering in a haste, “Jade?”

“Nope, sorry love,” JT’s voice carried over the line, “I’m afraid I can’t help you with that one.”

“What do you want?” Diane questioned harshly looking over to Blake before turning away, “Now is not a good time.”

“If I believed you every time you said that, then we might be in some trouble Diane,” JT slurred with an air of amusement in his voice, “I missed you and I was hoping that we could get together later.”

“That’s completely out of the question,” Diane hissed into the phone feeling a moment of panic sweep over her.

“Oh now Diane, after that heavenly night we spent together, you don’t really expect me to just go away, do you?” JT questioned in a delightfully wicked tone.

“That would be nice,” she replied with a small groan hoping that she could keep it together now that Blake was in the room clearly listening to her every word.

“And it would be completely out of the question. I want to see you--tonight,” JT insisted firmly, not bending on the issue.

“I’m sorry, but it’s not going to happen,” Diane replied cutting him off abruptly and hanging up the phone.

“Everything okay?” Blake questioned watching Diane’s body seemingly tense up after the call.

“Oh yeah, it was nothing,” Diane waved her hand at Blake dismissively, “That was just my sister. She likes to cause drama in her life and I just wasn’t in the mood for it right now with all that we’re having going on with Jade. You understand.”

“Sure,” Blake nodded watching Diane quickly exit the kitchen to go join Ben and Seth again. While she heard what Diane was saying, something about the way Diane had said it left Blake to wonder. Perhaps there was more going on than Diane wanted to own up to. Blake had thought she’d heard a man’s voice over the cell phone, but at the same time Blake realized that now wasn’t the time to harp on Diane. Right now all that mattered was helping Seth hold it together until Jade came home. That’s what was really, truly important.


“Come in,” Diego called out as someone closed the door behind them making him look up. “Hey Shannon.”

“Diego,” she smiled before taking a seat across from him, “I was wondering if we could possibly talk.”

“Sure,” Diego nodded not really feeling up to talking right now, but Shannon was his friend…he had to, “What did you want to talk about?”

“Well, it is about Don,” she answered as he shook his head slowly knowing that was coming, “We have had some trouble lately.”

“What about?” Diego questioned trying to help her so she could finally try and set things straight with the guy.

“Well he keeps trying to tell me something and then work keeps calling him and he leaves,” she informed him as Diego nodded understandingly, “I am starting to get tired of it.”

“Well, he is a doctor,” Diego pointed out before watching her take in a deep breath, “You should give the man some slack a bit. Work is important.”

“That’s not the only thing though,” she shot out making him listen, “He treats me like I am his own. He doesn’t want me to be around any man. He gets worried every time I am.”

“Can you blame him?” Diego wondered seeing her raise an eyebrow not knowing what he is getting at. “I mean he is trying to be a good husband…that’s what they do.”

“Yeah, but it is too much,” Shannon replied before closing her eyes, “He is getting to be too much to handle…I mean some things are good, really good.”

“I don’t want to know,” Diego held his hands up in the air cutting her off before thinking of what he should say, “Have you tried to talk to him?”

“Every time we try to talk, that stupid phone always rings,” she exclaimed before shaking her head slowly, “It’s like he is always working.”

“You mean like you?” he wondered looking at the displeased look on her face. “I think overall you should just cut the guy a break.”

“A break? What do you mean by a break?” she questioned quickly seeing him moving his hands around in the air.

“I mean actually give the guy a chance, don’t fight him all the time,” he suggested before shrugging, “Try and love him.”

“I totally agree with that,” Shannon let him know before standing up, “It is easier said that done.”

“Well, I think you can do it,” he pointed out before wiggling his eyebrow slowly, “Part of me already thinks you are in love with this guy.”

“Alright Diego,” she cut him off loudly before hearing him laugh gently, “I will think about what you said.”


“Ken stop,” Carly pleaded pulling away from the kiss as she felt her emotions getting the best of her. Breathlessly she took a step back trying to still the racing of her heart as she looked at the face of a man she’d found herself falling for. Thinking about how much he’d come to mean to her only made this situation worse now that she knew what she had to do. She tried to find the right words, but in that moment nothing seemed right--nothing felt like it would ever be right and all that came out was a small whimper.

“Carly, I love you. Please…” Ken begged watching her pull further away from him.

“I can’t do this,” she started clenching her purse at her side. She turned to the door knowing she had to get out of the room before her heart betrayed her.

“Carly,” Ken stumbled out of the hospital bed hoping to stop her from leaving, but instead he was prevented from leaving by Don’s broad shoulders before him.

“Going somewhere?” Don questioned arching a curious brow as he looked to Ken.

“If you’ll get the hell out of my way I can,” Ken snarled up at him, “I need to go find Carly.”

“Ah, let me guess. She’s the one who just ran out of here in tears, right?” Don shook his head at Ken. “Ken, don’t you think you’ve done enough?”

“Don’t you dare judge me Leveski,” Ken spat back at him, “I need to…”

“She’s gone Ken,” Don informed him bluntly, “I saw her get onto the elevator right before I stepped into the room here.”

“I could’ve reached her,” Ken replied with an icy glare.

“And said what? Ken, what could you do right now to possibly rectify this situation you’ve put yourself into?” Don questioned watching Ken backpedal towards the bed in a pout, “How could you possibly have made this situation easier on her or anyone else at this point?”

“Why the hell are you here,” Ken snarled at him. “Let me guess my ever so caring brother dropped you a fat check to step in and see just how miserable I am right now so that you could give him a full report later. I mean let’s face it, we both know Brant just loves to gloat.”

“Brant’s not gloating about this one,” Don replied with yet another frown, “and if you’d stop behaving like a two year old who had his toy taken from him during play time, you might actually be making progress with your life instead of being stuck in this rut.”

“What do you know,” Ken huffed folding his arms in front of his chest.

“You mean other than you made an enemy out of more than half of the people in your life?” Don threw back at him, “Oh I don’t know…that maybe once you used to be a pretty decent guy--a guy who didn’t take advantage of women or use people and their emotions to prey upon them. You used to be someone that I admired--a man who could and would do everything he could to save the world.”

“Yeah well that man died a long time ago,” Ken glared over at Don once again, “What you see is what you get and if you don’t like it, then too damn bad.”

“Hey, it’s not up to me to like it or not, but it’s up to you to have to live with it,” Don shrugged his shoulders before taking a step forward, “Judging by Carly’s reaction in running out of here and also by the look on your face when she’d left, I think it’s safe to say that you don’t like the man you’ve become either. Especially now that it’s cost you everything.”

“Since when did you take up being a damn shrink?” Ken snarled back at him, “If I wanted your opinion, I would’ve asked for it, but since I haven’t asked, well then I hope you see I’m not interested in your free advice. You can take that and a ‘go to hell’ back to Brant with you on your way out.”

“You know Ken, you’re blowing it,” Don warned him once again wanting nothing more than to knock some sense into the stubborn man before him, “If you don’t try to change your ways soon, there may never be any turning back. You might never get the second chances that you’ve been taking for granted up to this point.”

“I don’t need second chances,” Ken spat back at him, “Just like I don’t need to be harassed by you.”

“Fine, then when the day comes when you see yourself in the mirror staring at the pathetic excuse for a man that you’ve become, well you can think back to this moment--think back to everyone you’ve hurt and how you could’ve changed your fate, but you were too damn stubborn to do it. Ken, the doors are closing around you and if you don’t own up to your actions and take some responsibility for them, not only could you lose your freedom, but you’re going to be a bitter old man alone and miserable and there won’t be a way to change that. You’ll have lost everything and the only one you will be able to blame for that is yourself.”

“I don’t want to hear it,” Ken snapped back at him, turning to look away from where Don stood.

“Maybe not, but it’s about time that people stopped tap dancing around the issue with you Ken. I’m not your doctor, nor am I your family, but I did at one time consider you a friend, so if you’re not going to listen to me for any other reason, then at least let me have five minutes of your time because of that. At least try to listen to me because of the friendship we had a while ago--you know back when you were a man who was worth more than anyone could’ve imagined--back when you weren’t so damn bitter…”

“If this is about Brant--about him and Avery…” Ken warned not quite sure of Don’s motivation.

“This isn’t about Brant or Avery. This is about you Ken and about how I want to help you find that part of yourself that you felt died with Caitlin. Look I’ll admit that I didn’t know her, but I know how this feels. I know what it’s like to have your heart ripped out of your chest when the woman you love more than life itself is taken from this world. I know what you’re going through and that monster that’s eating away at your insides--hell, I’ve seen him first hand. I’ve been down in it Ken and that’s why I can say with a clear conscience that there was a point in my life that I wasn’t far from where you are. I know what it’s like to feel so full of hatred and bitterness and I know how ugly that can be.”

“Don, I don’t think that…” Ken opened his mouth to protest, but found himself at a loss.

“Ken, I know where you’re at and where this can take you and if you don’t at least hear me out, well I’m afraid for what could happen to you. As much as you want to shut the world out right now, you have to believe me when I tell you that the last thing I want for you--for anyone is to watch this thing bowl you over without a fighting chance. Please--for me…at least give us time to talk…”

Ken remained silent for a long time thinking about what Don had said to him. On one hand right now Ken didn’t want to hear it, yet on another he knew only too well that Don was one of the few people in this world who wasn’t about to sugar coat the situation. Sure it had been a while since they’d talked, but maybe just maybe he could find it in him to listen--at least for a little while.

“Fine, you’ve got five minutes, but only because of the past,” Ken warned him cautiously, “not a minute more.”

“Fine because in five minutes I hope that what I have to say to you can help you from making the mistakes that could destroy your future from here on out,” Don replied feeling a moment of relief pass over him. He eyed Ken for a long moment seeing just how far his friend had fallen, but in that moment more than anything else Don wanted to find a way to reach out to him before it was too late.


“That’s great,” Dave smiled excitedly, “So you are working over here as a teacher?”

“Yeah,” she nodded before shrugging, “I just have always loved children.”

“I remember you saying that you wanted to be a teacher when you were younger…and now you are,” Dave reminded her before laughing, “I am so happy for you.”

“Thanks,” she smiled before hearing a knock on his office door, “You should get that.”

Before he could even say the person could come in, he saw Patrick walking through the door quickly.

“Dave we…” Patrick cut himself off at the sight of the woman before him, “Well, hello.”

“Hi,” Cory laughed watching Dave wave his hand around before standing up.

“I will be right back Cory,” Dave winked before pulling Patrick out in the hallway and shutting the door behind him.

“What the hell do you think you are doing gawking at her like that?” Dave questioned angrily before seeing Patrick laugh.

“Damn man, she is so hot,” Patrick declared before running his hand through his hair, “Where did you find a fine piece of meat like that?”

“Don’t talk about her like that man,” Dave demanded pressing Patrick against the wall roughly.

“Sorry man, I didn’t know she was going out with you,” Patrick apologized as Dave laughed.

“She is my little sister Pat,” Dave informed him before holding his hand against his neck.

“Damn you have a hot sister,” Patrick sighed before feeling Dave dig his hand into his neck.

“I swear if you even look at Cori, I will make sure that little Patrick never makes it to see the light again,” Dave hissed before letting Patrick go.

“Alright,” Patrick agreed before straightening his jacket breathing in deeply.

“Don’t even think or talk about her,” Dave demanded pointing to Patrick watching Patrick quickly walk down the hallway not wanting to deal with anything else.

“What was that all about?” Cori questioned seeing Dave come back into the room.

“Oh nothing, just some stupid guy that works for me,” Dave replied before shrugging, “He had some stupid question.”


“Avery wait,” Brant called out after his wife discovering her stomping towards the limousine that was waiting for her in the circle drive. He saw her speed up upon hearing him and in that moment he knew that he had to fix things--to make it right before everything that happened blew up in their faces, “Avery please.”

“Forget it Brant. I think you said it all back there,” Avery insisted wrenching open the door to the limo before the driver could step out to assist her.

“Avery stop,” Brant marched up aside of her pulling on the door just enough to get in her way from entering. He stood before her, his brown eyes full of urgency as he spoke to her, “Don’t go.”

“Why not?” she questioned biting back on her own tears, “I’m not doing you any good in being here. It’s obvious that the longer I’m here the harder this is on you.”

“No, it’s not hard on me at all. We’ve just had more than our fair share of situations to deal with lately and it’s just been getting to me,” Brant confessed with a heavy sigh.

“Because of me--because of what I’ve done. Yes, I know all about it since Heather finds every excuse to remind me of what a horrible wife I’ve been to you,” Avery tried to push past him into the limo, “Brant, it’s really better this way. Just let me go.”

“No,” he shook his head firmly, “I’m not letting you go anywhere. Avery, you can’t leave.”

“I can and I will,” she argued with him, tilting her head up to look at his face, “It’s for the best.”

“No, it’s not,” Brant shook his head refusing to budge on the issue, “We’ve both been so stressed lately that…”

“That I’m driving you insane. Brant if I stay here with Heather, then I swear to you I’m going to kill her. I’ve already had more than I can handle and this isn’t going to work for me,” she confessed feeling her trembling words pass from her lips, “This isn’t going to be right for any of us with her and I living under the same roof.”

“Then screw Heather,” Brant threw his hands up in the air, “My helping her isn’t worth destroying my marriage. Damn it Avery. Don’t you know by now that you’re what matters? That you are everything to me and I’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy.”

“Including going against what you feel in your heart you must do, right?” Avery shook her head at him fighting to suppress the tears that carried over her, “Just go back inside Brant. I’m leaving.”

“No, you aren’t,” Brant argued with her watching as the limo driver eyed them intently. Brant glanced more completely over at the guy before offering up a nod, “Mrs. Ashford won’t be needing your services tonight. You can go now.”

“No, Brant…I’m leaving. I want to…” Avery started feeling him reach out to her, scooping down just enough to pull her over his shoulder in a whooping sweep.

“As I said Mrs. Ashford won’t be needing your services tonight,” Brant informed the driver again before marching up the steps to the mansion.

“Brant, put me down,” she shouted, her voice vibrating through the foyer as he carried her in from the cool afternoon.

“No, I’m sorry, but that simply isn’t an option right now,” Brant shook his head emphatically before continuing down his path with her. “Right now we both need to cool down and if you’re not going to be anything but stubborn than it’s up to me to fix this one.”

“Brant, I mean it,” Avery looked up enough to see the hall passing by behind them. She felt Brant speeding up as he carried her along through the kitchen out onto the back porch. She felt the wind press in over her face before she curled her fingers around his shoulder in the hopes of holding on. He quickened his pace taking a swift stride in moving down the patio steps before moving out towards the gardens. “Brant put me down now!”

“No,” Brant replied stoically before coming to an abrupt halt. He squeezed her tighter before letting out a small breath, “Just remember this is for your own good.”

Without any further notice Brant released Avery sending her flying into the icy water of the swimming pool that he stood beside. She felt the cold water attack her like tiny little daggers as she went under. Shock registered over her body before she sprung up from underneath the surface ready to strangle her husband. Looking around, she searched the patio area for him, but was only met by the sounds of splashing in the distance. Turning towards the source of the sound, she could see ripples of water skimming over the surface, but no sign of Brant.

“You stupid son of a…” she began to curse only to feel a slight tug on her left leg.

Drawing in a breath, she felt herself go under. She opened her eyes she saw Brant beside her wrapping his arms around her and holding her closer yet. His mouth moved in over hers beneath the clear water and she felt herself returning the kiss, feeling the warmth of him heat her up in the otherwise frigid swimming pool. Seconds later the two surfaced immersing with one another in the center of the pool, both trembling with the chill that surrounded them.

“I’m sorry to have to do that, but desperate times call for equally desperate measures,” Brant informed her watching her lower lip tremble. He urged her into his arms more completely feeling no resistance on her end as he maintained his hold on her, “We both needed to cool down.”

“You’re an ass. I hope you realize that,” she shot back at him sarcastically, “and this, well this was…”

He moved forward, cutting her off with another kiss, this time, he took his time in planning this one out. It began with a soft, subtle sweep over her mouth before he focused on nibbling at her lower lip, teasing his teeth over her lips in a gentle nip. He felt her shivering come to a stop as she squeezed her arms around his neck, riding the waves that surrounded them while their kiss continued. Slowly, his fingers moved through her dark hair, giving her the opportunity to end the kiss or expand upon it if she wanted to. Luckily she chose the latter as she greedily devoured his lips, seemingly lost in the taste of him until they’d both parted breathless.

“I love you,” he whispered gazing into her dark eyes as they moved along the pool, the water lapping up around them with each movement they made.

“You’re insane. You know that, don’t you?” she questioned in all seriousness, despite the fact that her insides were dancing like the butterflies in her stomach at the warmth of his body against hers.

“I’m just crazy for you baby,” he revealed leaning in to kiss her once again.

“Oh no, it’s not going to be that easy for you,” she shook her head wiggling out of his hold on her. He reached out for her catching her sweater as she quickly sped off across the pool.

“Feisty are you,” Brant couldn’t help but smile knowing that the games had begun between him and his wife. Quickly he dropped under the water shedding his own shirt before chasing off after her determined to claim the ultimate prize waiting for him at the other end of the pool.

“Avery,” Brant spoke her name rising up from beneath the water only to discover her pants hanging haphazardly over the side of the pool. He reached for them, wondering where she’d drifted off to in such a hurry.

“Over here,” she replied calling to him from the hot tub area. From where he stood in the shallow end of the pool, he could see her sitting there, waiting for him with a certain sparkle behind her eyes.

“What are you doing over there?” he questioned tossing her slacks aside before moving in towards where she sat, her arms draped over the side of the hot tub.

“You didn’t honestly expect me to freeze my ass off in there, did you?” she questioned with a slow smile spreading over her beautiful, damp features.

“I guess not, but in the same respect I hope you left some room in that hot tub for me,” Brant began to pull himself out of the water.

“Why don’t you come over and look,” she suggested patting the seat beside her.

“I don’t mind if I do,” Brant marched towards her, watching the way she shifted around in the water. He moved forward ready to join her before she wiggled her finger at him.

“Nope, not yet. You can’t come in here unless you get rid of those,” she motioned to his pants.

“These old things?” he questioned teasing his finger over the top of his water drenched pants.

“Yep,” she leaned over the side once again in a moment of heavy scrutiny over him, “that’s an absolute must if you plan on joining me in here.”

“In that case,” Brant unzipped his pants dropping them down to his ankles and kicking out of them, “I aim to please.”

“So far so good,” she nodded watching him intently, “but you’re not all the way there yet. You’ve still got a bit of a ways to go.”

“Is that right?” he questioned taking note of the wicked smirk that spread over her features. Not being one to argue with his wife especially when she had such a tempting idea in mind, he did as requested and slid out of his boxers. Once he’d finished the task at hand, he stood taller, holding his arms out to give her a full inspection of him, “better now?”

“Much,” she nodded curling her finger in invitation to allow him access to join her. “Come on in.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Brant moved in closer to the hot tub carefully maneuvering himself in over the side to get in with her. He placed his foot into the water before cringing slightly, “Avery this is freezing.”

“I know,” she laughed lightly reaching out to pull him inside with her in one swift motion.

“But…I…” he began at a loss feeling his body assaulted by the cold water that now surrounded him. “I thought you came in here to warm up.”

“I’m pregnant,” she reminded him pointedly before moving in closer to him, “I’m not supposed to be using hot tubs during that time. I’ve read that there is some research indicating that it’s not a smart idea.”

“So you thought shocking me like this was better,” he questioned with wide eyes finding it difficult to adjust to the water as it felt even colder than it had in the pool itself.

“Actually, I figured we’d find our own ways to heat one another up better than what we might’ve normally had in here,” she explained bending down a bit underneath the water. She smiled at him, feeling the water up to her neck before she balled up her undergarments in her fist and tossed them at him, hitting him square across the chest. She saw the surprise spread over his features before she moved in closer to him, “Now we’re even.”

“Are we,” he questioned reaching for her bra as it floated on top of the water.

“I’d like to think so,” she nodded in confession, her words coming out in a small breath of a whisper before he pulled her into his arms.

“We’ll just see about that,” he replied kissing her with a newfound eagerness. His hands dipped down beneath the water feeling no barriers between them other than the smooth, silken lines of her body. He felt his own pulse racing, his heart skip a beat as he pulled her to him, feeling the raw heat of her brazen body against his. Their lips parted, their eyes connecting as he watched her take in a shivering inhale.

“Avery, are you sure about this,” he had to ask wondering if he’d somehow slipped into his own fantasy land that he’d done time and time again in the past when he’d thought about their being together.

“What do you think,” she questioned pushing him back onto the seat inside the hot tub before straddling his lap. She reached for his hand, bringing it up over her body, up over the curves that he’d coveted for so very long. He could feel the goose bumps over her body, the breath of anticipation creep in over her now parted lips and as the water that surrounded them seemed to spark the fire burning between them, he knew that this was it. There would be no turning back.

“Be with me Brant,” she mouthed feeling his fingers fan out over her hip, sliding out over her thigh.

He hesitated briefly before directing her up over his body now throbbing with need. Their eyes connected once again and after a few minor adjustments, he guided her body over his, bringing them to a complete union at long last.

“Brant,” she whispered his name, a slow erotic breath breaking free from her lips as he filled her completely. She arched her body back ever so slightly to rock herself further onto him and in that moment he found himself mesmerized by the vision before him. This was everything he’d wanted, everything he’d dreamt about and minutes after he’d feared he’d lose her forever, here she was with him, making love to him at long last.

Reaching out to touch her Brant felt no words that could completely define what he was feeling as their bodies came together for the first time. He felt her reach for his hand, directing it up over her shapely curves before she took his index finger into her mouth, suckling on the tip while grinding her body over his. Instinctively he guided the movement in her hips, rising her up over him only to have her come crashing down upon him over and over again.

“Mmm…” she purred releasing his hand so that he could use both hands for leverage while she scratched her hands down over his shoulders, down his back guiding him along with her body’s intensified movements.

“You’re perfect--so perfect,” Brant mouthed devouring her lips as their bodies moved in unison, sending them both to new places together--to places that Brant had only found himself imagining before now. Whether or not this was how he’d wanted it--how he’d planned for them to ultimately come together, this was how it was finally happening for them. No setups, no ridiculous plotting, just the raw, pure passion that had brought them together at long last. It was primal, wild, uninhibited and absolutely perfect--all except for the fact that their first time together wasn’t happening without outside interference.

“Enjoy it while you can because it’s all about to come to an ending--very soon,” the man in the bushes vowed taking a moment longer to watch the two new lovers completely engrossed with one another before slipping out of sight once again.


...to be continued...