Episode 198

“Kyle, you can’t blame yourself every time something bad happens,” Sarah frowned grabbing his hands in hers, “You are your own worst enemy.”

“You know, I would believe that,” Kyle nodded slowly before taking in a deep breath, “If it didn’t happen to everyone I loved.”

“Kyle, I am so sorry,” Sarah apologized hating to see that way everything ate him up inside. “I hate to see you like this.”

“Sarah, I choose to go through it,” he replied reaching his hand up and caressing her cheek gently. “I could have left Coral Valley a long time ago.”

“What has been keeping you here so long then?” Sarah questioned leaning into his touch.

“Well, I guess you could say it was my strong will to help my friends,” Kyle answered before closing the distance between them, “Or even more…the love I have for you.”

Before Sarah could respond to what he said, Kyle leaned forward capturing her lips in a savory kiss. His hand ran through her silky hair slowly as he deepened their kiss.

“Kyle,” Sarah gasped as he wrapped his arms around her and picked her off the couch, holding her in his arms, “What are you doing?”

“Something I should have done a long, long time ago,” Kyle smiled kissing her once more as she wrapped her arms around his neck, “I don’t want to wait anymore.”

With that said, he carried her to the bedroom before kicking the door shut with his foot. He laid her down on the bed before getting above her slowly.

“I love you so much,” Kyle whispered before leaning down and kissing her deeply.

If it wasn’t for Sarah, he wouldn’t be able to exist. He had to show her how much she meant to him. He couldn’t live without her to be right beside him. As he held her in his arms, all his worries seemed to fade. He felt her hands slowly pull his shirt up his abdomen before moving back, giving her room to pull his shirt over his head and drop it to the ground. Her fingers ran across the tight ripple of muscle in his abdomen as he kissed her. As she reached his ribs, he winced jumping back in pain.

“Are you okay?” she questioned sitting up moving his hands away from his ribs.

“Yeah, I just think I have a broken rib,” Kyle growled in pain as she ran her fingers over his rib. “Don’t worry I am okay.”

“How did you do that?” she wondered as he bit down on his lip roughly shaking his head.

“It doesn’t matter, it was just a fight I got in when I was at the island,” he informed her seeing the worried look on her face, “Don’t worry…it’s ancient history.”

“You should really get a doctor to look at that,” she insisted as he shook his head. “At least let me wrap you up or something.”

“Maybe later,” he winked before leaning forward and kissing her deeply, “The only thing I want to be wrapped up in right now is your arms.”

“Are you sure you are feeling good enough to do this?” she questioned feeling his hands tug her shirt over her head.

“I am more than okay,” he assured her as he slowly leaned her back before kissing the heated skin of her neck gently.

Her hands slowly pulled open the button of his jeans as she felt his warm mouth at the base of her neck. His heart began to race as he looked up at her slowly. He hesitantly raised his hand up to the clip in the front of her bra unhooking it gently.

“You are beautiful,” Kyle whispered taking one last look at her body before pressing his body against hers.

She could feel the heat radiating from his body as he kissed her lips slowly taking in the sweet taste of her mouth. His hand grasped onto hers gently before deepening his kiss. Sarah laughed against his lips as she heard his cell phone begin to ring.

“You have to be kidding me,” Kyle growled taking in a deep breath before tracing kisses up and down her neck once more.

“You should really get that,” Sarah urged him to only hear him groan not wanting to.

“Not now,” Kyle looked up at her frowning as he shook his head, “I don’t think anything else could be this important.”

“What if it’s Grady who is telling you that he found Jade,” Sarah pointed out watching Kyle roll his eyes and sluggishly sit up on the edge of the bed before answering the phone.

“Houston,” Kyle grunted before feeling Sarah wrap her arms around his muscular shoulders tightly.

“Kyle, it’s Susan,” Susan informed him to only hear a sigh of disgust behind his voice.

“Oh, it’s you,” Kyle groaned sounding a bit muffled as he pulled Sarah into his lap kissing her deeply.

“Am I interrupting something?” Susan questioned to only hear Sarah and Kyle laughing loudly as he kissed her.

“You kind of caught me with my hands full,” he informed Susan as Sarah laughed as he kissed her once more. “What was it you wanted Susan?”

“Well, if you don’t have time for this,” Susan began angrily shrugging her shoulders, “You don’t have to know.”

“If you insist,” Kyle laughed not really paying attention to what she was saying as Sarah began to kiss his neck slowly.

“Kyle,” Susan shot out trying to catch his attention knowing that something was going on…something she didn’t like, “I need you to come over here.”

“Why would I do that?” he questioned tilting his neck slowly. “I am kind of busy right now.”

“Well, I figured you might want to know what I found out about Jade,” Susan informed him before starting up again, “I know where she might be and I think I need you to be over here.”

“Are you being serious?” Kyle questioned seeing Sarah look at him watching him frown. “Are you really being serious? If you aren’t…I swear.”

“I am not lying to Kyle,” Susan spat before shaking her head, “This isn’t a game we are playing here.”

“Fine,” Kyle finally gave in after Sarah slid out of his arms, “I’ll be there in a couple.”

“Great,” Susan smiled with a job well done, “I will see you here in a little bit.”

Kyle said nothing as he hung up his phone before throwing it on the dresser. He turned around to see Sarah putting her shirt back on.

“You have to go,” she sighed seeing him nod, “I understand…it’s okay.”

“Are you sure,” he questioned standing up and zipping his jeans back up seeing her nod. “Promise we can finish this later?”

“I promise,” she laughed as he kissed her passionately, “Before you do anything else though…you said I can wrap you up.”

“I did didn’t I?” Kyle questioned with a frown as she pulled him into the bathroom taking something out of the cabinet.

“Lift your arms up,” she ordered as he did so and she began to wrap something around his ribs watching him close his eyes in pain. “Are you ever going to tell me what happened?”

“I might,” Kyle smiled before putting his arms down, “If you are good enough.”

“If that’s how you want to play,” she shrugged handing him his shirt watching him pulling it down his abdomen slowly.

“I will be back later,” he promised pulling her into his arms slowly, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she smiled as he gave her one last kiss before slowly letting her go and walking out of the room.

Now Kyle was off to find out what kind of crap Susan was playing now. He couldn’t believe he left Sarah like that, Susan needed to have a really good reason for making him come over.


Diego got up from his seat tiredly after Shannon had just left. He was so exhausted from everyone and everything. He pulled his desk drawer open grabbing his keys before hearing a knock at his door.

“Come in,” he yelled out thinking it would be Shannon coming back to give him her thoughts.

“Did I catch you at a bad time?” Beth questioned as he looked up at her shaking his head.

“No, I was just about to go get some fresh air, but it can wait,” Diego replied taking in a deep breath, “What is it that I can do for you?”

“I just wanted to come and say that I was sorry for my actions the other night,” Beth apologized biting on her lower lip, “I was coming to thank you for not holding it against me.

“It’s okay,” Diego hushed her holding his hands up in the air, “It happens all the time.”

“I know, but I think I was just acting that way because I am so worried about Sam,” Beth informed him with a frown before seeing him nod slowly.

“I fully understand what you mean,” Diego assured her before taking in a deep breath, “When someone you love is hurt, you do tend to do a lot of things you don’t mean to.”

“I’m glad you see it that way,” she sighed in relief as he stood up, “I just don’t know how I would take losing her.”

“You won’t,” Diego assure her with a frown, “Everyone has that fear, but I promise she will be okay.”

“Thanks,” she smiled before seeing him grab his jacket from the couch, “You should probably get that fresh air now.”

“Yeah, I will talk to you later?” Diego questioned seeing her nod as he opened the door. “You mind shutting the door after you leave here?”

“No problem,” she nodded with a grin watching him walk down the hallway.

As she watched him, her mind drifted to the thought that he was friends with Jenna. Maybe, she could find a way to get through Diego to help her so she could get Hart…just maybe.


Jenna stepped into her apartment tossing her keys across the hall towards the end table before her. When they flew beyond their mark, she cursed under her breath feeling as if the day was only going further downhill than it had been when she was talking with her father. How a man with so much in his life--with so many accomplishments be so damn stupid about things? That in itself had Jenna’s emotions tangled in knots in the center of her stomach.

Just thinking about what she’d walked in on had her beyond the point of irritated, yet she knew that now wasn’t the time to let it out. Right now she just needed to find Hart, to crawl into bed with him and feel his arms around her. He’d know how to talk her down. He’d know how to make the way she was feeling go away. She was sure of it and while her anger boiled inside of her, she moved through the apartment determined to have him help her out of this moment she’d felt weighing upon her.

“Hart,” Jenna called his name needing to look into his eyes--to see his smiling face to make what was going on inside of her go away, but as she moved through her apartment she was met by an altogether foreign sound. First she’d heard a laugh, then another that followed, but the first, well it hadn’t belonged to Hart. The second had, but the first was…

“Jen, there you are,” Hart’s voice beckoned her once she’d rounded the corner of the hallway to see him seated on the couch. Her eyes passed over the room to the source of the first laugh and it was then that she spotted Devante in one of the small chairs.

“Jenna, hey, how’s it going?” Devante waved at her before turning to Hart with a small laugh, “You’re right. She looks stunned.”

“I told you she would be,” Hart moved forward reaching out to draw Jenna in his arms. He kissed her tenderly before moving to tuck a strand of her dark hair behind her ear gently, “I missed you.”

“I missed you too, but…” Jenna found herself at a loss as she eyed Devante once again, “What are you doing here?”

“I came to check in on you, but then Hart and I got to talking and well, I guess we just got carried away,” Devante revealed with a genuine smile, “We were just comparing horror stories.”

“You never mentioned that Devante was with the FBI once upon a time,” Hart added smiling down at Jenna.

“I didn’t think he liked talking about it,” Jenna shifted her eyes between the two of them sensing a strangeness surrounding her.

“I don’t usually, but then Hart and I got to talking and it turns out that we know a few of the same people,” Devante shrugged his shoulders before adding with a small laugh, “I guess you could say it’s a small world.”

“That it is,” Hart nodded in agreement sliding his arm around Jenna’s slender waist, “Devante and I just figured that we’d make the time pass faster in waiting for you, but then, well then I guess we decided to get to know one another a bit.”

“And you’re still laughing,” Jenna couldn’t help but offer up a relieved smile, “I think that’s a promising start.”

“It’s been fun,” Devante added before noticing the time, “Oh wow. I didn’t realize it was getting so late. I have to go.”

“So soon?” Jenna questioned curiously.

“Yeah, I’m afraid so. I promised someone that I’d meet them for a late dinner and well, if I don’t get going now, then I’m going to be very late,” Devante explained rising to his feet before moving to retrieve his coat, “But Hart we’ll have to get together again like this. It was fun.”

“It was,” Hart nodded in agreement before walking Devante to the door.

“I’ll call you later in the week Jen,” Devante waved before saying his good-byes to the both of them.

Once he’d exited Jenna couldn’t help but ask. “What was that all about?”

Hart shrugged, offering up a cryptic expression, “You said I didn’t have a thing to worry about with him.”

“And now you’re convinced?” she eyed him skeptically.

“I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I can see what you liked about him. He seems like a pretty down to earth kind of guy,” Hart added before moving in towards her.

“He is, but still when I heard you both laughing before,” she started tilting her head up to watch his eyes before she spoke up again, “It was a bit…well…I’m not sure what the right word was.”

“Refreshing perhaps?” he suggested with a wiggle of his brow. “I’ll bet that you were thinking if I was ever alone with him somewhere it would be in some kind of dark alley where I had no choice but to kick his butt there.”

“Well, that was honestly the last thing I wanted to have happen, but yeah, the thought had crossed my mind,” she replied honestly bringing her fingers in over the center of his chest, “I guess I just never expected, well this.”

“Does it disappoint you?” he questioned watching her face closely.

“No,” she shook her head, “it’s just…well surprising.”

“Hmm, well in that case, what would you say if I told you I had another surprise for you,” he questioned pulling her into his arms more completely.

“I’d say that it’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for all day,” she confessed tipping up on her toes to steal a kiss from his lips.

“I take it things with your father didn’t go so good, huh?” he noted.

“They went horrible,” she revealed with a groan, “but you know how he is. He’s not going to tell me the truth about anything. Beyond that he’s not going to stop doing what it is that he wants. He’s so stuck on himself and destroying his life right now, that he’s not thinking clearly…”

“You mean he didn’t want to talk about what you found?” Hart questioned seeing her drop her hands to her sides. He felt the tension spark off of her as she paced around the room.

“No, more like he was too engaged in the ritualistic boinking of Cameron’s assistant Thea to give a damn about what’s good for him,” Jenna spat out distastefully, “As if he’s not in enough hot water, but for him to keep carrying on with a woman like that.”

“Some men don’t know what’s good for them and even when they do, they don’t follow the guidelines on what it is that they need,” Hart offered knowing that wasn’t about to ease Jenna’s mind, but still he hated to see her so upset.

“The thing that I don’t get about it is that he knows that she’s associated with that monster. He’s well aware of what she’s capable of--of how nefarious she truly is, yet there he is ready to invite her in--to let her take control of his life and drive him under,” she grumbled.

“Yeah, well that’s his choice Jen. If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s that you can’t change a person unless they want to do it. Even then they have to change for themselves. You can’t force them to see things your way,” he explained in a reasonable tone.

“That doesn’t mean I have to like any of what’s going on. I mean do you have any idea how I felt when I saw that woman’s picture of my father? When I saw that he’d been tied to yet another murder if only in an indirect way?”

“Is that how you see it? Indirect or are you upset because you’re afraid that he was directly linked to what you witnessed on the beach,” Hart questioned sensing the tension mounting over her neck and shoulders. He moved forward to reach out to her, to try to talk her down from the fit he could feel on the verge of exploding from within.

“I honestly don’t know and that terrifies me,” Jenna confessed fighting the tears of frustration, “I mean I spent most of my life believing that my father was dead, but now that I know he’s still alive…well, what if he’s everything that my mother feared he would be? I know he has no sense of scruples, but what if he’s a murderer as well? What if I’m only making it worse in wanting to find a reason to believe that there’s some good in him?”

“Is that what you’re searching for?” he questioned touching her face lightly. He tucked his finger underneath her chin to lift her eyes to him, “The good from within?”

“I don’t know,” she sighed emphatically, “I guess in my own way I’m looking for a reason to believe. I’m looking for answers to questions I’ve had for years about him--about the man he is and about what this means to me and for me…”

“Is it the truth you’re seeking in answers that you’re looking for or rather are you hoping that somehow he fits into the mold of what you always anticipated your father to be,” he challenged watching her eyes darken with sadness, “Jen, if you’re hoping Doug was going to be like the man your father had built him up to be when he was a dead man so to speak…”

“No, that’s not it. I’m just looking for someone who is putting his priorities as they should be. I’m looking for a man who cares about his family--who loves his children and is man enough to know when to stop engaging in destructive behaviors that can take everyone in his life down with him. Is that asking too much?” she questioned feeling her resolve slipping away as a bitter tear slipped down her cheek.

“No, that’s not asking too much at all,” he replied pulling her completely into his arms. He lay his chin on top of her head feeling her body tremble within the safety of his arms, “I’m sorry that your father isn’t who you hoped he’d be.”

“I just wish that things were different--that I didn’t care or that knowing how little I rank on his list of priorities didn’t hurt so damn much,” Jenna revealed in a tiny set of sobs, “but what’s worse is that I hate that I still care even when he doesn’t deserve my concern.”

“I know sweetheart,” Hart spoke gently in an attempt to soothe her pain in the situation. He squeezed her tighter wishing that there was some easy solution to the issues Jenna kept wrestling with inside, but he knew full well that this was something that wasn’t going to be fixed overnight. All he could do was hold her and try to be the comfort she needed as her heart was breaking over a man she’d always longed to be close to, yet never was given an opportunity to truly know. Then again as Hart thought of what Douglas Mahoney truly was, he wondered if the not knowing had been a blessing in disguise as the truth seemed to only cause her more pain in the long run.


“Where the hell have you been?” Cameron questioned angrily as he jumped off his seat as Thea approached him.

“I’m sorry Cameron,” she apologized shrugging slowly, “I just got your message and I guess you could say I was just a little busy at the moment.”

“You will never be too busy when it comes to me,” Cameron demanded before shaking his head slowly. “Do you know what it is like being in this place?”

“Well, it looks like it sucks,” she pointed out hearing him laugh at her comment.

“Looks like? It does suck,” Cameron scowled before shaking his head slowly, “I want out and I want out now.”

“Listen Cam,” Thea caught his attention raising her hands up, “I will try the best I can and I will see what I can do.”

“No,” Cameron yelled out shaking his head quickly, “You are going to do better than your best.”

“Alright Cameron,” she nodded before taking in a deep breath, “I am going to do everything in my power to get you out of here.”

“That’s the way I like to hear it,” Cameron approved joyfully, “So what have you done so far?”

“Well, nothing so far,” she frowned seeing the anger growing behind his face, “But I must tell you the thing we had going with Douglas is going great.”

“You mean he is…” Cameron began seeing her nod slowly, “So your telling me that it worked out?”

“Oh, it more than worked out,” Thea insisted seeing Cameron smile widely, “I can tell you that’s going as great as it can.”

“Well, that is the least of our worries right now,” Cameron growled getting back to the subject, “Playtime is over and it is now time to start trying to get me out of here.”

“I am going to see what I can do,” she agreed before touching his hand gently, “I promise I will have you out of here soon.”

“It better be sooner than soon,” Cameron replied pulling his hand back roughly, “All this is doing is pissing me off more.”

“Once you get out of here Cameron,” Thea began slowly, “You can pay back everyone for what they did to you.”

“Believe me, I plan on it,” he promised with a wicked grin, “They wont even know what hit them.”


“This is really nice of you,” Kipp insisted looking up at Kellen, “You know taking me to lunch and everything.”

“Hey, you needed sometime to just chill and hangout,” Kellen shrugged thinking back to how stressed Kipp was earlier, “You need sometime to just have fun and not worry all the time.”

“I know that,” Kipp assured him before shaking his head slowly, “I guess you could just say that I have trouble having fun with people.”

“You seem to be doing a good job with it right now,” Kellen pointed out seeing Kipp nod taking another bite of his food.

“I guess I had to be with the right person,” Kipp declared before grinning, “A lot of the people you train should be very happy.”

“Some of them are,” Kellen bit on his bottom lip slowly, “I don’t know about the others.”

“Oh come on,” Kipp frowned hitting him in the shoulder lightly, “You even let me vent about some girl you don’t even know. You are more like a friend and less like my trainer.”

“Well, that’s always a good thing,” Kellen shrugged before thinking back to all his friends, “It is always great to have another friend to hang out with. They say that friends are the key to having happiness.”

“They say that?” Kipp wondered seeing Kellen nod. “In that case I wish I had more friends.”

“Oh come on, you have to have a lot of friends,” Kellen declared to himself, “You are such a cool person to hang out with.”

“I think that definition suits you more than it does me,” Kipp pointed out putting together all of Kellen’s good personality features, “I think I could count the number of friends I have only with about seven fingers.”

“I doubt that,” Kellen rolled his eyes before thinking about their recent conversation, “That girl you were telling me about…are you two still friends?”

“So far from it,” Kipp answered in disbelief, “I should have listened to my father when he told me she was no good.”

“Your father told you?” Kellen questioned as his mind came to a pause watching Kipp think. What was it that caught his attention so quickly?

“I guess I always kind of knew she wasn’t the right person for me, I guess I just didn’t want to believe it,” Kipp thought back to all the moments he shared with Heather before he caught Kellen staring at him wide eyed. “What? Do I have something in my teeth or something?”

“No,” Kellen stated tilting his head before snapping his fingers. “I knew that I knew you from somewhere. I just didn’t catch it that quickly.”

“You must be mistaken,” Kipp began as he slowly took in a deep breath, “I haven’t met you before the first time with Sarah.”

“I do know you Kipp,” Kellen repeated before clapping his hands together quickly. “You were at my brother’s wedding.”

“I was?” Kipp wondered seeing Kellen nod as he thought for a long second. “You’re right I was.”

“I told you,” Kellen clapped excitedly, “I remembered you face, but I didn’t remember where I met you.”

“God, look at how small the world is these days,” Kipp laughed lightly before shaking his head. “I can’t believe I really do know you. That’s really weird.”

“I know,” Kellen giggled before rubbing his hands together, “I know I never forget a face…especially one like yours.”


“Does this mean I’m forgiven,” Brant murmured in an exaggerated breath, feeling his body still very much on fire after the passion spent between him and Avery. He nibbled on her neck feeling her long, dark hair resting over his shoulder as her head lay upon his body.

“I think we’re off to a good start with that,” she revealed in a labored breath still trembling from the experience they’d just shared with one another. She sank against him, feeling her body slowly falling from the heavens after they’d found themselves caught up in play turned passionate.

“I’m all for good starts,” Brant confessed in a heated whisper dragging his lips along her neck before guiding her lips to his again. He kissed her intensely remembering only too well how perfect they’d fit together minutes earlier. Even now as he still remained a part of her--his mind and body lost inside of her, he couldn’t get over how incredible his wife truly was. In those moments they’d shared together, there was no holding back--no doubts or lingering concerns, just the pure intensity of their feelings for one another. Gently pushing her long, dark hair from her face, he gazed up at her lovingly, “Avery, you’re amazing.”

“Oh, now you’re just saying that because I finally gave you what you wanted,” she replied sheepishly, a blush rising over her features.

“I’d like to think it was something we both wanted,” he confessed guiding her lips to his in a chaste kiss despite the wildfire that they’d just felt rage out of control between them.

“It was,” she mouthed in a tantalizing breath, “it is.”

“So then you won’t be leaving me,” he questioned cautiously searching for answers behind her chocolate eyes.

“No,” she shook her head, the damp tendrils of her hair splashing the water around with the movement, “I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon except maybe up to the bedroom where we can have a little more room to work with.”

“We were kind of in some cramped quarters, weren’t we,” he laughed lightly finding himself drawn in by this newfound playfulness of hers. He squeezed her bottom lightly nudging her in closer yet before he spoke up again in all seriousness, “Though I have to admit despite us being a bit restricted, it was nice.”

“It was better than nice,” she revealed dropping down to taste the fire of his kiss once again, “It was exactly what I was hoping it would be.”

“No regrets,” he questioned cupping her face in his hands.

“No regrets,” she promised shaking her head down at him, “you?”

“Not in this lifetime,” he assured her watching as she started to tremble a bit in his arms. Feeling the winds pick up around them, he knew full well that her shivering had nothing to do with the passion they’d just experienced and everything to do with the cold chill that surrounded them. “As much as I hate to say it, maybe we should take this inside.”

“I think you’re right,” she nodded, her lower lip trembling once again. She began to pull away from him, but was stopped by the feel of his arms around her waist.

“Wait, not just yet,” he kissed her completely, offering a taste of the fire he’d had burning inside for her. The kiss in itself marked the beginnings of the warmth that their earlier union had generated inside of him and in that moment he found himself considerably more comfortable in his surroundings. “You know on second thought, maybe we should stay right here.”

“And if we do, we’re going to look like prunes by the time we’re finally finished,” Avery reminded him holding out her hand to show him the wrinkles forming on her flesh.

“Good point,” he nodded taking her hand in his and bringing her fingers to his lips to kiss in slow, deliberate movements, “as much as I love my wrinkled Avery, I’d much rather have you laid out before me in the middle of the blankets all mine for the taking.”

“Hmm, that does have a certain ring to it, doesn’t it,” Avery felt a giggle rise up in her at the thought. She leaned forward kissing him one last time before untangling her body from his.

“It sounds divine,” he replied watching her pull herself out of the water. Frozen in the moment, he watched her just taking the time to admire everything about her beautiful, naked body in the sunlight. The amber hues of the setting sun seemed to only intensify the sensuality inside of her as she turned to face him again.

“Do you have a towel around here somewhere,” she questioned immediately noting the way his eyes lingered over her curves, “Brant?”

“Huh, what?” he questioned coming out of his daze. He watched her snap her fingers at him before his gaze traveled up beyond her breasts to her face.

“I’m trying to get you to focus,” she chastised, “My clothes are soaked and we can’t just parade through the house naked. Do you have any towels around here?”

“There are a few robes over there in the cabinet,” he explained feeling a laugh tickle up over his insides at he thought of parading her through the house naked and christening a few other places in the mansion with her.

“Brant come on,” Avery urged snapping him out of his sinfully wicked fantasy long enough for him to find her already clad in a navy colored robe. She held another one out towards him, “If you don’t get out of there soon, I’m leaving you in there.”

“Like hell you are,” Brant sprang out from beneath the water to move in beside her. Curling his damp arms around her body, he pulled her flush to him before shaking his head at her, “Did you really think I was about to let you go just after things were starting to get interesting for us?”

“I was beginning to wonder if you’d changed your mind about joining me upstairs,” Avery nodded with a wicked smirk of her own before she looked down at his naked form, “Though I suppose if you’d much rather stand out here to dry off and don’t need this robe…”

“Give me that,” Brant wrenched it out of her hand, hearing the infectious sounds of her laughter overtake the moment. Quickly he slipped the robe on before he reached for Avery. Without a word he hoisted her up in his arms, making his way back towards the house in a gallant stride.

“Off to bed with you!” he announced boisterously thinking about all the ways he’d like to spend the rest of the evening taking things at a slower, more drawn out pace with his wife.

“Lead the way handsome,” Avery laughed lightly thinking about the ease at which they could be with one another after their argument had spun into something surprising for the both of them.

“Oh believe me sweetheart when I get you upstairs, I swear to you that I’m going to rock your world and then some. The hot tub was only a preview of things to come,” he boasted making galloping noises in his skip to the long, winding staircase all the while making Avery crack up at the ridiculousness of the moment.

“You’re absolutely crazy,” she shook her head at him feeling him stop at the bottom of the staircase, putting her down on her feet once again.

“Crazy over you,” he mouthed, bringing his fingers through her dark hair and kissing her urgently, feeling the memory of their union only too well fresh on his mind. She threw her arms around him, backing into the stairs and pulling him in over her, completely absorbed in the moment between them until there was a loud, pounding sound from across the foyer.

“Oops,” Heather’s voice sounded, followed by a crashing sound, “I am such a klutz.”

“Heather,” Avery practically scowled feeling Brant pull away from the kiss. She looked up from where she sat on one of the steps to see Heather standing over a now shattered vase on the floor just feet from where Brant was standing.

“I’m so sorry about that,” Heather replied bringing her hand up to her face, “I thought I’d heard someone come in and well, it was kind of dark in here, so I just, well I wasn’t paying too much attention to where I was going and…”

“No harm done,” Brant waved his hand at her dismissively finding himself in far too good of a mood to care about what it was that Heather had done. “Just tell someone and I’m sure they’ll clean it up shortly.”

“Well actually,” Heather began taking a step forward as she noticed Brant and Avery’s state of undress. Her gaze narrowed in over Avery before she turned her attention to Brant again, “I was hoping I could speak with you about these.”

“About what?” he questioned watching her hold up a few papers in hand.

“I’ve been reading these over and there’s a lot here that I just don’t understand,” Heather started twirling a lock of her blonde hair in between her thumb and her index finger, “With so many legal terms, well it’s easy for someone to get lost in all of it. I mean given that Kipp’s a lawyer and I’m, well no where near being close to that one, I was kind of hoping that maybe just maybe you could spare a few minutes to explain some of this to me.”

“Well actually now really isn’t a good time considering that,” Brant threw out a longing look at his wife, thinking about all the plans that they’d had for one another upstairs. Quickly he turned to Heather again, “Can it wait?”

“Well, I suppose so, but, well with Kipp pushing this so fast through the courts, I’m almost afraid that if I don’t find some kind of counterstrike and soon, well it could mean the end of my relationship with my son,” Heather sighed emphatically, “but if you two are too busy to help me, then I completely understand. I mean it’s not like my son is really any of your problem there anyways.”

“Heather, that’s not what I’m saying,” Brant groaned inwardly feeling his body tense up at the guilt trip Heather was putting on him. He turned to look at Avery pleadingly. He could see the lines of tension pressing in over her brow, but in true Avery form, she pulled herself up off of the stairs and looked directly at Heather.

“Let me take a look at it,” Avery held her hand out to Heather, all the while holding her robe tighter against her nearly naked form, “I’ll see what I can make of it.”

“You would really do that for me?” Heather practically squealed doing a little jump enthusiastically, “Oh Avery, I can’t even begin to tell you how much this means to me. I know that I’ve been completely dreadful to you lately, but…”

“But it’s not a problem,” Avery cut her off not wanting to listen to anymore of Heather’s false praises. “I’ll look at them in the morning and then…”

“Oh no, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I mean if we wait until morning, well who is to say that Kipp won’t show up wanting to make sure that my son is in his custody as soon as possible?” Heather challenged motioning to a line on one of the pages, “I mean isn’t that what this is hinting at?”

Avery took a long look at it before glancing between Heather and Brant. Finally she let out a frustrated sigh, “Can I at least get dressed before we go over this?”

“Oh of course,” Heather nodded eagerly, “Brant and I can wait right here for you. Please don’t feel you have to rush.”

“Actually I think I’ll be going up with her, but we’ll be back shortly,” Brant promised watching Heather’s face twist into a frown before she quickly covered.

“Okay, then I’ll be right here in the library over there eagerly waiting for the both of you. I’ll even put some coffee on since it’ll probably be a long night,” Heather practically squealed keeping her eyes upon the newlyweds as they made their way to the bedroom.

Once inside the bedroom Brant looked to Avery apologetically, “Avery I…”

“Don’t say it,” Avery held her hand up in the air to silence him, “I really hate that woman, but on some level I see your point. I just don’t want her sticking around longer than necessary.”

“Hey, if you want her to wait until tomorrow, then I’m all for it. I have no problems pushing her crisis aside in the name of our spending some alone time with one another,” he stepped forward drawing her into his arms, “Just say the word and she can forget about us going back down there.”

“And it will only work long enough for her to come up here in the middle of our alone time,” she emphasized giving him an appreciative glance, “before she comes in bursting through the door with yet another crisis.”

Brant nodded in painful understanding before leaning in to rest his forehead against hers, “I’m so sorry about this.”

“It’s not your fault,” Avery sighed as well, “but just promise me as soon as we help her get custody of her son, she’s gone.”

“Consider it done,” he promised guiding her to look up at him once again. He brushed his fingers against her cheek lovingly before offering a small smile, “You know I love you for all of this. Most women wouldn’t be as considerate about this situation…”

“Yeah, well I’m not most women,” Avery reminded him with a small smile, “and besides once we help her with this, well maybe we can get some time to ourselves without anyone else bothering us.”

“I’d like that,” Brant confessed tugging on the ties to her robe in an attempt to draw her in nearer to him, “In fact, maybe when we’re done with all of this, you and I can fly out to the beach house and get a jump start on the honeymoon we skipped over the first time. What do you say?”

“It’s tempting--very tempting,” she groaned wanting nothing more than to accept his enticing offer, but as reality returned to them, she looked up with worried eyes, “but we have everything going on with Grady and this situation with Ken…”

“Don’t you worry about Ken,” he assured her cupping her face in his hands, “he’s my problem, not yours.”

“He’s our problem Brant. Just like my mother,” she frowned thinking about the unavoidable reality that still surrounded them after tonight.

“We’ll find a way to fix this Avery. Somehow we’ll find a solution to all of the things that have been bothering us and then, well then I want to get you alone to our special place. We can take the time to get better acquainted with one another--to start anew,” he confessed nuzzling her neck before placing a kiss upon her soft, damp skin, “We can have another shot at intimate beginnings beyond what happened tonight.”

“I’d like that,” she murmured easing her hand up into his dark hair before dropping her head back. She felt his fingers tugging at the knot in her robe, releasing it in one swift motion before his hands pushed the material from her shoulders. She pulled her head up seeing the desire in his eyes as they stood together in the middle of their bedroom. She watched him discard his robe as well, before she found the courage to speak up again, “Brant, what are you doing?”

“Heather’s probably going to monopolize us for he rest of the night,” he explained taking a bold step forward, “Knowing her she’ll find every excuse she can to keep us down there, so why don’t we make her wait for a few minutes beforehand?”

“Brant, you can’t be suggesting,” her dark eyes widened as she felt his body’s arousal brush up against her thigh.

“Oh I’m beyond suggesting,” he replied urging her onto the bed with him before covering her with his body, “I’m insisting.”

“Well, then who am I to argue with that,” Avery let out a tiny laugh, feeling the warmth of his body over hers, “Heather can wait.”

“My point exactly,” Brant replied devouring her lips greedily in an attempt to make some time for the both of them before they got lost in Heather’s issues all over again.


Angela pulled the Jeep up to her small, modest bungalow before turning to glance over at her passengers. While she’d thought that she’d find the time to get some alone time with Nick today, Kevin had remained at their side through every second of it. Even now he sat in the back of her Jeep eyeing her expectantly as she felt herself weighed down with exhaustion.

“I had a nice time today,” Angela began ignoring the fact that Kevin was hovering as she turned to Nick, “This was a lot of fun.”

“Yes it was,” Nick nodded in agreement thinking about the time he’d been able to spend with her.

Sure having Kevin around wasn’t what he’d expected either, but at the same time they’d spent a fun-filled day in the sun getting to know one another better. Even now as Nick thought back to how sexy Angela had looked stepping out of the water in her skimpy swimsuit, he could feel a fever rushing over his body. She was beautiful--nothing short of stunning as she’d found a way to make him forget that Kevin was still lurking.

Even now as he gazed down to her full, luscious lips, he felt the urge to kiss her raking over his every impulse. He leaned forward longing to claim that gorgeous mouth of hers with all that he had inside. He felt her place her hand on his knee as she opened her mouth to speak, but instead a silence surrounded them. All seemed to fade away except that beautiful, shapely mouth of hers. Kissing her naturally felt like the right thing to do. The only thing.

“We’ll have to do this again,” Angela let out in a whisper of a breath leaning in towards him. She too was seemingly lost in the moment--the impulses drawing her to him as well. Slowly they inched in towards one another, the anticipation almost too much to bear as their bodies begged for some kind of union.

“I’d really like that,” Nick nodded knowing that if he didn’t kiss her, he would find himself far from relaxed even though the sun had worked a number over the both of them.

“How about tomorrow?” she suggested with a sexy smile, “Perhaps we can meet for breakfast?”

“Breakfast sounds great,” Kevin blurted out interrupting the moment between them. He stuck his head in between the both of them, thus putting an abrupt end to whatever magic was brewing between them. “I say we meet up at the hospital around six-thirty. They are having a special at the diner tomorrow and…”

“And that sounds like a great idea,” Nick covered trying his best not to let his disappointment over Kevin’s intrusion show.

“Okay, then six-thirty it is,” she nodded before motioning to her home, “Well I’m here and I should probably get inside. Unless of course you’d like me to drive you over to your place.”

Was that a pleading hint of hope Nick detected behind her eyes? Was she trying to find an excuse to be alone with him as much as he was searching for one to be with her? Nick could almost feel the electricity burning him alive from the passenger side of the car, but before he could offer up an opinion, Kevin once again spoke up.

“I’ll walk him back,” Kevin explained matter of fact, “He’s not far from my place and I’m sure we could both use the exercise. Right Nick?”

“Well actually…” Nick began not wanting to walk away from Angela just yet.

“We’ll be fine,” Kevin hopped out of the Jeep before motioning for Nick to follow, “Come on. We should let Angie get her rest. She’s got a big day ahead of her tomorrow at the hospital. Lots of work to do.”

“I’m not that tired,” Angela hinted at something more, her eyes still focused on Nick.

“Well, then I suppose we could all go inside and have a couple of drinks or something,” Kevin suggested with a shrug of his shoulders, “We could bring the day to an even better finish and…”

“And I’m sure you probably could use a break from all of this,” Nick smiled half-heartedly knowing full well that a night fighting with Kevin for Angela’s attention was the last thing he had in mind. “I’ll call you when I get home.”

“Alright,” Angela nodded as if there was some kind of unspoken language happening between them, “I’ll be waiting.”

“I’ll call you too,” Kevin offered up watching Angela make her way to the front door. She turned around to gaze over at Nick longingly before offering one last wave. Once she was inside her place Kevin turned to Nick, “So what’s your deal?”

“Excuse me,” Nick blinked up at him.

“I said what’s your deal,” Kevin grumbled at him with an obvious look of distrust, “You could’ve told Angie all day about what really happened at the falls, but you didn’t. Why?”

“Because unlike you, I’m not going to stoop to a new low in an attempt to get her to notice me,” Nick rolled his eyes before turning in the direction of his place.

“Look, that’s not what it was about,” Kevin defended himself. “It’s just that I care about Angie and…”

“And what?” Nick challenged facing him once again, “What are you threatened by the fact that she’s interested in me? That she and I might have some kind of connection going on that you’re not a part of?”

“Look, it’s not that. It’s just,” Kevin hesitated looking to Angela’s house once again. He saw the lights go off before he turned to Nick, “I really don’t want to do this here. How about we go somewhere else to talk?”

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Nick frowned back at him, “I mean if you’re planning to knife me in the back or something…”

“No, that’s not what I’m going to do,” Kevin exhaled slowly, “I promise.”

“Forgive me if I find your promises to be a bit unconvincing,” Nick shot back at him icily.

“Look, I’m really sorry about before man. I didn’t mean to push you like that, but…” Kevin backpedaled a bit.

“Yes you did,” Nick threw back at him knowingly, “You meant full well to do what you did and my guess is that you were hoping that I wouldn’t resurface. I mean that’s it, isn’t it?”

“No, yes, I mean no.” Kevin groaned inwardly, “Look I really don’t want to do this here. Can we take this somewhere that’s not outside Angie’s house?”

“That all depends,” Nick paused in a moment of contemplation, “Am I going to be around in the morning or is this your way of getting rid of me?”

“I’m not going to get rid of you,” Kevin started catching Nick’s look of disbelief, “As much as I’d like to, well I know that’s not what Angie wants. Look we can go somewhere--anywhere you want that’s neutral ground if it makes you more comfortable. How about Martha’s place? You know people there and it wouldn’t be that easy for me to make you vanish--at least not tonight. So what do you say?”

“Fine,” Nick replied thinking about the way Kevin had been behaving around him. “Maybe it’s about time we set a few things straight between us.”

“Good,” Kevin replied with a half smile hoping that somehow he would find a way to deal with the new man in Angie’s life in such a way that everyone could end up happy.

Susan smiled widely hearing the rapid knocking at the door as she set her drink down. She walked to the door and before she even had time to fully open it, Kyle pushed the door open walking in.

“What is it that you wanted?” Kyle questioned angrily turning to her with an angry expression across his features.

“You see, I found some possible spots that Jade could be,” Susan informed him before grabbing her glass, “I am going to go get another drink, would you like one?”

“Not from you I wouldn’t,” Kyle replied before seeing her shrug and walk slowly to the kitchen. “Cut the crap Susan.”

“What do you mean by that?” Susan questioned with a frown walking back into the room.

“I mean you got me here, so why don’t you start talking,” Kyle suggested raising his brow in anger.

“That’s right,” she pretended to remember the conversation they had earlier, “You said you had your hands full. What exactly were you doing?”

“Nothing that has to do with you,” Kyle shot out before rolling his eyes, “Thankfully.”

“Fine, be that way,” she shrugged before grabbing a map off her table, “I have found a couple of spots that Cameron has hideouts at.”

“Alright, so you are saying Jade could be at one of them?” Kyle wondered grabbing the map from her hands looking at the circled spots before sliding it into his pocket.

“Yeah, but we would have to leave town as soon as possible,” she answered him seeing him frown, “Unless you don’t trust me and you don’t want to find Jade.”

“Susan, I don’t know,” Kyle sighed watching her sit down, “How am I supposed to know you aren’t lying to me to just get me alone with you?”

“I’ve realized that I have been overreacting with you Kyle and I am sorry,” she apologized looking up at his dark eyes that seemed not to believe her. “But these places are the key to finding Jade…I promise you that.”

“You know what? I will look up these areas and think it over,” Kyle took in a deep breath feeling a headache coming on. “I’ll call you back with information on whether I am going to or not.”

“Alright, but you might miss out on her actually being there,” Susan shrugged watching Kyle shake his head.

“That’s a risk I guess I am willing to take,” Kyle replied before walking towards her door. “You might be hearing from me.”

As Kyle walked out her door, she smiled widely to herself knowing that he was going to be falling for it.

“You will being hearing from me Kyle,” she insisted before closing her hands together, “You will be with me one way or another.”


“I can’t believe Kyle is falling for Susan’s little games,” Sarah sighed falling down to her couch closing her eyes picturing the event that almost happened. “The only thing that is going to happen, is he is going to get even more hurt.”

She closed her eyes once more thinking back to how they were almost together.

“Damn Susan,” she frowned before hearing a knock on the door thinking it could be Kyle, “Is that you back so fast?”

“Hey,” Diego smiled widely as she opened the door allowing him in, “Are you busy right now?”

“No, not at all,” she shook her head quickly motioning him to sit down on the couch.

“Is everything okay?” he questioned looking up at her as she nodded slowly. “You seem a little upset.”

“Yeah, well Susan called Kyle,” Sarah informed him before getting back to what she knew, “I guess he thinks she knows something about Jade and he is there.”

“Doesn’t he know she is bad news?” Diego questioned seeing her shrug. “I don’t think Kyle would do anything bad though.”

“I know that,” Sarah nodded quickly before shrugging, “I fully trust him, I just don’t trust her…at all.”

“I don’t blame you,” Diego shook his head slowly before thinking of how Susan was.

“Forget about me though, what about you?” she questioned seeing him shrug. “What is up with you today?”

“Well, I was just thinking about Heather,” he began before she cut him off quickly.

“Before you go on about my sister, I have to tell you something,” Sarah began to explain as Diego gave her his full attention. “I figured you should know this so here it goes. Kipp came to me the other day and told me that he was trying to get a lawsuit saying that he wants full custody of his son and he wants to keep him away from Heather. There, I said it…so what do you think?”

“I really don’t know,” Diego stated slightly shocked from what he told her. “Does Heather know about this?”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged before looking over at the worried look on Diego’s face, “Please don’t tell me that you are going to go and run to my sister’s aid right now.”

“I can’t,” Diego replied shaking his head slowly, “If I did, the only thing that would come to me is hurt. I don’t want to get hurt by her anymore. I have had enough of it.”

“I’m glad for you Diego,” she smiled placing her hand on his shoulder gently, “I just wish that Kyle would be the same way when it came to Susan.”

“Don’t worry,” Diego hushed before shaking his head slowly, “Everything will be back to normal when Jade gets back.”

“I hope,” Sarah whispered thinking back to how this had been eating Kyle up inside, “I really hope so.”


Devante stepped off of the elevator wanting to get a few words in with Dr. Reynolds before he called it a night. While he wasn’t directly working in Coral Valley, he figured it didn’t hurt to pay a professional visit to a long time friend. Of course maybe there was more to it after Devante had spent the night with Jenna’s new flame. Hart was pretty decent and Devante couldn’t deny that. Jenna was happy now and that was important. Knowing that Devante felt he could try to move on with the other things he’d come to town for--starting with talking to Isaac.

Turning the corner of the hall, Devante found himself so wrapped up in his thoughts that he nearly toppled someone over in the process.

“Hey watch it,” a brunette warned before looking up at him with less than thrilled eyes, “I realize it’s late, but you almost ran me over.”

“I’m sorry,” Devante began to apologize. “I didn’t see you. I suppose I should’ve been more careful.”

“That you should’ve,” she nodded moving past him as a thought occurred to him.

“Wait a minute,” Devante spun around to face her again, “Can I ask you a question?”

“I’m a little bit busy,” she explained a bit exasperated, “I’m on my way to see Dr. Reynolds and…”

“And it would seem I’m in luck,” Devante smiled down at her noticing how pretty the young doctor appeared to be behind the abrasiveness that had carried over her features, “I’m headed to the very same place.”

“Not before I get there,” she replied sharply ready to turn away again.

“Wait Dr. Merhan,” he called out to her once again watching her come to a stop.

“How did you know my name?” she questioned eyeing him with a long, scrutinizing glare.

“Your nametag,” he motioned to the id she donned, “For what it’s worth there I do know how to read.”

“Well aren’t you special,” she rolled her eyes at him. “Look I’m really in a hurry and…”

“I’ll tell you what,” he stepped forward, “If you tell me where I need to go, then I’ll do what I can to wait long enough for you to say what you have to say to Dr. Reynolds.”

“Fine,” Ria replied giving him a hefty once over, “but as I said I’m…”

“In a hurry,” he nodded back, “Yes I know and far be it from me to keep you from where you want to be.”

“Just so that we get that straight,” Ria replied motioning to the hallway she was headed down, “It’s this way.”

“Thanks,” Devante smiled down at her, finding himself amused with this woman beside him, “by the way my name is Devante.”

“Did I look like I cared?” Ria questioned with a small frown.

“Not now, but one day you might,” he quipped with yet another amused grin.

“Not likely,” she rolled her eyes at him before motioning to the door beside where they stood, “We’re here so I’ll be on my way inside.”

“By all means,” Devante stepped aside watching her walk into Isaac’s office. He let out a tiny laugh realizing that maybe being back in town had it’s perks after all.


“Hart?” Jenna began feeling her curiosity get the best of her as she sat in the middle of her bed waiting for his return. He’d drifted off into the kitchen a short time earlier, leaving her with the promise that he would be back soon. Of course soon ceased to be as such nearly fifteen minutes ago. Now Jenna found herself impatiently awaiting the return of the man she’d been dreaming about all day long. “Hart, where are you?”

“Right here,” Hart announced returning to the room with a tray in hand. He winked at her before using his behind to close the door. “Miss me?”

“Immensely,” she nodded eagerly before eyeing the tray. She sat up straighter in an attempt to see what he had with him, “What did you bring me?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Hart grinned sliding onto the bed beside her. He saw her reach for the lid on the tray before he lightly swatted at her wrist, “It’s a surprise. You’re going to have to wait.”

“I don’t want to wait,” Jenna curled her lip in a pout before she smiled up at him, “Hart, you don’t really want to make me wait, do you?”

“Knowing how much this is torturing you,” he feigned seriousness before letting out a tiny laugh, “You bet I do.”

“Oh you,” she reached for one of the throw pillows tossing it at the side of his head.

“Hey,” he ducked out of the way attempting to dodge her assault, but with the movement he made, he felt her smack him across the side of his head. “Jenna!”

“Let me see it,” she urged him on again ready to strike when he picked up another pillow swatting at her with it. Before either one knew what had happened the surprise had become a second thought and the pillow fight became top priority. Soon there were feathers flying, blankets rolling from the bed and with a loud thud down went the tray.

“Oh boy,” Jenna gasped from underneath Hart after he’d tackled her down onto the mattress. Her dark eyes shot up to his, “Please tell me that wasn’t something that’s going to be horrible to clean out of the carpet.”

“As much as I’d love to tell you it was, it isn’t. We won‘t have to clean it at all,” he winked down at her, “Unless of course you think that chocolate won’t blend well with the carpet.”

“Hart,” Jenna rolled onto her side, dropping her head over the side of the bed to investigate the damage that their pillow war outburst had caused.

“Jen, really it’s…” Hart started watching her extend her arm out towards the discarded tray. “Jen wait.”

But his urgings went unnoticed by Jenna as she dropped down to the floor with a thud of her own. Within a matter of seconds she reached for the tray in an attempt to pull it’s contents up without causing much of a spill on the floor.

“This doesn’t seem so bad,” she noted realizing nothing had come out of it. Pulling the tray up, she felt the lid fall to the ground and she let out a gasp, but instead of a chocolate, sticky mess, she saw a small box fall to the floor. Reaching for it, she couldn’t help but be curious about what lay before her. She tilted her head up to look at Hart.

“I was hoping for a much more graceful delivery on that,” he revealed watching her climb up onto the bed with the small velvety box in hand.

“Is this for me,” she questioned her eyes lighting up with delight.

“It is,” he nodded swiping it from her had, “but at least let me try to salvage this.”

“Okay, but don’t take too long,” she pleaded with him watching him prepare himself for what he’d had in mind.

“Jen, I know that we’ve had an interesting run with one another,” he offered up with a half smile, “to put it mildly, but today when I was out I found something that well, I just knew was meant for you.”

“Hart…” she started watching him shake his head to silence her. She nodded giving him the time he needed.

“I know that we’ve had so many things happen between us--things that would make anyone who knows us think that we’re crazy in being together, but the truth to the matter is that we tested the waters--we tempted fate and the gamble we took paid off. You and I may be viewed as insane to the world around us, but to me, well I happen to think that our coming together was the greatest miracle in my life,” Hart opened the top of the box to reveal a golden necklace with a diamond heart shaped pendant, “You are everything to me, which is why I’m giving you my heart completely.”

“Oh Hart,” she felt her breath escape from her lips. He pulled the necklace out dangling it before her. She saw there was writing on the back of the pendant and she reached out to it, “It’s beautiful.”

“No where near as beautiful as you are,” he replied watching her read the inscription.

“With all my love, Hart,” she read aloud, a smile spreading over her face at the thought behind the gift. She felt him clasp the chain around her neck, feeling the cool metal over her silken skin.

“I love you Jenna,” he replied leaning in to kiss her tenderly, “I always will and regardless of what the world throws at us, I just want you to know that I’m there for you--whenever you need me.”

“And I love you all the more for that,” Jenna whispered kissing him tenderly, “You have no idea how much having you in my life means to me.”

“Oh but I do because each morning I wake up with you in my arms, I’m feeling it too,” Hart confessed pulling her to him, savoring the feel of her beside him, “You’ve given me strength and you’ve made me a better man. With you I feel like I’ve finally gotten on the right track for the first time in my life.”

“That’s because when we’re together everything just seems to make sense,” she agreed nestling into him, “You know when I was with my father today--after he upset me all I could think about was coming home to you. I knew that when we were together you could help find a way to make everything okay. You do that for me Hart. You keep me from losing all control in all the wrong ways.”

“And you taught me how to be a better man--the kind of man I always wanted to be, yet never had the strength to become,” he replied earnestly.

“Oh you had the strength, just not the willpower,” she teased wrinkling her nose at him.

“Okay, you’ve got me on that one, but I just want you to know--no matter what, I’m always here for you. I hope you know that’s never going to change for us even with all the curves life throws our way,” Hart promised kissing her tenderly.

“I know that and it’s part of the reasons I know that whatever happens next, I’ll make it through. I have you and that’s something I never planned on, yet it’s the most incredible feeling in the world. I love you Hart,” she confessed savoring this time spent with him because if nothing else being in love with Hart had given her a new lease on life--one that she wasn’t about to lose sight of even if her family was a whirlwind of chaos.


Avery pushed open the glass door to the balcony feeling the first hints of a breeze rush in over her after she’d drifted out of bed. She glanced over her shoulder at Brant as he lay in bed, clearly drained from their earlier love making. She had to hand it to him, he’d been more than crafty when it came to finding a way to wiggle out of spending the night going over legal papers with Heather. After they’d come back to the room, he’d assured Avery that they’d have a quick, yet intimate rendezvous, yet quick soon fell out of the plan for them and he’d had Annie find a way to distract Heather for the duration of the evening. No doubt Heather was fuming, but the way Avery saw it, Brant had been tactful and persuasive in his quest to keep them from leaving the bedroom.

Even now Avery couldn’t help but take a moment to admire his ‘craftiness’ in the bedroom. He’d promised and more than delivered on the ego of his that she’d grown so used to fending off. Even now as he lay tangled in the sheets, she couldn’t help but find herself smiling inside. The heat they’d generated between them was smoldering, the passion they’d shared explosive and yet as the night beckoned her, Avery found herself in need of some air.

She looked to the sky, silently excusing herself from the bedroom in the hopes of keeping from disturbing Brant. He seemed so peaceful lost in his slumber that she hadn’t had the heart to awaken him. Of course she hadn’t felt she could sit still either after all that had transpired between them. It wasn’t that she wasn’t a bit tired herself, but more so she needed time--needed a moment to think--to really come to terms with what was happening inside of her. Even now with the memory of their love making fresh on her mind, Avery needed to find a way to cool down--to let rationality slip in if only for a brief moment.

Moving forward to hold onto the railing, Avery gazed over the rest of Coral Valley asleep below where she stood. From this vantage point she had a view of most of the town and in a word it was breathtaking. She could feel the night wind upon her, the breeze sweeping through the thin material of her silken robe and in that moment she felt herself at peace. Turning her eyes to the heavens she thought of the last time she’d felt so contented--so free.

“Daddy loves you very much,” Russ mouthed shifting in over Avery to press a kiss over her abdomen, “In fact, I think it’s time you and I had a talk here. I know that things have been a bit busy with your mommy and I, but the truth is that that we’ll never be too busy for you. I know I’ve done a lot of crazy impulsive things in my life, but the best one was marrying your mother. She means everything to me and I’ve waited a very long time for us to have this. There are some people who would like to see our family fall apart, but I can promise you with every breath I take that I will do everything in my power to ensure that never happens. I won’t let those bad people take you or your mommy away from me.”

He paused thinking about all the dreams he’d had for a happily ever after with Avery. For so very long it felt like their time had passed them by, but then like a miracle fate had brought them together again stronger than ever. Sure, they’d had their shares of ups and downs, but that was the name of the game with him and Avery. They had intensity, fire and now they were about to have a child on the way. Life couldn’t get better than that…well, other than the fact there was a serial killer after them, but still.

“I love you so very much,” he whispered, his breath skimming over Avery’s stomach and beckoning her from her dreamland. Her eyelashes fluttered open as she glanced down at him with a soft smile.

“We love you too honey,” Avery couldn’t help but offer up in confession watching the boyish smirk that spread over his features when he lifted his head up to look at her. Just the expression on his face was enough to completely mesmerize her. He had the most stunning green eyes and if their son or daughter took on no other traits from him than those beautiful eyes and his smile, then she was certain the baby would be absolutely breathtaking.

“Hey beautiful,” he breathed climbing in up over her, “How are you this morning?”

“Fabulous,” she curved her arms around his neck, “and yourself?”

“On top of the world,” he mouthed leaning in to kiss her, “I was just talking to our daughter about how wonderful you are.”

“Our daughter huh,” she gave him a curious look, “Russ, how many times have I told you that we might not be having a girl.”

“We’re having a girl,” he insisted confidently, “We’re having a beautiful little princess just like her mother. You’ll see.”

“And if we have a boy,” she lifted a brow while watching the solemn expression on his face.

“Then we’re going to have an amazing son who will be more than thrilled when we decide to give him a little sister to play with,” he concluded with a thoughtful expression, “because you do realize this is only the beginning for us.”

“The more you say it, the more I’m starting to believe it,” Avery admitted bringing her fingers through his dark hair.

“I thought we were already beyond that point with one another,” he mused nibbling on her lower lip while savoring this wake up between the two of them.

“We are, but sometimes, well you just get me believing in miracles and given what we’ve been living in lately…” she started feeling him cut her off with another kiss.

“No negativity,” he urged her on, “Today is the beginning of the rest of our lives and when I get you out of Coral Valley, well I can promise you nothing short of magic. We’re going to have a honeymoon to remember from here on out.”

“You mean no severed limbs or unexpected surprises,” she questioned doubtful.

“Not a one,” he vowed, “although I do have one request.”

“What might that be,” she questioned running her fingers over his shoulders.

“That you promise me you’ll do your best to have the time of your life--of our lives,” he added with an air of eagerness in his tone.

“With you by my side, I don’t see how I can’t do just that,” Avery replied savoring this morning with Russ. He was right. Things were only going to get better. They had to at this point.

Oh how she wished that had been the case, Avery realized feeling a single tear slip down her cheek. She opened her eyes again looking beyond the gardens to the place in town where she and Russ had thought about living out their dreams with one another. It felt like a lifetime ago--like a distant memory, yet at the same time it felt more real for her than anything she’d ever experienced in her life. Remembering the way he looked when he woke up in the morning--the way that she felt with his arms around her. It was almost too much to bear as that memory was the one thing that she refused to let go of. No matter how far she’d moved forward with her life, there was always Russ--always the memory of what once was--of what should’ve been and that in itself left her feeling that emptiness she’d fought to bury inside of her for so very long.

“Hey you,” she heard Brant’s voice roll out over the night air. She could sense his presence on the balcony and almost immediately she brought her hand up to her face in an attempt to hide her tears--to keep him from seeing the past that still haunted her.

“I was wondering where you went,” Brant continued moving in behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her in against him as he nuzzled her neck gently, “For a minute there I was afraid that today was nothing more than a dream for me. I thought that you’d disappeared and that I’d finally lost my mind after the vividness of my fantasies overtook me.”

“It wasn’t a dream,” Avery replied leaning back into his embrace, still keeping her face from his, “It was very, very real.”

“Yes, this does have a certain familiarity to it,” he added leaning forward to press a kiss upon her cheek haphazardly. Tasting the saltiness of her tears, he couldn’t help but tense up. Gently he reached for her shoulder, urging her to face him once more. He saw the poignant expression that had overtaken her and in that moment his heart sank with worry, “Avery, what is it? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she bit back on her tears feeling as if she was going to lose it somehow in front of a man who’d done so very much to win her heart.

“Don’t lie to me,” he pleaded with her, his brown eyes begging for more than what she was giving him. His thumb brushed in over the hollow of her cheek wiping at another tear before he whispered again, “Avery please…”

She nodded, looking down briefly before facing him with her fears and her inner thoughts, “I came out here for some time.”

“I caught that part,” he nodded trying to understand what was happening, “but…”

“I needed some air,’ she continued cutting him off before her courage left her. “After we made love, well the truth was I was burning up in there. I found myself needing a moment to break away--to collect myself before…”

“Before what,” he questioned feeling her silence surrounding them.

“Before I said good-bye to what I was holding onto,” she confessed poignantly tears falling freely from her eyes. “Brant, for so very long I thought I couldn’t be able to do this--that I couldn’t be able to move on with my life. I thought that when Russ died, well, that it was the end of me. That the most important part of me died with him, but then tonight…after we made love…well, I realized so many things about myself--about us…”

“Good things or bad things?” Brant asked tentatively not quite sure where this moment was leading them.

“A little bit of both,” she revealed with a flick of her damp eyelashes. “For so long it’s just that, well…that I couldn’t see myself in this life without Russ. I couldn’t bring myself to even imagine what it would be like without him--to ever feel for another man like I felt for him.”

“Avery, I know that this has been difficult for you, but after what just happened with us,” he spoke up, his dark eyes pleading with her, “I just thought that…”

“Brant please,” she placed her finger over his lips to silence him, “Let me say this.”

He nodded silently, though his eyes were weary and uncertain.

“Brant, I spent most of my life being in love with Russ. He was so deep in my system that I convinced myself that there wouldn’t ever be a place for anyone else--that I couldn’t ever find it in me to love another man,” she paused feeling the weight of the moment upon her, “but I was wrong. Brant, I know that you have every reason in the world to disbelief anything I might be telling you tonight especially after what’s happened between us…”

“Avery no,” he started feeling her press her finger to his lips again.

“Brant,” she begged of him, her dark eyes full of a strange mixture of emotions, “the truth is that I’ve played so many different sides of this for so very long--always convincing myself that this was about my doing what was best for my daughter. That you and I came into this doing what we had to do in order for me to survive, but it’s more than that. I don’t know when or how I realized it--maybe after Ken or maybe I always knew somewhere deep inside, but Brant the truth is you’ve made me rethink my outlook on life. You forced me to face the truth inside myself when all I wanted was to crawl under the nearest rock and hide forever. You were there for me at a time when I needed saving from myself and now…”

He watched her move in closer to him sliding her arms around his neck. On cue, he curled his arm around her, feeling her press in against him in this moment of declaration.

“Now I can’t imagine my life without you. I can’t see myself feeling the same without you here in my heart,” she confessed drawing in a shallow breath, “Brant, I know you have had every reason in the world to give up on me time and time again, but deep down--well, I’m just glad that you didn’t because if you had… If you had I may never have known this--never have felt your love for me and I would’ve never known what it was like to believe again. That’s what you do for me Brant. You make me believe in things that I swore to myself I’d never hope for again after Russ died. You challenge me and find a way to pull me back when I’m falling. You excite me, guide me and you make me feel alive. You’ve done what it was that I swore to myself I would never, ever do again after Russ.”

“Avery…” he spoke her name seeing the shakiness in her lower lip as her hand pressed in over his face.

“You made me love you Brant,” Avery blurted out in a moment of a relieved breath. “There I said it. You made me love you Brant Ashford and after tonight, well I know now that this is something I can’t run from anymore. I can’t hide from how you make me feel. I don’t want to anymore. I’m tired of pretending and when I’m with you, I know that this is where my future is meant to be.”

“Avery, I…” Brant found himself at a loss. There she stood before him, opening herself to him in every way imaginable and yet nothing seemed to fit. There were no words that could come close to what it was he was feeling inside at that moment. Instead he cupped her face in his hands saying the only thing that he could get out. “I love you too.”

Slowly she tipped up on her toes, taking the time to drink of his lips. She uncurled her fingers holding his shoulder in an attempt to steady herself as their kiss intensified. Having experienced his kisses first hand, she knew of the strength behind him--of the raw, untamed fire that burned below the surface, yet this time, she felt as if she’d float away if it hadn’t been for his hold on her.

“I love you,” he mouthed his lips trailing from her mouth to her forehead, gently skimming over her cheekbones, to the tip of her nose before honing in over her lips again. She sighed gently into his mouth, into the warmth of him that filled her down to the core.

“I’ve loved you for so very long,” Brant confessed squeezing her in his arms, “So many times I’d imagined what it would be like to hear you saying that you loved me too, but never in my wildest dreams did it feel as incredible as it does right here and now.”

“I just wish I hadn’t made things so very difficult for us,” she replied, fluttering her eyelashes as they stood together underneath the moonlight.

“I’m the one who made things difficult by not being true to what it was inside here,” he confessed bringing her hand in over his heart, “I tried everything I could think of in an attempt to win your love, but what was real--what was true was right in here.”

“I’m just glad that you let me in--that I could finally see the truth,” Avery replied overcome with a great many emotions as she prepared to say good-bye to the past that would never be.

She looked to the sky again, turning in Brant’s arms. Feeling the breeze settle in over them, she nestled into his arms, relaxing at the warmth of his embrace. She closed her eyes taking in the soft scent of the evening along with the huskiness that was all Brant. He had something about him--something about the way he was there for her giving her what she needed that had her lost in the magic of the moment.

Tilting her head back, she felt his lips honing in on hers. His mouth dipped down drawing the breath from within. She felt him nudge her hips ever so slightly, turning her towards him. She curled her arm around his shoulders, sliding her hands down the smooth, steely contours of his spine. Their lips parted, eyes connected and as Brant hoisted Avery up off of the cool, metal floor of the balcony she felt the moment shifting between them.

Slowly he carried her inside, bringing her over to the bed where their passion had raged earlier in the evening. Time and time again he’d taken her to the heavens driven by his hunger for her--by the pure, raw need to satisfy an ache that had been festering inside of him for so very long. Now however as he felt the sheer beauty and warmth of her beneath him, he knew he would take his time learning all there was to know about his beautiful wife.

Gingerly Brant began to peel away at the silken layer of material that shielded her from his greedy eyes. He watched her breath escape her now parted lips, her chest rise and fall with the air that pressed through her. Knowing that the distance between them was greater than either one of them could bear, he dropped down teasing her mouth with his. His hands roamed over her soft, womanly curves cupping her breast in hand. He felt her murmur in a low, husky whimper, the sounds of her pleasure rising with the moment with each flick his fingers made over her body. His lips traveled leisurely over her skin, taking the time to learn all her sensual responses to him.

“Brant,” she cried out his name, twisting her fingers into his dark, tousled hair as he drove her mad with desire. His tongue flicked over her body, feeling anticipation rise over her body. Her urgent cries intensified becoming far too much to bear. Her nails raked down over his back, pulling him in over her--in closer to where she lay before him.

“I love you so much,” Brant mouthed feeling her legs wrap around him enveloping him in the warmth that was all Avery--all the source of his most erotic fantasies. Now as he pressed in over her, feeling their union eminent, he knew that there would be no turning back. Making love to her had only awakened that part of him that he’d kept buried for so very long. With every cry she made, every move their bodies made in unison, he felt his dream closer to his reach. He loved her--loved everything about the way she felt in his arms, about the sounds that spilled from her lips as he thrust inside of her, bringing her to new places that neither had anticipated together before now. She was his dream girl and now that his dream was well within his reach, he knew that the Ashford curse had come full circle. Happiness was his at long last.


Nick sat down on the opposite side of the table across from Kevin after Kevin had motioned for them to go to this particular spot to talk. The waitress approached taking their drink orders before saying her flirty little hellos. Once she left the table to retrieve their drinks, Nick turned to Kevin, eyeing him point blank.

“So get to the point Adonis,” Nick blurted out finding his patience tapering away as he thought back to how Kevin seemed insistent upon discrediting him with Angela. It wasn’t bad enough that Kevin had pushed him off the cliffs earlier, but it felt as if the harder Nick tried, the more Kevin tried to sabotage him with Angela.

“In a minute,” Kevin wiggled his finger at Nick, watching as the waitress returned with their drinks. Kevin smiled at her briefly before reaching for his beer.

“Okay minute’s up,” Nick began reaching for the longneck bottle before him, “What is your problem man?”

“My problem is that I don’t need another jackass ruining Angie’s life,” Kevin stated firmly, his jaw tightening with obvious lines of tension. “Angie’s had more than her fair share of heartache at the hands of a jackass and I don’t want to see it happening again.”

Nick could see the hint of animosity brewing behind the man’s dark eyes and in that moment Nick knew full well that Kevin had him classified as one of those said ’jackasses’.

“So you’re just what?” Nick questioned leaning back a bit in his chair, “Just warning me to back off?”

“No, I’m telling you to back off. You don’t know her like I do. You don’t know what she’s been through with the men in her life. She has a tendency to fall for the wrong men and…” Kevin started to explain himself.

“And your definition of the wrong men is what exactly?” Nick arched an accusatory brow, “Anyone who isn’t you?”

“Look man, I’m going to cut straight to the point,” Kevin growled back at Nick, his fingers tightening around the bottle before he inhaled slowly.

“How about I do that for the both of us?” Nick suggested in a firm, unyielding tone, “I think I know how this is going to go. This is where you tell me about the men whom you’ve deemed unworthy of Angela and you come up with some quirky reasoning as to why you felt they weren’t worth her time. You then tell me how you worked to get rid of them and how this time it’s no different. Really, you sit there before me saying that you want to talk, but let’s cut to the chase Kevin. The fact is that you brought me here tonight simply because it’s not my involvement in Angela’s life that’s on your mind. It’s yours.”

“What?” Kevin blinked back at him, stunned by Nick’s condescending tone.

“I think it’s safe to say I’m not the first guy you tried to get rid of and I’m sure in your mind I won’t be the last,” Nick leaned forward, his eyes filled with small flecks of gold as he continued his relentless deductions, “We’re here tonight not to talk about me, but more so because you’d rather intimidate me out of Angela’s life simply because you’re in love with her. That’s what this all amounts to, isn’t it?”

“Come again,” Kevin’s eyes widened at Nick’s conclusion. He reached for his beer, bringing it to his lips and dropping it back to feel the burning liquid at the back of his throat. Seconds later he slammed the bottle down on the table top, “That’s not what this is about.”

“The hell it isn’t,” Nick continued his verbal deductions, “You’re jealous of what’s happening with Angela and I because you think that the only Mr. Right for her is the man sitting right before me. That’s it, isn’t it?”

“No, jackass this is about Angie and what will make her happy,” Kevin snarled in response, holding his beer bottle so tight he feared it may break in hand, “This is about what will happen when you leave this place and give her the old heave ho. I’ve seen what happens when a man does that with her and quite frankly I’m tired of it…”

“Or just tired of being the man who is always here, yet isn’t the one she’s falling for,” Nick challenged sensing he’d struck a nerve in Kevin before he backed off, “I mean if you’re telling me right here, right now that you’re in love with her, then I think you should be man enough to put that on the table. If she means that much to you, then don’t skirt around the issue. Set me straight on this.”

Kevin opened his mouth to speak before stopping himself. While he had a great many things planned out to say to Nick, it all seemed to fall short in this moment. He could see the smug, demanding expression on Nick’s face and as he thought he knew what he’d wanted to say to the man who’d captured Angie’s attention, Kevin found something altogether different coming out with his words.

“Look when Angie was younger she got married to this loser who used and abused her. Thing is she fell head over heels in love with him. I knew he was no good for her, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Not only did he break her heart, but he tried to ruin her,” Kevin confessed with a raw undertone shadowing his words, “Not only would I not want to see a repeat of that, but after she found out she was pregnant…”

“You’re afraid history is repeating itself,” Nick half questioned.

“Let’s just say after I found out about the baby’s father, well I knew that she’d fallen for some sweet talking pretty boy all over again and I knew it spelled trouble,” Kevin informed him bluntly, “Just like you do. Whether or not you’re willing to face it, everything about you is trouble Nick. Sure, you might think you’re falling for Angie, but you have too many questions about your life--too many holes in your subconscious and what happens when time starts to fill in the blank? Then what?”

“I’m trying to take things one day at a time,” Nick replied sourly, “and Angela is helping me with that.”

“Yeah, but who is going to help her with what happens when you leave?” Kevin questioned with a shake of his head, “What happens when you remember the life that you’re set on forgetting? Where does that leave her?”

“I feel very strongly about Angela. I know this isn’t something I can just ignore,” Nick revealed thinking about his dreams about her, “There’s something special there and…”

“And I don’t want to be there seeing that look in her eyes when it falls apart. I’ve been down that road more than once and if you do that to her--when you do that to her…” Kevin began finding himself caught up in a moment of reflection when he heard a voice call out to him.

“Kevin Adonis,” a woman squealed before rushing over to the table, “I thought that was you.”

“Marie,” Kevin smiled up at the sexy blonde before him. Judging by the enthusiastic expression on her face, it was obvious that she was beyond thrilled to see Kevin, but Nick wasn’t quite sure if the feeling was mutual on Kevin’s end.

“How the heck are you,” Marie threw her arms around his neck excitedly, “I thought that it was you when I saw you come in, but then the girls were telling me that I was just making it all up in my mind. Of course they were wrong because here you are.”

“Yes, here I am,” Kevin nodded before motioning over in Nick’s general direction, “Marie, meet Nick. Nick, this is Marie Wells. She’s one of the waitresses on staff here.”

“Nice to meet you,” Nick extended his hand out to her, “We haven’t had the pleasure yet.”

“No we haven’t,” Marie flashed him a bright, white smile, “but I’ve heard all the rumors about you. Martha was right. You are cute.”

“Thanks…I think,” Nick grinned back at her sheepishly before realizing that while Marie was friendly, her interest was in the man that sat across from him.

“You know Kev, I’ve missed you,” Marie curled her fingers around his shoulders, tracing lightly down his arms with the perfectly sculpted tips, “Last time you were here you cut out on me. You promised me a dance, but then you left…”

“I had a rough night,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders before tipping his head back to look up at her ever so slightly.

“Hmm, well so tell me,” Marie leaned forward bringing her chin down on his shoulder, “are you having a rough night tonight too?”

“I was, but it’s not too bad that I can’t honor my promise if that’s what you’re wondering about,” Kevin replied with a small wink watching Marie’s face light up before he turned to face Nick, “You don’t mind if I cut out on you…”

“No, by all means,” Nick raised his bottle to his lips once again before offering a small salute to Kevin, “Enjoy yourself.”

“I’ll try,” Kevin nodded knowing that there was still plenty to say to Nick, but as he looked to Marie, he resolved to try to enjoy himself a bit. Rising to his feet Kevin looked to Nick once again, “We’ll continue this later.”

“Somehow I thought we might,” Nick nodded knowingly before taking another sip of his beer. He watched the vivacious blonde pull Kevin out onto the dance floor, urging him to join her in the strumming, wild beats of the Latin dance mix that was booming over the speakers.

“Have fun Kevin,” Nick offered getting up from his chair as well before tossing a few dollars on the table to pay for their drinks. Walking over to the bar Nick ordered another before giving Kevin a second look.

While Nick knew full well that Kevin Adonis had him placed in a high position on the hit list so to speak, Nick was going to try to be polite. He could see what Kevin was saying and on some level as much as Nick hated to admit it, Kevin had a point. With Nick’s memory being less than in tact, he could see how it would be hard for him to find any kind of future--especially with a woman like Angela. Sure, maybe he’d flirted with the idea--okay more than flirted with it, but at the same time Kevin was right. There were some huge chunks taken from his memory and perhaps he needed to focus on finding them.

Stepping out further away from the music, Nick found himself drawn to the beach--to the lull of the water crashing in over the shore. He knew that there was a lot to think about and Kevin’s words were food for thought, yet there was just something about Angela. He couldn’t quite explain it, but regardless of where he was, she was there haunting him--monopolizing his waking thoughts and his dreams. Never before had a woman had such an effect on him--at least to Nick’s knowledge that was.

“Angela,” he spoke her name in a small whisper before taking a seat on the sand. He watched the water for a moment before turning his head to the moon above wondering what it was out there that he was missing. Was there another life that was waiting for him? A life that was begging for him to return to it? Could there be more than what he’d found on the island? If there was, then why was this feeling for Angela so strong? Why couldn’t he walk away when all the signs were there that he was getting into trouble?

“Why can’t you just give me some kind of answer,” Nick pleaded with a heavy heart wondering what it was that his subconscious wanted him to find with Angela.

“I think you’re trying too hard,” a voice rose up from the shadows of the night. Nick glanced over his shoulder surprised to see Angela approaching. He watched her move in the moonlight, carrying her sandals in hand before she took a seat beside him on the sand. “If you force it, it’s never going to come to you Nick.”

“That’s the problem,” Nick confessed tilting his head to the side to look at her more completely, “I’m not trying to force it, yet deep down there’s this voice inside of me that’s trying to tell me something. I try to ignore it, but…”

“But what?” she questioned reaching for his knee, feeling the wind pick up around them as they sat together.

“But I can’t,” he replied extending his hand out to touch her face--to make some kind of contact with the woman who dominated his thoughts.

“Who says that you have to,” Angela questioned leaning into his touch, “Nick, I always say you have to trust your instincts and if your instincts are telling you something, then you can’t ignore them.”

“That’s the worst part of it,” Nick confessed leaning in closer to her, “It’s not that I want to ignore them, but I’m afraid if I act on them I’m going to complicate your life even more than it’s already been complicated. Kevin’s right. I’m trouble and you don’t need that--especially now.”

“Kevin’s right about a lot of things Nick. It’s part of what makes him so special, but at the same time, I think your instincts are trying to tell you something--to tell us something,” she replied in a small voice, her dark eyes glowing with the moonlight above, “Nick, if we keep fighting whatever this is between us, well I’m just afraid that…”

“That what?” he asked watching her face twist in contemplation for a long moment.

“That we’re always going to regret not seeing where this can go for us,” Angela replied honestly, tipping her head to face him fully. Her dark hair breezed around her face framing it beautifully as he found himself mesmerized by the woman before him. Never before could he think of a moment when he’d wanted to touch her more--to kiss her luscious lips.

“I just know if we do, you know…give this a try, there won’t be any turning back,” Nick offered up feeling the shakiness behind his words as he watched her.

“It’s a risk I think I’m willing to take,” Angela replied leaning forward to initiate the kiss between them that they’d both thought about all day long.

Unable to hide what he was feeling any longer, Nick leaned forward, bringing his arm out around her on the sand as his body hovered over hers. The taste of her mouth--of her lips, her kiss and the fire that burned inside of her was all that he needed to know that this was where his instincts were taking him. With her was where he’d been meant to be and in holding her like this, it was as if that missing part of his soul was coming back to him.

Slowly he felt her ease back onto the sand, the waves coming in around them bringing up a mist in the air, yet all of that seemed irrelevant. Nick pulled back ever so slightly seeing Angela’s eyes masked with pure desire, her lips flushed from the kiss as she lay in the sand silently gazing upon him.

“You’re so beautiful,” Nick replied bending down to kiss her again, knowing in his heart that he wanted this--needed this more than the air he breathed. She was the first breath of life he’d felt in a long time and as his body caged hers beneath him, he knew full well there would be no turning back.

“Nick,” she mouthed his name, her tongue tracing over his bottom lip before her teeth sank into his lip. He could feel the hint of feistiness behind the kiss--the wild spunk that had drawn him in to her, yet in the same moment he could also feel the distinct rumble of a wave topple over the both of them when the tide came in.

Angela let out a shriek, feeling her body now completely soaked once the water moved off shore. She opened her eyes to find Nick still over her with something green and twisted in his hair. She reached out to pull it from him, a laugh spilling over her lips.

“Seaweed,” she explained discarding it with an infectious giggle.

“We’re a matching set,” Nick replied untangling a similar piece that had drifted into her dark locks as well.

“We make quite a pair don’t we,” Angela sighed reaching out to take his hand in hers, to intertwine the seaweed that had floated ashore.

“So we are,” he nodded with a smile of his own, his eyes sparkling at the electricity that poured out between them, “although something tells me as erotic as this was becoming, the water was our wake up call.”

“You mean you aren’t one for the cold spray and making love in the sand,” she teased with a bigger laugh than before.

“It sure looks great in the movies, but the whole idea of sand winding up in places that it shouldn’t,” he shuddered at the thought, “I wouldn’t dream of doing that to you.”

“Hmm, well since you’re feeling gallant, how about we go for a change of pace here,” she suggested bringing her arms out around the strong bend of his shoulders, her fingers fanning out over his spine tentatively.

“Such as?” he questioned with the beginnings of a small smile.

“You walk me home,” she offered up, hints of something more burning beneath the surface.

“I think I can manage that,” he nodded staying still for a moment before getting up off of the sand. He tried his best to pull some of the muddy sand that clung to his clothes off, but soon he gave up on the idea altogether before reaching for her hand in his. “Ready?”

“I think so,” Angela laughed lightly discarding one last stray piece of seaweed before allowing him to hoist her up. She moved forward, almost completely into his arms before their eyes met again. She opened her mouth to speak, but her words were lost in the feel of his parted lips to hers. The kiss was heavenly, the sparks vibrating off the both of them and just when Angela thought she’d crumble to pieces on the spot, Nick stepped back offering her his hand.

“Shall we,” he suggested with a chivalrous tone, melting her insides with the movement.

“We shall,” she nodded with a shaky voice accepting his arm in hers all the while wondering just what the future held in store for the two of them. Perhaps this was how it was meant to be--maybe Nick was what she’d been seeking out for so very long. Perhaps things were changing after all, she rationalized finding that the more time she spent with Nick, the easier it was to be around him. Perhaps this was a sign that things were finally going to get back on track with her once and for all.


Don looked down at his watch right after he had left Ken’s room thinking back to Shannon.

“Will you still be at work?” Don questioned to himself thinking back to Shannon and how important it was for him to talk to Shannon one way or another.

“Leveski,” Don heard someone call out to him as he quickly turned around seeing the Chief of Staff behind him.

“Dr. Reynolds,” Don smiled widely reaching his hand out and shaking his hand lightly.

“I was wondering Leveski,” Reynolds began before taking in a deep breath, “Have you thought about that job offer?”

“I have sir and I still haven’t made up my mind yet,” Don informed him with a frown before seeing the man before him seem a bit displeased.

“Well, I can’t wait too long to fill the position Leveski,” Reynolds declared before holding his hands up in the air, “Make up your mind in a couple of days and call me.”

“You will be hearing from me sir,” Don promised before walking down the hospital hallways and walking outside.

When he got outside, his phone began to ring as he took it out of his pocket smiling widely seeing the number.

“Hey sweetheart,” Don answered his phone with a wide smile before looking down at his watch once more. “Of course I am going to come home to see you soon.”

He paused for a couple of seconds listening to the other person talking as he laughed.

“That is so great,” Don declared before nodding to himself, “I love you too and I will be there in a little bit…I promise.”


...to be continued...