Episode 200

“What’s happening Doctor Raines,” Guy questioned feeling a panic sweep over him after the grueling time he and his family had spent waiting to hear word on Brooke’s condition.

“I’m afraid there have been more complications than we realized with the fall,” Beth began in all seriousness looking to where Brooke lay on the bed, “We knew there was a strong possibility of this in the fall, but we were hoping that this wouldn’t be the case.”

“What wouldn’t be the case?” Brooke demanded fiercely, “Why the hell can’t I feel anything in my legs?”

“You’re lucky to be here with us right now,” Beth backpedaled a bit, “The way I see it, your being with us is truly a miracle and…”

“Screw the build up you’ve been working to prepare and give me the news straight,” Brooke scowled up at her.

“Brooke, that’s what she’s trying to do and if you’d just let her explain,” Richard started reaching for her hand in an attempt to soothe the obvious worry that was causing her latest bout of crankiness.

“I don’t want a lengthy, drawn out explanation telling me what I should be thankful for Dick,” Brooke seethed with animosity before glaring over at Beth once again, “I want to know what’s gone wrong so that I can fix it. So that I can find someone to solve this problem rather than someone who skirts around the issue.”

“I’m not trying to skirt around the issue Mrs. Morrison,” Beth began apologetically, “More so I’m trying to explain that…”

“Just spit it out already,” Brooke glowered waving her hands in the air impatiently, “I don’t have time for this delay. What is wrong with me?”

“Mum, please calm down,” Guy begged of her, “This getting upset like this isn’t helping. It’s only going to…”

“Put a sock in it Guy,” Brooke warned before eyeing Beth once again, “Well how is it?”

“I’m afraid it’s not good,” Beth sighed knowing there would be no more avoiding the obvious. “I’m afraid that during the accident you were in, your body sustained far more damage than we realized. We did all that we could here, but there is a considerable amount of nerve damage and…”

“Nerve damage,” Brooke repeated with wide eyes, a look of horror spreading over her features, “how much nerve damage?”

“A significant amount and…” Beth continued in her most professional tone.

“So what are you saying? Are you saying that this is something that can’t be fixed? Are you trying to tell me that I’m not going to be able to walk again--to feel anything?” Brooke questioned in a panic.

“At this point, we’re not really sure,” Beth revealed watching Brooke fall to silence at the shocker that had been delivered to her.

“This can’t be happening,” Brooke shook her head refusing to accept Beth’s answers. Turning her eyes up to Richard, she felt her eyes fill with tears, “Richard, please tell me this isn’t happening.”

“Brooke, I…” he started feeling horrible in seeing her so upset. He tried to find words to comfort her, but instead he reached for her embracing her in the hopes that somehow he could help her find a way to deal with this new turnabout in her life.


“Ken stop it,” Carly finally, breathlessly shoved Ken away from her. The fire still burned between them, the power of his seduction attempt still riding through her body, yet as she felt him beside her, passion threatening to take them both under, she had another thought--Dave. While she had been caught up in the moment--caught up in the feel of Ken’s arms around her--of the taste of his lips upon her, the reality was that she was being given a second chance at happiness with Dave and she wasn’t about to let that fall apart.

“But Carly…” he pleaded with her, his dark eyes filled with urgent desire, “I know that you want me just as much as I want you.”

“I wanted you for a while Ken. Hell, I even loved you, but now,” she closed her eyes inhaling a sharp breath wondering if she had the strength to see this one through, “It’s over. I can’t be with a man I don’t trust.”

“I can find a way for us to get that back,” he reached out to touch her face gently, feeling resistance coursing through her veins, “Carly, if you only give me a chance.”

“I gave you plenty of chances Ken,” she replied opening her eyes again. She leaned against the bedroom wall to give her strength as she attempted to pull her blouse together again. “I’m not going down this road again. We were a mistake.”

“No, Carly we weren’t. We were something that…” Ken started hating the idea of her pushing him away when he needed her more than ever.

“I love Dave,” she insisted clenching her fists at her side protectively in an attempt to put a distance between them, “I’ve always loved Dave and I want to be with him. I want for him and I to work things out. What you and I had, well it was what it was and now it’s over.”

“No, Carly, we’re not over,” he moved to touch her cheek again only to feel her pull away from him. She slid out from beneath where he’d had her caged against the wall. Swiftly she rushed over to her bedroom door to show him out.

“Ken, I mean it this time. I only went to the hospital to tell you that I was finished with this. I wanted you to hear from me first hand about Dave and I getting back together, but I wasn’t strong enough to do that before. That’s why I’m doing this now. I love Dave and deep down I’ve always loved him. He and I have had our share of problems sure, but I’m willing to work at fixing them.”

“You’re only deluding yourself if you think someone like Dave can keep up with someone like you. You’re like a wildfire, too hot and intense to be caged by his expectations,” Ken challenged taking a bold step towards her, “You need someone who knows how to give you the freedom to be unleashed--someone who understands you on every level--someone who facilitates your passionate side and lets you break down all the barriers you’ve caged yourself within.”

“I need someone in my life who is going to be honest with me and give me what I really need in my life. Dave is it for me Ken,” she maintained with a firm expression. She took in another exaggerated breath before facing him down once again, “He’s what I wanted and what I needed. You were just what was here when I was feeling lonely. We were just good bed buddies, but that’s all it was Ken. It wasn’t anything more than that and what we had, well it was a mistake.”

“You lie,” Ken wiggled his finger at her, “You’re lying now and I can see it in your eyes. What we had went well beyond sex, but you can keep trying to tell yourself differently. One day you’re going to look back on this moment Carly and realize that this is the biggest mistake of your life. If you make me leave and you deny your heart then you’re going to wish you hadn’t. You’ll spend the rest of your life living in the thought of what might’ve been between us.”

“No,” she shook her head fighting the tears that threatened, “Ken, I’ve already made the biggest mistake of my life in being with you and if I let what we did together take me away from Dave, well then that would truly be the end of me. I love him Ken and I want to spend my life with him.”

“And here I thought you were smarter than that,” he grumbled giving her one last look before making his way to the front door to her hotel room. He stopped, then turned around to face her again with a pained expression, “Here everyone in this town thinks I’m pathetic, but when it gets down to it, you’re a whole hell of a lot worse than I am. You say you want honesty in a man Carly, but the truth is that you can’t even be honest with yourself. I know what I am, but you, well you don’t know how wrong you truly are and unfortunately it looks like you never will.”

“Good-bye Ken,” Carly replied emotionlessly watching him leave her hotel room. She made her way to the door slamming it shut behind him as her tears returned to her. Leaning up against the door, she closed her eyes tightly in an attempt to will away whatever lingering feelings she had for Ken. Sure, maybe she was lying to him about how she felt, but it was for the best. She hadn’t lied about loving Dave. Dave was someone she’d come back to Coral Valley for and Ken, well Ken was someone she never should’ve gotten involved with in the first place. The only reason she’d gone to the hospital to see him was to tell him it was over--to tell him that it all came to an end and that…

“I love Dave,” Carly blurted out trying to keep herself in check as she moved across her hotel room. Still as she thought back to the night she and Ken first shared with one another four years ago, she realized that there were more secrets than either he or Dave could imagine. Feeling a tiny shiver race over her, she vowed to never look back--only forward because in the past she knew that the only thing that could ever come of it was heartbreak. She couldn’t go back to that place in her life--never again.

“What am I thinking,” Carly questioned aloud pacing around the room, “You might be finished with Ken, but if you want a future with Dave, he needs to know everything. You have to tell him absolutely everything before it winds up hurting him more than he ever imagined. He needs to know everything. I have to tell him.”

Resolving to find a way to clear the air with Dave, Carly took a long look at her reflection in the mirror. She looked like hell--looked horrible and she knew she should straighten herself up before calling Dave. Sniffling, she reached for a tissue before dabbing at her eyes. She leaned over to discard the tissue when she noticed a bunch of flowers in the trash can.

“What the…” Carly leaned down to see the bundle of daisies before her. Attached to the paper that was wrapped around them was a small note. She pulled it out of the tiny pink envelope it was in and her eyes fell upon the words before her, “To starting over. I’m grateful for second chances and I look forward to starting over with you again. Love Dave.”

“Dave,” Carly gasped a sudden sinking sensation sweeping over her. Panic soon followed. If these flowers were in the trash and there was a card from Dave, then it could only mean that he’d…the he’d been there at her hotel room. He must’ve came in when Ken was there and…

“Oh God,” Carly began in a panic rushing for her coat in the hopes that she could find a way to explain things to Dave before she lost him forever.


“This is a nice place you have here Dave,” Christy smiled taking a good look at his living room before turning to watch him drop his keys down on the table top. She stepped in closer to him, throwing her arms around his neck before offering up a seductive look, “but right now the only room I’m interested in getting a better look at is the bedroom.”

“Hey, weren’t you the one who was saying it was a little too early for happy hour,” Dave questioned sliding his arms around her slender waist--feeling the effects of their morning drinking binge buzzing over him.

“There’s always time for happy hour,” Christy replied with a tiny giggle, sliding her fingers up through his dark hair, “Besides the sooner we get to your bedroom, the happier you’ll be. I can promise you that.”

“With a promise like that, who am I to argue,” Dave mouthed leaning in to claim her lips in a hungry kiss. He felt her rub up against him, felt her curves tempting him more and more with each passing second. His head was swirling, heart pounding in his chest and as she pulled his shirt up over his head, he found himself ready to face the reality that was happening between them.

“So,” Christy started taking a step back. She pulled the clip that she’d been wearing out of her long, auburn colored hair before shaking out the small curls that she’d had in it. Her silken tresses framed her face perfectly as she moved her fingers up to unbutton her blouse. Inch by inch, she freed up her soft, sensual skin revealing the sexy lines of her body leading to the top fringe of her black lace bra. Smiling seductively, she traced her index finger over the swell of her left breast, “where’s the bedroom?”

“Right this way,” Dave began taking a step forward when suddenly her face was replaced with yet another face. He watched her shed her blouse, doing a little dance in the process as she transformed into Carly--to the woman he’d wanted to be with. He saw her shimmy out of her skirt and in that moment his thoughts were focused on Carly. He could see her clearly before him, wiggling her finger at him for him to take her and in that moment there wasn’t anything in the world he wanted more.

“So, are you just going to stand there and gawk at me all day or are we going to just get with it?” Christy challenged as Dave seemed to snap out of his daze.

“Oh we’re going to do this alright,” he reached out to snake his hand out over the back of her neck before devouring her lips with his. He knew deep inside that it wasn’t Carly--that the only reason he’d gone to that bar in the first place was in an attempt to forget what he’d witnessed in Carly’s hotel room, but right now none of that mattered. Nothing else was more important than trying to forget about the woman who’d broken his heart to pieces. With that thought in mind, he pulled Christy into his arms leading her to his bedroom in the hopes of pushing the past behind forever.


“So tell me,” Diego smiled taking a sip of his drink, “This teaching job you took…what grade are you teaching?”

“Well, I decided to go with a younger grade,” Cori informed him with a smile, “I am teaching first graders.”

“Boy, those first graders are going to love their new teacher,” Diego assured her with a smile, “I bet you will have at least ten apples a day.”

“Right,” Cori laughed before touching his hand gently, “What about you? Anything new happen with you?”

“Nothing worth telling you,” Diego sighed before shrugging, “How is your brother doing by the way…I haven’t had time to talk to him in a while.”

“I think he is good,” Cori shrugged before grinning, “The only time I saw him was when I came and told him I was in town. Other than that, I haven’t talked to him since.”

“Well, that basically explains it. Dave‘s still obviously miserable and not in the mood to start talking about it,” Diego nodded with a laugh before seeing her nod.

“Yeah that about sums it up. I’m guessing he’s having women problems, but he’s not about to fork up any information. You know far be it for Dave to actually come to his little sister for advice in the romance department,” she frowned slightly thinking about her brother’s need to hold back on everything.

“There he’s making a mistake because I happen to think that you’re an incredible listener,” Diego added with a thoughtful expression.

“Oh you’re just saying that because you like me,” she laughed lightly unable to hide the smile he’d brought out in her.

“Well yeah I like you and I think you’re wonderful, but that’s got nothing to do with what I’m telling you now. Honestly,” he replied.

“You remember when we were younger?” Cori questioned seeing him nod slowly. “I have to admit something to you.”

“What’s that?” Diego wondered raising an eyebrow giving her his full attention.

“Well, you see…when I used to hang out with you and Dave all the time,” she began before giggling, “Well, I guess you could just say I had a crush on you. Like a major one.”

“Are you being serious?” he questioned with a deep laugh seeing her nod slowly. “I used to think a lot about you too. I thought you were pretty cute back before I got all hung up in the rest of the world. Of course I wouldn‘t have dared to try to do anything about it considering I knew full well what kind of reputation Dave had where you were concerned.”

“Oh he wasn’t that bad,” she shook her head. “I mean seriously he couldn’t have done anything.”

“Given that his younger sister had captured my interest--or anyone’s interest, yeah, well I’d think it’s safe to say I’d be a goner,” he laughed lightly, “but for what it was worth, I thought you were a very interesting young woman and I wouldn’t have minded taking you out a few times there.”

“Are you serious?” she wondered seeing him nod. “Strange how some things are these days.”

“Speaking of strange,” Diego coughed before shaking his head slowly, “Have anymore strange boyfriends?”

“Not yet,” she shook her head slowly, “I don’t have a boyfriend at all.”

“Really?” he questioned tensing his eyebrows. “I figured you would have someone already. I mean you are so pretty and witty, intelligent and fun to be around.”

“The same goes for you,” Cori replied before shaking her head, “Except the pretty part…you are more handsome.”

“Why thank you,” he laughed before taking another sip from his drink.

“So, I hope you don’t have a lot of work for a while,” Cori began before watching him look up at her, “Because you and I are going to be having so much fun now that I‘m back in town. This time we‘re going to live it up a bit without you worrying that Dave is going to get you. We‘re going to have a blast now that I‘m in town again.”

“I can only imagine,” Diego shook his head slowly thinking of how much fun they used to have when they were younger. “I will make some time for you. Just a little bit though.”

“Well in that case then,” Cori began in a playful voice, “We have to do everything quickly.”


Blake stood in the middle of Seth’s kitchen searching the contents of his cabinets in the hopes of pulling something together for a late lunch. She looked out into the living room area, feeling her heart sink as she thought of how this search for Jade was wearing him paper thin. He’d barely eaten since he’d discovered his sister was missing and now, well now she saw a shadow of the man she loved before her. Opting to give up on trying to pull together something from the kitchen, she decided to try another approach.

“How about we order take out,” Blake suggested making her way into the living room. “I know this great little Chinese place that delivers and…”

“Uh huh,” Seth nodded his gaze never straying from the phone on the tabletop. He eyed it so intently that Blake could feel him willing it to ring--to bring the news about his sister that they haven’t received thus far.

Reaching out to bring her hands over his shoulders as she sat on the back of the chair he was in, she leaned in closer to him, “Hey, Seth, honey, you have to eat.”

“What?” he questioned glumly looking up at her, his dark eyes filled with that same lost expression that pained Blake. To see him in so much agony broke her heart and she just prayed that sometime soon that would come to an end and Jade would return again.

“I said you have to eat,” Blake explained teasing her fingers through his dark hair, “You can’t just stop taking care of yourself. Jade wouldn’t want you to be like this.”

“Just like she wouldn’t want to be in the position she’s in right now,” Seth replied with a scowl before his features softened and he lay his head back into her touch. He closed his eyes feeling the soft touch of her fingers over his scalp. He let out a soft sigh. “I just hate this feeling of uselessness--like nothing I say or do can make this one better.”

“Seth, I’m sure the police are doing all that they can,” Blake tried to offer up.

“Yeah and from what Grady’s told me, they’re getting no where,” Seth groaned inwardly, “Cameron’s not about to open up unless someone shakes him and you know the police…”

“Grady also said that Dave Warner was personally running this one,” she reminded him hopefully, “Look, while I know you don’t know much about Dave, I can vouch for him first hand. He’s one of Kenny’s best friends and he’s a good guy. He’s very dedicated to his job and to the people around him that he can help.”

“I understand that Blake, but this isn’t just anyone. It’s my sister,” he replied solemnly, “You have no idea just how hard this is hitting me.”

“Yes, I do,” she hesitated, “I mean no I don’t really know what this is like, but at the same time I know how it is to feel helpless and hopeless. I know what it’s like to know that someone you care about is hurting, but there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. The pain is overwhelming and you find yourself wishing that you had the strength to just change fate. Seth, I know it’s hard, but I’ve been there. I was there when my mother died.”

“Blake I,” he opened his eyes tilting his head up to see the distance behind her eyes.

“When I saw her there--when she was laying before me, breathing her last breath,” Blake began in a hollow, distant tone thinking back to the day that had changed her life forever, “I tired to help her. She was trapped in the back of the cab because it had been thrown in the quake. It was literally squeezing her to death. The driver died on the spot, but not my mom. She suffered so much and I could see it in her face when she was there with me. I was so little back then--so small that when the cab was thrown, I wasn’t trapped between the pieces of metal. I found a way to maneuver my way around it, but all I wanted to do was crawl into my mother’s arms and have her protect me.”

“Blake,” Seth shifted in the chair reaching out to draw her into his lap. He saw the tears fall freely down her face as she closed her eyes recalling the most painful experience of her life.

“I remember just calling out to her--begging to her to come and help me, but she couldn’t. She was stuck there and while I didn’t know it, she knew,” Blake forced herself to open her eyes again--to face the reality of the past, “I managed to crawl over to her--to move in beside her and I remember crying for her to hold me. I wanted her to make everything okay, but she couldn’t…I remember asking her if we could leave, but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to. She was stuck and I was free…I was the one that could get out, but it wasn’t enough for me. I tried to pull her free--to untangle her from the mess that she was in, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough to save her and I can still hear her voice when she told me to leave. I didn’t want to, but she insisted. She ordered me to get out of the cab and I did.”

Blake’s words grew more broken by the moment. She wiped at her face trying to keep it together, but the memory was too vivid, it was too much to hold it all in. “I can still hear her telling me to run--to get help. I still remember the sound of the cab crashing in over her, taking her away from me and as I sat there on the curb, I realized that if I’d only stayed put--if I’d only pulled a little harder that maybe I could’ve found a way--maybe I could’ve saved my mother, but I was weak…”

“No, Blake, you were just a child,” Seth cradled her into his arms, feeling the tiny tremors rush over her body as he kissed the top of her head, “There was nothing else that you could do. You saved yourself and that’s what your mother wanted.”

“I know,” she nodded with a sniffle, “but it took me years to realize that it wasn’t my fault--that I couldn’t have changed things even if I’d tried. Even now it still hurts, but I know that the reason my mom had me get out of that car was because she wanted me to live--she wanted me to make the most of the chance God gave me and now, well now I know that I need to do the same for you. Seth, I know that Jade will be back--that wherever she is, she’ll come home to you. You just have to believe in that and stop blaming yourself for things you can’t control.”

“You know that’s easier said than done Blake,” Seth wiped at her tears feeling a lump grow in his throat.

“I know Seth, but honey, if you don’t at least try, then well, this will take you under as well and when Jade returns she won’t like what’s happened to you,” she pleaded with him, her blue eyes full of concern, “Seth, sweetheart I swear to you that I’ll do whatever it takes to help you through this, but please don’t shut yourself down because of the pain you’re in. Don’t close yourself off from the world around you--from me…”

“Oh Blake,” he hugged her closer to him, “That’s not what I’m trying to do. It’s just that when I think of the times in the past when I failed Jade--when I think of all she’s had to endure in her life already…”

“Seth, she’s a fighter. Jade is the kind of woman I wish I could be. She’s seen hell in her life, but she’s risen above it. She’s strong and full of life. I know that fate wouldn’t just take her from this world like this,” Blake replied praying that her words rang true, “She has a lot to hold onto and I know Jade wouldn’t give up in trying to come back to that.”

“No she wouldn’t,” Seth agreed reaching out to touch Blake’s face gently, “Jade would keep fighting her way to come home. If Cameron’s got her, then she’ll find a way to escape--she won’t let him keep her away…”

“No, she won’t and I swear to you that I’ll do whatever I can--throw out whatever pressure that I can in this situation with my family’s influence if it helps…”

“Your being here helps Blake,” Seth replied tracing his finger tips over the damp lines of her face, “I know that I haven’t said that enough lately, but it’s the truth. I don’t know what I’d do without you here. You’re what’s been keeping me from falling to pieces.”

“This is where I belong,” Blake reminded him with a poignant smile bringing his hand up to her chest over her heart, “From the day I met you Seth, I knew that you were the one. You’ve helped me through so many things and now it’s my turn to be there for you.”

“I love you,” he smiled back sliding his fingers into her blonde hair, “I hope you know that Blake.”

“I do,” she replied with a smile of her own, “and I love you too. You’re the world to me Seth.”

“And you’re that for me,” he whispered leaning in to kiss her tenderly, “I know that this isn’t what you bargained for when you agreed to marry me, but…”

“As I said before Seth, there is no place in this world that I’d rather be than with you,” Blake admitted with a soft sigh, “and I’ll be here with you every step of the way until we find Jade.”

“I know we had big plans for our wedding, but now…” he trailed off thinking about his sister’s disappearance.

“That can take a backseat to what’s happening now. I know in my heart that you love me--that I love you and I’m willing to wait as long as it takes for us to make things official, just as long as you promise me that one day that will happen for us,” she confessed touching his lips before fingering the small stubble that had shadowed over his face after a couple of days without shaving.

“It will happen and when it does, I promise you that it’s going to be the wedding of your dreams. Just the two of us with our friends and family,” he promised offering up a gentle expression.

“And Jade,” Blake added hopefully, “She’ll be here when that happens and it’ll be perfect.”

“I know,” he nodded pulling her into his arms. He closed his eyes finding comfort in holding her as he thought about his sister once again. He just prayed that those dreams for the future would be coming true. Jade had to find her way back home. She had to find a way to overcome whatever it was that had taken her from where she should be. She just had to.


Sarah went to her door opening it to see Kyle before her. He was resting against her door frame lazily as she motioned him to come in.

“Thanks,” Kyle smiled walking in as she shut the door behind him, “I’m sorry I took so long.”

“I would wait for you forever,” she played nudging him in the shoulder lightly. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he sighed sitting down on the couch before yawning, “I am just exhausted.”

“Here,” she sat down patting her lap motioning him to lay down, “Lay down.”

“Alright,” he nodded laying down feeling a pain in his abdomen as he winced.

“You should really get that looked at,” she insisted watching him shake his head, “You could have a broken rib.”

“I don’t care,” he sighed closing his eyes as she ran her hand along his forehead, “I will be fine.”

“If you insist,” she frowned as his tired eyes opened looking up at her, “So, what have you been doing all night?”

“God, where do I start,” he took in a deep breath thinking back to everything that had happened earlier, “Susan called me earlier and that’s where I went.”

“I knew that, but what did she want?” Sarah wondered seeing him frown.

“She told me that she found somewhere that Jade could be and it’s out of town,” he began to inform her on what happened earlier, “She told me she needed me to go out of town with her.”

“You didn’t believe her did you?” Sarah questioned quickly hoping that Kyle was as gullible as most believed.

“Of course not,” Kyle stated before starting to tell the rest of his story, “Well, I didn’t believe her and I went to Cameron myself. I tried to pull information out of him and nothing came out of him.”

“You know that Cameron is a liar,” Sarah reminded him watching him shake his head.

“You see, that’s what I thought,” Kyle replied before thinking back to how Cameron was acting, “The thing is…he seemed like he really didn’t know anything. I mean he was in a tight place and he would have admitted, but he didn’t.”

“What did you to him?” she wondered with a laugh before seeing him smile.

“Let’s just say he is lucky one of the officers came in,” he laughed before taking in a deep breath, “I just don’t know what to believe anymore.”

“Well, obviously either Susan or Cameron is lying,” Sarah pointed out watching him nod, “And I don’t trust either of them.”

“I feel the same way, but I really don’t think Cameron has anything to do with this,” Kyle restated his point, “There just something that tells me he doesn’t. I guess you could just call it a feeling.”

“Well, the only evidence they have is that item that belonged to Jade that was found in Cameron’s home,” Sarah thought it over for a moment, “What do you think?”

“I don’t know,” he grunted covering his eyes before breathing in deeply, “My mind is so jumbled…I don’t know what to think anymore.”

“It’s okay,” she hushed running her hand along his neck gently, “How about you try and sleep for a while.”

“No, I can’t,” Kyle protested shaking his head quickly, “I have things to do. Grady…”

“I think Grady could wait for a while,” she cut him off covering her lips with her finger, “I think the whole world could wait for you just a little while. Don’t try to protest with me either.”

“Just a little bit okay?” he questioned seeing her nod before feeling her kiss him gently.

“I think you deserve to sleep for a while,” she emphasized her words thinking of how much sleep he had actually had over the last few months. “Just close your eyes and I will be here when you wake up. Maybe then we can just lie around.”

“That sounds good,” he smiled before closing his eyes, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” she whispered hearing his heavy breaths showing her that he was asleep.


“So tell me, how did it go?” Avery questioned taking a seat on the patio chairs outside the Ashford mansion once Elliot had called to give her an update on Grady and the new print editor that they’d interviewed for the Courier.

“Truthfully,” Elliot began with a brief hesitation.

“Yes, truthfully,” Avery’s eyes scanned the gardens as she tried to think of the beauty that surrounded her. She could still remember the morning’s mishap with Ken and for most of the day it had kept her in a sour mood, but Brant had promised he’d find a way to change that. It wasn’t that he hadn’t tried, but even now she still felt haunted by the rage behind Ken’s eyes.

“Did you hear me?” Elliot questioned bringing Avery back from the daze she’d seemingly slipped into.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized with a shake of her head, “I guess I didn’t. I was just outside and…”

“And you’re obviously upset about something,” Elliot noted with a small pause, “Avery, what’s going on?”

“Nothing,” she lied not wanting to bring Russell’s father into the craziness that surrounded her life, “I want to hear about the interview to see if I picked a winner or not.”

“Of course you picked a winner. Not only did I think he was perfect for the position, but he’s willing to start right away. He said he was an avid reader of the paper and he admired Russell’s integrity and heart. He promised that he’d try to keep things as close to what Russ wanted with the paper,” Elliot informed her happily.

“That’s wonderful news,” Avery beamed with a small smile, “I’m so glad to hear it because this is all new for me. I’m not really on the up and up with that area of things. That was Russ’s specialty and with me, well…I guess I just enjoyed being a reader.”

“He liked knowing that you took so much into enjoying his life’s work,” Elliot revealed thinking about his son, “He loved you a lot and the paper was the second most important thing in his life--next to you of course.”

“Russ was the most important thing to me as well,” Avery confessed warmly remembering the love she still felt for her late husband, “I just want to honor his memory the best way that I can by keeping his dream alive.”

“He’d be so proud of you for doing all of this,” Elliot noted.

“Proud of us,” Avery corrected brightly thinking about all Elliot had put into the newspaper once they’d come together in the hopes of keeping Russell’s life quest in tact, “I couldn’t have done this without you.”

“You probably could’ve, but I’m honored that you let me in,” Elliot confessed with a sentimental tone, “And with this new hire, well he said he wants to meet you. He said he’d heard great things about you over at BBK and he wanted to see for himself the woman that Russ deemed the most incredible woman alive.”

Avery couldn’t help but let out a small laugh, “Did you tell him that I’m no where near close to living up to the hype that Russ built around me?”

“I didn’t have to. Your reputation speaks for itself and for the record I don’t think that my son was far off. You’re a wonderful woman Avery,” Elliot stopped himself and a long silence followed.

“Elliot, are you there,” Avery questioned a bit worried.

“I’m here,” Elliot replied apprehensively, “although I know you and I haven’t really had a chance to talk about things lately. I wasn’t sure if that was why you seemed so distant before. I know that things are different, but…”

“Things,” she repeated before it suddenly dawned in on her, “You mean things with me and Brant.”

“Among other things,” Elliot paused again, “Look Avery, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I wasn’t surprised when Grady broke the news to us about you marrying Ashford. Truth be told I don’t think Russ would’ve been very happy with this turnabout if he was still around…”

“I know that Elliot, but…” Avery felt a pang of guilt rush over her at the thought of Russ knowing what she’d done. Thinking back to the night she’d shared with Brant, she fully expected Elliot to hate her forever.

“But nothing. The truth is that you don’t owe me or any of us any kind of explanation. Russ trusted your instincts and if you felt marrying Brant was the right thing, then I’m going to have to do the same. I’ll admit that I never saw you with anyone else other than my son. Even after you two didn’t make it to the altar, I always hoped that you two would find your way back to one another again. It just felt like that was the only right thing in this world.”

“It was,” Avery sighed feeling a moment of sentimentality sweep in over her, “and if Russ were still alive, then that’s how it would’ve been. I love him Elliot. Even now there’s not a day that passes when he doesn’t cross my mind.”

“I realize that and I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though you’re married to Brant, well…I hope you know that we’re still here for you. I’ll always see you as my daughter-in-law and I hope that will continue for us. You’re a part of this family Avery. You and that precious little baby you’re carrying…”

“And we’ll always stay that way,” she promised hearing the uneasiness in his voice, “Elliot, I love you all like you were my own parents. You and Cheryl have been so good to me and with us running the paper like we’re going to be doing, well I just didn’t want you to think ill of me.”

“I’d never think ill of you. My son would come back and haunt me from the grave if I tried,” Elliot offered in a half-hearted attempt to lighten the mood, “Russ loved you with all that he was and I know he’d just want for you to be happy.”

“Loving Russ was the greatest happiness I’d ever known and there‘s not a day that goes by when I don‘t wish that I could have that back,” Avery confessed unaware that Brant had stepped out onto the patio catching the end of her conversation with Elliot.

Brant watched her in silence, looking to the bunch of flowers he’d had in hand as she spoke of the man whom she’d loved and lost. Hearing the way she spoke about Russ, he found himself feeling as though he was still second fiddle to the man--even in death. Of course he’d known that coming into the marriage, but after last night--after this morning, he knew first hand of all the possibilities for him and Avery. They’d uncovered new ground with one another and it was only the beginning. They would find a way to fall into love more and more with each day they shared and maybe one day she would find it in her to realize that he belonged on the same level as Russ if not more. After all she’d agreed to one day have a child with him--to plan for a future that only they could share with one another. The past was the past and he had to keep that in mind. No looking back.

“You too,” Avery finished hanging up the phone. She sat up straighter feeling a presence around her. Looking over her shoulder she turned to see Brant near the doorway. Rising to her feet, she smiled at him before stretching her arms out for him to join her, “There you are handsome. I was starting to think that you’d vanished on me.”

“Not that easily,” he half smiled moving in closer to her. He held out the bouquet of flowers before gazing into her dark eyes, “Who were you talking to just now?”

“Elliot called,” she explained with a soft smile, “He’d interviewed a new editor for the paper the other day and he was telling me about the interview.”

“Oh really?” Brant nodded trying to keep his insecurities about her feelings for Russ under wraps, “and how did it go?”

“It was a complete success,” Avery beamed enthusiastically, “He’s going to be starting right away and it sounds like he’s got great things in mind for the Courier.”

“That’s wonderful and you know if you need any help, well all you have to do is ask. I’d be more than willing to offer any resources or…” Brant started brightly.

“Elliot and I have it pretty much under wraps here and ready to go,” she replied bringing the flowers up to take in their soft scent, “but thank you for offering.”

“It’s not a problem and I’d always be willing to lend a hand if you’d like…” he watched her wondering if she had any second thoughts about their relationship after she’d talked to Russell’s father.

“I’ll keep that in mind if it ever comes up,” she stepped forward bringing her arms around his neck while carefully keeping hold of the flowers, “Thank you for these. They’re beautiful Brant.”

“You’re beautiful,” he murmured in the back of her ear squeezing her closer to him. He pulled away just enough to seek out her lips in a soft, chaste kiss. As they parted he found himself falling for her all over again.

“So what’s on your mind for today,” Avery questioned eagerly, clearly focused on what he’d promised he’d had in mind for her.

“Well, I’d thought we’d go out--you know--maybe for a trip to the vineyards or something,” Brant suggested with a smile.

“Vineyards,” she gave him a strange look, “Brant there aren’t any vineyards around here. Come to think of it, the closest vineyards aren’t any where near here. They’re at least a two hour drive out of town…”

“That was kind of the point,” he explained drawing her in closer to him again, “I thought that we could use some time away.”

“Brant, I love the idea, but…” she hesitated thinking about her talk with Elliot, “I promised Elliot that I’d meet with the new editor tomorrow morning and…”

“And I’ll have you back by morning. While I was thinking about taking it slow in a drive, we can fuel up the jet and fly out there,” he suggested leaning forward to nibble on her lower lip. “What do you say?”

“I say it sounds wonderful, but…” she began in protest.

“No buts,” Brant shook his head at her, “Today I don’t want to think about editors, family or anything else other than us. I mean since we haven’t had time for ourselves I think that this is a must.”

“I’d like that. I really would, but…” she stopped herself before her dark eyes lifted to his again. She could see the pleading expression on his face before she finally nodded, “why not?”

“Really?” Brant eyed her intently.

She nodded again, “Yeah, I think it would be a wonderful retreat for us. If we can be back by morning--or at least mid-afternoon then I can reschedule the meeting and get to know him better after that. I’m sure that Elliot will be busy with Grady for a while and…”

“That’s wonderful,” Brant pulled Avery into his arms swirling her around on the patio with small dancing motions, “You have no idea how much this means to me.”

She laughed lightly, “If you don’t put me down, you’re going to find out how much this kind of movement doesn’t agree with me so soon after a meal.”

“Oh right,” Brant nodded setting her down promptly. He reached out to touch her cheek gently before his smile expanded, “This means so much to me Avery.”

“It means a lot to me too,” she brought her hand up over his, “and truth be told I’ve been thinking about your proposal for a honeymoon.”

“You have?” he replied with wide eyes.

She nodded. “I have and I think once everything clears with Grady and this search for Jade, well I think we should take that trip to the island. You’re right. It’s exactly what we need and I think it would do us some good. We can get away from Ken--from the craziness of the world and maybe just maybe we can both find a way to let loose for a while.”

“And what made you come to this conclusion?” he questioned teasing his fingers up over her spine. He leaned in to kiss her once again before lacing their fingers together. “Not that I’m complaining a bit, but still…”

“After what happened before, well I figured that maybe we should take some time to let things cool down around here. I hated seeing the way things were with Ken and maybe if we leave for a little while, we can get things straight. Maybe he can find a way to even himself out and get the help that he needs…”

“What he needs is a straight-jacket,” Brant frowned with a shake of his head, “and maybe some time behind bars.”

“No,” Avery blurted out almost immediately.

“No?” he repeated giving her a strange look, “But Avery after what he did to you, he deserves to pay for it. He needs to…”

“Hasn’t he suffered enough?” Avery questioned a pained expression building over her features, “He’s lost the love of his life--everything is falling apart around him and he nearly died after Kyle jumped him.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t take away from what he did to you. He can’t just get away with this. He can’t think that he can get off untouched after hurting you like he did. Avery, that’s not right at all,” Brant frowned at her compassion for his brother’s unsavory actions, “Ken can’t walk around like he did nothing wrong when the truth to the matter is he turned exactly into the monster that Nicholas was.”

“And what’s putting him in jail going to do to change that?” Avery questioned bluntly, “Brant, I know you’re looking out for my best interest, but your brother needs help. He doesn’t need to be caged like an animal for what’s happened. He’s every bit a victim of circumstance as I am. He lost the love of his life and he can’t get her back.”

“That’s still not an excuse for raping you,” he watched her cringe at the sound of the word. He felt her tense up before he continued to try to reason with her, “That’s what it was Avery. Rape.”

“Brant stop,” Avery pushed away from him bringing her hands up over her ears, “I don’t want to talk about this.”

“I realize that, but you can’t ignore what he’s done,” Brant reached out to her, “Avery, he took advantage of you at a time when you were most vulnerable and…”

“And he was someone I cared about. He’s been a friend of mine for years,” Avery reminded him simply, “We have history…”

“That means nothing after he violated you like he did. Ken needs to be punished for what he’s done,” Brant maintained thinking about how he’d allowed his father to get away with his sins.

“He’s already been punished. Brant, what more can you take away from him? What can any of us take away from him when he’s a man searching for a way to be taken away from the pain that living in this world without Caitlin brings to him?” she tossed back out at him, her eyes misting over with tears.

“Avery, this isn’t the same as what happened with you and Russ. You didn’t go out of your way to hurt anyone…” he tried to explain but she shook her head in refusal to see that.

“I tried to kill my mother. I threw Brooke out of a building and he knows it. Ken knows what I’ve done,” she confessed behind broken sobs. “I told him everything that night.”

“Has he tried to threaten you with that? Did he say something to you because I warned him if even thought about threatening you…” Brant’s jaw clenched with anger.

“He told you that I told him,” Avery’s eyes widened with shock.

Brant nodded, “And he tried to threaten me with it, but I’m not going to let him use your misery as a tool to keep him from being punished for his crimes. My brother needs to be stopped before he does something worse than he’s already done.”

“I agree, but jail isn’t an answer,” she argued with him, “My pressing charges isn’t going to change what’s happening to him. He’s not going to get better rotting in a jail cell.”

“Avery, you of all people should know that someone who does something like that should have to be held accountable for it,” Brant frowned at her insistence to let it go.

“Just like I should’ve been held accountable for what I did to Brooke,” Avery pointed out with a pained expression, “Brant, I can tell you with a clear conscience that Ken’s not in his right mind right now. There’s something that’s not altogether there and while I hate what happened between him and I, the truth to the matter is that I don’t want him to hurt more than he already has.”

“But why?” he asked blankly, “Why not pursue this?”

“Because if I let anything happen to Ken--if I took it to that extreme, then he would suffer far worse than either one of us can even begin to imagine. He’s lost everything Brant--absolutely everything and to do that, well it would be just signing his death warrant. I mean think about this. He did what he did to hurt you--yes, he hurt me, but ultimately I think this was more about trying to get you to react.”

“Avery, that’s not how…” Brant shook his head, feeling the truth hit him in her words.

“Ken’s in self-destruct mode and he’s not going to stop until someone pulls the trigger so to speak and puts him out of his misery. If he’s behind bars, then he’s going to find just the right person in jail to give him what he wants. That’s not what he needs.”

“Then what would you suggest? That I just sit back and ignore what he did to you? That I pretend it never happened?” he blinked back at her, “Is that what you’re asking for me to do?”

“No,” she shook her head, “but maybe together with your grandfather we can find a way to help Ken. Maybe we can get him into some kind of therapy and help him find himself again.”

“Avery, I can’t believe I’m hearing this. I mean I know that you’re someone who tries to do the right thing, but…” he reached out to her.

“Brant, when Ken realizes what he’s been doing, there won’t be any other punishment in the world that would be worse for him then the realization of how far he’s fallen. When he sees that he’s sunk to this point--it’ll be far worse than rotting in a jail cell for him. I know Ken and I know that he’s internalized so many things. He’s been holding it in for so very long and now, well now I think that he needs help--real help.”

“I don’t believe this,” Brant shook his head before inhaling slowly.

“Brant please…try and see where I’m coming from,” Avery reached for his hand in hers. “I don’t want anyone else to suffer anymore than they already have.”

“Avery, I see where you’re coming from, but I just don’t understand considering that you were the one he hurt,” Brant eased his fingers up over the side of her face into her dark hair, “Is this really what you want? For me to not find a legal way to pursue this?”

“Not right now,” she shook her head, “I don’t think it’ll do him any good.”

“Yet you really think that he’ll agree to therapy?” he tilted his head to the side to look at her.

“No, not a chance,” she shook her head, “but we should at least try to help him help himself.”

“And if that doesn’t work,” he arched a skeptic brow.

“Then we find another way to deal with this, but right now,” she leaned forward circling her arms around his waist, “I don’t want to think about Ken or anything else other than our enjoying our day at the vineyard. What do you say?”

“I say that if you let me make a quick call we can be on our way to some freedom for a little while Mrs. Ashford,” Brant smiled down at her before kissing the top of her head.

“In that case,” Avery held out her cell phone, bringing it up between them, “You can use my phone.”

“Now you’re talking,” Brant grinned eagerly accepting her phone as he thought to the possibilities the day held in store for the two of them together.


“This is going to be great,” Susan smiled rubbing her hands together lightly, “I am going to love this when the plan comes together.”

She looked through her papers before hearing a knock at her door as a smile spread across her features.

“That’s probably Kyle,” she walked towards the door, “He is probably going to be standing there with his bags and everything.”

As she walked towards the door, she thought about that sight. It would be perfect, just him and her.

“I didn’t think you would be back so soon,” Susan frowned looking up noticing the person before her wasn’t Kyle, “What are you doing here?”

“Not who you expected?” Sarah questioned before walking past Susan watching her shut the door.

“I get so many visitors these days…I hardly have time to know who is who,” Susan replied before looking back at Sarah.

“Right,” Sarah nodded looking around the room before resting her hands on her hips.

“So you came here for a reason I suppose,” Susan stated seeing Sarah nod slowly.

“I came here to talk to you about Kyle,” Sarah informed Susan as Susan snapped her fingers.

“That’s right, you’re that girlfriend of his right?” Susan questioned before laughing. “He hardly talks about you around me.”

“Probably because he doesn’t want to talk to you at all,” Sarah shot back watching Susan giggle.

“Is someone angry because their boyfriend is spending more time with me?” Susan wondered trying to aggravate Sarah.

“Like he wants to,” Sarah snapped before calming down, “Listen Susan, we have to have a talk…and we have to talk now.”


Carly took in a slow, agonizing breath as she stood on Dave’s front porch. While she’d thought she would be able to find the right words to explain what he must’ve seen in her hotel room, she now found herself at a loss. There was no way that she could come up with something reasonable enough to really make sense of what had happened with Ken. Still she had to try to let Dave know that she wasn’t about to throw away what they had with one another. Determination surged through her veins and as she moved in closer to the door, she vowed to let Dave know exactly where her heart was--with him.

Carly brought her hand up to knock, but stopped herself when she realized that the front door was open. Immediately guilt washed over her as she knew Dave well enough to know that he wouldn’t just leave his door open. She’d spotted his car outside and she knew that he must’ve been so upset that he’d just come home in a fury.

“You can fix this. You will fix this,” Carly vowed pushing open his front door. She took a look around, seeing no signs of him, but as she closed the door behind her.

“Oh God…” she heard Dave’s voice bellow out from down the hallway leading to his bedroom. Immediately she felt a shot of pain rush through her--a moment of heart-wrenching guilt stab at her over what Dave must be feeling at this point of time. Having thought to what he must’ve thought he walked in on at her hotel, Carly had to set him straight. She had to let him know that she hadn’t betrayed him--that she’d set the record straight with Ken about where she wanted to be in her life.

“Dave,” Carly spoke his name rushing to his bedroom in the hopes of letting him see she was sincere in wanting to push the past behind them. She pushed his door partially open ready to do what it would take to prove to him she was serious this time, but before she could get it open completely she heard an altogether foreign sound. A woman’s laughter.

“Oh Dave,” the woman seemed to purr, “That’s quite an amazing treasure you kept buried there, but I must say I’m so very happy to see just how good you are with your nightstick. That was incredible…”

“You haven’t seen anything yet. I was just warming up,” Dave’s voice rose from behind the door with explicit undertones surging beyond his words.

Another giggle followed before Carly pushed open the door unable to stop herself after what she’d heard. She found herself at a loss as her eyes fell upon the bed in the center of the room where Dave and his mystery woman lay with one another clearly basking in the aftermath of an intimate exchange.

“Dave,” Carly called out to him, watching the way he held the woman beside him. In that moment, her heart sank as she realized that she’d blown it. Somehow she’d just managed to lose the man she’d loved forever and nothing could change that.


Kipp took in a deep breath as he kept skimming through the channels. His mind kept drifting back to Heather, but even more…Charles.

“I can’t believe I thought she loved me,” Kipp scowled throwing the remote onto the couch next to him. “Now that my son has to live with a mother like that.”

He heard a knock at his door as he slowly got up walking towards the door.

“Kellen?” Kipp questioned seeing Kellen resting against his doorframe with dark sunglasses and a baseball jacket on. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, after the other day…I figured you needed some time to just go out and have some fun,” Kellen offered up taking off his sunglasses and sliding them into his jacket pocket, “So what do you say?”

“Where would we go?” Kipp questioned as Kellen held up his hand motioning him to be quiet as he reached into his pocket and pulled something out handing it to Kipp. “A baseball game?”

“A baseball game,” Kellen nodded with a smile, “These are great seats.”

“I don’t know,” Kipp pondered everything in his mind as Kellen frowned.

“Come on, these seats are awesome and you know you will have some fun,” Kellen pleaded as Kipp nodded.

“Alright, I will go,” Kipp agreed before taking in a deep breath, “Just let me grab my jacket.”

“I promise you wont regret going,” Kellen smiled as Kipp shut the door, locking it behind him, “You are going to have so much fun.”


Heather paced around the foyer wondering what was taking Brant and Avery so damned long outside. She’d stopped Brant in the hallway earlier in the day hoping to get a word in with him edgewise after he’d blown her off, but he’d insisted he’d catch up with her in a few minutes. Now a couple of hours after the fact she found herself wondering what in the hell was so important that he couldn’t give her the time of day. Then again she had a pretty good feeling what was happening. Avery had felt threatened by Heather being around, so she’d clearly decided to seduce Brant as a distraction.

“Well it’s not going to work,” Heather stomped around the foyer contemplating her next approach, “I’m going to find a way to show Brant that the last thing he needs in his life is someone like you when he and I are so obviously meant to be together. Brant and I will be together again and there‘s nothing you‘re going to be able to do to stop it from happening Avery.”

“Is that right?” Augustus questioned walking down the stairs to find Heather standing before him.

“Augustus,” Heather gasped nearly leaping out of her skin as she turned to see the Ashford patriarch before her. She felt her pulse quicken, her heart thud up into her chest and her jaw drop as she thought to the last time she’d seen him. It had been the night of that party that she’d hopped into bed with that idiot movie producer and he’d been a first hand witness to Brant kicking her to the curb. Still she couldn’t let the past stop her from where she wanted to be now. Forcing a smile, she cleared her throat and began again, “I’d heard rumors that you were back in town.”

“Is that right?” he questioned descending over the last step.

She nodded, “I just didn’t realize that you were staying here as well. I would’ve thought that you’d surely have flown in and out like you used to do.”

“Well things aren’t like they used to be--on any level,” his words marked a warning tone as he approached her. “Although I must confess I was rather surprised to see that Brant had you staying here yet again with him being a newlywed and all.”

“Well, I’ve been helping him with things lately and…” Heather started with a confident smile.

“Cut the bull Heather. I can see right through and I have news for you little girl,” Augustus moved forward, his thick accent cutting her to the core. His eyes were dark and held warning as he bridged the distance between them, “I know what you’re up to and it’s not going to be happening.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she shrugged her shoulders feigning innocence, “I mean what you think you walked in on wasn’t what you believed…”

“Oh it was exactly what I believed it to be and the truth to the matter is that while I didn’t like it, I was glad I happened upon you today,” he revealed with a crooked smirk.

“You were?” she replied with a strange expression. She stood taller trying to weigh what angle he was working with her, “And why is that?”

“Because I think it’s time that we had a talk,” he reached out to her catching her arm in his. “In fact, I thought we’d take it a step further and take a ride.”

“A ride?” she repeated with a small gulp wondering what he’d had planned. “Well I’m not really ready for a ride as I’m underdressed and waiting for Brant to…”

“Brant told me all about the predicament you’ve gotten yourself into with Douglas Mahoney’s son,” Augustus added gently guiding her towards the front door, “and it really is an unfortunate thing. Did I tell you that Douglas and I have crossed paths in the past?”

“You don’t say,” she replied trying to keep her tone as neutral as possible.

“Indeed we have and I have an understanding of his hatred for you. I realize that you’ve been through a horrible ordeal lately and that’s why I felt we should talk. With custody of your son on the line and all, well I’m sure that you must be feeling bowled over by emotions,” Augustus reached out to open the front door.

“Why yes I am, but…” Heather looked out to the front porch wondering what he had in mind for her. She saw a limo waiting for them in the circle drive and panic swept over her. “You know I’m really not ready for any kind of ride and…”

“Trust me,” Augustus began reaching for his jacket and wrapping it around her shoulders. He placed his arm around her waist to guide her out of the house into the afternoon, “I have an offer I’m sure you simply can’t refuse.”

“You know I’m waiting on Brant and…” she started with obvious hesitance.

“Brant knows we’re together,” he assured her with a smile, “and since he’ll be out of town today as well, I figured that perhaps it would give you and I an opportunity to catch up with one another. It’s been so very long since we’ve encountered one another.”

“Yes it has, but…” Heather felt herself being pulled along to the limo despite her small protests. Reluctantly she slid into the opened door before Augustus followed her in as well. Once the driver had closed the door she noticed that the black glass window was up separating where they sat from the driver. Suddenly she felt very closed in. Taking in a gulp, she looked to Augustus who had just cracked open a bottle of champagne.

“Would you care for a drink?” he questioned with a smile rising over his features.

“No, not today,” she shook her head vowing to be clear-minded for whatever it is he was planning to spring upon her.

He shrugged before pouring himself a glass. Dropping the bottle into the ice bucket before him, he smiled before holding up his glass in a salute. He lifted it to his lips, taking a long, sweet taste before addressing her once again, “It’s probably for the best.”

“Cut to the point Augustus,” Heather finally spat out not trusting whatever was happening between them. “What do you want?”

“Out of life in general? Or just for today?” he replied with another curious expression.

“Out of me,” she leaned forward, her blue-green eyes penetrating his, “What are we doing out here?”

“Giving Brant a little privacy and a break from your hovering,” he replied simply before relaxing a bit more. He sipped his champagne again before speaking up again, “I’m about to give you an offer you can’t refuse Heather.”

“You keep saying that, but somehow I seriously doubt whatever it is that you’re putting on the table is worth the price I’ll have to pay for it,” she folded her arms in front of her chest stubbornly.

“Oh I’m pretty sure that you’ll be interested,” he added with an air of sophistication and confidence. “You won’t want to walk away from what I have to give you.”

“And just what might that be?” she questioned disinterested.

“You really believe you have another shot at persuading my grandson to be interested in you again, don’t you?” he asked eyeing her intently.

“Quite frankly I don’t think that it’s any of your business,” she snubbed her nose at him.

“Oh but it is. I haven’t seen Brant this happy in a long time and when I think back to the last time I saw him when you both were together, well I have to admit that I was less than thrilled about the match,” he sipped his drink again.

“Your point,” she glared over at him.

“My point is that I’d like to spare my grandson any grief that you might think about causing. Rumor has it that Douglas Mahoney had the same notion in his mind where his son Kipp was concerned. You truly have been making your rounds, haven’t you?”

“Go to hell,” Heather spat back at him before leaning forward to knock on the window to alert the driver she wanted out of the car.

“He can’t hear you,” Augustus reached out to her, forcing her to face him again, “but you’d be best suited to listen to me Heather. This is how it’s going to be from here on out. I’m giving you an opportunity to walk away unscathed. You quit harassing Brant and I’ll give you what you crave the most.”

“And just what might that be?” Heather questioned feeling the limo come to a complete stop. Suddenly she felt prickly heat spill over her features, crawling up through her veins. She looked around through the tinted windows trying to place her location, “Where are you taking me? Where are we?”

“The airport,” Augustus explained firmly, “You’re going on a little trip.”

“The hell I am,” she spat back at him. She reached for the door handle to try to get herself out, but it was locked. She tried for a few minutes more before glaring at him, “You can’t get rid of me like this.”

“Oh I’m not planning on getting rid of you. As much as I’d love to do just that, the fact is I’m handing you the key to getting your life back Heather. If you agree to play by my rules not only will I personally see to it that you don’t lose your son, but I’ll find a way to get you back in the lifestyle that you so richly crave.”

“And just how do you think you’re going to do that?” she asked abrasively watching him lean in towards her.

“By giving you your face back,” he mouthed pushing her long, blonde hair from her eyes. He scanned the burn marks up over the side of her face before he felt her pull back, “I’ve called in a few favors and the top specialists are waiting for you out west. They’re going to take you in for surgery in less than four hours should you be willing to take me up on my offer.”

“And why should I believe for a second that you’d be willing to help me?” she asked wearily, “Why should I believe any of this?”

“I give you my word,” he stated with a simple shrug of his shoulders.

“I don’t believe the word of an Ashford--especially when it comes from your mouth,” she hissed clenching her fingers at her sides.

“Then see for yourself,” he reached into his pocket unfolding an envelope which contained the order for her surgery. He nudged it in front of her face watching her resist before finally accepting. Tearing at the envelope she scanned it over before her eyes shot back to him again.

“You’re serious?” she half questioned.

“Very serious,” he nodded, “if you go and do what you’re supposed to do, then I will see to it that you get what you’ve been dreaming of with one exception…”

“Brant,” she finished with complete understanding.

“That’s right,” he reached into his pocket pulling out a pen from within, “You just sign on the dotted line and not only will you have your surgery paid for in full, but you’ll have enough to set yourself up when you return to Coral Valley. You’ll be out of Brant’s life and you’ll have your son.”

“How can you be certain that Douglas Mahoney won’t change that for me when I return?” she challenged covering all her bases.

“Let’s just say I’m working on it,” he replied with a small shrug, “Should I fail to come through on my end of the bargain, then this contract will be null and void. Either way it’s a win/win situation for you Heather.”

“Except for the part about my being with Brant,” she frowned at the thought of letting him go forever.

“Face it Heather. You and Brant simply weren’t meant to be. All you did was cheat on him when he was with you. Do yourself a favor and just let go of the past. It’s never going to come full circle for you again now that he’s happy. Take my offer and find some peace and happiness in your life. It’s really a gamble worth taking,” he held the pen out to her once again.

“And what will happen to my son while I’m gone? What will he be doing when I’m away?” she asked still unsure of what lay ahead for her.

“I’ll see to it that he’s in good hands. I’ll have a motion filed for you to be the one who has sole custody and right about the time you return, well this thing with Kipp will disappear. You have my word on that,” he promised with another nudge.

“And if it doesn’t, then you’ll forget this deal we made without wreaking havoc upon me?” she replied reaching out to the pen.

He nodded, “You have my word on that.”

“I’d better because if you screw me Augustus, then I swear you’ll wish you never met me as I’ll make your life a living hell,” Heather spat out at him before signing the contract before her.

“Believe me I already feel that way,” he replied eyeing her as she finished up with the signing. She handed the papers back to him before he tucked them away in his pocket.

“So are we done here now?” she asked impatiently thinking about the promise of the future he was offering her.

“So it would seem,” he nodded hearing the driver get out of the car, “and Heather I’m sure the next time we come face to face with one another again, you’ll be as good as new.”

“Better than new,” she vowed, her eyes narrowing down at him, “and if you even think about crossing me, then I swear I won’t hesitate in taking you down.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Augustus replied bringing his hand up over his heart. The driver opened up the door and Heather shot out one last icy glare before exiting the limo. He heard her huff and as the door slammed he reached for his champagne again taking another sip. Now that he’d taken care of Heather, he’d had one problem out of the way. Of course that still left a great many more to deal with. For now, however, he would take his time celebrating his small victory. Life was good, he saluted before taking another sip of his champagne.


“Do you come here a lot?” Kipp questioned looking around the field seeing Kellen nod.

“Are you kidding me?” Kellen wondered with a laugh. “They have amazing athletes on this team and great food…speaking of great food, you want a ballpark hotdog?”

“Sure,” Kipp nodded reaching for his wallet before Kellen grabbed his hand.

“Sweetheart, the least I can do is buy you a hotdog,” Kellen laughed running up the steps quickly.

Kipp shrugged before leaning back into his seat. He hadn’t been to a real baseball game in a long time. Maybe he would have fun here, he surely deserved it. Kellen didn’t seem like such a bad guy, he was actually kind of cool.

“Here you go,” Kellen got him out of his thoughts as he handed him a drink. “I got you a drink, no money is needed when I come here.”

“What do you mean by that?” Kipp wondered watching Kellen take a seat next to him.

“I know the people who own this whole thing,” Kellen answered with a shrug, “Very nice people if you ask me.”

“So you get these good seats and everything all the time?” Kipp questioned as Kellen nodded.

“I can take you back to the locker rooms later so you can meet the athletes later if you want,” Kellen suggested watching Kipp shake his head.

“You are just playing with me right?” Kipp questioned seeing Kellen shake his head slowly.

“No playing when it comes to me,” Kellen replied with a laugh before seeing the players walk out on the field. “The game is starting.”

Kipp laughed before giving his full attention the field. Maybe this was going to be a good day.


“What is that you want to talk about?” Susan questioned folding her hands out in front of her.

“Well, let’s see,” Sarah sighed thinking back to everything Kyle had told her earlier, “I want you to stop playing with Kyle’s mind.”

“How am I playing with Kyle’s mind?” Susan questioned with a laughed before taking a seat on the couch.

“By telling him all those lies,” Sarah answered holding her hands up in the air.

“There are no lies coming from me,” Susan shot out, “Everything I have told him is completely true.”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Sarah rolled her eyes before leaning against the wall. “Right now, I think it would be a good time to tell me everything you know about Jade.”

“Well, if you wanted to know anything about that you should have just asked Kyle,” Susan pointed out before seeing Sarah shake her head.

“Something tells me that you are lying to him,” Sarah declared before seeing Susan shrug.

“Then I guess the thing that is telling you that is wrong,” Susan laughed before looking up at the angered expression on Sarah’s face. “I have never lied to Kyle once.”

“I find that hard to believe,” Sarah scowled before shaking her head, “You know what? I want you stay away from him.”

“Stay away from Kyle?” Susan wondered with a grin. “Honey, he is the one that keeps coming back to me.”

“Shut your mouth Susan,” Sarah snapped before rolling her eyes, “First, he lost his best friend. Secondly, he had to deal with Grady being in jail. And now he has to deal with Jade being missing. I don’t think he needs another problem in his life.”

“I think you are so right about that,” Susan agreed before standing up. “That’s why I am trying to help him find Jade. If you will excuse me…I have some work to do.”

“Fine,” Sarah nodded slowly before walking towards the door, “You’ll be hearing from me.”

“I’m sure I will,” Susan grinned turning around as she heard Sarah shut the door roughly.


Kyle’s eyes lazily opened hearing the ringing of his cell phone as he noticed he was no longer laying down in Sarah’s arms. He slowly rose trying to focus his vision before answering his cell phone.

“Hello,” Kyle yawned before hearing an unknown voice from the caller.

“You caused me enough trouble Houston, stop while you are at it or else your pretty little girl gets it,” the person on the other end growled as Kyle’s heart began to race knowing that Sarah wasn’t with him.

“Who is this? Answer me,” Kyle demanded before realizing the person had already hung up.

Where could she be? He quickly ran down the hallway to her bedroom before noticing she wasn’t there.

“Sarah,” he yelled out her name trying to get a response, but heard nothing in return. “Where could she be?”

A thought went through his mind as he went to the closet in her living room looking for her coat.

“Her coat or purse isn’t here,” Kyle has a bit of a relief before opening the door and looking outside. “Why don’t you have a damn phone?”


Shannon yawned before noticing Don was turning now. She had been following him for quite a while now. It was about time that she knew where he was going everyday. She kept driving as he parked in the middle of the street. When she noticed he was at the door of a house she had never seen before, she turned around driving back slowly.

“Who is that?” Shannon questioned seeing a woman answer the door as Don kissed her before walking into the house. “And you worry about me around other men.”

She shook her head before following down the street before shaking her head.

“I have to know what he is doing there,” Shannon declared before turning around once more and parking right behind Don’s car.

She quickly walked up the sidewalk and up to the door in a fury ready to explode on Don as she knocked on the door.

“Hi,” Alicia smiled opening her door before opening the screen, “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, is Don Leveski here?” Shannon questioned noticing that this was the woman he had just kissed earlier.

“Just a second honey, I will go and get him for you,” Alicia smiled before disappearing back into the house.

“Honey,” Shannon laughed looking back towards the street.

This whole relationship was going to be more of a pain everyday. Was this his secret? Did he have an older lover or something?

“Shannon?” Don questioned as Shannon turned around seeing him walk out the door with a child in his arms.

“Don?” Shannon questioned before looking at the little boy that looked up at Don.

“Who is that daddy?” the little boy asked as Don kissed the boy’s forehead gently.

“Daddy?” Shannon questioned unable to speak as Don nodded slowly.

“Shannon, I would like you to meet my son,” Don sighed holding the boy closer to him, “His name is Matthew.”


Darkness. The blinding darkness was all that Jade could feel surrounding her. In the blackness, she felt the suffocating dampness thicken the air from within her nostrils. She felt her heart speed up, her breath come out in a labored gasp as her fingers fanned out over the sticky, rough material before her. She tried to sit up feeling herself a bit woozy. Falling backward she reached for her head trying to will the dizziness away.

“Where am I?” she questioned with in a low, guttural tone knowing her limbs were tired--too tired to really make many movements. Still as the deafening sounds of the darkness began to engulf her, she forced herself to move. Her legs felt heavy--body aching with some kind of drugging effect, but she couldn’t quite place where she was.

Straining to see in the place she’d awakened in, Jade was only met by darkness. She extended her fingers out over where she lay trying to determine what it was she was resting on. Dropping her hand down, she felt a cold slab of cement beneath her. Panic soon followed and she crawled up over where she had been unconscious.

“Someone? Anyone?” she called out in a low, raspy tone feeling her throat dry and scratchy. “Someone please…can anyone hear me?”

Her legs felt like Jell-O, but Jade refused to get up. She used her arms to hoist her up off of the cement she’d been laying on. Slowly she lowered her foot to the ground, not quite sure what to expect. Fearing the unknown she was cautious in her movements, but soon she felt a steady ground beneath her. She took a step forward, one sluggish motion after another. Reaching out to feel for a wall, she could sense the cold, hard material before her. It wasn’t like the cement. It was smoother, more refined and as she slid her fingers over it, she wondered where she’d wound up.

Even now her brain tried to register how she’d gotten to this place. She remembered getting ready for Grady’s trial--getting her purse and going to the door. She had heard someone at the door and then…then nothing. No, not exactly nothing. She remembered the thick feel of the musty cloth that had stolen her breath away from her. From the drugs that were soaked over cloth as it stole her consciousness away from her.

“Where am I,” she questioned aloud hearing her voice echo through the darkness bouncing off of the wall that surrounded her. She slid her fingers over the marble-like material before her, hoping to find some kind of clue about where she was, but instead she felt a distinct tug at her ankle.

She winced falling back as she lost her balance. Bringing her hands forward, Jade hoped to buffer her fall as she hit the cement. A pain shot up through her arm, but mostly the full force of the hurt had centered in over her knee--over the leg that had been jerked back by her movement. Sliding her fingers out over her slender leg it was then that she realized she was trapped. There over her ankle was some kind of metal cuff of sorts. She followed it further with her finger tips to feel some kind of chain link holding her to somewhere close to where she’d started off. Cautiously moving across the floor, Jade followed the chain to it’s place in the wall where it was locked into place. She tugged on it once testing the strength before yanking harder. Again and again she tried to pull it from it’s base, but it was no use. She was still very dizzy, her head spinning and as she felt her strength leaving her, she spoke up again in a futile whimper.

“Someone help me. Please…” her words echoed through the darkness as consciousness slipped away from her again leading her to another kind of darkness.


...to be continued...