Episode 201

“Who the hell are you,” Christy demanded glaring up at Carly from where she lay in Dave’s bed.

“Carly, I…” Dave started finding himself shell-shocked as he tried to make sense of what was happening around him.

“And here I felt like I was wrong--like I was the jerk because of what happened in my hotel room, but this…” Carly shook her head at him, unable to fight the tears that threatened. “Well, I guess you found a way to put me in my place, right Dave?”

“This is none of your business,” Dave sat up straighter, his eyes narrowing with anger, “You have no place in my life after you and Ken have made a fool of me time and time again. I saw you two together Carly. I know what you did.”

“You only think you know, but what happened, well it wasn’t…” Carly glared over in Christy’s direction, “It wasn’t this.”

“The hell it wasn’t,” Dave snarled back at her, his eyes full of anger and hurt, “I saw him pawing at you. I saw you two going at it like two animals in heat. Don’t even try to tell me that it didn’t happen Carly.”

“It didn’t happen Dave, but obviously something else did,” Carly blurted out angrily, “Obviously you decided I wasn’t worth waiting for any longer.”

“After you and Ken managed to play me for a fool time and time again, you’re damn right that I realized you weren’t waiting for,” Dave snarled in response, “You thought you had the last laugh, didn’t you Carly?”

“Okay, this is getting too creepy for me,” Christy mouthed sliding away from Dave, “I think this is my cue to leave.”

“No, you don’t have to go anywhere. I invited you to come with me and she, well she’s not invited,” Dave glared over at Carly, “She has no business being here.”

“Oh but this little slut does, right?” Carly shot back icily, “and here I felt horrible for everything I did to you--for every mistake I made…”

“Believe me this doesn’t even begin to measure up to what you and Ken did,” Dave slurred back at her, the raw emotion he’d kept within pouring out, “Did you really think I was so naïve that I wouldn’t find out that you two were laughing at me behind my back?”

“We weren’t laughing at you. I told him to leave. What you think you saw wasn’t what happened. Yes, I’ll admit he came on strong, but the fact to the matter is that I told him that I loved you--only you,” Carly blurted out unable to contain her tears. “I told him that I wanted to be with you, not with him.”

“Is that right?” Dave glared at her, “Or is this just your way of trying to twist the knife deeper before you and Ken take on yet another level of revenge on me?”

“This isn’t about revenge. I came here because I saw your flowers--I knew that you were at the hotel and I knew I had to fix this somehow,” Carly pleaded with him watching as Christy slid out from beneath the sheet.

“Look, I can see this is a situation that doesn’t include me,” Christy began uneasily, pulling one of the top blankets with her. She wrapped herself up before turning to Dave, “I think I’d better go.”

“No, don’t leave,” he pleaded with her before glaring at Carly, “I’ll just get rid of this little intrusion and then we can go back to what we were doing before.”

“No, that’s okay,” Christy shook her head before looking to Carly, “I think you and your wife need to work this out all on your own.”

“My wife?” Dave repeated incredulously before shaking his head, “She’s not my wife.”

“Yeah, right,” Christy rolled her eyes before looking to Carly again, “I know all the signs and this fight is a two person disagreement. There’s no room for me in here.”

“That’s right, so get lost,” Carly shot back at her. “Go back to whatever street corner he picked you up on.”

“Listen you…” Christy warned stepping up to Carly, “I don’t know where you get off judging me, but from where I stand you obviously weren’t woman enough to satisfy your man since he practically begged me to come home with him.”

“Begged you?” Carly gave her a once over, “Is that begged you or bought you?”

“You bitch,” Christy balled her hand up into a fist hitting Carly right square across the jaw and sending her flying back to the ground. When Carly toppled back to the floor, Christy moved in over her, kicking at Carly’s abdomen in a fury. “You stupid, stupid bitch!”

“Hey. Get off of her,” Dave’s eyes widened in a panic watching Christy attack Carly. While he’d brought Christy home to fill that void that Carly had left in his heart--to help him hurt Carly, he never anticipated this. Immediately Dave sprung out of bed pulling Christy away from a now coughing Carly.

Christy wrestled a bit in Dave’s grasp, still throwing her foot out at Carly in an attempt to hurt her for the words Carly had thrown out at her. She grunted and groaned feeling Dave’s hold on her constrict before she wiggled in his arms to face him.

“Stop it!” Dave snapped at her feeling Christy spit in his face, catching him off guard as he released her.

“You’re both crazy,” Christy snapped up at him in a huff, “You and your bitch wife or whoever the hell she is.”

With that Christy marched out of the room in a huff, not bothering to look back. Dave watched her exit for a moment feeling himself caught up in the gnawing repulsion of his own actions. It wasn’t like him to pick up a woman at a bar--to bring her home and do what he’d just done, but now, well now as he wiped at his face guilt racked through him. He heard Carly coughing on the ground, rolled over onto her stomach in an attempt to get up, but instead she fell forward clearly more shaken than he’d realized.

Instinctively Dave bent down beside her, reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “Carly.”

“Don’t touch me,” she warned, feeling blood pooling in her mouth. She looked up at him, tears burning behind her eyes before she turned away, “I think this speaks for itself.”

“Hey, this isn’t what I wanted. It’s not what I…” Dave began hearing the slamming of his front door alerting him to Christy’s exit, “Carly please look at me.”

“No,” she shook her head adamantly, “I need to leave.”

“Carly, please,” he reached out to her feeling her resistance. Still he touched her face urging her to face him again. He saw the trail of blood pooling from the center of her lip down her chin, “you’re hurt.”

“As if you care,” Carly strained to pull herself up off of the ground, silently cursing herself for not seeing the attack Christy had planned. Carly was smarter than that--faster than that and to let someone like that little tramp get the upper hand, well it was completely out of character. Moving up on shaky limbs, she used the wall for support before turning to Dave, “I think I should go.”

“No, not like this,” Dave shook his head at her, “Let me take a look at it.”

“I’m fine,” she swatted his hand away from her.

“You’re not fine,” Dave replied reaching out to her. He felt her protest, but he refused to budge on the issue. He pulled her into his arms firmly not leaving her any room to walk away. “You’re coming with me.”

“Let go of me Dave,” Carly snapped fighting his hold on her as he pulled her into his master bathroom.

“No, you’re not leaving until I know you’re okay,” he argued guiding her over to the bathroom countertop. “Sit down.”

“I’m not going to sit here and…” she protested, but when he pushed her back onto the counter, she felt no need to protest. She sat there looking at him, watching him with a pained expression as he pulled a first aid kit out of one of the cabinets.

“At least you’ve learned when to shut up,” Dave remarked moving in to inspect her wounds.

“I just have nothing to say to you,” Carly replied wincing as he dabbed a cloth over her lip. “Ow.”

“Hurts doesn’t it?” he questioned taking a long look at the cut that now remained bleeding over her otherwise flawless face.

“What do you think?” she glared up at him, feeling her throat raspy and tight after the struggle she’d had with Christy.

“I think that you and I are making some big mistakes here,” Dave remarked offhandedly, “Mistakes that clearly we can’t take back.”

“I didn’t sleep with Ken,” Carly answered sharply thinking back to what had prompted her to come to Dave’s house, “I know you think that’s what I did at my hotel, but I didn’t. He tried to make an appeal--to get me to see that he and I were meant to be together, but I refused him. I told him that you were the only man that I wanted.”

“Why should I believe that after what I know about your relationship with him?” Dave threw back at her coldly, “Why should I believe anything you have to say?”

“Because it’s the truth,” Carly shot back icily feeling herself wince at the slightest touch from him, “I could’ve slept with him, but I didn’t…”

“Yeah well you’ve mistaken me for someone who cares. We’re finished Carly,” Dave replied stiffly, bringing his hand over the side of her face, “There’s no hope for a future with us.”

“If that’s really how you feel, then I’m not going to try to argue it,” she replied painfully, looking down to the floor. She inhaled slowly realizing that Dave was still very naked standing before her. Without realizing it, she’d found that he’d picked her up and tried to help her regardless of the way they felt about one another in that moment in time. Even now she was suddenly aware of the proximity between them. She looked up seeing his gaze fixed upon her.

“You don’t give me any reason to feel any other way,” Dave answered tightly, his eyes traveling over her features, down over her lip. It seemed to have stopped bleeding after he’d applied some pressure to the wound.

“I was telling you the truth when I said I love you,” Carly confessed painfully, “I know that doesn’t mean much, but it really is how I feel.”

“And Ken?” Dave questioned with an agonizingly slow breath, “How do you feel about him?”

“I don’t know…” she began seeing the disapproval behind his eyes. She inhaled slowly, “conflicted.”

“Meaning you still feel something for him?” he inquired again.

“I do, but it’s not what you’re thinking it is. I can’t explain what it is with Ken,” she confessed honestly, her eyes returning to his.

“Is it love?” Dave asked further.

“I thought it could be,” she revealed moving to bite down on her lower lip, but in the movement she winced.

“And now?” Dave prompted further.

“What was that girl all about?” Carly asked knowing she had no place to talk, but still she needed to know, “Is she someone that you…”

Dave’s face twisted with emotion. He looked away from her for the first time since they’d entered the bathroom, “She was a mistake.”

Carly fell to silence thinking about everything that had transpired between them. She remembered Ken’s arrival, her throwing him out and all the events leading up to her walking in on Dave with the other woman. Right away she felt that she had herself to blame for all of this.

“I’m willing to overlook your mistake if you’re willing to try to believe me about mine,” Carly blurted out off the top of her head.

“What?” Dave gave her a sideways glance.

“I said I’m willing to…” she started again not knowing what had prompted her.

“I heard what you said,” Dave placed his index finger over her lips to silence her. He watched her cringe before he released her just enough to slide his finger in over the hollow of her cheekbone, “but why?”

“Why what?” she blinked back at him.

“Why would you say that? Carly, what we’ve turned ourselves into--what we’ve become…” he started to explain what he was feeling.

“Is because of me--because of what I did to us. Dave, I hurt you and I was the one who made you resort to this--to bringing her home with you. I know that’s not you and now…well, I guess all that I can do is say that I’m sorry. That I wish I could take it back, but I can’t. I wish that I didn’t hurt you like I did, but…”

“But we wound up hurting each other,” Dave finished for her, feeling an unsettling emotion tearing at his insides, “Carly, I only brought her back here to hurt you. I wanted you to feel what I was feeling when I saw you with Ken.”

“I did and I do,” she dropped her head solemnly, “and it’s horrible. Dave, I never wanted you to have to go through that. I never meant to hurt you.”

“I wish I could say the same, but I can’t and now, well now if you can’t look at me,” he took a step back, hating himself for what he’d allowed his anger to take him to.

“Can’t look at you?” Carly repeated with wide eyes, “Dave, do you have any idea how hard it is for me not to reach out and hold you? To touch you right now? Even after what I saw in there, well, the truth to the matter is that there hasn’t been a time in my life when I found myself wanting you more.”

“What?” he blinked back at her, clearly confused by her words.

“Dave, I love you and I don’t care about that woman--about what you two did,” she slid off of the counter top, “None of that matters right now. All that is important to me is that we can find a way to fix this if we tried. You told me that you weren’t going to walk away from what we have together without a fight and now, well now it’s my turn. Dave I’m not giving up on us. I don’t care what I have to do--how I have to prove it to you, but one way or another I swear I’m going to find a way to be the kind of woman you need in your life.”

“Carly, I…” he started finding himself at a complete loss.

“I love you Dave,” she reached out to caress the side of his face, her eyes burning right through his, “I’ve loved you for longer than I cared to remember, but the truth is that what happened here--what happened with Ken, well that doesn’t change any of it.”

“Carly I wish that it were that simple, but…” he began feeling her step up on her toes to kiss him desperately. He stumbled backward a bit, surprised by the intensity behind her touch. He felt her move in before him, sliding her arms around his naked waist, falling down over his bottom before offering up a small squeeze.

“Dave, I want to prove myself to you all over again,” Carly murmured against his mouth before taking a step back. Her eyes roamed over his body greedily before she licked her lips. “I want to prove to you that I’m what you need.”

“Carly, it’s not going to be as easy as we think it is,” Dave inhaled slowly, unable to mask the effect being near her had on his body. Even now he found himself wanting to pull her back to him--to finish what that kiss had started, but he knew it wasn’t that simple, “We can’t just ignore what’s happened between us.”

“I know we can’t,” she nodded in complete understanding, her eyes traveling down over his body appreciatively, “but I’m willing to try to make this work somehow.”

“I want to, but Carly…” Dave took a step back suddenly feeling very uncomfortable as his body was giving away where his thoughts were headed with her. “I think…I think that we need…that I need…”

“What?” she questioned hope burning behind her eyes.

“I think I need a shower--a cold one to sober up,” he replied reaching for a towel to cover himself up. “I need to clear my head and then…”

“I understand,” she nodded solemnly, “and I’ll give you time, just as long as you promise me that we can talk about this.”

“We can,” he agreed with a poignant smile clenching the towel at his waist, “and we will.”

“That’s all I can ask for,” she answered sadly before giving him one last look, “I guess this is my cue to exit huh?”

“Well…” he shifted on his feet uneasily.

“For what it’s worth thank you…for considering us,” she threw out one last sad look before heading to the door.

“Carly wait,” he called out to her not quite sure on what it was that had prompted him to stop her. She turned to face him again and he spoke out from his heart. “Don’t go. Don’t leave like this.”

“Dave, I don’t think my staying here is a good idea,” she began uneasily, feeling the tension between them in the room.

“It is,” he pleaded with her taking a step forward before stopping himself, “I mean it can be. I’ll just take my shower and then, well then we can talk. That is if you’re willing.”

She eyed him for a long moment before finally nodding, “I think I’d like that.”

“Good,” Dave couldn’t help but smile, “then I guess I should hurry up in here, huh?”

“That might be a good idea,” she nodded offering up one, last longing look before exiting the bathroom.

As Dave watched her go, he felt his heart race with anticipation--his mind swirling with all the reasons why he and Carly were making a mistake in being together, but none of that seemed relevant at this point in time. He closed his eyes remembering his liaison with the woman he’d picked up at the bar and the stupidity of the moment overwhelmed him. Shaking his head, he reached for the dials on the shower feeling the icy spray blast out. Stepping inside the shower walls, he found himself wondering if he’d ever be able to repair the damage that had been done in his life. After today, he was starting to feel like he too had somehow hit rock bottom.


Mindy entered the Coral Courier offices wondering what Elliot Denton had wanted when he’d asked her to come in on her day off for a brief meeting. Sure, she wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but eagerly she found herself ready to please Elliot and honor his request. She had a feeling that whatever was going on had to do with Russ and honoring his memory and if that was the case, Mindy was going to be one of the first to step up and volunteer for such a task.

“Mindy, there you are,” Elliot approached her with a bright smile rubbing his hands together before looking to his wristwatch. “You’re right on time.”

“Just like I promised,” she nodded offering a smile in return.

“I knew you wouldn’t let me down,” Elliot smiled before turning to glance over his shoulder. He curled his finger at someone, but all Mindy could see was the half opened door to Russell’s office.

“What’s going on,” Mindy questioned watching a clean cut, dark haired man in his mid to late thirties emerge from within Russell’s office. He wasn’t anyone Mindy recognized, yet something about his eyes were strikingly familiar.

“You’re in good hands now,” Elliot promised motioning for the new arrival to join them, “Mindy Carmichael I’d like you to meet Chris Foley your new editor around here. Chris this is Mindy. She was Russell’s secretary and an amazing journalist in the making.”

“Is that right?” Chris eyed her skeptically before giving her a long once over, “Well, you’re shorter than I’d thought you’d be and a lot less blonder, but I suppose you’ll do.”

“Do what?” Mindy blinked back at him, tilting her head a bit slightly confused by the expression on his face. He seemed to be sizing her up before circling around her as if attempting to cover every inch of her with his eyes. She spun around to face him again with an emphatic huff, “Excuse me, do you have some kind of problem here?”

“Oh no, no problems,” Chris waved his hand at her dismissively before looking to Elliot, “You’re right she’s perfect.”

“Would someone care to explain to me what in the world is going on?” Mindy blurted out impatiently not quite sure what the name for the vibe was that she was getting from Chris, but regardless it left her very unsettled.

“Chris is just getting a feel for the paper since I’m going to have him running things around here. Avery and I thought he’d be good for the paper and today he and I were just discussing some of the things for the future and…” Elliot started to explain.

“And we got to talking about the field reporters we have,” Chris blurted out interrupting Elliot with an eager expression, “Turns out we have a few slots open since there are some that are no longer with us. Elliot was talking up about your abilities all morning and it occurred to me that you’ve been wasting your talent answering phones and being just a secretary.”

“Come again?” Mindy blinked back at him.

“I’m saying that you’re fired--” Chris paused before explaining himself, “I mean you’re not really fired as it would be a sin to lose you this early on given your many talents, but I simply won’t accept you being my secretary. It’s just not at all good for the paper or business in general…”

“What?” her jaw dropped in astonishment.

Elliot couldn’t help but let out a tiny chuckle, “What Chris is trying to say is that he’s reviewed some of the submissions that you gave Russ a while ago and he’s found them to be charming. He’d like you to move up to being a reporter, but in his own crazy way he’s got lost in the introduction to the position.”

“I tend to think of myself as eccentric instead of crazy as it has such a much more poetic ring to it. Wouldn’t you agree,” Chris winked down at Mindy before offering up a genuine smile, “So what do you say? Would you like to be one of the masses here?”

“Does this mean I’ll get a raise,” she wiggled her brow at him.

“Consider it done,” Chris added holding his hand out to her, “and while I haven’t found my own secretary just yet, I’m working on it which means I might have you answer some phones around here temporarily, but I can assure you that I do know how to get my own coffee.”

“It’s a good thing because as anyone around here will tell you, I don’t do coffee,” Mindy shook his hand wondering what the future held in store for the Courier now that Elliot had brought new blood into the scene.


“So this is all real?” Shannon questioned as her and Don walked out to the backyard. “You aren’t just playing with me or something? This is what you‘ve been trying to tell me, but haven‘t?”

“Why would I lie about something this big?” Don questioned seeming a bit worried waiting for some reason why Shannon can’t be with him. “I tried to tell you time and time again, but it never came up. I mean I wanted you to know the truth sooner, but then with everything that’s happened, Shannon I just didn’t know how to bring this up. Now that I have, well I know it wasn’t at all the way I wanted to do it. I know that we have a lot to talk about, but now knowing about Matthew, I just have to ask where this leaves us.”

“I don’t know,” Shannon shrugged before stopping and turning towards him, “I hardly even know you.”

“What do you mean by that?” he questioned before shaking his head. “Forget I asked that because I already know. I‘ve tried Shannon, but you have this wall around you. It’s as if you want to keep me at arm’s length when I want to make this work. I’ve tried time and time again, but you still insist on avoiding the reality between us. You never give me time to let me let you know me.”

“Like you ever have time,” she rolled her eyes before feeling him grab her by the shoulder and turn her around.

“I had time, a bunch of time,” he reminded her before folding his arms out in front of him. “You were the one who always left. I kept trying to tell you, but no…work was too important for you. Or no, you had to sleep or make love to me. You never once were interested in what it was that I had to say.”

“Of course I…” she started with a scowl.

“No Shannon. You weren’t and that’s because you were more interested in avoiding reality rather than trying to talk and really focus on what our being married meant to one another. Every time I tried to open up to you, you just pushed me away again and again…”

“You had time to tell me about this recently,” she pointed out as Don shook his head, “I don’t think I can deal with a problem like this.”

“A problem? Are you calling my son a problem?” he questioned sounding angered.

“I don’t mean your son,” she answered before shaking her head slowly, “I was thinking about this marriage, but I don’t think I can deal with having a son Don…not yet.”

“It’s not like I can just get rid of Mathew,” he stated before laughing, “I love him and I’m not going to leave him.”

“I understand that,” she nodded slowly before taking in a deep breath, “I just don’t think this relationship is going to work out anymore.”

“You’re just scared,” Don declared as she turned around and started to walk away.

“What was that?” she wondered turning back around seeing him nodding slowly.

“You heard me,” he let out a deep breath before he started back on what he was saying, “You’re afraid. You are terrified because you are afraid to love someone. You keep the world at arm’s length because it’s easier that way. It’s better in your mind if you are alone without someone to be vulnerable to. That’s why you keep pushing me away and it’s why you still are insistent upon it. This isn’t about me. It’s not about Matthew, but more so it’s about your inability to love Shannon. You’re so closed off that you have deluded yourself into believing that it’s the world around you instead of it being you. The truth is that you are afraid that if you fall too hard…you will actually be happy for once and the thought of having that and then risking losing it terrifies you.”

“I am happy,” she growled before hearing him laugh as she shook her head in disbelief.

“You’re kidding me, right?” Don questioned before shaking his head. “You are the farthest thing from being happy. Just when you started feeling something for me…you want to push me away. For you it‘s a race to get out of the situation before it gets intense. You‘d rather push away your emotions, lock away your heart because it‘s easier to be distanced--to be detached from what it is that you want in your life. Admit it Shannon. You do love me, but you‘re just being so damned stubborn denying what it is you want in your life.”

“I can’t deal with this right now Don,” she restated before going to walk away before feeling him pull her back again.

“You are going to deal with this right now,” he told her before shaking his head, “I don’t know what your problem is. You could have the best thing right in front of you and you wouldn’t even know it. And the best thing happens to be in front of you right now. Just because I have a son…it doesn’t mean it changes who I am completely. We have something special and if you just walk away from that, well, Shannon you‘ll be giving up something that only comes once in a lifetime. This is the real thing Shannon. It‘s where we were meant to be Shannon. We happened for a reason…”

“You weren’t honest with me Don, I can’t have a relationship like that,” she insisted watching his face grow angered.

“Honest?” he questioned with a deep laugh. “You were never honest with me. Let’s see since we are being honest and all…do you have feelings for me?”

“That is completely irrelevant,” she pointed out as he shook his head.

“That child in there is a piece of me and if you love me, you will love him too,” he explained before repeating his earlier question. “Do you love me?”

“I’m sorry,” she shook her head before walking away not feeling him pull her back.

“You’re upset,” he raised his voice so she could hear him, “You wouldn’t be upset if you didn’t love me.”

He watched slowly as she turned to face him with a sad expression across her features.

“Just hear me out okay?” he pleaded as she stayed still. “I’m telling you the truth here. I want a life with you…and my son. I know I could make you happy. All you have to do is give me the time of day. I’m not going to chase after you if you walk away from this yard, but you have to know something first Shannon, I love you. You may not believe me, but I really do love you. I know you don’t feel the same way, but maybe if you just give it some time. I promise I will take care of you the rest of my life…I just need a chance to prove myself. So what do you say?”

He took down a deep gulp seeing the burning behind her eyes. Silence overcame the both of him as he saw her shake her head and begin to walk away.

“That’s what I thought,” he shook his head slowly before sitting down on the ground. “Why wont you just let me take care of you?”


“Where can she be?” Kyle questioned to himself pacing between the rooms panicking after his recent phone call.

He walked quickly to the living room before picking up his keys and walking to the door.

“I have to go see if I can find her,” Kyle stated to himself before opening the door and jumping back to have a person right in front of him. “Sarah?”

“Hi,” Sarah choked as he wrapped his arms around her tightly. “Is everything okay?”

“Where were you?” he questioned quickly, still holding her in his arms tightly. “I was so worried about you.”

“What happened?” Sarah wondered seeing the worry behind his eyes as she wiggled out of his hold and shut the door. “I was just having a little chat with someone.”

“Don’t ever leave again if you don’t tell me…or at least leave me a note,” Kyle demanded as she raised an eyebrow looking at him like he was crazy.

“What happened that has got you so hyped up?” she wondered before taking off her jacket. “You were asleep, I didn’t think you would be up yet.”

“Well, I am,” he replied before shaking his head quickly, “I got this phone call and I thought…I just got worried.”

“What was the phone call about?” Sarah wondered seeing him shake his head slowly.

“It doesn’t matter,” Kyle replied before taking in a deep breath, “The only thing that matters is that you are okay and not harmed.”

“I don’t think I am harmed in any way,” she informed him before looking up at him. “All I did was go and have a talk with someone.”

“With who?” he questioned watching her sit down on the couch before he took a seat next to her.

“Susan,” she answered seeing him look at her strangely, “Let me explain. You see, I was tired of her treating you like this so I went over there and I told her I wanted to know everything she knew.”

“And?” he wondered moving his hands around as she nodded slowly.

“Nothing really,” she began to remember before biting down on her bottom lip, “I have a bad vibe about that girl. Something just isn’t right.”

“Believe me…with Susan, there are a lot of things not right,” Kyle replied before hearing her laugh. “Just next time make sure you tell me where you are going?”

“What in that phone call made you so worried?” she repeated her once asked question.

“It wasn’t the call,” he lied taking in a deep breath trying to think of something to say, “I just had a really bad dream and I thought it was real.”

“It was just a dream though,” Sarah pointed out before smiling once more, “I am here with you right now and I would hate if this was a dream.”

“Me too,” he winked before leaning forward and kissing her deeply. “I would hate to be doing this in a dream.”

“It would be an interesting dream though,” she laughed as he rested his forehead against hers gently.

“That it would be,” he agreed before leaning back into the couch trying to calm down. He couldn’t tell her what had happened on the phone, she couldn’t know. She would worry even more than he did.


“I can’t believe that Sarah…coming into my house like that,” Susan blurted out pacing through her living room remembering her earlier events. “She wants to interrupt what me and Kyle have going…how wrong is she?”

She was sick of all this. This woman had to be gone…she had to. The only thing Sarah would keep doing is get in the way between her and Kyle.

“I know what I have to do,” she answered to herself before walking to her drawer searching through papers until finally finding what she wanted.

She walked over to the phone dialing the number that was printed neatly across a small ripped white paper.

“Hey, it’s Susan,” she informed the person on the other line before taking in a deep breath, “You know that thing I wanted you to do?”

“Which one?” the person questioned unknowingly as she rolled her eyes.

“Sarah Marx,” she reminded him hearing him start to remember, “I know it’s a little earlier than I told you, but you have to do this as soon as possible. I need Sarah Marx gone forever.”

“Are you sure you want that done?” the person questioned making sure she was ready.

“Of course I am sure,” she blurted out before shaking her head quickly, “Why would I be calling you lazy bum if I didn’t want this done?”

“Alright,” the person sighed shaking their head slowly, “It will be done…just calm down.”

“That’s what I thought,” Susan smiled before switching the phone to a different ear, “I will call you with the date and the place…you better be home when I call.”

“Will do,” the person agreed before hanging up with Susan.

She slowly walked to the couch before sitting down and resting her feet up on the table.

“This is going to be great,” Susan smiled before rubbing her hands together in approval of how her plans were about to be going.


“Brooke, there are options,” Beth began watching Brooke’s twisted expression. She took a step forward attempting to explain the seriousness of what was happening and give Brooke a glimpse of some of the things that she would face in the future.

“Options,” Brooke let out a sarcastic laugh, “You make it sound as if I’m buying a new spring wardrobe. When it comes to my legs and the way that this situation is, I’d hardly consider it a place for options.”

“I know that this is difficult, but if you’d just give me time to…”

“Difficult,” Brooke repeated with wide eyes, “you can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this is for me. Knowing what something like this will do to my personal life--to my career.”

“Brooke, I know that it seems extreme right now, but…” Beth started up once again watching Brooke’s eyes narrowed with anger.

“If you were in my shoes, you wouldn’t be taking it so damn lightly, so don’t sit back and patronize me. I know full well that something like this changes a person. It’ll tear my whole life apart and as much as some would revel in this turnabout, I can’t be this way. This simply isn’t an option.”

“Right now, I’m afraid that we’re just going to have to let this run it’s course and…” Beth paused contemplating her words.

“Let me put you in this bed--have you go through what it is I’m going through and then you tell me that it’s going to be alright. I don’t need your practiced lines or pretty words. I need a solution to this and nothing short of that is going to appease me,” Brooke folded her arms in front of her chest with an overwhelming glare.

“Fine,” Beth took a step back, reaching out to close the door behind her carefully. Once she was sure the door was locked, she stepped forward, her eyes narrowing down at Brooke, “then let me tell you how this is going to change your life.”

“I already think I have a pretty good idea of how this is going to change my life,” Brooke hissed up at her, “and I’m not going to let it happen.”

“If you were smart, you’d listen to everything I have to tell you because it could bring you one step closer to getting what it is you want from life,” Beth’s voice shifted, offering up a hint of darkness that surprised Brooke.

“What did you just say?” Brooke questioned eyeing her wearily as it seemed the professionalism was gone from Beth’s tone replaced by an emotion that Brooke readily recognized.

“I know all about your problems--all about your marriage being in jeopardy and how something like this might be able to help you prevent anything, oh how shall we put this, negative from happening?” Beth shrugged her shoulders before taking a step back, “But if you’d rather wallow in self pity.”

“I didn’t say that,” Brooke curled her finger to motion for Beth to return to her, “I might just have to hear what you’re saying before I make my decision on how to treat this.”

“Well maybe this will help you,” Beth reached into her pocket before pulling out a small manila envelope. Taking a small look over towards the door in order to ensure no one was coming, Beth inhaled slowly before handing the envelope to Brooke, “It would seem that a mutual friend of ours has taken a vested interest in you and your condition.”

“Is that right,” Brooke eyed her cautiously before taking the envelope in her fingers, “And does this ‘friend’ have a name?”

“Open the envelope and see for yourself,” Beth motioned to her again. Brooke did as instructed and as her eyes fell upon the contents of the envelope her face began to light up. Beth felt a satisfied smirk spread over her own features, “Well?”

“I’d have to say that I’m more than willing to listen,” Brooke decided clenching the envelope tighter, “if and only if you tell me what I think it is that I’m going to hear from you.”

“Trust me on this one Brooke,” Beth’s lips arched upward, a bitter smirk filling her face, “Not only will you be getting what you want out of this situation, but we’re all going to mutually benefit by my treating you.”

“In that case Doc,” Brooke replied with a knowing look, “lay it on me. I’m ready to take whatever course of action you deem fitting.”


“Ashford and Steiner. Judy speaking, how may I direct your call,” Judy’s voice rang over the telephone line causing an ache to rise up inside of Richard. While he knew that Brooke was expecting him to return to her hospital room, he couldn’t go without telling Judy of this latest turnabout. Still his heart ached at the thought of what could follow.

“Hello, is anyone there,” Judy questioned again in a polite tone.

“Judy,” he spoke her name gently.

“Rick,” she repeated half questioning, “is that you?”

“Yes,” he nodded taking a long pause.

“Rick, what’s wrong? Where are you?” she questioned in a panic.

“I’m at the hospital,” he hesitated once again wondering how he could break the news to her, “It’s Brooke.”

“What about Brooke?” she asked wearily contemplating what was happening. The tone in his voice wasn’t at all like the man she knew and loved. It was different. Something was wrong.

“The doctors have said…” he stopped himself struggling to put the pieces together.

“Yes?” she questioned hanging on his every word.

“Judy, she can’t walk,” he blurted out poignantly. “Apparently there was more damage than they’d anticipated and now, well she has no sense of feeling in her legs.”

“Oh my gosh,” she gasped unable to mask her surprise, “Is this permanent?”

“They’re offering her hope, but at this point her doctor has expressed that it sounds like there might be a chance that this will be staying with her from here on out. They’ve suggested specialists and…” he started to explain.

“And I’m sure she’s a mess,” Judy paused thinking about the woman she’d grown to despise. While she’d wanted Brooke to get hers for so very long, this wasn’t at all what she’d planned on. She couldn’t even begin to imagine the horror Brooke must be feeling now that she faced something so traumatic. Being thrown from that window must’ve been agony in itself, but now… Suddenly another thought occurred to Judy--a thought she’d been dreading since she and Richard had reconnected again. “Rick, you’re going to be there for her, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m going to do whatever I can for Brooke, but I just needed you to know that…” he offered up feeling a pain in the pit of his stomach at how this must be sounding.

“That we’re not going to work, right?” she finished for him blurting out the words he was hanging back on.

“No, Judy that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just calling to give you information on what’s happening so that you know what we have ahead of us. Right now as much as I’d like to put my marriage to an end, well you see that this is something that I can’t put her through. I know I promised you that I’d end it, yet with her having to face all of this…” he stalled wanting to kick himself for how bad it sounded.

“You’re not going to cause her anymore pain. I understand,” she grew very silent before speaking again, “I respect that about you Rick. You’re loyal to those that you care about.”

“Judy you’re the one I love, not Brooke,” he pleaded with her sensing the wounded tone on the other end of the line, “When she adjusts to all of this and we do therapy…”

“Rick, she’s never going to adjust to this. She’s going to be facing one of the biggest challenges of her life and she needs you. Your family needs you and I’m the last thing that you need to worry about. Maybe this is fate trying to tell us that we were about to make another mistake all over again in trying to make things happen for us. We couldn’t do it the first time and now, well I think we were just fooling ourselves.”

“No, Judy that’s not what…” he pleaded with her only to hear her hang up on the other end of the line. There was a click and his heart sank, “Judy? Judy?”

Nothing but silence followed and in that moment, he felt all of his hopes and dreams for the future slipping out of his reach once again. Losing Judy the first time had been hard, but now, well now knowing that fate had pulled them apart again, it was as if someone had stolen his heart from the center of his chest and crushed it into millions of tiny shattered pieces.

“I’ll always love you Judy,” he mouthed hanging up the phone as he prepared to face what lay ahead of him without the only love that ever truly mattered in his heart.


“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in here,” Avery blurted out upon hearing the pilot tell them that they were up in the air and able to move around the Ashford jet if they so pleased. She looked out one of the windows before taking in a slow breath.

“That it has,” Brant curled his arm around her shoulders, bringing her in closer to him, “but hopefully you’re enjoying the ride today.”

“I am,” she nodded turning to face him once again, “of course the last few times we’ve been here, it’s been a bit different.”

“True,” he agreed with a half smile, teasing his fingers down over her arm leisurely, “but then again back then you were just my lawyer--not my wife.”

“Seems like an eternity ago,” Avery confessed with a small sigh closing her eyes and thinking back to another time when being on the plane had lead her to a very different place in her life. Even now she remembered the ride she and Brant had taken to the island with one another--to the place where she‘d discovered she was pregnant. It was in what followed that her life changed forever.

“You are my dream, Avery,” Russell promised her solemnly, “I hope you see that…”

“Russ, you don’t understand. You gave me the greatest joy I’ve ever known and now, well I’ve spent this time on the island realizing that I couldn’t just walk away from you especially not now that we’re going to have a baby,” Avery blurted out unable to contain the tears that swelled behind her eyes.

“A baby,” he repeated searching her eyes, “Avery, I know how special our child was even if I wasn‘t there. Though you‘re right we‘ll always have the memory of our baby…”

“No Russ, you’re not getting it. I’m pregnant,” Avery blurted out bracing herself for his reaction as she realized that for the first time since he’d taken her from the club, he’d finally been rendered speechless by one of her open admissions. While she’d imagined the revelation of the loss of their first child would be the one thing to bring a moment of awakening upon them, her latest revelation had him staring down at her with surprised green eyes.

“Pregnant? Are you…are you sure?” he blinked once, twice, three times after the moment of silence had passed. “I mean you just said that…”

She nodded, “I found out a couple days ago…I didn’t think it was possible, but I was wrong and…”

“You said that the doctors told you that you couldn’t be pregnant--that when you had a miscarriage they said…,” he replied thinking about her words as the weight of the situation hung over him. He reached out to her finally thinking about everything she’d said to him as he touched her cheek gently.

“That’s what they told me, but then…” Avery explained thinking to the moment that had changed her life forever, “I wasn’t feeling well and Brant called this doctor in to do some blood work on me and well, I didn’t believe him when he told me because I thought I knew the truth, but Russ, I’m pregnant.”

“Really?” his eyes glazed over as the thought hit him hard and suddenly a whole new emotion took over him, “You’re saying that after all these years, we were able to have…”

“A miracle,” she nodded eagerly, “I was so torn up inside for so very long, but when I got the news…oh Russ, you have no idea what this did to me. Here I was far away from you and I found out we were having our own little miracle. I mean the signs were there when I started getting sick, but at the time I thought…”

“I…I…” he stammered as his thoughts were racing inside his head a mile a minute, “When we were in Coral Valley you were…we are…” a smile lifted over his lips, “I’m going to be a father? Avery, do you have any idea what this means?”

“It means things are probably even more complicated now,” she threw out with an ironic smile trying think about what this would mean for their future.

“Complicated?” he repeated giving her a strange look, “Oh hell no that’s not what it means,” he sat upright pulling her up with him as his arms squeezed her tightly, “Avery, this only proves how right we are together. It shows how strong our love is and I can’t let you walk out of my life now. We need each other more than ever…I mean clearly this is a sign…” he continued raising his voice with excitement, “It’s proof that against the odds, we’re back to where we belong with one another and I swear to you that I’m going to be the best father to our baby. Starting now I’m going to do everything in my power to make things right for us…” he pulled her more completely into his arms throwing wild kisses upon her as he hoisted her up in the air.

“Russ,” Avery gasped feeling him move off of the bed, keeping her in his arms as he danced around the room humming a goofy tune as he continued to kiss her repeatedly.

“We’re having a baby,” he blurted out excitedly over and over again as he swung her around in his arms circling the room.

“Yes we are,” Avery replied out of breath as he danced along the small area, “and if you don’t stop spinning right now, I think our baby’s going to tell you just how much we’re prone to motion sickness these days.”

“Oh right,” Russell repositioned her into his arms nearly tripping over the bed sheet on the floor before he sank back down onto the mattress keeping her in his lap as his eyes fell upon her abdomen lovingly. Saying nothing, he reached out to her caressing her soft skin as a bright smile filled him up inside and Avery placed her hand over his feeling the energy of the moment between them as he spoke in a dreamy tone, “my baby…you and I we’re really doing it…this is really happening, isn’t it?”

“It really is,” Avery nodded in confession tears spilling down her cheeks as the weight of the world seemed to be lifted off her shoulders, “though if this is only a dream, well I don’t want to be waking up anytime soon as I’ve dreamt a lot about this moment.”

“So have I,” he pulled her in closer to him kissing her tenderly, “and right about now there’s only one thing that could make this more perfect for us.”

“What might that be,” she asked wrapping her arms around him gingerly savoring the feel of him beside her after all this time.

“Marry me,” he coaxed her lips into another heartfelt union as he hugged her in his arms.

“Russ, I…” Avery breathed as her heart pounded in her chest at the very thought.

“Marry me now…tonight,” Russell pleaded with her as he kept her close to him bringing her hand up to his racing heart, “Let’s not chance things again especially not now when we have the whole world ahead of us. Time and time again we’ve tried to do this and each time there’s been something that’s kept us from making that move together. The first time we were young and impulsive…the second time, well we given a terrible twist of fate, but tonight…well, tonight the magic is alive and in the air. I can feel it calling out to us shouting out that this is it…this is that once in a lifetime moment--that chance for us to seize the day and hold on to one another with everything we have. We have each other and our baby and given what we both know now about the odds being stacked up against us, this only solidifies my belief that you and I were destined to be together. I love you Avery Morrison and I’ll spend every day giving you the world and being the kind of husband you’ve always wanted and needed in your life.”

“You’re so much more than I ever dreamed of,” she sighed in confession leaning further into his embrace as he continued speaking again.

“My love for you grows stronger with every beat of my heart and from this moment on, I pledge my life to you and our child. I knew in my heart that I wanted you for my wife before, but now, well now this is it. Our time is now and we have to hold onto the reigns and enjoy the ride as it‘s an amazing turn for us…”

“Russ, you really believe that, don’t you? That this is it and you‘re really happy about this? Completely happy about this?” she questioned drawing in a nervous breath.

“Happiness doesn’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling right now. We’ve both waited so very long for this and honey, you know that they say the third time is a charm…” he touched her cheek gently, “Avery, let’s make all of our dreams come true tonight. Let’s throw caution to the wind and just follow our hearts to where they’ve always been leading us. Marry me…”

Avery looked at him for a long moment finding her vision blurred by tears as she nodded eagerly realizing that this was the one dream she’d been yet to experience with the man she loved more than life itself, “Yes…yes…oh God yes…Russ, I want to do it. Let’s get married.”

“Whoo hoo,” he howled with excitement picking her up in his arms again unable to contain himself as he carried her around the room kissing her with every ounce of love bursting within him.

“Russ,” she squealed his name overcome with laughter at his animated response to her words, but as he continued to dance around the room she found herself welcoming every second of this as tonight it seemed after a long road of misery their dreams of happily ever after with one another were finally coming true.

“Hey,” Brant touched Avery’s arm gently, “Avery, where’d you go?”

“What?” she questioned blankly returning to the present now that she sat beside him feeling the warmth of his protective arm over her shoulders. Tilting her eyes up towards him, she could see the love and concern burning behind their chocolate depths and in that instant guilt rode at her insides. She looked away. “It was nothing.”

“Don’t tell me that,” Brant reached out to her, turning her eyes towards his once again, “Avery please, if nothing else at least be honest with me about what’s going on inside of you. I think it’s the best way for us to start building on what we have.”

Nodding, she forced herself to face him again before drawing in a long, slow breath, “I was thinking about the last time we flew out with one another. About our trip to the island…”

“The island,” Brant repeated as a sudden wave of memories pressed over him. He could feel the heat of them surround him, the fire of his Christmas with Angela breathing just below the surface and before he could offer up any further thoughts, he heard something from just beyond where they sat with one another.

“I know I shouldn’t be thinking about anything other than the day we have ahead of us, but I found myself thinking back--reflecting upon that time if you will and…” Avery started to explain himself as Brant glanced beyond where they sat to see a vision of Angela materialize before him.

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” Angela rolled her eyes as she sat on the back of the other sofa on the opposite wall. She shook her head at him before wiggling her finger at Avery and wrinkling her nose, “Tell me something. Does she ever stop whining long enough for you to get a word in edgewise?”

Brant opened his mouth to speak, redirecting his attention to Avery, but her words seemed to fall upon deaf ears. He tried to focus, but Angela’s scowl recaptured his attention.

“Ah yes, it’s so very interesting,” Angela moved forward hovering in just behind Avery. She leaned forward waving her hand at Avery’s words dismissively before standing up straighter once again, “Tell me something. Does she ever shut up about Russ? I mean honestly what is so damn special about a dead man when she’s got a very live, very exciting hunk like you in front of her?”

“I…” Brant nearly gulped noticing the sexy outfit Angela was wearing as she began to do a little dance behind Avery. Forcing himself to stay focused, he placed his hands on Avery’s shoulders firmly, “Avery, it’s okay. You’re well within your rights to be thinking about that.”

“You really think so?” Avery questioned completely unaware of the striptease Angela began from where she stood across from Brant.

“Absolutely,” he nodded firmly, “I think it’s perfectly natural to express what you’re feeling. I asked for complete honesty and…”

“And you’re the biggest liar of them all Brant. If you had any balls, then you’d tell her about us--you’d tell her about how much you missed her on Christmas when I rocked your world,” she blew a kiss in his general direction.

“Oh would you just shut up already?” Brant questioned with an impatient huff. “Avery’s my wife and I love her. I’m dedicated to her now.”

“Well thank you Brant…” Avery bit down on her lower lip confusion registering behind her eyes, “I appreciate your saying that, but I have to ask. Who are you talking to? I mean I’m right here and…”

“Huh?” Brant blinked back at her seeing the vision of Angela disappear. His heart was pounding in his chest, his hands clammy and his throat going dry as he thought back to his own experience from the island. Drawing in a long, slow breath Brant tried to stay focused--to keep his imagination from getting the best of him. Why on Earth he was thinking about a woman he’d had the briefest of flings with at a time when Avery had been out of reach was beyond his mind. How he’d made her materialize from his subconscious when he and Avery were getting closer than ever just proved that he was losing his mind.

“You just told someone to shut up,” Avery gave him a strange look before turning to glance over her shoulder seeing that they were alone in the jet. She faced him once again, “Who were you talking to?”

“No one,” Brant lied feeling suddenly foolish for the torture his subconscious was putting him through. He sensed her skepticism about his answer and as he fought for some kind of reasonable explanation, he brought his fingers up through his own dark hair. “I mean I was just telling everyone out there who had any doubts about my love for you to just shut up. I wasn’t about to let anyone tell me or us what it is that we can’t have with one another. I love you Avery and I know what we‘re on the right track with one another.”

“Brant, are you sure about that,” she questioned unconvinced with what he was saying to her.

“I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life,” he replied cupping her face in his hands. He leaned in closer to her, his lips hovering in over hers as he spoke out again. “Avery, I’ve never felt this strong about anything or anyone else in my life. You’re my heart and I love you. I know that we haven’t had the most traditional of courtships, but I’m sure more and more with each breath that I take that you and I were fated to be together. What we have--well, it’s only going to get better as time goes on.”

She smiled seeming to be pleased with that answer, “For a while I had my doubts, but I believe that too. We do have something special happening between us Brant.”

“Of course we do,” he leaned in closer to her skimming his lips just a whisper above hers, “I love you Avery.”

“I love you,” she replied inching forward into the kiss as Brant silently prayed that the memories of his past wouldn’t make his future with Avery a rocky one. Avery was what he wanted--what he needed and his time with Angela was the past. It wasn’t anything more than it was at the time. He’d never see her again. They’d never cross paths with one another and now that he had Avery, he had every reason in the world to never look back.


Blake looked around the living room ready to call it a night after she and Seth had finished watching a movie on television. While she was sure that there was still so much for them to talk about with one another, she hadn’t pushed the issue much further about what he was feeling in Jade’s absence. She knew full well that this difficult situation was going to get harder before it eased up on any of them. Still she couldn’t help but silently wish that this had never happened--that they had stayed behind that day to ensure Jade’s safety. If she knew then what she knew now then she would’ve made sure not to let this tear their lives apart.

“Oh Seth,” she sighed wishing that she could turn things around for the man she loved, but she knew it was a futile fight. Reaching out for one of the glasses they’d left lingering, she rose up to take it to the kitchen when she heard the faint ringing of her cell phone from her purse. Setting the glass down she went to her purse pulling out her phone.

“Hello,” she answered in a tired, yet cheerful tone.

“Blake, hey sweetheart, it’s Mary. Mary Anthony. I was calling about the fitting you have tomorrow for the wedding dress. I know that you’d said you were hoping that we could wait until closer to the actual wedding date, but with some of the alterations, well I thought if you came in tomorrow like we’d talked about, then we could get a jump start on what you were hoping for in terms of measurements and the such…”

“Mary, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to do that,” Blake replied unable to mask the disappointment in her tone. “In fact, I don’t know when I’m going to be coming in for any of that after all. The wedding is on hold.”

“What?” Mary’s voice rang out with obvious shock, “Oh honey don’t tell me that handsome man of yours has gotten cold feet.”

“No, it’s not that,” Blake closed her eyes feeling as if her dreams of the perfect wedding were going out the window with this phone call.

“Then did you get cold feet?” Mary questioned again.

“No, it’s not me either. It’s just, well Seth’s sister has been kidnapped--at least we think that’s what happened. You might’ve heard about her disappearance on the news and…” Blake started to explain.

“You mean that poor woman that was abducted from her home? The one that they suspect Cameron Stone had something to do with her disappearance?” Mary replied clearly seeking out some gossip beyond what Blake had told her.

“That’s the one,” Blake explained hesitantly.

“Do they have any leads on where he might’ve taken her yet?” Mary inquired.

“Nothing at this point, but we’re hoping something turns up soon,” Blake informed her with a small sigh, “but needless to say until we find out something more, I’m afraid there isn’t going to be a wedding.”

“Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry to hear that considering I know how happy you were about this. I realize that you and Seth were hoping to have something soon that was romantic and wonderful…” Mary began with obvious empathy in her tone.

“We’re still praying that it will happen when his sister returns,” Blake replied fighting to keep her tears from surfacing. However, as she looked to the bridal magazine before her, she felt a sudden guilt ride over her for worrying about missing out on her special day with Seth. Reaching out to wipe at her cheek gently Blake spoke up again in her best attempt at being strong, “Anyways I won’t be making that fitting and I’m not sure when I’ll be rescheduling. I hope you understand.”

“Of course I do sweetheart and anything that you need, please don’t hesitate to ask,” Mary replied gently as Blake hung up the phone.

Blake felt her heart sink as she set her cell phone down on the table top. Reaching for the bridal magazine, she felt another rush of tears come to the surface. Forcing her to bite back on her own selfish thoughts, she set the magazine down.

“This isn’t about you anymore Blake. This is about finding Jade and once that happens, everything else will fall into place,” she tried to remind herself feeling the sting of knowing her wedding day dream was further out of her reach now that Jade was gone. She thumbed her finger over the top of the magazine once again before closing her eyes again, “It’s going to happen for Seth and I one day. It has to…I hope.”

“Blake, honey are you still out there?” Seth questioned making his presence known.

“Yeah, I’m just finishing up,” Blake strained to keep her voice even. Wiping at her tears swiftly, she reached out for the glass and rushed into the kitchen, “Just give me a minute.”

“Sure,” Seth nodded watching her rush out of the room. Walking forward he eyed the magazine that Blake had been holding when she’d gotten the phone call. He’d gotten bits and pieces of what she was saying, but it didn’t take much to realize just how disappointed she was about putting the wedding on hold. Their wedding day meant the world to her and to him as well, but with Jade missing, things just didn’t feel right. Reaching for the magazine, he tried to imagine what it was that was going through Blake’s mind right about now.

“I know that none of this is fair to you Blake,” Seth mouthed under his breath setting the bridal magazine down, “I hate that I let you down and disappointed you after you wanted this so very much.”

Shaking his head, Seth looked over to a photograph of him and Jade that someone had taken while the two of them were in Mexico. Moving over to take a closer look at it, Seth thought back to the fun times he and his sister had out there when it had been just the two of them against the world. Reaching for it, he held it close to him, just eyeing the happiness that filled his sister’s face.

“Jade, I wish you were here. I feel like I’m letting you both down and there’s nothing I can do to change that,” he confessed thinking about how helpless he was to save his sister. Still as he thought to his current situation with Blake, he wondered if maybe just maybe he could find a way to give her a little bit of happiness during this time of sorrow. Sure, he’d meant what he said about things not being the same without Jade, but deep down he knew that Blake deserved more than that. Maybe he couldn’t give her everything that she wanted right now, but perhaps he could find a way to fix things for them somehow. Maybe just maybe he could find a way to give her some of the dreams she’d held onto for so very long.


“That was so cool,” Kipp laughed as Kellen nodded slowly, “Nice car by the way.”

“Oh thanks,” Kellen smiled before looking over at Kipp who sat next to him, “I told you they would win…now you owe me something.”

“What is that?” Kipp wondered watching Kellen ponder his question as he took in a deep breath.

“I don’t know yet,” Kellen shrugged before biting down on his bottom lip. “It will be good when I think of it.”

“Oh great,” Kipp rolled his eyes before seeing Kellen nod, “Where are we going?”

“I thought I would show you my place,” Kellen shrugged before seeing Kipp nod. “It’s this house right here.”

Kipp slowly got out of the car before following Kellen up the steps slowly. Kipp jumped back when Kellen opened the door and a dog jumped out barking.

“Don’t be afraid of her,” Kellen laughed picking up the little lab, “She wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Just caught me off guard,” Kipp stated before walking into Kellen’s place hearing the door shut behind him. “I’m more afraid of what you might be making me do.”

“You think mine could be bad?” Kellen questioned before starting to laugh. “You should hear this one trainer at the gym…his name is Burt and he wanted me to…never mind. I didn’t do it anyways.”

“What?” Kipp questioned quickly before shaking his head. “What was it that he wanted you to do?”

“It’s nothing,” Kellen assured him as the lab ran between Kipp’s legs making him fall forward as Kellen caught him in his arms. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I am fine,” Kipp assured him as Kellen helped him slowly stand up straight. “What’s this dog’s name anyways?”

“Her name is Tripsy,” Kellen answered watching the lab try and jump up to reach Kipp’s hand.

“Why did you name her that?” Kipp questioned seeing Kellen shrug.

“She is always tripping over things,” Kellen replied with a laugh, “I’m not really original.”

“That’s okay,” Kipp nodded before following Kellen out the back door, “I think it’s kind of cute.”

“Thanks,” Kellen smiled as the lab caught Kipp’s attention as it tripped down the steps of the deck.

“Is she alright?” Kipp questioned watching the dog get to her feet and shake off.

“She does it all the time,” Kellen laughed leaning down and petting the dog. “You’re a sweetheart aren’t you? Kisses.”

“You have a nice backyard,” Kipp pointed out looking towards the pool seeing Kellen nod.

“I know, I like to just come out here and relax,” Kellen informed him walking towards the pool as the dog followed him catching his foot as he fell forward and into the water.

“I can see that dog makes you go Tripsy,” Kipp pointed out walking towards the pool as Kellen came above the water. “Let me help you.”

“Thanks,” Kellen sighed with a laugh as he took Kipp’s hand in his.

“You do realize this is the thing I am going to do for you, right?” Kipp questioned seeing Kellen nod.

“Is that so?” Kellen questioned as Kipp nodded quickly. “Then here is mine.”

“Don’t you,” Kipp got cut off as Kellen quickly pulled Kipp into the pool making a splash. “You are going to pay for that.”

“Then I guess I should be running then,” Kellen quickly swam to the edge getting out of the pool watching Kipp get out and try to run. “Come on honey, I don’t think you are going to be getting anywhere with a brace on like that.”

“You underestimate my power,” Kipp wiggled his eyebrow as Kellen laughed.

“I’ve never heard that one before,” Kellen rolled his eyes playfully before walking towards his backdoor. “You want a drink or something?”

“No thanks,” Kipp shook his head seeing Kellen pull his wet shirt off and flip it over his muscular shoulder.

“Are you okay Kippy?” Kellen questioned seeing him nod. “You want me to dry your clothes? I can give you some of mine.”

“No thanks,” Kipp didn’t accept once more seeing Kellen shrug and walk into the house.

“Fine, be wet if you want to,” Kellen laughed before walking up the steps, “I’m going to go get you a drink anyways.”

Kipp laughed watching Kellen walk into the house…Kellen had to be the coolest person he had hung out with in the last few years. He really was having fun and that’s what really counted.


“Shannon wait,” Don called out placing his hands on the open window of her car.

“I thought you said you weren’t going to chase after me,” Shannon pointed out before seeing him nod.

“It just can’t end this way,” Don pleaded trying to get her to come back.

“You can’t end something that never started Don,” she snorted with a small laugh.

“Come on, there was something there and you know it,” he replied seeming a bit disgusted. “What terrifies you the most? The fact that I love you or the fact that you love me back?”

“You don’t love me Don,” Shannon shook her head, “I know you don’t…you just think you do.”

“Really?” Don questioned seeing her nod. “Then how come every time I see you I have this funny feeling in my stomach? How come every night I watch you sleep…I seem to feel really happy. How come I dream of you every minute of the day? How can I not love you?”

“Don,” she breathed in deeply as he cut her off.

“If you gave me time…us time,” Don began before shaking his head, “I know we can get through this. We can take it slow…you can gradually get to know Mathew, he’s a great kid.”

“I’m sure he is Don, but I’m sorry I can’t,” she repeated once more before rolling the window to her car up pinching his finger in the process as he jumped back.

“You can’t do this,” Don yelled as her car quickly pulled away, “I love you.”

Watching her car turn down another street, Don kicked a rock sending it flying in the air.

“I get to feel what it is like to have a broken heart again,” Don sighed shaking head looking down at his finger as he waved it off. “I don’t understand why this happens.”


“Here’s your drink,” the bar waitress smiled down looking at Ken who now seemed very comfortable.

“Hey there sweetheart,” Ken smiled pulling her down into his lap as she smiled unsurely.

“Sir, I don’t do this kind of,” she began before he put his finger in front of her mouth and his other hand ran through her light blonde hair.

“My name is Ken Ashford,” he informed her with a wide smile. “And I am a very rich man.”

“Really?” she questioned with a wide smile seeing him nod. “Well in that case…I am Michelle, Michelle Sprite.”

“It’s nice to meet you Ms. Sprite,” Ken grinned before frowning, “So what time do you get out of here?”

“Well right now, I can get out anytime if I am with someone as important as you,” Michelle winked before standing up and helping him out of his seat. “So where do you live?”

“In a big mansion,” Ken informed her with a wide smile. “Many rooms and did I mention it was really big?”

“I think I heard it once or twice,” Michelle laughed before running her finger down his chest lightly, “I don’t mind hearing it again though. Are you seriously rich?”

“Oh, I am rich alright,” Ken promised with a wicked grin, “And I am up for any new experiences.”

“Really?” she questioned with a big laugh. “Well so am I…what do you know?”

“Obviously nothing these days if I missed a beauty like you,” Ken winked leaning forward and smelling her strong perfume.

“You are such a sexy man,” Michelle giggled moving in closer to him. “I can’t wait to see your mansion.”

“I think you will be seeing more than just my mansion,” Ken winked before leading her out the door.


“You’re still here,” Dave couldn’t help but smile. He felt a breath of relief wash over his body as he saw Carly standing in the middle of his kitchen. She’d put on a pot of coffee during his shower and it seemed that the stage had been set for some serious talking between them.

As he looked at her, he found it hard to believe that just hours ago he’d been in bed with a woman he’d hardly known when the woman he wanted to be close to--the woman that had haunted him since her return to town was standing before him looking at him with worried eyes. He knew that the road they had ahead of them was going to be filled with a great many challenges, but just the way it felt to be around her made him believe that this was well worth the risk. Unable to resist the urge, Dave stepped forward to reach out to her.

“I’m glad you didn’t go,” he confessed taking her hand in his.

“I promised you I’d be here,” she replied feeling a heat rise over her features. He lifted her hand to his lips placing a tentative kiss over the top of it.

“I’m happy that you held true to your word. It would’ve been a long, miserable rest of the day without you here,” Dave confessed with a small smile.

“You say that now, but for a while there I was wondering if you were staying in your room to avoid having to see me,” Carly replied motioning to his bedroom door where she’d heard him shuffling around earlier.

“I had a lot on my mind,” Dave admitted offering up a small hesitation, “I still do.”

“So do I which is why I know we have to do this the right way,” she reached for his hand motioning for him to join her at his kitchen table. “Dave, I know that I haven’t been exactly honest with you about everything, but tonight, well I think we need to do that with one another if we even think about having a chance at having something together.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Dave nodded in encouragement, “I know this isn’t going to be easy, but Carly I want to give this a try.”

“I realize that and I do too, but Dave,” she paused wondering how she could get out what had been weighing on her mind from the moment she’d returned to Coral Valley. Sure work had brought her back home, but there was something else--something that had been bothering her and when she and Ken were about to leave with one another, she’d convinced herself that then would’ve been the time to be honest about everything. Of course in retrospect, she was relieved that she hadn’t revealed all to Ken. If she had, then there was no telling what would’ve happened. Still as she looked to Dave seeing the seriousness behind his eyes, she knew that this would be no easy task.

“Carly, if this is about what happened with Ken,” he reached across the table to squeeze her hand gently, “I think I can fill in the blanks so we don’t need to go down that road right now.”

“No, Dave we can‘t ignore that right now,” she closed her eyes wishing like hell that this would be easier than she’d imagined. However, now that the moment had come upon her, she realized that it was in the next few minutes that she stood to lose Dave forever. If he’d felt betrayed before, then there was no telling what he’d think or feel about her after she opened herself up to him in every way imaginable. Reopening her eyes, she noticed the way he was looking at her--as if he was reaching inside of her pulling her secrets out from within.

“Carly, what is it,” he questioned, the color draining from his face, “Please don’t tell me that what you said earlier wasn’t true. That you lied about turning Ken away…”

“No, I didn’t lie about that,” she promised squeezing his hand once again before releasing it. She brought her hands up over her arms feeling a chill press down upon her, “but I’ve been lying to you and to Ken from the moment I came back into town. You both deserved the truth, but I wasn’t strong enough to give it to either one of you…”

“Carly, you’re losing me here,” Dave began suddenly struck with the uncanny feeling that he was about to be delivered yet another fatal blow to his heart all over again, “What haven’t you been honest about?”

“Dave, you have to promise to hear me out before you throw me out,” she begged of him, tears building behind her eyes, “You have to at least listen to me before you tell me good-bye forever.”

“Why do I get the feeling that I’m not going to be liking any of this,” he frowned deeply, the lines of worry creasing over his brow.

“Because I know you’re not going to like it Dave, but I promised myself when I came here earlier that I was going to be honest with you. I was going to lay it all out on the line and risk losing you forever rather than leading you to believe a lie,” she closed her eyes inhaling slowly before beginning to share with him the secret she’d kept for nearly four years. “Dave, when I left town--when I went to New York, well that night before I left…Ken and I…”

“Ken and you what,” Dave’s voice immediately tightened, his fingers curling in over the edge of the table so tight his knuckles grew white. He watched her face carefully, seeing the pained expression that spread from within. “Carly, don’t tell me that you and Ken…”

“He was so upset about Wendy leaving him. You’d just told me to go--to leave for New York and I felt so abandoned and confused,” she forced herself to face him, tears falling from her eyes, “We swore to ourselves that it would be just one time--that you and Wendy had both left us and that neither one of you were coming back.”

“Are you trying to tell me that this thing with you and Ken has been going on for over four years?” Dave blinked back at her incredulously, rage sweeping in over his otherwise cool and collected demeanor.

“No,” she blurted out firmly, “That’s not what I’m trying to tell you. What I’m trying to say is that it happened once before I left town. We had a fling--a very stupid, very brief one night fling after you and I called it quits, but I never looked back.”

“And you expect me to believe that why?” he questioned tightly.

“Because it’s the truth--because I never anticipated seeing either one of you again,” she revealed in between pained breaths, “Because I never thought I’d be back here and that I’d have to face either one of you again.”

“Funny how plans change, eh?” he questioned with a sarcastic tone.

“Dave, please don’t hate me,” she attempted to reach out to him, watching him withdraw from her touch.

“You can’t expect me to say that hey it’s going to be okay, do you?” he replied coldly, “That I’m fine with the fact that you’ve been sleeping with someone I considered my best friend for the last four years?”

“Dave, I haven’t been doing this for four years,” she pleaded with him straining to get him to hear her out, “It only happened one time back then.”

“And now? Do you just expect me to believe it just popped up out of the blue now that you’ve told me about back then?” he threw back at her, unable to hide from the pain that spread throughout his body, “Carly, why would you do that to me? If you loved me like you said you did, then how could you sleep with my best friend?”

“It was a mistake--a mistake that I never planned on making again, but then when I came to town and you were pushing me away…well, I fell back into the habit. Ken was hurting over Caitlin’s death and I tried to comfort him…” she began desperately.

“I don’t want to hear this,” he brought his hands up over his ears, “I think I’ve already heard too much.”

“Not enough,” she pleaded reaching out across the table to take his hands in hers, “Dave, you asked me to be honest with you, so now I’m giving you the truth. I’m telling you like it is and if you want to hate me forever, then that’s fine. I can’t blame you for that, but please at least let me say what I need to say.”

“Why? So you can have a laugh at my expense later on down the road?” he pushed out of his chair before shaking his head at her, “I think I’ve heard more than enough.”

“Dave, please,” she tried to appeal to him seeing him ready to turn away, “Dave, I always loved you. I know that you might find that hard to believe, but I did and I still do. With Ken, I never planned on any of it, but then when I came back to town--when I’d learned of how he’d been hurt--how he felt he had nothing left to live for, well I knew that I couldn’t let him fall under like he was. I couldn’t let him fade away because…”

“Because you’d much rather screw his brains out, right?” Dave spun around to face her with an icy glare, “I mean that’s really where this is all heading right? You thought you’d offer him your services in the bedroom and that would fix the situation, huh?”

“No, Dave, that wasn’t what it was about. I did what I did with Ken because I was hurting--because I thought that you and I had no chance to be together,” Carly confessed standing up as well, “When I came back to town, I’d had such high hopes for the two of us, but I knew that the reality was that we weren’t going to make it--that we couldn’t have a future with this horrible lie I’d been holding inside of me all this time.”

“So what? You just figured that you’d start up with Ken all over again in the hopes that living the lie would have it’s perks?”

“No, Dave that’s not why I did it. I didn’t do it for the sex--for the sake of hurting you. Yes, there was something there, but I did it for Ken. I did it in an attempt to help him pull his life together again…for…” she approached him.

“I’m done listening to this. Carly, you need to go before I say something that we’ll both regret,” he sighed heavily hating to have to face all of this with her.

“Dave, I did what I did because I was stupid and selfish and not thinking clearly. I did what I did with Ken because I was trying to do the right thing--”

“The right thing for who Carly? For you? For Ken?” he questioned harshly, “Because I sure as hell know it wasn’t for me.”

“I know that Dave and if I could take it back I would, but I can’t and regardless of how stupid or illogical my reasoning was, I was trying to do the one thing that I thought I needed to do. I was trying to…”

“To what? Shatter my heart into a million pieces? Because you know if that’s the outcome you were searching for, then I have to tell you that you did one hell of a bang up job there,” he shook his head at her, “and here I thought I could do this--that I could find a way for us to move beyond the past, but now that you’re telling me all of this--now that I know you and Ken have had this thing going on…”

“It’s not a thing Dave. The truth is I went to Ken when you rejected me simply because I was trying to save him from himself. I wanted to help him return to the man that we both knew--to the person who felt that the world around him had given him reason to keep on living,” she insisted firmly, feeling him stiffen at her touch.

“So you thought bedding him was the key to making that happen, huh?” he tossed out at her behind a pinched expression.

“No Dave, it wasn’t about the sex. That’s not what any of this was about. It was about doing what was best for my daughter,” she blurted out at long last, “for Ken’s daughter Dave.”


Christy slammed the door shut behind her before smiling widely and slipping her shoes off.

“That was great,” she laughed before taking a seat on her couch and reaching for the phone dialing a number.

“Hello?” the person answered the phone as she smiled hearing their voice.

“It’s me baby and I just got back,” she informed the person with a giggle, “You should have been there, I mean it was great.”

“I’m sure I would have loved it,” the person agreed with a deep laugh before hearing her go on.

“I mean their faces…oh, they were so exactly like you said they‘d be--better even,” Christy once more laughed hearing the man clear his throat.

“So everything is going well?” the man questioned as she nodded to herself biting down on her lip.

“Everything is in order,” she promised him thinking back to the events, “In fact, everything is better than I expected it to be. Before you know it, we‘ll have all the key players exactly where we want them for the big showdown. It‘s only a matter of time.”

“Good,” the person nodded to themselves slowly, “I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next with our plan. Things seem to be working out better than we‘d imagined and I‘m very proud of you for that Christy. You did a good thing today.”

“It’s going to be great, I can promise you that,” Christy assured him with a wide smile, “I can hardly wait myself for this big event. I can’t wait to watch it fall out.”

“Oh believe me sweetheart, we’re all going to enjoy watching the fallout,” he explained with a crooked smirk leaning back in the chair he’d been seated in before she called, “by the time we’re finished with this town, no one is going to know what hit them.”



...to be continued...