Episode 203

“Get talking Cameron,” Grady hissed as Cameron sat up from the ground.

“Alright, just give me a second to breath,” Cameron coughed trying to regain the air he got choked out of him.

“If you don’t start talking soon, you won’t have any time to breathe,” Grady threatened watching Cameron roll his eyes, “I’m not kidding either.”

“Fine,” Cameron cut him off sounding a bit angered as he began to tell Grady everything he knew, “I can tell you what I know, but you probably wont believe me. No one seems to believe me in this town.”

“I wonder why. You should start explaining soon,” Grady warned not taking his eyes off of Cameron.

“I don’t even know why I am here,” Cameron informed Grady before shrugging, “Sure I had my reasons to do all this, but how could I pull this all off Grady?”

“You can do anything Cameron, I’ve seen it happen,” Grady reminded him with scowl.

“I didn’t do this one though,” Cameron shouted before smiling, “If it was me though, I would have set up a nice play, but it wasn’t me. I got framed.”

“Well, if you got framed…who did it then?” Grady questioned knowing fully well that he shouldn’t be believing a word that came from this mans mouth.

“That’s the point, I don’t know who did it,” Cameron replied feeling Grady wrap his hands around his neck again.

“You better not be lying to be again,” Grady hissed as Cameron shook his head.

“I’m not lying,” Cameron promised trying to breath, “I swear…I don’t know who has her.”

“Fine,” Grady nodded releasing his hands from Cameron’s throat, “What else do you know?”

“Not much,” Cameron shrugged thinking back to what happened, “First thing I know, I am going on a business trip and then I get caught by the cops saying I kidnapped someone.”

“They found evidence at your house Cameron,” Grady reminded him seeing Cameron nod slowly.

“I didn’t even know what they were talking about,” Cameron replied thinking back to what they found, “I only found out what it was when I got here. I had nothing to do with this.”

“How can I believe you?” Grady questioned thinking of all the things Cameron did in the past.

“Believe me, as much as I want to ruin your life…it wasn’t my idea,” Cameron restated slowly, “I have had ideas, but never one quite like this.”

“So you are telling me that’s the only thing you know?” Grady wondered seeing Cameron nod as he stood up, “Fine.”

“You believe me?” Cameron questioned watching Grady walk towards the door.

“I don’t know what to believe,” Grady shrugged before taking in a deep breath, “All I do know is that Jade is out there somewhere and I have to find her.”

“Whoever did this must have some type of power to get me in here,” Cameron suggested before slowly rising to his feet, “Think about that.”


Jenna sat across from her father in the back of the small, yet busy coffee house, not really sure how to approach the situation at hand between them. She glanced over at the smoky bar across the way, looking beyond further to see an amateur poet on stage pleading with the crowd to just take in what he was saying. The man spoke of love and the woes that had seemingly followed for the character in his poem, which no doubt were true life emotions himself. Sure, this place was a bit hipper and edgier than she’d planned on going to with Doug, but it was busy and busy kept her from being truly alone with a man she didn’t quite trust completely. Turning her eyes to her father again, she inhaled slowly attempting to find something to say to him, but much to her surprise he beat her to the punch.

“I guess sorry doesn’t even begin to cover what’s happening with us, does it,” Douglas questioned with a pathetic looking expression attempting to open the air between them.

“There are a lot of things that sorry can’t fix,” she hesitated trying to come up with a witty comeback before she continued opting to let go of wit, “I’m just not sure whether or not this is one of those situations.”

“I’m hoping it’s not,” he admitted honestly, his eyes traveling over the other patrons. He glanced over at the poet on stage, watching the man writhe in the agony his words seemed to be presenting and Doug couldn’t help but offer up an ironic smile, “Somehow as heart-wrenching as that is for him, well I think I’m feeling a lot more tangled than that.”

“He’s just expressing his emotions,” Jenna shrugged not really paying attention to the man on stage as her gaze lingered upon her father, “There’s really nothing wrong with that, is there?”

“Only when you choose to express the wrong ones going on inside of you,” he sighed heavily focusing on her completely.

“How can they be wrong if you’re feeling them?” she quipped behind an arched brow.

“Given that my emotions are something I’ve never been good with dealing with, this might be harder than I thought,” he took in a breath as if lost in contemplation.

“How about we cut through all the games and just cut straight to the point,” Jenna suggested trying to stay focused.

He let out a tiny laugh, “Just like your mother in that department. She was always a no frills kind of woman. She did what she wanted and spoke what was on her mind regardless of how inappropriate it might be seen by others.”

“I don’t think my wanting to know the truth about my father is inappropriate at all especially when he’s involved with two murder victims,” she shot back at him icily. His expression made her half wish she hadn’t as he’d seem somehow hurt by her words--wounded in ways she wasn’t aiming for. Still, she’d been hurt by him and he hadn’t cared, so why should she?

“Is that really what you want to know about Jenna? About Rochelle and William or did you agree to come out here with me tonight for other reasons?” he replied using his words to try to pull an effect out of her.

Instead of giving him what he was hoping for, she sat straighter, forcing herself to let his words bounce off of her. If she was going to get what she was seeking out from her father, she had to be firm and unyielding. It was the last thing he’d expected out of her and it could very well be the key to honesty.

“I take it that your silence indicates I’m mistaken in the belief that tonight was more about us than about the murders,” he grew silent again before finally conceding a bit, “Rochelle and I dated for a while--if you could really call it that. I told you that she was an up and coming starlet who fell down the wrong path before her number came up.”

“I’d say her number came up, but not in the way she was hoping for,” she frowned hating to think of the woman she’d seen lifeless and tormented on the beach. Even now Jenna sensed in Rochelle Winters final hours, she’d been a woman who’d been terrified--tortured by whatever evils had finally done her in.

“That wasn’t what I was trying to imply,” he paused knowing his words were ill-chosen. “Rochelle and I had fun together--fun that I’m sure you’d want to hear nothing about…”

“Your sex life is of no interest to me Douglas. I mean if that’s what you were implying,” she wrinkled her nose at the thought.

“It wasn’t just about sex,” he saw her expression, “I know that you might find that hard to believe, but I genuinely enjoyed her company. She was a woman of character and she had a lot of promise…”

“But not enough to keep you interested right? She’s served her purpose and you decided you’d be done with her, yes?” Jenna added trying to weave the picture in her mind regardless of how painful the process truly was.

“No,” he offered up a poignant half smile, “Truth be told Rochelle tired of me long before my interest in her faded away. She was special you see. She gave me something that was worth believing in. Yes, she was young, but she had a certain maturity about her--an ageless, timeless character and beauty that went well beyond what the rest of the world saw. I was very unsettled in watching her leave…”

“So it ended badly, yes?” Jenna arched a curious brow.

“Does it end any other way,” he questioned lifting his coffee mug from the table top to take a drink. He caught her glare from across the table out of the corner of his eye before he set the mug down again. “Unfortunately it ended much worse than I’d liked to have had it gone.”

“Because of the drugs you say she was getting into?” she questioned.

He shook his head, rubbing his palms together before dropping his head down. His silence was unsettling, but as he looked to his lap Jenna discovered there was something far worse than his silence--his words.

“When Rochelle and I were together, I decided to go all out. I showed her the best of the best in everything. She and I had fun together--lots of fun together, but it went beyond that. We had a connection that I’ve very rarely had with women in my life. After your mother left me, well I’ll be kind to myself and say that I had a taste for relationships that were fated for disaster. When I’d met Rochelle I hadn’t planned on anything worthwhile or monogamous, but that soon changed when I learned about the baby,” he explained falling to silence again.

“Baby?” Jenna’s eyes widened with obvious discomfort at the can of worms she’d opened up figuratively. She noticed the darkness that swept over her father’s features before he lifted his head up to face her once again, eyes devoid of any and all emotions other than the pain that clearly registered years after the fact.

“Rochelle lead me to believe that our time together had produced a child. She had me under the assumption that I was going to be a father--that she and I were about to bring a life into this world and foolishly I decided to make our relationship exclusive,” he revealed.

“Meaning what exactly? No sex with anyone else?” she questioned with a small shiver.

“Among other things,” he nodded rubbing his palms together on the table top, “I had her move into the mansion with me. We thought, or rather I thought that it would be a good way to keep an eye on her and have her taken care of in my absence.”

“So you two were ready to take things to the next level with one another, yes?” she asked not really wanting to hear this, but still she couldn’t help but try to paint a picture of it in her mind.

He nodded again, “I’d been working on a surprise engagement of sorts, but after I’d returned home after a European shoot, I found Rochelle and JT in bed with one another. I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of meeting your other brother yet…”

“I’ve met JT,” she nodded in confession thinking back to that first meeting when JT had hit on her. A shiver raced up and down her spine.

“Yes, well let’s just say not only was that little shocker the first blow to the relationship, but it turned out that Rochelle and JT had known one another for quite some time. They had a very tortured history with one another and I’d cut JT off--I wouldn’t allow him to throw away his inheritance on whores and drugs you see, so when I tried to get him to grow up, he rebelled. I refused to pay for his habits and out of spite he drug up Rochelle knowing full well that I’d be taken by her.”

“So you’re saying that JT and Rochelle were playing you,” Jenna’s eyes widened.

“Yes,” he let out an ironic laugh, “I suppose that was one way of looking at it. The bitch was robbing me blind in the name of supplying my son’s drug and gambling habits. Naturally when I discovered the truth I was upset, but I blamed JT more than Rochelle. Turns out there was no child and the pregnancy was just a rouse to get me to hand over more of my fortune to your brother.”

“So that’s when you ended things with her?” Jenna questioned thinking about what he’d said earlier, “Though I thought you mentioned that she was the one that…”

“She was,” he confessed painfully, “I forced her to make a choice between JT and I. I went to great lengths to keep her seeing as at the time I thought I couldn’t live without her. She had no choice but to stay with me and JT was history shortly after. Our relationship continued, but it was never quite the same after the lies,” he paused thinking back to the situation he’d been in, “After about six months Rochelle became an addict herself and she ran off with some actor. That was the last time I’d seen her and I never looked back.”

“Even after you’d gone to such great lengths to keep her in your life?” she asked skeptical.

“Let’s just say that some situations aren’t worth the price you pay,” he shrugged his shoulders before reaching for his coffee mug again, “Rochelle was far too much trouble, but my addiction to her kept her around longer than she should’ve been I suppose.”

“So you never really had a chance to get over your addiction then, yes?” she hinted at a darker motive to his words.

“I didn’t have her killed if that’s what you’re asking,” he replied matter of fact, “Had Rochelle shown up on my doorstep after she left, well I might’ve considered taking her in, but unfortunately that opportunity never arose. A shame really.”

“Yet somehow her body washes up on a shore not far from here with your photo in her wallet and not much else,” Jenna replied skeptically, “You don’t think that isn’t just a tad bit ironic, do you?”

“What I think and what it means are two different things,” he shrugged once again, “Given your reaction to the tale I’m telling you, I’d imagine the idiots that run this town will begin to infer things that weren’t or aren’t really there. Eventually I’m sure that I’ll be at the top of their suspect list, yet I can assure you that I have nothing to hide. My life is far from perfect and I’ll be blunt and tell you that a lot of it is quite ugly.”

“That’s not a surprise to me,” Jenna scoffed back at him, her gaze traveling over to the stage where a new poet took to the center.

“I realize that,” he reached across the table to take her hand in his, “but I also hope you know that I’m trying to spare you all of this pain that you may face due to some of my actions.”

“Are you?” she replied in an accusatory tone.

“I truly am,” he released her hand realizing that he’d moved too soon to really get any other kind of effect from her than anger. He deserved that he was sure, but still he’d had to try.

“So why should I believe any of this? I mean that’s a nice story you’re painting here, but what are you hoping to gain by sharing it with me? Someone to back you up when the suspicious eye roams in your direction?”

“No,” he shook his head at her, “Maybe I just felt like telling you because I believed you had a right to know. You are my daughter and while you are aware of some of my sins, that doesn’t change who I am in your life.”

“At this point in time that’s irrelevant,” she stiffened.

“I’m still your father whether you want me to be or not,” he hesitated again, a wave of sentimentality washing over his expression, “and had your mother stayed with me, well, things might not be as they are today. Life would’ve been different for all of us.”

“You can’t blame her for wanting to save herself,” Jenna snapped back at him, ready to jump to her mother’s defense, but he surprised her again with a nod.

“No, I really can’t blame her at all given what she had dealt with. My family wasn’t at all good in dealing with real human emotions. I know that you probably think this is another line, but when I grew up, love was for fools. You weren’t allowed to feel or to do what your heart longed to do. There were rigorous standards you were expected to uphold--a reputation if you will…”

“That lead my mom to run as fast and as far as she could,” Jenna pointed out grimly.

“And that was perhaps the smartest move she ever made in her life,” he confessed honestly, shaking his head again before his dark eyes fell upon hers, “I loved your mother with all that I was and to this day she’s the only woman who has ever truly held my heart. She saw me as I once was, as I could’ve been and as the man I always wanted to be. My time with her was the greatest time of my life and if I could do it all over again, then the second time around nothing would stop me from finding a way to keep that forever.”

“Funny thing with time,” Jenna replied leaning in closer to him, her eyes narrowing in that moment, “You can never go back.”

“No, but there’s always hope for the future, isn’t there?” he questioned in a pleading tone taking a bold move and reaching out across the table to take her hand in his. He felt her resistance, but much to his dismay she didn’t withdraw from his attempt right away.

Jenna opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Her eyes dropped to where his finger pressed in over hers silently begging her for a way in, but right now it was too much--there were too many things happening for her to give into what it was he was seeking from her. Reluctantly she swiped her hand away from his and rose to her feet. She threw a few dollar bills on the table top before snatching up her purse and clutching to it desperately.

“I have to go,” she blurted out seeing his look of objection. Before he could say anything more she left the coffee house--never once looking back for fear that if she stayed a moment longer she may find herself giving in to that one request that she knew was on the tip of his tongue. If she didn’t leave now, she just might let him into her life--into her heart and welcome him as her father and right now--at this point in her life--it simply was unacceptable.


“Is that right,” Hart questioned with a sardonic expression, spooning in every second of Beth’s hissy-fit over the fact he’d hired Sam to work for him. Sure, he’d been well aware that she’d be more than livid, but her expression at the moment was more than just a bit over the top.

“That’s very right. No daughter of mine will be working for a moral free, hedonistic bastard like yourself,” she shot back at him icily, her eyes throwing daggers across the room with her bitter words.

“Hedonistic huh?” Hart placed his hands on his hips mocking her very stance before him. He opened his mouth to sling a few insults of his own, but instead it was Sam who spoke up in an uproar.

“Um excuse me, but I’m an adult,” Sam waved her hand at her mother with obvious anger, “I’m fully capable of making my own decisions and I don’t think that you or anyone else can tell me what I can or cannot do career wise.”

“What kind of career is a secretary,” Beth wrinkled her nose at the thought before turning to address Sam. She stepped in closer to her daughter’s side reaching out to fluff the edge of the pillow that Sam had laid upon, “Sweetheart, you’re so much better than that and if you’re seeking out that kind of job, well you can work for me. I’d be more than happy to hire you as my own personal assistant here at the hospital and…”

“Mom, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m sick and tired of hospitals. If I never step inside one again, it’ll be too soon for me,” Sam’s fingers coiled over the top of the sheet that lay over her legs. “I want to work for Hart.”

“Honey, that’s really not a good idea considering that…” Beth found herself at a loss. She could see the unsatisfied expression on Sam’s face, but she refused to allow Hart the pleasure or power over her in Beth blurting out an open confession to Sam about Hart being a father. Instead she stood taller, clearing her throat again and trying to use a different approach, “But darling you’ve said that you and I haven’t had much of an opportunity to spend much time with one another since we’ve moved back into town. I think it would be a wonderful chance for us to get closer if you were working with me. You might find that your time in the hospital and the appreciation you could gain from working with others like yourself could…”

“No, not a chance,” Sam shook her head adamantly, “I’m working for Hart. I’ve accepted already and that’s all there is to it.”

“Good choice,” Hart smirked taking a step forward towards Sam’s hospital bed, “and just know that whenever you’re ready to come to work, that position is yours. Don’t feel you have to rush yourself because things have been a bit crazy around the office lately. My partner is kind of taking an extended vacation of sorts since his fiancée died and I’m trying to kind of regroup a bit.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Sam frowned slightly taking in what he’d said, “I hope that your partner is coping with this better than what I’ve heard on the news.”

“I wish I could say he was, but at this point, shamefully I haven’t had much contact with him,” Hart admitted with a small shrug, “which reminds me I really should be heading on back there. I left one of my files in the office and I don’t want to get over there too late and trip the wire on the alarm there. I did that one time already and it annoyed the hell out of the company. You’d think security would just cut me some slack since it’s my office, but I have to tell you they’re brutal. They are who you’ll really have to look out for when you start working there. Though I’ve heard that a beautiful smile, great legs and donuts are the key to their hearts. Since I don’t have two of the above, well I have to settle for donuts and hope they don’t hate me.”

Sam laughed lightly before offering her hand out to him, “Thanks again for this opportunity Hart.”

“It’s my pleasure,” Hart leaned down to kiss the top of her hand politely before standing up once again. He shot a glare in Beth’s direction before offering up a sarcastic smile, “See you later Beth.”

“Oh you can count on it,” she seethed wanting to tear him apart limb by limb. Once he’d exited the room, she turned to plead with her daughter again, “Sami, you can’t really be serious about this honey.”

“I’m very serious about this mom,” Sam replied firmly in an attempt to stand her ground with her mother, “I’m at the age where I have to start making my own choices and I want to do that. I know that you’ve tried to protect me most of my life, but I don’t need your protecting in this. I want to do this.”

“Your father is not going to approve at all,” Beth wrinkled her nose down at her, straining to get her daughter to listen to reason, “He’s not rather fond of Hart.”

“I realize that, but daddy doesn’t have to be. I’m the one who is going to be doing this and I have to work with Hart, not daddy,” Sam shrugged her shoulders before reaching for the television remote control, “Besides Hart can’t be that bad. He’s dating Wayne’s sister and…”

“All the more reason for you not to take this position. When you and Wayne call it quits,” Beth pleaded with her reaching out to tuck a strand of Sam’s hair behind her ear.

“Call it quits?” Sam blinked back at her incredulously, “Mom, where would you ever get an idea like that? Wayne and I are very happy together…”

“You say that now, but you never know what will happen in the future with your both being of very different backgrounds and…” Beth began with a disapproving glance.

“Different backgrounds?” Sam repeated with an unimpressed huff, “Is that what you’re really wanting to say Mom or is it that you don’t like the fact that Wayne isn’t who you’d choose for me because he’s not white?”

“Oh Sami,” Beth rolled her eyes at the remark, “Of course that’s not it, though I will say when you associate with those people, well, others tend to snicker and sneer behind your back as that gives you a certain reputation.”

“And what the hell kind of reputation would that be mother?” Sam snapped in response.

“One that a respectable young lady like yourself wouldn’t like to obtain this early on,” Beth reached out to try to coddle her, but Sam swatted her mother’s hand away.

“And what would that be? The reputation of a woman who found herself lucky enough to have a good man in her life? A man who would move heaven and earth to make her happy?” Sam shook her head at her mother, hating everything her mother felt about the relationship Sam had with Wayne. “While you might not like it, I love Wayne and he loves me. We have something that most people wait a lifetime to have in their life. Sure, maybe it’s not what you want, but here’s a clue for you. It’s not your life. It’s mine…”

“Which is all the more reason why I don’t want you to screw it up. With all these horrible choices you’ve been making lately…” Beth argued with her, the tone shifting with her annoyance.

“My decisions are none of your business. In case you haven’t noticed I’m eighteen years old and fully capable of deciding what it is that I want in my life,” Sam argued back, a newfound stubbornness coursing through her veins, “Not only am I going to enjoy my life with Wayne, but I’m taking that job with Hart and there’s not a damn thing you can do to change it.”

“You’re making horrible mistakes and if you take this job it’ll be another big one Sami,” Beth shook her head furiously, “You’re going to ruin your life and you’ll be so tarnished that no one will want to bother with you.”

“No Mom just because no one wants to bother with you, doesn’t mean I’m the same kind of slut that daddy thinks you are,” Sam remarked harshly watching Beth turn on her--ready to lash out at her. She saw Beth raise her hand as if she was going to slap her, but instead Beth just wiggled her finger at her.

“Don’t you dare talk to me in that tone. You are way out of your league little girl. You don’t know the first damn thing about what happened with your father and I,” Beth snapped at her harshly.

“I know enough to see you broke his heart,” Sam replied sourly, “That’s something that I haven’t been blind to over the years.”

“And if you take this job, you’ll be following in my footsteps doing the very same thing,” Beth warned her before taking a step back, “And here I thought that you’d grown up to become a mature, responsible young woman…”

“I have, but you’re too busy trying to dictate my life to notice,” Sam replied with an angry glare.

“Yeah, well you go ahead and ruin your life then Sami. See if anyone is going to be there for you like I have. I’m the best thing that you have and even if you hate me for it, I do what I do to protect you. I love you Sami and I don’t want to see you hurt,” Beth replied with a wounded expression, “Does that make me so horrible?”

Silence surrounded them before guilt swept over Sam’s features, “No, it doesn’t, but you have to trust me a little bit mom. I know what I’m doing.”

“I really don’t think that you do sweetheart,” Beth moved in closer to her, reaching out to embrace her, “but if you really feel this is something you must do…”

“Please don’t argue with me on this,” Sam returned the embrace, “I love you Mom, but I can’t go through another fight over this.”

“I won’t argue with you, but you have to promise me if you ever feel uncomfortable--if you ever want to back out of the position…” Beth sighed in frustration.

“Then if it comes to that, I’ll quit,” Sam assured her, “Just let me try and stop getting on me about Wayne.”

“I can’t offer any promises, but I’ll try,” Beth moved back ever so slightly to look at her daughter, all the while vowing to find a way to make Hart pay for this latest move. One way or another she’d find a way to take him down for trying to one up her. That much she was quite certain of.


“What the?” Kyle’s eyes quickly opened hearing the ringing of his cell phone. “Figures.”

“You okay?” Sarah questioned with a small laugh seeing how the ringing scared him.

“Yeah,” he grunted looking at his cell phone and opening it slowly, “Hello?”

“Kyle, it’s Blake,” Blake smiled widely to herself wrapping the cord of her phone around her finger slowly.

“Well hello pretty woman,” Kyle playfully laughed, “I assume you would like to talk to Sarah?”

“You know me too well,” Blake giggled as Kyle handed the cell phone over to Sarah.

“Hello,” Sarah took the phone knowing that Blake would be the only one who would call Kyle’s cell phone for her, “What can I do for you Blake?”

“Sarah, you will never guess what I am about to tell you,” Blake sounded very happy as Sarah shrugged to herself as Kyle got up and walked off to the kitchen.

“Let me guess…you and Seth broke up,” Sarah joked hearing Blake laugh.

“Of course not, it’s better than that,” Blake began as Sarah could hardly understand what she was saying, “Sarah, I am getting married.”

“Yeah, I know you and Seth will get married soon,” Sarah nodded as Blake cut her off.

“No we are getting married in less that twenty-four hours,” Blake informed Sarah hearing her gasp.

“Are you serious?” Sarah questioned looking down at her watch before switching the phone to her other ear.

“Dead serious, we are going to Atlantic City,” Blake stated as she bit on her lower lip. “Me and Seth were hoping that you and Kyle would come.”

“You want us to come with you?” Sarah questioned feeling honored to have her best friend ask this.

“You’re my best friend and well Seth thinks of Kyle as a really good friend,” Blake replied before spinning around, “So what do you say? Will you two come?”

“We would love to,” Sarah answered with a wide smile, “When are we leaving?”

“As soon as possible,” Blake declared before wrapping her arms around a pillow, “You two should get packed and call me when you are done.”

“I’ll call you right back,” Sarah agreed before laughing, “This is going to be so much fun.”

“Alright, hurry up,” Blake hung up with Sarah before going pack to packing her things.

“What did she want?” Kyle questioned with a yawn walking back into the room and grabbing his shirt from the side of the couch and sliding it on.

“She wants us to go to Atlantic City with her and Seth,” Sarah informed him as he nodded slowly.

“When?” Kyle questioned opening up his water and taking a slow drink.

“They are getting married and we are leaving as soon as possible,” she answered as Kyle choked down his water.

“What?” Kyle questioned unexpectedly, “Today? They want us to go today?”

“Yeah, don’t you want to go?” Sarah wondered seeing him nod slowly. “You say you want a break, what better way could you have it?”

“I guess it was just kind of unexpected,” Kyle shrugged before tightening the cap on his water bottle, “So you want me to get packed now?”

“Right now,” she nodded as he shrugged once more, “And hurry up we don’t have too much time. It’s Blake and Seth’s big day, they deserve as much attention as possible.”


“Hello,” Ria answered her phone tiredly after just getting off her shift only to hear her best friends voice on the other side of the phone.

“Ria, I need you to do a big favor for me,” Seth stated smiling widely to himself.

“Oh god,” she sighed with a small laugh, “What do I have to do now?”

“I think you will like this one,” Seth pointed out with a wiggle of his eyebrow, “I want you to go home and get packed up so you could come with me to Atlantic City.”

“You’re kidding me right?” she questioned with a big laugh before realizing he wasn’t. “Right?”

“This is no joke,” Seth replied before taking in a deep breath, “Blake and I are getting married tonight and I would like you to be there for me.”

“Who else is coming?” Ria questioned not knowing how she should answer his question.

“Two friends of ours and you…that’s if you say yes,” Seth offered up as she bit down on her bottom lip.

“This all sounds great, but with work and everything,” she began before Seth cut her off.

“Come on Ria,” he begged before starting up again, “You have to come with me, you are my best friend.”

“Alright,” she agreed before taking in a deep breath. “I couldn’t miss my best friends wedding. I’ll have someone take my shifts.”

“Thank you so much,” Seth smiled to himself before grabbing a few things, “We are going to have so much fun. Now hurry home and get packed.”

“Alright, I will call you when I get home,” she promised before looking down at her watch. “Bye.”

She took in a deep breath before thinking things over. As one of the nurses walked by her she called them back.

“Hey, I have to split,” Ria informed the nurse before smiling and rubbing her hands together lightly, “My best friend is going to get married and I have to be their for them.”

“Alright,” the nurse nodded with a small smile, “Tell them congratulations.”

Yet did Ria know, someone else had also heard the good news, JT who was standing in the back of the hallway.

“Where are you Valerie?” JT questioned to himself watching Ria get into the elevator. “If you don’t get back soon enough, you may lose Seth forever.”

He had to do something to help her stop this wedding. He quickly walked pulled out his phone trying to call her again. To tell her the bad news so she might think about changing her mind.


“I can’t believe you two won’t tell me what you were doing in that room,” Angela shook her head in disbelief hearing Kevin and Nick laugh.

“It was nothing big,” Kevin shrugged tapping his fingers along the table lightly.

“Nothing big?” Angela questioned her eyes getting wide. “Do you know what it sounded like you two were doing?”

“I don’t even want to know,” Kevin laughed before rolling his eyes and looking towards Nick.

“Well, I can assure you it sounded like Nick had it out for you Kevin,” Angela informed him as Nick choked on his drink.

“What can I say? I’m too hot not to love,” Kevin shrugged with a small smile feeling her hit him in the shoulder lightly.

“I know you guys only took me out to dinner because you wanted me to shut up about this whole thing,” she insisted as Nick bit down on his lip trying not to laugh. “What is it with you two? One second you hate each other and now you two are working together to keep something from me.”

“What can I say Angie?” Kevin smiled holding his hand out to Nick for a high five.

“Sorry Angela,” Nick shrugged smacking Kevin’s hand lightly, “It’s a guy thing.”

“I’m going to find out one way or another,” she nodded slowly as Kevin shook his head.

“Sorry sweetheart, but I trust Nick with this one,” Kevin winked at Angela before feeling arms wrap around his neck lightly and plant a kiss on his cheek.

“Hey there, Adonis,” Marie smiled down at him as Kevin smiled, “I believe you still owe me a drink and a dance.”

“I do, don’t I?” Kevin questioned with a sly grin before getting up from his seat. “If you two will please excuse me.”

“Take your time,” Angela held up her hands watching Kevin walk towards the bar with Marie.

“That girl is the one who has it out for him,” Nick sighed before taking a sip of his drink.

“Okay, you have to tell me what you two were doing,” Angela begged as Nick shook his head slowly.

“I can’t, Kevin and I made a promise to each other,” Nick informed her with a small smile thinking back to what he had found out about Kevin and his writing, “It is pretty interesting though.”

“You can tell me, Kevin will never know,” she assured him as Nick shook his head.

“How about a dance,” he offered standing up and holding his hand out to her.

“You aren’t going to tell me?” she wondered seeing him shake his head as she took his hand in hers.

“Not a chance,” he smiled widely before leading her out to the dance floor knowing fully well that she was dying to find out what was happening in that room.


“This is amazing,” Avery confessed thinking about how the last time she’d been on one of the Ashford yachts that she hadn’t taken the time to truly appreciate her surroundings. Much like the other luxury liner, this one was first class in every sense of the word. The plush, lavish surroundings were like a little piece of heaven swept from up above and delivered to the water, where she and Brant were with one another on a night like this.

“You’re the amazing one,” Brant confessed stepping in behind her. He enveloped her in his arms squeezing her closer to him before his lips tapered off over the back of her neck. He nibbled gently, feeling the tiny shivers that raced over her body. She tipped her head back into his chest, her eyelids half-mast as a sigh spilled over her lips. Unable to resist an opportunity to tease her, he whispered warmly in her ear, “Still sure about putting dinner on hold?”

“You know now that you mention it I think dinner would be fantastic,” Avery decided standing up taller and wiggling out of his arms.

She spun around to face him, her best poker face at hand, but it was too late. He’d already called her bluff and was working on getting her to admit to her devious nature. He stepped forward, arms spanning out onto the wall beside where she stood. She felt the warmth of him nearing her as she pressed herself back into the wall. Her dark eyes widened, fingers fanning out against the wall behind her in an attempt to keep her grounded when his lips sought out hers.

“Liar,” he mouthed claiming her mouth in a naughty kiss.

Avery savored the sexy taste of him for one blissful moment before pulling away from the kiss. She winked at him before speaking up, “Am not.”

With those words, she ducked underneath his arm clearly ready to exit, but he wasn’t about to let her leave. He reached for her drawing her back with lightening quick movements. Their eyes reconnected. He moved forward pinning her to the surface behind her.

“Going somewhere,” he questioned in a sexy, mischievous tone all the while watching the way her damp lips parted with breathless anticipation of what came next for them.

“I was just on my way up to the kitchen area and…” she began feeling him move in for yet another urgent, demanding kiss. This time she felt no need to taunt or play with him. Her arms glided readily over his shoulders, drawing him nearer yet while his hands roamed over her body greedily. She felt her breath catch in her throat as his fingers found their way underneath the hem of her skirt.

“Shame on you for being such a tease,” Brant shook his head at her, making a tsking sound.

His hands traveled upward, over the silky smoothness of the black stockings she’d been wearing. His finger teased over the lace that topped off the thigh highs she’d sported shortly after he’d announced he was taking her away. At the time she’d thought she’d wear them to be sexy, but she’d lost the enthusiasm for such an event after their long ride through the country. Sure, it had been beautiful, but it had been clear that their ride wasn’t about to lead to any earth-shattering moments of eroticism for the both of them. However judging by the expression on his face, that was about to change.

“What’s this,” he questioned with a small smirk, fingering the lace gingerly.

“What’s what,” Avery replied casually attempting to feign complete control and lackluster enthusiasm while his finger circled the lace trailing dangerously between her thighs.

“You know what,” he threw out a pointed look, tearing his hands away from her much to her dismay. However, before she could issue a protest, she felt him drop down to his knees before her causing her to gasp.

“Brant, what are you doing,” Avery questioned feeling a blush rise over her features when he began to pull her skirt up over her body, drawing the fabric up over her hips.

“I wanted a closer look,” Brant admitted in a carefree, casual tone loving the way that the tables had turned now that Avery suddenly was on edge. He leaned forward, taking the time to truly appreciate the work of art that her body was. Her thighs were beautiful, sun-kissed and soft to the touch. He traced his finger over the top of the delicate lace pattern again before he leaned forward placing a feathery-light kiss upon the skin that teased out over the fabric.

“Brant,” Avery gasped clearly embarrassed by his blatant attention now that his lips created a path over her skin. She dropped her hands down, knowing that anyone on staff on the yacht could walk by at any moment and find her in this embarrassingly humiliating position, skirt around her waist and her husband dangerously close to turning this moment X-rated. She reached out for him, urging him to get up off of the floor.

“Is something wrong,” Brant questioned tilting his head up just enough to grin at her devilishly before his lips returned to her thigh.

“I don’t think that,” she started feeling his mouth transfer from one leg to the other and she let out a small pinched whisper, “I don’t think that here is the place to…”

“To what,” he asked in a low, husky masculine tone his fingers sliding up towards her hips. He released the skirt, allowing it to drop over her thighs while his hands sought out a new target. He felt her uneasiness grow exponentially when he issued a slight tug on the black lacy underwear she’d had on.

“To do this,” Avery chastised feeling her panties slide down over her hips centering around the top of her thighs before Brant yanked again.

“Do what?” he questioned innocently teasing the tips of his fingers over the back of her thighs, circling behind her knees where the lacy fabric now pooled around her oh so perfect body.

“This,” Avery practically squealed feeling the slight nudge he gave, buckling her knees just enough to allow the lacy material to fall to her ankles.

“Oh I don’t see a problem with it,” he replied with a small shrug, reaching out to push on of her feet up against the wall to give the material room to drop from her completely. He followed his movement with the other leg before dangling the small panties over his index finger and flashing her a sexy grin, “You wouldn’t be tempted to say that this is highly inappropriate, would you?”

“I know it is,” Avery replied reaching out to snatch her underwear away from him. Instead she was met by the hungry urgency of his kiss as he pushed her back into the wall. His body pinned her firmly beneath his, his hips grinding against hers, leaving her no mistakes about what he was hoping for between them. Lucky for him, she’d been hoping for it too, but like this, well this was something that was certainly going to be a first for her. One that she found herself suddenly very uneasy about.

“Brant, wait…” Avery tore herself away from the kiss, fighting to keep all rationality about her. She felt her breath fill the thick silence that surrounded them before her eyes scanned the corridor worriedly, “I think I hear something.”

“It’s your imagination,” he murmured bringing his lips over hers again, “Don’t worry about it. We’re alone for now.”

“But for how long,” Avery questioned feeling him rub up against her once again with sinful intent.

“Long enough I’m certain,” he tried to assure her, lifting the front of her skirt in an attempt to gain easy access to her femininity.

“How can you be certain,” Avery questioned placing her hand in the center of his chest to prevent him from making an embarrassment out of the both of them.

“I just am,” he replied flashing her that million dollar smile that had captured her attention back in the first days of knowing him.

She opened her mouth in protest, wanting with everything she had inside of her to tell him to think this through--to really weigh out the probability of them savoring a moment of privacy in the cramped quarters of the hallway they were surrounded by, but instead all she could focus on was the first feel of his hands touching her in all the right places.

“Brant,” his name spilled over her lips as she leaned her head forward dropping it onto his shoulder.

“See sweetheart,” he murmured into the side of her neck all the while taking his time to pleasure her, “I told you that we’d be okay here.”

“No,” she shook her head, fighting to suppress the small sounds building inside of her at his touch, “this is too dangerous--too…”

“Amazing to ignore,” he cut her off with another eager kiss. She sighed into him, tasting the fire and recklessness he was bringing her to from within. This was too much, too out of the norm for her and yet she was drinking it all in with his kiss.

“Mmm…” she bit down on her lower lip to stifle her soft cries of pleasure, but with each passing moment she found it increasingly hard to contain it. She tilted her head up, seeing the way that Brant was looking at her--the sheer delight he was deriving from watching her melt at his attentions.

“Don’t hold back on my account,” he whispered, dragging his thumb over her bottom lip in an attempt to unmask her sounds, “I want to take it all in--to hear all there is when you lose control…”

“Brant, I…I…” she stammered rocking her hips towards him wanting nothing more than to get him into that damned bedroom to show him what she really wanted. Yes, this was a nice start, but what she wanted, what she found herself craving was far more than what he’d started out here.

“Yes?” he replied in a sluggish tone, watching her face twist with clear cut agony. He stopped what he was doing and found himself delighted to see her squeal in protest. Leaning forward he nibbled on her lower lip again, “That’s my girl. Tell me what it is you want from me…”

“To get…” she spoke tightly, hoarsely fighting to stay in control of herself, “to get into the bedroom…”

“Awe sweetheart, we don’t need a bedroom for me to give you what you need,” he laughed lightly, amused by her attempts at self control. Still, he was relentless wanting her to be wild and wanton and his. He knew how easy it could be to get her to bend for him in the way he’d been hoping for in the safety and security of the bedroom, but right now Brant wasn’t looking for safe--he wasn’t hoping to enter into familiar territory. Right now he wanted fire--he wanted passion and damn it he wanted that Avery that she’d been back in his office when he’d first made his quest for her known--the one who could melt completely at his touch--the one who wanted nothing more than to have him make her his in every sense of the word. That’s what he wanted and tonight he’d settle for nothing less.

“Brant please,” she begged of him, fighting to maintain any semblance of control as her hand slipped down over his wrist to stop his mind-breaking advances upon her. Her words were meant to be firm, but they came out more so as shallow pants when he seemed undeterred by her attempt to relocate.

“Please what,” Brant questioned with a certain spark behind his eyes enjoying his newfound power over his wife. Yes, okay so maybe he was gloating a little bit, but it felt good to see her overtaken with lust for him. It felt, well, perfect.

“The bedroom--now,” she arched up towards him, wanting nothing more than to continue their rendezvous behind closed doors, but that still wasn’t good enough for him.

“Not yet,” he shook his head at her denying her request.

“Brant..” she bit down on her lip again this time unable to suppress the whimpers that overtook her with the first wave of tremors he’d set off inside of her. She arched her body forward, her head falling back against the wall as there was no more holding back on the nirvana he’d set out to take her to. She’d tried to fight it--tried to keep from falling to pieces like an idiot in the hallway, but it was too late. Brant had been bound and determined to get her to make a fool of herself in such a way that anyone on the yacht could hear her. Now it was most certainly happening with the whimpering sounds that escaped from her parted lips.

“That’s my girl,” Brant mused proudly feeling victorious in his quest to gain Avery’s attention. Now that he’d had it, he knew damn well that he wasn’t about to wait to get her into that bedroom. That would come later, he reasoned as he undid his slacks quickly situating himself before settling inside of her.

“Oh,” she gasped, leaning forward to meet his eyes as their bodies were now in unison, bumping and grinding with one another with a sheer primal force.

There was no denying the lust, the insatiable hunger behind their union and yet regardless of Avery’s concerns about privacy they’d found a way to ride the waves of passion with one another right to the very end with a great deal of enthusiasm. Finally when the fire had crashed them to surrender Brant leaned into Avery, kissing her flushed skin with silent appreciation.

“Good girl,” Brant mouthed against her neck, his words buzzing against her skin as he felt her leg still wrapped around his body. She was shivering, her heart pounding against his with that same wild, frenzy that he’d felt from the moment he’d brought her below the deck with him.

“I can’t believe you did that…that we did that…” Avery gasped, her words still a bit shaky after the experience they’d shared with one another. “The fact that you wouldn’t just let us move when I asked you to…”

“Shh,” he instructed placing his finger over her swelled lips to silence her complaint. He saw her eyes still glazed from the passion they’d shared with one another, “you loved every minute of it.”

“That’s beside the point,” Avery mumbled from underneath his fingertip a blush turning her face a sexy crimson shade, “Right now I’m sure everyone upstairs is getting a kick out of this knowing how much I enjoyed it.”

“Even if they are,” Brant replied cupping her face in his hands, “they aren’t getting nearly as much of a kick out of it as I did with you.”

“Brant,” she opened her mouth in an attempt to come up with something witty and intelligible, but before she could utter a sentence she heard the sounds of glass breaking from behind her.

“What in the…” Brant frowned reluctantly tearing himself away from her when another sound followed.

“What is that?” Avery questioned feeling her skirt fall over her again. She turned towards the source of the sound--the door in front of her and almost as soon as the crash had sounded, silence followed.

“Stay here,” Brant urged pulling himself together again before he slowly moved towards the door. He listened for a moment before pushing the bedroom door open in a haste. He snapped on the light switch before looking around for the source of the sound.

A broken window on the opposite end of the room gave him an indication of what they’d heard and the brick on the floor filled in the blanks on what had happened. Slowly his eyes traveled over to the center of the bed where there lay some sort of dead animal in the center of the comforter surrounded in a pool of blood. Brant moved forward seeing something else beside the now deceased bird that had been left on the bed--something far more chilling as a knife lay beside the bird’s body.

“Brant, what it is?” Avery questioned wrapping her hands around her arms. She took a step into the room, attempting to see what was going on when she noticed Brant near the center of the room, “Brant?”

“Get out Avery,” Brant warned glancing over his shoulder to wave her dismissal, “Don’t come in here.”

“Why? What is it?” she asked again taking another step forward.

“Avery, I said get out,” Brant growled back at her, turning around in an attempt to block her from seeing what vile token had been left for them, but it was too late.

“Oh my God,” Avery gasped in horror, feeling a moment of nausea rush over her. “Brant…”

“Don’t look,” Brant pleaded pulling her into his chest in a futile attempt to keep her from taking a closer look at the damage that had been done, but he knew full well that it was too late. She’d seen the worst and now, well now this was clearly a sign of what was waiting for them. Someone wanted to make a statement and as Avery trembled in Brant’s arms, he knew full well that the sadistic bastard who’d put such a thing here had accomplished his dastardly mission.


“Hello Dean,” Shannon smiled closing the door to his Dean’s office slowly.

“Shannon? What are you doing here?” Dean questioned quickly standing up from his chair.

“I was just coming to see how things were going,” Shannon informed him taking a seat on his couch.

“Did anyone see you come in here?” Dean questioned as she shrugged.

“Does it matter?” she replied with a simple shrug. “It’s not like anyone will care.”

“You don’t think anyone would be suspicious?” Dean asked seeing her shrug.

“Let them wonder,” she smiled before leaning forward in her seat before taking in a deep breath.

“I never expected you would come here to talk to me,” Dean sighed leaning against the corner of his desk.

“Well, I am,” she pointed out as he nodded slowly watching as she stood up.

“What can I help you with?” Dean questioned seeing her shrug. “You must need something.”

“Your right,” she nodded before biting down on her bottom lip lightly “We need to have a talk.”

“Right now?” Dean questioned seeing her nod slowly. “Do we have to?”

“Yeah,” she nodded slowly as he closed his eyes shut tightly, “It’s pretty important.”


“What was that all about?” Alicia questioned seeing the expression on her sons face as he sluggishly walked into the house.

“She left mom,” Don informed her before dropping down on the couch, “She found out about Matthew.”

“That was the woman you married?” Alicia questioned seeing him nod slowly. “She is a very pretty woman.”

“Mom,” Don yelled out catching her attention, “She left me…just now.”

“She left my baby boy?” she questioned with a frown taking a seat next to him. “She doesn’t deserve you anyways.”

“You’re treating me like I am twelve years old,” Don shook his head slowly before scooting over, “I can handle this. I knew it was going to happen soon or a later.”

“Did I miss something?” Rob, Don’s father questioned as he walked through the door just getting back from work.

“Yeah, your son’s wife just left him,” Alicia informed him as Rob frowned taking a seat next to Don.

“Really?” Rob questioned before smiling widely. “I have to know this…was she hot?”

“Don’t ask that,” Alicia frowned hitting Rob in the back of the head as he laughed.

“I was just wondering,” Rob shrugged as Alicia shook her head slowly.

“Can I talk to dad alone a minute?” Don questioned seeing his mother get up and leave the room.

“So what was she a hot one like your mother?” Rob asked once more as Alicia peeked her head out of the kitchen.

“I heard that,” she heard Rob laugh as he looked back at her.

“I asked him if the weather was hot,” Rob lied before seeing Alicia roll her eyes and go back into the kitchen.

“It wasn’t that she was hot dad,” Don sighed thinking back to what had just happened, “I love her.”

“What happened?” Rob wondered seeing Don shrug. “Did she leave after she found out about Matthew?”

“Yeah,” Don nodded resting his elbows on his knees, “I don’t understand women sometimes. You love them and you would do anything for them…then they just up and leave.”

“Don’t worry son,” Rob sighed patting him on the shoulder lightly, “Your mother was like that for a while…look at us now, and we love each other to death.”

“Shannon isn’t like mom,” Don informed his father before taking in a deep breath, “She just doesn’t know how to love someone.”

“I think she will realize what she is doing and come back to you,” Rob assured him as Don shook his head.

“I don’t think so,” Don frowned before seeing Matthew run towards him with a few toys in his hands.

“Look daddy,” Matthew giggled as Don picked him up in his arms, “Grandpa got me these fire trucks.”

“Really?” Don questioned with a big smile as the child handed him the toy. “How cool is grandpa?”

“Very,” Matthew giggled as Don looked back at his father. “Why are you sad?”

“I’m not sad as long as I have you with me,” Don replied before swinging him around lightly, “I love you.”

“I love you too daddy,” Matthew giggle before Don set him down, “You want to play with me?”

“I would love to,” Don nodded sitting down on the floor smiling at the sight of his son before him. This little guy was more important to him than Shannon. If she couldn’t accept Matthew…then she wasn’t good enough for him anyways.


“You really aren’t planning on telling me anything, are you,” Angela questioned feeling Nick’s arms slide leisurely around her waist as the music in the bar shifted from the upbeat, frantic rock tempo to something a bit more sultry--a bit more seductive. She tilted her head up ever so slightly to see the glimmer behind his eyes offering up a cryptic hint of mystery, yet she knew better than to prod for an answer from him. Tonight she wasn’t going to get one and as much as curiosity had swirled inside of her, her insides felt an altogether different sensation stirring from within. She placed her hand over his shoulder feeling the smoothness of his body burning beneath her touch. Yes, this was nothing more than a dance--nothing that should spark any kind of reaction let alone the one she was feeling within his arms.

“Do you really think I’m going to risk upsetting Kevin now that he thinks I’m almost okay,” Nick teased with a warm, welcoming laugh that vibrated over Angela’s lips tempting her with the memory of the last time she’d kissed him.

“I think it’s nice that you two have…” she fought for the right word before a devilish grin spilled over her features, “bonded.”

“You say it like it’s something dirty,” Nick arched an introspective brow before pulling her in flush against him. The sultry, yearning sounds of the vocalist filled the room that surrounded them, but there was more than the music happening as they danced with one another.

“Oh I don’t know,” Angela attempted to play it cool despite the fact that she’d like nothing more than to rip his clothes off right here and now. Surely that wasn’t asking too much, now was it? So what if they were surrounded by friends and strangers? It all seemed worth the risk when she felt his fingers dip in over the small of her back. She inhaled slowly trying to quell the warmth that bounced to where his finger circled the small patch of skin that remained uncovered by her dress, “Something sounded suspicious and with this sudden silence between you…”

“Trust me it’s not what you’re thinking,” Nick tipped his head in closer to her, his words taunting with his expanding grin, “but something tells me that you’re not really contemplating what went on with Kevin and I. It’s more of a distraction.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she half laughed, the nervousness resonating in her voice, “What else would you think I was contemplating after all this cloak and dagger you two have been playing about dodging questions?”

“I think you’re thinking about last night,” he pressed the issue watching the rose color that filled her features. She was embarrassed or was it excited by the reference he’d made? He wasn’t sure, but at the same time he found her absolutely charming. Bringing his palm up to touch her cheek gently, he teased his fingers into her dark hair.

“You wish,” she laughed lightly making no move to pull away from his intimate gesture.

“You’re damn right I do,” he nodded with a sexy smile that made her insides melt in ways she swore she’d refrain from after her past mistakes.

“You really do have a death wish, don’t you,” she questioned nervously glancing over to where Kevin was up at the bar talking with his friend who’d pulled him away.

“Maybe I do, but tell me something,” he leaned forward to whisper into her ear sinful words of temptation, “tell me that you’re not thinking about finishing what we started right here and now.”

“And if we did, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’d be arrested,” she murmured stepping up on her toes to place a small kiss on the side of his neck. She knew she shouldn’t have done it, but she’d been longing to taste him--to feel every inch of him over her, under her, all around her since she’d left him earlier in the morning. Even now she could feel herself anticipating more when his palms pressed in over her bottom squeezing her into his body.

“It would be worth the risk,” he half growled undoubtedly turned on by the idea of making a scene in the middle of the crowded dance floor.

Angela pulled back ever so slightly, her lips longing to merge with his again. She curled her arms around his waist, reaching out to touch the firm, hard lines of his body. She settled her palms up over the back of his jeans, letting her fingers taper off into the back pockets.

“It might be,” she confessed with a nervous smile, “although I don’t think you’d be able to keep working here after something like that…”

“Then I’d have to find another way to make a living,” he shrugged his shoulders before winking down at her, “I can learn how to fish.”

“Fish huh?” she wrinkled her nose at him, “I don’t know if I’d like that for you.”

“Why is that?” he questioned feeling her reach for his hand, bringing it up to place a small kiss over the center of his palm.

“Because these hands are far too soft and welcoming to be spent on fish all day,” she tilted her head to the side lowering her voice to a seductive purr, “when I’d much rather them be all over me.”

“That’s it,” Nick growled before moving in to whisper in her ear intimately, “if I don’t get you out of here right now, I really will wind up in jail for the things I want to do to you.”

“There is a back exit,” she informed him anticipation riding over her body, driving her to explore all the deliciously wild ways she and Nick could enjoy the evening with one another. Sure, she might’ve considered taking it slow, but with one look at the sexy specimen of man before her, she decided slow could wait--until after a quick and mind-blowing romp out back.

“Shall we,” he lifted a brow catching the way her expression had shifted. She looked like she was about ready to eat him alive then and there. It was all the encouragement he’d needed to reach for her hand and tug her towards him. He glanced over at the exit to the bar ready to make their big escape when Kevin approached.

“There you two are,” Kevin greeted them with an overzealous smile. He glanced between the both of them oblivious to what was going on before he’d arrived or working overtime to ignore it, “You don’t think you’re stepping out on me, did you?”

“Of course we…” Angela quickly spun to face him, wanting to find a polite means of saying good-night, but before she could bow out of the evening gracefully Nick stepped forward finishing her statement.

“…didn’t,” Nick replied curling his arm around Angela’s shoulders, “We were just soaking up the atmosphere while you were with your friend…”

“Oh yeah,” Kevin grinned sheepishly before turning to look over at the bar and wave at Marie, “well Marie wanted to know if we’d all join her for a few drinks.”

“Don’t you think she’d rather you two spend some time…alone?” Angela suggested with a gentle nudge hoping her friend would find a way to enjoy himself for the evening.

“Nah, she doesn’t mind. Besides the way I look at it, how often do we get to do this together?” Kevin’s grin expanded, “I mean you said you wanted me to take the time to get to know Nick better and this is a perfect start. Don’t you agree?”

“Of course it is,” Nick replied politely as Angela found to keep from groaning.

“Okay, well, we’re over here,” Kevin motioned for them to follow. He began to weave through the crowd and Nick took a step forward.

Angela pressed her arm out in front of his chest to prevent any further movement, “I can’t believe you just did that.”

“I can’t believe I did either,” Nick confessed painfully with obvious torture burning behind his eyes, “but you said before we could really focus on something between us, you wanted me to make good with Kevin.”

“I know what I said, but I meant that when you know…when I wasn’t standing here thinking about ravishing you like I am right now,” she curled her lip in a pout, “I think that the timing is just…well…”

“Trust me on this one,” Nick leaned down to kiss her tenderly, offering up just enough of a taste to stir up even more longing from within. Reluctantly he pulled back sensing that this was starting something that neither one of them could finish on a night like tonight. “This will be good for us in the long run.”

“I think you’re absolutely insane, but on some level--some completely logical, not wanting to think about just taking you out back and having my way with you level I can see you have a point,” Angela groaned with mounting frustrations, “but promise me if opportunity knocks again, we won’t send it away without at least some consideration.”

“Oh believe me it wasn’t tossed aside tonight without heavy consideration either, but with Kevin, well Angela I know you’ve been burned in the past and I don’t want to be like the last loser who hurt you. Kevin’s right about a lot of things and I think that if I go about this the right way, well we might find that it’s going to be far more enjoyable for us,” he promised reaching for her hand and motioning to the table Kevin was now seated at, “Shall we?”

She nodded unable to say much more as she wondered if there was some validity to that statement. Sure there were all sorts of perks to be said about waiting, but damn it, if she had to keep waiting much longer to get some alone time with Nick, she was quite certain it was going to be the death of her. Yes, it was a risk, but as she spent more time with him, she felt it was a risk well worth taking. Now if she could only convince Kevin that this situation was okay… Shaking the thought she forced her best polite smile and prepared to spend the rest of the evening trying to ignore the fact that she wanted Nick more than she’d ever imagined when she’d discovered him washed up on the shore. Unfortunately for her tonight no matter how much she craved him, no matter how much she was dying to explore those unspoken levels of passion between them, she knew that it was going to have to be put on hold. She just hoped that trend wouldn’t continue indefinitely.


“How are you holding up,” Brant questioned shrugging out of his jacket and wrapping it around Avery’s shoulders. She stood out on the upper deck of the yacht looking out over the water clearly lost in the memory of what was waiting for them in the bedroom. Brant had taken his time to speak with the security on staff on the yacht and naturally as to be expected no one had seen anything that appeared suspicious. They’d done a very thorough search over the yacht, but it came up empty. Now Brant just hoped he could find a way to settle Avery’s nerves until they were docked again.

“I wish I could say that I was okay with this, but I’m not,” Avery sighed closing her eyes. She felt his hands press in over her shoulders, sliding down over her arms in an attempt to help ease the chill that had overtaken her. She turned to face him at long last with a mixture of emotions behind her sad eyes, “It’s never going to end, is it?”

“Avery, I wish that…” Brant frowned knowing that nothing he did or said could change the way this latest mishap had effected her. He felt his anger boil as he knew full well the only man who would dare do something so vile, “We’re going to find him and he’ll be out of your life forever very soon. I promise.”

“Brant, it’s never going to happen,” she sighed frustrations mounting as she walked away. “He’s been out of the FBI and the police radar for so very long that I don’t think he’s going to slip up now. He knew full well what he was doing tonight when he left that for us. He’d been watching us biding his time if you will until he wanted to strike.”

“Bruce isn’t going to hurt you Avery. I know that you might not believe me when I tell you that after what happened with Ken, but I swear to you that this time I’m going to be ready,” Brant promised feeling her slip inside herself at the fears that Bruce pulled out from within, “He’s not going to get another chance like he did tonight.”

“Damn it Brant. Why can’t you see that’s not how it is? He’s someone that seems to always get away with what he does. No one has been able to stop him--not the police, not Russ and not you…”

“Avery, this time is different,” Brant cursed under his breath, “I mean yeah I know he’s a whack job, but I’d hoped that he’d leave town with the money and just run. Since he’d been gone for so very long I’d thought that maybe just maybe he’d vanished without any trace of returning…”

“Money,” Avery repeated tilting her eyes up to him again. She stared at him blankly for a long moment before questioning behind a quivering lip, “What money?”

Brant grew suddenly silent. His stomach was tied in knots, his throat dry at being put on the spot. Looking away he shrugged his shoulders, “It doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does matter,” Avery stepped forward watching the way his eyes failed to meet hers, “Brant what money?”

“The ransom money I gave your brother to pay him off when he’d kidnapped your mother,” he confessed hating that he’d had to tell her of the one thing he’d swore he’d never let her know. “I knew how upset Guy was and when I thought of what that monster could be doing to Brooke…”

“Oh my God,” Avery gasped in sudden realization, “That’s why he hasn’t been caught. That’s how he’s been hiding out. He’s got the ransom money and…”

“Avery if I would’ve known how this was going to go, then I never, ever would’ve given it to him in the first place. I just knew that your mother was in trouble and…” he began sensing the distance building between them, “I thought I was doing the right thing in saving your mother’s life. I had no idea that she would do what she did and…”

“And it doesn’t matter,” she insisted clenching her fists at her side, “It doesn’t matter what Brooke did or what you did in trying to help. The fact remains that Bruce is out there and nothing is going to stop him. He was furious when he thought that you and I were together. He hired a private investigator to follow us around before I broke up with him.”

“What?” Brant’s jaw dropped in surprise, “You’re kidding.”

She shook her head, “He’s been keeping an eye on me from the moment I first came into his life--from the moment that I was foolish enough to walk away from Russ…” she broke down into tiny sobs feeling her knees growing weak, “I brought this on. I let him in.”

“No, no you didn’t,” he stepped forward pulling her into his arms, “Avery, he’s a monster and he’s the one who is to blame. He took advantage of you at a time when you were vulnerable and he deceived you.”

“But I should’ve known--I should’ve sensed it,” Avery buried her head in his chest, “If I hadn’t walked out on Russ like I did, then I never would’ve invited him into my life and Russ and I would still be together. He’d be here to see his daughter brought into this world and…”

“Avery,” Brant spoke her name feeling the tiny jab from her tears over Russ. He inhaled slowly trying to remind himself to stay calm and not to react to the reality that they’d found themselves in.

“That day at the airport Kyle told me that Russ was meeting with someone--that he’d found a lead on Bruce and then,” Avery’s tears fell freely, “Brant, my husband died because he was trying to save me. If we were only together when the bomb went off…”

“Avery, Bruce had nothing to do with the bombing. It was a horrible, tragic event and there’s no telling how any of it would’ve turned out,” he wiped at her tears hating to see her so upset.

“But if I never would’ve invited Bruce willingly into my life, then maybe I’d be happy now. Maybe Russ and I would be…” she stopped herself when she saw the pained expression on his face. Taking a step back she untangled herself from his arms, “I’m sorry.”

“Avery, it’s…” he began wanting to tell her that it was okay, but inside he knew he couldn’t lie about the obvious truth that was revealed in his expression, “Look I know that you miss Russ and I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m not…never mind, the past is the past and I don’t want to go down that road again--not tonight. Not after the way things were going before all of this happened…”

“Brant I’m sorry,” Avery blurted out hating that the night had gone from magical to disastrous, “I’m not trying to hurt you with this, but…”

“But you’re still hurt about what happened,” he nodded taking a step towards her. Silently he reached out to take her hand in his. He pulled her into his arms completely again before speaking up in a soft, comforting tone, “Avery I swear to you if I find out that Bruce was behind what happened to Russ, he won’t have to worry about the police because I’ll take care of him myself. He won’t have to worry about hiding because I’ll be the one scattering his remains around the globe after he’s hurt you like he did.”

“Brant, I never wanted to pull you into this. I never meant to…” she trailed off overcome with a great many emotions.

“I know,” he nodded cradling her against his chest. He closed his eyes thinking to the progress they’d been making only to have Bruce Mathis take them backwards. While he wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, he made it his mission then and there to find a way to put an end to Bruce Mathis and his reign of terror once and for all.


“Thank you guys for coming,” Blake smiled grasping her ticket tightly in her hands.

“We want to see you two happy,” Sarah hushed resting her hand on Blake’s shoulder lightly, “I can’t wait until later.”

“Me neither,” Blake giggled before looking back at Seth and Kyle, “How are you guys doing?”

“Fine,” Kyle faked a smile as he looked up at the plane taking in a deep breath.

“What’s up with you?” Seth questioned with a smile seeing Kyle’s face turning pale. “You okay?”

“Let’s just say I have a very big fear of planes,” Kyle informed him only to hear Seth laugh.

“You will get used to them soon or a later,” Seth patted him on the shoulder lightly, “Thanks for coming today…I know it means a lot to Blake and myself.”

“No problem,” Kyle smiled before biting down on his lip roughly as they walked down the isle of the plane.

“You mind if we sit with each other?” Blake questioned pulling Sarah in the seat next to her.

“No problem,” Seth smiled turning around to see Kyle looking out the window uneasily. “Would you like me to take the end seat?”

“Yeah,” Kyle nodded slowly before taking in a deep gulp, “Thanks man.”

“No problem,” Seth nodded slowly before smiling, “You don’t have to worry. You will be safe.”

“Yeah,” Kyle laughed before shaking his head slowly, “Safe.”

“I can’t wait until later, when Seth and I can finally be together forever,” Blake closed her hands together in her lap.

“I love to see you happy,” Sarah laughed as Blake nodded slowly thinking of the future.

“I’m going to be with this man for the rest of my life and nothing is going to stop this from happening,” Blake insisted before taking in a deep breath. “I have waited too long for something so good to happen to me and now I am going to get that with Seth.”

“In just a few hours, you two will be together forever and you will be happy as ever,” Sarah informed her with a small grin.

“I know,” Blake nodded slowly before folding her arms out in front of her chest. “It is going to be great.”


“Where are they,” Valerie demanded marching over to the airport terminal that JT instructed her to meet him at. Her eyes were narrowed with determination and anger. She might’ve just gotten off of a flight from an assignment, but she’d be damned if she would stay in Coral Valley knowing what Seth planned to do with Blake. “Well?”

“They’ve already boarded their flight,” JT explained motioning for her to follow him, “If we get moving soon, then we can still make it and put an end to this.”

“Oh there’s going to be an end to this starting now,” Valerie declared chasing off after JT.

“Where are your bags?” JT questioned glancing down to see she hadn’t carried a thing with her.

“To hell with my bags. If I need anything, I’ll worry about it later. Right now all I want to do is find Seth and stop him from making the biggest mistake of his life,” she explained rushing up ahead of him. She searched the airport looking at the various gates, “Which one?”

“Over there,” he pointed to the left and in the blink of an eye she rushed over to the woman standing behind the counter.

“Excuse me, but I have to get on that plane,” Valerie began urgently, “I simply must…”

“I’m sorry miss, but the plane took off about five minutes ago,” the woman sighed shaking her head at her.

“No, it couldn’t have. I have to get on that flight. I have a ticket and…” Valerie snapped her fingers for JT to come closer. He held up the pair of tickets he’d purchased in the rush over to put an end to this situation.

“I’m sorry, but as I said the plane already took off,” the woman pointed towards the windows where the fading lights of the plane zipping off of the runway into the sky surrounded them.

“Damn it,” Valerie cursed stomping her foot before she glared at JT. “I don’t care what you have to do, we’re going to find a way to Atlantic City tonight.”

“Hey, I can see if we can exchange the tickets, but that might take some time and…” JT started feeling her reach for his collar on his shirt, seizing him in nearer to her.

“I don’t give a damn what you have to do. Just do it,” she shoved him away before glancing out to the night sky again. Shaking her head, she glared at the red fading with each step the plane took away from the airport. Tonight she’d found her way to Coral Valley and next she’d find her way to Atlantic City if it meant keeping Seth where he belonged. Folding her arms in front of her chest she let out a sinister laugh, “Enjoy it while you can Blake because after tonight Seth is going to be mine and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.”


...to be continued...