Episode 209

“Is he okay?” Cori questioned quickly before leaning down to feel Ken’s pulse. “Did you kill him?”

“Of course I didn’t kill him,” Kevin shook his head slowly before smiling, “He just might be hurting a little bit later.”

“Great going jerk,” Cori frowned before looking down at the motionless Ken.

“I was trying to help you out,” Kevin protested before taking in a deep breath, “I can’t believe this.”

“You better start,” Cori replied rolling her eyes, “I didn’t need your help, so don’t automatically assume things.”

“I’m sorry,” he apologized with a small frown, “I just didn’t think you wanted a guy touching you like that. I heard you tell him stop and I guess I just assumed.”

“Well don’t just assume around here,” she sighed standing up slowly.

“What are we supposed to do with him?” Kevin questioned leaning down slowly and gently smacking Ken’s cheek. “What about dumping water over his head? That usually works.”

“In cartoons,” she rolled her eye before folding her arms out in front of her, “And we aren’t going to do anything. I guess the only thing I can do is call his family.”

“What are they going to think? That a girl like you knocked him out?” he questioned seeing her smirk.

“What? You don’t think I could take someone out?” she wondered walking close to him running her fingers through his dark hair.

“I…I didn’t mean,” he began feeling slightly uncomfortable as she ran her finger along his muscular chest.

“Don’t underestimate me,” she scowled digging her nails into his skin.

“Ouch,” he frowned stepping back, holding his hands up in the air, “I get it. Don’t underestimate you.”

“Exactly,” she smiled widely before turning away from him and walking towards the bar seeing the bartender walk up to her. “Can you call the Ashford mansion for me?”

“Sure,” the bartender smiled widely grabbing his phone, “What do you want me to tell whoever answers?”

“Make sure it is Brant Ashford and tell him to come pick up his drunk brother,” she answered with a sigh of disgust thinking back to how Ken was acting.

“Yes ma’am,” the bartender nodded with a small smirk, “I will get that done for you right away.”

“Thanks,” she smiled before turning around and seeing Kevin behind her, “You are still here? I thought you would have taken a clue and took a hike.”

“Well, I thought I would just stick around to make sure everything goes okay,” Kevin shrugged leaning against the bar, “I don’t mind taking the blame.”

“Whatever,” Cori rolled her eyes at the man next to her, “It’s not like Ken can explain what happened right now.”


“I can’t believe we just watched this,” Avery laughed loudly unable to express the amusement she’d contained in watching a Wonder Woman marathon with him. Tipping her head up ever so slightly to look into his dark eyes, she couldn’t help but giggle at how he’d patiently put up with all of her enthusiasm over a television show that had been her favorite in her youth. “How did you know that I used to love this?”

“Guy has a way of reminiscing about the good old days when he’s around,” Brant confessed with a bright grin happy to see the way her smile brightened up the darkness that had hung over her earlier, “and I must confess that I pay very good attention to detail.”

“You sure do,” Avery nodded in agreement before listening to the end credits on the last episode they’d watched, “I haven’t thought about this show for years, but I really loved it. I was so obsessed that I had a Wonder Woman bike there, Wonder Woman dolls and even Wonder Woman underwear at one point.”

“Really?” Brant noted his brow lifting with interest, “Still have them?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” she swatted at his chest lightly before a laugh spilled over her lips. She shifted in his arms snuggling in closer to him, “but for what it’s worth thank you for this--for everything.”

“Hey, I’m just doing my job in being a good husband,” he replied with a simple shrug of his shoulders, “I’m just happy that you approve.”

“I more than approve,” Avery slid up a bit to pull at the collar of his half unbuttoned shirt. She tugged at him once again before claiming his lips in a long, slow kiss.

“That’s good to know,” Brant slid his hands down over her spine, feeling the soft fullness of her pressed in over him, “I was hoping you’d be able to unwind a bit.”

“This was a perfect way of doing it,” Avery added teasing her fingers over the edge of his shirt before dipping her palms within to feel the warm, muscular planes of his chest. Sitting up a bit, she settled into his lap with a smile, “I don’t think I thanked you properly for this.”

“No thanks necessary,” Brant reached out to touch her cheek gently, feeling the warmth of her creamy skin beneath his touch, “just the smile on your face is enough for me.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet,” Avery mused with a grin before leaning in to kiss him, “Brant that’s really a wonderful thing to say.”

“It’s the truth,” he cupped her face in hands, “Just seeing you smile, well that’s all I need to know that I’ve done a good job in making you happy.”

“You make me very happy,” she nodded in confession, sliding her hands down over his abdomen, “so very happy that I just hope one day I can do the same for you.”

“That’s just the thing,” he grinned down at her, “You’ve already done that and more for me.”

“I have,” she questioned with a small giggle, her eyes sparkling with some kind of mischief, “you really mean that?”

“Of course I do,” he nodded feeling her fingers pressing in over his belt buckle. She tapped it lightly with her nails before she slowly started to pull at it opening it tentatively.

“So then if I suggested something even the slightest bit inappropriate, then it wouldn’t at all be necessary then eh,” she asked leisurely popping open the button on his pants. She pushed her palms out over his shoulders, shoving him back into the pillows a bit before she smiled at him.

“I never said that I was against anything inappropriate,” he replied sliding down further against her urgings. He felt her unfasten his pants before she shifted over him. He watched her lean forward seemingly seeking out his lips, but instead he felt her hot, wet kisses over the center of his chest.

“So if I did this, then you wouldn’t be against it,” she questioned dropping her hands down over the center of his pants feeling his body spring to life at her urgings.

“I don’t think that I would be…” Brant sucked in a sharp breath feeling her mouth move in over his body. He sank back into the pillows, closing his eyes as she lavished every inch of his chest working her way down to where his pants lay wide open.

“Somehow I didn’t think you would,” she giggled before rolling off of him and snuggling in underneath the blankets, “which is why I suppose we should call it a night.”

“Now wait a second here,” Brant opened his eyes, protest teetering on the tip of his tongue when he turned to see her laying beside him, “I thought that…”

“That what?” she winked up at him, her grin expanding, “I thought my smile was enough to make you happy tonight. Besides, we wouldn’t want to miss the next episode of Wonder Woman, would we?”

“Well, no I suppose we wouldn’t, but,” he motioned to his now exposed body, “Don’t you think that maybe we should do something about this? I mean if we’re not going to venture into something inappropriate here, I should probably get dressed again and…”

“And we both know that would leave you highly disappointed,” Avery eased her hand out from beneath the blanket to caress his masculinity. Her eyes returned to the television again pretending to be interested in the show instead of the growing desire building from within.

“Avery,” he mouthed her name sliding his hand in over hers. He stilled her movements, “what do you think you’re doing?”

“Giving you a little payback,” she confessed with a wicked smirk turning to face him more completely. “You thought it was oh so funny to torture me endlessly back on the yacht so I thought it was only appropriate to return the favor.”

“You think that this is returning the favor?” he glanced down to what she’d started in him. Letting out a small, nervous laugh he shook his head at her, “Now you’re just being mean.”

“Mean you say,” she made a small tsking sound, “Well if you feel that way, then I guess I should stop this before I start…”

“No wait,” Brant caressed the top of her hand, “I mean if you have something in mind…”

“Well, truth be told I was thinking about having a little fun with my own truth lasso if you will,” she leaned in closer to him her eyes daring him to come up with something witty, but instead she felt him crush his body over hers with a sudden urgency.

“You’re so not going to get out of this one Avery,” he tickled at her sides feeling her wiggle beneath him, laughter spilling out from her lips wildly.

“This is so not fair,” she argued scratching her nails down over his back before shoving him off of her. He felt back onto the mattress, his eyes still fixed upon her. Smiling seductively she crawled in closer to him, “If you want me Brant, then you’re going to have to ask me nicely…no I take that back. If you want me, then you’re going to have to make a heartfelt plea for my attention.”

Brant grinned suddenly seeing a playful side awaken inside of her. While he had to admit Wonder Woman wasn’t his cup of tea there, he’d seen how happy it had made her and she in turn was trying to give him a little thrill along the way. Feigning stubbornness Brant shook his head and eased his arms up behind his head.

“Sorry sweetheart, but I don’t beg,” he shook his head putting on his best poker face, “If you’re going to try to make me squirm tonight, well I hate to say it, but it’s never going to happen.”

“No,” she arched a curious brow, her fingers curling around the length of his desire, “are you sure about that?”

“That’s right,” he nodded feeling a breath get caught in the back of his throat, “I don’t bend easily under pressure Avery.”

“We’ll just see about that,” she decided sliding her fingers over his body in firm, solid strokes. She watched his face twist with his half-hearted attempt to keep from letting her see she was getting to him, but his body spoke volumes beyond what he was telling her. “You still not ready to ask nicely Brant?”

“Sorry Avery, but I’m not about to say mercy,” he shook his head indulging in her little game long enough to feel her slide down over his body.

“We’ll just see about that,” Avery blurted out, taking a firm grasp of him before the warmth of her breath spilled over his ache. He closed his eyes anticipating the warmth of her lips around him, but before she began her heavenly torture the phone sounded out shocking him back to reality. He opened his eyes only to discover his wife was out of bed and on the phone. Frowning, he reached for the blanket to cover himself.

“Yes, hold on,” Avery spoke smoothly into the phone before holding it out to Brant, “It’s for you.”

“Right now?” he questioned with a slight frown.

“Right now,” she nodded holding out the phone for him to accept it. Reluctantly he did as she requested and he spoke to the caller on the other end of the line. In the midst of the conversation, he felt his concentration slip away when Avery eased in closer to him. She blew a kiss up at him before sliding in beneath the blankets.

“Yes,” Brant cleared his throat barely hearing the person on the other end of the line. The music in the background was booming, the sounds blurring into a haze wrapped around the things he was anticipating Avery would do to him in a few short seconds, but then it all came to a screeching halt.

“Look buddy, I could care less what you want to do about this situation. If you don’t come down here and pick him up, then I’ll just call the cops,” the man explained from the other end of the line, “There are quite a few unhappy people around here who would just love the opportunity to see an Ashford taken down.”

That did it. Brant sat up straighter a scowl pressing in over his features, “If you even think about calling the police, I’ll have your place shut down. Do you hear me?”

“Then get here soon,” the man replied hanging up and leaving Brant in a sour mood.

“What was that,” Avery asked popping out from the blankets to look up at him, “Brant, what’s wrong?”

“It’s Ken,” Brant shook his head angrily. Throwing the blankets back he stumbled out of bed yanking up his pants in a quick tug, “that jackass caused a problem over at the hotel and I have to go pick his drunk ass up.”

“What?” Avery’s eyes widened in surprise, “Are you serious?”

He nodded again, “Unfortunately and while I know I promised that we could spend tonight enjoying one another, well…”

“Say nothing more,” Avery rose up and out of bed herself, “I’ll join you. We can go together and pick him up. I’ll just get the rest of my things on and…”

“No,” Brant shook his head at her, “You’re not going anywhere. You don’t need to be bothered by Ken--especially not after the day you had. Normally I’d just have him thrown in jail, but the jackass at the bar is clearly one of those folks who is just out to cause a problem. I’m going to go pick Ken up and then I’m coming home. When I get back I’m sure that I’m going to need you to help me unwind because I’ll probably want to murder him by the time I get back.”

“Which is all the more reason why I should go with you,” Avery insisted, “Brant you shouldn’t have to deal with this on your own. If he’s in some kind of trouble, then…”

“Then it’s something I need to fix. I don’t want you having to deal with him--not after he hurt you like he did,” Brant insisted firmly, “You don’t need this.”

“I’m your wife. If something bothers you, then it bothers me Brant. We’re in this with one another,” she circled around the bed to reach out to him, “You’re always there for me when I need you, so why shouldn’t I try to return the favor?”

“Because my brother doesn’t deserve anything from you. He will just use this as an excuse to hurt you and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give him another chance to do it,” he explained touching her cheek gently, “Just stay here and when I get back, well, we’ll think of something to bring us back to the mood we were in before.”

“And which mood was that? The quiet and relaxed one or the…” she trailed off her eyes shifting with suggestive looks.

“How about a little bit of both,” he leaned in to kiss her gently, “I love you.”

“I love you too and if you change your mind and you want me to come out there,” she squeezed his hand one last time before feeling him walk away.

“Not tonight Avery. Just stay here and we’ll figure it out when I get back,” Brant threw out one last look before leaving to go deal with Ken and his latest set of issues all over again.


Diane sat down on the couch slowly dialing Ria’s number; it had been a while since they had a chat and now seemed like a good time. She waited a few seconds before realizing no one was going to pick up.

“Alright,” Diane shrugged hanging up and dialing a new number, “Maybe Seth will be home.”

Again, she waited a few, hearing the sound of the rings coming through the receiver.

“That’s weird,” she frowned hanging up once more, “They both aren’t home.”

“What’s wrong?” Ben questioned wrapping his arms around Diane’s arms slowly. “You seemed a bit distraught.”

“Nothing’s wrong,” she assured him with a small smile, “When you are around, everything is great.”

“Who did you call?” Ben wondered walking around the couch, helping her stand up.

“Just Seth and Ria,” she replied seeing him smile and pull her into a gentle hug.

“Talk about anything good?” Ben wondered seeing her shake her head slowly.

“Actually, they both weren’t home,” she frowned once more before seeing him shrug, “Which was a little weird.”

“Maybe they are both sleeping,” he suggested with a slight sigh, “Which sounds really good right now.”

“You tired?” she questioned seeing him nod slowly. “That’s different, coming from me.”

“Who says sleeping is the only thing I am going to be doing when I hit that bed?” he asked with a small wiggle of his eyebrow. “Sound tempting.”

“Ever so tempting,” she nodded as he kissed her slowly, “What are we waiting for?”

“Nothing,” he smiled pulling her towards the bedroom slowly, “I was just waiting for you.”


“Ha, I won!” Deidra danced around in a circle feeling enthusiasm burning through her veins. She held up the small open bowling trophy that they were giving away for the promotional feature they had going earlier at the night at the bowling alley.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Dean shook his head feeling humility sweep in over him, “I told you you’d get the chance to smoke me in there.”

“Yes, but I didn’t realize in doing so that I’d smoke everyone else in there as well. There were so many seasoned bowlers in there--guys that I’m sure spent a lot of time working at improving their game.”

“You’re quite proud of yourself, aren’t you,” Dean laughed lightly thinking about the way their date had gone for them.

“Yes, as a matter of fact I am which is why we’re going to continue this celebration inside,” Deidra informed him point blank motioning to his front door. “I mean that is why you brought me home with you, wasn’t it?”

“I was thinking about maybe a private movie and maybe some popcorn,” he suggested with a small smile seeing the way her eyes sparkled with eagerness.

“Last one inside is the rotten egg,” she announced racing up to his front porch.

Dean shook his head wondering what it was that he’d done to awaken such a competitive streak in her. Sure, he knew full well that he’d been hoping to cheer her up--to smooth over the waters between them, but now, well it felt like he’d more than accomplished his mission with her. Casually walking up towards his porch, he fought to contain the grin that teased at the corners of his lips in watching her prance around victoriously.

“I won,” she cheered spinning around once again before facing him more completely. Lowering her trophy, her lips curled in a pout before she spoke up once again, “You’re not at all that interested in winning though, are you?”

“Not really,” he admitted honestly letting out a small laugh, “but seeing that you are, well it’s rather amusing.”

“So I amuse you now, eh?” she stepped in closer to him, her dark eyes searching his, “Is that all I am to you? An amusement?”

“On the contrary,” he shook his head reaching out to pull her in closer to him, “you’re more than that. I’d say you’re a mystery, a beautiful breath of fresh air and a little something more that hits me right about here.”

He paused bringing her hand in over the center of his chest, “What I think I like most about you Deidra is when we’re together, you just have this way of sending me to another world with the feel of you this close to me. My heart starts pounding, my head begins spinning and before I know it, I find myself longing to get closer to you. Even at the most inappropriate times all I can think about--all I’m consumed with is being near you.”

“Oh Dean,” she couldn’t help but smile feeling at ease in his embrace, “for so long I wanted to find that feeling. After Andy and I split, I never ever thought that I’d feel like this for another man, but now…”

“Now what?” he asked his gaze traveling lazily down over her lips.

“Now I find myself wondering what it was that I ever saw in Andy in the first place considering that you make me feel things inside that he never could,” she confessed sliding her arms around his shoulders and pulling him in closer yet, “Dean, when we met that night in the hospital parking lot, well I never thought that things would turn into this, yet…”

“Yet?” he repeated watching the way her face lit up with her confession.

“Now I can’t even begin to imagine my life without you in it,” she leaned in to kiss him tenderly, the swell of her emotions falling upon his lips.

Squeezing her closer to him, Dean tasted the sweetness of her cherry lip gloss, felt the warmth of her slender body up against his and in that moment memories of the past flooded over him. He thought of what he should be doing--what he should’ve done a long time ago, but they all paled in comparison to what he was feeling in this moment in time with Deidra. Still, there was a whole world that he’d kept from her--a world that could threaten to tear this all apart.

“Deidra, I…” Dean started tearing away from the kiss, “there’s something that I think you should…”

“Do?” she finished with a seductive smile. She nodded towards his door, “Yeah, I think so too and when you get those keys and open the door, I think we can work on just that.”

“No Deidra, that’s not what I’m…” he began feeling her slide her fingers into his pants pockets searching around for the keys.

“Deidra,” he wiggled in response feeling her fingers moving around, “um, sweetheart, that’s not the key chain.”

“I know,” she giggled tipping up on her toes to nibble on his lower lip suggestively. “Let’s get inside Dean or else your neighbors are going to have quite a show out here.”

“Found them,” Dean replied sucking in a sharp breath. He pulled the keys out of his other pocket before feeling her snatch them from him eagerly.

“Good boy,” she grinned approvingly before popping open the door to his apartment. Once inside she extended her arm out to him yanking on the front of his shirt to pull him in with her. She kicked the door to a close behind him before throwing her arms around him excitedly.

“Deidra,” Dean mouthed her name in between kiss after heated kiss. He felt her hands travel over his body, up underneath his shirt seeking out the warmth of his chest. Of course warm didn’t even begin to cover the way Dean felt when her palms massaged the lines of his body. He was damn near on fire thinking of all the reasons why he shouldn’t do this of why he wanted to be doing this and of how he’d be going to hell for sure if he let things escalate between them.

“Deidra wait,” he pleaded with her placing a distance between them, “I think we should slow this down.”

“Slow huh,” she grinned up at him with a knowing expression, “ah yes, I think I have just the solution you’re looking for. Come with me.”

“Deidra,” he watched her set her trophy down before sauntering over to his stereo system. His eyes were fixed on her, mind stuck in the endless struggle of what he should and shouldn’t be doing in this situation. Shannon had issued him a few warnings, but they seemed to melt away when Deidra turned on the radio blasting the slow, sultry sounds of music. Dean watched her spin around doing a little dance before him in an attempt to captivate and captivate it did.

“Come here you,” she curled her finger out towards him, smiling proudly when he followed her orders moving in closer to her. She eased her arms around his shoulders before curling her lips in a full blown smile. “Dance with me.”

“I’d love to,” Dean replied holding her in his arms. Together they moved to the music, their bodies so very in tune with one another--their hearts beating in unison and when Dean gazed into her eyes, he found himself wanting to be the man she wanted him to be. He wanted to share his world with her--to let her in on every possibly level, but could he find the courage to do just that?

“Deidra, there’s something that I,” Dean started feeling his pager go off.

“Yes?” she questioned eagerly, “Dean what is it?”

He frowned feeling the unrelenting timing of his pager once again. He held up a finger before reaching for it. Eyeing the number he frowned again, “Hold that thought.”

“Alright,” she nodded watching him retreat.

“I have to answer this. I’m just going to go into my office and make a quick call, then we can talk,” he promised giving her one last longing look before leaving her to his living room.

“Talk,” she repeated taking a long look around, “well I suppose it’s a good start.”

With that thought in mind, she circled around his living room, making her way around the couch to find a way to spend her time while she waited for him. She was about to sit down when something sparkling from the far corner of the room caught her eye. She looked up over at his bookshelves seeing something out of place from the rainbow array of colored spines before her. Stepping in for a closer look, she noted a glittery, golden piece of jewelry before her.

“What is this…” she asked reaching out to lift it up from the shelf it was on. Suddenly realization dawned in upon her. The jewelry she had in hand was the locket she’d found by the cabin with Dean not so long ago. She held it up to the light thinking about how Dean had seemingly discarded it in a haste, but now, well now it sparkled and shined with all it’s beautiful luster. The locket was exquisite and curiosity began to override Deidra as she tried to open it once again.

“Let’s just see if you’re going to give a little,” she mouthed to herself ready to open up the locket when Dean walked out of the other room.

“No Deidra, don’t do that,” he called out to her startling her.

“Dean, I just found this a second ago and…” she saw panic press in over his features.

“Please, Deidra just don’t open that,” Dean begged of her taking a step closer yet, “I promise I can explain.”


Avery stepped into the kitchen feeling nothing but silence surrounding her. Right now that was exactly what she needed since she’d found herself hit with a bout of queasiness after Brant had left to take care of Ken. At first she thought she’d just ignore it, but when the feeling only intensified, she opted to find something in the kitchen to calm her nerves.

“Crackers,” she decided making her way to the cabinet in the hopes of finding something to soothe the way she felt. She spotted a box near the back of the cabinet and was about to reach for them when she heard a sound from behind her. Nearly jumping out of her skin when she heard another noise, Avery glanced around the kitchen wearily. “Brant?”

“No, it’s me. It’s Augustus,” he explained emerging from the shadows, “I just came down here for some tea and then I thought I heard something.”

“You scared me,” she confessed bringing her hand to her chest only to feel her heart racing, “I kind of thought I was alone, but I guess that’s presuming too much in a place this size.”

“It can take time to adjust to,” he nodded in complete understanding. “But you have been adjusting, haven’t you?”

She nodded, “As best as I can considering.”

“You mean as long as Ken isn’t harassing you,” he arched a curious brow.

“Among other things,” she nodded in confession before looking to the smashed box of crackers in hand, “although I was pretty sure Ken wouldn’t be here. Brant went to go pick him up from his latest
‘situation’ he’s gotten himself into.”

“Now why do I get the distinct feeling that I don’t want to know about it,” he sighed heavily feeling his own exhaustion taking over.

“Trust me,” she groaned inwardly, “You really don’t want to know. With Ken I don’t think any of us want to know these days.”

“Yet you haven’t gone running and screaming from this family yet,” he noted seeing her cross the grand kitchen, “I suppose that says a lot about you, doesn’t it?”

“Oh come on. You know how crazy I am Augustus. That in itself should explain why I keep hanging around,” she offered up with a half smile.

“You’re not crazy, well, other than the fact you’ve married my grandson,” he couldn’t help but tease in response, “but in the grand scheme of things I think that’s forgivable.”

“So they keep telling me,” she laughed lightly before motioning to the table, “Care to join me?”

“Actually I was about to put on some tea,” he noted the box in her hands, “Would you like some? It might settle your stomach a bit.”

“How did you…” she asked before feeling another crunch of the box. A blush rose over her features, “oh…dead giveaway, right?”

“Not necessarily,” he shrugged his shoulders, “but more so I remember what my wife was like when she was going through her pregnancy with Zoë. They tell you that the morning sickness ends in that first trimester, but she and I were both convinced that they lie.”

“Boy do they ever,” she nodded in agreement sinking into one of the chairs, “I mean I haven’t felt sick in a while, but when it hits, well I can’t help but get anxious.”

“About the sick feeling?” he asked preparing some tea for them.

“About what comes next,” she admitted with a slight pause, “about what happens with my daughter when she’s finally a part of this crazy world.”

“Your daughter eh,” he smiled over his shoulder at her, “well that is something special. You know I remember the wondering about whether or not I’d have a son or a daughter, but these days, well these days I guess they don’t leave much weight in surprises do they?”

“Well, as much as I might’ve liked for it to be a surprise, Russ was convinced that we’d be having a little girl and he was right. He had it in his mind that we’d…” she stopped herself realizing what she was saying to him. Immediately she looked up to him to see the expression on his face. “I’m sorry Augustus. I suppose I should’ve explained that Brant and I weren’t…”

“I kind of figured,” Augustus replied with an expression of understanding. He carried over a couple of mugs to the table, “When I’d heard about what happened to Russ, well I put the pieces together and always kind of imagined that he might be the father.”

“I don’t know if Brant wanted me to tell you or not, but it’s the truth,” she lowered her voice a bit. She thanked him for the tea before meeting his dark eyes again, “Russ and I were married when the bombing took him away from me.”

“So love did find a way of working itself out for the both of you then, yes?” he asked seeing her nod.

“Just not for as long as I would’ve liked,” she added quickly, “but don’t think that any of this takes away from what Brant and I have with one another.”

“I know that my grandson loves you and I’m certain that you have a special place for him in your heart as well. That’s never been a concern of mine,” he reached out to place his hand atop of hers, “but I also know how hard it is to lose someone you love--someone you’re planning to have a future with.”

“I’m learning to deal with the changes,” she admitted feeling a brush of sadness upon her, “Each day it’s a new set of struggles, but I keep moving with the punches.”

“As you often have to,” he nodded again, “I know how hard it was for me when I lost Gabriela. We were fortunate to have some time with our children before her passing, but there isn’t a day that doesn’t pass when I’m not thinking about her. It’s an eternal struggle.”

“Yes, it is,” she agreed sipping her tea, “but Brant’s helping me pick up the pieces all over again. He’s been so wonderful to me through all of this.”

“I’m sure he has which is why I just want you to know if there’s anything--anything at all that I can do for the both of you please don’t hesitate to ask,” he spoke up in a comforting tone, “I’ve always thought the world of you Avery.”

“And I you,” she admitted with a small smile, “You’ve always been a mentor of sorts for me and in being able to be a part of this family, well it means a great deal to me.”

“You’ve always been a part of this family,” he added brightly offering up another squeeze of her hand, “and even if you weren’t married to Brant, well I’d still consider you an asset to all of us.”

“Sometimes I have to wonder about that,” she sighed letting her thoughts drift to the problems she’d been having lately, “I feel like I have all this baggage that takes Brant down at times. He doesn’t deserve some of the issues that have come into his life by marrying me.”

“Brant’s a strong young man. He’s got a lot of spunk about him if you will. He never takes on more than he can handle and with you, well it’s obvious that being near you is a source of great happiness for him.”

“He makes me very happy as well,” she confessed with a thoughtful expression, “I just wish that it didn’t have to be at the expense of his relationship with Ken.”

“Kenneth is lost in the darkness of his own demons right now,” Augustus sighed poignantly, “While a great many of us would like to pull him from it, ultimately he will be the one who decides his fate.”

“Even so, I hate to see him like this,” she shook her head feeling a tiny shiver race over her, “He used to be one of my best friends and now it’s like he’s a stranger.”

“Avery, I realize what happened with you and Kenneth was a difficult, emotional betrayal, but…” he cleared his throat uneasily.

“But I know deep down it wasn’t entirely his fault,” Avery glanced over at him tears burning behind her eyes, “I mean yes he deceived me, but he lost just as much as I did when that explosion happened. He loved Caitlin so much and in losing her, it’s driven him to do things--things that he would never, ever do if he was thinking clearly…”

“It’s still no excuse for his hurting you like he has,” Augustus offered up plainly.

“No, but despite everything that’s happened--despite the reality of what transpired between the two of us, well, on some level I understand him. On some level I think I could’ve been like him if Russ hadn’t left me something to hold onto in this world,” she revealed placing her other hand over her abdomen protectively, “If I didn’t have my daughter to think about, well, then there’s no telling where I could’ve gone after I lost him.”

“Then for that I’ll be forever grateful as it would’ve been such a crime to lose you to the misery and madness that has taken over Ken,” he shook his head feeling a guilt rush over him, “You know in some ways I can’t help but blame myself.”

“Why? You had nothing to do with that explosion,” Avery replied with a frown, “None of us did.”

“Even so, I knew that Kenneth and Brant were living with a walking time bomb. I had no illusions about what kind of monster my son was you see and now, well now my grandsons are facing the consequences of that. Nicholas did a great many horrible things…”

“I know,” Avery nodded remembering only too well what she’d learned about the man that had first hired her.

“Even so, I never should’ve walked away and allowed it to happen, so in part I feel as if whatever comes next, well I have no one to blame, but myself. If Ken can’t be saved…”

“It won’t get to that Augustus,” Avery squeezed his hand gently, “We’ll find a way to reach Ken. Somehow we will do it.”

“I hope so because I just don’t know if this family can suffer another blow like the one it was given at my son’s hands,” he dropped his head shamefully, “I just don’t know how much more the Ashfords can take.”

“It’ll get better,” Avery tried to assure him as she wondered if there would ever truly be a way to come out of the darkness that surrounded them. Still as she felt the sorrow the man before her was harboring from within, she said a silent prayer that good things would have a way or coming to the Ashfords once and for all.


“What the hell are you doing here?” Grady demanded shoving Susan away from him as if he’d been burned by her touch.

“Making you dinner,” she replied innocently, “What else would I be doing here in our kitchen?”

“It’s not our kitchen Susan. It’s my kitchen and you have absolutely no business being here,” he snapped at her feeling repulsion sweeping in over him. He glared at her clearly unaffected by her attempt to seduce him, “I don’t know how you got in here, but you need to leave.”

“Leave?” she laughed tossing her hair back over her shoulder, “Grady I’m not going anywhere. Why should I?”

“Because I don’t want you here,” Grady glared down at her, “I haven’t wanted you here in a long time.”

“That’s something I was hoping we could work on changing,” she stepped forward teasing her nails over the front of his shirt, “I know we’ve had our share of differences Grady, but when we were together things were so very hot. We have this intensity and passion that goes unmatched by anything else I’ve ever experienced…”

“That’s too bad because I never really looked at it that way. I still don’t,” he answered stiffly swatting her hand away from him, “The way I see it, you were a mistake I made that wasted far too much of my time already.”

“You don’t mean that,” she laughed lightly blowing off his words, “You and I both know it was a whole hell of a lot more than that.”

“No, not really,” he shook his head before letting out his own ironic laugh, “In fact I have to say in retrospect, I really was wasting my time. Our splitting was probably one of the best damn things that ever happened to me.”

“Now I know you’re lying. You know you needed me Grady. You wanted me just like I still want you,” she reached for him again only to watch him step aside.

“It’s too little too late Susan,” he threw back at her dismissively, “We were only fooling ourselves into thinking that something was ever there. The truth to the matter is that it took my finding real love to realize what a waste of time you were.”

“Do you really believe that little girl can love you like you want? Do you think she can come even close to satisfying you Grady?” she balked in response clenching her fists at her side. “Face it, her disappearing was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to you there. She was only bringing you down and now, well now she’s not the problem anymore.”

“No Susan the only problem I see in front of me is you and if you’re not out of here in the next five minutes, I’ll throw you out myself,” Grady snapped in response, his anger growing exponentially, “I mean it.”

“Your making a mistake Grady,” she warned him, her eyes narrowing with anger. “You don’t really want to push me away right now at a time when you need me more than ever.”

Grady stood in silence his green eyes fixed on her before he took a step forward. He leaned in closer to her, his lips just above hers before he spoke up in a low, warning tone, “No Susan. That’s where you’re deluding yourself. The fact to the matter is that I didn’t need you then. I don’t need you now. In fact, I never needed you and the way I see it, the best thing you can do for me is get the hell out.”

With those words he walked out of the room not bothering to look back at her. Susan heard the slamming sound of him locking himself in the bedroom and in that moment her anger boiled over.

“Damn you Grady,” she cursed throwing the things she’d prepared for dinner off of the counter onto the floor. Thinking about the way he’d shot her down she felt herself ready to tear him apart--to scratch his eyes out and make him realize the mistake he’d just made. He knew damn well that he needed her and if he stopped trying to pretend that he’d changed--that he’d grown up, well then maybe he’d see just how wrong he was. He’d learn. Oh yes he’d learn and if he was so insistent upon throwing her out tonight, well then she’d have to find another way to make him suffer.

“Suffer he will,” she mouthed to herself preparing to leave his house. She looked around the kitchen one last time knowing full well just how she was going to exact her revenge. No one turned her away and lived to do anything but regret it…not even Grady.


“Feeling better?” Nick questioned kissing the top of Angela’s head as they snuggled onto the sofa with one another. While they’d spent some time in the guest room after her painful confession about her past, they both agreed that they should get back to eating. Now that they’d finished with dinner and were relaxing in front of the television, he could feel the tension melt out of her.

“Much,” she confessed sluggishly barely able to keep her eyes open as exhaustion seemed to creep in over her. She glanced at the television set, half-heartedly trying to keep up with what was happening before her. “What is it we’re watching again?”

“Nightmare on Elm Street,” he replied with a small shrug before running his fingers up and over her spine in a soothing motion. “It was either that or home shopping television.”

“This is fine,” she yawned snuggling in closer to him, “This is Kevin’s favorite movie you know.”

“Figures,” he let out a small laugh, “considering that all things usually lead to Kevin when we’re together.”

“It’s not so bad,” she yawned again, “I mean Kevin’s not here now and he hasn’t beat you up in a few days, so I’d have to say we’re doing good.”

“That we are,” he agreed feeling her melt into his chest while he pretended to be interested in the movie onscreen. Running his fingers through her hair, he kept his eyes on her seeing how beautiful she was now that she was at complete ease in his arms. He continued to massage her spine loving the softness of her body over his until he too felt a state of laziness spill over his muscles. He sank back into the sofa a bit further ready to lose himself to slumber as well when another vision swept over him.

“Oh you think you’re something don’t you,” he heard a giggle from beneath him ask.

“Honey I know I’m something,” Nick heard a shadow of his voice replied as his gaze was fixed upon the soft, silken skin his lips played over. He nibbled on the earlobe before him as another laugh uprooted in the back of his throat, “and you know it too.”

“You’re just so full of yourself tonight, aren’t you,” another giggle followed and seconds later his hand was holding a soft fullness. He felt the woman beneath him writhe with pleasure, her own hand sliding up over his.

“Slow down,” she mouthed pulling his fingers away from her body, “we don’t have to rush this.”

“Who said we’re rushing,” he pulled back to gaze into her eyes--to see the warm brown that had captured his heart from the first moment he lay his eyes upon her. It was Angela--it had to be only she was a lot younger.

“I think it speaks for itself,” she frowned at him impatiently, “Besides you said you wanted to watch the movie.”

He glanced over at the television set seeing flickers of the movie he’d been watching moments earlier before him. There was Freddie chasing around his latest victim and yet he couldn’t think--couldn’t focus on anything other than the woman beneath him.

“We’re watching the movie,” he leaned in for another kiss only to be thwarted by her hand in the center of his chest.

“No, we most certainly aren’t. You have no interest in watching the movie and that’s apparently obvious,” she shook her head at him disapprovingly, “You just wanted an excuse to get close to me and feel me up tonight. Admit it.”

“I don’t need an excuse to want to be close to you,” he braced himself up on his elbows taking the time to fully gaze over her. Her face was flushed, lips swelled from the obvious kisses they’d shared and yet she never looked more beautiful than she did in that moment with her dark hair wildly framing her face. “I love you.”

“You…you love me,” her eyes widened as if the thought in itself shocked her, “You mean you’re saying…”

“That I don’t want to be just friends anymore,” he nodded inching in towards her once again, “because if we’re being honest with each other about what’s happening, well, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we stopped being ’just friends’ a long time ago.”

She followed his words up by silence before finally nodding, “You’re right. I haven’t considered you just a friend in a long time--not since the first time you kissed me.”

“Now wait a second. Are you trying to tell me that you stopped feeling like my friend in first grade,” he replied eyes wide with feigned astonishment.

“No you moron,” she swatted at his chest playfully, “I’m not talking about that kiss. I’m talking about when you kissed me not so long ago--you know that kiss that let me know that you had a whole lot more in mind than just kissing and being buddies…”

“You mean the one just like this,” he replied bending down to steal a small kiss.

“No, not like that,” she curled her fingers over his shoulder pulling him in closer to her, “It was more like this.”

They kissed again, this time their tongues tangled with sparks of passion that radiated between them. He felt her squeeze his shoulder before they parted breathlessly.

“Ah, I think I remember that one,” he confessed with a slow building smile, “That was a good one.”

“And this is even better,” she kissed him again and again delving them further into the passion between them. She felt her arms enfold him, her fingers squeezing the lines of his body and he in turn eased her leg up over his hip wanting to get close to her.

“So am I to take it that this is a yes?” he questioned lazily, fingers flicking open the buttons on her blouse, “Will you be mine?”

“I was yours from day one,” she confessed moving upward to discard her shirt before pulling him in over her again.

Nick could very vividly feel the excitement, the fire she’d ignited in him running through his veins. This moment meant everything to him. Her saying yes had somehow opened up a new page in his life--in his heart, but before anything more could come of it, he heard the sounds of someone rushing into the room. She let out a squeal and Nick looked up to see a group of men standing before him. It was then that she let out a squeal of terror.

“Kyle!” she shouted out causing Nick to sit upright in an attempt to shield her from the eyes that fell upon them.

“Kyle,” Nick shouted out opening his eyes again to feel Angela’s hold upon him. She was nudging him out of his sleep, a concerned expression on her face.

“Nick, honey whose Kyle?” she questioned with clear confusion behind her eyes.

“What?” he replied blinking up at her as if trying to distinguish between what he’d seen in his sleep and what was real in the moment. He reached out to her, touching the side of her face while taking in a long, slow breath, “Angela?”

“I’m right here,” she promised seeing the way that his dream had clearly gotten some kind of rise out of him, “Nick, you just said Kyle. Who is Kyle?”

“He came into the room with a bunch of other guys. One minute we were alone on the couch kissing and then the next,” he blinked again trying to process what was happening in his mind. He looked to Angela again, “You were younger. We both were and we were together much like this. I asked you to be mine and you kissed me. We kissed a lot and then we talked about the first time we kissed…”

“It wasn’t that long ago,” she smiled down at him thinking about where his dream must’ve been going, “but it was nice.”

“It was,” he nodded in agreement, “but this was different. We talked about kissing in first grade--about how we felt something for one another long before we became lovers…”

“It’s a nice thought Nick and truth be told I would’ve loved to have known you before I made most of the mistakes I’ve made in my life, but it’s not possible,” she shook her head feeling him relax a little as she leaned into him. “I wish I’d met you sooner.”

“In my dream you did,” he wrapped his arms around her thinking about the vision that had played out in his mind. “We were alone enjoying one another and then this group of guys were there. You were half dressed and terrified by the idea of them catching us in such an intimate position.”

She laughed lightly, “Okay now that sounds like something we’d experience with Kevin. Maybe that’s what was on the back of your mind.”

“No, I don’t think that was it,” he argued with her, a frown touching over his lips, “There was a man there--a man I’m sure that I knew. His name was Kyle. You called him Kyle and you were upset. I’m certain of it.”

“Well, I don’t know any Kyle’s and I certainly didn’t know you before we met on the beach, so it couldn’t have been me,” she reasoned with him reaching out to touch his face. She urged him to meet her eyes again, “Maybe you were dreaming about your past however only you associated me and my face to the woman you were with. That has to be the reason why you were seeing me in that dream just now. Maybe your subconscious was trying to tell you something.”

“No, that wasn’t it. I’m certain it was you. We were together Angela,” he argued with her finding the need to convince himself of the truth behind what he saw, “We were together. It wasn’t anyone else there. It was you and I wanted you like nothing I could imagine.”

She smiled again feeling a blush rise over her cheeks. Reaching out to hold him, she leaned forward her words sweeping in over his lips, “Well, maybe your subconscious was telling us more than we’re willing to think about in the waking hours. Tonight I acted like a total jerk and when you told me you were falling in love with me I acted inappropriately. I shouldn’t have flipped out on you like I did.”

“Angela, it’s okay that…” he started to argue with her only to feel her press her finger in over the center of his lips.

“No, it’s not okay,” she shook her head firmly, “I shouldn’t have cut you off like I did. I shouldn’t have pretended that there was no validity in what you’re feeling for me when the truth to the matter is that I’m falling for you too Nick. That’s why I was so afraid. I don’t want you to get hurt by who I am.”

“I know that’s not going to happen,” he replied kissing her finger tip.

“Neither one of us know that, but I’m willing to bet in your dream I was a whole hell of a lot more receptive to the idea of us being together at a younger age than I was tonight. Maybe you were thinking about going back and meeting me during a time when I wouldn’t have been so closed off,” she suggested trying to help him decipher the moments in his dream.

“Maybe,” he shrugged half considering what she was telling him. Still it was such a powerful, vivid dream.

“Well, I’m glad you had the dream,” she announced calling him back from his silent thoughts, “because the truth is that I blew it tonight Nick. What I did and what I wanted to do were two different things. Truth be told I had a dream about you as well.”

“You did?” he questioned curiously.

She nodded, “I did and in my dream we played out tonight differently ending with the two of us in one another’s arms.”

“Well if you want to be technical, that’s sort of how we ended up,” he took a quick look around.

“No, not like this,” she shook her head adamantly, her hands caressing the warm lines of his body, indulging in the feel of his strength, “but more so like this.”

“Oh?” he arched a curious brow feeling her lips tease in against his.

“And this,” she whispered warmly shifting in his arms covering his body more completely with hers. She nibbled on his lower lip tugging on it slightly before breaking away from him, “Nick I made a mistake earlier, but I don’t want to make another one right here and now.”

“Neither do I,” he replied holding her over him as if he’d never let go.

“Good because that’s what I was hoping to hear you say,” she confessed in a heated whisper. Her words came out in a trembling softness, her breath caressing the contours of his now parted lips. She coiled her fingers through his hair driving in over him in a desperate, needy kiss causing his dream to fade away with the awakening moment between them.

“Angela,” he breathed her name feeling her tugging at his shirt.

“Nick, I was wrong earlier to be afraid. I can’t live in the past or in the shadows of the woman I once was. If you’re willing to take a chance on me, then I’m ready to take that opportunity to take a chance on you,” she confessed heatedly, the darkness burning behind her eyes, “Nick, the truth is that I’m falling for you too…so much so that I can’t even begin to imagine taking another step forward without you in my life.”

“Angela I…” he started up again trying to convey what she meant to him, but he was met by another brush of her finger against his lips.

“Make love to me Nick,” she pleaded with him, her words coming out in a seductive slur, “Forget about everything else I said earlier and let’s just go for it. Let’s just forget about the world around us for a while and follow whatever it is that’s leading us to one another. I want you--I need you and tonight, well as crazy as it sounds, there’s nothing I want more in this world than to know what it feels like to be with you in every sense of the word. Nick, please. Make love to me.”

“There’s nothing I want more than that,” he confessed hugging his arms around her ready to create a new world of dreams for them starting now. No more looking back.


“Cori?” Brant questioned entering the bar seeing his brother laid out on the floor and Cori looking over him. “What exactly happened here?”

“He was drunk and he started something with one of the other guys,” Cori answered standing up slowly, “Let’s just say, Ken didn’t put up a good fight.”

“Oh, wonderful,” Brant rolled his eyes before bending over to tap his brother’s chin slowly, “So what did he exactly do that got him knocked out like this?”

“He was just doing something that I didn’t appreciate,” she began to inform him, trying not to make Ken sound like a complete jerk, “I told him to stop and he didn’t. So a guy overheard and stepped in. Ken tried to knock him out, but the guy was a little too big.”

“Well, I am glad you are alright,” Brant sighed looking down at his watch slowly, “So who is this jerk that took Ken out? I’d like to give him a piece of my mind.”

“I would be that jerk,” Kevin stood up from the bar stool he was sitting on.

“Really?” Brant questioned with a smile standing up walking closer to the giant before him. “I bet you are the type of guy who has been waiting to knock one of us out for years.”

“Listen,” Kevin frowned holding his hands up in the air, “I don’t even know who you guys are.”

“Right,” Brant sighed in disgust, “Listen big guy, I don’t think you know what you are dealing with right now. You don’t scare me with your big muscles and tough guy approach. I eat guys like you everyday.”

“Excuse me? I don’t swing that way man,” Kevin stated wide-eyed before looking towards Cori, “How come you didn’t tell me there was two of them?”

“Because we are two totally different people,” Brant pointed out seeing Kevin roll his eyes.

“Well, to me you both seem like jerks,” Kevin started before shaking his head slowly, “Your brother tried to hit me, so I defended myself.”

“Well, unlike my brother I can defend myself,” Brant scowled pushing Kevin back as Kevin laughed running his hand along his chin.

“Listen half pint,” Kevin growled stepping towards Brant watching Brant take a few steps back, “I don’t want to start anything, but I won’t take anything like that.”

“Why didn’t you have that jerk who called me tell me that a wannabe boxer knocked my brother out,” Brant hissed looking back at Cori who shrugged with a small smile.

“Actually, I was a boxer to let you know,” Kevin pointed out before rubbing the back of his neck slowly, “And I do recall I won almost all of the matches because I could knock someone out with a single punch. What a coincidence.”

“Miss, you have a phone call,” one of the people working at the hotel came up to Cori.

“I will see you later Brant,” Cori waved goodbye before turning around quickly, “I’m sorry about this, I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

“Don’t worry,” Brant smiled waving goodbye to her, “Anyways, it wasn’t her fault it was this idiot’s right here.”

“Idiot?” Kevin questioned with a laugh. “I didn’t want to start anything, but if you want to…I know you would regret it.”

“Right,” Brant rolled his eyes watching Kevin walk towards him glaring at him, “What do you think you are doing?”

“What’s right,” Kevin replied with a smirk seeing Brant slightly jump as he walked passed him, “Take your brother.”

“What?” Brant questioned turning around to see Kevin pick Ken up from the ground quickly, seeming to be really easily.

“I said take your brother,” Kevin repeated holding Ken up straight, “He doesn’t need to be lying on the ground all night.”

“Whatever,” Brant rolled his eyes wrapping Ken’s arm around his neck dragging him across the floor.

“You might want to put some ice on that,” Kevin pointed out, referring to Ken’s jaw, “It will make the swelling go down.”

“Screw you,” Brant hissed before flicking Kevin off and walking out the door.

“What wonderful people there are in this town,” Kevin frowned sitting back down on the stool, “I just can’t wait to meet more people around here.”


“That was fun mommy,” Kayla giggled grabbing Carly’s hand tightly, “Didn’t you love it?”

“I absolutely loved it,” Carly lied before looking over at Dave who was laughing.

“Do you want to go on it again?” Kayla questioned happily before seeing Carly quickly shake her head.

“No, I think I am all of out of going on rides,” Carly answered holding her daughters hand tightly in hers, “I think Dave would love to go on the rides with you again though.”

“Look at that,” Kayla pointed jumping up and down, “I love dunk tanks. Can we go over there?”

“Sure sweetheart,” Carly nodded slowly as she led her daughter towards the dunk tank, “I don’t know if they have anyone working here.

“Let me get someone over here,” Dave looked around calling out to one of the people who were next to the tank, “Excuse me sir.”

“Can I help you?” the man questioned walking up to them quickly.

“I was wondering,” Dave began looking towards the tank, “Is it possible to still use that?”

“Well, it’s really late and we don’t have anyone,” the person informed Dave as he nodded, “But you can go in there.”

“That’s a great idea,” Kayla clapped as Dave looked up at Carly shaking his head.

“Don’t be scared, she would love it if you went,” Carly stated seeing Dave think about it for a moment.

“Alright,” Dave agreed as the guy let him through leading him to the tank.

“Would you like to throw the ball?” the person questioned leaning down and holding it out to Kayla seeing her shake her head.

“I want my mommy to do it,” Kayla informed him with a small laugh seeing Carly shake her head.

“I’m not the best thrower,” Carly began before nodding, “But this I will try.”

“Well, here you go,” the person smiled handing her the two balls seeing her nod.

“You are throwing?” Dave questioned seeing Carly holding the balls in her hand. “Please, you won’t even get close to that target.”

Carly shook her head before throwing the first ball and completely missing.

“This going to end up being completely worthless,” Dave pointed out with a laugh seeing Carly throw the second ball and nail the target making him fall into the water.

“Go mommy,” Kayla laughed seeing Dave come up from the water and get out of the tank running up towards them. “She got you wet.”

“You think that’s funny?” Dave questioned grabbing Kayla in his arms hugging her tightly.

“You’re wet,” Kayla laughed looking back at Carly, “Get her wet too.”

“Oh no,” Carly shook her head trying to get away from Dave’s grasp as he pulled her towards him.

“I get wet, you get wet,” Dave laughed holding both of them close to him. This was the way it should always be.


“You’ve been quiet tonight,” Hart noted carrying a tray over to the coffee table where Jenna sat in front of the television flipping through channels. He’d been late at the offices picking up the slack for Ken’s latest departure, but now, well now that he’d been home a little while he could see that something was bothering her. Sure, he’d heard of channel surfing, but at the rate she kept up with switching from one program to the other, he was certain she was going to wear out the remote.

Frowning he set the tray down before plopping down beside her and swiping the remote from her hand. He clicked off the television before turning to face her fully, “Okay, so talk to me. What’s on your mind?”

“Nothing,” she lied tilting her head to the side to look at him. She opened her mouth to speak again before her frown intensified, “You don’t believe that, do you?”

“Given that you’ve never been big on the whole cable television scene other than when we’re finding an excuse to cuddle up together,” he shook his head before reaching for her hand, “no, I don’t. So what’s up?”

“It’s just…” she paused letting out a small groan before shaking her head, “I can’t stop thinking about my father--about the mess that always seems to follow him.”

“You mean like in this murder investigation that’s taking place,” he deducted seeing an obviousness behind her expression, “So that’s it, huh?”

“Well, yeah,” she sighed heavily, “I mean you’d think that the man would grow up sooner or later, but given everything I know about him--everything that I’m learning more and more each day and well, well I just don’t know if he’s ever going to realize that there’s a place and time to become an adult.”

“Given your father’s track record, I think it’ll be a while Jen,” he confessed seeing something still burning behind her eyes, “Hey, what is it? Is there something else happening?”

“I went out with him,” she confessed thinking back to her coffee with Doug. “Call me crazy, but I felt the need to talk to him--to try to understand what it was that he was getting himself into. We talked and I learned things--things that I probably never wanted to know about the man who brought me into this world, yet I learned them regardless.”

“Such as?” he asked again.

“Such as not only did he know that dead woman, but he’d had a relationship with her--a very up close and personal relationship if you catch my drift.”

“So he was sleeping with her,” Hart nodded watching her shudder.

“I wish it was that simple, but what it amounts to is that he had this addiction to her,” she shuddered once again, “He was so caught up in the idea of being with her that he let his world spin out of control. Turns out that she and my half-brother JT were in on some elaborate plot to dupe Douglas and when he found out, he was furious.”

“Thus giving him a motive to want her dead,” Hart replied sensing how she could perceive the situation getting worse.

“That’s just it,” she threw her hands up in the air, “He only got upset with JT. With Rochelle, he just wanted her back in his life. He took her back and to this day he still thinks fondly of her all the while openly admitting that she was someone he couldn’t get enough of.”

He frowned hating to see her so worked up about this. Reaching for her hand, he tried to calm her down, “I’m sorry about that, but you know we all have our vices.”

“Yes, but then after he revealed this whole big tale of his twisted obsession for Rochelle, he went right straight into a speech about how much he loved my mother and how she was the great love of his life. He went on and on about how her leaving him was probably her smartest move, yet if he could he’d go back and recapture the magic between them,” she blurted out with a groan, “It’s like he wanted me to know how much she meant to him so that…that…”

“That what?”

“That he could find a way to work himself back into my life,” she blurted out with a groan, “I mean that has to be it. He has to be trying to work some kind of angle with me. He knows that my mother isn’t about to talk to him these days, so he’s going to go through me to try to manipulate her into his life again. He’s trying to get close to me after all of his other failures so that he can say he’s succeeded at something.”

“Okay,” he paused contemplating how to work the situation, “let me play devil’s advocate here for a second. With your father, maybe his telling you about all his failures is his way of trying to tell you that he’s hoping for a second chance with you. Maybe he realized that he blew it with your mother--that he really screwed up everything that followed and he’s hoping that he can finally make amends and get to know the amazing daughter he has in you.”

“Whose side are you on in this one,” she frowned back at him, “You’re not supposed to be making excuses for him or rationalizing the situation like that. My father is a murder suspect at this point.”

“Do you think he did it,” Hart threw back at her pointedly.

She hesitated before answering, “No, I don’t think he did it. There was just something about the way that he spoke about that woman that had me thinking that he wasn’t capable, but I’ve been wrong before Hart.”

“Not usually,” he argued with her, “You have good instincts and they never lead you astray.”

“My instincts told me that you were a selfish bastard when I first met you,” she threw out sharply giving him a firm look.

“I was a selfish bastard when you met me and you had every reason in the world to hate me, so in that particular situation, well the assessment you made was right on,” he teased with a small wink.

“Hart,” she couldn’t help but offer up a small, frustrated grin,” you know what I mean.”

“I do,” he nodded, “but at the same time, maybe your father is trying. Hey, you never know.”

“What I know is that anyone that’s involved with him always finds themselves surrounded by trouble. Then you top that off with the fact that he and Cameron’s assistant are shagging and…” she groaned placing her hand over her stomach. “It makes me sick to think about it.”

“Then how about we agree to put your father out of our conversation for the night?” he suggested with a small smile, “Since I have some good news I thought you might like to hear.”

“Such as,” she asked eyeing him intently realizing that he looked like the cat that ate the canary. “Okay, what is it?”

“I hired Sam to come and work for me,” he explained proudly, “I took your advice and went for it.”

“Really?” her eyes widened with surprise.

He nodded again, “Yes, as a matter of fact I really did simply because you said it would be a good idea. I was nervous as all hell in asking given the situation, but well, she accepted.”

“Oh Hart that’s wonderful,” she threw her arms around him supportively taking the time to push her own concerns about her father aside long enough to encourage his attempts to get closer to Sam. “I’m so happy for you.”

“It’s just a start,” he explained tentatively, “She has no idea that I’m her father and I’m not really sure how to work it into the situation given that there’s a lot of ground we need to cover with one another.”

“And when the time is right, you’ll do it,” she replied proudly tilting her head up to gaze into his eyes, “You’re going to be a good father Hart.”

“Oh I don’t know about that,” he contemplated the suggestion, “I’ve got a lot to learn.”

“She’ll be so proud of you when she does see you for the man you are,” she encouraged him further, “Sam couldn’t ask for a better father.”

“Well she could, but unfortunately she’s stuck with me,” Hart shrugged his shoulders, “and I just hope when she finds out the truth she won’t hate me for not telling her sooner.”

“This was Beth’s fault,” she frowned back at him, “She should’ve been honest with you.”

“Beth doesn’t know the meaning of the word,” he confessed with a groan, “I don’t know what I ever saw in her.”

“That was always something I wondered about,” she admitted honestly, “She just doesn’t seem like she’s your type.”

“Unfortunately back then everything was my type,” he sighed hating to think back to the jerk he once was. He looked to her with a solemn expression burning behind his eyes, “Of course it wasn’t until I met you that I grew up.”

“So it took the love of a good woman to do it, eh,” she asked tracing her index finger over his jaw lazily.

“I think so,” he replied leaning in to kiss her gently.

“So there’s still hope for my father then, yes?” she questioned as they parted.

“I’m sure there is,” he pulled her into his arms holding her close to him, “This is really going to bother you, isn’t it?”

“I wish I could say it wouldn’t, but it does,” she snuggled into his chest, “My father is just so--ugh, I wish he was just like a normal father.”

“What’s normal these days,” he threw out rhetorically.

“Good point,” she shrugged closing her eyes and listening to the sounds of his heart beating beneath where she lay on his chest, “Still I have like this whole other family that I know nothing about.”

“Well maybe it’s time we start doing some research for you,” he suggested as an after thought. “I mean you obviously know what your father is about for the most part and from what you’ve told me about your meeting with JT, you weren’t all that impressed with him.”

“No, I wasn’t,” she groaned inwardly thinking about the sleazy air that surrounded her half-brother. “Something about him just felt--well off…”

“Well, then why don’t we try a new approach,” Hart suggested kissing the top of her head, “What about Kipp?”

“Kipp,” she repeated opening her eyes again.

“Yeah, I mean why not? You were worried about him when he went missing and now that he’s back, well, you know that there’s hope for him. After what we heard about him getting Grady out of jail there by stepping up when Grady needed him,” he reminded her simply, “He can’t be all that bad, can he?”

“No, I suppose not,” she decided thinking about the brother she’d been estranged from. “He did a big thing in coming back to town like that and setting things straight.”

“Not to mention he’s probably pissed on Cameron in his own way by doing what he did,” Hart quipped with a tiny laugh, “That in itself takes some balls to stand up to the guy…”

“Yeah, especially knowing that Cameron has been pulling the strings in Grady’s trial from day one,” she paused as a horrible thought swept over her, “Unless of course he and Cameron were in on setting up Grady together.”

“If that was the case, do you think Kipp would’ve come back to town when he did,” Hart replied pointedly.

“No,” she decided snuggling into him once again, “he wouldn’t have come anywhere near this place if he and Cameron were in on setting Grady up with one another.”

“So then maybe it’s time that you and I gave getting to know your other brother a try,” Hart decided after a moment’s contemplation. “You two have a lot to catch up on with one another.”

“We really do,” she agreed before gazing up at him once again, “Tell me something. What did I ever do without you in my life?”

“Gee, I don’t know,” he shrugged his shoulders before offering up a small laugh, “but please tell me that you don’t want to find out in the future again.”

“Not on your life,” she replied with a small laugh before moving in to kiss him tenderly. While she’d been lost in her thoughts about what was wrong in her life with her father, Hart was right. She needed to find a way to grasp what was happening in her life in the here and now. Getting to know Kipp might be a good way to find some kind of peace about her relationship with her father. At least she was hoping in reaching out to her brother, she’d find what it was that felt as if it had been missing from her life. Maybe Hart was on to something after all.


“What the?” Ben questioned standing up from the couch motioning to Diane to keep her sitting after seeing JT barging into their house. “You can’t come into people’s houses like that.”

“I’m sorry Romeo,” JT frowned looking down at Diane, “But I have such bad news for you to hear and you aren’t going to like it.”

“What could I possibly need to hear from you?” Ben questioned with a laugh seeing JT look past him and over towards Diane.

“It’s about your little sweetheart,” JT began before sarcastically smiling, “You see, she isn’t as innocent as you think she is.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Ben wondered looking back at Diane as her heart began beating widely.

“You see, something happened between Diane and I while you were broken up,” JT informed him nodding slowly; “You see we had a wonderful night together. There also might be a chance that baby she is having…is mine.”

“Only in your dreams,” Ben laughed before shaking his head slowly looking back at Diane, “What he is saying isn’t true, is it?”

“Of course it is,” JT smiled nodding slowly, “Whether you want to believe it or not.”

“You shut up,” Ben yelled before looking back at Diane, “I need to hear it from her, not you.”

“I…” she began before seeing his eyes widen from her hesitation.

“You did?” Ben questioned shaking his head walking towards the door, “I can’t believe this.”

“Ben,” she called out to him, getting up quickly and grabbing him by his arm. “I can explain everything.”

“Get off of me,” Ben yelled getting her off his arm as she fell to the ground. “You two have a nice life together.”

Diane’s eyes quickly opened, her heart beating fast as she tried to catch her breath.

“It was just a dream,” she whispered to herself taking in a deep breath.

She got out of bed slowly, trying not to wake Ben up as she walked to the bathroom, shutting the door behind her.

“I can’t let that happen,” she sighed running her hands through her hair nervously, “I can never let that happen.”


“Hello,” Cori answered the phone in the lobby as few people walked past her.

“Hey, it’s me,” Dave’s voice came over the receiver as she smiled. “How are you doing?”

“I’ve been better,” she replied with a small sigh thinking back to the tiff she had just been in.

“What happened?” Dave questioned wanting to know what was up with his little sister.

“Well, you see I was at the bar,” she began to tell him knowing he would hate what she was saying, “And I saw Ken there. Well, we were talking and we got into a little fight. Some guy saw it and told Ken to back off and he ended up knocking Ken out.”

“I say go guy,” Dave laughed slowly before shaking it off, “What the hell were you doing at a bar by yourself anyways?”

“Why are you more worried about me and not Ken?” she questioned shaking her head slowly. “He could be really hurt.”

“I could really care less about Ken. I just want you to stay away from him,” he declared with a small scowl, “Things changed while you were gone. He’s trouble now and I don’t want you near him. But that’s not important right now. Right now I just want to know why you were there by yourself.”

“Dave, I’m not your little and sweet sister anymore,” Cori protested rolling her eyes, “I’m not a little girl, I can take care of myself.”

“I would still like to know that you are okay,” Dave insisted before taking in a deep breath, “You don’t know how guys are. They could take advantage of you at those places.”

“I can take care of myself Dave,” she repeated before rolling her eyes, “So if you will excuse me, I have to get going.”

Before Dave could say anything else, she hung up the phone turning around and running into Kevin’s muscular form.

“What are you still doing here?” she questioned looking up at him seeing him shrug.

“I just wanted to see if you were okay,” Kevin answered before shrugging slowly, “I didn’t know if he really hurt you or not.”

“I’m not hurt,” she scowled before folding her arms out in front of her, “Now that you are here though, you could get me a drink and I would feel even better.”

“Sure,” Kevin shrugged as she tugged at the collar of his shirt slowly, “I’d love to.”


“Explain,” Deidra repeated giving Dean a strange look, “Dean, I was with you when we found this at the cabin. Remember?”

“Yes I do, but…” he started to offer up feeling himself caught up in a moment of panic.

“But nothing,” she shook her head making light of the situation. She held the necklace up again for further inspection, “I thought you got rid of it, but obviously you couldn’t part with it either. It really is too beautiful for that.”

“Yes, it is,” he nodded with a small sigh watching her finger the tender heart shaped locket.

“It’s too bad that this thing is stuck because I’m sure it would be no doubt even more beautiful to take a look at what is inside. It’s like a secret compartment of sorts,” she continued oblivious to the expression on his face, “I remember my grandmother having one like this, but it was no where near as elaborate as this one is. She used to have a picture of Diane and one of me that she wore close to her heart.”

“It sounds beautiful,” Dean moved forward attempting to play it cool. He reached out to take her hand in his, “So beautiful in fact that maybe I should look into getting you one of your own.”

“That’s not really necessary although,” she paused a thought occurring to her, “You never found anyone that this belonged to, did you?”

“Well I…” he stammered a bit catching the first hint of interest behind her eyes.

“I didn’t think so,” she practically squealed holding it up against her skin, “What do you think? Is it me?”

“Deidra, I really don’t think that you should be doing that,” he began again desperate to keep her from what he feared she would do next. It was too late however as she unfastened the clasp and put the locket on.

“Well, what do you think?” Deidra questioned showing it off. “Do you like it?”

“Of course I like it,” he confessed noticing the way it looked on her, “but I really don’t think that you should claim it considering that someone else lost it and…”

“And nothing,” she waved her hand dismissively, “If they missed it, we would’ve heard something by now, which we haven’t. Besides, you must’ve thought that it was pretty special as well.”

“Well, I…” he felt himself stuck in the moment as she moved away from him.

“Dean, it’s really beautiful,” she replied beaming at the feel of it against her skin. She walked over to the mirror to take a long look at the way it fit her. She fingered the golden locket once again before catching note of him approaching her from behind.

“It does look beautiful on you,” he nodded in confession sliding his arms around her waist, “but we could always go together and pick out something more special for you. Maybe something with a hint of jade or ruby in it.”

“No, this is the one,” she insisted firmly, her index finger sliding over the gold gingerly, “It’s the one that I want and it’s special because I was with you when I found it.”

“Deidra, I just don’t think…” he began to argue with her only to feel her turn in his arms completely. She threw her arms around him kissing him heatedly.

“I love it,” she murmured against his lips kissing him like she’d never stop as Dean felt guilt tug at his insides. He knew full well that Deidra couldn’t keep that locket--that she couldn’t claim it as her own, but when he tasted the joy behind her kiss, he couldn’t bring it in himself to tell her no either. Yes, it was now quite clear. He was going straight to hell.


“You see,” Kellen laughed out pointing towards the television, “This is like the worst part in all the movies.”

“Why would you say that?” Kipp questioned seeing Kellen tip his head back and take another sip from the bottle. “I think when Luke finds out that Vader is his father is one of the best scenes of all time.”

“No, I don’t mean that,” Kellen shook his head slowly turning towards Kipp, “I mean, when Luke does all those faces. It looks like he is constipated or something.”

“That’s not nice,” Kipp laughed as Kellen got up slowly slightly swaying as he walked towards the television switching the DVD, “I still like Luke.”

“Sweetheart, as good as Luke is,” Kellen began before taking another gulp from the bottle, “Han Solo will always be the hottest man in Star Wars. Without a doubt.”

“He was my favorite,” Kipp nodded slowly as Kellen fell to the couch leaning his head back.

“He is still hot to this day,” Kellen closed his eyes tightly, “That man never seems to lose his looks.”

“It’s cool that he is still acting to this day,” Kipp agreed before looking at Kellen who opened his eyes, “You know, I have been have a really great time with you. I think the most fun I have had in a long time.”

“Really?” Kellen questioned seeing Kipp nod slowly. “Well, I guess you could you are fun to hang out with. You are just good all around.”

“Thanks,” Kipp smiled grabbing the bottle from Kellen’s hand, “I don’t think I have ever had this much fun with any other person. I don’t think they understand how important Star Wars really is.”

“Oh, I know,” Kellen squeaked before taking in a deep breath, “But I think there is something a little more special than Star Wars.”

“Really?” Kipp wondered a slight bit surprised. “Like what? The gym or something?”

“No,” Kellen shook his head reaching his hand out towards Kipp’s neck pulling him towards him. “You.”

Before Kipp could answer, Kellen’s lips were covering his. Kellen’s hand ran through Kipp’s short hair before backing away from Kipp, trying to see his reaction. Nothing came from Kipp’s mouth as he just looked up at Kellen. Was there something Kellen should say? Kipp didn’t leave; he didn’t even pull away from him.

“What was that?” Kipp questioned finally speaking seeing Kellen shrug.

“I’m sorry,” he started before taking in a deep breath, “You see, since I have been hanging out with you…I guess you can say that I am sort of attracted to you. Scratch that, really attracted to you. So what do you think?”


...to be continued...