Episode 214

Ben walked through the doors to the BBK offices ready to go up and see if Diane was around. While she’d said she had a few other things to do, the truth to the matter was that he’d had a few plans of his own. However, a big one of them had been sitting in the top drawer of his desk as he thought about the tickets he’d bought for tomorrow night. Knowing that there was a chance he could run into Diane, Ben opted to head out to the office and pick up his envelope of tickets. Okay, so maybe he was cheating a little in terms of figuring out her surprise, but he couldn’t help himself. It was a nice distraction to all the misery taking place in Coral Valley lately.

“Hold the elevator,” a voice called out to Ben just as he was ready to go up to his office. He pushed the door open button and at the last minute Cathy leapt into the elevator shaft beside him.

“Thank you,” she smiled brightly suddenly surprised to see him standing before her. She stood taller, tossing her hair back over her shoulder, “well Ben, how ever are you this evening?”

“Pretty good Cathy. How about yourself?” he replied politely thinking about his plans for the weekend with Diane.

“I’m good--really good actually, though I must confess I’m rather surprised to see you here at a time like this. I would’ve thought you’d be home with Diane on your day off possibly celebrating,” Cathy replied watching Ben look to the numbers overhead alerting them to which floor they were headed to.

“Celebrating?” he repeated focusing his attention on her.

“That’s right,” she nodded taking note of the expression on his face, “Rumor has it you and Diane are expecting.”

“Expecting,” he replied with a small gulp, “Well now where in the world did you get that kind of rumor?”

“From Diane when I saw her picking up a pregnancy test earlier,” she paused taking note of the blank expression on his face as she found herself eating it all up. Something about his obvious not knowing what she was talking about and about Diane’s strange behavior when they’d run into one another was starting to make sense, “I mean I just assumed that she’d told you what she was doing in picking one up since you are the man she’s dating these days.”

“Well, I um…” Ben cleared his throat uneasily trying to imagine why Diane wouldn’t say anything to him if she’d suspected she was pregnant.

Cathy continued to say something more, but Ben started recalling the past few weeks in his mind. Diane had been a bit tense and acting a bit moody, yet he hadn’t even given thought to her being pregnant. Sure, maybe some signs were there, but with Jade’s being missing, well they hadn’t had much time to talk about things--other than the brief casual conversations about a wedding eventually.

Of course Diane had told him that she’d had a surprise in store for this evening as well. Could it be that she was going to tell him she suspected she might be pregnant? Was she going to find a way to share the news with him that he was going to be a father under a romantic setting once she was sure? Was that what she was waiting for when she’d insisted that tonight they’d have a memorable evening.

“You know it doesn’t surprise me in the least that Diane’s trying to pull this pregnancy card in the hopes of keeping you. She’s been such a slut over the last few years that I didn’t think anyone would be dumb enough to take up with her,” Cathy continued to ramble wrinkling her nose in disgust, “No offense, but when I heard that you’d actually started seeing her, well I must admit that I’d thought you’d lost your mind as you always struck me as the kind of man that had taste and culture about you. You didn’t come off as being someone who would be charmed by a bargain basement whore like Diane when she’s already been around the block far too many times already…”

The elevator buzzed alerting them that they’d reached their floor and as the doors open Cathy saw that Ben hadn’t been paying attention to a word she’d been saying.

“Excuse me,” Ben blurted out rushing past her in the hopes of catching up with Diane if she was in fact at work. If not, well he’d have to pick up something special on the way home because if Diane was pregnant it meant that things were about to change for the both of them. Sure, he’d thought about having a family with her, but not this fast. Although if it was in fate’s hands for them to have a baby and Diane was in fact pregnant Ben realized he couldn’t be anymore happier than he was right now anticipating what the future could hold in store for him and the woman he loved.


Diane stood in the small bathroom at her apartment looking at the contents of the box that she just tore open. She’d read the instructions and while she knew full well that this was going to be simple enough, she realized that simplicity didn’t feel like it would have a place if she was pregnant. Life was complicated enough lately, yet if she was having a child that would put things into more of an uproar then she even wanted to think about.

“This is silly,” she thought to herself aloud reaching for the box the pregnancy test had come in, “You can’t be really pregnant. I mean what are the odds considering?”

“Pretty damn good if you ask me,” she heard a voice echo in the back of her head.

“No, they aren’t,” she argued with herself, “I mean okay so yeah Ben and I have been closer lately, but still…”

“You and I both know that if you’re pregnant, Ben isn’t the father,” her reflection taunted her, “The way we both see it, you can’t get away with everything. He’s going to know about JT sooner or later.”

“That was one time,” Diane argued with herself, “It didn’t count.”

“It counts enough for you to be standing here doubting whether or not that night has come back to haunt you, doesn’t it?” her reflection taunted once again, “You knew full well what you were doing that night with JT and the fact that you didn’t tell Ben, well you only have yourself to blame.”

“Ben and I weren’t together that night and I was drunk,” she insisted desperately.

“There you go again. Always using alcohol as an excuse. If I recall correctly that was the name of the game when you and JT were together, wasn’t it?” her subconscious continued to eat away at her, “The fact is regardless of what excuses you’d like to make for yourself right now, you know full well JT is an addiction that you can’t seem to rid yourself of.”

“JT is not an addiction!” she snapped shaking her head urgently, “He’s not and I’m not pregnant. I’ll prove it. I’ll just take this test and show the world that I’m not pregnant. That this is all just a misunderstanding and then…”

“Then what? Do you really think that you can live with yourself knowing what you did to Ben? Do you think he can still love you once he learns of how you betrayed him?” her inner voice taunted further.

“Ben loves me and I love him. He’s never going to find out about JT. This isn’t going to be positive and I’m not going to lose him,” Diane thought aloud praying that the mistake she’d made wouldn’t destroy any chance of a future for her with the man she truly loved. She reached for the test once again ready to put an end to the questions. Taking in a long, slow breath she said a silent prayer one more time that things would work out for her and Ben. She’d come so very close to happily ever after and she couldn’t afford to lose that now. She needed things to work out for her--for her dream to come to fruition and that dream didn’t include letting JT get the power to destroy her life forever. She may have let him in, but she’d be damned if she’d let him in again. Things would work out. They just had to.


“Well this is the perfect ending to a perfect vacation, wouldn’t you think?” JT muttered catching note of the icy glare that Valerie shot out at him.

“Shut up,” she scowled feeling the seat in front of her bump against her knees. She slapped the top of the chair, causing the man in the seat to jump out of his slumber, “Hey buddy can you watch where you stick that thing? You’re cramping me in.”

“Listen you,” the man prepared to yell at her until he caught a good look at her. His anger transformed to a smile as his eyes moved in and over her, “well hello miss. I’m terribly sorry about that. If there’s anything I can do to make this ride easier for you, then just…”

“Yeah that’s great,” she rolled her eyes at him dismissively, “just sit the damn chair upright and try to quit gawking.”

The man scowled again before turning away from her and leaving his chair where it had been previous to her complaint.

“You just have a way with people don’t you,” JT chided unable to contain his amusement after the trip had turned into one big nightmare for the both of them, “First you fail to make the impression that you thought you were going to make on Seth and then you wind up in jail, which was real nice there…”

“Do you not listen?” she growled at him, “I told you to shut up too.”

“I heard you, but then again considering that the last time I listened to you, it only ended up wasting my time, well I feel that right now it would do you good to listen to me for a change. Honestly what did you think you were going to accomplish there other than making yourself an open target?”

“Seth didn’t marry the bitch, did he?” she flashed him a wide grin, her jaw still hurting after the way Sarah had slugged her in the jail cell.

“True, but he didn’t wind up running back to you now either, did he?” he pointed out smugly.

“That’s just a minor technicality, but it’ll happen. When he gets his head out of the clouds and he stops being blinded by her spell, he’ll come around,” she boasted with a small huff.

“Yeah with a restraining order,” he rolled his eyes at her before looking to the magazine he’d picked up in the airport. He started to thumb through it only to feel her rip it out of his hands. “Hey…”

“He will be mine again,” Valerie snapped waving the magazine around in her hand, “He is my husband after all.”

“Yeah and I’m sure that worked really well in stopping him and Blake from being together. Why I’ll bet that they shagged right then and there after you tried to split them up, thus only making their relationship all the more solid,” he taunted her watching her face tense up as he swiped his magazine back from her, “I mean hey, you might be his wife by name, but I highly doubt that makes a difference. He looked even less interested in you than I’d thought possible given your good looks. I guess he just knows you to a tee and isn’t all that impressed with your unpleasantness.”

“Oh as if you have room to talk,” she hissed at him, “I mean I don’t see Diane knocking down your door, do you?”

“She might not be knocking, but she was there,” he grinned widely thinking back to the night they’d made love, “and that had absolutely nothing to do with you. Come to think of it, you haven’t been any help to me what so ever. In this arrangement we’ve made, we were supposed to help one another get what we wanted, yet this has been all about you. There hasn’t been any advancement on my end that you’ve played a hand in. I’ve done it all on my own. I’ve been doing all the work in this deal.”

“I didn’t see you working hard back in Atlantic City,” she hissed at him, “You were of no help when I needed you.”

“I bailed your spoiled ass out of jail, which to me seems like pretty good help,” he frowned attempting to read the magazine again, “Oh and by the way you are going to pay me back for that one. That wasn’t a freebie there.”

“I’ll pay you back when you make a difference in my cause,” she reached for the magazine once again crumbling it up in her fingers, “This isn’t at all what it should be.”

“Yeah, well take a look around sweetheart. None of this is as it should be,” he attempted to reach for the magazine once again when the chair in front of her fell back hitting her knees again.

“I said, ‘Put your chair up jerk wad,’” Valerie balled the magazine up and hit the man on the top of the head repeatedly.

“Hey,” the man whined attempting to ward off her attack. His complaints grew in intensity causing a petite blonde flight attendant to come over to investigate.

“What seems to be the problem,” she questioned harshly, her eyes narrowing in over at Valerie.

“No problem,” JT began catching her nametag, “Tina. We’re just having a bit of a situation with the chair here…”

“Well your girlfriend is going to have to keep it down,” her features softened a bit as her blue eyes fell over JT.

“Oh she’s not my girlfriend,” he waved his hand dismissively over at Valerie before unbuckling his seatbelt. “In fact, I was just about to get up and make my way over to the bathroom. Perhaps you could show me where it is.”

“Well I…” Tina blushed clearly catching on to JT’s suggestive flirting. She seemed to beam at the thought as she licked her lips.

“Look, I’m just trying to get this jerk to just put his seat up and…” Valerie started watching JT get up from his chair to lean forward and whisper in Tina’s ear.

The flight attendant giggled again before offering up a small nod. Seconds later she walked down the isle leaving the situation unattended. JT started to follow, but before he could leave Valerie tugged on his sleeve.

“Just where the hell do you think you’re going?” Valerie scowled up at him watching the grin that spread over his arrogant features.

“I’m planning on making the most of this nightmare you’ve dragged me into,” he informed her with a glare before chasing off after the flight attendant in the hopes of acting out that suggestion she’d agreed to.

“This is just wonderful,” Valerie threw her hands up in the air emphatically, “What is wrong with men these days?”

“Maybe they just get tired of dealing with a ball buster like you,” the man in front of her shot out at her. He rubbed his head still feeling the effects of her attack on him, “I mean sure, you’re beautiful, but you’re a real bitch.”

“Oh just shut up,” she ordered wailing the magazine at his head before slumping down in her chair with a pout. She closed her eyes trying to envision herself anywhere else--anywhere but here on this commercial flight having to deal with idiots around her. Her thoughts drifted to Seth and she smiled vowing that when she got back to Coral Valley this situation would change. By the time she was home she’d come up with a plan and when she did, she’d see to it that Blake Ashford was no longer a roadblock in her plans for a future with Seth. One way or another Blake would be eliminated. It was just a matter of time and when it happened, Valerie planned to make the most of her triumph.


“If I were you, I would start shutting my mouth right about now,” Kevin suggested, feeling anger build up in his body after Brant’s little comment. “I don’t think you want to get started with me little man. You will end up regretting it.”

“Trust him Brant,” Kyle stated looking between the two men, “If he could break me, he can definitely break you without even trying.”

“I don’t really care if he broke you or whatever you say he can do,” Brant snapped, pointing over towards Kevin, “And you aren’t me which means I can say what I want, when I want.”

“Is that so?” Kevin questioned walking up closer to Brant as Brant got in his face. “I want you to say it to my face wimp. Come on…do something to piss me off. I’m begging you…please.”

“Don’t do it,” Kyle pulled Brant back looking up at the angered Kevin, “He broke my ribs, I think he could break you in half. You can‘t win this fight. If you can‘t beat me up, you definitely can‘t attack him anymore than you can me.”

“You’re lucky you have Kyle here to help you out,” Kevin declared before smiling, “You would never know what hit you if you kept talking like that.”

“Why did this all start?” Blake questioned stepping between Brant and Kevin seeing Seth rest his hands on his sides angrily.

“He was sticking up for me,” Seth informed her looking towards Brant, “He was just trying to be a good cousin. If you want the real answer to why this started…then why don’t you ask your brother what happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened,” Kevin looked on towards Brant angrily before looking down at Blake, “Your brother here thinks this is all Seth’s fault. He even had the nerve to try and start up a fight with Seth.”

“Is that true?” Blake questioned looking back at Brant who nodded quickly.

“Of course it is,” Brant scowled looking on towards Kevin and Seth, “All you have ever been getting since you have been with Seth is trouble. That’s what Seth and his family is…trouble.”

“You know what?” Kevin scowled, his blood boiling as he made an attempt to move before feeling Kyle and Seth hold him back. “No one talks about my cousin like that…or my family.”

“You want to do something about it?” Brant questioned before starting to laugh deeply. “Oh, that’s right…Kyle and Seth have their animal under control.”

“Brant stop,” Blake pleaded grabbing onto her brother’s shoulder lightly, “Seth didn’t have anything to do with this. It was my fault. I have no one else to blame here.”

“What about the punk cousin? What is he doing here?” Brant questioned as Blake looked back at Kevin who was obviously filled with rage at this moment.

“He was just trying to come here and help us,” Blake answered Brant before thinking over everything that had happened over the last few hours, “Kyle lost his wallet and Kevin was coming up here to help us out.”

“The help you need is to just stay away from Seth,” Brant advised Blake before she shook her head quickly.

“I don’t think you understand Brant,” Blake took in a deep breath, trying to replay what had happened at the airport, “You see, Sarah and I got into a rumble with a girl at the airport. So do you think Seth was the one that made me hit that girl? No…I have myself to blame for this one.”

“Yeah, Brant,” Sarah stepped up, folding her arms out in front of her chest, “If anyone was to blame it would be that girl who started it. And then probably me, because I threw the first punch.”

“Not that I didn’t want to hit that girl first,” Blake growled thinking back to how Valerie had slapped her at the airport, “Sarah got there first, she was protecting me I guess you could say.”

“I figured that would be how it went,” Brant laughed thinking of how much he knew about Sarah, “Sarah is quite the eager one.”

“Eager?” Sarah questioned with a laugh before shaking her head. “More like pissed off. No one calls me a bitch and no one talks to my best friend like that. If you ask me…Valerie was just begging for every shot I got in at her.”

“Isn’t that the truth?” Blake questioned with a small laugh thinking of what had happened in the cell. “My personal favorite was when Valerie’s face met bars.”

“I know,” Sarah laughed picturing what had happened earlier, “That was the best.”

“What are we missing out on?” Seth questioned making Blake look back at Seth who had let go of Kevin now that he seemed to be calming down.

“Forget about it,” Blake waved him off before shaking her head slowly, “What I think we all need is to just go back home and get some type of rest in.”

“There, I would have to agree with Blake,” Kyle agreed looking over at Sarah, “Most of us really didn’t get time to sleep. I mean Blake and Seth were taking care of the Valerie situation. All Sarah was doing was worrying the whole time.”

“Okay,” Brant nodded slowly taking in a deep breath looking around at the group around him, “I got an idea for going home. How about all of us go home on the Ashford jet so that I can just get the hell out of here? You‘re all giving me a headache here and I‘m ready to call it a day.”

“Thank you Brant,” Blake smiled jumping up and hugging Brant tightly, “This means a lot to me.”

“So anyone?” Kevin questioned walking with Seth over towards Blake.

“Yes,” Brant nodded slowly taking a look over the muscular man before him, “Even you big dog and you too Bruno.”

“What?” Kyle questioned turning around shaking his head slowly. “You are calling me that again Spanky? I think you need to learn names before someone hurts you.”

“I’ll risk it,” Brant shrugged with a small grin before walking towards the door, “Come on people it’s getting late. We need to get going.”


“Kellen,” Kipp called out looking around the empty living room, “Your front door was unlocked, I hope you don’t mind.”

Kipp took a look around the house before hearing the sink running in the bathroom.

“You in there?” Kipp questioned knocking on the bathroom door hearing the water turn off and the door open, “you ready?”

“Am I?” Kellen questioned with a small smile looking down at Kipp. “I am as ready as they come…we should get going right now.”

“We have some time still,” Kipp assured Kellen watching him walk over to the mirror and look at his hair. “Is that your real hair?”

“Of course it is,” Kellen laughed turning towards Kipp, “This is what it looks like when I don’t spend hours on my hair gelling it up.”

“It looks good on you,” Kipp smiled seeing Kellen wink at him before leaning back against his desk. “So you decided to dress up as my favorite, huh?”

“Oh yeah,” Kellen nodded looking down at his costume. “Han Solo is the best.”

“I know, he is my favorite,” Kipp reminded Kellen seeing him nod slowly, “But you probably remember me telling you that.”

“Of course I do,” Kellen nodded slowly before frowning, “You see, I was going to be Leia, but I left it at my old house. Quite a shame actually…that was one of the best costumes I have ever had.”

“I’m sure you looked good in it,” Kipp pointed out seeing Kellen nod, “I mean…”

“I know what you meant,” Kellen stopped Kipp in the middle of his sentence. “Actually, in that costume, I didn’t look great, I looked astounding.”

“I’m sure you did,” Kipp laughed before looking down at his watch, “We still have some time to kill before the main event begins.”

“Who cares,” Kellen rolled his eyes, going over to Kipp and grabbing him by the arms, “If we are early, then I guess we are going to be the first people there. Because, quite frankly I can’t stand waiting anymore.”

“Okay,” Kipp laughed feeling Kellen pull him across the room quickly, “I take it you want to drive then?”

“Are you kidding me Luke Skywalker?” Kellen questioned with a small chuckle. “Knowing you, with that leg…you would drive so slow, it would just torture me. So yes, I am driving.”

“Good,” Kipp nodded slowly before seeing Kellen stop, “What are we waiting for?”

“You just need to walk instead of me pulling you,” Kellen answered pointing down to the replica light saber, “I need to be able to hold this later without my arm falling asleep.”

“Okay Mr. Solo,” Kipp shook his head slowly before smiling, “What are we waiting for? Let‘s get going.”


“God, I can’t wait to get to this party,” Jenna smiled putting her last earring in. “I am ready…what about you? How is your costume going?”

“Somehow,” Hart began, stepping out of the bathroom, “I think I look like an idiot. I don’t think I make a good Obi Wan.”

“Please Hart,” she rolled her eyes walking up to him, “You look really good in that. I always imagined what you would look like as Obi Wan.”

“What’s the verdict so far?” Hart questioned raising his eyebrow in amusement. “I want the truth and nothing less of the truth.”

“The truth?” she wondered seeing him nod as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I think you would make a perfect Obi Wan. You look hot in that.”

“Hot, huh?” he questioned wiggling his eyebrows before kissing her slowly…only to hear the door bell ring. “That must be Sam and Wayne.”

“Well go get the door,” Jenna urged him, unwrapping her arms around his neck, “We should be getting out of here soon.”

“Okay,” he smiled holding his hands up in the air, “I will go get the door, but you better be ready so we can go.”

“Ready as they come,” she promised, following him out to the door watching him open it.

“Hey Hart,” Sam smiled hugging Hart lightly, “Thanks for letting us come today.”

“No problem,” Hart assured before looking over the costume that Sam had on. What was she wearing? “Just a question? What are you two supposed to be?”

“Oh, I am Lando,” Wayne answered seeing Hart nod slowly, “I must say, it was really cool of you to let me come along too.”

“It was no problem Wayne,” Hart smiled before looking back at Sam, “So who are you supposed to be?”

“Oh, I am Leia while she was a slave girl to Jabba The Hut. The girl at the costume shop thought that it was really a great look for me.,” she told him, turning around in a circle, “You like it?”

“Of course I do,” Hart nodded slowly behind gritted teeth finding him hating the costume completely especially for his daughter to be wearing it. He took in a long, slow breath before turning towards Jenna, “Maybe we should get going.”

“Good idea,” Sam declared as her and Wayne started to walk towards the door, “You guys coming?”

“Be there in just a second,” Hart faked a smile, looking over Sam’s costume as she walked out.

“What’s wrong?” Jenna questioned rubbing Hart’s shoulders gently hearing him breath in deeply.

“Did you see what she was wearing?” Hart questioned seeing Jenna nod. “I told them to give her a costume from the last episode. What I meant was like a fighter’s costume.”

“Well, it may not be a soldiers costume,” Jenna began with a small giggle, “But it is definitely a costume from the last episode. Calm down, she is a young woman…she can handle herself.”

“I think she is a little too young for a costume like that. I don‘t want men at the party to be gawking at her and thinking things that I‘ll have to kill them for considering that…,” he pointed out as she pushed him towards the door.

“Don’t worry,” Jenna hushed shutting the door behind them, “Wayne is with her. It will be okay. Now can we just get going.”

“Fine,” Hart agreed before looking at Sam’s costume once more, “That still isn’t the costume I told them to give her.”


“It’s the perfect night for something like this,” Cori smiled looking up at the sky as Diego leaned her back and lifted her back up to him tightly.

“You are what is making this perfect,” Diego whispered seeing her dark eyes look up at his, “I don’t think I would be having any fun at all if you weren’t with me.”

“I’m glad you are getting a little taste of what fun is like,” Cori laughed looking into his intense eyes, “Can I ask you a question?”

“Shoot,” Diego nodded slowly before seeing her shrug, “What’s on your mind?”

“How come you never kissed me?” she questioned seeing him slightly shrug.

“You mean earlier? Earlier, you just said that was a joke,” Diego reminded her seeing her shake her head quickly.

“I mean, how come you never kissed me when we were younger?” she wondered seeing his eyes get bigger. “I always wanted you to, but you never did.”

“Maybe it was that I was older than you,” he suggested seeing her smile and shake her head, “What?”

“That’s not why you never kissed me,” she declared as he continued to dance with her, “You want me to tell you why you never kissed me?”

“Be my guest,” he laughed seeing her look up and make up in her mind what she wanted to say.

“I’ll just say this plain and simple,” she pulled him closer to her, whispering in his ear, “You were scared of Dave.”

“I was not scared,” he protested hearing her laugh, “What makes you think that I was afraid of him especially about that? I was never too frightened to kiss you. Your brother never scared me.”

“Right,” Cori rolled her eyes before thinking back to when they were younger, “Come on. You were just afraid that you would get your butt kicked by Dave. That’s why you never kissed me.”

“I was never afraid of Dave,” Diego repeated once more before seeing her shake her head.

“Come on,” Cori sighed, twisting her fingers through Diego’s hair slowly, “You are still afraid of Dave. You are afraid that if you do anything…Dave would come here and kick your butt.”

“You want to bet that I am not worried about your brother?” Diego questioned seeing her nod quickly.

“You bet I do,” she declared before feeling him pull her close to his body.

“Fine,” he whispered leaning down. His dark eyes fixed in on her before he pressed his thumb in gingerly over her bottom lip. He watched her breath escape and he felt a shiver race over her before he inched in towards her. She tipped her head upward closing her eyes half mast as his own lips captured her lips in a slow, subtle sweep of a kiss before it grew in intensity. Finally breathless he pulled back, “See, I’m not afraid.”

“Your right, you aren’t,” she agreed before pulling him back down into another tempting kiss.

This was a perfect night all around and nothing could make this night end badly.


“I can’t believe we didn’t find her there,” Grady cursed under his breath pushing himself behind the wheel of the car, “I was so sure that…”

“That you’d had it all figured out,” Avery finished for him shaking her head at his overwhelming disappointment, “well the truth is that none of us have it all figured out Grady. Clearly there’s more to this than either one of us imagined.”

“How can you be so damned casual and nonchalant about this Avery?” he snapped back at her, a scowl touching over his lips, “This is the love of my life we’re talking about.”

“I realize that and the fact that we didn’t find her tied up in that place or tortured to some degree in that basement given what we walked in on gives us a little bit of hope,” she threw back at him sensing his growing agitation, “The fact remains that there’s a chance she’s still out there.”

“Or dead,” he threw back bluntly, “That’s one thing we haven’t touched on now have we?”

“Grady, you can’t think like that. You can’t believe that…” she started to offer up in response to his outburst.

“That what? That Cameron could’ve exacted his ultimate revenge on me by killing her?” he questioned a tremor in his tone, “Avery, the man is demented.”

“He is, but I know what obsession is like. As I told you before, the fact that Cameron’s wanted her like you said he has…” she tried to reason with him.

“He’s not Bruce,” Grady glanced over at her, a scowl pressing tightly over his lips, “and if I remember correctly Bruce wasn’t all that thrilled about letting you go either. He tried to kill you.”

“I don’t know if killing me was what he had in mind that day,” she shuddered at the memory thinking back to the look on Bruce’s face--to the wild, bewilderment behind his eyes when she’d pulled the trigger on the gun, “He wanted something else…something darker.”

“Much like I’m sure Cameron wanted with Jade. He knew she’d never love him--that she’d never be with him, so to hurt me, he hurt her,” his voice crackled with emotion once again.

“He wouldn’t kill her. She’s still alive,” she insisted closing her eyes and thinking to her gut instincts, “She might not have been at that place, but she’s not dead.”

“You keep saying that like you know something--like you’re in touch with this guy somehow,” he paused catching the strained expression on her face, “How can you be so sure?”

“She’s the love of your life,” she opened her eyes again to face him, a sudden seriousness passing over her, “How can you not be?”

“Avery, it’s just that…” he found himself at a loss. He clenched his fingers tightly over the top of the steering wheel before placing his head over it as well. A sigh exploded from within his tense body, “I wanted to find her here--to bring her home.”

“I know you did,” she reached out to touch his shoulder gently, “and I did too, but right now well we take tonight as it is and find another lead in all of this. We will find her.”

“I want to believe that. More than anything I want to bring her home,” he replied sitting up straighter and turning the car on, “There has to be something that we’re missing in all of this.”

“We’ll find it Grady,” she patted his shoulder again to reassure him, “Maybe we can take another approach with this.”

“Such as?” he glanced over at her before pulling the car onto the road again.

“Such as I can’t stop thinking about the way that man greeted me tonight. There was something there--something in the way that he looked at me that got me thinking that there’s a big, fat clue right in front of us, but we’ve been missing it. Like maybe if I just open my eyes and see what it is that had him behaving that way around me, then maybe just maybe I can figure it out,” she leaned back in her chair shaking her head at the memory, “That man looked like he knew me. He acted as if my being there wasn’t out of the norm.”

“I realize that,” Grady nodded again thinking to the photo that was still in his breast pocket, “which begs the question of just how well you know Cameron.”

“How well I know Cameron?” she repeated with a small laugh, “Grady, I never met the man before he approached me at the jail. Sure, he’d been a royal pain in the ass in terms of his stupid lawsuit against BBK, but I’d never met him before. It makes no sense that someone who works for him wouldn’t find it odd that I was in his home.”

“Maybe he thought you were a former lover of Cameron’s,” Grady rationalized debating whether or not he’d tell her about the photo he’d found, “What about Bruce?”

“What about him?” she asked with a strange expression.

“Did he know Cameron? Maybe they were in the same social circles,” Grady suggested again attempting to draw up his own conclusions over what he’d found at Cameron’s home in Coral Valley.

“I sincerely doubt it,” she replied quickly, “Bruce wouldn’t have liked someone like him.”

“Can you be sure?” he eyed her for a brief moment, “I mean you thought you knew the guy, but then he wound up being a serial killer.”

“Thank you for the reminder Captain Obvious,” she rolled her eyes at the thick sarcasm in his voice, “but for your information even with my not knowing all there was to know about Bruce, Cameron doesn’t strike me as a pal of his.”

“Why not?” he shrugged again, “I mean as they say birds of a feather flock together.”

“Bruce was far too narcissistic to share his thunder with someone else. If Cameron had tried to put together an association with him, well, Cameron strikes me as a man who enjoys being in control of things--who likes pushing other people’s buttons,” she continued to think about what she’d pieced together about Cameron, “He wouldn’t take to kindly in having someone reckless and out of control like Bruce to worry about.”

“Bruce needed someone to help him hide and Cameron has the means and the resources to…” he started again.

“Brant paid the ransom money when Brooke was kidnapped,” she confessed bracing herself for his reaction.

“What?” he blinked back at her, “Are you saying that…”

“He didn’t want my mother to die, so he went to my brother and gave him the ransom money for Bruce, which would be why Bruce has been living oh so very well,” she rolled her eyes a tiny shiver racing down her spine, “Although I’m not entirely convinced of that either.”

“Why not? If Ashford paved the way for Bruce to hide that explains a lot. You know that’s typical. Leave it to an Ashford to screw things up,” he gritted his teeth, his fingers sinking into the steering wheel tighter than before as he turned at the intersection, “Avery, you know better than to get caught up in this kind of mess. Ashfords are good for nothing and when you get involved with one, it only leads to trouble. If Russ could see you now…”

“Look Grady, this isn’t about Brant or Bruce for that matter. I mean I really don’t believe looking at either one of them is going to help us get any closer to Jade,” she frowned not wanting to get into a debate with Grady especially not now. “Look, you just have to trust me when I tell you I don’t think Bruce is connected to Cameron. Even if he was, what in the hell would that have to do with that man recognizing me tonight?”

“Well, actually the truth to the matter is that the other night I found…” Grady started to tell her about the photograph when a gasp fell from her lips.

“Oh my God. I’ve got it,” Avery announced with an exaggerated breath, “Grady, you know maybe the man who talked to me tonight didn’t think I was me. Maybe he thought I was someone else.”

“Gee, you think?” Grady rolled his eyes, “Unless of course you and Cameron have some secret history with one another that you’re not clueing me in on here.”

“No, that’s not it,” she shifted in her seat to turn and look at him, “In fact the more that I think about it, the more I realize that that man had to think that I was someone else. It wasn’t the first time that’s happened to me this week.”

“No?” he looked over at her briefly, “So what are you saying it’s a case of mistaken identity?”

“It could be,” she nodded eagerly, “the man that your father and I hired to take Russell’s place at the paper thought he recognized me. When we were at the newspaper offices he’d thought I was someone else and he started spouting off about things between the two of them. I didn’t put the pieces together at the time, but I wonder if that woman is the same woman the man thought I was tonight. Maybe they both know someone who looks like me and it’s easy to get confused…”

“It could be, although,” Grady trailed off thinking back to when he’d been on the run. Clearly he could remember the night he sat out by the lake enjoying the calm serenity of the water. Then out of no where his mind had been bombarded by visions of a very naked, very uninhibited Avery before him. At the time he’d been certain he was hallucinating, but now. He looked over at her watching the way she watched the world beyond the car window. Could it be that the hallucination was more than that? Had he seen someone that looked like Avery or had his mind conjured up something that went well beyond any words he’d dare to speak on the subject?

“I mean there’s always a chance that…” Avery continued to ramble on half of her words missing Grady’s ears as he spoke up again.

“Tell me something,” Grady questioned in an attempt to be as nonchalant and casual about what he wanted to know, “How often to you like to swim naked?”

“What?” she replied nearly choking on the word as her eyes widened, “Come again?”

“Skinny dipping,” Grady shrugged his shoulders before glancing over at her, “How often do you do it?”

“You’re losing it, aren’t you?” she reached out to touch his forehead, “All of this stress is getting to you, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not. It’s just that,” he shook his head dismissively, “never mind.”

“No, please go with it. I get the feeling you had some logic behind asking me that question other than some kind of perverse interest in seeing me naked,” she replied catching the strange expression on his face.

“I think twice in a lifetime was more than enough to experience that,” he groaned inwardly a small chuckle rising from behind his lips, “although I must say I appreciated it a hell of a lot more when you weren’t kicking my ass like you were the last time.”

“Yeah, well, you deserved it both times if you ask me,” she replied folding her arms in front of her chest a sudden uneasiness sweeping in over her. A chill pressed in over her shoulders before she looked to the window again.

“Oh come on. I don’t think I needed it the first time,” Grady couldn’t help but steal a look in her general direction, “At least I didn’t think that was what either one of us needed that night. We were both looking for something else.”

“What we were looking for was a place for you to sober up and for me to get my head on straight,” she cut him off abruptly making an attempt at putting an end to the conversation.

“It worked didn’t it,” he replied stiffly, “I mean the way I see it the next morning you didn’t even bother with a good-bye. You headed out to the cabin faster than I thought possible to make things good with my brother now didn’t you?”

“Grady, I’d really rather not…” she shifted in the passenger seat uncomfortably.

“Not what?” he replied squeezing the steering wheel tighter than before. He looked over at her briefly before focusing on the road, “Not think about the fact that you and I almost…”

“We didn’t almost,” Avery cut him off sharply, “It didn’t even come to that point Grady. We weren’t even close to that.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but it got as far as a condom Avery,” Grady spat back at her sarcastically.

“And fortunately for the both of us the after effects of alcohol stopped it from getting any further,” she shivered before looking out onto the night again, “It would’ve been a huge mistake if it had happened Grady. We both know that.”

Silence followed before he spoke up again, “You’re right. We do, but that doesn’t change what almost was.”

“Grady, it wasn’t exactly either one of our finer points in time there. You were upset about losing Susan and I was, well, I don’t know what it was, but the fact to the matter was and is that I love Russ. I always have and always will,” she shot back firmly, “You know that.”

“I know and I love Jade. With all that I am I know that she’s the one,” Grady added thinking about the reason he and Avery had teamed up tonight in the first place, “She’s my heart and the only woman I’ve ever truly loved in my life, so our mentioning this is absolutely pointless.”

“It’s beyond pointless,” Avery added squeezing her arms harder against her chest, “In fact it’s a trip down memory lane that I’d never, ever like to take again.”

“Same here,” he nodded in response, “so we’ll just file it away where it goes in the recycle bin.”

“That’s the best place for it,” she trailed off before looking to the sky again. An uneasy silence surrounded them for what felt like an eternity before she looked to him again with a sudden seriousness, “I never told Russ about any of that.”

“I didn’t anticipate you would,” he replied knowingly, “and I never felt fit to tell him either. It wasn’t my place.”

“Grady, I love him. I was just upset and…” she started to explain herself thinking about her college years.

“Hey, I’m the one who told you about him and Johanna hoping you’d go right back to him and you did,” he continued taking the expressway back towards Coral Valley, “You did everything I’d anticipated and expected you to do there Avery. You made me proud.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” she rolled her eyes before looking to him again, “but I just want you to know that even when we almost--when things got, well out of hand…I never stopped thinking about Russ. On some level I think that I was just trying to pay him back for what he was doing with Johanna.”

“And I was trying to forget that my life was a big ball of screwed up nothingness,” Grady shook his head before inhaling slowly, “It’s in the past now.”

“Then why do I feel like that’s something that’s put this wedge between us,” Avery questioned in all seriousness, “I mean all that time you spent hating me--when you kept telling Russ that I was no good for him, you could’ve told him about that. You could’ve used that to drive me away from him once and for all, but you didn’t.”

“That’s because as much as I hated you back then, I didn’t want to hurt him. I mean yeah, I guess in my own way I wasn’t helping the situation, but I knew that wasn’t a way to split you two up. It wasn’t as if there was anything to say about you in that respect anyways. Nothing happened,” he paused a flash of a memory sweeping in over him, “At least not anything worth keeping you two apart forever over.”

She nodded, “Yeah.”

“You know even though I gave you two hell about being together, I knew that you were the best thing for Russ. You two belonged together and that was obvious from day one,” he continued a sentimentality sweeping into his tone, “It still is.”

“I just wish that he was here now,” Avery closed her eyes thinking about the man she’d loved and lost, “If there was some way that I could’ve changed what happened--if I could’ve kept him here with me…”

“He is with you,” Grady reached out across the seat to squeeze her hand gently, “He’s right here right now with that little baby growing inside of you. It’s the most real part of my brother still left in this world and I promise you that I’m not going to let anyone or anything take that away from us.”

“Neither am I,” she replied with a poignant smile, “which is why I swear to you we’re not going to let that happen with Jade either. We’re going to find her Grady and bring her home again. Wherever Cameron has her, he can’t keep her hidden forever. He’ll slip up and when he does, we’re going to catch him in his lies and call his game. Jade’s going to come back home again and you’ll get your chance for a happily ever after. You’ll have that family you always dreamt of.”

“And what about you Avery?” he questioned unable to contain his thoughts, “Is that what you believe you’re going to have with Brant? Do you think that you two are going to live out the fairy tale raising my niece when we both know that your heart is still very much with Russ?”

“Russ is dead and I can’t look back, only forward. No matter how hard I try, I can’t live in the past. Brant gives me what I need. He’s been wonderful to me--to the baby and I know he’s a good man with a kind heart. He has a hard time showing it, but he loves me and I know he’ll love my daughter as well,” Avery continued thinking about the closeness she and Brant had come upon with one another recently.

“Yes, but the question is, do you love him? Could you ever truly feel the way that you did about Russ with him? Or the way that I feel about Jade? Can you honestly tell me that being with Ashford is giving you the dream that you waited your whole life to have with Russ?” Grady questioned a bit harshly thinking about everything that had gone on over the last few months.

“Dreams change,” Avery replied in a hollow voice looking out to the night again, “When Russ died, my dreams for the future died with him. I have no choice but to make new dreams now.”

“With an Ashford of all people,” Grady groaned in response, “Gee, my brother would be proud.”

“Russ would understand and accept my decision if he could see me now,” Avery argued with him feeling suddenly defensive.

“Do you really believe that Avery? Because the way I see it the last thing my brother would want in this world is to have his daughter being raised by an Ashford? From where I sit I think he’d really feel as if your marrying Brant went against everything that he fought for in your relationship,” Grady threw back at her sarcastically before shaking his head, “I’m sorry I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get into this with you especially not after you and Brant are attempting to help me find Jade.”

“It’s alright. You’re entitled to your opinion, but in this particular case I think it’s best if we agree to disagree,” Avery replied forcing herself to not get worked up over what he was saying.

“It’s a deal,” Grady half-heartedly agreed returning to his silence again as Avery watched the world pass them by outside Grady’s car. While she’d wanted to tell him all the reasons why he was wrong as usual, deep down she too had often wondered what Russ would think if he saw her now. At this point she feared more than anything that Grady was right about this particular situation--that deep down she’d betrayed the very thing that she and Russ had created with one another in turning to Brant. Would he feel betrayed by her actions? Would he think that she’d thrown away the memory of their love by turning to Brant or would he understand? The sad reality was that she’d never truly know.


“I still can’t believe that I had to do this,” Brant frowned shaking his head at his sister before taking a long look over the interior of the Ashford jet at the guests he was bringing back to Coral Valley with him. Even now he realized he hadn’t found a way to make sense of all the chaos that surrounded Blake’s arrest. It was beyond unbelievable to think that his sister had wound up in that kind of trouble. After dealing with Ken’s identity crisis, the last thing he’d expected was to find Blake in that position.

“Thank you for coming out here,” Blake touched his arm gently flashing him a thankful smile.

“Don’t think that I’m going to forget where you were when I arrived,” he warned with a heavy frown before speaking up again, “and I still want the whole story. I want to know how all of this could’ve happened.”

“Seth already told you that this Valerie girl and I started fighting and…” Blake started to explain with a matching frown.

“I know what I heard, but I want to hear the story straight from you. Blake what was really going on in Atlantic City?” he questioned softening his tone a bit in an attempt to come off as being supportive instead of agitated as all hell. His gaze wandered across the plane to where he noticed Kevin sitting there across the isle glaring in his general direction. That did it. Brant’s jaw tightened further, “Okay, who the hell is he and what is he doing here?”

“Who?” Blake followed his gaze before answering, “Oh that’s Seth’s cousin and…”

“I should’ve known,” Brant rolled his eyes, “It never fails that when one of my siblings is in trouble, that man just has a habit of popping up.”

“What?” Blake questioned giving him a strange look.

“Never mind,” he replied dismissively before looking over at her, “So now tell me about Atlantic City.”

“Brant it wasn’t like we planned it. It was just a spur of the moment decision that…” she started to reason thinking about her desire to become Seth’s wife.

“That what? Wound up with you getting a record?” he replied with heavy disapproval, “Blake, this isn’t at all like you.”

“Oh like you’re one to lecture me,” she rolled her eyes, “If you didn’t know how to charm the pants off of most of the law officials in Coral Valley, you wouldn’t be far from where I’m at. I mean correct me if I’m wrong here, but wasn’t there a time when you were under suspicion for murder, which correct me if I’m wrong again I believe is a whole hell of a lot worse than assault.”

“Even so, what I do and what you do aren’t relevant to this conversation,” he frowned down at her, “You and I both know that…”

“That I’m adult Brant and I don’t need fathering from my brother,” she folded her arms in front of her chest stubbornly, “Seth shouldn’t have called you.”

“Shouldn’t have called me?” he repeated with astonishment, “Blake if he hadn’t, you could’ve been locked in there for a lot longer than you were.”

“I could’ve handled it myself thank you very much,” she huffed stubbornly.

“Yeah handling it had you in jail in the first place, remember? So what’s the story? That girl do something to rain on your parade?” he questioned further watching her face scrunch up, “well?”

“I’m not about to tell you anything as long as you’re being all judgmental here,” she shook her head at him, “You’re obviously not in the mood to listen because it’s clear all you want to do is lecture me about what happened.”

“I’m not trying to lecture you. It’s just that…” he stopped himself feeling a groan spill over his lips, “Alright Blake, I promise to reserve my opinions until the end of our conversation. Is that better?”

“I suppose, but only if you mean it,” she warned her blue eyes focused upon him.

“Fine, I’ll do my best to try and mean it. Does that count?” he asked straining to keep his anger from bubbling over.

“I suppose it shows you’re trying,” she nodded before focusing on her hands that were firmly planted in her lap. She inhaled slowly trying to think of the right words to say before another thought occurred to her, “Brant can I ask you something?”

“I already said I would try to reserve my opinions until you were finished with…” Brant began catching the way her eyes seemed to darken, “Blake, what is it?”

“Brant, I know that you’re not exactly thrilled about my wanting to be with Seth, but…” she started thinking about what had bothered her back in the jail cell when Valerie had begun to taunt her.

“Hey, I never said that I wasn’t thrilled. I mean yeah, okay so he wouldn’t have been my first pick for you, but then again he wouldn’t have been my last either. I know he loves you and I was fine with him until you started to get into trouble,” Brant confessed bringing his fingers through his hair.

“I got into trouble all on my own,” Blake reminded him sharply before pausing, “although I guess in this family that should come as no surprise.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he questioned watching her look to the floor again.

“It means that in being an Ashford, we have a certain sense of trouble that surrounded us, don’t we?” she asked tilting her head to the side.

“Blake, where is this coming from? Is this about my lecturing you before or…” he felt a moment of uneasiness as he wondered if she’d heard all about Ken’s actions after Caitlin had died.

“I’m talking about our father Brant,” Blake blurted out straight to the point, “He wasn’t the man that I thought he was, was he?”

“Why do you ask?” Brant replied shifting uneasily in his seat.

“Because I need to know. Because I want to hear it from you,” Blake continued fighting the tears that threatened to overtake her, “Brant, he wasn’t at all the man the world thought he was, was he?”

“That depends on what definition you’re referring to there,” he answered not offering up much more of an answer than that.

“Brant, when you were younger--when daddy was still alive…things were tense, weren’t they?” Blake questioned not really sure how to approach the subject she was really wanting to bring up.

“Blake, what do you want to know?” Brant shifted in his seat to face her fully, “What’s on your mind?”

“I need to know about what he did--about the things he set up for his associates,” she bit down on her lower lip nervously, “I want to know about how it was that he managed to get Seth’s sister into a situation where his friends were able to hurt her like they did.”

“Blake I…” Brant stammered a bit not really clear on how to respond to what she was asking.

“I know what happened to Jade. I also know that Seth said you were the one who found her--that you took her to the hospital,” Blake’s voice trembled with emotion, “I know that you know what happened that night and Brant, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I need to have the truth. I need you to tell me everything that you’ve been keeping from me for years. I need to know if our father could’ve…”

“Blake, I know what you’re asking,” Brant placed his hand on top of hers squeezing it gently, “but are you sure you want to get into this tonight?”

“Brant, I need to know the truth if Seth and I are going to have a future with one another. I need to know if what happened in the past can change the future. If…” she began feeling her gaze misted over with the tears she fought to contain.

“Blake the only way your future with Seth can be changed is if you let that happen,” Brant replied touching her cheek gently, “Only you can be the master of your fate. The past doesn’t define who you are.”

“Yes, but…” she began to argue with him.

“Blake, Seth loves you and you love him. What more do you need to know?” he threw back at her honestly, “If you really believe it’s the past that defines who you are, then we’re all screwed. It’s not who we were that makes us what we are today. It’s who we are now and who we want to be that counts. If you love Seth and if you want to make things work with him, then neither our family nor any other outside forces can change that for you. I mean hey look at Avery and I. Who in the world would’ve believed that we could’ve made it to where we have?”

“Yeah, but you always knew that you and Avery should be together. She was pregnant and it just made sense that you…” she reminded him with a pointed expression.

“Sometimes things just don’t make sense,” Brant offered up with a poignant smile, “and the harder we try to define them, the more frustrating life becomes.”

“Yeah maybe you’re right,” she sighed realizing that maybe Brant was right. Tonight wasn’t the time to get into the talk with him about their father. She still wanted answers, but for now, well she’d just find a way to push the nightmare that her almost wedding turned into behind her. Tonight was about living in the moment, not dwelling on the past.


“God, it feels good to be going home,” Seth smiled resting his head back against the seat, “I can’t believe all that happened.”

“Yeah, I know,” Kevin laughed looking over at Seth, “Looks like Blake over there is a criminal now.”

“Isn’t that great,” Seth laughed seeing Kevin pull out a pen from his pocket and hold it up like a microphone.

“So tell me Mr. Alexander, how did it feel when you found out your girlfriend was a criminal?” Kevin questioned talking with the pen like it was a microphone. “How did it really feel?”

“You want to know how it felt Mr. Adonis?” Seth questioned seeing Kevin smile. “I’ll tell you how if felt…it felt great. To know that your girlfriend could hold her own against someone who tried to ruin our special day and destroy what we have with one another, well…it’s quite the rush.”

“Quite a rush, huh?” Kevin wondered wiggling his eyebrows up and down. “So what do you have to say to all those people out there?”

“Kevin, we used to do this when we were younger,” Seth laughed seeing Kevin move his hand motioning him to go on, “Why are we doing this now?”

“Because it is fun and we could use a little distraction to kill the time on the flight,” Kevin answered before shaking his head slowly, “Come on cuz, don’t ruin the tradition.”

“Okay,” Seth agreed seeing Kevin sit forward and hold the pen out. “Like I was saying…these people need to know that Blake and I are going to be together forever and no one is going to mess that up.”

“You hear that people?” Kevin questioned pulling back the pen. “You better stay away from this girl or else you are going to get into some trouble with Mr. Alexander here.”

“You are too much,” Seth laughed seeing Kevin laugh himself before turning into a straight expression.

“Now, this is a serious question,” Kevin began before taking a look at the other side of the plane where Kyle and Brant were sitting, as he glared right through them, “What kind of family are you getting yourself into?”

“Is this the play…or is that a real question?” Seth wondered seeing Kevin put the pen away.

“It’s a real question,” Kevin answered glaring over at Brant, “I know both of her brothers and they are both jerks.”

“I may not like the family,” Seth began before taking in a deep breath and looking over at Blake, “But I love Blake and if that means I have to be a part of their family, I guess I am going to have to do it.”

“I feel bad for you man,” Kevin shook his head before looking over at Kyle, “So what’s his case?”

“Oh, Kyle?” Seth questioned looking towards Kyle who had his arm wrapped around Sarah tightly. “He is dating that girl right there. He’s loved her since the first day he met her when he was five.”

“But what about Angie?” Kevin questioned remembering the picture he had seen in Kyle’s wallet that one day.

“What?” Seth wondered seeing Kevin shake his head slowly before taking another look at Kyle.

“So tell me more about Kyle,” Kevin raised his eyebrow seeing Kyle kiss Sarah, “Why was he on the island a while back?”

“Oh, he was trying to help Jade’s boyfriend out of jail,” Seth answered thinking back, “Jade’s boyfriend is his best friend.”

“Really?” Kevin questioned looking back at Seth. “You mean he was telling the truth?”

“I don’t understand,” Seth laughed seeing Kevin shake his head once more.

“It was just something I remember Kyle saying on the island that one day,” Kevin replied seeing Seth nod slowly.

“So what happened between you two anyways?” Seth wondered seeing Kevin shake his head.

“Nothing important,” Kevin assured him before motioning him to go on. “Tell me more about Blake. What is she like?”

“I can say many things about her,” Seth sighed thinking of what he could tell Kevin, “If I told you, it would be like you were going to be writing a book on her.”

“What’s wrong with writing books?” Kevin questioned hearing Seth laugh. “Go ahead and tell me about her. We have some time.”


“Hey,” Kyle laughed thinking back to when they were younger, “You know when we were younger…how we always used to play cops and robbers?”

“Yeah, we used to love playing that game together,” Sarah nodded, leaning in closer to him, “What about it?”

“Well, I was always the cop and you were the robber,” Kyle reminded her seeing her nod, “The thing is, I never saw you as the criminal, but if we play that game now…it wouldn’t be the cop chasing after the criminal. I’d be too afraid to come near you.”

“You are by me right now,” Sarah pointed out, wiggling her eyes slowly.

“Yeah, and I am risking my life sitting here with you every minute,” Kyle laughed before shaking his head, “I mean, I am dating a hardened criminal.”

“Like you hate it,” she smiled hitting him in the stomach lightly, “Anyways, every minute was worth it to pound Valerie. I mean sure, I never imagined that I would be in jail, but that felt really good.”

“You see how I feel now?” Kyle questioned with a small laugh seeing her nod. “Feels good.”

“It does feel good,” she agreed before biting down on her bottom lip gently. “I still kind of feel bad that things didn’t go as well for Seth and Blake. They have had too much crap already and I think they deserve to be happy.”

“They will be happy together,” Kyle assured her looking up at Seth who was talking to his cousin, “I know they will.”

“I just hope it happens soon for them,” Sarah sighed looking up at him, “I think they deserve to have no Valerie in there life.”

“Seth doesn’t want her anyways, so she really has no effect,” Kyle pointed out before thinking things over, “He is going to get a divorce with her and that will be the end of Miss Valerie.”

“I hope you’re right,” she frowned, feeling his fingers run through her hair gently.

“You know,” Kyle began before kissing her cheek gently, “Even though Blake and Seth didn’t get married, it was still a pretty good trip.”

“Now I wonder why you would say something like that,” Sarah laughed before feeling him kiss her lips tenderly.

“I have no idea,” Kyle winked before seeing her laugh and turn around to look out one of the windows. “What are you doing?”

“It’s really pretty out here,” Sarah wowed over the features she was seeing under them, “You should really take a look.”

“No thank you,” Kyle shook his head quickly before taking in a deep breath, “I am already having a panic attack…I don’t need to throw up right now.”

“You know,” she whispered in his ear, sitting back down, “If this wasn’t such a short trip…I would take your mind of everything.”

“Somehow, I am starting to feel bad that this trip isn’t any longer,” Kyle declared after feeling her hand on his leg as he pulled her into his arms tightly.

“I’m glad you liked the idea,” she laughed seeing him nod quickly and smile, “I can’t wait to be home.”


“God this is going to be so great,” Jenna smiled walking through the doors noticing all the people around them.

“Hey look over there, it’s Kipp,” Hart pointed out as Jenna looked around, “He’s over there with some guy. This could be your chance. Why not go talk to him?”

“Where is he?” Jenna questioned not seeing him right away, until Hart pointed him out. “Oh hey, that is Kipp.”

“Hey Kipp,” Hart called out seeing Kipp look around and finally see them, “Come over here.”

“Why did you do that?” Jenna questioned nervously seeing Kipp and his friend begin to walk towards them.

“Well you wanted to make things good with you two didn’t you?” Hart wondered seeing Kipp approach them.

“Hey Hart,” Kipp smiled folding his arms out in front of him, “I didn’t know you guys were going to be here.”

“I love this stuff,” Jenna replied before pointing to Kipp’s costume, “It’s kind of ironic that I am Leia and you are Luke, huh?”

“Kind of poetic justice considering that well, you’re my sister and I’m your brother and we spent most of our lives in the dark and…” Kipp stopped himself sensing Jenna’s uneasiness in the situation, “About that whole sibling thing, I was hoping we could talk. One of the nurses at the hospital mentioned you were there all the time and I just got to thinking that maybe that might be a good starting point. I mean I obviously wasn’t that great of a conversationalist in the hospital.”

“And you are probably feeling lucky that you didn’t have to listen to what I was saying,” Jenna replied with a small smile.

“I’m sure it was very interesting,” Kipp added in an attempt to keep the mood light between them.

“So much so that you slept through it,” Jenna teased lightly, “but for what it’s worth, it’s good to finally have you back.”

“It‘s good to be back,” Kipp laughed before looking over at Kellen who was looking up at the ceiling, “Oh, this is my friend Kellen.”

“Huh?” Kellen questioned before nodding quickly, “Oh yeah…I’m Kellen.”

“Nice to meet you Kellen, I‘m Jenna--Kipp‘s sister,” Jenna introduced herself, holding her hand out to his as he shook it gently.

“I must say Jenna,” Kellen began, looking up and down Jenna’s costume, “You look great in that costume. I had one like it, but I left it where I used to live.”

“Thanks, I don’t think I look that great,” Jenna laughed looking down at her costume, “But look at you. You are dressed as Han Solo, he was always one of my favorites.”

“And your boyfriend is Obi Wan, right?” Kellen questioned seeing Hart nod as he held his hand out to Hart’s.

“Yes,” Hart answered Kellen’s question, shaking his hand lightly, “My name is Hart, by the way.”

“Hey,” the owner approached the group, smiling widely, “I hope all of you enjoy this tonight. I am Rob Leveski if you have any questions for me, just ask. I don’t mind a little chat. Just ask Hart.”

“Yeah, speaking of,” Hart began before turning towards Sam as Wayne was over by the coat check area, “Rob, this is Sam Callaway.”

“Nice to meet you,” Rob smiled shaking her hand slowly, “You look lovely tonight Sam.”

“Yeah,” Hart coughed catching Rob’s attention as whispered something in Rob’s ear, “You see, Sam was planning on having a party for her boyfriend and she was hoping on having a nineteen twenties theme. You think you could help out.”

“Sure, just call me one day Sam and I would love to help out. We can work out any and all details necessary. I owe Hart a favor or two, so I‘m sure we can put something sensational together,” Rob winked before clapping his hands together, “If you will excuse me, I must get going…I have some things to set up. It was nice to meet all of you.”

“You too,” all of them said unified after Rob had shaken all of their hands and walked away.

“Well, I guess we should get some good spots,” Kipp offered seeing Jenna nod slowly.

“Yeah, that’s where I think you are right,” Jenna agreed leading the group to the front.


“Tonight was perfect,” Cori informed Diego as he helped her out of her chair, “I loved every minute of this night.”

“Me too,” he smiled pulling her into a big hug, “I don’t know what I would be doing right now if you weren’t here.”

“I could answer that,” she laughed holding her finger up in the air, “You would be working and having no fun at all.”

“I guess you would be right,” he shrugged before seeing her nod and pull at the collar of his shirt lightly.

“Yeah, I am right,” she nodded before pulling him down into another kiss, nibbling on his bottom lip lightly.

“Maybe I should be taking you home,” Diego offered up as she pulled back from him.

“No,” she shook her head before smiling widely, “Why don’t we just go to your house and hang out?”

“You want to?” he questioned as she pulled at his collar once more. “I mean you should go back home.”

“Should, could, but I don’t want to go back,” she confessed with a smoldering whisper, bringing her hand in over the center of his abdomen, “So why don’t we just go to your place.”

“If you insist,” he shrugged before feeling her kiss him once more, tempting him even more.

“Believe me,” she took in a deep breath running her fingers through his short hair, “I insist.”

“Alright,” he agreed before grabbing her hand and leading her to the car, “Let’s go.”


Diane sat in the middle of her empty bathtub in her bathroom thinking about all the things she’d tried to ignore since the night she’d slept with JT. While she’d wanted to pretend that the night never happened, she knew there was no turning back. Even if the pregnancy test came back negative she knew she was going to have to be honest with Ben. Sure, she’d thought about keeping the truth from him, but the longer she kept her secret, the more she risked losing him.

“Of course you’ll just lose him as soon as you tell him the truth. He’ll see you for the slut you really are and it’s something that’s long past due,” a voice rose up from the left of where she sat. She looked up to see a small miniature version of Cathy in front of her.

“But if you lie to him, you stand to lose everything. He’ll never trust you again if he hears the news from someone else about what happened. You have to tell him the truth,” Jade’s image popped up shoving Cathy aside. “You know that’s what you must do Diane.”

“Yeah, you do it and you’ll lose him,” Cathy shoved Jade aside, “The only way you’re going to be able to keep a guy like Ben is if you keep him in the dark. As soon as you decide to take the moral high ground that’s when you’re going to lose him forever.”

“Diane, if you really love Ben, you need to be honest with him. You can’t keep him in the dark about this. He deserves the truth and if he truly loves you, he’ll understand,” Jade tried to appeal to her once again.

“Yeah, he’ll understand that she can’t keep her legs closed together,” Cathy scoffed with a wicked smirk, “Go on and tell him Diane. I dare you.”

“Shut up. Just shut up!” Diane snapped opening her eyes to discover the alarm that she’d set going off. She felt her neck stiff after the way she’d fallen to sleep in the tub while waiting for the results. Sitting up straighter, she vowed to keep it together long enough to face whatever consequences may lay ahead of her after her one indiscretion.

“You can do this,” Diane decided stretching her arms out to the sides of the tub in an attempt to pull herself up when she heard a sound beyond the walls of the bathroom.

“Diane,” she heard Ben’s voice calling out to her, “Diane, are you here?”

“Ben,” she repeated with a gasp shuffling to get out of the tub before he made it to the bathroom, but before she could get completely out of the bathtub, the door began to open. “Ben wait…”

“Diane, are you in here?” Ben questioned stepping into the room only to hear the thudding sound of her crashing to the ground after her pant leg got caught on the water spout. She fell face first onto the tile floor. Ben caught her movement and immediately rushed forward to reach out to her, “Oh my God. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I’ll be okay. I just wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and…” she started to explain herself. Her gaze traveled up to his worried eyes and in that moment she felt a bright, red heat travel up to her cheeks.

“Obviously,” Ben leaned down to help her up. He wrapped his arms around her, helping her regain her footing once again as his eyes swept over her. “Are you sure you’re alright? That was a nasty spill you took there and…”

“I’m fine. I’m just…” she started to explain again only to hear the buzzing sound of her timer going off once again. She opened her mouth to speak--to say something somewhat intelligent, but she found herself at a loss. “Ben I…”

“What’s that?” he turned towards the source of the sound. He released her taking one step forward when she let out a yelp.

“Ben!” she squealed his name, falling forward into his arms again. She threw her arms around him desperately holding as if she’d never let go.

“What’s wrong,” he questioned again keeping her up in his arms, “You are hurt, aren’t you?”

She nodded desperate to keep him from getting over to where the pregnancy test was waiting for her inspection, “Yeah, I think I might’ve sprained my ankle in the fall. It hurts really bad.”

“Then let’s take a look at it,” he suggested picking her up in his arms and carrying her over to the toilet. He set her down on the closed lid before kneeling down before her. Reaching for her shoe and sock he pulled them off carefully before looking up at her, “So are you going to tell me what you were doing in the tub like that before I walked in here?”

“I suppose you wouldn’t believe me if I said taking a bath huh,” she teased catching the seriousness in his features.

“Not as dry as you are no,” he shook his head before turning his attention to her ankle, “Well, you are a little red here and there might be a little bit of swelling. How does this feel?”

She yelped when he touched a small spot near the back of her leg. Apparently her white lie wasn’t as much of a lie after all, she thought to herself realizing that it did in fact hurt. She inhaled slowly attempting to keep it together as he tended to her.

“Well?” he asked again clearly awaiting her verbal response.

“It hurts,” she curled her lip in a small pout.

“I’d imagine it would,” Ben replied with a nod gently massaging her ankle before meeting her eyes once again, “So are you going to tell me what it was you were doing in there or are we going to play twenty questions all over again?”

“What do you mean twenty questions?” she batted her eyelashes at him innocently.

“Diane, let’s cut with the lies shall we?” he replied placing his hands out on the sides of the toilet to cage her in. His dark eyes reached out into her, “I know what it is you’re trying to hide from me. I know what you were doing in here.”

“You do?” she gulped her eyes growing wide with horror.

“Yeah, I do and the truth is that I’m hurt,” he confessed with a simple shake of his head, “I can’t believe that you didn’t tell me about this.”

“Ben I wanted to, but I didn’t think I could just bring it up considering that…” she stammered finding herself at a loss.

“That what? That I should’ve had a right to know if you thought that…” Ben cut her off abruptly.

“Ben, I just didn’t want to hurt you and now that…” she began again hearing the buzzer go off.

“Diane, how can it hurt me if you think you’re going to be having my baby?” Ben blurted out ignoring the sounds of the buzzer. He reached out to her cupping her face in his hands, “I love you and if you think there’s a chance that you could be having my baby, then I should be here with you waiting for the results. I mean that’s what you’re doing, isn’t it?”

“But how…” she questioned feeling as if the wind was knocked out of her.

“Cathy,” he admitted with a sigh, “I went to the office to pick up some tickets for the weekend and she told me she saw you getting a pregnancy test. I put two and two together and realized that must’ve been what you had in mind when you mentioned a surprise tonight. You wanted to see for yourself if you were right about thinking you were pregnant and then, well then you thought you’d share the news with me, right?”

“Something like that,” she fumbled on her words a bit, “but Ben I think that you should know that…”

“Diane, regardless of what those tests say I love you. If you’re pregnant, that doesn’t change anything. It only makes me love you all the more and if we aren’t, well we’ll have a bit more time to plan for the wedding. Either way I love you,” he leaned forward to kiss her, “I’ll always love you.”

“I’ll always love you,” she replied placing her forehead in against his and closing her eyes. There was no turning back now. She’d already gotten in too deep. The only saving grace would be that the test results would come back not pregnant.

“I’m so glad to hear that and now that we’ve got that out of the way, how about we see what’s happening here?” Ben suggested rising up from the floor and walking over to the counter.

“Ben wait,” Diane pleaded with him, but it was too late. He’d spotted the test and was now taking a long look at it. She felt her breath catch in her throat, her heart stop and as she tried to get a glimpse of his expression from the mirror beyond where he stood, she felt as if the world was closing in around her.

“I don’t believe this,” Ben gasped as Diane felt another thud of her heart.

“Ben, what is it?” Diane forced herself to rise to her feet again. She stepped forward, her legs shaky as Ben turned around to face her with a bright smile.

“We’re pregnant,” he announced taking a bold step forward and pulling her into his arms. He lifted her up off the ground and spun her around, his enthusiasm getting the best of him.

“You mean we’re…” she looked over his shoulder to see the test had come back positive and suddenly her worst fears were now confirmed.

“I love you,” Ben squealed with enthusiasm kissing her again as if he’d never let go. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tighter than ever and with kiss after kiss he spoke up in broken words. “I’m going to be a dad. We’re going to have a baby. Oh Diane, you’ve made me the happiest man in the whole world.”

Diane opened her mouth to speak, but she was stopped by the feel of his lips pressed in against hers. She threw her arms around his neck holding him closer to her as the tears pooled in her eyes. While Ben thought this was a blessing for them, she feared that this pregnancy could be the absolute worst thing possible. If the test was accurate, then she would have no choice, but to kiss her future with him good-bye. He pulled back slightly brushing a tear off of her cheek as it fell and in that moment she realized that she couldn’t tell him about JT. She couldn’t find it in her to break his heart because she knew full well that once she told him about her night with JT she’d lose him forever.

“I love you,” he repeated kissing her again and again.

“I love you,” she replied praying that somehow fate would throw her a break. Seeing the love that Ben felt for her, she wished above anything else that this would be a bad dream--that this baby if there was in fact a baby was his and only his, but deep down as her memory flashed back to her one night with JT, she feared that the biggest mistake of her life was going to haunt her in ways she never imagined possible from here on out.


...to be continued...