Episode 217

Deidra snuggled into the warmth beside her, feeling at complete ease underneath the blankets. She thought of the man she was falling for and a smile touched over her lips. She leaned forward to place a kiss over the center of his chest, but much to her surprise, she discovered that there was only a pillow beside her.

“Dean?” Deidra half questioned a sudden uneasiness surrounding her. She opened her eyes to see there were two pillows carefully tucked into the bed beside her where she’d remembered him laying only hours earlier. She had a very vivid flashback to their lovemaking and while she’d thought she’d felt him with her for most of the morning, she realized she must’ve been duped. Sitting up straighter, she looked around the room searching for any sign of him, but there was nothing.

“Where did you go?” Deidra frowned bringing her fingers up through her dark hair when she heard a sound from outside the bedroom. She turned her head in the direction of the sound watching as the door slowly opened to reveal Dean tiptoeing inside with a tray in hand. As soon as his eyes fell upon her, he stood frozen in place, shock registering behind his features.

“I thought you were still sleeping,” he confessed with a sheepish grin.

“I was until I realize you weren’t with me. I thought that you’d up and left, but now I can see that I was wrong,” she smiled at him pushing her hair back behind her shoulders. She arched a curious brow before leaning forward, “What did you bring for me?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” he teased with a wink walking over to his side of the bed. He set the tray down on the nightstand before reaching for the pillows he’d used to throw her off in his absence. He pushed them back up towards the headboard before pulling the blankets back and settling in beside her. Turning to face her, he urged her into his arms so that he could give her the good morning kiss that he’d missed out on when he was preparing her surprise.

“Oh that’s nice,” Deidra murmured against his lips savoring the sweet taste of him as he held her.

“I thought you might like that,” he teased kissing her once again before leaning over to pull the tray into bed with him, “but I think you may like this more.”

“I sincerely doubt that but…” she started to protest only to discover the things he’d prepared for her. Her eyes widened and immediately she reached out to swipe a piece of bacon off of the plate before her. In between nibbles she smiled up at him again, “Okay, I was mistaken. This is better.”

“I’ll give you better,” Dean teased leaning in to tickle her. She writhed beneath him, a squeal overtaking her as she tried to pull out of his reach. “This is war!”

“Well if we’re playing this as war,” Deidra replied reaching out to enforce the same brand of tickle torture upon him, “then prepare yourself for a worthy adversary. I’m an expert at this.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” he replied leaning forward to amp up the tickle attack when the tray in his lap fell forward flat onto the comforter.

“Oh my,” Deidra gasped immediately sitting up straighter.

“It’s okay. It’s no big…” Dean stopped himself as he pulled the tray up to reveal the thick, goopy mess that the syrup he’d brought with him had made. It had created a big circular blob on the top of the comforter. The juice glasses that had been on the tray were now empty and the juice had stained the cream colored comforter.

“Oh Dean,” Deidra reached out in an attempt to try to help him clean up the mess that they’d made.

“It’s okay,” he replied jumping out of bed and carefully curling the comforter up the best he could on his end, “I can fix this…”

“Let me help you,” she started getting out of bed herself.

“No, I can do this. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” he promised pulling the comforter off of the bed completely, “This is nothing.”

“I’m so sorry,” she apologized covering herself in a sheet.

“No, it was my fault,” he replied making his way over to the door. He stopped in the archway before turning to face her again, “When I come back I’ll bring breakfast. It won’t be as good as the one I had planned, but hopefully you’ll still enjoy it.”

“Of course I will,” she smiled back at him feeling a moment of guilt ride over her at how things had been ruined. She watched him leave and frowned thinking about how the perfect morning took an unfortunate twist. Hugging the sheet closer to her, she thought about the night they’d shared with one another and a smile pressed in over her features.

“We can fix this,” she decided ready to make an attempt at salvaging the rest of the morning with him. She moved forward feeling the sheet catch under her foot, but before she could do anything to fix the problem, she fell forward knocking into the nightstand. The lamp fell to the floor along with a thick, black book that had been up there as well.

“Now look at what you’ve done,” she scolded herself before reaching out to retrieve the lamp. Fortunately it was still in one piece, but the book that had fallen, well that was another matter altogether. Reaching out across the floor she realized that the pages had seemingly fallen out--or rather the contents of the pages now that she’d discovered it was a photo album of sorts.

“Dean isn’t going to be happy to see the mess you made,” she continued to mouth to herself as she crawled across the floor.

One by one she began to pluck up the photos until one in particular caught her eye. Extending her fingers out towards the edge of the picture, she found herself fixed on the face before her. There on the print was Dean with a bright smile on his face standing next to a beautiful dark haired woman with bright blue eyes. They seemed rather cozy with one another as they had their arms around one another and both were seemingly on top of the world.

“It’s not like you don’t have a past yourself,” she tried to remind herself wondering why in the world it bothered her so much to see Dean with someone else. It was the past. Obviously it had to be since she was here with him now, she rationalized. She thought back to their lovemaking and yet, the fact that he’d had this particular album next to his bed made her wonder what was really going on.

Inhaling slowly, she forced herself not to let her mind get the best of her. Dean’s past was private and his own. It wasn’t for her to start rummaging through, she told herself as she opened the photo album. She prepared to tuck the photo back inside again when another photo caught her attention even more then the first.

“What the…” her jaw dropped as there was another picture of Dean with the same woman as before. This time they were seated in front of a Christmas tree, on the floor beside one another grinning from ear to ear, but it wasn’t so much their obvious bond that had thrown Deidra for a loop. It was the golden, heart-shaped locket around her neck. The same locket that Deidra was wearing right now.

“Oh my…” she gasped fingering the locket around her neck as a sudden sense of confusion swept over her. She began to thumb through the pages seeing photo after photo of Dean and the woman with the locket--with her locket before her. There was no mistaking that the very necklace Deidra had around her neck was the exact replica to the one the girl in the pictures was wearing.

“I can’t believe that he…” Deidra found herself immediately racked with questions, yet when she heard Dean’s footsteps returning down the hallway, she knew she couldn’t let him know what she uncovered. She quickly shuffled to put the photo album back to right as her heart was racing in her chest. Quickly she shoved it on top of the dresser before plopping down on the bed once again.

“Sorry it took so long,” Dean announced reentering the room, “I put a spot lifter on the comforter and I think it’s going to come out after all. Then I tried to put something together in the kitchen and all I could come up with cereal so I hope you don’t mind Frosted Flakes.”

“No, not at all,” Deidra replied in a jittery voice knowing full well that she was failing miserably in trying to keep her voice cool and even. “They’re great.”

Dean chuckled clearly amused by her statement, “Yeah so that’s what Tony keeps telling us.”

“Oh yeah, Tony, right,” Deidra nodded realizing what she’d said. She felt Dean move in beside her sliding in over the sheet to get in close to her.

“I hope you’re hungry because after this I’ve got a surprise for you,” he confessed brightly holding out a spoonful of cereal for her. “Open up.”

“Actually, I’ll be right back,” she blurted out shuffling out of bed and into the bathroom before he could say anything else. She locked the door behind her feeling her pulse racing in her chest. Moving over to the mirror, she looked down to the necklace she was wearing and suddenly a sick feeling overtook her. She reached up over her neck to pull it off from around her neck. With her shaky hands, she lost her grip and dropped it into the sink.

“Are you okay in there,” she heard Dean question knocking on the door. “Deidra?”

“I’ll be out in a minute,” she called out leaning forward and bracing her hands on the counter top. Reaching into the sink, she pulled the necklace out and set it on the countertop all the while wondering why Dean hadn’t been honest with her about the necklace before now. As flashes of the woman’s face pressed on before her, she felt another realization upon her. Not only did she not know anything about the woman in those pictures with Dean, but now, well now after what she’d happened upon, it dawned upon her that she’d gone to bed with a complete stranger once again.


Diane looked out the apartment window thinking about the way things had panned out the night before. While she’d been worried before about the thought that she may be pregnant, nothing had hit her harder than Ben’s reaction to the possible news. He seemed on top of the world--ready to climb to the rooftop and share his enthusiasm with the world, but even now Diane felt nothing but guilt inside of her. If he knew what she’d done…if she was really, truly pregnant, then it could only spell disaster.

“There you are,” Ben seemed to hum his words as he moved through her apartment to collect her in his arms fully. He tipped down to kiss her neck gingerly before whispering in the back of her ear, “How are you feeling this morning? How’s my beautiful fiancée and the mother of my baby?”

“Ben,” she shifted uneasily in his arms, “there’s no proof that I am really pregnant. For all we know the test could’ve provided false positive results. Those take home things are very seldom accurate.”

“Yes, but for you to suspect that you were pregnant was probably a good indication that that test can’t be wrong,” he reminded her spinning her around to face him only to reveal the happiness that seemed to make his face light up, “Besides, the way I see it, even if the test was inaccurate, which I don’t believe it was, it only reminded me of how much I want to start a family with you.”

“Ben I…” Diane began feeling his lips press in against hers in a tender sweep.

“I love you Diane Stevens and I can’t wait to marry you,” he confessed hugging her closer to him, “I promise you that I’m going to pamper you every minute from here on out.”

“Ben I…” she began attempting to try to come to terms with what she was feeling. Okay, so maybe she was looking at this all wrong. Maybe there was still a chance that her night with JT hadn’t been the cause of this. She and Ben had been very intimate with one another over the last year so it was entirely possible that…

“We’re going to have the best life together. The way I see it this is only the beginning for us,” Ben continued breaking through her thoughts of self-loathing, “In fact, I’ve been thinking about this and since we’re going to get married anyways, well maybe we should start looking for a place for the both of us. I know we hadn’t set a date for the wedding because of what’s been going on with Jade, but I think she’d understand if we started taking steps towards putting the wedding together. When my parents hear about the possibility of being grandparents…”

“Whoa, slow down Ben,” Diane pleaded with him, “Right now I don’t think we should be telling them or anyone else for that matter. We’re not really even sure ourselves that this is really happening. For all we know this could be some kind of error in the test and we’ll be getting our hopes up for nothing.”

“It’s not for nothing,” he insisted taking her hand in his and lifting it to his lips to press a kiss over the top of her palm, “It’s for everything Diane--for our everything.”

“I know, but I just don’t want to jump the gun only to discover we were mistaken. If we get our hopes up then…” she fidgeted beside him.

“Trust me on this one Diane. Things are only going to be better from here on out,” he whispered once again offering another encouraging hug as Diane closed her eyes wondering if those words would really ring true for their future if she was truly pregnant.


JT walked through the back of the jail, heading towards the cell where Cameron was. Even though he was visiting Cameron, there was only one thought on his mind and that was Diane.

“You’re here,” Cameron grunted, getting up from where he was seated, “How come it took you so long?”

“I had better things to do,” JT shrugged looking around room, “Man, they really need to get someone in here to clean up. All this dust, it could make someone’s allergies start up. In fact, I think it is starting to work up my allergies.”

“Screw your allergies,” Cameron snapped seeing JT frown, “There is something more important going on here if you didn’t notice.”

“What? What’s going on?” JT questioned blankly as Cameron glared right through him. “Oh yeah, you in here. Right.”

“They shouldn’t still have me in here,” Cameron scowled, wrapping his fingers around the bars, “The only thing they have on me is that one stupid thing.”

“Yeah, I know man…this really sucks,” JT sighed before shrugging his shoulders, “but while you’re here just remember don’t drop the soap in the showers. It’ll get real ugly, real fast if you do.”

“Funny,” Cameron sarcastically laughed before his expression turned fierce, “Stop joking around JT, this is serious.”

“That’s serious too man,” JT pointed out, his eyes getting wide, “Could you imagine if something happened to you. I don’t even want to think about it. Some guy name George could come up from behind you and…”

“Shut it JT,” Cameron yelled seeing JT shrug, “Nothing like that is going to happen. Especially not to me.”

“Man, it could happen to anyone,” JT pointed out, snapping his fingers, “Any man in here is vulnerable without any protection. For instance, while I was walking in here, there was this one huge guy with a bunch of tattoos that kind of got me nervous for a second. Well, anyways he looked at me like I was a piece of meat. Most guys in here are lonely and don’t get any good action, so when they see something like you bending over…that’s just an invite.”

“JT,” Cameron snapped after hearing his brother rambling on, “I wouldn’t have to worry about bending over in the shower if I got someone to get me out of here soon.”

“What do you expect me to do man?” JT questioned throwing his hands up in the air. “I can’t go into the shower with you and protect you every time.”

“That’s not what I was talking about,” Cameron replied before rolling his eyes, “You need to do something for me.”

“What might that be?” JT wondered, folding his arms out in front of him seeing Cameron look down the hall. “If you want me to knock out one of those guards to get the keys to your cell, there is no way I am going to do that. Have you seen the movies…people always get caught and then I will have to be the one next you worrying about bending down to get the soap.”

“JT,” Cameron stopped his rambling, shaking his head slowly, “I just want you to find that idiot brother of yours so he can get me out of here.”

“I have to go talk to him,” JT frowned looking down at his watch, “I have more important things to do and anyways, you really think he is going to hurry up and help you out?”

“You better make him do something because I am really starting to get mad,” Cameron informed him seeing JT shrug, “I need your help right now, which means nothing else is more important. Get me out of here soon.”

“Fine,” JT sighed, simply shrugging his shoulders, “I will look for the little guy. He’ll be here soon.”

“Good,” Cameron smiled seeing JT begin to walk down the hallway, “Hurry up.”

“I will,” JT promised before turning around quickly, “Don’t forget what I said. Don’t drop the soap.”


Kipp yawned as he poured some coffee into his cup. It was late when he got home last night. He had such a good time with Jenna and Kellen. It was a good change on how everything was going with him. He knew he was going to be getting closer to Jenna after the conversation they had the last night. There were no worries in his mind last night while he was with the people in his life who were important. Even though Kellen had been around a lot lately, he felt like they had gotten closer as friends.

“He‘s too much,” Kipp laughed thinking of what Kellen had done last night. He was always trying to get everyone to have fun and join in with the games. He really was a people person and he showed that last night. “I wish I had more nights like that.”

Kipp set his coffee mug down after hearing the phone ringing.

“Hello,” Kipp answered with a small smile, thinking to himself that it was most likely Kellen with one of his wake up calls.

“Mr. Mahoney?” a female questioned as Kipp nodded to himself, thinking who it could be. “This is one of the nurses at the hospital, sir…you can take Charles home today.”

“Excuse me?” Kipp questioned, wondering if he misheard what she said. “What did you say?”

“Sir, is your first name Kipp?” the nurse questioned, hearing Kipp laugh out.

“Is this some type of joke or is this really happening?” Kipp wondered, his heart almost beating out of his chest.

“This is real,” the nurse replied with a small laugh, “You can bring him home today. You just need to come to the hospital and he is all yours.”

“Yes,” Kipp quickly answered before shaking his head, “I mean, I will be right there.”

Kipp quickly hung up the phone before grabbing his car keys and walking towards the front door. He walked outside before looking down at his clothes. He was too excited to notice that he was still in his robe.

“Maybe I should change first,” Kipp frowned, going back inside to get dressed. This was just too much, he had to call Kellen or someone.


“You really didn’t have to do this with me today,” Angela began feeling a chill creep in over her as she and Nick stood in the lobby at the doctor’s offices. “I know that you said you would, but I don’t think you would really want to…”

“Hey, we’re going to get married,” Nick reached for her hand squeezing it gently, “Why wouldn’t I want to be with you to take a first look at our little one?”

“Nick, I know you’re saying that now but…” she started once again only to feel him lean forward and silence her with a kiss.

“Hey, I’m going to be your husband and that in itself more than qualifies me to be this baby’s father, wouldn’t you think?” he flashed her a sexy smile.

“Well yes, but…” she started feeling him press his index finger in to silence her words of protest.

“When I said I loved you that included everything there was to love about you Angela,” he confessed with a soft smile, the warmth of his words filling her with another set of reassurances about their future with one another.

“I realize that,” she replied with a smile of her own, “but you do realize that you’re taking in a whole world of responsibilities here--responsibilities that I’m certain you never asked for.”

“But I want them,” he insisted wrapping her up in his arms, “I need them more than anything just like I need you.”

“I love you Nick,” she replied touched by the way things felt when he was with her. She’d long since given up on any kind of happiness in her life, but now that he was with her, she was really starting to believe that fate had found a new set of plans for her.

“I love you too,” he leaned forward teasing the tip of his nose against hers before drawing back, “now go sign in or whatever it is you have to do here. Okay?”

“Okay,” she nodded in response giving him one, last, small hug before moving over to the receptionist area.

Watching her walk away, Nick felt a warmth spread throughout his chest. He knew that she had her reservations about him tagging along with her, but he was certain that this was where he belonged.

Angela felt Nick’s eyes upon her as she turned around. She watched him standing still for a moment looking kind of lost before he managed to shuffle over to one of the empty chairs. She just watched him for a long moment thinking about what lay ahead for them in the future. He reached for a parenting magazine starting to thumb through it before he glanced up once again catching her watching at him. He waved at her briefly before she felt a blush rise over her face.

“Stop gawking,” she reminded herself before turning to the sign in area. She moved forward feeling jitters inside of her at the thought of what this doctor’s appointment would mean for the future. Sure Kevin had been harping on her to just go and see how things were going since he’d found out about the pregnancy, but now, well now in being here it just made it feel all the more real. Still, she knew she couldn’t avoid the truth any longer. Reaching for the pen at the sign in sheet, she scribbled her name before feeling a small tap on her shoulder.

“So tell me something,” a thick, masculine voice beckoned her from behind, “how long were you going to try to keep this from me?”

“What,” Angela spun around to see Brant’s eyes upon her judging her with an intense darkness burning behind their chocolate depths. He took a step forward causing her breath to catch in the back of her throat, her heart to race and in that moment she felt herself paralyzed with fear or was it something else? She tried to speak up, to say something logical about this illogical moment in her life, but nothing felt right.

“When were you going to tell me you were pregnant?” Brant demanded taking another small step forward as she backed into the receptionist counter nearly knocking the sign in sheet off of it. “Don’t you think I had a right to know?”

“Like you cared,” she countered feeling her knees grow weak at the sight of him. While she’d tried to block the entire memory of him from her mind, there was something about the nearness of him that had her trembling inside. Sure, she’d felt something strong and magnetic with Nick, but it paled in comparison to that immediate attraction she’d had to Brant that first moment she met him on the beach. Even now, the nearness of him sent shivers of lust and anticipation racing through her every synapse. She’d wanted like hell to hate him, but now that he was here before her confronting her with the truth, she found herself wishing more than anything she could turn back the hands of time to feel his arms around her again--to be lost in the magic he’d weaved upon her.

“Brant I…” she stammered once more her eyes scanning the waiting room helplessly for Nick, but he was no where to be found. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“Shouldn’t be here,” Brant repeated with a haughty laugh, “Angela you’re having my child. Don’t you think that itself entitles me to be here?”

“What we had was nothing. You’re nothing and you have no right to…” she began to argue only to feel him surprise her by reaching out to touch her face with that same gentle ease that had won her over back at the beach house.

“I love you,” he confessed cupping her face in his hands, “I never stopped loving you. From the moment I met you I knew you were my dream girl and when you threw me out, I should’ve tried harder--I should’ve tried to explain myself, but then…”

“What about your wife,” Angela questioned her lip quivering with emotion, “What about your commitment to…”

“You’re the only woman I’ve wanted. The only woman I could ever need and now that you’re having my baby, I want to be with you--only you,” he continued inching in closer to her, his dark eyes fixed on hers with an intensity that caused her to unravel from within, “My marriage was a joke. My whole life was a joke until you walked in it. Angela, I love you and I’ve fought like hell to find you again. Now that I have, I’m never, ever letting you go. You and our baby belong with me. We belong together.”

“Brant I…” she gulped feeling him pull her into an embrace. His lips came crashing down over hers, daring her to deny the chemistry that exploded between them. She wrapped her arms around him, hugging him in closer to her all the while not giving a damn about the consequences. She held onto him with all that she had not wanting to let go now or ever and as their lips parted briefly, she felt him place a kiss on her forehead gently.

“Marry me Angela. Be with me forever,” his enchanting voice pleaded with her. “I know I made a mistake before, but I swear to you I’ll never let you down again. I love you.”

“I love you,” she blurted out in a tearful confession ready to make her dreams of a happily ever after come true with the one man who had shaken up her world in ways she’d never imagined possible.

“I’m glad to hear it,” Nick’s voice broke through her thoughts sending her to a harsh reality. She opened her eyes to discover that she was still standing by the counter, with a pen in hand. She glanced around the room trying to make sense of what she’d just seen, what she’d just felt and now that there was no sign of Brant around her, she felt her face grow hot with embarrassment.

“Are you okay,” Nick touched her shoulder gently, “You look a bit flushed.”

“I’m fine,” Angela lied thinking about her vivid fantasy. She inhaled slowly before her dark gaze traveled up to his worried green eyes. She forced a smile, silently pleading that he wouldn’t be able to read where her thoughts were at a time like this. With one look at him, she knew full well that she loved Nick--that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, yet for some reason beyond her control she was haunted by thoughts of Brant. It seemed almost unfair--almost unreasonable considering that she was never, ever going to see Brant again. Surely the only reason he’d even entered her mind was because of what was about to happen today. She had to be thinking of him simply because he was the father of her child whether she liked it or not.

“Are you sure,” Nick reached for her hand supportively, “If you’re not feeling up to this...”

“No, I’m up to this,” she insisted keeping her goofy grin on her face, “I need to do this. I need to make sure everything is okay with the baby.”

“I realize that, but with us being here,” he hesitated, “does it have you thinking about the baby’s father?”

She bit down on her lip not sure what to say before finally nodding, “Maybe a little bit, but he’s the past Nick and we’re the future.”

“Of course we are,” he replied reaching out to embrace her, “and I promise you that he can’t hurt you again. You’ll be safe and happy with me.”

“I know I will,” she nodded snuggling into his chest as she thought of all the reasons she needed to let go of the memory of Brant, yet with her heart tangled up in knots she found herself wondering if she’d ever truly be able to let go of the fling that had turned things around in her life forever.


Kevin flipped a towel over his shoulder as he left his hotel room. So many things were running through his mind right now, so he decided that he was going to take a swim. That’s what he would usually do to relax at the island. The only thing that kept running through his mind was that he didn’t tell Angie about Cameron. She was his best friend and he was supposed to tell her everything. No matter what it was, but he didn’t want to hurt her. Let alone, make her worry and come all the way over here.

“She’ll be fine,” Kevin declared to himself, opening the door to the pool. He took one quick around the pool noticing that there seemed to be no one there. He went over to a chair, throwing his towel on it before pulling his tank top off.

“Kevin,” someone called out his name making him jump, he didn’t think that anyone was there.

“Cori?” Kevin questioned turning around to see Cori sitting down in one of the chairs looking up at him. “Uh, hi.”

“What are you doing here?” she questioned seeing him shrug. “You came here for a reason.”

“Yeah,” he nodded with a small laugh, “This is where the pool is and I came here to swim.”

“Right,” she nodded before looking back towards the thing she was reading before she noticed he was there.

“What are you reading?” he wondered taking a seat next to her as she pulled her book away. “What?”

“I’m reading a Donna Nevik novel,” she answered seeing him raise his eyebrows, “What is it about men? You tell them you are reading a romance novel and they think you are an idiot or something.”

“I don’t think that,” he shook his head before smiling widely, “In fact I think Miss Nevik is very good. Like, in Love on the Run…she has a way of describing things. The one you are reading right now, what is it again? Oh yes, Wishing Tomorrow Would Never Come.”

“You don’t know anything about her writing,” Cori protested seeing Kevin lean in closer.

“Really? Well, how did you feel when Christian first kissed Stephanie?” Kevin questioned seeing the surprised look on her face as his hand rested on her leg. “Did you get to the part when Christian runs his hand along her leg gently and leans forward, about to give her the most romantic kiss she has ever received in her life?”

“I don’t think I am there yet,” she gulped down feeling Kevin’s hand touching her leg gently, his mouth breaths away from hers.

“Oh, well that's a good part,” Kevin smiled getting up from his seat seeing her shake it off.

“What are you doing?” Cori questioned seeing Kevin begin to take his pants off.

“Not swimming in my good clothes, using a bathing suit,” he answered with a small laugh, “That’s what most people would do.”

“I knew that,” she nodded quickly looking over his muscular body as he threw his pants on the chair, “You have more tattoos?”

“Yep,” he nodded, fixing the waistband of his red bathing suit, that had a white dragon on the side of them. “What about them?”

“Are you obsessed with dragons or something?” she questioned, watching him rub his abs slowly.

“Actually, I am,” he replied before jumping into the pool and splashing Cori, making her jump up.

“You little,” she scowled as he came above the water laughing as she tried to wipe herself off. “That was so not funny.”

“I’m sorry,” he frowned going to the side of the pool and pulling himself out before shaking his head, water dropping down to the ground, “You don’t like funny things?”

“No, I don’t,” Cori answered as he walked up to her. Her eyes roamed over his wet body before her eyes met his.

“You know what’s really funny?” he questioned getting behind her and running his hand along her shoulder gently. “This.”

“What,” before she could say anything, Kevin pushed her into the pool out of no where. “Why did you do that you jerk?”

“I’m sorry let me help you out,” Kevin frowned holding his hand out too her. She grabbed his hand before he let go, making her fall back in the pool. “I have butterfingers, sorry.”

“Right,” she rolled her eyes seeing him extend his hand once more, “I’m not falling for that again.”

“I’m serious this time,” Kevin declared as she nodded and grabbed his hand once more, only to feel him drop her again.

“That’s it,” she scowled grabbing his arm, pulling him into the pool with her. “That serves you right.”

“Really?” he questioned seeing her nod. “If you want a war, fine…we will have a war.”

“What do you mean by that?” she questioned feeling water hit her face after he splashed her. “Get over here.”

“Only if you catch me,” Kevin laughed swimming away from her, “Which obviously isn’t going to be happening.”


Brant walked down the hallway to the kitchen remembering moments earlier when he’d opened his eyes turning to reach out for his wife in bed only to discover that she was absent. Now as he made his descent to the kitchen, he could hear sounds of laughter coming from within.

“So I told her if she couldn’t take five, then I was out of there,” Augustus chuckled clearly amused with the tale he was telling Avery. When Brant entered the kitchen he noticed the two of them seated at the table and Avery was laughing hysterically clearly amused with his grandfather’s antics.

“I can’t believe you sometimes,” Avery shook her head at Augustus, “The things you come up with.”

“If only you knew the half of it,” Augustus reached out to place his hand on top of hers.

“I’m almost afraid,” she teased with another laugh, “then again maybe it’s better that I don’t know.”

“For your sake, it probably is,” Augustus nodded before spotting Brant out of the corner of his eye. Turning in his chair, he greeted Brant with a wave, “Well hello Brant, how are you this morning?”

“Not bad. Yourself?” Brant questioned with a groggy expression.

“I’m doing much better now that I’ve been able to charm your wife over breakfast,” Augustus admitted with a wink in Avery’s general direction, “This has been most entertaining.”

“Yes it has,” she nodded in agreement.

“Obviously I missed something,” Brant spoke up once again, his gaze drifting over to Avery, “Care to clue me in on what’s going on?”

“We were just chatting over bagels,” Avery explained motioning to her half eaten bagel.

“And I was just on my way out,” Augustus replied moving out of his chair, “Oh, did you happen to see your brother or sister on the way out?”

“No, neither one of them,” Brant answered with a small frown, “I don’t have the first clue where Ken is, but I’m sure that Blake is off with Seth.”

“Ah her young man,” Augustus nodded, “I have been meaning to get into contact with them and pay them a visit.”

“I don’t see why,” Brant shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t really see him sticking around much longer. He’s just kind of like a passing trend for Blake.”

“That’s not what Avery’s been telling me. She’s been saying how very happy this Seth makes Blake,” Augustus replied with a strange look.

“Yeah and did she mention that he’s also made Blake so happy that she’s got a record now?” Brant questioned making his way over to the coffee machine, “As always Blake is getting in over her head and not really thinking about consequence. She thinks it’s love, but the guy is a phase that I’m waiting for her to breeze on through.”

“That’s not at all how Avery made it sound,” Augustus looked between them sensing some tension in the air between them, “Well I suppose I must get going. I have a meeting this morning and…”

“And don’t let us hold you back,” Brant waved at him dismissively before pouring some cream into his cup of coffee.

“Good luck,” Augustus whispered leaning down to give Avery a kiss on the cheek before leaving the room and giving Brant and Avery some time alone with one another.

Once Augustus made an exit Brant walked over to the table pulling out a chair beside Avery, “What you don’t even bother to say good morning anymore?”

“Brant, you were exhausted when we got home last night. I didn’t think that…” she started to explain not really sure where this sudden crankiness was coming from.

“That what? That I might want to spend some time alone with my wife in the privacy of our bedroom?” he tossed out at her with a scowl, “I mean I realize you’re finding each and every excuse to duck out on me lately, but…”

“Duck out on you?” she repeated with wide eyes, “Brant, you were the one who flew to Atlantic City to help Blake and you wouldn’t let me go with you. Obviously that didn’t go too well given the mood that you’re in, so why don’t we stop beating around the bush and you just tell me what happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened,” he remarked sourly pushing his chair away from the table and getting up to pace around the kitchen once again, “I go away to help my sister and then when I get back I come home to find my wife cozying up with her former brother-in-law. That’s what happened.”

Avery’s jaw practically dropped, “You’ve got to be kidding me right?”

“I saw the way he was looking at you last night,” Brant argued with her waving his hands in the air, “and the way you were acting all cozy with one another.”

“Grady’s my friend,” she blinked back at him wondering who the hell the man was before her and what he’d done with her husband, “You of all people should know that.”

“What I know is less than six months ago you two couldn’t even stand to be in the same zip code with one another and now every twist and turn of the way I seem to find you two with one another. First with the trial and then with you and him ready to maul one another last night when I walked in on you,” Brant snapped back at her, jealousy burning behind his brown eyes.

“Now wait just one minute,” she rose to her feet, “I was not about to maul Grady. I can’t even believe that you would think that considering…”

“Considering what? That he’s the closest thing to Russell that’s still left in this world?” he questioned his voice raising with tension as he stepped in closer to her. “Tell me something Avery, is that what excites you? The thrill of knowing that he’s so very close to almost everything you had, yet there’s an added kick to it knowing that Grady was someone who you’ve yet to claim as a conquest?”

“A conquest?” she repeated with a huff, clenching her hands at her side, “Brant, what the hell is wrong with you? Are you drunk or something?”

“I don’t need to be drunk to see what I walked in on last night. I have eyes Avery and I know damned well if I wouldn’t have arrived when I did, then this morning it wouldn’t have been my bed you would’ve woken up in,” Brant accused in a sharp, agitated tone.

“I don’t believe this,” she threw her hands up in the air, “You’ve officially lost your mind, haven’t you? On second thought, don’t even bother to answer that. I’m leaving and you can take the time to cool down.”

“I don’t want to cool down,” he marched towards her placing his hands on her shoulders to keep her from leaving, “Avery, it doesn’t take a fool to see that I’m close to losing my wife.”

“Brant, you’re completely delusional right now. I know it hurts to hear me say that, but it’s the truth,” she shot back at him with a wounded expression, “After everything that we’ve been through with one another, how can you even begin to doubt my love for you?”

“Knowing what I do about Grady, how can I not?” Brant replied worry evident in his features, “Avery I saw how upset you were when Susan dropped the bombshell on him that you and I were married. I saw how you went to bat for him time and time again during that trial and even now, you keep finding any and every excuse you can to go run to him. Why is that?”

“Because he’s my friend and I care about him,” she answered flatly, “and you’d do the same for your friends. I know you would.”

“No,” he shook his head, moving in closer to her, “I wouldn’t especially not if it was causing a problem between you and I.”

“Brant, it’s not a problem between us,” she paused seeing the reckless expression burning behind his eyes, “or is it?”

“You tell me,” he challenged bringing his hand back over the nape of her neck before sliding his fingers into her hair. He pulled her in against him, his mouth ravaging her as if he hadn’t touched her in years. He curled his other arm around her waist squeezing her in closer yet before his hands dropped down to the tie on her robe. Little by little he pushed her back towards the table wanting nothing more than her confirmation that he had nothing to worry about. His kisses intensified, his hands tearing at her robe and as he nudged her back onto the table top, he found himself ready to make up for her absence in bed.

“Brant, wait,” Avery pulled her mouth away from him, feeling the weight of his body over hers on the table top, “we can’t do this here.”

“Why not?” he frowned leaning in again to claim her lips in a fiery kiss.

She tore herself away from him again, “Your grandfather is here and besides anyone else could walk in at any time.”

“That’s half of the thrill,” his lips tapered off over her earlobe gently biting before he began to pull open her robe, “I know you like to take risks Avery.”

“Risks yes, but not like this,” she placed her hand into the center of his chest to place a distance between them, “and especially not now. Not after what you just said to me.”

“I don’t believe this,” Brant groaned in defeat taking a step back after she’d nudged him once again, “What is going on here Avery?”

“Well for starters, you just pretty much accused me of having an affair with Grady and I think you owe me an apology,” she answered bringing her robe tighter around her body once again.

“An apology?” he repeated with a shake of his head, “No way. I know what I saw.”

“You didn’t see what you think you saw and just in case you forgot, um, Grady loves Jade. He’s trying to move heaven and earth to find her, so why in the hell would he want anything with me?” she challenged with a scowl, “Why would he risk true happiness to maul me as you so bluntly put it?”

“She’s not around,” Brant threw out at her haphazardly, “Men do strange things when the woman they love isn’t in the picture.”

“Gee, is that your way of trying to say something about what you did in Atlantic City?” she folded her arms in front of her chest defensively, “Because you know the last time I checked I had implicit faith in you. Though they say the one who is accusing the other of being a cheater is usually the offender.”

“Yeah, like when did I have the time? I spent my entire trip trying to figure the mess out that Blake has put into her life,” Brant threw his hands up in the air, “and then when I wasn’t doing that I was worrying about you. When would I find time for another woman in my life?”

“You found time before in the past when you were living it up as Coral Valley’s most eligible bachelor,” she remarked snidely, “I’m sure you could’ve found a way to fit it in.”

“You’d better just stop while you’re ahead Avery,” Brant warned shooting her an icy glare.

“I better stop,” she repeated with a huff, “Oh that’s rich coming from the man who pretty much just called me a cheater to my face. You know I thought you knew me better than that Brant.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just that Grady…” Brant argued with her, his voice raising with the moment.

“Grady what? He’s miserable and hurting so you figured that what? That I’d just jump into bed with him and offer him some comfort sex?” she hissed clenching her fists at her side, “Brant, do you really believe that’s the kind of person that I am? That our marriage vows don’t mean anything to me?”

“I’m just saying that…” he opened his mouth to defend his position once again.

“You’re just saying that yeah you pretty much think the worst of me and my having any other male friends means that I’m automatically going to cheat on you,” she shook her head at him before taking a step forward to get up in his face, “Well newsflash Brant. I’m not Heather and I’m not any of the other women you’ve dated in the past. I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“Not intentionally anyways, but with Grady…” he shook his head thinking about the dreams that had plagued him all night long.

“Wait a minute,” she cut him off abruptly, “This isn’t about Grady at all, is it? This is about what happened with Ken, isn’t it?”

“Avery, I…”

“You know I thought we moved past that, but obviously we haven’t or else you wouldn’t be standing here like this in front of me now saying such things,” she felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her at his unspoken accusations.

“I didn’t say that. What I’m saying is…” he sighed feeling the tension spread throughout his body as this morning was turning out to be nothing short of a nightmare.

“I get it. You’re saying that while you’ve forgiven me you haven’t forgotten and you’re going to take the time to remind me of how I failed you each and every time you see me talking to another man. That’s it, isn’t it?” she threw back at him sharply before taking another step forward, “Well I’ve got news for you Brant. That isn’t how it works. You and your warped theories are completely wrong. When I slept with Ken I thought it was you and I really believed you understood that, but obviously I was mistaken.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” he quipped under his breath, his jealousy spilling from his lips as he thought back to him seeing Grady and Avery so close to one another last night.

“Go to hell,” Avery spat back at him, her face twisted with fury as she marched out of the kitchen clearly disgusted with him and his accusations.

“Me go to hell?” he repeated with a huff, “Oh no, you’re not ending it like that.”

“I just did,” Avery shouted as she stomped up the stairs.

“No, you didn’t because we’re not finished with this discussion. Get back here Avery,” Brant chased after her, his determination taking over as he followed her up the stairs.

“There’s no point. I’m not about to be belittled or listen to your half-assed rationalizations about my friendship with Grady. You don’t have the first idea what it is that he and I have with one another, but because you are who you are, you’re just going to assume the worst of me and that’s fine. If that’s really how you see it, then you continue to do what you like. You keep thinking what you want. I don’t care.”

“Avery, what I’m trying to say is…” he began moving in behind her only to feel her slam the bedroom door in his face. He stood out in the hallway for minute, his anger bubbling over him with each passing second. He paced around for a moment or two before knocking on the door. “Avery open up!”

“No, go away!” she shouted through the door at him.

“Avery I mean it…” he continued to knock on the door.

“So do I. You just go Brant!” she snapped at him once more.

“No, I’m not going anywhere,” he replied stubbornly as his knocks grew in intensity. Before he was aware of it, his fists were pounding on the door commanding her to open it. He held his fist up to strike the door once more, but before he had the chance it flew open.

“Knock it off. You’re acting like a child!” Avery hissed at him, her dark eyes dripping with rage and animosity as she glared up at him.

“You’re the one who is acting like a child. If you’d just listen…” he pleaded with her, taking one step forward only to feel the door closing in front of him.

“No, you’re the one who is acting like an idiot,” she argued feeling him press his foot in between the door to prevent her from closing it.

“It’s only because I love you--because the idea of you with Grady makes me crazy…” he nudged the door once again feeling it open as she took a step back, “Damn it Avery. Can’t you see how much it kills me to think that there’s a chance I could be losing you?”

“With you acting like that, there’s a big chance. When you behave like such a callous, uncaring, unfeeling jack-ass the only thing I can think about is…” she hissed back at him ready to issue him a verbal lashing when he cut her off with a kiss. He enveloped her into his arms before spinning her back into the door. The movement closed the door behind them and before she could say anything further, he tore away at her robe wanting to find a way to make her understand--to show her what he was feeling. He needed her to see where he was coming from.

“Don’t think that you can just come in here and kiss me and…” Avery began shoving him back ever so slightly before their eyes connected once again.

“I just love you and it makes me irrational and I’m sorry,” Brant explained reaching out to her once again.

“That’s a horrible apology,” she frowned ready to snap at him once again, but he moved in against her kissing her with a heated intensity that sent sensations roaring through her body. Instinctively she threw her arms around him feeling him grind into her again and again. His hand dropped down to her thigh, tapering up underneath her robe and before she knew it she was in his arms on the way to bed armed and ready to find another way of dealing with the anger he’d enflamed inside of her.


Ken pulled his head up off of the desktop only to discover the empty bottle of vodka at his head. He sat up straighter feeling stiffness in over his limbs as a groan spilled over his lips. He tried to stretch taking in his surroundings and realizing that he must’ve ended up at his office somewhere between the time he’d talked to Caitlin’s father and contemplated going home. Now as he wiped at his mouth, he noticed a pool of drool where his head had once been.

“Wonderful,” Ken groaned picking the empty bottle up from the desktop. He wasn’t quite sure how it had gotten there, but given the throbbing headache he had at this moment in time, he knew that he had to have finished it somehow. Shaking his aching head, he swiveled in his chair and tossed the bottle in the trash can. It only served as a reminder of why he should really cut back on the drinking as he ached all over.

“So here you are,” Ken mouthed to himself thinking about how long it had been since he’d spent any real quality time in his office. He began to shuffle through some of the papers before him when he noticed the box that Caitlin’s father had left with him. Suddenly in that moment everything came back to him with full clarity.

After Ken had finished breaking down in front of Caitlin’s father, Timothy Vaughn had given Ken something to think about--or so he said. He’d left a small box of letters and other things with Ken suggesting that perhaps they could help him through the situation he’d found himself in. Now as Ken looked at the box, he felt himself filled with strong moment of dread. He knew what Timothy was trying to do in giving Ken a glimpse of the past, but in looking back Ken knew it wouldn’t help him move forward, or would it?

“This is stupid. It’s not going to help,” Ken finally rationalized reaching for the box, ready to discard it along with the bottle when the front clasp on it came open. He dropped the box on top of his desk watching as the letters in photos spilled out over the top. Unable to help himself, his gaze fell upon the first image before him. It was a photograph of him and Caitlin in Seattle when they’d gone to see her father. She was so beautiful, so happy then and in that moment Ken reached for it instinctively.

“Caitlin,” he spoke her name in a small bellow feeling his heart overwhelmed with guilt and agony at the thought of never being able to hold her again. One by one he began to look through the photos and he found himself remembering the past he’d shared with her. They’d felt like they had it all--like everything was finally right for the first time in his life and yet…

He tried to dismiss his thoughts, to put the mementos of the past away, but the more he eyed them, the harder it was to fight the urge. Reaching out for one of the letters that Caitlin had sent her parents, he found himself eager to see what she’d said--to read her words and feel that part of her with him all over again.

“Today was interesting to say the least,” Ken read to himself as he scanned the letter Caitlin had written to her mother, “I really thought that I knew where I was headed when I came to Coral Valley, but now, well now I think I found more than I bargained for. I told you about that big story that was going to be my big break, right? Well, I think in the search for the scoop something more happened. I met someone. Yes, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to tell me it’s too soon--that it’s not what I should be doing when I should be thinking about getting my career started, but mom you would love him. Ken is the most amazing man in the world and even though we’re trying to play it safe, I’m sure that he’s the one. He’s kind and gentle and he’s so amazing. I never thought it would be possible to feel this way so fast, but I’m certain that he’s the one.”

“There you are,” Michelle’s voice interrupted Ken’s words as he looked up to see her leaning in against his door wearing a red halter dress. She stepped forward in a slow, determined movement, her extra high heels clicking on the marble flooring beneath her, “I was starting to wonder if you’d up and disappeared on me.”

“Michelle,” Ken cleared his throat, immediately setting the letter down. He felt uneasiness sweep over him as he pulled the photos and envelopes in closer to him in a pile, “hey what are you doing here?”

“We had a date last night,” she raised a curious brow, “or did you forget me already?”

“No,” he shook his head, “I didn’t forget you, but something, well something came up…”

“Something more important than us?” she eyed him intently, her eyes sweeping over his desk.

“Sort of,” he grabbed the bundle of letters and photos and put them into the box, “I know I should’ve called but…”

“After waiting an hour and a half, I figured you weren’t coming, so I called a friend and went dancing for a while,” she waved her hand dismissively before circling around his desk and taking a seat on the edge. She crossed her legs in front of him, causing her already short skirt to ride further up her body before she tipped her toes into his lap. “I missed you.”

“I’m sorry,” Ken apologized still feeling the after shocks of his drinking getting to him in the form of a throbbing headache.

“I suppose all can be forgiven,” she shrugged pulling her foot out of his lap and discarding her shoe. Seconds later, she eased her bare foot over the center of his pants, massaging him gently with her toes as a sexy smirk spread over her beautiful face, “as long as you give me something to make up for it.”

“Michelle, I don’t think that now is…” Ken reached for her ankle finding himself uneasy with the idea of fooling around with Michelle as the memory of Caitlin was so very close to him. He lifted her foot out of his lap before he rose to his feet, “Now is not a good time.”

“Not a good time,” she huffed feeling his retreat, “but I thought that…”

“Look Michelle,” Ken began his words vibrating through his aching head, “I just think that now isn’t the right time for this.”

“Of course it’s the right time Ken,” she shimmied off of his desk before stepping in closer to him, “and if you give me five minutes to talk some sense into you, you’re going to change your mind. Believe me.”

“Michelle, I…” Ken spun around to face her, to say the things that he knew he needed to say, but as he felt her throw her arms around him kissing him heatedly he found himself wondering if he could really let the past stop him from having a future. Caitlin was his heart. Carly was once his haven and Michelle was, well just here. As her kisses continued in intensity, he felt her hand drop down to the zipper on his pants. She quickly made another attempt to entice him and as his mind replayed all the mistakes he’d made over the last year from Caitlin’s untimely death to jumping into bed with Avery and finally to alienating himself from Carly’s life, he felt an emptiness inside. He was numb and that wasn’t about to change. Not even with what Michelle was doing to try to make him forget.

“I can give you something to make you smile baby,” she promised seductively moving down to her knees ready to prove her worth to him when Ken reached out to her.

“Just stop,” Ken blurted out placing a distance between them, “Michelle, this isn’t happening. Not now, not ever.”


“Morning,” Dave smiled seeing Carly’s eyes slowly open, “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” she yawned looking towards the clock, “How long have you been up?”

“A while,” he stated, running his fingers along her arm gently, “I was watching you sleep. You looked so beautiful while you were asleep.”

“Oh stop,” Carly laughed turning away from him, only to feel him pull her back gently.

“I’m being serious,” Dave replied seeing her look up at him, “Anyways, I want to get used to waking up beside you every morning.”

“Mommy,” Kayla jumped up between Dave and Carly making them both scoot over.

“Morning Kayla,” Dave smiled as she laid between them, “How are you this morning?”

“Perfect,” she answered with a small giggle, “What are you two doing?”

“Just talking,” Carly answered looking up at Dave, seeing him smile as Kayla sat up.

“Are you two going to get married?” Kayla questioned looking towards Carly. “Are you?”

“What gives you that idea?” Carly wondered with a small laugh seeing Kayla shrug.

“I don’t know,” Kayla began before looking up at Dave, “When people are in bed together on TV, they are usually married. So are you two going to get married?”

“Kayla,” Dave whispered her name as she turned towards him, “What did you think of the story last night?”

“I loved it,” she answered with a giggle, “Will you read it to me again later?”

“Of course I will,” Dave agreed as she laid back on the bed, “What are you up to?”

“I want to watch cartoons,” Kayla declared as Dave grabbed the remote from the dresser, “Do you like cartoons?”

“I love cartoons,” Dave nodded slowly before turning on the television, “How did you know?”

“I love them too,” she laughed snuggling closer into Dave, pulling his arm around her, “You know what?”

“What’s that sweetheart?” Dave questioned as Kayla looked up at him with her big eyes.

“I think it would be so cool if you were my daddy,” she stated, emphasizing her every word, “I would love it.”

Dave smiled as she looked towards the television. He looked up to see Carly who eyes were misted over.

“I would like that too,” Dave replied before sighing in deeply. He really would like to be her father.


“Thanks for everything daddy,” Matthew smiled getting up from the table in the park, “I love food from that place. It makes me all full up.”

“Well, that’s a good thing isn’t it?” Don questioned getting up and picking Matthew up in his arms. “We don’t want you hungry now would we?”

“Can I play now?” Matthew questioned, playing with Don’s hair. “Can I?”

“Of course you can,” Don nodded with a small smile, “what do you want to do first? Go on the swings? Play on the jungle gym? Give another shot at the monkey bars?”

“Those things are scary daddy,” Matthew frowned seeing Don nod, “I don’t want to try those again.”

“I will catch you no matter what,” Don promised before seeing Matthew shake his head again, “We wont try those again. So, what do you want to do?”

“Could you push me on the swings?” Matthew wondered, looking up at his father with big eyes.

“Of course I could,” Don smiled widely, letting Matt down and seeing him run towards the swings.

“Can you push me higher today?” Matt questioned seeing Don nod slowly.

“Only if you promise me that you will hold on tightly,” Don leaned down seeing Matt get on the swing quickly.

“I promise,” Matt agreed as Don began to push the swing, “I bet I could get higher than you daddy.”

“Me?” Don questioned letting the swing stop. “No way. I can so go higher than you.”

“No,” Matt shook his head with a small giggle seeing Don get onto one of the swings.

“Let’s see who gets higher,” Don nodded seeing Matt begin to swing as he made himself fall backwards.

“Daddy,” Matt laughed getting off the swing and running towards Don, getting above him. “You suck at that.”

“I do not,” Don shook his head before beginning to tickle Matt quickly. “I bet I am good at this.”

“That’s not fair,” Matt laugh so hard, “Stop daddy, that tickles.”

“Yeah, stop daddy,” a voice came up from above them, making Don look up.

“What are you doing here Shannon?” Don questioned, standing up slowly, picking Matt up with him.

“I came to see you,” she replied looking over at Matt who was staring at her.

“I like your hair,” Matt declared reaching his hand out to touch her hair, “You’re pretty. Who are you?”

“I’m a friend of your daddies,” she laughed as he pulled his hand back.

“She’s pretty daddy,” Matt whispered looking up at his father, seeing him nod.

“Your right,” Don agreed, his blue eyes looking up at Shannon, “She is very pretty. So, how did you know where we were?”

“I called your parents and he told me you were here,” she replied seeing him nod slowly, “I think we really need to talk.”

“We are together right now,” Don informed her seeing her nod slowly. “We’ve been having some fun.”

“Right,” Matt nodded, feeling Don kiss his cheek gently, “Oh, he took me to McDonalds for breakfast.”

“He’s a good daddy isn’t he?” Shannon questioned seeing Matt look towards Don and nod quickly. “I can see that.”

“Here,” Don started, letting Matt down, “Go draw something for me at the table.”

“Okay,” Matt nodded before running towards the table.

“What is it that you really need to talk to about?” Don questioned seeing her look down.

“I just think we really need to talk,” she repeated seeing him looking right at her. Ready for her explanation, but how was she going to say what she wanted?


Seth opened his eyes hearing a loud, piercing sound blast through his ears. Nearly leaping out of bed, he turned to where he last remembered Blake sleeping beside him in an attempt to wake her up, but much to his dismay she was nowhere to be found as the smoke detectors continued to go off in their series of warnings.

“Blake!” Seth shouted her name heading out of his room and towards the bathroom when he noticed a cloud of smoke coming from his kitchen. He stopped mid-movement following the source of the smoke in the hopes of putting a stop to the buzzing or at the very least put out the fire that had to have originated in his kitchen. He rushed to the door only to discover Blake fanning overhead at the smoke detector in the hopes of turning it off with each emphatic wave of the towel in front of it.

“Just stop already,” she pouted flapping the towel again and again as the smoke from the clearly overcooked meat-looking substance in the frying pan was charred to a very crisp looking black. It was obvious that she must’ve taken a stab at cooking, yet it wound up disastrous in it’s own way now that she was fighting with the smoke alarm.

“Let me give it a try,” Seth suggested moving in behind her and reaching up to pull the battery out of the fire alarm as he stood nearly a foot over her height.

“Seth, I didn’t know you were awake,” Blake gulped watching him pull the battery out of the alarm.

“With this thing going off, how could I not?” he questioned with a half smile before looking over at her, “Though I have to ask, what’s all this about?”

“I thought I’d surprise you with breakfast in bed,” she confessed with an emphatic sigh, “although I obviously didn’t do much of good job with it seeing as you’re standing right here in front of me wide awake.”

“I appreciate the gesture, but I think we’re going to have to pass on this,” he lifted the pan up from the stove top and wrinkled his nose, “wouldn’t you agree?”

“Well yes, I would but,” she stomped her foot down on the ground with a groan, “it wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.”

“Hey, it’s no big deal,” he deposited the pan into the sink before offering her his arms, “because the way I see it, we can just go out and do something together. Maybe an intimate little breakfast down by the water at that little café you love…”

“That sounds nice,” she sighed reluctantly moving into his arms, “but it’s not what I had in mind for us.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” he curled his finger underneath her chin, lifting her face up enough for her to meet his soft gaze, “It’s the thought that counts.”

“But the thought doesn’t have breakfast the way it should’ve been, does it?” she shook her head with obvious frustration, “Seth, I wanted this to be perfect--for everything to be perfect, but once again it’s just not…”

“Hey, it’s okay,” he tried to remind her once again, “remember there’s no such thing as perfect.”

“I realize that, but…” she stepped back looking away from him, “I should’ve been paying more attention, but then I got a phone call and…”

“What kind of phone call,” he questioned catching the expression that crept in over her features, “Blake, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she threw her hands up in the air, “everything. I was just concentrating on starting from the beginning--on forgetting the whole Atlantic City disaster and then someone from the bridal shop called about my wedding dress final fittings and…”

“Hey, you’re going to be able to make them,” Seth stepped forward pulling her into an embrace once again, “because the way I see it, the sooner I get Grady working on the paperwork, the sooner we can put this whole mess with Valerie behind us and work on getting married once and for all.”

“I feel like that’s never going to happen,” she paused contemplating her words for a moment, “and in a way I can’t help but wonder if this was fate’s way of saying that this shouldn’t happen.”

“What?” he blinked back at her clearly surprised by her words, “Blake, I can’t believe you’re saying that you don’t think that you and I should get married when…”

“That’s not what I’m saying,” she argued with a simple shake of her head, “What I’m telling you is that I think fate is trying to tell us we need to find Jade first before we go off and do something like this. She’d never forgive you if you got married without her knowing about it. She would want to be there and in all honesty, I would want her there too.”

Seth searched her blue eyes seeing the truth behind them before he offered up his own admission, “So would I. I want her here right now and the fact that we haven’t heard anything on what’s happened to her is killing me…”

“I feel the same way. I mean I know Jade and I took a long time to be civil to one another, but now, well now I just feel like so much has happened since she’s been gone. It’s been things that she really should be here for--things that I want her here for. I want her to be here for our big day if it ever happens,” Blake sighed heavily thinking about all the things that had happened over the last few months.

“It will happen,” Seth promised leaning in to kiss her tenderly, “and she will be here for it. I know she will. We’ll have Jade back again and everything will be as perfect as humanly possible.”

“I hope so,” she confessed leaning into him once again.

“It will. I promise you that,” he kissed the top of her head gently, “but for now what do you say we get dressed and get out of here? I think that we both could use some time away from all of this.”

“You’re right,” she nodded in confession, “We can. I think that would be nice.”

“Good, then let’s forget about this mess for now and work on enjoying the morning,” Seth suggested taking one last look around his kitchen and making a small promise to himself to take care of it later--much later.


Ria rolled over in bed to discover a single red rose on the pillow beside her with a note attached to it. Reaching for the small pink piece of paper she caught the few quickly scrawled words upon it, “I didn’t want to wake you. I’ll call you later.”

Reaching out for the rose Ria lifted it to take a small smell of the delicate bud before she stretched over her bed reaching for the phone on the nightstand. A few seconds after dialing she heard a familiar voice answer, “Did you really think that you could just sneak out on me without so much as a proper good-bye.”

“I figured that you needed your rest especially after I woke you up last night against your strict orders,” he teased as Ria had flashes of their lovemaking pass through her mind.

“Even so, it’s proper etiquette to at least say a proper good-bye before running off,” she sighed a smile touching over her lips.

“I figured you could use some rest and besides, I thought the rose was a nice touch,” he replied with a seductive slur in his tone, “at least until I could return to see you again.”

“Hmm, well maybe we can work on fixing this small error, say by your coming out with me tonight. I was thinking about paying Seth and Blake a visit and since you were so interested in what’s been happening with them, I thought it might be a perfect time for you to come and meet my friends…”

“Ria, I realize that you’d probably enjoy that, but I’m afraid that’s an impossibility right about now,” he replied stiffly.

“An impossibility why? Because you’re busy or because you just don’t want to,” Ria questioned with a frown, “Tell me something why is it every time I want to include you in my life--to include you with me and my friends you always have a reason or an excuse why you can’t be there?”

“Ria, you know I have a very busy life,” he started once again ready to deliver the same story she was growing tired of hearing.

“You keep saying that, but what is an hour out of your time going to be?” she snapped back at him, “The way I see it, if you can fit me in then you can fit this in for me--just once.”

“Ria, as much as I’d like to,” he began again.

“You can’t,” she cut him off abruptly dropping the rose down on the pillow once again, “and you know truth be told the way I see it, if you can’t be interested in my life and you won’t let me inside of yours--into the things that you do most of the time, then how are we ever going to move forward in this relationship?”

“Ria, you know it’s more complicated than that,” he insisted gruffly.

“No, the only complications we keep having are the ones you keep making for us and truth be told I’m not sure I want to keep trying to compete with them. It’s starting to feel like it’s not worth it,” Ria argued further.

“Ria, now you’re being irrational. If you would just take a step back and…” he sighed heavily.

“I have been stepping back and now it’s time for you to take a step forward for me. I’ve been what you needed, so why can’t you do the same for me? Why can’t you take the effort just once?” she pleaded with him.

“Ria, you don’t know what you’re asking and if you’d only…”

“I’m tired of only. I want something more than sex on the run. If you can’t give me that--if we can’t start making something more of this supposed commitment then maybe it’s time we just call it quits and move on with our lives,” she suggested firmly.

“You don’t mean that,” his voice dared her to defy him.

“Actually lately, yeah, I do and until you can get your priorities where we’re concerned together, then maybe we should take a break from one another. Last night was fun, but it’s not enough anymore. I don’t think it could ever be,” she finished hanging up the phone on him not bothering to wait for his response.

While she had to admit that ending things wasn’t exactly what she wanted either, she was tired of having to live her life in secret--in what felt like hiding when her friends wanted to know more about the man in her life. She wanted them to know him--to get to know more about the relationship she’d fallen into, yet every time she asked, he was so ready to retreat. At first she’d accepted he was busy, but now, well now after they’d been seeing one another for so very long it felt like there needed to be some kind of evolution between them. If he wasn’t up to taking that next step, then it was best that she put an end to things so that she could find a man who would be willing to do so.

“You’re doing the right thing,” she mouthed to herself bringing her sheet up over her body. Still as last night’s intimate moments flashed through her mind, she found herself longing for things to end up differently--for him to just start acting like he gave a damn about moving forward. Looking to the phone, she half contemplated calling him back, though in her heart she wished that he’d take the initiative and just call her. Of course that would probably be asking the impossibile.

“To hell with it,” Ria threw her hands in the air ready to take a shower and put this morning’s disaster behind her when she heard a noise coming from outside her bedroom. Immediately on edge, Ria reached for her robe wrapping it around her. She heard another noise and immediately she swiped her pepper spray off of the nightstand ready to fend off any unwelcome intruders even if it was the man she’d just hung up on. She was that ticked.

Moving out into the hallway she stood in a defensive stance ready to spray the hell out of anyone who dared to cross paths with her, but when she saw Valerie shuffling through things in her living room, she felt a whole new emotion sweep over her. Anger radiated from her head to her toes as Valerie plopped down on the sofa reaching for the television remote control.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Ria demanded harshly seeing how laid back and relaxed Valerie appeared to be.

“I figured by now you’d calmed down and just so you know I accept your apology,” Valerie replied with a bright smile leaning back further on the couch, “I know you couldn’t possibly mean anything that you said or did, so it’s all in the past. You’re completely forgiven.”

“I’m forgiven,” Ria repeated with a huff, “You’ve got to be kidding me right?”

“No I’m not. I mean I know it was clearly natural for you to react given the extreme circumstances, but…” Valerie started dismissively.

“Um maybe you didn’t get it right there Val, but when I said I wanted you out, I meant it,” Ria remarked sourly.

“Did you really say that?” Valerie half laughed, “Because you really couldn’t possibly mean that considering how well this roommate thing has been working for us.”

“That was before you tried to screw over Seth,” Ria placed her hands on her hips all the while glaring down at Valerie, “No, I take that back. You did screw Seth over. What were you thinking?”

“I was saving him from making the biggest mistake of his life. He couldn’t possibly marry Blake,” Valerie insisted with a huff.

“He loves her,” Ria asserted.

“Yes, but he’s still my husband so marrying Blake is not in the program,” Valerie replied with a small shrug.

“He doesn’t love you. He never did Val and I thought you were smart enough to realize that,” Ria blinked back at her clearly in disbelief at how delusional Valerie was.

“He does love me. He’s just in need of a reminding,” Valerie explained with a determined smirk, “and sooner or later Seth is going to see that we have everything he’s ever needed in our marriage.”

“If you’re talking about misery and a headache, then yeah I guess you could argue that point, but the truth to the matter is that the only reason Seth married you that night was because he was too drunk to say no. He had no idea what he was doing and you took full advantage of that,” Ria snapped back at her clenching her fists at her side.

“Seth married me because he wanted to--because he needed me…” Valerie asserted rising to her feet again, “You’ve always been jealous of that fact, but face it Ria, he wanted me that night. He still wants me and he’s just in a state of self-denial.”

“You want to see denial? Look in the mirror Val. Seth doesn’t love you. He never did and he never will and as long as you keep trying to convince yourself that there’s something there that isn’t, you’re just going to be making more problems for yourself. Seth filed for the marriage to be absolved the day after he went through with it, so that should tell you something…”

“But the paperwork didn’t turn out right, so that in itself should tell you that he didn’t make half the effort that he claimed to. He and I had something wonderful together,” Valerie continued to argue with her.

“Yeah, you took advantage of the fact that he was upset over what happened to Jade. You stepped in and tried to manipulate him into wanting you, when what he needed was a friend. Instead you decided to bilk him for all he could give at a time when he wasn’t willing or ready to offer anything to anyone,” Ria snapped back at her, her eyes narrowing with anger.

“And yet, he’s going to marry the daughter of a man who destroyed Jade. That in itself says a lot about how far he’s fallen since he’s hated the Ashfords for all they’ve done to destroy him,” Valerie argued with her, “He needs me now more than ever.”

“What he needs is for you to go back and crawl underneath whatever rock it was you surfaced from. He doesn’t want or need you in his life Val and the longer you stand there trying to cause him problems, the harder this is going to be for you. I’m not going to let you get away with hurting him again,” Ria took a bold step forward, “which is why I want you the hell out of here.”

“You couldn’t possibly mean that Ria. I know you keep thinking that you’re doing right by Seth in trying to protect him like this, but all you’re doing is keeping him from true happiness,” Valerie continued to plead her case.

“I’m counting to three and if you don’t get out of here after that, then I swear I’ll have no problems calling security,” Ria warned her sharply, “and you’ve seen before that’s not just an idle threat.”

“I can’t believe this. Why are you turning on me Ria? I thought that you cared about Seth and his happiness.” Valerie huffed back at her.

“I do which is why I want you to get the hell out of Coral Valley and Seth’s life forever or else so help me, I will make sure that you pay for each and every attempt you make at ruining his happiness,” Ria warned her with a menacing expression, “You’d be best suited to leave Coral Valley for good and never look back. No one wants you here especially not Seth.”

“You’re wrong about that and in time you’ll see that,” Valerie remarked sourly, “and when Seth and I are back together, I won’t forget this betrayal on your end. If you think you’re doing the right thing, you’ll see how horribly wrong you are when I see to it that Seth never speaks to you again. You’ll be out of his life forever for this Ria.”

“Keep telling yourself that Val,” Ria spat back at her, “now get your things and get the hell out and don’t even think about coming back.”


Grady stood at the doors to the Courier offices now quite sure if he could take that step forward into a place that his brother had invested so much of himself into. Ever since Russ had died Grady had found it hard to think about the things that his brother had once loved, but now, well now he knew that the only way to find Jade was to reenter the past if you will. Reaching for the front door, Grady walked inside remembering only too well the times he and Russ had met up in this very place ready to get wrapped up in their next latest and greatest adventure. Now the building felt like an empty shell of itself with Russ gone from the scenario.

“Grady,” Mindy looked up from her desk to see him standing before her. Practically leaping out of her chair, she rushed over to him eagerly, “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you actually,” Grady confessed with a small smile, “that is if you’re not busy.”

“Where you’re involved I’m never too busy to lend a hand,” she replied brightly, “What do you need?”

“Well, I think I’m going to need access to the archives and your expertise given that you can keep this little assignment I have for you on the down low,” Grady replied lowering his voice a bit, “as it’s of a personal nature.”

“Say no more,” Mindy smiled at him eagerly, “I’m your gal.”

“That’s what I was hoping for,” Grady replied reaching into his pocket ready to dig up whatever was necessary to get the goods on Cameron Stone before it was too late. Last night he’d been given a huge clue and he wasn’t about to walk away from it.

“So what do you need?” Mindy questioned enthusiastically, “I’m all at your disposal.”

“Good because I need you to look up a name for me,” he replied pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket. “I’m sure you’ll recognize the first one, but the second, well that’s the one I’m really interested in.”

“Never heard of it before,” Mindy eyed the paper curiously.

“Not many of us have, but I have a feeling that once we find out what we need to know about that name, we’re going to know a whole hell of a lot more than any of us thought possible,” he continued his voice full of determination.

“Okay, but you’re not giving me much to work with in having only a first name if that‘s even what it is,” she replied with a small frown.

“Try linking the name with Cameron Stone. Something tells me once we hit the archives with that, we’re going to hit the jackpot,” Grady remarked hopeful that he would find a way to take Cameron down and bring Jade back home one way or another.


“What are you doing?” Kyle questioned wrapping his arms around Sarah’s waist tightly, kissing her cheek gently.

“Making something to eat,” she answered looking back at him, “Want something?”

“Depends,” he smiled looking down at her, “Are you anywhere on the menu. If so, I want something badly.”

“You're evil,” she laughed turning towards him as he leaned forward and kissed her slowly.

“You love every minute of it,” he whispered, running his fingers across her neck gently.

“You bet I do,” she grinned running her fingers along his bare chest, “Aren’t you hungry?”

“Not really,” he shook his head looking around the kitchen, “I’m not a big eater.”

“Right,” she laughed as he let go of her and went to open the fridge up.

“You want some orange juice?” Kyle questioned seeing her shake her head. “I want some orange juice.”

“You have your orange juice, but I am going to be taking a shower,” she informed him seeing him smile, “Would you like to join me?”

“Would I?” he questioned with a small laughed seeing her smile. “I will be there in just a minute.”

“I’ll be waiting,” she ran her fingers across his shoulders lightly before heading towards the bathroom.

Kyle put the orange juice back in the fridge before going towards the bathroom. He groaned as he heard the doorbell ring.

“Who could that be right now?” Kyle questioned walking towards the door and opening it. A frown came over his expression after seeing who stood in front of him. “What do you want Susan?”

“A piece of that,” she answered looking down as Kyle noticed he was still only in his boxers.

“Damn,” he cussed, shutting the door and grabbing his jeans from the couch, pulling them up quickly. He went back to the door and opened it seeing her still there. “Now, what do you really want Susan, I really don’t have time for any of your crap.”

“You really didn’t have to put anything on,” she smiled as he rolled his eyes, “but in all honesty…I need you to come with me somewhere.”

“No,” Kyle shook his head holding his hands up in the air. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“Kyle, Jade’s life depends on this,” Susan declared, a big frown spread across her features.

“I can’t believe this,” Kyle groaned, resting his hands on his hips. What was he going to do now? Believe her?


...to be continued...