Episode 220

“Think you’re up for this,” Nick questioned looking over to where Angela stood at the back of her Jeep pulling out a blanket and a picnic basket. She popped her head up and held out the picnic basket towards Nick before giving him a firm look.

“What do you think?” she questioned placing her hands on her hips once he took the picnic basket, “I worked my butt off making the absolute perfect meal for this little trip, so what would make you think that I would want to back out now after slaving away in the kitchen like I did?”

“Ang, sweetie, you made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” Nick wrinkled his nose at her only to watch her stick her tongue out at him.

“There was a lot of love that went into those sandwiches,” she noted with another mock glare before she adjusted the straps on her bathing suit, “Besides it’s been far too long since I’ve been out by the water to enjoy it. I want to go for a swim.”

“Fine, then I won’t argue,” Nick stepped aside before motioning for her to lead him along, “though I will make one request.”

“What’s that?” she questioned pulling the blanket off of the side of her Jeep before turning to face him once more.

“Let’s steer clear of the trees. While I really liked that last trip to the water we made, um, I’d just really hate for us to have a repeat performance if you know what I mean,” he urged thinking about the fallen tree limb that damn near killed them on the beach.

She laughed lightly before shaking her head and walking past him, “That was a once in a lifetime situation Nick. Lightening never strikes twice in the same spot and besides, if you haven’t noticed it’s beautiful out here today.”

“Well yes, I noticed, but I just wanted to suggest that maybe just maybe we don’t get too close to the trees,” Nick followed after her watching her weave her way through the trees over to a shaded spot near the water.

“How’s this you big baby,” she asked turning around to look at him. He nodded as she began to unfold the blanket setting it down on the hot sand. Nick followed setting the picnic basket down before moving in to help her smooth the blanket out on the ground.

“Here let me help you,” he suggested kneeling down to fix his side of the blanket before Angela smiled down at him. He noticed something on the ground in front of him, “What’s this?”

“I don’t know. Let me look,” she replied reaching out to look at the thing in his hand, “It looks like some kind of seashell.”

“Well duh,” Nick shook his head at her before swiping it away from her, “I knew that.”

“Good because you had me worried for a moment,” she joked lightly.

“Hey look at this,” he looked inside the half opened shell, “You’re never going to believe this.”

“What?” she asked moving in towards him, “What is it Nick?”

“It looks like there is something in there,” he tried to put his finger inside without disturbing the shell, but it was a nearly impossible task.

“What is it?” she asked again seeing him struggle with the shell. “Here, let me take a look.

“Be careful,” he suggested holding it up to her again. He watched her fidget with the shell before she carefully extracted something from within.

“Oh my gosh,” she gasped revealing a small pearl in her hand, “Nick, I don’t believe this. Do you have any idea what the chances of us finding one of these are?”

“About one in a million?” he replied half questioning.

“I don’t know about that, but they’re pretty damn thin,” she replied holding the small stone up for inspection, “I don’t believe this.”

“Believe anything Angela because when we’re together anything is possible,” he announced watching her look at his find.

“I’m starting to see that,” she admitted in a moment of bewilderment.

“Good, in that case, hand my treasure over and we’ll get back to our picnic,” he moved up on his knees to swipe the pearl from her fingers, “We wouldn’t want to lose this, now would we?”

“Hey, I thought we both found it,” she protested.

“Nope, sorry sweetheart that was my find,” he shook his head carefully wrapping it up in one of the napkins she’d had tucked away in the picnic basket, “but maybe if you’re nice I’ll have you look at it.”

“Hey, that’s my picnic basket you’re stashing it in,” she wiggled her finger at him.

“Hmm, well I suppose it is,” he shrugged his shoulders, “so thanks. Now, about this picnic of ours…”

“You’re such a dork Nick,” she shook her head at him, “Do you really think I’m not going to want to take a look at that again? The chances of us finding something like that…”

“I’ll make you a deal. If you come here and kiss me, then I’ll let you take another sneak peak,” he spoke up suggestively flashing her his sexy grin.

“Are you sure you can sit here with me?” her grin expanded as she motioned to the tiny tree that stood no more than three feet tall sprung up behind where she set up the blanket, “I mean if this tree comes down on us, it may be the end of you and then I‘d have to stake a claim on ownership of that pearl.”

“Very funny,” Nick groaned pulling her down onto the blanket with him. He collected her in his arms before tumbling backward onto the blanket. With her over him he couldn’t help but smile, “Have I told you how much safer I feel now that I have you in my arms?”

She laughed lightly, “You only say that because you know if the tree goes down, it’s going to get me and not you.”

“On the contrary,” Nick carefully turned her in his arms pushing himself in over her, “The way I see it there’s always this raging storm inside of me when I’m with you. You have this way about you that ignites a hot fire inside of me.”

“Nick,” she offered up a small groan before feeling his lips delve down onto her neck. She sighed at his teasingly, light kisses and her arms pressed around him eagerly offering up an open invitation to continue. “You do realize this is how our little ‘accident’ started the last time.”

“Yes, I do,” he pulled back enough to discard his shirt before leaning in to kiss her once again, “but last time I think we were tempting fate. We weren’t on our way to happily wedded bliss and I think someone up in heaven was trying to give us a talking to about living in sin.”

“Sweetheart, when you’re around just one look at you can get a girl thinking about basking in sin,” Angela replied with wide eyes before licking her lips, “The things I would love to do to your body right about now…”

“Please do tell,” Nick dropped down to lay beside her, his fingers grazing over her arm gingerly, “I’m all ears right about now.”

“More like all ego,” she turned in towards him before wrinkling her nose, “I’m sorry, but that’s one thing I’m not going to feed into.”

“Not even a little bit,” he asked the backside of his hand sliding in over her body down over her hip.

“Nope, not even a little bit,” she moved in closer to him her fingers pressing in over the center of his chest, “If I start doing that there won’t be any room for me with that massive ego of yours.”

“Baby, it’s not my massive ego that has you flushed right now,” Nick reached out to slide his fingers into her dark hair. Wordlessly he tipped in to kiss her, drinking of her strawberry flavored lips. He felt her sigh into him, the heat of her body causing a fire inside of him. He teased his hand up over her arm, slipping his fingers in beneath the strap of her swimsuit, ready to delve into a more intimate, wordless communication with her, but she pulled back much to his dismay.

“Nick, I came here to swim today,” she whispered breathlessly.

“We can go swimming,” he inched in towards her once again, “later.”

“No,” she shook her head adamantly, “we can go now.”

“But…” he started watching her spring up from the blanket. She shimmied out of her shorts and started to run towards the water with a laugh.

“Last one in the water is a rotten egg,” she turned around to stick her tongue out at him once again before moving towards the water.

“You’re such a tease,” he groaned shaking his head for a brief moment. He watched her splash around in the water before diving under. Nick looked to the shorts she’d just discarded and with a laugh he too went off into the water ready to enjoy the day of fun in the sun with the woman he loved.


“What seems to be the problem Michael?” Brant questioned gruffly tapping his foot impatiently as the idea of being stuck down in the lab with his research team failed to ignite the kind of reaction he was certain that they were hoping for. While he was aware that it was important for him to keep up to speed with his head of research, it just so happened that right now his thoughts were up in Avery’s office, to whatever half brained idiotic thoughts Grady Denton had about getting Avery caught up in some kind of scheme to take down Cameron. That had been what was front and center and now, well now in all honesty that’s where Brant should be.

“What I’m saying is that we’re having some problems with the research,” Michael repeated for the third time sensing that his boss was clearly distracted. “There appears to have been some kind of vandalism in the lab.”

“What do you mean by vandalism?” Brant seemed to return to the moment upon hearing that word.

“Come with me. I’ll show you,” Michael motioned for Brant to follow him. Brant did as instructed and weaved his way through the mounds of papers into Michael’s office space.

“As you know I’ve had the team working double time on this, but then this morning when I got here I found this,” Michael motioned to the center of his desk at the pileup of pages.

“Um, don’t take this the wrong way Michael, but um, this whole office looks this way,” Brant motioned to the clutter around him, “You really need a better filing system down here especially with what you have on your hands in development.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” Michael frowned back at him, “This is what I’m talking about.”

Michael stepped aside to show Brant the huge, gaping hole in the center of the computer monitor along with the smoke coming out of the hard drive itself. Michael turned to look at Brant bracing himself for Brant’s reaction. Brant leaned forward for further inspection.

“Is that a piece of salami in there,” Brant motioned to the disk drive before reaching for a pen. He used it to extract the meat from inside the system.

“I thought that showed real class there,” Michael retorted sarcastically, “but that’s not what killed my computer. That’s just what they did for show. If you take a look around you’ll see it was soaked in something like acetate would be my guess. Someone must’ve come in here and decided to go for the gusto in destroying my system.”

“I don’t understand. How could this happen?” Brant frowned shaking the salami off the edge of his pen before turning to face Michael again.

“That’s what I don’t get Brant. I’ve had this lab under lockdown. No one can get in here without security clearance and only my assistant and I have access to my office during the after hours,” Michael continued worried, “which makes me think this was an inside job.”

“You mean someone on your team did this?” Brant’s eye widened in response.

“I didn’t want to believe that, but after all the security leaks and…” Michael paused before sighing, “it’s the only reasonable explanation I have for all that’s gone down.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. The profit potential for this project is huge and if it’s in the wrong hands,” Brant’s thoughts lingered beyond his words, “We have to amp up security. I can’t afford for anymore slip ups here.”

“I understand that sir, but…” Michael started again.

“No buts,” Brant insisted firmly, “I need to get the trials started and get this out on the market before someone in your team rips away all the progress we’ve made.”

“Look may I be blunt here,” Michael spoke up once again, “Maybe we’re pushing this too hard. Maybe what we’re doing here is too intense at the pace we’re going and we need to slow down. If this is about the money that can be made…”

“This was never, ever about the money,” Brant argued with him, “This is about the lives we can save. If this drug works--if it does what you’ve hypothesized, then we have the potential to do so many great things with it.”

“I know that, but I almost feel like there is this black cloud over the research team. I don’t know who to trust and who to…” Michael began worriedly.

“Fire them,” Brant replied immediately, “If there’s someone you feel could be the saboteur, then you tell me and I’ll have them moved off of the project. You name it and I’ll have a replacement in immediately.”

“You’re serious?” Michael’s eyes widened.

“I’m very serious,” Brant nodded, “What we have on our hands is big and I’m not about to let some moronic, salami toting idiot destroy all of it for us. I trust you have the files backed up elsewhere other than this homemade deli you have on your desk now.”

“Of course I do,” Michael nodded, “I’m not that naïve.”

“Good. That’s why I brought you in on this,” Brant patted him on the shoulder, “If you get this done, we’re going to be huge. You’ll become a part of history.”

“That’s not why I’m in this,” Michael pointed out, “There’s more to it than that. It’s about saving lives like you said.”

“And that’s why I have you on my team. You’re a good man Mikey and anything you need for this project, just name it and it’s yours,” Brant promised vowing not to let these minor set backs get in the way of the prize at the end of the road. One way or another BBK would get the jump on this and turn the project into something the world would never forget.


“Come in,” Avery called out hearing a knock at her door as Grady moved to his feet seeing it was Kyle. “Kyle.”

“Hey,” Kyle smiled walking over to Avery and hugging her gently, “I haven’t seen you in a long time. How have you been?”

“I’m doing okay,” she answered with a small laugh as he let her go, seeing Kyle look between Grady and Avery.

“So what is up with me coming here?” Kyle wondered, a sigh escaping his lips. “What is it that you needed to talk about?”

“Well, I have a plan to get Cameron to admit everything to us,” Grady informed Kyle seeing Kyle shake his head from what he just heard.

“Grady, I’ve tried that already,” Kyle pointed out with a small frown, holding his hands up in the air, “I think he would have admitted something to me after what happened. I don’t think we are going to get a word from him.”

“Would you be willing to try something new?” Grady questioned, raising his eyebrow as Kyle thought for a second. “Just hear me out okay?”

“This thing has to be big because Cameron isn’t breaking anytime soon Grady,” Kyle reminded Grady with a small sigh, everything inside of him wanted to find a way to get Cameron to talk so they could find Jade. There was really no way that was going to happen--no way what so ever. Maybe Grady did have something up his sleeve, Kyle was always one for believing in people and he couldn’t stop now. “What is it exactly that you have in mind? And will it work with him?”

“I know you’re going to be saying no at first, so just try and hold back for a minute,” Grady pleaded seeing Kyle nod slowly and lean against the wall, giving Grady his full attention. “I think we should have Avery go in and talk to Cameron for a couple to try and figure everything out here.”

“Absolutely not,” Kyle declined, shaking his head quickly, “There is no way that we are going to put Avery in a situation like that. Cameron is a dangerous man and could you imagine what he would to do her if he wanted to get even anyone of us? He hates both me and you. He hates your family and I don’t even want to imagine how he wants to get even. He could hurt Avery…I’m not going to allow that to happen.”

“I thought you said you would at least listen to my explanation,” Grady reminded Kyle seeing Kyle stand up straight, “I know you want to protect Avery, but something inside me says that Cameron wouldn’t touch Avery--that he wouldn’t hurt her. I have this feeling that she might be one of the few people in this world he might actually consider talking to especially since…”

“That something inside you has obviously grown too eager to find a way to solve this whole situation Grady without thinking about the consequences of your implications,” Kyle declared shaking his head slowly, “Grady, I want to find Jade just as much as you do, but we can’t risk Avery to do this.”

“Kyle, I think this could be a good idea. Grady and I were talking about this and in a way I think it will really work,” Avery entered the conversation, seeing Kyle’s dark eyes meet hers, “Maybe you should let Grady explain. I’m sure it might make more sense after. Just give him a chance and you will understand.”

“Nothing is going to make sense of this Avery and I doubt that I am going to change my mind,” Kyle stood on his decision, not about to cave in, “I’m not going to sit back and let you go in to see that man. He’s a lunatic with an agenda and you’re all part of it. Who knows what he’s capable of? If Avery was alone with him, there’s no telling what he’d do. I don’t want to risk it Avery…you can’t get hurt especially not now after everything that‘s happened...”

“Kyle, just let me explain,” Grady called out as Kyle turned to face him. Yes, Grady did feel bad putting Avery in the situation, but after what happened a while ago…it was worth a try. “You see, the other day, Avery and I were at Cameron’s place. When we thought we got caught…one of the workers started talking to Avery like they knew her. What I got from it, was that she looked like someone that Cameron knows otherwise the man working for Cameron wouldn‘t have behaved in such a way. What I was thinking, was that Avery could go in there and sort of act like she was this person that Cameron‘s associated with. We know that there’s a girl connected to him and Avery could try to pose as this woman to get Cameron to talk..”

“You really think that’s going to work?” Kyle questioned with a small laugh. “For all you know, that person who caught Avery could have really bad eyes and they didn’t have their glasses on. What makes you think that this is really going to work?”

“It’s worth a try,” Grady shrugged, hating how Kyle kept declining what Grady was offering. He thought if anyone would agree with him, Kyle would be that person. Sure, he could tell Kyle about the picture he’d found, but knowing that might freak Avery out enough not to go in and see Cameron, Grady remained silent about that part of the arrangement. Instead he spoke up again encouragingly, “Avery could go in and I would be right outside the room…to make sure that Cameron doesn’t do anything. I promise she will be okay, you can even come with us if you would like.”

“Absolutely not,” Kyle declined once more, shrugging his shoulders…not knowing what to say. “I really don’t want Avery to do this Grady. I have a better idea and it would probably work. What if I start getting closer to Susan to see if I could find anything else out. I would rather risk being with Susan then letting Avery risking herself with Cameron.”

“Kyle, I couldn’t let you do that,” Avery shook her head slowly, thinking about the possible things that could happen to Kyle, “Susan is crazy and you shouldn’t be risking yourself. She‘s lead us all no where thus far and I don‘t trust her.”

“I’m a big guy Avery,” Kyle pointed out with a small laugh, looking over towards her, “I don’t think she can hurt me. I’m like twenty times bigger than her.”

“She’s psycho Kyle and It‘s a dead end,” Grady repeated what Avery just basically said. The memories of Susan ran through is head as he looked down towards the ground. “Susan is capable of anything, but giving us the answers we need in this particular situation. She thrives off of attention and she‘s not about to give Cameron up. All she’s going to do is keep wasting our time and I wouldn’t want to risk it if I were you.”

“Hey,” Kyle laughed shaking his head slowly after hearing all the words coming from his two friends, “There are no risks that aren’t worth taking with me involved. Avery on the other hand is another story… I can take care of myself. Just let me talk to Susan a little while. If I get nothing more from her, then maybe we should second look that idea Grady. I just don‘t want to go to an extreme and put Avery front and center on the battle field. I‘m sure Brant wouldn‘t like this either and…”

“It’s not up to you or Brant or even Grady if I do this. I want to do this!” Avery argued with Kyle. “It’s our only hope.”

“No, it’s not and I’m telling you if I sweet talk Susan a little, then maybe just maybe…” Kyle insisted again.

“Kyle,” Grady began to protest before Kyle cut him off, holding his hands up in the air.

“That’s what is going to happen,” Kyle demanded looking back at Avery, “I just want to make sure we have researched all of our options before we risk Avery. Everything is going to be fine. Just let me talk with Susan and...”

“If you want to try that and go with Susan…I guess go ahead,” Grady offered seeing Kyle nod, “But right now I am warning you, that nothing good comes from that woman. She‘s trouble and she‘s less likely to open up than Cameron is. I don‘t think she‘s going to do anything or say anything unless it serves her agenda.”

“I already know Grady, but I have to try,” Kyle assured him, patting him on the shoulder lightly, “I know how she works. She plays these little games with people, but I can go past her games. I will be fine and it will probably work in the end.”

“If that’s what you want,” Grady shrugged seeing Kyle nod quickly, “I guess you should come back later then, but I still think you shouldn’t even try.”


“I can’t believe you tried to get me to eat that nasty stuff,” Diego frowned, opening the door to his office. “I would never eat that…it is too nasty looking.”

“You are just acting like a baby,” Cori shook her head slowly, entering his office, “If you weren’t strong, you would at least try more than one little bite. I think you are just too picky. Way too picky.”

“Picky?” Diego questioned with a laugh stepping forward towards her. “You are calling me picky? What about you? At the pizza place you were the one who was squeezing that piece of pizza to get all the grease out of it.”

“That’s not picky,” Cori stood up for herself, poking him in the chest lightly, “I hope you know that stuff will get you really fat, really quick.”

“I guess that’s something I will just have to risk then,” he shrugged, a smile crept over his face as he looked at the expression on her face, “You can have your nasty sushi and I can have my tasty pepperoni pizza.”

“Tasty, huh?” Cori questioned, wiggling her eyebrows up and down as she looked up at him. “You know what else is tasty?”

“Let me think,” he started, rubbing his chin slowly…thinking for a moment, “A lot of things. Like, steak, burgers, hotdogs…all things nice and fattening. Maybe cake.”

“You can go ahead and like all those things, but I think something is tastier than all of those put together,” she informed him as he tilted his head at her.

“What could be tastier then those?” he wondered with a small smile before feeling her hands push his chest, making him fall back onto his black leather couch.

“You,” she answered in a murmur, getting in above him before pulling him into a heated kiss. “You are the tastiest thing I have ever seen.”

“Am I?” he questioned with a smile, feeling her slender fingers run through his dark hair. “I never noticed.”

“I can’t get enough of you,” she explained running her fingers under his shirt, scratching her nails gently across his heated skin, “I hope you know that.”

“I had a hunch,” he arched his brow at her before pulling her closer to him so he could lay soft, wet kisses along her neck.

“You better have more than a hunch,” she whispered, pulling his head up as her lips covered his lips…tempting him in every way possible.

The door to Diego’s office swung open, making Cori jump off him and to the other side of the couch.

“Sarah?” Diego questioned, sitting up straighter on the couch. “What are you doing here?”

“I just really need to talk to someone,” Sarah sighed deeply before closing the door behind her, “If you two were in the middle of something, you can finish.”

“No, that’s okay,” Diego assured Sarah with a small laugh as he looked over at Cori who seemed very disappointed. “What is wrong? Where’s Mr. Houston?”

“That’s why I came to talk to you,” Sarah informed him as Cori stood up and snapped her fingers.

“Let me guess, you and your husband are in the middle of a fight,” Cori suggested, talking again before letting Sarah answer, “You want to know how to fix things, right?”

“Wrong,” Sarah shook her head slowly, a small laugh escaping her lips. “Far from it. One, I’m not married to anyone…he’s my boyfriend. Secondly, we’re not fighting…I love him a lot. I wouldn’t want anything like that to go on between us.”

“Oh,” Cori frowned, looking back at Diego who had a big smirk over his features, “I was just guessing.”

“That’s okay, I think,” Sarah shrugged before raising her eyebrow, “I’m sorry…I don’t think I have ever met you. Who are you?”

“Oh, I’m Cori,” Cori answered with a small sigh, “And you’re Sarah. It’s nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Sarah grinned before looking towards Diego, “I think Susan is up to something again Diego. She has been all up on Kyle harassing him like you can‘t even begin to imagine and I don‘t see it easing up. She‘s got something up her sleeve and I think it‘s only a matter of time before it winds up blowing up in his face.”

“Oh my,” Diego inhaled slowly, before resting his elbows on his knees. “What is she trying to with him? Get him in trouble?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah replied, leaning in against Diego’s table. The way she acted towards Susan was well worth it. Susan was trying to get too much from Kyle and it just wasn’t right. “She tried to tell him that he needed to go somewhere with her because she knew where Jade was.”

“That is such bull s…” Diego began before cutting himself off, “Don’t tell me that Kyle went with her? He isn’t like that. I would never see him acting that naïve. I‘m sure he‘ll see through her lies and call her bluff...”

“No, he didn’t go with her,” Sarah stated with a big sigh, “He is with Grady right now. Kyle threw her out of the house, but I just hate how she is trying to get something from him. I have a feeling she is trying to start something with him.”

“That’s what Susan does though,” Diego pointed out with a small frown, “She is just trouble. Kyle is a smart man, he would never risk something to try and be with Susan.”

“I know that,” Sarah nodded slowly before shaking her head, thinking of all the things Kyle has done for people. “I just hope he knows what he is doing because I sure don’t understand all of this nonsense.”


“Are you ready for this?” Carly questioned as Dave held the envelope in his hands tightly. “You should open this soon.”

“Right, I mean this couldn‘t be any more nerve wracking then it was last night when your mother wanted to kill me, right?” Dave questioned feeling nervousness in the pit of his stomach.

“Dave this isn’t the same situation here. My mother getting upset and threatening to lock you out on the deck all night long was one thing, but this is Kayla’s future…our future here and I think that we should…” Carly trailed off feeling prickly sensations running over her as this would be a defining moment that would change life as they knew it forever.

“Right. I know that. In fact,” Dave nodded slowly, biting down into his bottom lip, “I’ll do it right now. I should know the truth.”

“You should,” Carly agreed, seeing Dave’s fingers begin to undo the envelope slowly.

“Screw this,” Dave grunted, grabbing the envelope between his hands and ripping right down the middle.

“What are you doing?” Carly questioned gasping out seeing Dave tear the envelope into tiny pieces over and over again. “Why did you just do that Dave?”

“I’m sorry Carly,” Dave apologized dropping the pieces of paper to the ground. “At this point, I just don’t care anymore. I want to be that little girl’s daddy…with all my heart.”

“You could have been,” Carly pointed out with a small frown, pointing down towards the hundreds of pieces of paper, “You could have known the answer.”

“I already do know the real answer,” Dave replied, emphasizing the word real. Sure, there was something inside of him that was interested in knowing the truth, but more of him just wanted to do the right thing. Follow how he really felt. “I don’t care what those results said…in my eyes and my heart, I am already Kayla’s father.”

“You don’t know that,” she protested, feeling somewhat of an anger growing in her body, “Didn’t you want to know if she was your daughter?”

“I already do know,” Dave pointed out, his fingers touching Carly’s soft hair gently, “No matter what, I am going to be Kayla’s father. She already has a place in my heart, just like you do. I love her so much and I just don’t care anymore.”

“I love you Dave,” Carly began, taking in a slow breath…trying to say something that would make sense--not that anything would at this point. “But why would you do that? I know you want to be with us, but I thought you were the one who wanted to know the most out of us.”

“I did want to know,” Dave nodded slowly, shrugging his shoulders highly, “I was just thinking about this before opening the envelope. I thought what I wanted to know was if I was her father, but my heart doesn't care. Kayla is already the apple of my eye and I want to be with her for the rest of my life. Just like I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”

“So you mean everything is okay?” Carly wondered as Dave pulled her into his arms. “Are you sure you can handle not really knowing the true answer?”

“That’s the thing,” Dave sighed, running his hand along her spine gently, “I already know the answer.”


Ken took in a deep breath as he looked around his office. He was still where he‘d been earlier at his desk contemplating life and all that he had to do, but there were more things on his mind other than what he was working on. He knew that Hart was close by and he knew he should go apologize to him, but could he do it? How could he convey what he’d meant to say, when he couldn’t even really admit it to himself there? It seemed like he couldn’t do it. Like…

“Of course I can,” Ken told himself, getting up from his desk seat and walking out of his office, “I just have to go in there and tell him how sorry I am. If he doesn’t accept my apologies…that’s okay.”

Ken knocked on Hart’s office door before opening it himself and seeing Hart at his desk working.

“Hi,” Ken slightly whispered, knowing that Hart obviously hadn’t heard him come in.

“What is it?” Hart questioned with a sigh, resting his hands in front of him on his desk.

“I was just coming in here to…” Ken cut himself off thinking if this was really the right thing to say. Of course it was, but should he say more? “I came in here to tell you that I was sorry for everything that--I did.”

“Are you joking?” Hart wondered standing up from his desk after seeing Ken shake his head. “Are you really being serious with me here?”

“Yeah, I am being serious. Hart I…” Ken was cut off by Hart’s office door hitting him in the back, making him stumble forward before regaining his balance.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were there when I opened the door,” Don frowned walking into the room before seeing who he hit in the back with the door. “Ken?”

“Yeah,” Ken laughed straightening up and seeing who Don had in his arms, “Is that Matt?”

“That’s me,” Matt answered with a small giggle as Don held him closer.

“Oh my,” Ken gasped noticing how much Matt had already grown, “He has grown so much. I don’t even think he could talk when I last saw him.”

“Believe me,” Hart came up from behind Ken, making him slightly jump, “He can do a lot more than just talk. He is a crazy little guy, just like his father.”

“Uncle Hart,” Matt smiled as Don slowly let him to the ground, “Can I have a piggyback ride?”

“Of course you could little guy,” Hart agreed with a small smile, getting to one knee so Matt could jump on, “Jump on and get ready for the ride.”

“Cool,” Matt laughed wrapping his arm’s around Hart’s neck as he stood up, “What is all of this weird stuff?”

“This is where I work,” Hart answered walking over towards his desk, “It’s like grownup play.”

“It doesn’t look like much fun,” Matt frowned reaching for something on Hart’s desk, “What is this thing?”

“That’s a paperweight,” Hart replied, catching the paperweight as it accidentally fell from Matt’s little hands. “Those are heavy, you don’t want to drop that on someone‘s foot…it would really hurt someone pretty bad.”

“That would be a bad thing. What’s that Uncle Hart?” Matt wondered as Hart set Matt down and followed him to the paper shredder. “What does it do?”

“It rips papers,” Hart informed Matt, grabbing him a piece of paper from his desk, “Like this.”

“That is so cool,” Matt gasped watching the paper go down, “Can I try?”

“As long as you keep your fingers far away from it,” Hart nodded slowly grabbing a piece of paper.

“I will,” Matt promised grabbing the piece of paper and putting it in, “That’s so cool.”

“He’s gotten so tall,” Ken repeated looking back towards Don who nodded with a small smile, “I never thought he would be that big by now.”

“I guess it’s been a long time,” Don sighed seeing Ken nod slowly, “So, how are you doing?”

“I’m okay,” Ken answered with a small sigh, “I guess you could say I have felt better.”

“Well, at least you're not all bad,” Don pointed out with a small smile seeing Ken nod before his frowning.

“Don, I’m sorry for everything I said to you at the hospital,” Ken apologized remembering the way that he acted towards Don, “I really mean it.”

“It’s okay,” Don assured him with a simple shrug, “I guess you could say I don’t hold real strong grudges toward people. Just look back at my history.”


“I’m going to call Jenna,” Kipp sighed getting off the couch while Kellen was still holding a sleeping Charles, “I think she should meet her nephew.”

“Sounds good,” Kellen nodded looking down at the sleeping baby. Charles was so adorable and he definitely showed it. He slept so soundly in his arms and his was so cute.

Kipp smiled at the way that Kellen looked at Charles. Those two were really close and it showed. He sighed in deeply before walking towards the phone. He knew this would be a good chance to talk to Jenna if he called her over. He picked up the phone and dialed her number…listening to the ringing for a moment. It seemed to be going on forever.

“Hello,” Jenna answered before Kipp was about to hang up, thinking she wasn’t home.

“Jenna, it’s Kipp,” Kipp grinned to himself, walking towards the window and glancing outside, “I was wondering if you were busy at the moment.”

“Not fully,” Jenna replied with a small sigh, “Why? What do you have in mind?”

“Well, I was just wondering if you would like to come over at meet your nephew, Charles,” Kipp answered hearing Jenna gasp over the phone.

“You mean…you brought him home?” Jenna questioned before going on. “I can come see him…in person?”

“Of course,” Kipp agreed with a small laugh, “You are welcome here anytime. I think it would be cool if he got to meet another member of my family. So what do you say? Are you too busy to come over here?”

“Of course I’m not,” Jenna declared looking around the room, “I will just grab something and I will be over your house in a little bit. I really want to meet the little one.”

“Okay,” Kipp sighed before shrugging his shoulders to himself, he didn’t want to force her to do anything. “If you are too busy…I guess you could come some other time.”

“No, don’t you dare back out on me,” Jenna snapped her fingers with a small laugh, “I am coming right over. In fact, I am leaving now.”

“Okay, I’ll see you in a little bit,” Kipp laughed, hanging up the phone and walking back towards Kellen who was humming a song to Charles. “Is he still sleeping?”

“He woke up for a minute, but he fell back asleep,” Kellen replied lightly rocking the baby in his arms, “Is Jenna coming over to meet him?”

“Yep,” Kipp answered with a laugh, “She said she was coming right over here.”

“That’s good,” Kellen let out a deep breath as he held the baby closer to him.

“I’m glad to see that you are feeling better now,” Kipp told Kellen seeing Kellen’s light blue eyes look up at him, “I got kind of worried when you were going on about Heather.”

“Well, I just didn’t think that this whole thing was right because she was never there for the baby and you were,” Kellen pointed out with a small frown. “That's just why I am upset. This baby is hooked to you…he’s yours. He’s attached to you already. She just can‘t try this like she is doing. She has no way that she is going to win and I really can‘t believe that someone would be helping her out with this one. What an idiot.”

“I know, but speaking of attached,” Kipp smiled looking over the baby that was sleeping soundly in Kellen’s arms, “Looks like I’m not the only one he is attached to. It looks like he has a new cuddling buddy with him.”

“You think he likes me?” Kellen wondered smiling to himself, seeing the baby snuggle closer into Kellen’s arms making Kellen’s heart melt at the sight of it.

“I think he loves you already Kellen,” Kipp replied with a sigh seeing the two of them together. It was a great sight as he thought to himself. “Why wouldn’t Charles love a person like Kellen? He was a great guy.”


Dean sat across from Deidra watching her pick at her food while the booming music of the dance floor seemed to surround them with an air of colorful vibrancy, yet there was something gnawing at her. Dean could see that now and even his attempts at clever, witty conversation couldn’t break her mood. Leaning forward he spoke up in a low, teasing whisper.

“What if I told you right about now all I wanted to do was leap over this table and ravish you right here and now in front of this crowd? What would you say to such a request?” Dean questioned suggestively getting pretty much no impact from his suggestion. He frowned, “Deidra.”

“What?” she looked up from her plate seeing his worried brown eyes upon her. “I’m sorry, what were you saying?”

“I was saying that I’m worried about you,” he admitted before pausing, “well no actually I was thinking up a few ways for us to get arrested out here, but you didn’t seem to be interested in hearing them.”

“I’m sorry,” she shrugged slumping over placing her elbows on the table, “I guess I’m just not in the best of moods today.”

“I’ve noticed,” he replied leaning back in his chair a bit, “So what gives? What’s bothering you?”

“I honestly don’t know. I mean one second I think everything is fine and then…” she started to explain when there was a squealing sound rising from the crowd.

“Dean Carlisle!” a blonde woman with far too much makeup on exclaimed rushing over to their table, “I thought I recognized you. How have you been?”

“I’ve been good,” Dean answered stiffly, shifting a bit uneasily in his chair, “really good.”

“You’d never know it by the way you don’t bother to write or even call anyone back home these days,” the woman scolded him, “You’d think you just up and vanished leaving the rest of us behind.”

“You caught me,” Dean joked nervously before looking to Deidra, “Shame on me, right?”

“You’re damn right shame on you,” the woman waved at him dismissively before looking to Deidra, “And just who are you, you pretty thing?”

“I’m Deidra and you are,” Deidra began to question, her curiosity peaked.

“About to excuse us because we’re going to dance,” Dean rose from his chair reaching out to pull Deidra up from her chair without so much as a response to his quick exit.

Once they were out on the dance floor surrounded by the thick of people moving to the pounding beats Deidra looked at him with confused eyes. She watched him look over by their table where the woman had now walked away, yet she could see there was something happening beneath the surface. She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by the feel of his breath skimming in over her lips.

“Dance with me,” he spoke up in a seductive slur, placing his hands over her hips and pulling her flush against him.

Dean’s body rocked against hers, grinding to the music as Deidra felt a heat shoot right up through her. She felt him slide his hands up over her sides, sliding out over her arms before he twirled her. She spun to the pounding, throbbing beats of the music until she ultimately wound up in his arms again.

“Dean, what was that about,” she questioned feeling him drop his lips down to her neck for a tiny nibble.

“It’s nothing,” he mouthed hotly in the back of her ear, his hands dropping down to her pert bottom. He offered a suggestive squeeze before nibbling on her earlobe, “I want to get you out of here. I want to take you home and get you out of this dress.”

“Dean I…” Deidra closed her eyes losing herself to the sensations of his lips tapering off over the base of her throat. Whether or not she wanted to admit it, her pulse was racing, her mind swirling with all sorts of irrational thoughts when she was certain she should be asking him about the woman that had approached them.

“Go home with me. Let’s get out of here,” he persisted with his urgent requests once more, driving her thoughts out of the room--out of the rationality they’d once been until all she could focus on was the feel of his hands over her, guiding her soft curves up towards his lean, muscular lines. She bit down on her lip for a moment, reopening her eyes to see an intensity behind his eyes.

“Alright,” she nodded eagerly, her arms squeezing around his shoulders, “but let me go to the ladies room first.”

Dean seemed to be reluctant to comply to that request, but after a moment’s contemplation he released her. Taking a step back, he reached for her hand lifting it to his lips in a gentlemanly gesture.

“Don’t be long,” he pleaded with a small smile, the temporary darkness leaving his features.

“I won’t be,” she replied with one last look before heading towards the ladies room to give herself some distance and space to clear her head. Something didn’t feel right with his wanting to make a quick exit. It wasn’t like him after he’d tried all night long to get her to enjoy herself. Something was missing from this puzzle.

Swept up in her thoughts, Deidra pushed her way into the ladies room ready to take a few minutes to herself when she noticed a whisper of a shadow behind her in the mirror. Out of the corner of her eye she saw golden blonde hair behind her. With a gasp she spun around to see the woman who had been at the table now right in front of her.

“A word to the wise Deidra,” the woman spoke in a different tone. Her words didn’t have that same friendly, curious air that they’d had at the table. Now she too seemed to have darkness moving through her strained features, “If you know what’s good for you, then you’ll stay far away from Dean Carlisle. He’s no good for any woman.”

“What?” Deidra blinked back with surprise. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” the woman replied clenching her purse tighter, “He’s only going to bring you down and if you’re not careful, he’ll bury you with his madness.”

“Look, I don’t know who you think you are, but…” Deidra started to argue with her feeling immediately on edge over the confrontation.

“I’m the voice of reason and you’d be best suited to listen to it,” the woman reached out to clench her arm tightly. The woman started to shake her with the words, “You’re putting yourself at risk in being with him.”

“Let go of me!” Deidra demanded shaking the woman’s hold off of her.

Deidra watched the woman try to reach out to her once again, but Deidra shoved her away and made a quick run for the exit. She could hear the woman calling out to her, but she wasn’t about to go back in there. The woman was clearly insane and Deidra found her fears mounting by the moment.

Weaving her way through the zigzag hallway that had lead to the ladies’ room, Deidra felt her heart pounding in her chest. She wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into, but she was quite certain she wasn’t going to stick around long enough to find out. She circled around the turn in front of her, certain that she’d heard the woman at her heels. She opened her mouth to scream out, but instead she felt a distinct tug around her waist pulling her into darkness.

Deidra opened her mouth to scream, but instead she felt a hand clasped over her mouth stifling her cries. Her brown eyes grew wide struggling to see in the darkness as she felt herself in cramped quarters. There was no mistaking the all male form that surrounded her, the arms that wrapped her up and held her tightly. Regardless of how aware of those arms she was, she couldn’t seem to shake loose. She heard footsteps outside of the room she’d been pulled into, but to cry out was useless. She started to writhe in her captor’s grasp, but it was like trying to wrestle a brick wall. He wouldn’t budge.

Deidra closed her eyes feeling panic sweep in over her, paralyzing her with fear while thoughts of her own mortality carried through her. She was afraid before in the ladies’ room, but that paled in comparison to the way she felt being locked in this dark, claustrophobic place with the psycho who had nabbed her. Memories of her time with Bruce flashed through her mind and just when she thought she was going to lose it, she felt the man who grabbed her turn her in his arms.

“Let go of me,” she whimpered underneath his hand only to see a faint flicker of light in front of her face. She realized it was a flame--a flame that could eat her alive--could destroy her if she wasn’t careful--a flame that… No, it wasn’t that kind of flame, she realized. It was the flame from a lighter and behind the flickering hint of fire, she found herself met by a pair of familiar dark eyes.

“Don’t scream,” Dean whispered keeping the lighter on. He shifted it around in his hand moving it haphazardly from one to the other, while his body still pressed into Deidra. He leaned forward, his voice softening as he began to ease up his hold over her mouth, “Deidra you have to be quiet.”

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she hissed fear running up and over ever inch of her body.

“I’m saving you from having to deal with her,” Dean explained knowingly, “I saw her follow you into the ladies’ room and…”

“And what? You thought you’d just spare me her attack by what? Giving me a heart attack?” she chastised him feeling her anger boiling by the second. She opened her mouth to speak up once again, but instead felt his hand clamp over her mouth again. There was another sound outside the small closet they were in, but it soon passed as well.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he confessed shamefully, “but I didn’t have any other choice.”

“There’s always other choices,” Deidra replied harshly, her anger mounting, “Who the hell was that woman?”

“She was someone I used to know--someone who was obsessed with me. She wasn’t happy with the way that I did things and she made my life miserable by reminding me time and time again how I’d failed her,” Dean admitted painfully, his eyes flickering with the flame from the lighter for a brief moment.

“Was she an ex-lover?” Deidra couldn’t help but ask.

He shook his head, “No, but the level of betrayal that woman feels from what I did or rather what I couldn’t do runs far deeper then it would if she had been a scorned lover of mine.”

“I don’t understand,” she blinked back at him, realization dawning in over her that she still had no idea who this man was before her.

“It was work related,” he confessed his words laced with remorse, “She wanted something and I couldn’t give it to her. She was highly upset and that was the end of it. I left town and moved on. I never looked back.”

“I just don’t understand why she would…” Deidra began again, her words failing to convey what she was feeling.

“Because she’s angry and upset. When people are angry and upset they do things--they say things and they behave in such ways that…” his jaw clenched as he strained for words.

“That what?” she asked in a low whisper.

“That aren’t about you and I,” he shook his head refusing to go down that road again, “Deidra, I brought you here tonight because I wanted to give you a night to remember. I wanted to show you something special--something that you could take with you after today--something that…”

“Dean,” she spoke his name seeing inner turmoil behind his eyes before the second that the flame went out.

She felt the blackness surround her and a newfound sense of worry swept over her. She had chills creeping in over her spine, her heart was pounding in her chest and before she could vocalize what she was feeling, she heard the sounds of Dean’s breath moving in over her. She tipped her head up seeking him out through the darkness, but there was nothing. He’d moved from where he’d had her pinned before and in the emptiness Deidra felt another chill move in over her.

“Dean,” she spoke his name uneasily her knees shaky, her voice trembling. She stepped forward, turning in the darkness to her left, which was the way she’d assumed the door was. Stretching her fingers out, she felt a wall before her and she attempted to turn again, but instead she felt Dean step in behind her.

“I want you,” he mouthed in the back of her ear, his breath sending a jolt of electricity over her body. She attempted to move forward again only to feel his arm curl around her waist. Her lips parted and his other hand dropped down to her thigh, moving in up over the bottom of her dress. “Now…”

“Dean, I don’t think that…” Deidra half whimpered feeling his fingers pushing the material of her dress up over her hips. His fingers skimmed over the edge of her satin panties. She dropped her hand down to protest momentarily, but instead felt her hands press flush against the wall before her. His chest crushed into her spine, his breath hot against her neck as his fingers moved inside of her. She arched her head back giving in to this crazy notion he’d put into motion without hesitation. She closed her eyes feeling the sensations he’d stirred up inside of her with each intensified movement his touch awakened a whole, new heightened sense of discovery to the moment.

“Don’t think, just feel,” he pleaded with her tearing at her clothing before spinning her in his arms.

She couldn’t see him through the darkness, but she could sense him beside her, almost feel the heat of his gaze burning over her. She reached out to him, her arms enveloping him as she felt him inside of her, moving with an intensity that left her breathless. Sure, they’d made love before, but this…this was so uncharacteristic for Dean--far more primal than anything they’d shared up until now and yet, feeling each driving movement they made with one another knowing full well that anyone could find them at any moment, Deidra couldn’t help but want more. She kissed him, her teeth sinking into his lower lip, her nails scratching down his back and up again underneath his shirt. Her leg curled tighter around his lower body, squeezing him harder than she normally would’ve and it felt fantastic. She was one moment scared out of her mind, the next, here she was with the man whom she’d been second guessing at every twist and turn of the last couple of days enjoying every moment with him. Yes, it could go bad. Yes, there could be something about him that could tear her world apart, but suddenly it was irrelevant. Nothing else was important. Nothing mattered except for what was happening with her and Dean right here, right now.


“I can’t get him on the phone,” Seth explained after trying Grady’s number for the third time. “He must be tied up.”

“Well, as much as I’d like to meet him, I suppose that I’ll have to do it later,” Kevin frowned thinking about the situation that was going on with Jade. He’d been in town a short while and yet he’d felt like he hadn’t accomplished much of anything in getting them any step closer to finding his cousin, “So what about the police? What do they have for us?”

“Not more than we do,” Seth sighed heavily, “They’ve given me the run around, but at this point I feel like we know more than they do.”

“Most of the time that’s the case,” Blake admitted with a small sigh, “They’ve been ineffective in a lot of things lately.”

“How so?” Kevin turned to look at her.

“Well for starters they weren’t all that helpful when Brant was trying to tell them that Bruce Mathis was still alive,” Blake began thinking about the mess that her brother had gotten into, but before she could say anything further, Kevin made a small grunting sound and there were a pair of arms around his neck.

“Hey handsome,” Trisha blurted out excitedly hugging him from up on his back.

“Trisha,” Kevin maneuvered her haphazardly in his arms until she was off of his back and right in front of him, “What are you doing here?”

“Saying hello,” she explained as he set her down on the ground once again. “You all looked so glum standing here and I thought I’d come over and brighten the mood.”

“Well it’s not something that we can just ignore here since we were talking about Jade’s disappearance,” Seth replied matter of fact.

“Have you found any leads?” Trisha questioned curiously, “I know that the police have been working overtime according to the news. When I think of what happened to her, I still can’t make sense of it. Things like that never seemed to happen in Coral Valley and especially not to anyone I knew.”

“We’re going to find her,” Kevin promised vowing not to let his cousin get lost in the shuffle.

“Have there been any kind of random demands or a note or anything?” Trisha replied thinking about the things she’d seen on the news.

“No and that’s what bothers me,” Seth frowned, “because whoever has her has no intention of bringing her back…”

“Or they’re waiting for the right moment to strike,” Kevin finished with a scowl of his own, “But we’re not going to give them that advantage. We’re going to find Jade.”

“Of course we are,” Blake added tilting her head up to watch Seth as she feared that all their hopes for the future were in vain. Given that they hadn’t heard anything yet, it could only mean that something bad was right around the corner--possibly something none of them wanted to face.


“I can’t believe that cousin of Seth’s, he had no right to push me back like that. Did you even hear what he said to me when he told me to shut up? That animal is so rude,” Valerie stomped her feet on the pavement, seeing JT roll his eyes, “You never stick up for me JT, why? Every time one of Seth‘s friends come along to stick up for him you just sit there. Why do you never help me fight the battles. Like with that cousin of Seth‘s?”

“Have you taken a good look at Seth’s cousin? Have you seen how big he is?” JT questioned with a big laugh. “He could break me in half and my back isn’t worth you. That man looks like he could kill anyone easily. If he flicked you his hardest, you would probably go flying into the wall.”

“You’re such a bad liar,” Valerie informed him seeing him shrug, “I’ve seen Seth’s cousin plenty of times. He is big, really big, but not that big. Is he? You know, he was okay looking in the past…kind of like Seth, but he is really such a jerk. I really don’t know why people are treating me like this when I try to talk to my husband.”

“You know, I have an idea. If you wanted to get Seth jealous,” JT began, rubbing his chin lightly for a second…trying to think, “Why don’t you try to sleep with his cousin? Wait a second, that family knows how to read through someone who is shallow and transparent right? In that case, you may be out of luck because I think he would be too smart to sleep with a girl like you. My bad, I must have been thinking you were someone else.”

“What is wrong with you lately?” Valerie questioned…thinking for a moment before frowning. “I am sure that I can get almost any guy that I want. In fact, I know I could.”

“Val, I’m tired of this…I really don’t want to live with you anymore and it hasn‘t even been that long,” JT groaned, rubbing his aching head, “I really don’t like this whole set up.”

“Why are you saying all of this JT?” Valerie wondered, holding her hands up in the air. “Do you really have to act like this right now? After what Seth just did what he did.”

“Yeah, I do,” JT scowled looking around for a second before explaining something to her, “You see…I don’t like you, nor will I ever. Another thing, you are worthless. You haven’t even helped me out with my case. Ben and Diane are still together. You’ve never helped me…I’ve helped you all the time and I get nothing in return from you.”

“Oh yeah?” Valerie questioned after spotting something in the store across the street from them. “Watch this?”

“What are you doing now?” JT questioned angrily seeing Valerie cross the street quickly, before he yelled out to her. “Val, what are you doing?”

“Just watch this,” she yelled back as he saw her walk into the store. That’s when he noticed what she saw. It was Ben and Diane shopping together.

“I have to see this,” JT smiled, quickly crossing the street…dodging the people walking down the sidewalk as he entered the store, following Valerie closely.

“Perfect,” Valerie laughed to herself as she approached Ben and Diane who were shopping together. “Ben.”

“Val?” Ben questioned with a smile seeing her behind him. “What are you doing here?”

“Ben, I really need to talk to you,” Valerie informed him as she looked towards Diane who seemed to be getting nervous making her smile, “Really badly.”


“You’re not getting away that easily,” Nick announced popping out from underneath the water. His arm curled around Angela, pulling her back into his arms. “I caught you.”

“Who said I was trying to have you chase me?” she questioned sliding her arms around his neck as a smile touched over the corners of her mouth.

“You’ve been running from me all morning, but I’ve got a confession to make,” Nick whispered the heat of his breath striking over her damp lips.

“Yeah, what’s that?” she questioned feeling him move in towards the edge of the cavern they’d wound up in with one another. She’d been here a great many times exploring over the years, but never with someone like Nick. This had always been kind of her personal, private space, but now as he held her, she knew that she’d enjoy welcoming him to her private world.

“Now that I have you, I’m never letting you go,” he mouthed capturing her lips in a hungry, desperate union. She felt his arms around her, over her, under her lifting her up to his rigid body. She came out from the water, sliding up on the smooth surface behind her just out of his reach.

“I’m not that easy Nick,” she teased moving up to her feet and carefully maneuvering herself over the wet rock beneath her, “If you’re looking to get lucky, you’re going to have to work for it.”

“Somehow I had the feeling that this would happen once we started talking marriage,” he teased reaching out to pull himself out from the water onto the rock wall in front of him.

“Spoken like a typical man,” Angela rolled her eyes. Throwing her arms out in the air, she spun around to face him again with mock-irritation, “Tell me isn’t there more to life and romance than just a quick…”

Before she could finish her words she watched Nick stand up on top of the rock. He tried to maintain some sense of balance, but he wound up failing miserably as he fell right back into the water.

“Nick you have to be careful,” Angela couldn’t help but chuckle watching him go under. She waited for a moment hoping that he would resurface, but after what felt like an unusually long time for him to be under, she started to worry. Moving forward she tried to peer into the water, but there was no sign of him other than the waves in the water that came about from his fall. She waited a second longer before she leapt into the water again herself in search of him. Fearing that he could’ve hit his head in the fall, she opened her eyes under the water ready to seek him out when she saw him swimming towards her, his mouth collecting hers in a kiss.

“Damn you,” Angela blurted out swatting at him as they resurfaced, “Nick, you scared the hell out of me.”

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist,” he teased feeling her hit him once again, “It’s just when you were lecturing me, I really did lose my balance, but then I started wondering if you’d come to rescue me.”

“I should’ve left you there for shark bait,” she grumbled back at him, “It would’ve served you right.”

“Oh honey, I didn’t mean to upset you,” he smiled back at her, “You know I wouldn’t do that intentionally.”

“Sure you would you jerk,” she curled her lip in a pout, “Here I am worried you might’ve drown and…”

“And I wouldn’t have drown. I was all state champion in junior high there on my summer camp swim team,” Nick replied matter of fact catching them both by surprise.

“You what?” Angela blinked back at him, “Nick, do you realize what you just said?”

“Yeah I think I do,” he nodded a blank expression over his face, “I don’t know where that came from, but I distinctly remember getting some kind of trophy.”

“Anything else?” Angela asked interested, “That’s a good beginning and if our being here can trigger something more…”

“I don’t know what else more,” he paused trying to hold onto the memory that had broken through the surface. “I can just see the trophy. It was huge and it had this gold writing on it and…”

“And what?” she questioned further.

“And that’s all that’s there, but I know it has to be real,” he admitted eagerly, “Angela I know how to swim. I was on the swim team.”

“Well obviously,” she laughed lightly, “and maybe our being here is helping you remember.”

“Maybe, although it’s not a very exciting memory,” he shrugged his shoulders, “Nothing earth shaking.”

“Maybe not, but it’s a start. Maybe it will lead to something more for you--something that we can use with one another,” she suggested hopeful for something more to come of it.

“Perhaps, but right now there’s one memory that I’d really like to get lost in…” he confessed in a low, heated whisper.

“What memory might that be?” she questioned curiously.

“The one I’m about to make with you,” he revealed claiming her lips with fiery intent determined not to let passion take a backseat now that he had her in his arms again.


“Okay now I want to know what it is you think you’re going to be doing with my wife and I want to know now,” Brant announced entering Avery’s office only to discover the room empty. He looked around seeing papers on her desk, but no sign of her. Immediately his eyes moved to her private bathroom wondering if perhaps Avery had told Grady to get lost so that she could get back to work, but then remembering Avery’s need to help Grady, he felt himself filled with worry.

“Avery,” he spoke her name tentatively making a move towards the bathroom area, “Avery are you in there?”

He paused for a moment waiting again for a response, but when there was none his worries mounted. He rushed forward thinking about the way that Grady seemed ready to rope Avery into something he was certain she shouldn’t be getting herself into. He’d hoped she was smarter than that to go off on one of Grady’s misadventures, but he was starting to have his doubts.

Knowing that the bathroom was empty, Brant inhaled slowly hoping that Avery had just run off to do something around the office. There was plenty to do here--plenty that she could’ve gotten herself into that was work related. He was sure of that and that had to be where she was. Yes Avery wouldn’t have taken off, would she? No, it wasn’t possible. Or was it?

Hearing the sound of her office door opening from behind him Brant let out a breath of relief, “I knew you’d be back.”

He spun around to greet her only to discover Cathy standing before him with an armload of folders.

“I didn’t know you were waiting for me,” she replied with a flirty smile carrying the pile over to Avery’s desk. She set them down before adjusting her revealing blouse to offer Brant an even deeper view of her cleavage.

“Actually I thought you were Avery,” Brant frowned ignoring Cathy’s attempts at enticing him, “You wouldn’t have happened to have seen her, would you?”

“Sure,” she nodded with an enthusiastic grin, “She just left a little while ago with that hot looking lawyer that’s been hanging out around here lately. I think his name is Grady.”

“Do you happen to know where they went?” Brant began worried, “Did they say anything?”

“No, but I can guarantee if I was alone with someone as sexy as he was, I wouldn’t waste any time with the opportunity if you know what I mean,” Cathy slurred licking her lips at the prospect. She saw Brant’s frown intensify, “I mean it’s not that you’re not a hot guy yourself there because you are. Any woman in the world would want you and if Avery’s not smart enough to treat you right…”

“Back off Cathy,” Brant snapped back at her, his anger growing exponentially by the moment, “Right now I need to find my wife.”

“But…” Cathy stammered seeing him rush over to the door. “Where are you going?”

“I have a pretty good idea where Grady took her and it’s not going to happen. I’m not going to let my wife be subjected to what he’s got in mind for her,” Brant announced before racing out of Avery’s office in a fury ready to do what was necessary to make sure that Grady wasn’t able to put Avery in harm’s way once again.


“You sure you’re up for this,” Grady questioned stepping into the observation room with Avery.

“Of course I’m up for this, but if you’d like we can rehash the plan one more time if need be,” she suggested placing her hands on her hips.

“Well for starters…” Grady paused giving her a brief once over. A frown touched over the corners of his lips, “I thought you’d changed.”

“I did, but the blouse you gave me was a bit too tight,” she frowned back at him, “I didn’t think it would work if I was busting out on top.”

“Avery, I need you to perfect the look,” Grady pleaded with her, “If you don’t match the picture perfectly…”

“What picture?” Avery questioned giving him a strange look.

“I don’t have time for this, but look the other night I found something--a photo,” Grady paused, “It was of a woman and Cameron and she looked a lot like you…”

“How much like me?” she asked taking a step forward.

“Enough like you that if you go in there right now and do what we talked about, then this could work,” Grady offered up not wanting to tell her just how much the woman in the photo looked like her, “Let’s just say if you were in that blouse, then Cameron will buy it. Besides, I thought it was a stretchy material.”

“It was, but I’m all breasts in it Grady,” she threw out a pointed look, “it’s one of the perks of pregnancy remember?”

“Avery, I wouldn’t ask this if it wasn’t necessary, but…” he started again.

“Look, the woman in the photo. When you saw it, she wasn’t pregnant right? I’m pregnant. It’s not going to be as easy to hide as I’m hoping. I mean okay, so I’m not like super huge here and I haven’t gained a lot of weight but…”

“But it’ll work as long as you change,” Grady looked to the bag on the table top beside him. He reached into it and tossed the blouse at her once again, “Besides being all breasts might be a good thing for what we’re trying to do here.”

“You’re impossible,” she snarled up at him catching the blouse mid-movement, “I hope you realize that.”

“I do, but in the end when Jade’s home, it’ll be worth it,” Grady replied hopeful as Avery took off the jacket she’d had on. She began to peel open the buttons on her blouse and Grady’s eyes opened wider, “What are you doing?”

“Changing,” she waved her hand at him dismissively, “now if you could turn around and give me a moment of privacy since you’re the one insisting on this damned blouse, which by the way is far too pink for my liking.”

“Hey, it’s what we needed for the role,” Grady reminded her turning around and keeping his eyes on the window in front of him. While he knew no one on the other side of the double sided mirror could see in, he felt an uneasiness overtake him as he caught Avery’s reflection in the glass before him. Turning in the opposite direction, he closed his eyes, “You almost ready?”

“Yeah, I’m finished,” she nodded pulling her hair out of the top of the blouse. “Better?”

“It’s a start,” Grady decided making one step towards her, “but one more thing.”

He pulled a beaded barrette out of the brown bag on the table and handed it to her. She gave him a strange look before he reached out to her, bringing his fingers through her dark hair.

“What are you doing,” she asked with wide eyes.

“You need to have it up. Just like…” he twisted her hair up on the top of her head before putting the clip in, “this.”

“Are you sure,” she asked feeling his hand rest on her shoulder.

“I’m positive,” he nodded in confession, “you look perfect for the role.”

“Okay, so I just go in there and try to get him to talk, right,” Avery asked adjusting the blouse once again.

“That’s right,” he nodded, “You let him do most of the talking and remember if things get uncomfortable you get up and walk out. You don’t let him control the situation, but let him believe that you’re the one he knows…”

“I can do that,” she nodded taking in his advice, “and this woman, did she have a name? Was there something to go along with it?”

“That’s the part we had a problem with. I wasn’t able to dig that up yet, but we’re working on it. If he says anything like calling you angel or baby, then don’t try to slug him,” Grady urged her on. “From what I did uncover he was rumored to have called this woman angel.”

“Angel,” she groaned inwardly, “Why do I find it hard to envision Cameron with anything that is even remotely religious?”

“Look it’s all I could come up with in this short time, so it’s going to have to work. Deal?” Grady questioned hearing a sound in the room on the other side of the glass. He watched a guard escort Cameron into the area before he looked to Avery again. “Are you sure you’re up for this?”

“Of course I am,” she reached for her purse putting it in front of her abdomen. She stood taller, clearing her throat and rolling her shoulders back, “If Cameron wants an angel, then I’ll give him an angel right before I deliver him to hell for his sins.”

“That’s my girl,” Grady replied proudly. He watched her move past him, ready to take Cameron on and in that moment he reached out to touch her shoulder to stop her. “And Avery?”

“Yes?” she asked glancing up over her shoulder at him, “What? What is it? Is something wrong?”

“No, you’re perfect. You’re absolutely perfect,” he explained with a heartfelt smile, “Just be careful.”

“I will,” she promised with a smile of her own, “Cameron’s the one who doesn’t know what’s about to hit him. He’s the one you need to worry about not me.”

“I truly hope so,” Grady mouthed watching her exit thinking about how this plan had to work. He heard the door in the other room opening and he turned to watch the scene taking place before him. He just prayed that this gamble he and Avery were about to take was going to pay off.


Kyle stepped off the elevator and began walking to Susan’s room. He was going to handle this whole thing with Susan…once and for all. A small laugh came out of him as he thought back to the way Grady and Avery were worried about him. He could handle Susan, he would do almost anything to keep Avery away from some type of danger. He stopped in front of Susan’s room taking a deep breath. He went to knock, but the door slowly opened as he raised his eyebrow in curiosity.

“Susan,” he called out her name, pushing the door aside and taking a look inside seeing her nowhere around him. “Susan, are you in here?”

“I’m here,” she called out as he shut the door behind him, “Give me a second, I am just finishing something up here. I saw you coming from the window.”

“Freaky,” Kyle whispered, shaking his head to himself looking around the room. Grady was right, he knew that Susan was close to being a psycho, but it wasn’t something he couldn’t handle. He had to deal with psychos all the time with the business he was in. Susan was no different than the other people. He knew that Susan knew more than what she was already telling him and it was just a matter of time before he got her talking. He knew it was possible to do it, but it would just be a really hard process. “I really need to talk to you when you are in here.”

“I know we really need to get things straight when I am done with this stuff,” she agreed as he heard her knock something over and he turned around quickly.

“What are you doing?” Kyle questioned, interested after hearing her try to pick everything up. “Susan is everything okay back there? Did you break something?”

“Everything is okay,” she assured him as he arched his eyebrow in curiosity, “I’ll be just another second.”

“Okay,” Kyle nodded looking around the room seeing a few things thrown on the ground. What was Susan exactly doing around here? What was she up to?

He felt a sudden rush of curiosity as he heard the place go quiet. Where did she go? In the midst of his thoughts, he heard Susan coming in from behind him and he turned after feeling a pain in his neck.

“What the hell are you doing?” Kyle questioned after feeling her creep up on him. He spun around seeing her behind him, but before he could say anything further, Kyle found himself caught up in the shock of his life.


...to be continued...