Episode 223

“Thanks for the ice cream,” Matt thanked Don from the backseat of Don’s car, “I really liked it.”

“It’s not a problem buddy,” Don assured him with a small laugh before looking down at his shirt and shaking his head slowly, “I wish I liked it as much as you did.”

“It was your fault that you got it all over yourself,” Matt pointed out with a giggle, thinking back to what his father had done earlier at the ice-cream shop, “You have all the ice cream on your shirt and it was all your fault daddy.”

“It wasn’t completely all my fault,” Don protested, shrugging his shoulders trying to make himself feel less like an idiot, “How was I supposed to know that it was too soft. The whole thing dumped on me.”

“Yeah, but the whole point of an ice cream is to hold it right, not upside down,” Matt replied with a small giggle trying to inform his father of the new original ways to eat ice-cream, “Everyone but you seems to know that.”

“Well, sorry if I was trying to show you something,” Don faked a frown, trying to make laugh at his remark, “I was just trying to make my son laugh.”

“You made me laugh,” Matt declared as they pulled up into the driveway, “I just didn’t laugh at your joke, I laughed at you spilling that on yourself. That was funny.”

“Well, I’m glad you got a laugh out of that,” Don stated, getting out of the car and opening Matt’s door to help him out, “Because now I am all sticky.”

“Daddy, look,” Matt pointed towards their front door where he saw Shannon sitting on the porch, looking straight ahead, “It’s the woman that was at the park the other day.”

“Yeah, it is,” Don nodded, taking Matt’s hand in his, “How about you go inside and get ready to take a nap while I talk to Ms. Shannon over here?”

“Okay,” Matt agreed with a smile, running up to the porch and scaring Shannon on accident, “Hi, Ms. Shannon.”

“Hey Matt,” Shannon smiled, as Matt walked around her and into the front door.

“Shannon,” Don called out her name as she turned around looking back at him as he approached her on the sidewalk, “What are you doing here?”

“I just came here because I thought we should really talk--for real this time,” she replied before noticing something smeared all over the front of his shirt, making her laugh out seeing the big mess over his body. “What is all over your shirt?”

“Oh yeah,” Don frowned, touching the sticky remains of the ice-cream on his shirt before frowning, “Matt wanted some ice-cream so I decided to take him out for some.”

“It looks like you missed your mouth,” she pointed out with another laugh, seeing Don roll his eyes, “I don’t mean to make fun of you, but that’s great. I’ve never seen someone your age get that messy from ice-cream. Sure, maybe Matt’s age, but not ours.”

“That’s not true,” Don protested, folding his arms out in front of his chest trying to think of someone he knows who have done it, “I have seen…some people do it by accident. In fact I am sure people do it all the time.”

“Yeah, maybe a little drip,” Shannon agreed before shaking her head, seeing the big stain on his shirt, “But the whole ice-cream. You must really be clumsy. Never mind, I already know as a matter of fact that you truly are clumsy.”

“Enough about my clumsiness,” Don sighed, motioning her to follow him inside the house, seeing her nod and begin to follow him, “Come on in, I have to change before I feel even more like a bigger idiot then I already do.”

“I’m not trying to make you seem like an idiot, it’s just funny,” she informed him, shutting the door and following him through the house, “I remember that one time when were in bed and…”

“That wasn’t even funny,” Don stated, with a small groan remembering what happened back then, “So, don’t even get started on it. Don’t start now or here.”

“It was funny Don,” Shannon protested, laughing at the embarrassment over his features, “It didn’t stop you--if you remember.”

“I remember perfectly,” Don declared, shaking his head slowly, “I wonder if they are ever going to realize that thing hanging on the wall is gone.”

“Probably not,” she shook her head, taking a seat on the edge of his bed as he went into his closet and she could hear him looking through something things, “Back to what I was saying, I came here so we could talk.”

“About?” he questioned walking out of the closet with a new shirt in his hand.

“Well,” she took in a breath, seeing him unbutton his shirt quickly before sliding the shirt off his shoulders. She laughed seeing him try to throw the shirt in the laundry basket, but it landed over a plant instead.

“I meant to do that,” Don lied quickly as he went to the shirt and placed it in the laundry basket, “So, what were you talking about again?”

“I was coming here to talk about…” she began before seeing him place his fingers over his abs and he began to frown looking down, “What’s wrong?”

“I think the ice-cream soaked through the shirt,” Don replied, feeling his fingers stick to his stomach before he pulled them off roughly, “I’m all sticky and I really don’t like it.”

“Here, let me get you something to clean off with,” Shannon insisted, getting up from the bed and walking towards the bathroom, “Where are the washcloths?”

“In the bathroom,” Don answered before thinking a moment, realizing that she probably already knew that part of the answer, “In the top, right drawer.”

“Okay,” she nodded, walking into the bathroom to grab a cloth and damp it with water. She walked back into the room, seeing him lying down on the bed with his eyes closed. “Here you go.”

“Shannon,” Don jumped, feeling the wet cloth landing on his stomach. The cold making his skin cool down. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” she smiled, sitting down on the bed next to him as he rose to his elbows looking up at her, “Like, I was saying…we need to talk.”

“Right,” Don agreed, running the cloth over his skin, still feeling the stickiness over his body, “I’m sorry about this by the way. I just can’t stand the feeling of being sticky.”

“It’s okay,” she assured him with a small laugh, “I feel the same exact way. I can’t stand that feeling.”


“Kevin,” Trisha frowned seeing his eyes close before she began wrapping her arms around his shoulders, “Are you not having any fun here or something?”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Kevin yawned, standing up from the chair he had been seated in for what seemed like hours and stretching his arms, “I must have fallen asleep sometime between Dustin telling me about him puking in the pool after so many drinks or little Rocky boy telling me about all the hot chicks here tonight that he was hoping to get with after the party was over.”

“I’ll take that as you aren’t having fun,” Trish sighed, biting down on her bottom lip, “I’m sorry Kevin, if I would have known that you weren’t going to be having fun…we could’ve gone somewhere else you know.”

“It’s not you,” Kevin promised, shrugging his shoulders as he took a look around the crowded room, “It’s just…I don’t think I really fit in this crowd--you know?”

“I understand,” she nodded before smiling widely and thinking of something else better, “We could always go somewhere else if you would like.”

“I actually think my night of fun is coming to an end,” Kevin faked a yawn, trying to pull an act out, “I am getting really tired. I haven‘t had a lot of sleep the last few days and..”

“Just a little bit longer,” she begged, pulling on his hand gently trying to get him to go along with it, “Please? I promise you will have fun at this place. It will be great. I swear you will like it. Please Kevin?”

“Trisha, I really don’t know,” Kevin began, trying to think of ways to say no before seeing a frown spread over her features making him sigh--he hated that look coming from anyone, not just her, “Fine. Fine. I‘ll go.”

“Thank you so much,” she giggled, pulling him towards the door, “This is going to be so much fun.”

“I bet it will be,” Kevin agreed before feeling someone run into his shoulder roughly, making him almost lose his balance on the slick floor “Oh, I’m sorry.”

“You better be,” the snarling face of Michelle met his. Was he seeing things or was this real?

“Michelle?” Kevin questioned, seeing her nod and fold her arms out in front of her chest rudely. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I am having some fun with a friend of mine,” Michelle answered with a small smirk, “You know fun? The thing you never seemed to be able to have?”

“Fun? What is your idea of fun?” Kevin wondered, his body growing with anger seeing the face of the woman he despised one more time than he really wanted to. “Using someone for all they have? Taking all of their money and pampering yourself with all of it? Remind me again what fun is with you.”

“Kevin, get over yourself,” Michelle rolled her eyes, poking him in the shoulder lightly--she obviously drunk as Kevin looked her over. You see, that was the bad thing about getting married to a person and then divorcing them--you could always see right through them like glass. That was what was wrong here in Kevin‘s situation. He knew that Michelle was nothing but trash, but still he couldn’t help himself when he got angry by her presence. “The only thing that you were…was a good screw Kevin. A real good screw. But that’s all you ever really were.”

“That’s all?” Kevin questioned with a scowl before laughing to himself thinking back to when they used to be together. It was actually a horrible memory to be having, but at this time it just helped him remember how happy he really was when he got a divorce from her. She was no good anyways. “Honey, just in case you didn’t know…the only thing that made it a good screw--was me because you really suck at that sweetheart.”

“That’s what you're saying now,” Michelle protested back, shaking her head slowly, “You always liked it.”

“Right,” Kevin nodded, rubbing his chin slowly, “So, I guess I really did have it in me back then too. I always knew I would make a great actor one day. And I guess I proved it time and time again when I was with you everyday.”

“Honey,” Michelle smiled walking over to a young guy and wrapping her arms around his neck, “I was looking for you everywhere. I thought I lost you for a moment.”

“Honey?” Kevin choked, seeing the boy in front of him. He couldn’t be any older than nineteen by the way he looked. Scratch that, Kevin knew that the kid wasn’t older than nineteen. Just by the looks of him he could tell that the kid didn’t even know what he was doing at this party. “I see your going for the younger age now? Where are you going to get the money from now Michelle? Their mommies and daddies?”

“Kevin,” Trisha wrapped her arms around his shoulders tightly, trying to lighten the situation for him, “You ready to get going right about now?”

“Yeah,” Kevin nodded slowly, seeing Michelle’s dark eyes following his body as he walked towards the door with Trisha at his side.

“Don’t look back,” Trisha ordered, touching the back of his neck lightly making him turn away from Michelle, “Just make her jealous and wonder what’s going on.”

“Right,” Kevin bit down on his bottom lip, trying to hold back his anger as they reached the outside and he felt the cool air hitting his face lightly, “I can’t stand that woman at all.”

“Well, you know what they say,” Trisha shrugged, touching his shoulder lightly, feeling his muscle contract underneath her touch, “Life’s a bitch and then you marry one.”

“That’s not the story in all the cases Trisha,” Kevin pointed out, stepping forward, knowing how to use his words and explain to her what he meant because he has so many times in the past with the books, “Many people are happy with the person they love. I just seem to fall in love with all the women who pretend like they love me and then--just forget about it.”

“No, you can go ahead and tell me,” she hushed, running her hand over his back lightly, hearing his breathing begin to go back to normal, “That’s if you want to.”

“I don’t really feel like talking about it right now,” Kevin clenched his fist tightly as he thought about what just happened in there. He knew that he shouldn’t be getting this mad about it, but somehow he couldn’t stop himself. Seeing Michelle’s face, just always brought back a rage inside of him. A rage he didn’t like--a rage that he didn’t feel that he needed in his life at the point.

“You want to go back to my place with me?” Trisha questioned, looking up at the look on Kevin’s face. “For some coffee or tea…maybe some hot chocolate?”

Kevin thought for a long second before nodding slowly, “Sure, why not?”


“Diego what’s happening to him,” Sarah questioned watching Kyle drop down onto Diego’s couch. He sat slumped over, his head pointed down near his feet as he seemed to be breaking into tiny tremors.

“I don’t know, but we’re going to find out,” Diego promised hearing a knock at the door. It wasn’t anything significant, but upon hearing the sound, Kyle shot up straight to his feet as if he’d heard something cutting through the air like a knife.

“What was that? Who did that? Where are they?” Kyle questioned in a low, guttural tone, his words rumbling with the timbre in his voice. He held out his hands watching them shake as Sarah and Diego exchanged worried glances. His jaw tightened, flex and he opened his mouth to speak, yet nothing came out. There was a glassiness behind his brown eyes and in that moment Sarah rushed over to him. “What’s happening to me?”

“It’s going to be okay Kyle,” Sarah reached for his hands willing them to stop trembling as he broke into a fit of small convulsions. He fell backward onto Diego’s black, leather sofa. He gulped loudly before tilting his head up towards her to reveal a pained expression.

“Sarah, what’s happening to me,” Kyle’s teeth sank down on his lower lip as he fought to regain control of his physical reactions.

“Kyle, baby it’s going to be alright,” Sarah promised trying to assure herself right along with him as her voice had gone from cool and collected to a shrill cry. She was losing it. Damn her for not being able to control it, but as the events leading up to this moment in time replayed in her mind, she couldn’t hold back.

Tears were falling freely from her face as she watched Kyle break out into his own set of uncaged emotion. His cheeks grew damp with hot tears as his head fell back in a twisted turmoil. He cried out in agony, his body twisting and writhing in ways that Sarah was certain that someone of his size should never be able to. She dropped down to the sofa beside him, desperately reaching out to him, trying to calm him down as her heart was pounding in her chest.

“Baby hold on. Please hold on for me,” Sarah pleaded with him, her words broken by her emotions. She looked up at Diego desperately hoping to hell that he’d come up with some kind of miracle solution to save the love of her life as it was obvious Susan had done something horrible to him. It was bad enough that she’d somehow manipulated him into bed, but now.

“Sarah please…” Kyle begged of her, his dark eyes filled with something primal, something fierce and desperate as he reached out to her. His fingers sank into her arm, breaking into her skin as he leaned in towards her, “Take me home. Get me out of here! I want to go home!”

“Kyle, you need to hold on. Diego and I have to figure out what’s happening to you. Just try to relax and…” she started shifting her gaze between Kyle and Diego as Diego approached them.

“Kyle, I need to find out what’s going on here. I need to know what she gave you,” Diego tried to explain in a cool and reasonable tone knowing full well that Kyle Houston wouldn’t be this way if he hadn’t been drugged in some way, shape or form. Sure, Diego had seen this kind of reaction before, but never this hard or this intense.

“Just make it go away,” Kyle groaned clasping his head with his thick hands. “It’s throbbing. I can hear it pounding…the intensity of it all feels like there’s a sledgehammer in my head…”

“Kyle, I really think we should admit you,” Diego began watching Kyle’s face turn a bright shade of red, “We need to get you into a hospital bed and…”

“No hospitals!” Kyle shouted back at him, “No damn way!”

“Kyle we only want to help you,” Sarah reminded him once again reaching out to touch his shoulder supportively. Only this time he offered up a very different reaction. He pushed back away from her as if he’d been burned by her touch.

“You tricked me!” Kyle threw out at her in an accusatory tone as he looked between her and Diego, “You both tricked me. You’re not trying to help me. You’re trying to manipulate me!”

“Kyle, I need you to calm down. Right now at least let me take your blood pressure before I draw a sample for the lab. The only way we’re going to figure this out is…” Diego began reaching into his bag for a syringe.

“No needles!” Kyle roared kicking Diego’s bag aside, “No way!”

“Kyle, I just need to take a sample and…” Diego tried to explain in a cool and even voice, but there was no reasoning with Kyle as he took one heavy, thunderous stride where Diego stood. He reached out and clasped his hand around Diego’s neck immediately choking him.

“Kyle, what are you doing?” Sarah cried out watching Kyle pull Diego up off of the ground as his hold on Diego’s neck tightened. “Kyle stop!”

“You’re not going to manipulate me!” Kyle shouted at Diego, his voice coming out as a loud, vibrating hiss, “I know what you’re trying to do to me you son of a bitch and I’ll kill you before I let it happen!”

“Kyle stop!” Sarah rushed in behind him reaching out to try to stop him from choking the life out of Diego.

“Kyle please…” Diego coughed bringing his hands out over Kyle’s grip on him. He strained to tear Kyle’s fingers away from his neck, but whatever it was that was running through Kyle’s system right about now had him on full attack. With each passing second Kyle’s grip on Diego’s neck constricted, his fingers crunching down on Diego’s neck and Diego started to feel a bit lightheaded.

“Kyle put him down!” Sarah shouted tugging with all that she had in her to get him to stop. She strained to pull on his arm, but was only met by the impact of his elbow right into her as she went flying across the room.

“Kyle stop--please…” Diego begged of him in a low, tight whisper as Kyle heard a crashing sound beside him. He turned his eyes towards the source of the sound and saw Sarah huddled up on the floor.

“Sarah,” Kyle half questioned confusion sweeping in over him as he immediately released Diego. He turned towards Sarah ready to do something--to say something, but before he could move, he felt himself bowled over by a powerful force from behind. He opened his mouth to speak, but instead he felt a wad of paper sink in beyond his lips as he was face down on Diego’s desk.

“Would someone like to explain what’s going on in here?” Cori questioned twisting Kyle’s arm behind his back. She hunched over him, her knee right in the center of his spine to keep him locked into place as she looked around the room. She turned her attention to Diego who was now grasping for air. He held his throat and sucked in air as if he couldn’t get enough of it, which at the moment was the truth. “Diego, are you okay?”

“Don’t hurt him,” Sarah watched Cori twist at Kyle’s arm again causing him to cry out in agony. He struggled beneath her, but for some reason Cori had gained the upper hand in the situation as she straddled Kyle on top of Diego’s desk.

“Call security,” Cori shouted over to Sarah, “and get a doctor in here. He’s hurt Diego.”

“I’m fine,” Diego replied in a hoarse whisper, “It’s Kyle we need to worry about.”

“Who the hell is Kyle?” Cori gave him a strange look.

“He’s my boyfriend,” Sarah stepped forward her worries mounting by the second as Kyle seemed to stop struggling beneath Cori. “Oh my God what have you done to him?”

“Wait a second,” Cori gave her a strange look, “Are you telling me that this psycho is your boyfriend?”

“He’s not a psycho,” Sarah pushed her way towards Diego’s desk circling around to see Kyle laid flat out before her. She reached for his neck searching for his pulse as panic swept over her, “Diego, he’s passed out.”

“Is he still breathing,” Diego questioned reaching for the needle in the hopes of getting a blood sample.

“He is, but his pulse is weak,” Sarah explained worry racking over her every synapse, “Diego, what’s happening to him?”

“Cori go get help,” Diego replied collecting a sample from a now unconscious Kyle, “We need to have him admitted right away.”

“Diego, he’s obviously high on something…” Cori started once again, “What he needs is to cool down.”

“He was drugged you twit. Some bitch drugged him and forced herself on him, now he’s like this,” Sarah explained with a loud, desperate cry, “He’s not normally like this.”

“You mean he’s…” Cori’s eyes widened with shock.

“Just go get me someone Cori!” Diego ordered once again as Cori nodded dismounting from on top of Kyle. She ran out of the room in a hurry to find someone else to help with the situation.

“Diego, what’s happening to him? What has she done,” Sarah began to sob unable to hold back on the helplessness she was feeling at the sight of seeing the man she loved broken to pieces like this.

“I don’t know Sarah, but I promise you whatever it is, we’re going to find a way to fix this,” Diego tried to assure her, but with each passing second he feared that the damage had already been done. Kyle Houston was nothing like the man who’d just tried to kill him and seeing the dramatic change in him, Diego feared that what Susan had done may be the key to Kyle’s ultimate undoing if they didn’t catch it in time.

“Please come back to me,” Sarah whispered running her fingers through Kyle’s long, sandy colored hair as tears continued to fall from her eyes, “Baby, please don’t let her win. Don’t you even think about leaving me.”

“Sarah,” Diego tried to move her out of the way as four orderlies came in and picked him up, struggling to put him on a gurney. “I want him to the ER right away.”

“Yes Dr. Hernandez,” one of the men nodded before they wheeled Kyle out of the room.

“Kyle no,” Sarah started off after them only to feel Diego hold her back.

“Sarah, you can’t go with them!” he explained feeling her lash out at him.

“I need to be with him Diego. He needs me. He needs me damn it!” Sarah shouted striking him in the chest once more before bursting into tears. “He needs me. I need him. I need…”

“I know Sarah,” Diego pulled her into his arms as Cori reentered the room in time to watch the scene unfolding in Diego’s office. While she wasn’t quite sure what was going on, something told her that things in that room had taken a turn for the worse long before her arrival.

“I can’t lose him Diego. Not like this,” Sarah sobbed as he held her praying that whatever Susan had done to him wouldn’t lead to that fate for Kyle and Sarah. He just hoped that they hadn’t waited too long to stop the damage that was happening.


“I can’t believe this,” Grady growled, pacing back in forth, “How could they just do this? Everyone knows that he did it--so why did they let him go?”

“Grady, you have to calm down,” Avery hushed, running her hand over his shoulder gently, “They didn’t find anything at his place. So, they had to let him go.”

“They had that evidence,” Grady pointed out, his jaw tensing as he shook his head slowly, “That was enough to keep him in that damn jail for a longer time.”

“I guess you could just say it wasn’t enough Grady,” Brant shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know why though. It should have been enough to keep that bastard behind bars.”

“What do you care about this whole situation?” Grady snapped, raising his hands in the air. “You never cared about me, or how I am feeling. So why care what’s going on now?”

“If you haven’t noticed,” Brant began, pointing his index finger at Grady, “I’m not exactly the type that goes over to Cameron’s place to have a cup of tea with him. I don’t like him myself Grady and I hope that the police will find something to put his ass in jail for the rest of his life.”

“Right, right,” Grady rolled his eyes before shrugging his shoulders, “For all we know--you could be working with Cameron. How do we know you aren’t?”

“Me? How about you?” Brant questioned angrily. “You were the one who was working with him. For all we know--this whole thing could be an act. Yeah, that’s right--it’s all an act.”

“You know what?” Grady took a step forward before feeling Avery step between him. “Avery…move.”

“No, you two need to stop acting like little boys and realize something,” Avery pointed out, shaking her head slowly in disappointment, “This whole thing isn’t about you two. It’s about us finding Jade and making sure she is safe.”

“You’re right,” Grady agreed, taking a step back before nodding, “As far as I look at it right now--the only thing I should be caring about right now is Jade…and Jade only.”

“You should answer that,” Avery advised Grady, hearing his cell phone begin to ring, “It could be Julian or someone you would really need to talk to.”

“Okay,” Grady nodded slowly, taking his phone out of his pocket and answering it quickly, trying to avoid what had just happened with Brant, “Hello.”

“Grady,” Sarah’s trembling voice came over the receiver as he frowned hearing the sound of her voice--telling him that something was wrong, “It’s Sarah.”

“Sarah, what’s wrong?” Grady questioned quickly, turning away from Brant and Avery, trying to understand her better. “Are you okay? Are you hurt?”

“It’s not me,” Sarah informed Grady, her shaking hands ran through her hair as she began to explain to Grady what was going on, but could only let out two words, “It’s Kyle.”

“What? Is he okay?” Grady wondered, thinking ahead to the answer. What if he was hurt? He couldn’t be…Kyle knew how to take care of himself--there was nothing to worry about.

“No, he’s not okay,” Sarah answered, shaking her head slowly taking in slow breaths--trying not to get upset all over again, “Grady, Susan hurt him. He is in a really bad shape right now.”

“What do you mean she hurt him?” Grady wondered, his eyes widening--thinking to what might happen to his best friend. “What did she do to him? Sarah, answer me.”

“We think she drugged him,” Sarah informed Grady, feeling the tears still burning behind her voice, “You should have seen him earlier Grady. He wasn’t himself at all…he’s hospitalized right now and Diego said he’s in a bad condition.”

“You are playing with me right?” Grady questioned…his voice raspy--hoping to god that this was some joke. His best friend couldn’t be like that. Avery stepped forwards trying to hear a little more on the conversation, but was paused as Grady turned away from her. He walked away from Avery as he knew she was trying to find out what was really going. “Please tell me this is a joke.”

“Do I sound like I am joking?” Sarah wondered, fighting back the tears that had been spilling over the last few minutes, maybe hour--who knew by this point? “I wish this was a some type of dream or some joke, but it’s not.”

“I will be there in a little bit okay?” Grady looked down to his watch, gulping down feeling a bad case of guilt in his body. How could this have happened? Was it his fault? “Wait for me okay? I will be there as fast as I can.”

“Alright, I will be waiting for you,” Sarah agreed before hanging up with Grady.

“I can’t believe this,” Grady gulped down, turning around to see the worried expressions on both Brant and Avery’s faces and they didn’t even know who was hurt yet, but they knew something was up. They must have heard parts of his conversation with Sarah, no he knew they heard it.

“What’s wrong?” Brant questioned quickly, taking a step forward towards Grady. “Who is hurt Grady?”

“Grady, answer the question,” Avery demanded, seeing Grady’s eyes rise slowly from the floor to look her in the eyes, “What is going on Grady?”

“It’s Kyle,” Grady gulped down, running his hand through his dark hair, “He’s--he’s hurt.”

“How bad?” Avery questioned quickly, placing her hand over her mouth--knowing it must be bad as she saw the look on Grady’s face. “Really bad?”

“Yeah,” Grady answered, his eyebrows tensing as he thought about Kyle and how he really was feeling, “That was Sarah on the phone. I guess Susan hurt Kyle…really bad and he is hospitalized right now as we speak.”

“What?” Brant was too surprised by this information. Sure he never really got along great with Kyle, but he never really truly hated the guy. If Avery liked him and was close to him--that was just enough to worry.

“I have to go see him,” Grady decided, his mouth growing dry as he thought about Kyle, “I have to know if he is okay. I can’t just sit here and wait for the news.”

“I have to go with you,” Avery declared, thinking of Kyle--the way Kyle was there for her, was enough to make her go be there for Kyle. Kyle protected her after Russ died, now was her time to give back after what he went through to help her. No, it was wasn’t giving back something, Kyle was one of her closest friends and she couldn’t let him go to. No, not now and not ever. “He’s my friend too. I have to know how he is doing.”

“I’ll take you two,” Brant sighed walking towards the front door knowing that the two were both probably worrying like crazy over Kyle‘s condition, “We should get going, so we could get there as fast as we can.”


“So as you can see Ria’s well within her rights to be upset. I’m still upset myself after what Valerie did,” Seth explained taking a sip of the beer he’d pulled out of the fridge. “Val is just up to her old tricks and she’s trying to take me down with her.”

“I just don’t understand,” Ben shook his head, “You and Val were once so close and now…”

“Now she’s a stranger Ben. I don’t know the first thing about her and I can’t even believe I was dumb enough to marry her. If I would’ve known then what I know now, then I never, ever would’ve gone to Atlantic City that night,” Seth confessed with a heavy sigh, “She’s not at all the person I thought she was.”

“Regardless of what you think about her, she’s still your wife. That’s something you two are going to have to sit down and talk about,” Ben pointed out taking a swig of his drink. He watched Seth cringe at the thought, “I know you’d like to ignore that fact, but Seth you can’t. As long as Valerie is married to you, you’re going to have to find a way to at least be civil.”

“That’s just it. I filed the papers for an annulment when we got back to Coral Valley. I did it right after I woke up in bed with her. It was a mistake then and it’s still a mistake now,” Seth blurted out running his fingers through his thick, dark hair, “You know I need this now like I need another hole in my head.”

“Seth, as bad as this seems, I’m sure if you just talk to Valerie she’ll be willing to cooperate and…” Ben began thinking about the situation.

“Have you not been listening to a word I said?” Seth blinked back at him, “She’s beyond being rational. She’s lost her damn mind. She doesn’t want to cooperate. She wants to make my life miserable.”

“Well did you ever think that maybe the reason that she’s holding on right about now is because she thinks that you still need her?” Ben suggested watching contemplation press in over Seth’s face, “That maybe she remembers what it was like when you were living in your own personal hell before and she’s trying to be what you need again?”

“What I need is to find Jade--not to have Valerie coming back into my life and complicating it all over again,” Seth threw his hands up in the air before getting up to pace around the room, “She’s someone I haven’t thought about in years.”

“Okay, but now that she’s back and she’s your wife, you can’t tell me that you haven’t thought about the past--that you haven’t remembered what it was like when she was around the last time…”

“Oh I remember Ben. It was chaotic and out of control and it was a mistake,” Seth informed him bluntly, “That hasn’t changed.”

“You say that, but I mean maybe this is happening for a reason. Maybe since you and Val ended on bad terms, it’s fate’s way of trying to get you to be civil to one another again,” Ben suggested catching Seth’s glare. “Maybe this is a sign that you two need to find a way to work things out with one another.”

“The only thing I want to work out with Valerie is the settlement leading to the end of this joke of a marriage. I don’t want to be married to her and I don’t love her. I never did and I don’t know why she’s suddenly come back to town thinking that we had something special. We didn’t,” Seth reminded him flatly, “She was a friend of mine for a long time and yeah, I cared about her. I really, truly did and sure maybe for a brief moment in time I thought about what it would be like to have her in my life as more than just a friend. She was there at a time in my life when I needed someone--when Jade needed someone and we latched onto one another. I cared about her, but that was the past.”

“You keep saying that, but what about how you felt when she left? I mean sure you put an end to the marriage, but it all happened in the same week she left town,” Ben reminded him point blank, “Even you can’t deny that you were upset on how she bailed on you. It took you a long time to get over it.”

“But that’s the beauty of the past. You learn from your mistakes and you move on,” Seth reached for his beer again, “It’s not what you’re making it out to be.”

“Oh come on Seth. Cut with the bull. We both know you loved her once. You were crushed when she chose to chase her modeling dreams and leave you behind especially at a time when you were hurting,” Ben probed further, “It hurt like hell to lose her and maybe that’s why you’re so ready to shut her down. You want to make her feel the pain that you felt when she walked away.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Seth argued with him.

“Of course I do Seth. You’re still in love with her. A part of you is still holding onto what you once had together and the reason you’re being so stubborn about all of this is because you are afraid if you admit that to yourself, you’re going to lose what you have with Blake. If she knows that you did care for Valerie, you’ll feel like you betrayed her somehow.”

“I haven’t betrayed Blake,” Seth spun around to face him once again, “Blake is my life. She’s everything to me and I would give anything to be with her.”

“Even if it means costing you the past and the things that you once cared about?” Ben questioned with an arched brow.

“Why do you keep saying things like that Ben? What is with you?” Seth gave him a strange look, “It’s not like you to play devil’s advocate like this. Normally you’re supportive and…”

“Look, I just ran into Val. I know she’s upset too and…” Ben tried to explain himself.

“And what about Blake? How do you think she’d feel if she could hear you right about now? What do you think she’d say if she heard you trying to convince me that I had some buried feelings for Val?” Seth challenged back at him.

“I think she’d be happy that I made you face the issue before you broke her heart somewhere down the road,” Ben informed him bluntly, “Blake is like a sister to me and I don’t want to see her hurt in all of this.”

“Blake is the one true love of my life and I’m not going to let anyone or anything take that from me. She’s my everything and nothing that I could‘ve felt for Valerie once upon a time could take away from that. She‘s where my heart is--where it will always be,” Seth announced in an impassioned tone, his words thick with emotion.

“And you’re where my heart will always be too,” Blake replied stepping out from behind the shadows to reveal where she’d been listening since she’d arrived at the apartment moments earlier. Now as she stood before him, tears clouding her vision after what she’d heard, she couldn’t help but offer up a weak smile, “Seth, I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” he promised moving in to take her into his arms and hold her as if he’d never let go.

“Blake I…” Ben began rising up from the chair he’d been seated in. He looked to her uneasily, “I was just…”

“I know what you were trying to do Ben, but Seth’s not one of those men I’ve dated in the past. You don’t have to give him the third degree,” Blake sighed trying to stay cool about what she’d just heard, “He loves me and I love him.”

“I know he does and I’m sorry that I…” Ben started only to watch her raise her hand to silence him.

“Just stop before you start. If we get going on this, I’m probably going to get upset and right now I think that’s the last thing any of us need,” Blake insisted turning to Seth, “I know you’ve got a past and I have one too. If you still think there’s something you need to do with Valerie--some unfinished business that you need to resolve…”

“The only unfinished business I have with her is getting my divorce processed and finalized,” Seth answered honestly, “and you can tell her that the next time you see her Ben.”

“No, I think I’m just going to stay out of this one. I’ve already put my foot into my mouth more than once on this occasion and I think I owe you both an apology,” Ben offered up with embarrassment riding over his face, “I should’ve stayed out of it.”

“You should’ve, but it’s okay,” Seth sighed, “Friends make mistakes and fortunately in being friends, you can find a way to make up for them sooner or later.”

“Point taken,” Ben nodded, “which means I should probably work on trying to get Ria to forgive me. I was out of line with her.”

“Oh I’m sure she’ll forgive you, but I warn you if you go seeking her out, make sure you’re wearing protective gear. She can be brutal,” Seth teased holding Blake closer to him than before.

“I’ll keep that in mind and as for you two,” Ben stepped in towards them, “the next time you run off and decide to host a wedding, at least let me have an invite, okay?”

“We’ll think about it,” Blake half smiled reaching out to embrace him, “and for the record I still love you Ben even if you’re working too hard to fight for the wrong side of this.”

“I’m not fighting for anything other than peace of mind for everyone. I guess since I’m all in an uproar, well I think everyone else should just figure things out,” Ben threw his hands up in the air, “Oh hell, I guess I’ve turned into my mother. I’m just putting my nose in all sorts of places where it doesn’t belong. Here I am butting into your relationship when I should be focusing on mine…”

“Why is something wrong?” Seth questioned worriedly.

“What did Diane do now?” Blake frowned at the thought of the woman Ben chose to spend his time with.

“It’s nothing she did Blake and before you go jumping to conclusions, well I probably shouldn’t get into this because we’re not completely certain, but…” Ben face lit up with enthusiasm.

“But what?” Blake prodded further.

“I shouldn’t be telling you this, but I think I’m going to be a father. Diane thinks she’s pregnant,” Ben explained excitedly, “and I guess it’s got me walking around just kind of spouting out anything that comes to mind.”

“If Diane being pregnant has you this worked up now, I’d hate to see you in the delivery room,” Seth threw out a jab.

“Hey, look it’s not one hundred percent certain at this point since she only did one of those home tests, but as it stands I think it’s pretty safe to say I’m going to be a father,” Ben explained as all talk about Valerie turned into a conversation about his hopes and dreams for the future with Diane. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the time to get into it, but it was a refreshing change to the doom and gloom that had surrounded everyone lately.


Ken walked down the staircase thinking about the talk he’d had with Blake. It seemed that so many things were up in the air with their family lately and he’d only compounded the problems by his actions. Sure, maybe Blake didn’t know about them at this point, but sooner or later she would. That was what worried him the most. For her to have to face the truth about his actions on top of all else was almost unfair.

“Well look what the cat dragged in,” Annie’s voice rose up to where Ken stood in contemplation.

“Annie,” Ken couldn’t help but smile down at her.

“For a while here I thought that you’d disappeared without a trace. I haven’t seen you in so very long,” she replied with a thoughtful expression.

“It’s because I haven’t seen myself in just about as long,” Ken descended towards her before motioning towards the kitchen area, “Have a few minutes?”

“Well, you know I was on my way out to take a shopping expedition in Paris and the Prince was waiting for me, but I suppose since you’re here and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be alone with you without all of the chaos, I can reschedule,” she smiled up at him, a warmth in her cheeks as she offered him her arm, “So what do you say? Cocoa perhaps?”

“I think that would be wonderful,” Ken nodded moving with her into the kitchen, “I know I haven’t exactly been around much lately…”

“Ken, about that. I think maybe we should talk about some of the things that have happened since you’ve been gone,” Annie opened up conversation with a steady tone, “About what you’ve been doing…”

“I know I’ve screwed up so many times and that nothing I do or say can fix that,” Ken explained to her poignantly, “I didn’t realize it until Caitlin’s father came to talk to me. I thought that I was just finding a way to forget the pain, but I’m just finding ways to make it harder for everyone.”

“I’m not going to argue that point,” Annie nodded urging him to go on.

“I hurt a lot of people Annie and I know that I can’t fix that with an ‘I’m sorry’. That’s not good enough and I realize that now. I guess that when I lost Caitlin I was just so beside myself ready to blame everyone and anyone for what happened, but now…” he motioned for her to sit down as he put on a pot of water, “Well now I don’t know what comes next.”

“I’ll tell you what comes next,” she pulled a bag of marshmallows out of the pantry. “Healing.”

“It’ll take a long time before that happens for me Annie,” Ken confessed with a small sigh, “I’m not going to pretend that I can just erase the way I feel.”

“You don’t have to erase it, but you have to find a healthy way of dealing with it. This vendetta you have going with your brother…” she started with a worried expression.

“Is wrong and I’m not quite sure why I even started it,” Ken leaned in over the countertop, “I mean here I was hating him for all the times he’d upset me--for the life he’d lead and for the fact that he could just go off and nothing was of consequence for him. He could come and go as he pleased. He could have happiness, but the one thing in my life that I truly wanted--the one thing I needed was just beyond my reach. I had it for a moment, but then I lost it. I lost everything and knowing that I could never get it back…”

“Made you bitter inside,” Annie nodded hearing the water start to boil, “and that bitterness nearly bowled you over. You did a lot of things that were very uncharacteristic of you…”

“Like what happened with Avery,” he paused watching her expression shift, “Annie, I know that you know what I did. Unfortunately I know what I did and I can’t ever take that back.”

“Ken, I really don’t think that…” Annie shifted on her feet uneasily.

“I did what Nicholas would do. I took advantage of her Annie and I’ve lost something special with her,” Ken added feeling guilt tug at his insides, “I betrayed one of my oldest friendships in the name of hurting Brant and in the end it cost me my second chance at happiness.”

“Ken I…” Annie began finding herself at a loss.

“You know for a brief moment--for a second after Caitlin died I thought that maybe just maybe I could make it through the day--that maybe I had a reason to keep pushing on, but I lost it when I did what I did to Avery and now, well now I have no one to blame for any of this, but myself,” he dropped his head down and closed his eyes. He thought back to the things he’d lived through--the things he’d done and said and while it all felt like a dream--like something he hadn’t truly lived through, he knew it was always going to be there. He couldn’t take it back. “I know that it might be too late to ever regain some of the trusts that I lost, but I made a promise to people a long time ago--I made a promise to Caitlin and I need to find a way to honor that. I need to help those who were depending on me. It might not make up for my actions…”

“But it’s a start,” Annie replied placing her hand on top of his, “except for when you do start getting back into the swing of things, this time don’t lose yourself in the process. You need to know when to back off--when to step back and give yourself a break Ken.”

“After everything I’ve done, I’m the last person in the world that deserves a break, but I am hoping for a second chance--for another reason to keep pushing on,” he admitted with a sad smile, “I haven’t given up all hope of that yet.”

“You shouldn’t have to Ken. Everyone deserves a second chance--even those who have lived through their darkest hour and survived it. That’s what you did you know. You’re a survivor and regardless of what comes next, I have faith in you.”

“I wish I had that faith,” he added preparing their mugs of cocoa.

“You might not now, but one day you’ll have it again. I promise you that,” Annie vowed hoping that today would mark the beginning of a new phase in Ken’s life once and for all.


“Well, at least I know that we have something in common,” Don replied with a simple shrug trying to lighten the silence that had come upon them as they talked out things, “That’s nice to know right around this time.”

“Yeah,” she nodded, seeing him look up at her with his steel blue eyes. Every time she looked into Don’s eyes, she could just see the intensity--the passion behind those blues. He had something inside of him that was perfect. Far too perfect for her in many ways. “We would probably know more about each other if we would just have some time to talk to each other more often.”

“Where are you getting at?” Don questioned with a small frown after hearing that. What did she mean my that? “Do you want to hang out right now or something?”

“I was actually thinking about us,” she replied taking in a deep breath, trying to think of a way to explain herself in ways that she never had done before. Don expected a lot from her, but what was she to do? She had never been in a situation like this before, but with Don--it felt like all the stipulations were changing over and over again. Something about him made her feel special and now was the time to tell him how she really felt for him. In more ways that one. “I think we should actually give us a…”

“Hold on a second,” Don motioned for her to wait as he heard his cell phone begin to ring loudly, “Where in the world did I set that stupid thing down?”

Shannon watched as Don searched around the room until finding his cell phone on the dresser.

“Don Leveski,” Don answered his phone before turning towards Shannon with a frown. This wasn’t good news, this wasn’t good news at all. “You’re kidding right? You are being serious? Are you sure that’s the right name?”

Shannon raised an eyebrow, seeing the way Don was acting. The reaction he had, told her something was wrong as she sat up straight in her seat.

“So what’s going on with him?” Don questioned, switching the phone to the other ear needing to know what he was going to be doing in just a few minutes. “Right, I will be there in a little bit. Just keep an eye on him.”

“What is it?” Shannon questioned, seeing Don grab his shirt and pull it over his head quickly. There was something strange behind Don‘s features--was it worry or was it sympathy? It seemed to control his features before Don shook it off. “What’s going on? Why are you freaking out like this?”

“Shannon,” Don sighed, trying to think of some way to tell her what was happening without letting her freak out too much, “It’s your friend Kyle.”

“Kyle? What’s wrong with Kyle?” Shannon questioned quickly seeing him look down towards the ground. Every time someone looked down towards the ground…that usually meant trouble. That always meant something was wrong. “He’s hurt? How bad?”

“Pretty bad,” Don answered, gulping down trying to remember what the nurse had just told him about Kyle on the phone just seconds ago, “I have to go right away to help him out. He is in a really bad condition.”

“I should go with you,” Shannon suggested, getting up from the bed before seeing him shake his head slowly. What was it that made him want to make her stay back? “Why not?”

“Because, I don’t want you to see the condition he is in right now,” Don replied, grabbing his keys in his hand tightly. He couldn’t see the look on Shannon‘s face as she stood there waiting to hear the news on Kyle. And if Kyle didn’t make it, which sounded like a possibility, she couldn’t crash right there in the hospital. She couldn’t handle on that upon herself. “I will call you later to fill you in. Just do me a favor and stay here to watch Matt for me.”

“I don’t know,” Shannon shrugged…thinking between Kyle and Matt, “Kyle’s my friend.”

“I know, but I promise I will fill you in on everything later,” Don promised with a small sigh needing to try and keep her away from the hospital for just a little bit, “Please?”

“Okay,” Shannon agreed, following Don into the living room seeing Matt sitting on the couch watching cartoons.

“Matt,” Don smiled, leaning in against the couch over Matt, “Shannon is going to be here for a while to watch you.”

“Cool,” Matt laughed, looking up at Shannon seeing the sadness over her features, “What’s wrong?”

“She’s a little sad right now,” Don answered, squeezing his son’s shoulder lightly, “So be really nice to her.”

“I love you daddy,” Matt told his father, seeing Don walk for the door.

“I love you too,” Don replied before walking out the door and Matt turned his head to look up at Shannon. “Hi.”


“See is this so bad?” Valerie smiled leaning in across the table to reach for her champagne. She held up her glass before sipping it smugly.

“I could be out with someone I actually enjoyed spending time with you know,” JT retorted with a scowl. “You know the kind of woman I wouldn’t mind spending my money on.”

“Oh believe me, you’ll be happy that you were able to have this memory with me tonight. It’s something you’ll cherish from here on out,” she promised him with a wide grin, “You know most men would love to be sitting where you are tonight.”

“Most men are idiots,” he countered with a mischievous grin, “They can’t see you as the viper you truly are.”

“I’m just merely a woman in love with a man who was meant to be with her. Where’s the evil in that?” she shrugged her shoulders before looking over to the bar once more, “You can’t hold that against me, can you?”

“I think there are a lot of people who could hold things against you right now Val, but I wouldn’t bother wasting my time,” he reached for his glass of champagne toasting it to her, “Simply put you’re not worth it.”

“Oh you say that now, but when I help you get Diane back, that’ll be the last thing you’ll be saying. You’ll be thanking me for making your dream come true. Just you watch,” she snubbed her nose at him.

“My dream is quite capable of coming true without you. I guess I just simply have a soft spot for those who are pathetic and hopeless,” he sighed waving his hand in the air dismissively, “which by the way you more than fit the bill.”

“Oh and here I thought you actually had half a brain,” she rolled her eyes at him, “What’s pathetic is you sitting here waiting for things to happen. Why would you even want to waste your time on Diane? She seems like such a twit.”

“That’s where you’re mistaken. Diane is beautiful and fun. She’s full of life and beyond that, well she’s just got this spark about her. She’s dangerous and exciting and isn’t afraid to break a few rules along the way,” JT spoke appreciatively, “When she’s not trying to be some goody-goody, she’s as good as it gets.”

“Then that’s pretty sad,” Valerie shook her head, “but as I say, let all the losers of the world flock together. It just leaves more room for the rest of us to enjoy life.”

“Hmm, well I wouldn’t know about losers seeing as the only one I tend to keep company with these days is, well, you,” JT mouthed dryly, “and even that has lost it’s charm.”

“You keep saying that, yet I think you’re lying. I think the truth to the matter is that you like me,” she accused leaning in closer to him, “You like me so much that you can’t stand it. You want to hate me. Hell, you even want to believe half of the trash talking that you’ve been doing about me lately, but when it gets down to it, you’re not at all feeling that way. In fact, I’ll be so bold to say that I think you like me--that you’ve always liked me.”

“Like you?” JT let out an uproarious laugh clapping his hands together wildly, “Oh that’s priceless. Valerie, how do I put this kindly? They couldn’t pay me to like you. If I didn’t think that I could use you to further my cause even the slightest bit, I wouldn’t have given you a second look.”

“Oh right,” she groaned in disbelief, “I saw the way you were looking at me in the men’s locker room when you saw me naked. You were so turned on and you wanted me then. You still want me now.”

“Is that right?” JT leaned in closer to her, “You think so huh?”

“I know so,” she reached out to finger the top of his palm seductively, “You’re so hot for me it makes your blood boil. Sure you might be thinking about getting Diane back, but when it gets down to it, you’re curious about how hot it would be for us if we were alone together--naked.”

“If I recall we were alone together--naked,” he moved in closer to her repeating her word with heavy emphasis.

“Yes, but we had an audience and you don’t strike me as an exhibitionist. Sure you might talk big, but when it gets down to it, you like to have a little one on one action for your big private screening,” she threw back at him with a twinkle burning behind her eyes. “Even now you’re thinking about what you’d like to do to me when we get back to your place.”

“Oh you’ve caught me there because I have been thinking about what I’d like to do to you when we get back home. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. So much so that it borders on obsession for me,” he leaned in closer yet, his hand moving in over hers, “Except you’re wrong about one thing there.”

“What’s that?” she questioned with a victorious smile, feeling him moving in closer to her clearly entranced by her presence.

“Well, you see Val, your assessment of my preferences about places of performance, well, they’re way off,” he reached out to sweep his hand into her dark hair, his fingers feeling their silky softness beneath his touch. He slid his chair in closer to her, his breath skimming in over the side of her neck heatedly. “You see, about that whole private screening issue, well, it’s not an issue. I don’t mind going for the gusto anytime, any place.”

“Any place,” she repeated with a seductive purr, her grin widening by the moment. She placed her hand on his leg offering up further enticement as his eyes fixed upon her.

“Any place,” he nodded before moving in closer to her. His mouth hovered in over her soft, full lips. He could feel her breath coming out in low, erratic pants as her eyelashes fluttered. It was then that a smirk spilled over his features, “That is any place that you aren’t.”

“What?” she questioned watching him push his chair away from her.

“And here you were trying to convince me that I was the one that wanted you, but it’s the other way around,” he laughed wildly before wiggling his finger at her, “I’ve got news for you sweetheart, it’s never going to happen. Not on your life. You just aren’t my type. I don’t do trashy.”

“But…” Valerie huffed watching him move out to the dance floor and snagging two women with him. He had one on each arm as he began to dance with them seductively. She glared out at him for a minute before letting out another huff. Folding her arms in front of her chest she thought of all the ways she’d love to go over and embarrass JT right now for his rudeness, but then she decided to ignore him.

“Let him have his fun,” she mouthed under her breath, “because when I get Seth back, he’ll be the one miserable and wishing he was nicer to me. That much I’m sure of.”


Ria pulled her car in the driveway thinking about her mother’s request. Why in the world she had to come on over and check on the house now that Trisha was in town was beyond anything rational in most terms, yet naturally Ria’s mother had called frantic and worried about Trisha throwing some kind of party at the house while she was out of town. Ria thought it was a stupid, ridiculous notion, but for some reason she promised her mother that she would check in on her rebellious little sister.

“She is an adult you know,” Ria could hear her own voice echoed in the back of her mind as her mother made one more plea with her.

“I know that, but you know the company she keeps. She’s just someone that needs a little extra attention,” Ria’s mother had pleaded before guilting Ria into stopping over at the house.

“Extra attention my ass,” Ria muttered under her breath pulling out the key to her mom’s place. What Trisha needed was a good lesson in discipline, but unfortunately it was too late for that now, Ria realized. Searching for her key on the key chain Ria cursed under her breath knowing that this was just a waste of time, but a promise was a promise.


“You know it’s getting late Trisha,” Kevin called out from the kitchen after she’d seemingly drifted off into one of the other rooms to change. He walked around looking at the various things her mother had up on the refrigerator. Next week’s coupons, a few take out numbers and a picture of Ria and Trisha when they were much younger both looking like they’d just jumped out of the lake that they all used to go to. He couldn’t help but laugh as he noticed that Ria looked less than thrilled in the photo. Of course Kevin knew full well the reason she looked so miserable was simply because Ria had lost the swim race. He knew because he’d been the one to beat her at it.

“Serves you right for thinking you could out swim me,” he could hear his much younger voice boasting to Ria.

“Bite me Adonis. You only won because you cheated,” Ria had cursed at him before dunking him underneath the water. Of course back then Ria had a height advantage over Kevin. Nowadays that wasn’t ever going to be the case.

“Sorry I took so long,” he heard Trisha call out to him. He turned around to tell her he was just about to leave, but what he saw before him caused his jaw to drop. There right before his eyes stood Trisha wearing a red satin and lace teddy and matching robe. She stepped forward, her bare feet moving across the tiled floor with smooth catlike movements as she grinned up at him.

“Trisha what are you…” Kevin nearly gulped as she slid the barely there material of the robe down past her shoulders, “What are you doing?”

“Giving you something to think about other than your ex,” she tossed her hair back over her shoulders before licking her lips seductively, “Trust me I’ve got plenty of ways to make you smile.”

Kevin realized she was reaching out to him and immediately he ducked, moving out of her way before she could grab onto him. He sidestepped just missing her attempt at an embrace once again, but nearly toppled over in the process.

“Look Trisha it’s getting late and…” he stammered a bit finding himself suddenly very uncomfortable as Trisha revealed her intentions for the night. “I need to go.”

“No you don’t,” she shook her head at him, moving in closer, “The night is still young and so are we.”

“Not as young as you think,” Kevin slid out of her reach once again, feeling a hot flush over his face. His gaze dropped down to the very revealing neckline on her vamped out lingerie and he reminded himself once again of what it was like playing hopscotch with her when she was eight.

“Kevin, why are you so nervous?” she questioned moving over to snap off the lights before leaning in closer to him. Teasing her fingers over the center of his broad chest, “We’re both consenting adults and I don’t see anything wrong with us comforting one another for a while. You did me a favor tonight, so why don’t you let me do one for you?”

“Trisha, I don’t think that…” he stiffened under her touch. He felt her fingers trail down over his abdomen and he caught her wrist before she centered in on his pants, “Look I like you. I like you a lot, but just not like…”

“Kevin, quit denying how you feel. You know you want me and it’s okay,” she puffed her chest out before rubbing in against him, “There’s nothing wrong with giving in to desire.”

“Trisha if your sister knew where I was right about now, I guarantee she wouldn’t feel the same way. Ria would kill me if,” Kevin began feeling hot under the collar as Trisha leapt up into his arms eagerly wrapping her legs around his waist. She tangled her fingers into his hair causing him to fall back off balance. He stumbled across the kitchen falling back into the counter as Trisha giggled.

“Oh please, don’t tell me you’re worried about what she’d think,” Trisha leaned forward nibbling on his lower lip, “Trust me Ria is the last person we need to think about at a time like this.”

“Is that right?” a voice rose from behind as the lights snapped on and in that moment Kevin felt himself frozen like a deer in the headlights. He didn’t have to turn around to know that he had Ria’s eyes glaring at the back of his head. She continued to speak, “Well I can see that mom had plenty of reason to worry tonight. Here I was thinking that she was being completely irrational for having me check up on you, but there you are preparing a sex fiesta on her kitchen counter. How refreshing.”

“I don’t believe this,” Trisha frowned untangling herself from Kevin’s arms, “Don’t you even think about calling first?”

“In this particular instance I think I wish I had considering that…” Ria’s words were stopped when she recognized the tattoo on the arm before her. Her eyes widened and a moment of shock pressed in over her as she stepped forward, “Kevin?”

“Uh Ria,” Kevin didn’t want to turn around. He’d rather have been sucked down into Alice’s rabbit hole and never return rather than having to face a woman whom he knew had the ability to bite his head off and feed the rest of him to the sharks.

“Well, this is certainly something,” Ria folded her arms in front of her chest, “I mean okay so maybe I expected this out of Trisha, but you were the last person I thought I’d see tonight.”

“Look Ria, I can explain,” Kevin started finding himself at a loss as he finally spun around to see her. In that moment he felt shell-shocked, completely out of his element as she shook her head at him.

“Save it and you,” she glared at Trisha, “What are you thinking?”

“I was thinking that my sex life is none of your business, so why don’t you just go back to your apartment or to work or whatever the hell else it is you do with your life so that I can get back on track with mine,” Trisha suggested moving forward to wrap her arms around Kevin’s waist. “We’re busy here.”

“No, we’re not,” Kevin attempted to tear her arms off of him. He took a step forward, “Ria, there’s really nothing going on. All that was happening was…”

“I saw what was happening and that’s fine, but really Kevin I thought you had more respect for my family then this. Here I thought you were someone that well, oh I don’t know knew that Trisha was way younger than you and this is completely unacceptable,” Ria glared at him, anger burning behind her dark eyes.

“The hell it is. Kevin and I are both adults and if we want to have a good time, then we’re going to do it. You can’t stop us. No better yet, you won’t stop us and if you even think about going to mom with this one, then I swear to you you’re so going to pay,” Trisha warned feeling her frustrations mount. “In case you didn’t notice Ria, this was a two person party, so just go find your way home. We’re busy.”

“Fine, then I give up! This is just the perfect end to the perfectly rotten night for me anyways. I mean honestly I don‘t even know why I bother anymore!” Ria threw her hands in the air, “Don’t listen to me. See if I care, but when mom calls asking if you burned her house down, then you deal with it. I’m so finished here.”

With that Ria spun on her heel and left the kitchen. Kevin could hear the slamming sounds of the door alerting him to Ria’s exit. Before he could say anything, Trisha was right in front of him, pulling his T-shirt up from where it was tucked in his pants.

“Now, where were we…” she questioned in a low drawl, guiding her hands up and over his firm, muscled body.

“I was about to say goodnight,” Kevin explained catching her hands in his, “Your sister is right. This is absolutely the last thing we should be doing.”

“She’s just jealous. That’s all it is. Just ignore her,” Trisha pleaded with him, “Don’t let her ruin tonight for us.”

“Look Trisha don’t take this the wrong way because I like you a lot, but this just isn’t happening. This isn’t why I went out with you tonight and I really don’t want you to think that it is,” Kevin leaned forward to kiss her on the forehead, “I care about you, but not like that.”

“So what? You’re just leaving? Just like that?” Trisha frowned up at him, “But Kevin I thought…”

“I’m sorry if I mislead you, but tonight, well it was fun, but now it’s time to go,” he took a step back. He moved towards the door to leave, but stopped himself to bend down and pick up her discarded robe. He turned around to face her again and she smiled at him widely, seduction still surging through her body. Instead he handed her the robe and nodded towards her, “It’s a bit chilly in here. You might be needing that.”

“But…” Trisha began again, but it was too late. Kevin was out the door before she could say anything further. Hearing him exit, she let out a groan before pulling herself up on the counter top.

“Well, here’s to another night shot to hell,” Trisha remarked sourly falling back on the counter top as she thought of how close she came to actually getting Kevin Adonis to finally see that she was a grown up. Maybe Ria had foiled her plans tonight, but eventually sooner or later she’d find a way to break him. After all they say hope springs eternal.


Kipp yawned as he reached his door and unlocked it. He was feeling a little weird after everything that had happened earlier. Kipp shut the door behind him after entering his house.

“Man,” Kipp jumped seeing Kellen on lying down on his couch. Kipp forgot for a second that Kellen was here.

As his heart began to beat at it’s regular pace, he noticed what was really before him. It was really a cute picture, he had to find a camera or something. Kellen was sleeping on the couch, with little Charles sleeping on his chest. It had to be the cutest thing he had ever seen.

“Where is my camera?” Kipp questioned to himself, searching through his drawers. Hopefully neither of the boys woke up before he found the camera. “Here it is.”

Kipp slowly took steps to get closer to Kellen and the baby before getting in a good position. He leaned over the two and took a couple of pictures.

“That’s so cute,” Kipp told himself once more, setting the camera down on the table. It was surprising that Kellen hadn’t woke after the flash of the camera--most people would have. Of course Kellen wasn’t most people--he was much more than that. “Kellen?”

Kipp grabbed onto Kellen’s shoulder lightly, trying to wake Kellen up. He heard Kellen groan before opening his eyes slowly and yawning.

“Kipp,” Kellen grinned seeing Kipp right above him, “What are you doing back so soon? I thought you would be gone longer than this.”

“I was gone pretty long,” Kipp pointed towards the clock seeing Kellen blink a few times trying to register, “I think you two fell asleep while I was gone.”

“I must have,” Kellen agreed before yawning once more and looking down towards Charles who was still sleeping soundly, snuggled into Kellen’s arm. “I was having a dream about the three of us you know.”

“What about?” Kipp smiled, sitting down on the ground next to Kellen. “Anything good?”

“It was good,” Kellen answered before smiling, “Nothing important though.”

“It looks like he is in heaven in your arms,” Kipp declared seeing Kellen nod slowly, “Of course, who wouldn’t be?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kellen questioned eagerly seeing Kipp shrug, thinking of something to say.

“I mean, you are such a nice person,” Kipp began to explain, holding his hands in the air, “That anyone would fall in love with you. You are just great all around.”

“Thanks,” Kellen sighed, wishing that Kipp meant something more than that, but he knew he didn’t. “You aren’t that bad yourself.”

“I’m okay,” Kipp shrugged with a small laugh seeing Kellen frown at him. “What? Did I say something wrong?”

“Kipp Mahoney, you are more than okay,” Kellen protested with a small smile, reaching over with his right hand and squeezing Kipp’s shoulder tightly. “You are the best.”


“So what are you upset about?” Matt questioned with a small frown, grabbing the remote to turn off the television. “I don’t like it when people are sad.”

“I’m just worried about my friend, that’s all,” Shannon informed him as Matt got to his knees on the couch.

“Is your friend going to be okay?” he wondered seeing her shrug. “I’m sure he will be okay soon. Is he sick?”

“I guess you could say that,” Shannon nodded, feeling Matt’s little hand rest over hers, “I hope he will okay.”

“He will be,” Matt assured her before frowning, “Maybe we should do something to make you feel better. Like play a game, or draw something.”

“That sounds good,” Shannon nodded seeing him look up at her, “What should we do? I’m not too good with all of this. I’m not exactly the coolest grownup.”

“That’s okay,” Matt assured her with a small laugh, “I’ll teach you how to be a cool grown up. It’s very easy you know.”

“It is?” Shannon questioned with a frown seeing him nod slowly. “Well, teach me some things.”

“Well, like daddy,” Matt began to explain something thinking back to the ice-cream from earlier, “He will make himself look like a dummy to make me laugh.”

“Got it,” Shannon took in the information before folding her hands out in front of her lap. “What else do you have for me?”

“Well, you have to know games like Sorry, Monopoly, Mouse Hunt, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land.”

“I don’t really know any of those,” Shannon told him, seeing Matt frown, “Is that really bad for me not to know any of these things?”

“Really bad,” Matt answered, jumping down from the couch, grabbing her hand to try and pull her up from the couch, “Do you know Go Fish?”

“That’s one I do know,” Shannon declared, getting up from the couch as he led her to his bedroom, seeing him open his toy box to through about ten games out on the floor. “What are all these for?”

“I am going to teach you how to play,” Matt promised, reaching further down for a pack of cards, “We are going to play this last because you already know it.”

“Okay, I’m ready for my training,” Shannon laughed, sitting down on the floor after he did, “What are we going to start off with first?”

“My personal favorite is Chutes and Ladders,” Matt informed her with a small shrug, “So, I guess we could start with that one. It’s always fun for me.”

“It must be fun then,” Shannon agreed with a small laugh seeing him set up the game. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Matt nodded, with a small shrug. “Do you need to know where the bathroom is or something?”

“No,” Shannon shook her head, a small laugh escaping her lips, “I was just wondering how old you really are.”

“I’m almost four,” Matt answered proudly before laughing, “Why do you ask?”

“You seem so grown up,” Shannon replied with a small smile, “I feel like I am talking to a twelve year old.”

“My daddy tells me that I am a smart kid,” Matt informed her seeing Shannon nod slowly.

“I think your daddy is very right,” Shannon pointed out before seeing him hand her a game piece.

“This is going to take a while, so we should try to start playing now,” Matt declared with a small laugh, “This game can sometimes get confusing at points.”

“I’m confident,” Shannon insisted, placing the piece on the board, “I have you as my teacher and that’s a good thing.”


“This is just wonderful,” Ria cursed under her breath opening her apartment door and slamming her keys down on the coffee table. She yanked off her lightweight jacket throwing it across the room as she thought back to what she’d walked in on at her mother’s place. Okay, so maybe she’d been a little bit snippy considering that Trisha was an adult, but in seeing Kevin Adonis being the man standing there with Trisha ready to get into carnal acts that Ria didn’t even want to think about happening between him and her sister, it was enough to make her stomach turn.

“Oh it’ll just be a quick check up. Just make sure she turned the stove off and that the doors are locked,” Ria mouthed mocking her mother’s tone from their earlier conversation. If only their mother had any idea just how Trisha was planning to burn the house down tonight.

“To hell with it. It’s none of my business,” Ria tried to focus on something else--on anything other than her sister’s escapades. She had a throbbing headache and a desire to just ignore the world for a while. Yes, that sounded perfect. She’d just curl up in the tub and forget about everything else. Maybe read a romance novel for a while.

“Romance novel,” she repeated with a groan, “Oh God, now I know something’s wrong with me.”

Kicking off her boots, Ria thought back to the week from hell she’d had. First Ben raked her through the coals about Valerie, then she’d had to deal with Trisha and now…

Her cell phone started ringing clear as day. Fishing into her pants pocket, she pulled it out and brought it up to her ear with a snap, “What?”

“Well hello to you too,” Mr. Not-so-wonderful greeted her on the other end of the line, “Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Anytime this week is a bad time,” she confessed with an exaggerated groan, “Somehow I didn’t think I’d be hearing from you tonight or anytime soon for that matter.”

“Well normally I would’ve made you sweat it out a little bit longer after that little spat you had earlier, but I forgive you,” he decided with a playfulness in his voice, “I’ll let you make it up to me the next time we see one another.”

“And just when will that be?” she questioned harshly, “The next time you can fit me in between your other obligations or maybe it’ll be when you’ve decided that you’re in the mood to get laid because I know it most certainly won’t be when I need you like when I’m dealing with my friend’s problems or my own stressors.”

“Ria I already told you…” he began with a slight hint of annoyance, “it isn’t as easy for me as it is for you to just be up front about these things. I don’t think that your friends would really accept us and…”

“That’s a copout and we both know it. You just don’t want to meet my friends because that might actually mean that you’ll have to step up to the plate and be a good boyfriend, but you know what? I’m tired of asking you to do that for me. I’m finished with trying to get through to you. If you aren’t interested in my life, then fine. I’m not interested in sharing it with you, so there,” Ria remarked stubbornly plopping down in her armchair all the while her head aching more and more with each passing second.

“You couldn’t possibly mean that Ria. I know how you feel about us,” he cut back in a pointed tone.

“If you did, then you’d stop with the excuses and just be a man for once in your miserable life,” Ria snapped into the phone before hanging it up and throwing it across the living room.

“Well, I can see this might be a bad time,” a voice caused her to jump up from where she was seated.

“Kevin what the hell are you doing here?” Ria snapped at him, her face twisted with a moment of shock and anger.

“I thought I’d come over to apologize,” he explained with a thoughtful expression as she brought her hand up to her chest, “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“Yeah well if you really meant that then you wouldn’t go around sneaking into people’s apartment’s uninvited,” she glared up at him as her pulse rate leapt out of control in her chest.

“Well, that might be a point well taken on my end, but maybe I should deliver you one in response,” he motioned to the door that he’d entered through, “You should probably close the door if you don’t want any uninvited guests. That’s not very safe to leave it wide open like that.”

Ria looked to the door before saying another curse under her breath, “Well thanks for the tip Mr. Adonis, now if you’ll be on your way and excuse me…”

“Normally I would, but I came over here with a purpose and a reason and I’m not leaving until I get right back to that reason, so why don’t you just sit down and relax for a while?” Kevin suggested wiggling his brow, “If you ask nicely, I may even go and lock your door for you.”

“I’m perfectly capable of locking my door behind you after you leave,” she replied sourly, placing her hands on her hips, “Besides shouldn’t you be off deflowering my sister or something right about now?”

“Ria, I hate to break it to you, but I think it’s safe to assume that I’m not the man who is going to be fulfilling that task for Trisha. In fact, I’d even go so far to say that she’s probably already found someone else to help her out with that one long before I came into the picture,” Kevin answered folding his arms in front of his chest in a defensive stance, “No offense.”

“No offense?” she repeated with a haughty laugh, “Kevin, you have the nerve to stand here in the middle of my apartment--completely uninvited I might add--to tell me all about my sister and you expect me to not take offense. What did you think I was going to do when I walked into my mother’s house and found you two groping one another?”

“We weren’t groping one another,” he argued with her taking a step forward, “At least I wasn’t the guilty party there. You might find it hard to believe since you’re obviously in a bad mood already, but I wasn’t doing anything with your sister.”

“Oh no, not at all. That’s just why she happened to have her tongue wedged down your throat right?” she tossed out at him in an accusatory tone. “You know I just don’t get it though. I don’t see you in what? Like six years and yet suddenly the time you choose to pop into my life is at a time when I’m having the worst possible week ever. Then to top it off not only do I run into you on one of the worst night’s of my life, but I find you making out with my sister at my mom’s place.”

“I wasn’t making out with your sister,” he held his finger up in the air to correct her, “She was trying to make out with me.”

“What’s the difference?” she asked rubbing her temples as a groan spilled over her lips, “On second thought I don’t care. It’s not important. I just want you to leave.”

“No, I’m not going anywhere until you accept my apology. I don’t want you thinking that I did something that I didn’t. Trisha asked me to a party tonight and I went with her as a friend--only as a friend,” Kevin reiterated watching her turn away from him.

“I need some Tylenol,” she groaned inwardly, “and you need to leave.”

“Why? So you can go on with your self loathing?” Kevin questioned taking a step towards her, “Why don’t you face it Ria, tonight you’re not really upset about what you think happened with Trisha and I because you know me enough to know that nothing was happening.”

“I know what I saw Kevin,” she spun around to snap at him realizing that he was right behind her. She took a step back feeling a moment of awkwardness pass between them.

“You saw wrong because I wasn’t doing anything with your sister,” Kevin continued to proclaim his innocence before he eyed her intently.

“Oh right,” she rolled her eyes, “You honestly expect me to believe that when you were standing there salivating over Trish, you weren’t thinking about all the ways in which you were going to enjoy rocking her world since you’re Kevin Adonis--Kevin the great--Kevin the heartbreaker.”

“You know, I don’t think I like your attitude right now,” Kevin shook his head at her watching the way her nose seemed to flare out with anger with each word that fell from her angry mouth--her very perfectly shaped angry mouth nonetheless, but still.

“And I don’t like you standing here trying to lecture me when you’re the one in the wrong. Get out of my apartment!” she ordered once again stomping her foot with the completion of her words.

“What is this Ria? Pre-school? You think you can stomp and shout and bully me around?” Kevin questioned with a curious expression. He arched an eyebrow before taking a step forward, “Do you know what you do with bullies Ria?”

“You shove them out of your apartment and tell them to get lost,” she reached out to nudge him towards her still open door.

“You know I really don’t think this is about me,” he stood taller bracing himself on the floor despite her protests, “I heard that phone call you just had and it sounded like the person on the other end of the line is what got you all fired up.”

“That’s none of your business,” Ria wrinkled her nose at him, “You shouldn’t have been eavesdropping.”

“And you shouldn’t have been yelling, but the fact that you were explains a lot. The guy sounds like a real jerk if he’s got you this worked up,” Kevin added watching her pace around the room. “He’s not worth it you know.”

“Screw you Kevin. Like you know anything about my life,” Ria stood still, her dark eyes traveling up from the floor to meet his concerned gaze.

“That wasn’t nice,” Kevin shook his head at her, “You know I don’t remember you being this unhappy the last time I saw you. Come to think of it the last time I saw you was at that party Seth was hosting and you were a tad bit tipsy.”

“Shut up Kevin!” Ria warned him wiggling her finger at him wildly as if her movement alone could silence his words, but it was too late.

“That’s not what you were saying that night I last saw you,” Kevin leaned in against the wall, his eyes never straying from her. Sure, there was an anger building behind those beautiful brown eyes, yet, well there was something else. “You had a little too much to drink and if I recall we found ourselves in a similar situation like the one you think you walked in on tonight with Trisha and I. I believe it was something along the lines of, ‘You’re so strong Kevin. Being close to you it just does something to me especially on a night like this.’”

“Go home Kevin. I don’t want to hear it,” she groaned inwardly running her fingers through her hair.

“Why because you might remember a time when you thought about having fun?” he questioned taking a slow, calculated step towards her. His eyes took her in, thinking about how sexy she’d looked that night in her little red dress. He knew full well she’d been all dressed up and ready to impress that night, but he’d also been well aware that he hadn’t been the intended target. “You actually found yourself laughing for a change. You were so beautiful in the moonlight. I remember when we danced together and then…”

“Kevin, in case you haven’t noticed this isn’t about taking a trip down memory lane. I pretty much saw history repeat itself tonight when I walked in on you and Trisha and for the record I think you’re a jerk. A sick, demented jerk!” she yelled, her voice rising with each syllable. She closed in upon him, her eyes cutting through him like a knife as she shoved at his chest once again, “And I want you out!”

“No,” he remained firm, not budging even though he felt her hand push into his body once again.

“What do you mean no? I don’t want to talk to you or anyone right about now. I want to be left alone!” she shouted at him, “That’s all I’m in the mood for right about now.”

“I really don’t care.”

“Of course you don’t because how many of you give a damn?” she threw her hands up in the air, “First I deal with Valerie giving me crap because I threw her out of my apartment and then Ben gives me issues with it. It’s only natural that you want to be here causing me trouble as well. Honestly what do you think you were going to prove coming here and going down memory lane with me?”

“I came here to apologize to you and tell you that nothing happened with your sister. Nothing even remotely close to what you’re thinking happened,” he lowered his voice a bit seeing something stirring behind her eyes.

“Right, you expect me to believe that as you start by telling me the story about the night we almost slept together?” she blinked back at him with a disgusted look, “I know how it works Kevin. You get her out and she drinks a little too much. You tell her how beautiful she is and then you take her home. Maybe give her this speech about how magical the night feels and then you go for the gusto--only this time the Merhan sister is a lot younger right?”

“Wrong,” he argued with her taking a bold step forward, “Ria, there’s a big difference between what happened with your sister tonight and what happened with you back then.”

“Oh yeah, what’s that? You got caught this time?” she questioned bluntly, her words coming out with venomous intent.

“No, that’s not it. The difference is…” Kevin began inhaling slowly as he found himself at a standstill. Up until this moment in time he’d been focused on a great many things--focused on a great many faces from his past, but they weren’t at all consuming him at this moment in time. Truth to the matter was he’d always felt there was one woman for him and while she was on the island with Nick, here he was standing before another woman he’d let slip away. Sure, maybe he’d forced himself to think that it wouldn’t work--he’d convinced himself that night was a fluke, but now as she stood before him furious as all hell, Kevin found himself remembering that night in full force.

“I don’t care what the difference is Kevin,” Ria marched towards him tugging on his arm decidedly, “I want you out and I want you out now!”

He felt her pull him towards the door--felt her yearning to get rid of him much like he’d done with her those years ago, but tonight for some strange reason, he found himself wishing like hell he could reclaim what he’d tossed aside. He knew that it was asking the impossible, but after she’d caught him with Trisha he’d needed to explain himself--he needed to tell her what it was that had really driven him over to her apartment tonight. It wasn’t the need to apologize--wasn’t the need to tell her how he was wrong, but more so he just wanted to see her again. Was that too much to ask?

“Get out Kevin. I already told you that…” her words fell from her lips like bullets from a machine gun rapidly assaulting him with more anger and rage than he’d remembered and yet, there was something compelling about the way it felt to have her hand on his arm.

“Tell me again,” Kevin interrupted, a smile creeping in over the corner of his lips. He stood in her doorway watching her tilt her head to give him a sort of sideways glance.

“What did you just say?” she asked.

“Tell me again why you want me to leave and I’ll tell you one of the many reasons why I should stay,” Kevin suggested hoping to entice her into a few more minutes of conversation.

“Have you not heard a word I said? You have to go because I don’t want to…” Ria began to launch her verbal assault, but this time Kevin was armed with much better ammo. He reached out to her curling his arm around her waist and pulling her in to him with such force that the words were knocked from her lips with a gasp. Her eyes widened as he held her, her lips still parted and curled in a pout. “What are you doing?”

“Giving you reason number one why you don’t want to get rid of me,” Kevin promised spinning her around in his arms, back into the apartment. He pressed her in against the wall before sliding up beside her, his body strong and solid against her slender frame. She tilted her head up to him, feeling his hand press in against her cheek. She opened her mouth to speak again, but instead the sounds at the back of her throat were muted and replaced with soft sighs as Kevin’s lips descended upon her.

His mouth was warm, exotic and the taste of him was far more than she could take. A soft sight erupted from within and she felt herself melting into him, the taste of his tongue teasing hers, offering up such a dangerous form of exquisite torture as he held her. He pulled back a grin spreading over his devilishly handsome features.

“Wha…” Ria began, her face flushed, her lips plump and swollen after the intensity of the kiss he’d laid upon her. She felt his index finger press in over the center of her mouth, bringing her to silence.

“That Beautiful was reason number one,” Kevin mouthed in a low, husky tone. His hands dropped down beside her, feeling her body beneath him, just out of his reach. He kept his distance despite his longing to feel her--to hold her like he’d denied himself all those years ago.

She kept her gaze upon him. Sure she was fighting it on some level, yet her silence was a good indication that he’d at least captured her attention. He leaned forward, his hot breath skimming over her neck before he inched in towards her.

“Now as I was saying,” Kevin mouthed tasting the sweetness of her silken skin as she tasted of all the things he’d tried to deny in the years of his servitude to Angela and her family. Ria was the one thing that had tempted him--the one thing that had actually had him thinking about anything other than his failed relationship with Angie. Now as she seemed to quiver beneath him, her body arching up ever so slightly towards him, he felt a renewed hunger building in the pit of his stomach. His words came out in a slow, determined temptation, but inside he was a great big ball of nerves.

“Kevin, I don’t think…” she started closing her eyes as his hand dropped down over her abdomen.

“Reason number two will be on it’s way very soon if you can’t keep quiet long enough for me to speak,” Kevin warned, his heart secretly yearning for her to make him give her his reason number two.

“Fine,” she hissed in response her eyelids snapping open once more to reveal the hunger he’d stirred up inside of her, “Say what you want and then get out.”

“As I was saying,” Kevin cleared his throat before dropping his hands down beside her. He braced himself against the wall as their eyes met in a long, unyielding connection. He found himself thinking of all the things he should’ve said, the things he’d wanted to say, but instead reason number two found it’s way to the surface. He dropped his arms down underneath her, pulling her right up into his powerful chest.

She gasped, but this time she didn’t wait for his urgings. She threw her arms around him kissing him heatedly. Her fingers tangled through his thick, dark hair. Her legs curling around his muscular torso and as he stumbled through her apartment carrying her to heaven with him, he knew that tonight he wouldn’t be making the same mistake he’d made six years ago.

Moving through the hallway, Kevin knocked into the walls, losing his balance as their kisses grew in intensity. Somehow while he’d thought of being the seducer, he was soon becoming seduced by the temptation of Ria. Her hands roamed wildly over his chest, down his powerful arms and up over his shoulders. She seemed to be memorizing every inch of him and in that moment Kevin felt a hot fire burn him right to the core.

“Wait,” Ria blurted out tearing her lips away from his, “We can’t do this.”

“What?” he asked feeling her trying to move out of his arms.

“Kevin, I can’t do this especially not knowing what you just did with Trisha,” she blurted out, her face burning at the memory of his mouth over hers. She closed her eyes thinking about the taste of his kiss--of the way she wanted to taste it over and over again and feel his lips over her in places that… “Kevin, I just can’t.”

“Ria, for the last damn time I didn’t sleep with your sister and the big difference between what happened with her today and with what happened with us before is that I have never looked at Trisha as anything more than a kid sister, but with you…”

“With me what?” she asked standing before him, her heart pounding in her chest beating out of control as he stood before her towering over her truly like a Greek god--beautiful and everything she ever desired in a man.

“With you, back then,” he leaned forward, his words striking her down to the core as his hands dropped down to her hips, “back then I wanted you like you can’t even begin to imagine. I still do…”

“Kevin I…” Ria stammered a bit knowing that this was a mistake. It couldn’t be anything but a mistake. Here she was thinking about someone she’d had a major crush on when she was a teenager. Someone she’d vowed she’d just be friends with. Someone who… No life was complicated enough. She couldn’t complicate it any further. She wouldn’t.

“Ria that hasn’t changed,” Kevin admitted his hands sliding in underneath her t-shirt, tracing her curves with his heavenly caress, “I know that we haven’t seen one another in years, but the truth is that I want you…I need you…”

“What you need is to leave. Kevin…I…want…you…” she bit down on her lip feeling her strength melting away from her. “I want you to go.”

“Ria…are you…” Kevin stopped himself realizing that he’d been coming on strong--that this was so unexpected and yet…

“You need to leave like now,” she nodded feeling him step back placing a distance between them. She turned her head away fearing what could happen if she didn’t follow through on her request. If he even begged her to change her mind…

“You’re right,” he blurted out much to her surprise and dismay. “I need to go, but for what it’s worth I just didn’t want you to hate me. I didn’t want you thinking that I was some jerk who did something with your sister when the truth to the matter is that I want to be doing it with you…”

That did it. Whatever rationality she’d had about the situation went out the window as she turned to look at him. There before her was someone who was all man, all sex appeal and in that moment he made Mr. Not-So-Wonderful look like chopped liver. She saw him take his first step towards leaving and in that moment Ria knew damned well she wasn’t about to let him leave especially not when she wanted him like the air she breathed.

“Kevin wait,” Ria reached out to him, touching his arm and feeling the electricity bounce off of him onto her.

“Ria,” he glanced over his shoulder, his brown eyes staring her with an passion that pooled her insides immediately.

“You…you never gave me reason number two,” Ria spoke up anxiously, her body a big ball of nerves, but she wasn’t about to let go of the greatest thing that had walked into her apartment--maybe even her life in a long time. “I mean you said you had plenty of reasons to convince me not to kick you out.”

“Actually I gave you reason number two and I thought it was pretty good stuff,” Kevin offered up with a sheepish expression, a grin expanding over his features as she stepped towards him.

“In that case, let me give you a head start on reason number three,” Ria suggested placing her hand over the center of his chest and pushing him back into the wall. Her eyes lit up as she reached out to him, grabbing him by the collar of his blue t-shirt and using her strength to tear at it. Much to both of their surprise, the material ripped open with very little effort.

Kevin couldn’t help but feel a laugh ripple through him as he reached out to her ready to reciprocate the gesture, “Why Ria, sweetheart, have you been working out lately?”

“In more ways than you can imagine,” she replied hearing the buttons on her shirt go flying down her hallway as Kevin yanked it off of her shoulders, “but I can promise you I’m going to share all my new tricks and more inside the bedroom.”

“Why wait,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders before taking her into his arms ready to give Ria a night that neither one of them would ever forget.


“We got here as fast as we could,” Avery rushed off the elevators, going to Sarah’s side, “Have you heard anything yet?”

“No,” Sarah shook her head, taking in a deep breath, “Don is in there with him right now. He’s been in there for a while now.”

“Don’t worry,” Diego came up from behind Sarah, squeezing her shoulders lightly, “Everything is going to be okay. I promise.”

“You really don’t know,” Sarah protested firmly, as a tear slid down her cheek, “Don has been in there for so long and you don’t know if he is going to be okay. No one does, you are just trying to make me feel better.”

“Come here sweetheart,” Grady hushed, grabbing a hold of Sarah’s hand, pulling her into a strong hug, “I know Kyle is going to be okay. Do you remember when we were in college and I was the quarterback of the football team and Kyle was the best wide receiver that we had in like years?”

“Yeah,” Sarah nodded, feeling her tears begin to soak through Grady’s shirt, “What about it?”

“Well, do you remember that game when I threw the ball to Kyle and he was nearly feet away from the touchdown and then he got tackled by a guy who was almost three times bigger than him?” Grady questioned seeing her look up at him and nod slowly. “If you remember that, then you should remember how everyone knew he was hurt, but he still got up and finished the game with the winning touchdown.”

“Yeah,” Sarah laughed, wiping the tears from her eyes, “Later that night he found out that he had torn his quad.”

“Which brings me to my second point,” Grady snapped his fingers, seeing a smile spread over Sarah’s features, “When the doctor told Kyle that he would never play any sports again--what did he do? He did the rehab and got back to the football team only after six months. The doctor said that was the best recovery he has ever seen with that injury. They said that it took more than a year to recover from that, but not for Kyle. He came back to the team better than he used to be. So if Kyle can come through something like a torn quad, I think he could go through something like this Sarah. Kyle is strong, we’ve known that for more than half our lives. He’ll pull through.”

“I hope your right Grady,” Sarah sighed as she back away from him, “I trust you and I hope you are right.”

“I know I am,” Grady told her, still trying to convince himself of the same thing he was trying to convince her with. He wanted to make Sarah feel better, but how could it fully work if he was feeling the same way she was?

“How much longer is it going to take?” Cori questioned eagerly, hating to just wait here for the results.

“Cori?” Brant questioned noticing the face before him. “What are you doing here?”

“She was coming to visit me,” Diego began to answer for Cori, “She saw what was happening with Kyle and she took him down for a moment?”

“You took Kyle down?” Avery wondered, slightly surprised at how the woman before her took down Kyle.

“I was kind of wondering how you did that myself too,” Sarah nodded, seeing Cori shrug, “So how did you do that?”

“Self defense classes,” Cori answered, taking in a slow breath, “With all the things that are happening in this world--I figured it would be the best thing to do.”

“Smart woman,” Grady pointed out, before seeing the door open and Don began to walk out. He looked over towards Sarah, who’s body seemed to be shaking. He grabbed her hand in his before looking over at her. “Everything is going to be okay.”

“Don, please…tell us what’s going on,” Brant begged, seeing Don switch his clipboard to his other hand, ready to tell them fully what was going on and what they had found.

“Well, what Diego and Sarah predicted was right,” Don answered, taking in a slow breath, “There was something that came back in the blood work, showing that--yes, Kyle was drugged.”

“Is he going to be okay?” Sarah questioned, gulping down seeing Don look towards the ground. “He’s not going to die or anything is he?”

“No, Kyle isn’t going to die,” Don shook his head slowly, trying to explain what was happening, “But there is no telling what would have happened if we didn’t catch this thing sooner. I don’t know how bad it could have been.”

“Don how is he now?” Avery wanted to know, asking impatiently. “Is he alright?”

“He’s still out of it,” Don replied sighing deeply, “I have to warn you all though--Kyle may not be himself for a while. I will see what I can do--so you can go in and see him.”

“Thank you so much Don,” Sarah smiled, letting go of Grady’s hand and hugging Don tightly, “I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t his doctor.”

“Hey, he’s my friend too you know,” Don pointed out with a small laugh shaking his head slowly, “Just be thankful that you found him when you did because if you didn’t--we might not have Kyle right now.”


Augustus tapped on the door frame watching as Ken seemed to be packing things into a suitcase. Ken looked up briefly before motioning to Augustus to come on inside his room. He returned his attention to packing as Augustus moved in beside him.

“Annie told me you were home,” Augie began with a quite voice.

“Not for long,” Ken shrugged his shoulders while folding up one of his shirts and placing it in the suitcase, “but for now, yes, I’m here.”

“Where are you going?” Augustus questioned watching Ken’s slow and methodical way of packing.

“To rehab,” Ken answered simply tilting his head up to see his grandfather’s reaction, “or didn’t Annie tell you?”

“She’d said that you were rather pensive tonight and full of contemplations, yet she hadn’t mentioned that you’d come up with a resolution to your situation,” Augustus admitted watching Ken lean over to zip up his suitcase. “So you’re really sure about this?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Ken stood up straighter. He took in a breath before facing his grandfather once again, “I mean it’s what everyone wants, isn’t it? For me to be gone and out of the way?”

“Ken, that’s not what this is about. This is about your getting help--about healing and…” Augustus tried to explain to him once again.

“No, this was about choices. I’ve made mine and so has everyone else,” Ken frowned up at him, “Let’s face it the only reason you’re in here is to make sure that I’m going. You’ve had more than your fill of me since my problems remind you of your failures with your own son. You just don’t want to see it any longer because it only adds to your self-loathing hatred where family is concerned.”

“That’s not at all how I feel Kenneth,” Augustus shook his head, ‘When I’d heard how you’d fallen…”

“You what? Came here to help me?” Ken asked with a small laugh, “Is that what you were going to say?”

“I tried to help you, but you wouldn’t let anyone inside,” Augustus offered up reaching out to touch him. Ken flinched away in anger.

“No one wants to be inside. No one really gives a damn about what’s going on inside of me, but rest assured that soon I’ll be out of the way and you won’t have to worry about me or any of my problems. Now if you’ll excuse me I’d like to finish up in here before the car arrives,” Ken remarked snidely turning his attention to his closet.

“Fine, but for what it’s worth, I’m glad that you’re doing this. It shows you want to make change in your life. That’s a good thing,” Augustus spoke in a small breath before walking out of the room.

“Yeah, good for everyone who wants me gone,” Ken muttered as Augustus walked out into the hallway.

Moving to the top of the stairs, Augustus thought about his grandson’s hatred and in that moment he felt a tug at his insides. He sighed realizing that if Ken was really truly leaving for rehab, then this wasn’t the way he’d wanted to leave things. He needed Ken to know that he loved him. He needed to convey the message that…

Augustus turned around ready to go speak with his grandson when he heard a loud crashing sound coming from Ken’s room. Rushing into the room, Augustus noticed Ken laying on the floor in a heap.

“Ken!” Augustus shouted his name before moving to the floor beside him. He tried to figure out how Ken had wound up in such a position, but there were no signs to indicate what was going on. He reached out to feel for a pulse just as Annie arrived at the door.

“What’s going on in here?” Annie questioned horrified.

“I don’t know,” Augie admitted worriedly, “but we need to call an ambulance right now. His pulse is weak.”

Annie nodded moving over to the phone to do as instructed. Augustus tried to awaken Ken--to get him to react somehow, but there was no reaching him. It was as if something had come into this room to strike Ken down after Augustus had left. He just hoped that it wasn’t something that would take Ken away forever.


...to be continued...