Episode 225

“Do you have everything packed and all set?” Carly questioned, handing Dave another piece of clothing as he set it down in his bag. “Is everything all together?”

“Yeah,” Dave nodded, zipping up his bag quickly before looking down at his watch, “Do you need to pack anything else before we head back to Coral Valley?”

“No,” she shook her head before thinking for a minute and snapping her fingers, “On second thought--I think I do. Let me go get it together.”

“I’ll wait here right here for you,” Dave smiled, seeing her walk out of the room before he heard his cell phone begin to ring. He looked around the room, realizing that he had packed it away. Quickly, he unzipped the bag and pulled out his cell phone noticing that the number was work.


“Hey,” Dave heard Julian Kurt’s voice over the receiver before Dave took in a deep breath, knowing that something was up. “Dave, is it possible that you can be here soon? I know are away right now, but I think we need some serious help over here.”

“What’s going on?” Dave questioned, leaning against the wall. All the times that he had been called into work for something important, it had always been something small and useless. It was never really something big. If this case was really a nothing, then he wanted to know because he didn’t want to rush his time with Carly.

“Well, it’s a bit of a situation,” Julian informed him, taking in a deep breath, ready to explain, “We have Susan Hastings in custody right now as we speak.”

“Susan?” Dave asked, thinking he misheard what Julian had just told him. What did Susan do now? “Susan Hastings? On what charges?”

“Well, she put some guy in the hospital and he was in a really bad condition. Last I heard, he was doing okay now,” Julian informed Dave, shrugging his shoulders, “You may know the guy, his name is Kyle Houston.”

“Kyle Houston?” Dave choked, there was no way someone Susan’s size could put someone like Kyle in the hospital. Dave had met Kyle a couple of times while he was with Shannon. Kyle seemed like a strong guy, so how was it possible for someone like Susan to put Kyle in the hospital in a bad condition? “I know they guy. What did she do to him?”

“It’s a long story, but to make it short for you,” Julian sighed, switching the phone to his other ear, “She drugged this guy and then she forced herself on him.”

“She raped him?” Dave blurted out before realizing his outburst. He didn’t mean to react like that, but how could Susan do something like that. The only way Susan would be able to do something like that was if she really screwed up Kyle bad--which sounded like she did. “What kind of drug was this that she used?”

“I don’t know if they have found out yet,” Julian stated, simply shrugging his shoulders, “If they have, I haven’t heard from them yet, but I can let you know when you get back here. That is if they ever find out what drug that was.

“Okay, that will work” Dave agreed before looking down at his watch, “I will be there as soon as possible. It may take a while, but I will be there.”

“Alright,” Julian nodded, leaning against the wall, “I will fill you in more on this case once you get over here. There is a lot more to it than I told you, but I think you would like to know more of it while you are here.”

“Okay, see you soon,” Dave said his goodbyes before hanging up the phone and putting it in his pocket. This case was obviously a big one that he really should be there for, but how was Carly going to react to him wanting to go back to Coral Valley quickly for his job?

“Who was that?” Carly wondered, coming up from behind Dave and placing her hand on his shoulder lightly, making him slightly jump from not knowing that she was standing behind him.

“How long have you been standing there?” Dave questioned quickly, gulping down as he saw her shrug.

“Not long enough to hear what your conversation was about,” she replied with a small smile, “Well, who was it?”

“Um, it was work,” Dave began to explain, taking in a deep breath, “They have a big case going and they need me. Someone was drugged and they are in a very bad condition. They have the person who did it in custody. I’m sorry about this.”

“Why? I’m not mad at you,” she lightly laughed before shaking her head, “I understand what’s going on.”

“Well, I would understand if you didn’t want to go back with me right now,” he pointed out seeing her shake her head and walk up to him, grabbing his hand in hers.

“I still want to go with you,” Carly informed him, taking in a deep breath, “Both of us. Even Kayla.”


“That was,” Ria watched Kevin buckle his pants up before she pulled her shirt back on. She thought of something to explain what had just happened. Well, it didn’t happen just now because this wasn’t the only time that it happened--but still. What was the word she was thinking of?

“Amazing,” Kevin finished, arching his eyebrow at her, noticing the look on her face.

“Unplanned,” she finished her own sentence, rolling her eyes at his last comment, “You know, you really have a big ego. Like a huge ego.”

“I know,” he nodded, reaching down to grab his balled up shirt from the ground, “but you love it--among other things you really love about me.”

“Kevin,” Ria squeaked after his comment, “Why do you always have to make comments about…”

“It wasn’t meant to be like that,” Kevin shrugged, a wide smile spreading over his handsome features, “But if you thought I was talking about that, you obviously know that I am right when I am saying it.”

“Right,” she bit down on her bottom lip, thinking of something that would change the subject. As she thought of something to say, something else swept through her mind making her gasp out, “Oh my god.”

“What? What is it?” Kevin questioned with a small frown, pulling his shirt on quickly. “What are you freaking about?”

“They have cameras in a lot of elevators,” she informed him only to hear him laugh out, “This isn’t funny Kevin. People could have seen everything that just went on between us if there is really a camera in here.”

“Then I guess they got a really, really good show,” Kevin laughed, feeling her lightly push him back, “I hope they enjoyed it if there really is a camera in here. It must have been a really fun thing to see.”

“You’re such a jerk,” Ria frowned, looking around the elevator. She was looking for any sign where there might be a camera hidden, “Help me find it Kev. Where would it be?”

“I don’t think they have one in here Ria,” he replied, a small smirk passing his lips as he saw her crouch down looking around the corners of the elevator, “Please Ria, think of where we are right now. There would be a big camera somewhere and we would be able to see it easily. There isn’t one in this particular elevator. Unless they have those really high-tech ones that are as big as a grain of rice--even smaller.”

“Why do you have to be so sarcastic about things like this?” Ria frowned, standing up straight and smoothing her shirt out. “If there really was a camera in here…I don’t want people to see you and I…”

“I don’t think I have anything to worry about when it comes to people seeing that,” Kevin pointed out, with a wicked smile before running his hand along the her hip lightly, “Believe me, neither do you.”

“Can we just get out of here?” she questioned, feeling the redness peak through her cheeks as she thought of Kevin’s body next to hers. The heat of his body radiating through hers was suffocating.

“Fine, if that’s what you would like,” Kevin shrugged, turning around to start the elevator back up before feeling her hand pull him back to her quickly, “What is it? I thought you wanted to get out of here as soon as possible.”

“I think we need to talk first,” Ria declared, seeing him nod slowly, giving her his fully attention, “About us.”

“I don’t think we’ve really needed to talk most of the time when it came to--us,” Kevin reminded her, seeing her roll her eyes at him once again.

“I mean, you so can’t tell Seth about this,” Ria demanded, seeing him look down towards the ground as she placed her hand under his chin, making him look up at her, “You must never tell Seth and if you do--you are seriously going to pay.”

“Ria, trust me,” Kevin chuckled, shaking his head slowly, “I will never tell Seth--never.”

“Good,” Ria nodded, taking in a deep breath as she looked up into his dark chocolate eyes, “This whole thing has just been so awkward between us. If you know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean,” Kevin agreed, leaning against the cool walls of the elevator, “And we are never going to do this again. I fully understand that.”

“Alright,” she breathed in slowly, thinking about how this shouldn’t have really happened in the first place, “Never again.”

“Right,” Kevin turned towards the front of the elevator, starting it up once more so they could get out of there, “So, what’s on your planner today?”

“Nothing so far,” she answered as the elevator doors opened and they walked out, heading for his car, “Why? What do you have on your mind?”

“I was just wondering--do you still like pancakes or no?” Kevin wondered, arching his eyebrow at her, hearing her laugh at him. “Well, do you?”

“Yeah, I do,” she replied as he opened the door for her, helping her get into his SUV before he ran to the other side and got in, “You want to go to IHOP?”

“Sure, you read my mind,” he winked, buckling in before starting up the car, “That actually sounds great.”

“That it does,” she agreed as she buckled herself in. She felt his eyes on her, making her look at him curiously, “What?”

“So,” Kevin began, putting one hand on the wheel, arching his eyebrow, “How do you feel about takeout?”


“So I’m thinking we’ll set things up right around here. Maybe get a water fountain going and an ice sculpture,” Martha suggested as Angela sat in the middle of the floor thumbing through some of the catalogues before her.

“That sounds like it might be interesting,” Angela nodded in response, “I mean it’s not every day that a girl winds up getting married, right?”

“I sincerely hope not and in your case, well I hope that it only happens one more time,” Nick’s voice rose from the back of the bar causing Angela to look up and see him before her. He had a bouquet of wild flowers in hand. Immediately she sprung up onto her feet and rushed over to hug him.

“Nick, I’m so glad you’re here,” she confessed enthusiastically, “Martha and I were just getting into talks about the wedding and well, we were talking about what everything is going to be like here.”

“Yeah I sort of heard something about ice sculptures,” Nick gave her a strange look, “What’s that all about?”

“I’ll leave you two to planning,” Martha waved her hand in the air before stepping out of the area and going in the room behind the bar.

“Gee, she’s not subtle or anything about wanting to give us some alone time, is she?” Nick chuckled lightly, “And here I thought that she’d talk my ear off now that she has the word wedding on the mind.”

“You wouldn’t believe all the great things she came up with for us. In fact, words can’t even begin to explain how happy she is about the idea of us getting married here,” Angela admitted with a small laugh, “Though I have to tell you while most people would frown down on the idea of getting married in a bar, well considering how much this place is a part of our history I think it’s perfect.”

“I happen to think that you’re perfect,” Nick revealed scooping her up into his arms to hold her against his chest, “absolutely every inch of you.”

“You do, do you,” she laughed lightly leaning in to kiss him playfully.

“I do very much,” Nick nodded dropping a small kiss over the tip of her nose, “As far as I’m concerned I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have such a beautiful woman at my side.”

“You’re just biased because I’m the one who saved your life. You wouldn’t think that if someone else found you,” she teased feigning an air of seriousness. “You just love me because deep down you see me as your hero.”

“That’s not true,” Nick shook his head at her, “because I highly doubt if someone like Kevin saved my life that I’d be thinking about being in love with him.”

Angela couldn’t help but laugh, “Now that might’ve been funny to see. Although now that I think about it, you two were in bed together not so long ago…”

“He jumped into bed with me,” Nick pointed out with a small frown, “I had absolutely nothing to do with that one.”

“Sure, sure,” she gave him a sideways glance, “I know how it is. You two have your little secrets and…”

“Little secrets? What does that mean?” he questioned.

“I mean like the day I went to his office and it was obvious that you two were up to your eyeballs in trouble, yet neither one of you would fess up about what was going on,” Angela curled her fingers in over his shirt fingering the material gingerly, “You wouldn’t want to open up and have a confession about that now that you’re my fiancé, would you?”

“Considering that it’s Kevin’s secret to share with you,” Nick shook his head, “Nope, not on your life. I wouldn’t dream of risking his wrath anymore than I already have in my asking you to marry me.”

“Kevin’s not going to kill you. If anything, he’ll probably be disappointed with me for not having the courage to give him the news sooner,” she sighed heavily, a worry spreading over her before she forced herself to think positive, “But I don’t want to dwell on the right now. Today I just want to think about us--about the wedding and about what’s in store for you and I together…”

“I think I can do something to make that happen,” Nick promised leaning down to kiss her once again. He squeezed her in his arms before setting her down on the ground once again, “That is of course pending the fact that you and Martha can take a break from our wedding planning for a while. I was thinking that maybe you and I could go have our own private little celebration for a while down by the water. What do you say?”

“I think it sounds wonderful,” Angela replied with a bright smile. “Just let me grab my bag and we can be on our way.”

“Hurry up. I’d hate to waste the day away inside when…” Nick began thinking to the things he’d had planned for the both of them, but before they could duck out, he heard Martha returning.

“Oh no you don’t. You two aren’t going anywhere just yet. We’ve got a few things to talk about here and they simply can’t wait,” she informed them bluntly. She directed her attention to Nick before curling her finger at him, “You come with me because I’m going to need your muscle.”

“But we were just…” Angela began slightly confused by Martha’s comments.

“You can ‘just’ in a little bit,” Martha mocked Angela’s tone before smiling, “but right now I have a few things that I’d like the two of you to see before you go anywhere.”

“Martha I appreciate that but…” Nick started as Angela returned to his side.

“I’m not taking no for an answer, so you may as well forget about any thoughts of protest and just come with me,” Martha warned with a small, demanding smile.

“Well, I guess we’d be fools to argue this one,” Angela shrugged her shoulders before looking to him, “After you I guess.”


“I can’t believe this,” Brant paced up and down the hallway thinking about the news that Deidra had delivered him. He ran his fingers through his hair, his frustrations mounting more and more by the moment. He’d come to the hospital because of Kyle, but now…well, there weren’t even words that could begin to explain what he was feeling at a time like this.

“Ken will be alright,” Avery offered hopefully, “They were able to help Kyle and…”

“And what? Kyle was brought here to the hospital right after what witch drugged him, but Ken…who knows how long ago it was when she did this to him?” Brant’s voiced raised with anger, “and here I thought that she was someone that I almost didn’t completely hate. Did you know at one time I truly thought that Ken would’ve been better off with her than Caitlin?”

“No, I didn’t know that. I kind of…” Avery started surprised at Brant’s admission.

“I don’t know what was wrong with me,” Brant confessed cutting her off as his own emotions tugged at his insides. “I mean I thought Caitlin was this impossible, pathetic person latching onto Ken because she wanted some kind of way into the Ashford empire, but now she was obviously the lesser of two evils. Here I was thinking I was helping Ken, but I was only bringing him closer to that she-devil…”

“You couldn’t have known what Susan was about. She plays a good game Brant. She’s manipulative and calculating, but no one sees it until it’s too late. If you ask Grady, then he’ll tell you that…” she started reaching out to touch his shoulder gently.

“I don’t want to ask Grady. I just want to know how she got away with doing this not once, but twice,” Brant snapped moving out of her reach. He spun around to face her, his eyes wild with fury. “I knew she was evil, but this, well this tops the charts and to think that all the signs were there, but I kept ignoring them. If I would’ve gotten Ken into the hospital sooner--if I could’ve got him the help he needed, then none of this would’ve happened. He wouldn’t be in the hospital right now fighting for his life and…”

“Brant stop!” Avery grabbed his hands forcing him to look at her, “You can’t do this to yourself. You can’t start thinking about the what ifs…”

“Avery, I should’ve known. I should’ve felt it. He’s my twin brother,” Brant reminded her harshly, “I should’ve sensed it.”

“How could you?” she questioned seeing the guilt behind his eyes, “Brant, this was something that none of us even thought was possible. We just assumed that Ken’s attitude change was based on the fact that Caitlin was gone from his life. We watched him sink into madness…”

“And when he needed me to be there for him I wasn’t. I was ready to kill him because of what he did to you, but now when I see that it wasn’t his fault--when I realize what was really happening there…” Brant stopped himself as he looked to Avery again, “This changes everything you know.”

“I know,” she nodded looking down, still trying to come to grips about what had brought about the change in her long time friend.

“That means he didn’t mean what he did to you. That’s what it has to mean. With the drugs he’s on right now, well there’s no telling how far beyond the edge they pushed him. If he did that…” Brant stopped himself sensing her discomfort in the situation. He inhaled slowly before he reached for her once again. Curling his finger underneath her chin, he urged her to meet his eyes once more, “That doesn’t really change it for you though, does it?”

“Brant this isn’t about me. This is about your brother and him pulling through what’s happened to him,” Avery tried to push her own thoughts and feelings aside, “Once again Susan has found a way to destroy an innocent life and after what she did to Kyle…”

“She’s not going to get away with it,” Brant began drawing her into his arms, “I know we’re far from healing with all of this, but Avery, I know we can find a way as long as we’re together.”

“I know,” she nodded laying her head on his chest.

“I’m sorry that this happened to you--to Ken--to us,” Brant whispered kissing the top of her head, “If I could go back and figure this out sooner than we did…”

“The past is the past. There’s no turning back. We can only move forward,” Avery whispered fighting her own tears, “You can’t blame yourself for any of this. You’ve held in far too much guilt for way too long Brant. You’re not responsible for any of this. This weight isn’t one you should feel you have to carry alone…not when you have others who love you and want to be there.”

“I know,” he sighed, “it’s just everything’s been so overwhelming with Ken lately and now to hear this…”

“We just have to stay strong for him. We have to hope that what happened to him will be the beginning to recovery for him. I hate to think of what happened, but the doctors are saying that they’ve stabilized him after last night’s situation and when he comes to again…”

“If he comes to,” Brant paused thinking about the possibility of whether or not last night’s situation would spin out onto another dangerous cycle for his brother.

“He has to. We can’t lose Kenny,” Blake’s voice rose above the both of them. Brant turned to see his sister standing there before him with worried blue eyes. “It looks bad, doesn’t it Brant?”

“Blake, I…” Brant started at a loss.

“We’re going to lose him, aren’t we?” Blake questioned tearfully, “Kenny’s going to die too isn’t he?”

“No Blake, he’s not going to die,” Brant reached out to her doing his best to comfort his younger sister, “but there are some things you need to know about why he’s here--things that we need to talk about.”

“Like what? What could you possibly have to say about this other than you don’t know much more than I do? Kenny’s hurt and…” Blake began with a sniffle.

“Blake, honey there are some things that I need you to know--things that can’t wait any longer,” Brant started taking in a long breath before turning to Avery.

“I’ll give you two a few minutes,” Avery nodded stepping aside to leave Brant to explain the horrible situation to his younger sister.

As she walked away, she thought of the latest revelation about what had driven Ken to madness. While she’d tried to come to terms with it, all she could think about was the last time she’d seen Ken and how tense things had been between them. She closed her eyes for a moment realizing that Susan had been the source of that madness. She’d destroyed Grady, then Ken and now Kyle. Fear jolted through Avery’s body as she turned down the hallway opting to pay Kyle a visit. Picking up the pace she said a prayer that today marked the end of Susan’s madness.


Diane sat in the hospital cafeteria hating that she’d been put in such a tentative position simply because she hadn’t been smart enough to get out before things got ugly with JT. Sure, okay, so maybe she was overreacting a little bit. There was always a possibility that her child was Ben’s. They’d spent a great many intimate moments with one another, yet they’d always been careful. With JT, well the night was so hazy that she honestly couldn’t remember more than waking up in bed with him that morning feeling like hell.

She looked over at the clock hating the idea that she would have to go home and tell Ben what had happened here at the hospital. Okay, so he already thought she was pregnant, but today had confirmed it for them. She could lie, but that wouldn’t get her anywhere. Ben would know that something was up and pregnancy was something that couldn’t be hidden forever.

“You have other options,” another voice piped in at the back of her mind. She closed her eyes hearing the voice prompt her further. “You have an easy way out of this and all you have to do is erase this little mistake.”

“No,” Diane dropped her hands down on the table, slamming them harder than she’d intended, “that’s not an option. I refuse to do that to my baby.”

Diane heard a few whispers and she opened her eyes to see she was getting a few looks from around the cafeteria. She reached for her purse and got up from the table wondering if it was time to pick up her vitamins. Yes, she’d run out of the doctor’s office in a hurry and acted hastily, but upon reaching the hospital’s exit, she knew that she’d been going about this the wrong way. She’d gone back upstairs and apologized and the doctor offered up some prenatal vitamins, which of course, the hospital pharmacy was making her wait for. Sure, she could’ve gotten them elsewhere, but at this point, she figured sticking around the hospital was less painful than going home.

“Oh God, how am I going to do this,” Diane groaned inwardly thinking about what could happen when she returned to the apartment. Ben was never going to forgive her if she kept lying to him, yet he’d hate her forever if he knew the truth. “Why is this happening to me?”

“Are you okay,” a voice questioned as Diane felt a hand tap on her shoulder. She jumped up, turning around to see Deidra standing in front of her. “Diane, what is it?”

“It’s nothing…” Diane started unable to hold back on the guilt that was weighing upon her. Normally she’d come up with some nasty remark to toss off on Deidra, but instead she felt herself caught up in a vulnerable moment.

“Diane, I can see something’s wrong. What’s going on?” Deidra prompted further this time getting different results from her sister. Immediately Diane broke into tears.

“Everything’s wrong. You have no idea how wrong it is right now,” Diane sobbed unable to hold back any longer. Her voice transformed into a small whimper as she wiped at her eyes, “I don’t want to be doing this but…”

“But nothing,” Deidra reached for her arm, “You’re coming with me.”

“No, I can’t I…” Diane started to protest, but gave up as Deidra pulled her to the elevators. Within a matter of minutes, they were up in Deidra’s office as Diane started making a tearful admission.

“Ben’s going to hate me forever. Just when things were starting to be right between us, this had to happen…” Diane threw her hands in the air with an exaggerated movement. She plopped down in the chair behind her and wiped at her face again.

“What happened?” Deidra questioned worried about her younger sister, “Did you two break up again?”

“No, we didn’t break up again, but he’ll wish that we didn’t get back together in the first place when he discovers that I’m pregnant,” Diane groaned with a heaving breath, “It’s over for me Deidra. This is it.”

“Wait a second,” Deidra blinked at her, “Did you just say you’re pregnant?”

Diane nodded before breaking into another round of sobs, “It’s going to be the end for us. I’m finished Dee.”

“Diane, honey having a baby is a good thing,” Deidra spoke up encouragingly. While she and Diane clearly weren’t going to be in the sister’s hall of fame anytime soon, she couldn’t help but feel for her younger sister as it was clear Diane was quite distressed. Moving in closer to her, Deidra spoke up in a low, smooth voice, “Diane, I’m sure that Ben will be okay with you being pregnant. I know that he loves you and…”

“You don’t understand,” Diane blurted out in frustration, “It’s not that I’m pregnant that has me upset. Ben would love to be a father…”

“Well, then see you’re getting all worked up over nothing. I’m sure when you tell him, he’s going to be beyond thrilled and…” Deidra started reaching for the box of Kleenex’s on her desk.

“No Deidra, you’re not getting it. This baby might not be Ben’s. In fact I’m sure it’s not!” Diane snapped back at her blurting out the words before she could hold back on them.

Deidra froze upon that admission. She tried to say something, to find the right words to respond to that, but nothing came out.

“Go on!” Diane waved her hand at her, “Tell me how I deserve this--how fate is giving me a payback now that I’ve managed to destroy my life the way I destroyed yours by being cruel and heartless…”

“No, I wasn’t going to tell you any of that,” Deidra shook her head.

“Of course you were. I know you were just waiting for the opportunity for me to screw up again. I’m sure you’re beyond thrilled to hear what a mess I’ve made of things since you hate me,” Diane threw her hands up in the air, “I don’t even know why I’m telling you any of this.”

“It’s because you obviously need to talk,” Deidra reminded her simply before throwing out another look, “And for starters here, I think we should set the record straight on this one. I don’t hate you Diane.”

“Yeah right,” Diane rolled her eyes, “Like I’d almost believe that one.”

“I really don’t,” Deidra shrugged her shoulders, “Yeah, sure I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that hearing what you told me about you and Andy didn’t hurt like hell, but in retrospect, I think we both kind of fell into a trap with him. He lead us both to believe that he wanted something that he obviously didn’t.”

“Andy was charming and…” Diane stopped herself, the first real regret over the situation hitting home with her, “I never should’ve slept with him Dee.”

“No, you shouldn’t have,” Deidra agreed with her, “but if he loved me, then he should’ve been able to resist temptation with you. I mean I know you think you’re pretty captivating, but there are men who do have their limits around beautiful women. Unfortunately Andy just wasn’t one of them.”

“You know…I think on some level I knew that,” Diane sighed heavily, “It was just that he was so nice to me and he made me feel so beautiful…”

“He was good at that,” Deidra shrugged before a scowl touched over her lips, “Just ask one of the many, many women he’s slept with. No, on second thought let’s just forget about Andy right now and talk about what’s going on with you. About what we can do to fix this…”

“Nothing’s going to fix this Dee,” Diane groaned burying her face in her hands, “I screwed up big time.”

“How did this happen?” Deidra couldn’t help but ask. “I thought that things were pretty secure with the two of you.”

“They were, but we had a short time when they weren’t,” Diane thought back to her and Ben’s breakup. “I went out one night when we were apart and I saw him dancing with another woman. I mean now I realize she was just his friend, but I was already drinking before I saw him and one thing lead to another after JT was around…”

“Whoa, back up,” Deidra’s jaw practically dropped, “JT as in JT ‘the biggest jerk in the world’ Mahoney?”

“The one and only,” Diane nodded now full of embarrassment, “I swore to myself that I’d never get wrapped up in him again after it almost killed my relationship with Jade, but then when I saw Ben with Valerie… I don’t know how it happened, but one drink lead to another and I woke up the next morning with a killer hangover in bed with JT.”

“Oh Diane,” Deidra sighed, “I’m so sorry.”

“Not nearly half as sorry as I am,” Diane explained tearfully, “I went home that morning feeling like the worst person in the world after what happened with JT and there was Ben waiting outside my door. He came over to apologize and we made up. Since then everything has been wonderful between us--better than wonderful…until now that is.”

“Diane, are you sure that Ben isn’t this baby’s father? That JT is the one who…” Deidra trailed off.

“Not exactly,” Diane fidgeted with her fingers in her lap, “I mean I thought that maybe there could be a chance that he’s not considering that Ben and I’ve been together too, but we’ve always played it safe and with JT, well I don’t remember everything that happened…just bits and pieces and…”

“And it’s okay,” Deidra nodded encouragingly, “That’s not really important right now. What is important is the baby you have growing inside of you. Diane you can’t hide this forever. You have to tell Ben the truth.”

“He already believes I’m pregnant, but he has no idea about what I did with JT. If he ever finds out…” Diane cried harder than before. “Dee, I’m going to lose him. I’m going to lose the only man who ever really gave a damn about me as a person. He loves me--really, truly loves me, yet I went and blew it and…”

“Diane, you have to be honest with him. You need to tell him about what happened with JT and hope that your love is strong enough to survive this,” Deidra informed her honestly, “It’s the only way you and Ben will stand a chance at a future together.”

“Are you out of your mind? Deidra, he’ll never forgive me for this. I’ve as good as lost him if I tell him the truth,” Diane argued with her.

“And if you don’t tell him the truth, then you stand to lose more than you ever thought possible because you will spend the rest of your life afraid that the truth will come out. You’ll be paranoid that there is a chance that this baby does belong to JT and that Ben will find out. Everything you do will be one lie on top of another because you’ll feel that’s your only alternative and before you know it, you’ll feel like you’re backed into a corner,” Deidra tried to reason with her.

“No, losing Ben would be worse than that. If he found out the truth and he left me. If I told him…” Diane insisted desperately, “he’d be sure to leave and hate me forever.”

“Diane, the longer you keep this to yourself, the harder it’s going to be. If you tell Ben the truth and he loves you--if he really loves you, then he’ll find a way to make this work especially if there’s a chance he’s that baby’s father,” Deidra reached for her hand, “You have to believe that.”

“Given that your marriage fell apart when your husband cheated on you, forgive me if I have very little faith about Ben wanting to stick around,” Diane muttered sarcastically.

“Diane, if Andy would’ve been honest with me about things--if it would’ve happened one time--if he would’ve tried to make it work, then there’s no telling where we’d be right now. If he could’ve found a way to be honest with me and told me that we needed to fix things, then maybe just maybe…” she stopped herself, “That’s not important right now. What went on with Andy and I is nothing like what’s happening with you and Ben. I know he loves you. I really, truly believe that Diane and the longer you keep him in the dark, the harder it’s going to be on you.”

“I know, but I just don’t want to lose him. If I did…” Diane’s lower lip quivered, “It would be the end of me.”

“Then you have to find a way to tell him about JT. You have to trust that he loves you like I think he does and that somehow you two can make this work. If you believe that he’s your soul mate and you’re really committed to a future with him, then you need to have faith in his love for you. If he leaves, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be.”

“That’s refreshing,” Diane rolled her eyes.

“Diane, I’m being serious. If you two really have the real thing, then it’s going to work out. Regardless of what’s happened, you’ll be together because that’s what real love is about,” Deidra offered up hopefully.

“That sounds strange coming from you because, no offense, but you’re one of the last people in the world I’d think would say something like that,” Diane gave her a strange look before silence followed. “Okay, who are you and what did you do to my normally depressed sister?”

“Let’s just say that I learned the hard way that life goes on and happiness can still be out there for you even when you think it’s gone forever,” Deidra offered up cryptically thinking of her new romance with Dean, “If you trust in your love for Ben, then this will prove to be something that could unite you even further. I’m not saying that it’s going to be an easy time for either one of you or that he won’t be upset, but if he loves you--if he really, truly loves you, then you have to believe in that. You have to show him you love him by trusting him enough to see you for all that you are--faults and all.”

“And what if I do that? What if I tell him about JT and he leaves me? What if he goes away and never comes back into my life?” Diane asked nervously.

“Then we’ll find a way to get through it together,” Deidra offered up giving her sister a hug as she knew Diane had a long, hard road ahead of her.

“I just don’t know what I’d do without him,” Diane blurted out losing herself to her tears as she wondered if telling Ben was in the cards. She knew what Deidra was saying was right, but was she really ready to take that kind of gamble on the best thing that had ever really, truly happened to her?


“You beat me again,” Shannon frowned, looking at the pieces on the board before her, “I don’t understand. I think I am winning and then all of a sudden you trample me.”

“It’s because I am so good at this game,” Matt pointed out with a small laugh, “All you have to do is practice and I am sure you will eventually be able to beat me.”

“Yeah,” Shannon rolled her eyes playfully before smiling, “That’s if you let me win because you feel bad.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Matt protested, folding his arms out in front of him and shaking his head.

“Yes you would,” Shannon replied, raising her eyebrow at him, “You are such a good boy that you know you would--if you felt bad enough.”

“Okay, okay,” Matt nodded, pointing down towards the game, “I was trying to let you win this game and then you totally got lost and pushed me ahead in the game. I didn’t know that could happen, but it did.”

“I tend to screw up things very badly,” Shannon stated with a small sigh, “Like I told you earlier, I am a very clumsy person. I do a lot of stupid things.”

“Clumsy? I think you are more funny than clumsy,” Matt told her, standing up quickly, “You’ve lost to me in every game, but the funny thing is, you play better than daddy does. He is really bad at all of these games. At least you almost beat me in Sorry.”

“Okay, so I guess I’m not the worst at most of these games,” she shrugged with a small laugh, “I didn’t think your daddy would be worse than me.”

“He gets more confused at all these games,” Matt replied with a small shrug, holding his hand out to her--trying to help her up, “Let’s go outside--maybe you are better at sports.”

“Oh, I doubt it,” Shannon bit down on her bottom lip, getting up from where she was sitting before following Matt towards that back door, “What do have in plan for us?”

“Grandma,” Matt smiled looking behind Shannon as she tilted her head, slightly confused, “Grandma? I must be old--I’ve never heard of that game before.”

“No, grandma,” Matt pointed towards the door where Alicia had just walked in. He grabbed her hand and began to pull her towards the door, “Come on, let’s go talk to her.”

“I’m coming,” Shannon assured him before feeling a slight rush of guilt. Don’s mom probably thought really bad things of her after what happened between her and Don.

“Hi grandma,” Matt grinned, letting go of Shannon’s hand and running towards Alicia to give her a big hug.

“Oh, I love your big hugs,” Alicia hugged him tighter, her eyes drifting towards Shannon, “Where’s daddy?”

“He’s at work,” Matt answered as Alicia let him out of her arms, “But I am having fun with Shannon. I was teaching her how to play games and we were about to go outside.”

“Games, huh?” Alicia questioned with a small smile. “How about you go find that new game to show Shannon? You know, the one me and grandpa got you?”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that one,” Matt giggled, before running towards his room and Alicia’s attention went to Shannon.

“So my son left you here to watch his son?” Alicia questioned seeing Shannon nod slowly. “How has Matt been acting around you so far?”

“He’s been really good,” Shannon informed her, nodding slowly as she thought back to what they had done during the last few hours. “He is a really great child.”

“That he is,” Alicia agreed, motioning Shannon to follow her towards the couch and sit down, “It’s okay, I won’t kill you. I wouldn’t do something like that.”

“I wasn’t afraid of that,” Shannon half laughed, taking a seat next to Alicia, feeling a bit uncomfortable, “I am Shannon just in case you didn’t know.”

“I know who you are,” Alicia replied with a small smile, “You’re married to my son. I should know who you are, I was just hoping that I would get to know you better. My name is Alicia.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t really gotten to talk to you,” Shannon apologized, taking in a slow breath, “Things have just been so…”

“Complicated,” Alicia finished, nodding understandingly, “I know how things are going. That’s what love does to you. It confuses you and makes your mind fill with worry.”

“Yeah,” Shannon, bit down on her lip, seeing Alicia continue to look at her. Shannon really shouldn’t be feeling uncomfortable right now, but it was too hard. The way that Alicia was asking questions made her feel like she was such a bad person.

“Well, now that we’ve officially been acquainted,” Alicia began, resting her elbow on the back of the couch, “May I ask you a question about something?”

“Anything,” Shannon answered quickly, fearing what the questioned was going to be. What was it that Don’s mother wanted to talk to her about? Something about this whole thing made her really start to worry.


“Hey champ,” Avery smiled, walking into Kyle’s hospital room, seeing that he was wide awake just staring at the television, “What are you doing?”

“Just thinking about things,” Kyle replied, turning off the television, setting the remote on the table before looking towards here, “What about you?”

“I was coming to check in on you,” she stated, taking a step closer to him before placing her hand on his shoulder lightly, “So how are you feeling?”

“I’m surviving,” Kyle sighed, reaching up to rub his aching head, “Truly. What about you? How are you doing?”

“Just worried about you,” she informed him with a frown before squeezing his shoulder lightly, “That’s always like you. When you are hurt--you still always worry about others.”

“What can I say?” Kyle questioned with a small smile, looking up at her with his dark eyes, “I guess I’m just a big ball of worry.”

“Well, I think you more than spread your worry out to everyone the last day or so,” Avery sighed, looking down at Kyle. They were all afraid that something was going to happen to Kyle. There was a fear in everyone, making them wonder if Kyle really was going to make it through or not. When Don came out to say he was going to be okay--everyone had a bit of relief off their chests. “We were all worrying about you.”

“Me? You know you don’t have to worry about me,” Kyle reached his hand up to hers, squeezing her hand in his lightly, “Whatever happens to me--I deserve. I did it all myself.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Avery questioned with a frown seeing him shrug. “Are you telling me that you think you should have died last night?”

“Not exactly,” Kyle shrugged, biting down on his bottom lip as he felt a pain in his chest, “Part of me was always hoping that I did go when that bomb blew.”

“Not this again Kyle,” Avery sighed, enclosing her fingers tighter in his, “You don’t think you are very important do you? Do you know how many people would be very upset if you left us?”

“How many?” Kyle questioned sarcastically before seeing her go on with an answer.

“First off, your girlfriend. You should have seen the way she was last night. That girl would be a wreck without you. She loves you and you would be taking her life away if you left,” Avery insisted, seeing him look away from her, “Another one would be Grady. Even if he wasn’t trying to show it, he was as worried as they come. He didn’t want to lose his best friend. His partner in crime. You are like a brother to him Kyle and he didn’t want to lose you.”

“I know,” Kyle bit down on his lip before shaking his head slowly, “It’s just that...”

“It’s just nothing,” Avery blurted out, placing her finger underneath his chin to make him look at her, “You didn’t let me finish. Another one, would be me. Do you know what I would do if I lost you? You are my guardian angel Kyle. I couldn’t lose you like that.”

“Guardian angel?” Kyle questioned with a small smile, seeing her nod slowly. “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean every time I have been in trouble or needed help,” Avery began to explain, seeing his dark eyes look up at hers, “You were there. No matter what--you were there. You saved Grady. And that time at that one biker bar--I thought you were seriously going to get murdered after what you did to that guy after he propositioned me and threatened Russ.”

“Yeah, that was kind of scary,” Kyle agreed, a laugh passing his lips, “I guess you could just say that I didn’t like the way he was treating you. I was more like your bodyguard there.”

“If you say so,” she shrugged with a small chuckle, “The way you dodged everything he tried to do was great. I really thought he had you when he threw you into the jukebox.”

“I was too strong back then,” Kyle pointed out, arching his eyebrow as he saw her roll her eyes.

“Then you are too strong now to give up,” Avery stated with a small sigh, “Can I have hug?”

“You can have a million,” Kyle answered with a small laugh as she leaned down and hugged him tightly in her arms. “I guess we both have been in the same situation before.”

“Right,” Avery nodded, feeling a bit of guilt knowing that he was mentioning Ken, “It feels like you want to give up, but you can’t. Both of us are too strong for that.”

“Strong,” Kyle laughed as he let go of her and scooted over a little bit so she could sit on the edge of the bed next to him, “I don’t think this is strong.”

“You’re strong, you just don’t know it,” Avery protested, taking a seat on the bed and taking his hand in hers once more, “So about this whole Susan situation--what’s happening?”

“Well, I talked to Sarah,” he began, biting down on his bottom lip in pain before going on, “And I have decided to press charges against Susan. She should be getting arrested as we speak right now.”

“She finally gets what she deserves,” Avery sighed, noticing Kyle’s face was a little red before she reached forwards and felt his head with the back of her hand, “You have a fever.”

“It’s nothing,” Kyle insisted, taking her hand in his again to move it away from his head, “With what I did to Susan, I think it was something that you should have done with Ken too. He shouldn‘t just walk around like he didn‘t hurt you.”

She had to tell Kyle, it would hurt him, but he had to know. Hopefully he would take it well.

“Kyle,” Avery gulped down, seeing his intensity filled eyes look into hers, “About Ken--the same thing that happened to you, happened to him. He is in the hospital right now as we speak and everything that has happened was because of Susan. This drug puts a bad effect on people. Yours was a smaller effect, but Ken’s was a very big one.”

“Figures,” Kyle laughed, looking away from her, feeling guilty as all hell, “I preyed on the innocent again didn’t I? Ken, Diego--they just keep piling up don’t they?”

“Kyle, you didn’t know,” she hushed, squeezing her hand in his tightly, “You were just trying to protect me. Like I said, you were trying to be my knight.”

“A knight doesn’t hurt someone like that,” Kyle protested shaking his head slowly, “You know, all I really am is a screw up. All I ever do is screw up.”

“No you’re not,” Avery declared, wiping a tear away from her face, hating to see Kyle like this, “You’re not a screw up.”

“Think about it Avery,” Kyle cut her off angrily, shrugging his shoulders, “I screwed up with Ken. I screwed up with Susan. If I wouldn’t have been so damn unreasonable, I could have saved myself. Best of all, if I just would have protected Russ and kept my promise to you--he would still be with you right now and Ken wouldn’t have had a chance to do what he did.”

“Kyle, you can’t still blame yourself for that,” Avery felt another tear slide down her cheek as he cut her off once more.

“I know it was my fault Avery,” Kyle insisted, not letting her go on, “Avery, I could have saved Russ. I could have saved all those people if I wouldn’t have been so damn blind. It was right in front of my eyes the whole time, but I didn’t know. It was all my fault--it was…”

“You’re not superman Kyle,” Avery hushed him, placing her index finger over his mouth gently. His eyes were red, like they were burning to even look at her right now. Without saying anything else, she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around him tightly. “No one blames you Kyle. I don’t blame you and I never did. I just wish you would see that.”

“I’m just scared Avery,” Kyle sighed, feeling her tighten the hug, “I’m just scared.”


“Will someone please come and talk to me?” Susan questioned, yelling over to one of the officers who was sitting at his desk. “I deserve to at least know why I am here.”

“Please,” the officer pleaded, standing up seeing her eyes follow him as he walked over to the cell, “Just shut up. You know why you are here.”

“I did nothing wrong,” Susan protested, shrugging his shoulders, “I don’t even know what I did.”

“Like drugging someone and forcing yourself on them isn’t a crime,” the officer laughed before seeing her roll her eyes.

“So that’s what you call sleeping with someone,” Susan groaned, thinking back to what had happened with her and Kyle, “I slept with someone, but he wanted it.”

“Was that before or after you drugged him and almost killed him?” the officer questioned with a small frown seeing her eyes get wide.

“Kill? What do you mean?” she wondered, seeing the officer fold his arms out in front of his chest.

“If you must know, he is in the hospital right now after what you did to him,” the officer informed her as she bit down on her bottom lip. “Now if you will…I have some work to get done.”

“Hey,” Susan called out as the officer began to walk away, “I want to make a phone call, just one. I won’t stop yelling until I get it either.”

“Okay, lady,” the officer agreed turning back around and unlocking the cell, grabbing the back of her shirt, leading her to the phone, “Just one.”

“I don’t think I have much room to run, so if you will,” Susan rolled her eyes as the officer took a step back as she dialed the number.

It rang for quite a while before someone had picked up. She was beginning to worry that they wouldn’t be there.

“It’s Susan,” she almost said in a whisper before biting down on her bottom lip, “I need to talk to you, I need to see you. No, I’m being serious. Just come and you will find out what I am talking about. Okay, bye.”

“Back to your cell and be quiet,” the officer ordered, leading her back to the cell after she hung up the phone. He already knew that his woman would be nothing but quite. It was still worth a try.


“Everything is going to be okay,” Brant spoke up soothingly trying to comfort Blake as her worries about Ken mounted. While he was in a state of uncertainty himself, the last thing he wanted was for his sister to be so upset. “I’m sure we’ll hear something soon and when we do, it’s going to work out for the best.”

“That’s what you said before. You know when daddy died…” Blake sniffled still shaken up over the situation. Seth stepped forward placing a comforting arm around her. “What if we lose Kenny too?”

“We’re not going to lose him. I’m sure that he’ll be fine,” Brant lied knowing that there were no guarantees at this point.

“How do you know? How do any of us really know?” Blake questioned wiping at her tears as she looked between Brant and Seth. “There’s nothing that can guarantee that Ken will pull out of this one.”

“Maybe I can help touch on the subject a bit,” Don appeared from behind the closed doors in front of them.

“Don, hey,” Brant rushed over to his friend, “What’s going on?”

“Ken’s been through a very traumatic ordeal because of what’s been done to him, but fortunately for Ken, with Deidra having isolated a blood sample like she did, they were able to come up with treatment in the lab. It’s being administered as we speak and things look like they’re going to be just fine,” Don began reassuringly before looking to Blake, “Your brother’s going to be hurting for a while and in need of some major bed rest, but other than that he’s going to pull through.”

“Oh thank you Don,” Blake threw her arms around his neck excitedly, “I knew there was a reason why you were always my favorite one of Brant’s friends.”

“I try kiddo,” Don replied returning the embrace before taking a step back, “and you know in a little bit I’m sure you can go in and see him if you’d like.”

“I would,” Blake confessed with a small smile, “Now that I know he’s going to be okay, I just want to go in there and tell him all the reasons why I’m so glad he’s still with us.”

“I’m sure you do and you‘re going to be able to get that chance,” Don nodded listening to her before turning to Brant, “Can I talk to you for a second.”

“Sure,” Brant nodded leaving Blake to be with Seth as he and Don walked down the hall just a bit. Seeing the grim expression on Don’s face alerted Brant to the fact that maybe just maybe there was more to the story than Don had told Blake, “Okay Don. Lay it on me. What’s going on.”

“Well, like I said he’s improving and I think he’s going to pull through this for the time being,” Don hesitated, “but given the brief literature I’ve seen on this drug, well I can’t promise you that there won’t be any long term side effects here. Ken as you knew him may never be the same…”

“So you’re telling me that my brother could pull out of this angrier and more hurtful than ever,” Brant questioned with a frown.

“I’m telling you that you need to expect the unexpected. We’ve done all that we can and physically I think we can turn this around for him. Last night he was delivered a terrible blow, but I think with a little help and a little recovery time, he’ll beat this. With his mental state, well, I think that maybe he should start seeing someone. I don’t know if it’ll help or not, but…”

“He was on his way to therapy before this all happened. From what Annie told me Ken was talking about turning his life around--about changing things and trying to make up for his mistakes.” Brant confided in his friend, “I think if this wouldn’t have happened, then maybe he might’ve accomplished that.”

“I kind of got that feeling myself--of course that was before I knew he’d been drugged, but hey, if there’s a way to fix this Brant, I’m sure we can do it,” Don patted his arm supportively, “I’ll personally look into this and see if there’s anything out there to help with what may or may not be happening with Ken. You know you’ve all been kind of like family to me over the years, so if there’s anything I can give back…”

“Thank you Don. You have no idea how much I appreciate it,” Brant smiled up at him.

“I have a few clues about it,” Don nodded in response, “and hey, after all the favors you’ve done for me, this is the least I can do. If you need anything, anything at all from a couch to lay down on when you finally give in to exhaustion or if you just need someone to talk to, I’m here.”

“Thanks man I really appreciate that,” Brant replied thinking about all that lay ahead of the Ashford family. While he’d thought that the worst was finally over, he was starting to wonder if that wasn’t at all true for them. Now that Susan had struck Ken down with her evil there was no telling what would come out of it.


“See now I told you both that you’d love this,” Martha rubbed her hands together, an enthusiastic smile spilling over her features. She looked down to where Nick and Angela sat on the floor with book after book of photos in front of them.

“Can you explain to me one more time what the point of this is?” Nick questioned tilting his head slightly to look up at her.

“Nick!” Angela chastised swatting him on the shoulder before smiling up at Martha, “Martha, I think it’s a wonderful idea for us to help you go through some of these. They’re a great way to remember some of the finer moments of the past.”

“Oh would you two knock it off?” Martha waved her hand at them dismissively, “This isn’t about revisiting the past. This is about what we’re going to do for the future. I found all of those old things in the attic and it got me thinking about what we should do for your wedding. Maybe put together a scrapbook of sorts to go along with the special day. You know something that’s not too cheesy, but has an air of sentimentality to it as well.”

“So I’m guessing this hippie themed, flower power one is out of the running for our book of memories,” Nick dangled a bright orange, green and yellow album in front of Angela’s face after she‘d wrinkled her nose at it. She reached for the album, swiping it from his hands before pretending to inspect it, “Oh I don’t know. The green kind of brings out your eyes. Don’t you think Martha?”

“Sweetheart, just about anything would bring out your eyes, but if you want my personal opinion, you should take off your shirt. It brings out your pecs,” Martha teased with a wink catching a look from Nick. “I even have a bronzed album over here to match that look.”

“You know if I didn’t know better I’d think I was being sexually harassed by my boss here,” Nick shook his head at her, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“Hey, what can I say I’m a sucker for a hottie with a body,” Martha chortled before getting up from where she’d been seated on the floor, “And for the record Nick what you did the other night all up on top of the bar, it brought sales that night through the roof.”

“Let’s just hope my raise follows in the same trend,” Nick laughed lightly before looking to Angela.

“Here, what do you think about this one,” Angela suggested holding up a leather bound album for his inspection. “This one is empty and I’m assuming that if Martha wouldn’t mind we could use this one for a beginning album perhaps…”

“Take it honey. You take whatever you want because I was going to scrap some of those books. They’re a lifetime of memories that I think I’d just as soon forget. Oh wait, most of them I did forget. It was the sixties after all,” Martha joked once again before moving back over to the bar.

“So what do you think,” Angela handed the album to Nick, fingering the top of the brown leather over it. She met his green eyes before wiggling her brow, “Think we could make this one kind of our ‘Countdown to the Wedding’ album?”

“I think it’s entirely possible,” Nick nodded before offering up a smile, “In fact, why don’t you go have a few words with Martha and we’ll go back to my place and grab that old camera I found in the closet the other day? We’ll go out to the beach and work on filling up some of these pages. Of course, then again some of the photos, well we may have to put them in another, more private album called ‘Preparation for the honeymoon’.”

“You’re incorrigible,” she shook her head before bringing her hand up over her cheek. She leaned in to kiss him quickly before moving away from him, “but in a strange way I kind of like that.”

“I knew somehow you would,” he laughed lightly watching her walk over to the bar to give Martha a good enough excuse to get them outside on the beach for a while.

Nick looked down to the album in his lap feeling the weight of it over him. He had to admit it did have style and it seemed to fit the mood in being classy, yet not too flashy. He reached for the cover pulling it back to open up the crisp pages before him and a smile touched over his lips.

“So this is where it all begins,” he mouthed to himself suddenly feeling a strange sensation overtake him.

Nick closed his eyes for a moment and when he reopened him, he saw himself seated in the middle of a bed. He looked around realizing that the bar had somehow been replaced with this room. It was small and there were a lot of sports memorabilia on the wall. He was seated in the center of a twin bed and there was something on his lap. Looking down he saw an album much like the one he was holding, but unlike the album Angela had picked out, this one was filled with photos already.

“This has to work. I need to find a way to reach her before it‘s too late,” he could hear his own voice frantic as he searched the bed for something, anything that would help him in his quest. Quest for what? Nick asked himself as he was now a bystander in this moment seeing himself fishing through the images that were sprawled out around him on the bed.

“I need to just…” he muttered when a bright grin spilled over his face. “I found it. This is it!”

Nick stepped forward trying to see what it was that had him so excited. It was obviously a photo, but of what, he couldn’t quite tell. He moved in further watching as his mouth began to move, but the words were somehow lost. Taking another step closer, Nick looked down to the pages on the book. There before him was an image of a boy and a girl both about eight years old playing on some kind of playground. The girl had a baseball cap on and mistakable brown eyes that clearly belonged to Angela and the boy…well the boy was…

“Nick, hey are you with me?” Angela waved her hand in front of his face, “Nick, hey.”

“What?” Nick snapped out of his daze looking up to see Angela standing before him with a worried expression, “What’s wrong?”

“That’s what I was just asking you. I came over to tell you we could leave now, but then judging by the look on your face, I could see you were already gone. What’s going on?” she questioned kneeling in before him. “Is something wrong?”

“No,” he frowned, “not exactly. I mean one minute I was sitting here going through the album and then the next…”

“What?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I somehow saw myself in a room. I mean I was there in the first person, but then I seemed to jump out of my body and I was watching myself. I was in a little boy’s room--at least I think that’s what it was. There were trophies all around and sports memorabilia. I had an album just like this one in my lap, but, well the album I had in the vision had pictures in it.”

“What kind of pictures?” she questioned further.

“I don’t know. The images were blurred except for one in particular. It was of a little girl and a little boy,” he admitted remembering the eyes of the little girl, “She looked just like you. She had your eyes and…”

“And maybe you were thinking about the future. About what life would be like with the twins,” Angela suggested with a smile, “You said it yourself that this was a new beginning. Maybe you were just ready to start planning ahead.”

“Maybe,” he shrugged not entirely convinced of that.

“Or maybe it was a vision from your past,” she added sensing his discomfort at that particular moment in time. “You said you’ve been feeling like things keep coming back to you.”

“They are…well sort of, but still. I just don’t know about this one,” Nick sighed wishing that he could see more into that particular vision. While he still had a great many questions going on in his head, he looked up to see Angela worried in that moment. “It doesn’t matter though. I promised you that we’d go out and fill this memory book and I’m sure that’s what my mind was trying to do.”

“When I left you, you had X-rated images on the mind,” she reminded him with a wicked smirk.

“Yes, I do suppose I did, but maybe the soon-to-be father in me was warning me to behave at least a little bit,” Nick added with a sideways grin, “Of course that would kill the fun I had in mind for the afternoon though if I went down that route.”

“Hmm, well maybe we can compromise,” she sat down in his lap. She curled her arms around his neck seductively, “How about we leave responsibility for tomorrow and today we work on the downright shameful and reckless?”

“Reckless you say,” he repeated with an even bigger grin, “Hmm, well I suppose I can afford to take a walk on the wild side for a little bit today with the woman I love.”

“Oh would you two get a room already,” Martha walked by before letting out a small laugh, “I’m just kidding. You two have fun and remember if you make a mess in the bar, you’re cleaning it up.”

“Oh we weren’t planning on staying. We were going to leave and…” Angela tried to explain to her before Nick covered her mouth with his hand.

“She was kidding,” Nick laughed lightly watching the color rise in Angela’s cheeks at the thought of her and Nick being alone inside the bar with one another acting out a few very well thought-out fantasies. Her eyes seemed to sizzle with excitement as he touched her cheek gently, “Now about that trip to the beach…”

“I say lead the way and I’m all yours,” Angela leaned in to kiss him as the two prepared to spend the day finding new ways to fill up their memory book together.


“Tell me something,” Ria sighed heavily, laying her head on the center of Kevin’s muscled chest. They lay together in the center of her bedroom floor on her mattress that they’d moved there shortly after her bed frame had broken the previous night. She closed her eyes feeling his thick fingers running through her long, dark hair leisurely as the heat of his body radiated over her. Moments earlier she’d been lost in him, reveling in the sheer delights that only Kevin Adonis could bring to her body and even now she was still lost in the aftershocks of their love making.

“What’s that,” Kevin questioned in a low, satisfied tone as he held her.

“Why me?” Ria couldn’t help but blurt out. She propped herself up on her elbows to look at him--really look into his dreamy dark eyes as her heart pounded with anticipation all over again.

There was just something to be said about a man like Kevin who had soulful brown eyes and a body that would make any woman fall to pieces at the thought of getting near it. Still, it went beyond that as Ria thought back to the teenage, one hundred and twenty pound six foot tall sliver of a man that he was once upon a time and she still felt flushed at the memory. Even then she found him to be sexy as hell and that hadn’t changed. No, take that back. It had intensified since then now that Kevin had evolved into a pure, thrilling, erotic example of what a man should be. He was perfect in every way imaginable and believe it or not Ria had a very wild imagination. Last night most certainly proved that to say the least, she thought to herself another flush rising over her body.

“Why not you,” Kevin replied tenderly pushing her hair back from her face so that he could look into her dark, passion-laden eyes.

“Well, it just feels so random. I mean one minute we haven’t spoken to one another in what, like six years, then I find you with my sister and that whole explosion happened,” she waved her hand around in the air briefly before centering it over his perfectly sculpted chest. She shivered at the feel of him knowing it was insane to be this attracted to someone, but still, she couldn’t help herself. “I mean here we are…together…”

“Very much together I might add,” Kevin teased curling his arm around her, his bicep flexing over her waist reminding her all over again of his strength and his ability to make her feel safe and protected in his arms.

“Well yes, but…” she felt a blush creep in over her once again, “I mean who would’ve thought that this would happen between us? It’s just so sudden so…”

“Sudden?” Kevin blinked back at her his eyes wide with surprise at her words, “Ria, I think this has been anything, but sudden. I’ve waited nearly half my life for this. You have no idea how many nights I went to bed thinking about what it would be like to be having you beside me--to be holding you like this and learning all there is to know about making you happy. When I think about how many times I fantasized about what it would be like making love to you, damn, I have to admit it was starting to become an obsession for me.”

“And how did it measure up in real life as opposed to fantasy,” she teased in a flirty tone, dropping her hand down beneath the sheet in a brazen fashion to feel the hardness of his body once again.

“Well let’s just say the bed breaking was one of the many fantasies I’d had in mind for us,” Kevin teased wrapping her up in his arms before pinning her beneath him. He moved in over her, careful to keep his weight steadied over her slender form. He saw the laughter behind her dark eyes and a smile teased over the corners of his mouth, “Does it surprise you though? I mean do you really find yourself so shocked to hear that I thought about our making love?”

“No, not really,” she sighed, her head sinking back into the pillows, “because truth be told I’ve thought about it too. Probably more than I should’ve. I mean it started when we were younger, but then, well I guess our lives just kind of lead us in different paths. I mean you were Seth’s older cousin--you were like so out of my reach because you were handsome and charming and…”

“Handsome?” he repeated with a small grin, “You thought I was handsome? Even when I had braces?”

“Well considering that I was a bit of a brace face myself,” she reached out to stroke his cheek gently, “I think it made you all the more endearing to me.”

“Truth be told, I always wondered what it would be like to lock braces with you,” he winked at her before he looked down over her body suggestively, “and other things of course.”

“Oh Kevin,” she laughed lightly pushing her palm into the center of his chest and sending him back onto the bed beside her. “You so didn’t think any of those things. You’re just saying that now because we finally did this with one another. We kind of took a risk and now we’re trying to justify it.”

“No, not really,” Kevin shook his head at her, “I mean yeah sure I didn’t come back to Coral Valley and expect to see you looking all sexy like you did in your mother’s kitchen with your face twisted in anger. You have this cute little thing you do with your lip when you’re upset. It kind of twists and curls and…”

“It does not,” she argued with him shaking her head at him, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes, you do,” he reached out to push her long, silky hair back over her shoulder. He traced a line over her arm with his index finger, “It even is associated with this little nose flare and…”

“I do not. You’re such a liar and besides,” Ria fought to suppress a smirk, “When I saw you there looking like the kid who got his hands caught in the cookie jar, I did find myself imagining what it would be like to issue your punishment to you for being so naughty.”

“Only it wasn’t Trisha I wanted to be naughty with,” he moved forward, his mouth drinking another savory kiss from her parted lips, “It was you--only you.”

“We both know that’s not entirely true,” she sighed as they parted, “I mean there have obviously been other women.”

“And other men as I’m assuming ‘Mr. Doesn’t Know He’s Been Dumped Yet’ was on the line when I came over here to see you,” he arched a curious brow feeling her squirm beside him with a moment of uneasiness. She pulled back a bit, tugging the sheet up around her body at the mention of the ‘boyfriend’ that hadn’t factored into the equation until now.

“That’s complicated,” she admitted lowering her eyes to the bed. She tried to remain calm to think rational, but seeing Kevin’s chest--the bronzed lines leading to his abdomen which naturally lead to something else that Ria had grown quite familiar with over the last couple of days. That something that she’d like to… No focus, she tried to warn herself as she met his eyes once again.

“I’m all for a good complication every now and then,” Kevin leaned in closer to her, “as long as at the end of the game I wind out on top.”

“They say it’s all about the game and how you play it,” she whispered hotly feeling his lips over her neck.

“I’ve defeated the game time and time again and now it’s time for something more,” Kevin eased her back onto the mattress once again. His hand charted a path over her curves, down beneath the sheet to tease his touch over her thighs. He felt her quiver as he nudged her once again. He nipped at her earlobe before speaking up again in a low, rumble of a whisper. “Roll over.”

“What?” she questioned with wide eyes. She caught the naughtiness behind his expression and in that moment she felt as if she’d been standing before him naked for the first time all over again. Well not standing since she’d been laying there and she was already naked, but still…that was beside the point.

“I said ‘roll over’,” Kevin instructed once again nudging her to do as he instructed, “Lay on your stomach.”

“Kevin, you can’t be serious. I mean…” Ria began feeling butterflies in that previously mentioned stomach of hers.

“We haven’t gotten to breakfast yet Ria,” he explained though his eyes told a story that had her believing that breakfast was the last thing on his mind. Come to think of it, with the way his dark, chocolate eyes were devouring her, she found herself believing he was going to make a feast out of her. Still, she couldn’t help but comply with his wishes. She rolled over feeling the sheet drop down with the movement.

“Better,” she questioned tilting her head back enough for her hair to swing back over her shoulder.

“We’re getting there,” he leaned forward, his chest skimming in over her bare spine. She inhaled slowly feeling the heat of the sensation simmering a fire inside of her at the skin to skin contact between them. She felt his lips press in over the back of her neck before he moved away from her. “Don’t you move.”

“Kevin, I…” she opened her mouth in protest listening to him move off of the mattress. She tilted her head to watch him exit her bedroom leaving her with a very nice view to appreciate in the process. She smiled remembering how it felt to have her legs wrapped around that torso--to feel that power over her, inside of her.

“Get a grip Ria!” she warned herself feeling hot and tingly all over at the sound of his footsteps returning down the hall. Feigning boredom, she turned her eyes away from the door, but thought twice of it knowing what she’d miss out on in Kevin’s return. Trying to be smooth about the situation, she dropped her head on the pillow beneath her using some of her hair to cover her face as he reentered the room. Her eyes greedily stared at him, eating up every inch of his masculinity as he made his way over to the bed again with a Styrofoam container in hand.

“Don’t pretend that you’re not looking because I know that you are,” Kevin shook his head at her before setting the container down on his side of the bed. He took a step back urging her to look at him without feigning innocence. “Come on Ria. You know you don’t have to be coy about the situation.”

“Who said I was being coy,” she replied raising her head again to watch him flex a muscle in his arm before he started to strike a few poses for her. She licked her lips, her eyes eating up every inch of his body. It was making her mad with desire and the worst part of all was that he knew it. She thought she was the one getting the rush out of his display, but in retrospect, he seemed to be the one enjoying his newfound power over her. With that thought in mind, she offered up a yawn, “Get back into bed Adonis. No one enjoys a showoff.”

“No one but you that is,” he teased sliding in beside her once again, “but that’s not something we’re going to delve into right now especially when I’ve got breakfast on the mind.”

“Breakfast,” she repeated watching him open the top of his container to reveal the remains of the pancakes he’d picked up on the way home from Seth’s place. Her eyes grew large with the sight of watching him tear off a piece and plopping it into his mouth. He repeated the motion again and again before finally looking to her.

“What?” he asked innocently.

“I didn’t really think you were interested in breakfast Kevin,” she curled her lip in a pout starting to move over to her side to join him when he shook his head at her.

“What did I tell you,” Kevin stopped before taking another bite. He threw out a firm look before wiggling his piece of pancake at her once again, “Lay back down.”

“What are you going to give me if I do?” she questioned suggestively hoping for some incentive from him perhaps in the form of a kiss, but instead he reached out to drop his piece of apple berry pancake in her mouth. She took a clumsy bite before looking to her pillow again, “Gee thanks Adonis.”

“You’d better be thanking me because I don‘t share my pancakes with just anyone,” Kevin fought to repress the laugh that built up in the back of his throat. He watched her lay back down on the bed grudgingly clearly upset that he’d really had breakfast in mind, but little did Ria know she was about to become the main dish. He reached for the sheet that lay over her bottom, keeping half of her hidden from his eyes. Without warning he tore it from her body before offering a small squeeze on her perfectly shaped bottom. She squealed at the touch.

“Kevin, what are you doing,” she asked tilting her head up to look at him.

“Getting ready for breakfast,” he simply shrugged before holding up the bottle of strawberry syrup that he’d carried back into the bedroom with him. “You see apple berry pancakes aren’t complete without a little syrup to go with them.”

Ria opened her mouth to speak, watching him pop the cap off of the bottle of syrup. He extended his arm out, tilting the bottle over ever so slightly until the thick, cool syrup began to drizzle out onto the small of her back causing her to jump as it spilled out over her skin.

“You see there’s something to be said about breakfast,” Kevin set the bottle aside before dipping his finger in the pool of syrup now pooling over the center of her spine. He brought his finger up to her mouth, offering her a taste. She leaned forward ready to accept, but instead he smeared the syrup over her lips. Her eyelashes fluttered at him as he continued to paint her top lip with the strawberry sweetness.

“Sweet and sexy is something I happen to be a big fan of during my mornings or whenever I’m in the mood for a little breakfast,” Kevin confessed bending forward just enough to kiss her. Using his tongue he removed every trace of strawberry from her lips before he reached for his box of pancakes again. “Hungry for more Ria?”

Ria wasn’t even about to touch that one, though she knew she didn’t have to when Kevin broke off another piece of pancake. He immersed it in the sticky, red sauce over her skin before dropping the piece into his mouth. He made a small noise before a smile touched over his lips.

“Very good,” Kevin murmured repeating the movement a few times more as Ria’s stomach was tangled in knots. With each piece of pancake he ate, she found herself wanting to forget about breakfast and focus on her hunger instead. Her hunger for him that was. She watched him dip another piece in the syrup before offering it to her. She took it readily, her lips closing in over his finger and suckling a bit. She watched his eyes seeing his involuntary reaction to her, but before she could turn the tables on him, he withdrew his finger from her lips.

“As I was saying,” he continued in a very strained voice. “Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the days and it’s something that most people tend to ignore. Sure, I mean dinner’s always good, lunch has distinct possibilities and dessert, well that’s another subject altogether, but breakfast. Well, honey that’s the key to getting a man going.”

“Kevin…” Ria spoke his name ready to scream at him for this endless torture, but before she could issue any type of protest, she felt his mouth move in over her shoulder kissing his way down her spine. His tongue flicked gently over her sugary sweet skin lapping up every trace of strawberry over her warmth. His fingers curled over her hip nudging her slightly, eager to have her turn over so that he could repeat the process on a far more intimate level.

“Oh no,” Ria shook her head watching him reach for the syrup once again. She swiped it from his hand before shaking her head. She sat upright a wicked smirk spreading over her features. She shoved her hand into the center of his chest forcing him backwards before she straddled his waist. She dropped the bottle of syrup, her hands fanning out over the curved lines of his strong arms leading up to his hands. She laced his fingers in hers before leaning forward to bring them up over his head. He watched with obvious amusement as she leaned forward giving him quite an eyeful. He tipped his head up attempting to kiss her beautiful body but instead she pulled back.

“Sooner or later I’ll let you finish what you started, but right now, well I think it’s my turn to explore all the possibilities that breakfast has to offer,” she confessed grabbing the bottle once again and squirting a generous amount of syrup over his chest. She used her hands to smooth it out, sliding the sticky liquid over his skin before she leaned forward. Her lips teased over his body, learning all over again how wonderful it felt to be near him. His hands pressed in over her hips while his body rocked up into hers preparing for something far sweeter than dessert between them.

“Here, I think you might need one of these,” Kevin reached over on the nightstand grabbing a condom and handing it to her, “In case breakfast gets a bit heated…”

“It’s already scorching,” Ria replied snatching it from him before he pulled himself to an upright position beneath her on the mattress. By now the bed was covered in syrup, the sheets sticky with strawberries, but that was nothing in comparison to the sultry feel of Kevin’s chest against Ria’s. A gasp fell from her lips as he pulled them to completion bringing her up on her knees.

“Then let’s see what we can do about adding more heat to the fire,” Kevin suggested kissing her like he’d never stop as their bodies were united once again. He felt her breath against his face, her hair teasing over his shoulders, but all of that paled in comparison to the way her eyes were heavy with passion, her face twisted with pleasure as they made love. His hands roamed wildly over her body, taking the time to guide their movements as everything was perfect. There was no other word to explain what he was feeling in that moment in time. As he felt her nails scratching down his shoulders, over his back enthusiastically, he knew that things were about to reach a point of no return between them.

“Kevin,” Ria cried out his name, her mouth closing in over his once again kissing him with the full force of enthusiasm between them. The fire, the passion and the first waves of pleasure rocked over Ria taking the situation to a whole new level of passion between them. Kevin held her close to him taking in each and every second of her before he abandoned himself to pleasure lost inside of her in every way imaginable.

Moments passed between them as she kept her head on his shoulder. He could feel her heart pounding in against his, the steady rhythm they’d created during their love making still alive between them. Her breath teased in over his neck as he felt her say his name in a small breathless sigh.

“That was…” she started in a light, airy tone using every ounce of strength left in her to look into his dark eyes again.

“Incredible,” Kevin slid his fingers through her damp hair finding himself falling harder by the second as he held her. For so long he’d really, truly believed that he’d lost his heart to Angie--that he’d never, ever find anything that came close to what he’d felt for her, but now with Ria in his arms, he knew that wasn’t true. Yes, what he’d felt for Angie was strong. It was powerful, yet so completely different than what he was feeling right here and now with this beautiful woman wrapped up around him.

Ria was smart, beautiful, sassy and yet so incredibly sexy that he’d be a fool not to notice. Truth to the matter was that he’d noticed a very long time ago, but he’d been too stubborn when he’d tried to let go of the past. Now that he’d held Ria, he found himself hating the thought of letting go of the future. The here and now was the one thing he was sure of--the one thing he knew he wanted. Piece by piece it started making sense to him.

“Ria I…” he started his words a low, tight whisper.

“I know. You didn’t get to finish your pancakes,” she motioned to the other side of the bed where the container was smashed as well as the pancakes that now were spread out in fragments over her bed, “which means we’ll have to take another trip to IHOP eventually.”

“No, not that. I mean this isn’t about that,” he stammered a bit still keeping her in his arms, “Ria, you asked me before why you. You said you wanted to know why you, why now…”

“Well yes, but…” she began only to feel his finger press in over the center of her lips to silence her.

“The reason as to why is because I needed you--need you more than I really ever realized it was possible. I mean sure we always flirted with something like this, but deep inside I kind of always knew. I knew it when I married the wrong woman and I know it now,” Kevin explained a raw honesty behind his voice. “When I was married before it was a huge mistake because it was nothing like this.”

“I think I cried for a week when I found out you were married. How stupid does that sound?” Ria replied her words muffled by his finger. She placed a small kiss over the pad of his finger before he spoke up again.

“Not nearly as stupid as I was for marrying her,” Kevin confessed poignantly, “but that’s not what is important right now. What is important is that answer you were seeking out earlier. The truth to the matter is that there have been a few women in and out of my life over the years that seemed pretty special.”

Her eyes seemed to sink at that confession, but she tried to stay neutral about it. He sensed her displeasure with the comment and he moved his finger from her lips. He cupped her face in his thick hands to urge her to look at him.

“But the truth to the matter is that there’s only one Ria Merhan and she’s one woman who has haunted my mind for longer than I cared to admit. She’s beautiful, stunning and has a wicked sense of humor. She was one of the first women in this world that I deemed was way too good for me, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to get closer to her,” he continued to explain thinking about all those years during his youth when his crush on her had ruled almost everything for him. “The truth is Ria that when this happened--when we happened, well it’s not because I was looking for a little fun in Coral Valley, but more so it happened because I think I realized when I was very young that you were someone special.”

“I always thought you were someone special too Kevin,” she confessed, her heart racing as she leaned into his touch.

“You know they say that in this lifetime we find a few great loves of our lives. Some come and go, but others, well others have a way of finding their way to return to you even when it feels like that part of your life has been long gone and the truth to the matter is that I’m with you right here and now because deep inside my heart, I really, truly believe that you are one of the great lov…” Kevin started to explain to her what he’d only realized himself, but before the words could come out a shriek rose up from behind where they were entangled in one another.

“How could you!” Trisha cried out, horrified at what she saw before her. Her face was red with anger, her eyes wide with shock and her lips were curled in a scowl. “Ria, of all the people in the world to do this to me…”

“Trisha,” Ria spun around to see her sister. Trisha had seen what Ria had hoped like hell that her sister would never have to walk in on and judging by the expression on Trisha’s face, Ria knew that things were about to take a turn down the path of dark and ugly between them. Quickly Ria reached for a sheet trying to cover up what was happening, but the damage had already been done. It was too late!


“So this is where you work?” Kayla questioned with wide eyes looking around the polite station. “Why are there so many people here?”

“Because they’re working right now,” Dave explained carrying Kayla through the office areas leading to his office. Carly walked just a step behind them as Kayla pointed to one of the things on a desk in front of her.

“What’s that?” Kayla asked with a tiny giggle, “That looks funny.”

“That is…” Dave began with a small smile taking a long look at the strange paperweight on the desk before him. It was a pair of handcuffs around some kind of penguin, yet… He shook his head, “I honestly have no idea.”

“Hmm,” Kayla shrugged her shoulders before looking to him, “Well is this where you work?”

“Right in here,” Dave opened the door to his office.

“Is that your chair?” she questioned pointing to the chair at the far end of the room.

He nodded, “That it is.”

“Can I sit in it,” she asked with wide eyes.

“Of course you can,” he nodded stepping further into the office with Carly behind him. Kayla wiggled out of his arms and slid down to the floor rushing over to test out his chair.

“Thanks for bringing us. I know that this isn’t exactly the kind of place for us to be, but…” Carly started with a small whisper.

“Hey, I want my daughter to see where I work,” Dave replied proudly, “In fact I want the whole world to see just how lucky I am.”

“Dave,” Carly smiled seeing Kayla reach out for a few things on Dave’s desk, “Kayla don’t touch that.”

“She can’t hurt anything,” Dave waved his hand dismissively before motioning to his computer, “Do you know how to play games on the computer?”

Kayla nodded brightly, “Boy do I ever.”

“In that case, let me show you a little card game I have,” Dave replied moving in to turn on his computer for her. There was a knock on the door and Dave looked up to see Julian standing before him. Dave wiggled his finger at him motioning for Julian to walk in.

“I’m sorry to interrupt Chief Warner,” Julian began uneasily looking over at Carly, “but I was the one who paged you and…”

“It’s okay,” Dave nodded before looking to Kayla, “Kayla, I’d like you to meet someone who works with me. This is Lieutenant Kurts.”

“Hi Lulu Kurts,” Kayla waved at him brightly.

“It’s Lieutenant,” Dave corrected.

“Yeah Lulu,” she nodded, “that’s what I said.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Kayla,” Julian couldn’t help but smile. He looked to Carly with a nod, “It’s good to see you again.”

“Likewise,” she replied politely.

“Julian, I’d like you to meet Kayla,” Dave paused before a proud smile swept in over his features, “my daughter.”

“Your…” Julian paused before smiling brighter, “Well it’s a pleasure to be meeting you Kayla.”

“Thank you…” she paused, “I think.”

“You’re welcome,” Julian replied before looking to Dave, “Can I have a word with you out in the hall?”

“Of course,” Dave kissed the top of Kayla’s head. “I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” Kayla waved watching him walk towards the door, “Dave?”

“Yes,” Dave questioned turning around to face her.

“Is that really true? Are you really my daddy?” Kayla asked with wide eyes.

“Of course it is,” Dave smiled at her before exchanging looks with Carly.

“We’ll talk to you about that a little bit more later,” Carly added simply.

“Okay,” Kayla shrugged turning her attention to the computer again as that answer seemed to keep her satisfied.

Smiling Dave walked out into the hallway with Julian and closed the door behind him. “Okay, so what do you have for me?”

“Well, I know you were on vacation, but I thought you should know about what’s going on. You see I know you and Ken have been friends and…” Julian paused.

“Ken? What does your paging me have to do with Ken?” Dave questioned looking back into his office and seeing Kayla playing around with his police hat.

“He’s in the hospital. It turns out that Susan Hastings not only attacked Kyle Houston, but Kenneth Ashford as well. He had an episode and…” Julian paused, “I’m handling the case, but I thought you should know that she was drugging the both of them. In Kyle’s case they caught it early, but with Ken…well, I just thought that maybe you’d like to know just in case…”

“In case what,” Dave asked uneasily unable to keep his eyes off of Kayla and Carly.

“In case there was something you needed to get off your chest in the event that there wasn’t another chance to do so,” Julian replied knowing that the last thing he should be doing is butting into Dave’s personal business, but knowing about Dave’s life long friendship with Ken he felt the need to give Dave an opportunity to decide what to do.


Grady sat in the second row of the small hospital chapel thinking about everything that had happened leading to this moment in time. Not only did his search for Jade almost blow up in his face time and time again, but he’d put two of the most important people in his life at risk today. First he’d had Avery in with Cameron only telling her a half truth about what he knew after he’d discovered the photo of Cameron and that woman. He knew he should’ve said something, but he was so desperate to find Jade that he didn’t want to give her a reason to back out of it. Then with Kyle. Sure, Grady had told him not to do it--not to go looking for answers with Susan, but Grady also knew how loyal Kyle was. Kyle was going to do what was needed to be done, no questions asked. It was that loyalty that had landed him in the position he was in right now.

“It shouldn’t have come to this,” Grady bellowed feeling as if he’d failed those he’d cared about the most. He was no closer to finding Jade and now with Kyle in the hospital dealing with the aftershocks of what Susan had done, it just felt so unfair.

No, unfair wasn’t even about to cover what it was Grady felt at a time like this. Burying his head down on the top of the row in front of him, Grady forced himself to face the realization that if Cameron didn’t have Jade, then something had to happen to her--something horrible. He couldn’t quite place his finger on it, but his worries about the woman he loved mounted exponentially as he tried to make sense of everything that had gone down after her disappearance.

“I thought I might find you here,” Avery’s voice breezed in over his shoulders reaching his ears just as her touch fell upon his shoulder. Grady looked up to see her standing beside him, her own eyes red and bloodshot after the night of hell they’d all endured.

“I didn’t know where else to go,” Grady confessed with a small shrug of his shoulders. He looked to the altar before him before exhaling slowly, “Truth be told the bottom of a bottle was feeling like it’s where I should be right now, but I knew better.”

“I know you did,” Avery reached out to squeeze his shoulder gently, “and I’m proud of you for resisting the urge.”

“Don’t be proud of me,” Grady remarked with a sigh, bringing his head up to look at her. He ran his fingers through his dark hair before he spoke up once again, “It’s a coward’s way out and if I didn’t already feel like hell about the situation, then I might’ve been caught up in temptation.”

“But you aren’t and that says something,” Avery watched him rise up and walk away from her. She stood up as well reaching out to him, but he pulled away.

“Avery, stop making me sound like a saint or something!” Grady snapped at her, “This is my fault. I mean if you think about it--really, really think about it, then you’ll see that I’m to blame for all of this. This is because of me.”

“No, it’s not because of you,” Avery shook her head at him, “Grady none of us could’ve prepared for this…”

“Yes, but Cameron was after me. He wanted to ruin my life and I was the one he was after. I was the one he wanted to bury, but instead I let him take down everyone I loved. I fell right into his trap and wound up getting my stupid ass arrested,” Grady reminded her poignantly, his own guilt and anger eating him alive in that moment, “If I would’ve played it cool--if I could’ve just kept a lid on what was happening with me, then Jade wouldn’t have been taken. I could’ve been there for her. I could’ve kept her safe from the madman who took her and I could’ve kept all of this from happening. I could’ve…”

“Grady, this isn’t your fault. Deep down you know that and…” Avery offered up seeing that he was ready to break. She stepped forward seeing his pacing grow more frantic before he looked up at her.

“No, Avery, it is my fault. I’m the one who wouldn’t let go of this vendetta with Cameron. I couldn’t just walk away. I wouldn’t let myself do it because I was so hell-bent on getting revenge on you,” Grady shook his head frustration bursting out from within, “and for what? You’re an amazing woman. You’re someone I care about--someone that I know was good for my brother, yet I took on the worst client in the world--made the worst possible mistake in the name of destroying you.”

“But you didn’t,” Avery reminded him point blank, “You let go of that.”

“Only because you were the better person. I was so wrapped up in hating the world--in hating myself that I took it out on you and I gave Cameron a chance to come in and hurt everyone I loved. Hell, I’m the reason Kyle’s in this hospital right now. He did what he did to help me--to try to find Jade because I love her,” Grady threw his hands up in the air, his words growing more desperate by the moment, “He went to Susan tonight because he was worried about me--about my happiness and look what it cost him.”

“Susan is a monster. She had no right to do what she did, but none of us realized just how much she was capable of,” she explained to him knowing how much he was hurting, yet there was only one person to blame in all of this.

“Yes, but I was the one who ran off and married the stupid bitch!” Grady snapped realizing that his words were entirely inappropriate in the chapel. He turned away from Avery, shame spreading out over him. “I was the one who brought her into our lives and I was the one who ultimately started the cycle that lead us to where we all are right now.”

“Grady, it’s not your fault. I know I keep saying that and it might sound a bit monotonous, but what happened with Susan was beyond the both of us. She had her own agenda and it was something that none of us could be prepared for,” she explained taking small steps towards him, “She hurt a lot of people over the years Grady--people that she didn’t intend to touch in her madness, but she still hurt them.”

“But I could’ve stopped it. I could’ve…” Grady began again turning to face her.

“The last time I checked Grady you weren’t God and you weren’t the one calling the shots around here. No one would’ve been able to predict any of this, but if you keep blaming yourself…” Avery argued wishing like hell she could explain to him how much worse he was making it for himself, “Grady this was beyond you--beyond me…”

“But I should’ve tried to stop Kyle. I should’ve fought harder--should’ve…” Grady’s words trailed off as he choked up on his emotions. He felt a lump forming in his throat, a full, throbbing ache inside of him at all that had happened and in that moment helplessness swept over him.

“Hey,” Avery reached out for him drawing him into her arms. There were no words, but as he clenched onto her, she felt him fall to pieces, his tears burning into her shoulder, but rather than say anything, she held him in silence opting to be what he needed at a time like this.

“I just feel so awful…so…” Grady confessed in a small sob squeezing her in his arms as his tears finally surfaced.

“We all do Grady,” Avery whispered in his ear, squeezing him closer to her in the hopes that her arms alone could buffer some of the pain that had carried over him. Slowly she guided him down to the front row in the chapel with her where she held onto him and prayed that things would find a way to turn themselves around for Grady. Still as his pain carried into her, she found herself wondering just why fate would be so cruel to those she loved.

“We’ll make it through this,” Avery promised in a small voice kissing the top of his head. She felt him lean into her, his remorse a curtain of darkness surrounding him and in that moment she found herself wishing that there was some way to erase all of this--to stop him from ever hurting like this again. Still, she knew full well that there was nothing she could do to change it. She could only be a friend to him and that’s exactly what she intended to do.


Brant stood outside the chapel doors thinking about everything that had happened with his brother, with Kyle, with Jade and most of all with Avery. It seemed like every twist and turn they made with one another, there was never a break. Strangely enough it all seemed to return to Susan--to the madness she’d inflicted upon those he cared about. If he ever saw her again, well that would be something she’d better pray she never faced.

Now as Brant stood outside the chapel, he thought to his conversation with the nurse who’d told him that Avery would be down here. No doubt she was lost in the knowledge that Ken had been drugged when he’d hurt her. Granted it changed things, but in Avery’s eyes, the sting was still there and Brant was certain that it was hurting her in ways he couldn’t even begin to imagine. He’d checked in on Ken--even made a point to check on Kyle’s condition and now as he pushed open the door to the chapel, he prepared himself to comfort his wife in all the way she needed. The only problem was when he found her, she wasn’t alone. She was holding onto Grady lost in some kind of moment that Brant realized he didn’t like at all. He stood in silence at the back of the church seeing Grady latch onto his wife and in that moment he realized that while Avery might be concerned about Grady Denton as a friend, Brant wasn’t all that convinced that Grady’s concerns were on that same level. There was something about the way he held onto Avery--something about the way she ran her fingers through Grady’s hair that lead Brant to one conclusion. Grady and Avery would need to be separated--permanently.


“Cameron,” Susan quickly got up from where she was sitting as she saw him approached the cell, “I didn’t think you were really going to come.”

“I wasn’t going to for a while,” Cameron informed her before smiling widely, “But I thought it would be a great time to gloat while you were in here.”

“Listen, I need your help,” Susan begged, only to hear a deep laugh come from the bottom of Cameron’s throat. “What?”

“You want help from me?” Cameron questioned seeing her nod slowly. “Well, you came to the wrong person because in my view--you deserve everything that is happening to you right now. The situation you are in--you deserve every last bit of it.”

“What do you mean?” Susan wondered with a small frown, grabbing onto the bars. “You still care about me don’t you Cameron?”

“Susan, I couldn’t care less about you,” Cameron informed her with wicked smile, “They should lock you away forever for all I care. I don’t really give a damn one way or another on what they do to you.”

“You might have a change in tune if you get me out of here,” Susan informed him with a small sigh, trying to catch his interest, “All you have to do is help me.”

“Fat chance Susan,” Cameron laughed, shaking his head slowly, “It’s never going to happen after what you did to me. Did you really think that I would just take you back like that? Well, the answer is no Susan.”

“Cameron, don’t you even think about leaving me here,” she demanded, reaching out to touch him as he began to walk away, “Cameron, if you walk away, you are going to regret it because I can give you an offer I know you wouldn’t want to refuse.”

“Well Susan, you see I don’t seem to care about anything coming from you anymore so, I don’t think so,” Cameron grinned before shrugging his shoulders, “Get someone else’s help or fend for yourself.”

“Cameron, don’t,” Susan yelled out seeing him walk down the hallway and out of her sight. He was going to regret on even thinking about walking out on her.



...to be continued...