Episode 228

“Kellen,” Kipp snapped his fingers in front of Kellen’s face, noticing that the way that Kellen and Heather were staring at each other--something was up, “Kellen, do you know Heather? Heather, do you know Kellen?”

“No, I don’t know this guy,” Heather answered, folding her arms out in front of her abruptly, “Anyways, if I could take a guess about this guy, I would say he is an asshole.”

“Yeah, you are a real saint yourself too, aren’t you?” Kellen scowled, feeling Kipp touch his arm gently, trying to get his attention for one minute.

“Kellen, do you seriously know Heather?” Kipp asked Kellen sincerely, seeing Kellen look back at him. “I mean, you two just basically freaked at the sight of each other. Which kind of means something is going on between you two.”

“I know who she is,” Kellen nodded, biting down on his lip and looking back at Heather, who now had her eyes wide open, “She is the cold heartless woman that is trying to take Charles away from you.”

“You have no right to say that about me you jerk,” Heather snapped, poking Kellen in the center of the chest, “You don’t know anything about this situation, so you should just get out before you are ahead of yourself.”

“Honey, I know fully well what this is all about,” Kellen replied, shaking his head slowly, “It’s you trying to act like Charles is a prize. That little boy is a human being--not some little thing you win at a carnival.”

“You don’t even know what is going on between Kipp and I,” Heather hissed, looking between Kellen and Kipp with a small scowl, “Kipp, I want to see my son. He’s my son, and I am going to get him back one way or another.”

“First of all, he‘s our son--not just your son,” Kipp held his finger in the air, shaking his head slowly, “Secondly, you aren’t going to take Charles away from me. Do all that you want, but I have a lot of people who will be on my side for this one. More people know that I would be the better parent and I would take care of him with my all my power.”

“What makes you think I couldn’t be a good parent Kipp?” Heather questioned, resting her hands on her hips angrily. “I mean really, I never had a chance to even take care of my son. I never could have proven to anyone that I could be a good mother to Charles. No one knows.”

“You want to know why you wouldn’t make a good parent Heather?” Kellen asked, seeing Heather give him her full attention as he began to explain what he truly thought of her--which wasn’t a whole lot. “I’ll tell you what it is that makes people know that you aren‘t going to be a good parent. Just look at yourself Heather. The way that you talk and bring yourself up in front of people. If you came around to someone with a good attitude most of the time, then someone might actually believe you could possibly be an okay parent to Charles. But look at you, all you ever do is walk around and act like you are the queen of the world and you can say what you want, when you want to.”

“That’s because I can you idiot,” Heather smirked, holding her head high as if she was proud of herself for saying that, “I’m free to say what I want.”

“Which brings me back to the original topic I was trying to explain to you before I was rudely interrupted,” Kellen snapped his fingers, shaking his head slowly, “When you do approach people like that--it brings you off as a really big bitch. Which means, no one likes you when it comes to it.”

“A lot of people like me I hope you know,” Heather snapped, poking Kellen in the shoulder once more, except rougher this time, “How dare you say that to me.”

“Really?” Kellen questioned, rubbing his chin lightly. “So, if so many people like you and know you are a good parent, who else is backing you up in this whole thing? That is, other than your scumbag lawyer who has no idea what you are really like when it comes to it. Which would be a black hearted soul.”

“How dare you talk to me like that you jerk, you hardly even know me,” Heather spat, throwing her hands up in the air, “I can’t believe I am being treated like this in front of you Kipp. I demand to see my son.”

“You can’t demand Kipp to do anything for you anymore,” Kellen stated, biting down on his lower lip in anger, “Kipp is a person you know. He isn’t going to be your little puppy dog that is going to go fetch the paper for you when you snap your fingers and yell the order out to him.”

“How can you put up with this guy Kipp? All he ever seems to do is complain,” Heather shook her head slowly, before taking a step forward. “I am going to see my son.”

“The only thing you are going to be seeing is the door slam in your face if you take a step closer to inside this house,” Kellen promised, arching his eyebrow in amusement seeing Heather frown, “Why don’t you just get a clue and leave. Kipp isn’t going to cave into you just like that.”

“I’m not going anywhere you two,” Heather took a step forward, right up in front of Kellen--as if she was trying to intimidate him, “If Kipp wants to make this difficult, I will make this difficult. I am more than ready to be difficult.”


Don walked out into the hallway seeing Brant and Avery up ahead. It was obvious that the night had taken it’s toll on the both of them and in that moment Don found himself increasingly worried about his friend. Stepping up to speak to Brant he pulled him aside.

“Can I talk to you for a minute,” Don asked watching Avery take a seat in one of the chairs in the waiting room area.

“Yeah, what’s up?” Brant replied his own dark eye filled with exhaustion.

“Why are you still here? Ken’s going to be okay for now. I’m here and I can keep an eye on him if you’d like to…” Don began to suggest.

“I just can’t leave him right now,” Brant explained running his fingers through his dark hair. “I know that might sound crazy, but I just need to be here. It’s something I should do.”

“Okay then, but what about Avery,” Don motioned over to Brant’s wife, “She looks beyond exhausted herself and I don’t think her being here like this is good for her or the baby. What if you two go home for a little while and get a little shut eye for a bit? I can call you if something’s up here.”

“Don, I just don’t think that…” Brant started only to be interrupted by the sound of Don’s pager going off. Don reached for it giving it a look before looking to Brant again.

“I’ll be right back,” Don explained quickly, “and consider what I’m saying to you.”

“I will,” Brant nodded turning around to see Avery seated in one of the chairs. She rubbed her neck as it was clear that this day had taken it’s toll on her. She was still dressed in the outfit that Grady had given her and it was clearly making her uncomfortable as she picked at the sides. Making a move towards her Brant came up with a decision of his own.

“Is everything okay?” Avery asked looking up at him after she’d stopped pulling on the material of her blouse.

“It will be,” he took a seat next to her, reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “After you get some rest.”

“Brant, I’m fine. I just…” she started seeing the worry behind his eyes.

“Avery, I’m sorry about what happened before. I know I asked you to be here for me, but I’ll be okay. It’s you and the baby that I’m worried about,” he added with a small sigh, “You’ve already been through so much today and…”

“And my place is here with you,” she squeezed his hand supportively, “I want to be here when you need me and…”

“And nothing is going to change tonight. Ken’s still in about the same condition as before and I don’t see it taking a turn for the worse. Don said it himself that he doesn’t believe there will be any major chances, which is why I want you to go home and get some rest,” Brant urged touching the back of her neck. He massaged it gently feeling her head lean in against his chest, “Sweetie, you need to sleep.”

“I’ll sleep right here with you,” she promised cuddling up into him. “This will do me good.”

“It might, but our bed would be even better,” he kissed the top of her head, “I’m going to call for a car to pick you up and take you back home.”

“Brant that’s not necessary. If you’re not going home, then…” she started to argue with him.

“Avery, I promise I’ll be home when I can. You on the other hand need to think of that precious little girl we’re having,” he reached out to touch her tummy making a small massaging movement with his hand. “She needs her rest just like her mother does.”

“Brant I…” she sighed in resignation, “Alright I’ll go home, but you have to promise me if anything comes up.”

“You have my word,” Brant nodded leaning in to kiss her, “Now let me call for a car.”

“I’ll just get a cab,” Avery decided giving him one last kiss, “It’s not like I can’t handle that.”

“I know that, but with Bruce…” he frowned thinking about what had happened before.

“I’m okay Brant,” she promised bringing her fingers through his dark hair, “I still have your gun you know.”

“That still doesn’t make it any easier on me,” he hugged her in his arms once more, “Just promise me you’ll be safe.”

“Safe and sound waiting for you to come home to me,” she promised kissing him once last time before Don returned. She spotted him out of the corner of her eye and nodded, “Looks like Don’s back. You go talk to him and I’ll get ready to go home. I’ll stand with the security guard if you’d like while I’m waiting for the cab to pick me up.”

“Call me if you need me,” Brant kissed her once more squeezing her hand before watching her get up to leave. Turning his attention to Don, he approached him with a long sigh.

“I see you took my advice, but you should’ve gone with her,” Don added with a frown. “You look like hell Brant.”

“I feel like hell,” Brant confessed glancing back over his shoulder to watch Avery leave, “But I don’t want to upset her more than I already have.”

“Yeah, well in that case I probably shouldn’t tell you what I just saw on the news,” Don paused contemplating his words wisely.

“What else could go wrong tonight,” Brant groaned inwardly before throwing his hands in the air, “Go ahead lay it on me Don.”

“Well, when I was checking in on a patient they had the television on and they were running a story about Susan,” Don hesitated, “there’s no easy way to tell you this man, but she’s escaped.”

“What?” Brant’s eyes widened, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” “I wish I were, but according to the report someone didn’t lock her up properly and…” Don offered up in explanation.

“Well, that’s just wonderful. Really smooth move on the part of the police department. What do we have here keystone cops?” Brant groaned again, “What else could happen?”

“Look on the bright side when I saw what I did on the news I made sure to send for a guard and put him on Ken’s door. There’s no way that Susan is going to get to him or Kyle tonight,” Don promised him, but he knew full well that the promises did little to reassure Brant after he’d almost lost his brother due to Susan Hastings touch of evil.


“I wonder if Don is going to be home anytime soon,” Shannon sighed, leaning back into Don’s leather couch, “He’s been gone a long time.”

“What’s really got you so worried about it?” Alicia questioned looking back at Matt who was still playing a videogame in front of the television.

“Well, he got called in on one of my friends, one of my best friends actually,” Shannon began to explain to Alicia, shrugging her shoulders slowly, “I guess you could just say that I am a little worried.”

“You shouldn’t be though,” Alicia pointed out, turning towards Shannon with a small frown, “Don is a very good doctor and I think he will take good care of your friend. This friend of yours is in good hands right now.”

“I know,” Shannon nodded quickly before looking back towards the clock to see what time it was, “It has just been a pretty long time that he has been gone and he promised to call me to see how everything was going.”

“You know Don, he has a problem remembering things,” Alicia laughed only to see Shannon slightly frown at the comment.

“I already kind of know that, but the truth is--I really don’t know Don,” Shannon sighed, seeing Alicia nod slowly, “I mean, I know a lot about him, but there are so many things that I just don’t know about him.”

“Can I ask you another question?” Alicia wondered seeing Shannon nod slowly. “You seem to be a really nice girl, so why are you so reluctant around Don and Matt?”

“Well, it’s not that I don’t like them at all,” Shannon began, thinking of something that could answer that question truly. The only thing is, she didn’t know the truth herself. “Matt is a great kid--he really is. He is a really smart boy. But with Don, I just don’t--I really don’t know what to say.”

“You love him, huh?” Alicia smirked seeing Shannon’s eyes get wide after she said that. “Let me guess, you don’t know what love feels like and you’ve been going to all your friends for help on what you should do.”

“How did you…” Shannon was about to question before Alicia cut her off with a small chuckle.

“I was the same with Rob, Don’s father,” Alicia explained, folding her arms out in front of her, “I was so afraid that I would hurt myself if I got with someone who was trying to prove to me that he was in love. Rob was falling and hitting the ground so hard for me, while I was the one running around like an idiot.”

“You didn’t believe in love?” Shannon questioned, eyeing Alicia as she nodded slowly.

“I thought that love was just a myth,” Alicia explained, biting down on her bottom lip, “The only thing is, I thought about it for a long time and I realized that there really was love between Rob and I. The only thing I wish I wish I could have changed--is that I wish I could have realized everything earlier. I missed so much love that I could have shared with Rob.”

“So, being with someone is well worth it?” Shannon wondered seeing Alicia nod slowly. “How do you really know that what you are feeling is love?”

“Well, love is something that changes your whole life around,” Alicia stated, taking in a deep breath, “Your mind is always thinking about that one special person and you always dream about them every night.”

“It sounds like something really special,” Shannon pointed out, letting a small sigh escape her lips.

“It really does,” Alicia agreed with a simple shrug, “Sooner or later you will realize how special it really is.”


“Hey Sarah,” Diego smiled, walking into Kyle’s hospital room, shutting the door behind him. He felt so bad for Sarah, she was sitting in a lousy chair next to Kyle’s bed and she looked extremely tired. “Is he asleep?”

“Yeah,” Sarah sighed, sitting up in her seat as Diego walked closer towards the bed, “He has been asleep for quite a while now. Thankfully.”

“Is he still feeling that bad?” Diego wondered seeing Sarah nod slowly. “Kyle didn’t deserve any of this.”

“No, he didn’t,” Sarah shook her head slowly, biting down on her bottom lip, “The only thing I want to know is how she got him into that position. I can only imagine what he was thinking when all that was going on.”

“I don’t even want to think of what he was thinking about,” Diego exhaled, shaking his head slowly before holding up the blanket he had brought for her, “I brought you this for you. It could kind of get cold sometimes at night.”

“Thank you,” Sarah yawned, gently grabbing the blanket from his hand before leaning back in the chair, “I guess I am kind of tired tonight.”

“I could see why,” Diego nodded slowly, taking in a deep breath, “You know--if you need me, I will be in my office, okay?”

“Alright, I’ll come see you later if I need anything from you,” Sarah promised, standing up to stretch out her tired muscles, “If you need me--I’ll be here.”

“I figured as much,” Diego grinned, looking over towards Kyle, “Hopefully he gets better soon. I hate to see him like that, just as much as I hate to see you like this. You look completely miserable Sarah.”

“I’ll be fine,” Sarah lightly chuckled, shaking her head slowly, “I just haven’t slept a lot lately. I’m pretty sure I will be fine. At least for tonight.”

“I want you to be totally sure Sarah,” Diego declared, knowing that the way she was feeling right now was probably very bad. “I don’t want have another good friend to worry about now. I don’t want to see you in one of these places anytime soon. It would kill me to see you in here.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine,” she assured him with a small smirk, “If not, I will just come to you. For now though, I think I am going to be fine.”

“As long as you think everything is going to be okay,” Diego shrugged, taking in a deep breath, “You feeling good enough to give me a hug?”

“No, I don’t,” she joked before wrapping her arms around him, “Thanks for everything you have done Diego, I really appreciate it. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“I don’t know what I would do without me either,” Diego playfully joked, kissing her forehead gently as she laughed, “Truthfully, I like being there for you--which means I don’t know what I would do without you either.”

“Well, now that we got that settled,” she laughed as he let her go and she took a step back, “Thanks again.”

“No problem,” he winked, taking a step towards the door, “I will see you tomorrow or if you need to talk to someone tonight, just come to my office. I will be there.”

“Will do,” Sarah agreed waving goodbye to him as he went to shut the door. “Good night.”

“Night,” Diego waved before closing the door, leaving her in the room with Kyle.

Diego really was being a good friend, he could have gone home by now, but he didn’t because he was worried about her. She appreciated everything he was doing and she knew she would find a way to thank him in the future. But right now she was dead tired from the lack of sleep she had over the few days. Sarah looked between the bed that Kyle was sleeping in and the chair that she was seated in. With a quick decision, Sarah slowly sat down on the bed next to Kyle, lying down. She wanted to be close to him tonight because just a while ago she was thinking that she would never be able to be close to him. But now as Kyle turned around and wrapped his arm around her waist tightly, she knew that he wasn’t going to leave her--never.


“See now I do know how to behave in the bedroom,” Kevin quipped poking Ria in the ribs as they lay together in the center of his hotel room lost beneath the blankets of his king sized bed.

“That’s only because if you broke this bed, you’d have to pay for it,” she wrinkled her nose at him, a satisfied smile spreading over her beautiful features.

“Okay, good point,” he shrugged teasing his fingers tips up and down her spine, “but I do hope you realize that I fully intend to help you get yours fixed there. I’ll pay for the damages.”

“You bet you will,” she pinched at his nipple causing him to flinch, “or else I’ll take it out in other ways with you.”

“You mean beyond my hard earned dollar,” he joked leaning in to kiss her, “Ria, honey, I hate to admit it, but even for a stud like me, you’re one hell of a wild ride.”

“Is that your way of saying that you can’t keep up with all of this action Adonis?” Ria threw out a wicked smirk.

“I said you were a wild ride, not that you could break me,” he collected her in his arms before turning her to face him. He pushed a long, dark brown piece of her hair behind her ear before speaking up to her once more, “In fact, I think if we spent forever doing just this, I’d be beyond thrilled each and every moment for the rest of my life.”

“No you wouldn’t,” she laughed lightly wrinkling her nose at him, “Eventually you’d get bored and want to go find something to eat.”

“Hey that’s what room service is for,” he teased motioning to the phone, “That way we can stay right here as long as we like.”

“And when they arrive at the door, how are they going to get in if we’re right here?” she tossed out at him curiously.

“They have a key,” Kevin shrugged his fingers tracing over the small birthmark on her shoulder, “They can let themselves in.”

“And see all of this,” her eyes widened, “I really don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Hmm, well you’re right I suppose,” he dropped butterfly kisses in over her shoulder, “If the guy walking in here with dinner eyeballed you I would have no choice but to rip his head off and use it as a bowling ball.”

“Oh my handsome prince,” she placed her hand over his chest as an air of sarcasm fell over her tone, “but you see if you did such a horrible disgusting thing it would be my duty to try to stitch that bowling ball head back on him and that could get messy.”

“Good point,” Kevin decided half listening, “You know you always say the right things at the right time.”

“I don’t think it’s what I’m saying right now that’s got your attention,” she replied feeling his hand press in over her breast. She dropped her hand down over his before bringing it to her lips. She kissed it gently before looking to him, “So tell me how is this going to go for us?”

“What do you mean?” he questioned sensing the questions behind her eyes.

“You said we’d talk about us, but we really haven’t done much talking, now have we Kevin?” she sighed knowing that this probably wasn’t the best time to bring reality into the moment, but with him naked and vulnerable beside her after they’d had one hell of a workout while making love before, she knew he wouldn’t be getting up and walking out of the room anytime soon. That pretty much guaranteed a steady audience even if it was a grudging one.

“Well, you didn’t seem to be much in the talking mood, but now if you’re really up for it, then sure, we can talk about us starting with my telling you that you’ve got the most beautiful set of…” she clasped her hand over his mouth feeling him press his lips against her palm.

“Kevin,” she warned, “I’m being serious.”

“I was just going to say you have the most beautiful set of eyes that I’ve ever seen,” he continued his words coming out in a dreamy whisper as he held her. This felt too good--to right to be wrong and while he’d spent night after night on the island convincing himself he’d wanted something like this with Angela, in being with Ria he realized that there was another dream on the table now. He’d taken a bold move towards making it happen and now, well it just felt so good to have it within his reach.

“Kevin, I really, really like you,” she started taking in a slow breath before a heat rose over her features, “I mean it’s not like it wasn’t obvious before now, but…”

“Oh I think it was just a tad bit obvious,” he held his fingers out in the air to make a small pinching movement, “I think we might’ve proved that we’ve got a bit of an attraction going here.”

“I realize that, but I don’t want you thinking that you’re some kind of rebound guy. I mean this week hasn’t exactly been top of the line for me. First I had issues with my ex-boyfriend…” she started to reason.

“Which was a good thing because losing him was one of the best things that could’ve happened to you--to the both of us,” he explained squeezing her in closer to him, his lips just a whisper of a breath away from her.

“I won’t argue that point, but then there’s Trisha,” she curled her lip in a pout, “Kevin, I’m really worried about her. It isn’t like her not to answer her cell phone. I’m not sure that she’s not in some kind of trouble. I don’t know why I can’t stop thinking about it, but with mom out of town…”

“Hey, if you didn’t worry about your sister, then you wouldn’t be the Ria that I’ve grown to know and love,” he swept his hand down over her shoulder and up again until his finger grazed over her cheekbone.

“What did you just say?” she questioned with wide eyes wondering if she’d heard him right, “Kevin did you just say that…”

“I said that your worrying about your sister is very in character for you. It shows you have a good heart and a kindness about you that is rare in this world. The way that you try to be there for Trisha and put her happiness first shows me how much you care about her. I remember when you were younger how every time she wanted something you would be the first one to try to help her get it. When she had a problem she’d go to you and you’d try to fix it--even if it was beyond your control,” he reminded her gently.

“This one is certainly out of my control,” she sighed laying her head against his shoulder as he rolled back onto the bed taking her with him. She sank into him closing her eyes and losing herself to the feel of his arms around her. Why couldn’t everything be this easy? This simple to deal with?”

“And for the record I wasn’t avoiding your question Ria. What I said before was that I wouldn’t expect any less from you in your concerns for your sister. It’s defined who you are for a great many years and beyond that it’s something that’s really helped me feel this connection to you. You have a spirit and an energy to you and despite the fact that you drove me crazy at times, the fact to the matter is that I think deep down a part of me has always cared about you,” he paused feeling her relaxing in his arms. Moving his hand up and down over her spine he’d thought of the connection that they’d made with one another--of the way that they’d somehow bonded on a level that went well beyond the sex. Okay, so yeah the sex was nice, but there was something else--something more that…

“Kevin, you have no idea how much it means to me to have you here. I’ve missed you so much,” she admitted her arm draped over his strong, powerful chest, “Life hasn’t been the same since you left town.”

“I’m sorry that I put you through that,” he replied in a small whisper, “It’s just that life snuck in and made me forget what it was that was important to me when I was younger. I forgot where my heart was, but now, well now I realize that even in my absence a part of my heart was with you. It’ll always be with you.”

“What?” she asked pushing up off of his chest to meet his eyes.

“I’m saying that one some level you’ve always held a piece of my heart Ria even when I tried to forget where I came from,” Kevin cupped her face in his hands urging her in closer to him, “Ria, what I’m trying to tell you is that this isn’t about some kind of wild and reckless affair of the heart. This runs deeper than that. This is about me telling you that a part of me has always lo…”

Ria’s mouth opened and her eyes grew eager anticipating the word he was about to say, but before she could truly embellish the moment her cell phone rang with the familiar ringer alerting her that Trisha was on the line. She threw out a pleading look to Kevin knowing that she didn’t want this moment to go away, but when she thought about her sister, she found herself torn.

“Answer it,” he urged her on, “This can wait.”

“Kevin I…” she began wishing like hell he could’ve been able to finish--that he would’ve said the word that had been on her mind since the first time he’d touched her. Sure, she wasn’t one for getting emotional, but this was Kevin. This was the man she’d dreamt about for years before he walked out of her life. She’d loved him with all that she had in her and to think that he could feel the same way even after all the time they’d spent apart, well it was something to give her hope for happiness in her life. As crazy as it was, she found herself feeling like one of those silly soap opera heroines who wanted like hell to believe in nothing more than that one true love of her life. Okay, so maybe that was the sex talking a bit, but with one look at Kevin, she truly believed there was more. Of course now it was about finding Trisha.

“Hello,” Ria answered the phone breathlessly expecting to hear her sister on the other end of the line.

“Hey Ria, it’s Barbara,” a familiar voice explained, “I hate to call you so late, but there’s a situation.”

“Barbara, what is it and why do you have my sister’s cell phone?” Ria questioned confused to be hearing her colleague on the phone.

“There’s been an accident Ria. Your sister was involved in a situation and…” Barbara started to explain to her.

“What?” Ria’s fears mounted. “Barbara what happened?”

“I’m not really sure, but when they brought her in I recognized the name and I saw her cell phone,” Barbara paused uneasily, “I think maybe you should get down here.”

“I’m on my way,” Ria promised hanging up the phone. She turned to Kevin feeling the color drain from her face, “Trisha is in the hospital. Something’s happened to her and they aren’t saying what.”

“Say no more. I’ll get dressed and take you over there,” Kevin decided moving out of the bed, “We’ll go together.”

“Kevin what if something is wrong? What if she went off and did something stupid to herself after she saw us together? What if?” she began in a panic. He moved over to her taking her hands in his.

“If that was the case, then we will work through this together. We will find a way to help her together,” he tried to assure her as his own mind lingered to the possibilities of what may have happened to Ria’s little sister. He just prayed whatever it was that it wasn’t something that would rip all of their lives apart forever.


“You should sit down,” Hunt urged Mindy who was pacing back and forth in the lobby of the hospital, “I am sure someone will be coming in here to update us.”

“You think?” Mindy questioned seeing Hunt nod slowly. “I guess you could just say that I am a little worried. I mean, that poor girl. I don’t understand how someone could be that scared.”

“I think we are all a little worried,” Hunt agreed noticing a police officer in the corner of the lobby, “If you wait here a second I will go find out what happened.”

“Okay,” Mindy nodded, taking a seat next to Brittany as Hunt got up and walked over towards the police officer.

“Excuse me sir,” Hunt touched the officer’s shoulder making him turn around quickly, “I was wondering if you could tell me about the young girl that was brought in here. What happened?”

“Are you the one that brought her in?” the officer questioned seeing Hunt nod slowly. “You are pretty close to a hero boy, from what it sounds like--you saved that woman’s life.”

“How so?” Hunt wondered, a little confused at how the officer was talking to him. “All I did was find her. I don’t even know what happened.”

“Well, the girl is pretty shaken up, but we could get a few things out of her,” the officer informed Hunt with a small sigh, “She said she was attacked by some guy and he was chasing after her, but before he could get to her--you helped her. That’s pretty much all I got right now. If I hear anything else, I’ll try and let you know.”

“Thank you officer,” Hunt nodded slowly, shrugging his shoulders, “Just one more questioned--did they find this guy who was trying to attack her?”

“Not yet,” the officer answered seeing Hunt nod slowly, “but we have plenty of people out there right now searching. We will have him by the end of the night.”

“Okay, thank you,” Hunt faked a smile before turning around and walking back to Mindy and Brittany, “Well, he said she is going to be okay.”

“What else did they say?” Mindy quickly questioned, her body still a little shaken after running into the girl. “Did they catch the guy?”

“No, but he said they had plenty of people out there looking for him right now,” Hunt explained, taking a seat, “Hopefully they find that guy who did this to that girl. He can’t get away with this.”

“He won’t get away,” Mindy assured him, touching Hunt’s shoulder gently, “I know how these guys are. They are scum and they will get caught.”

“I wish I knew a way to make that pretty girl feel better,” Brittany frowned as a nurse approached her with a few crayons in her hand and some paper.

“Would you like to use these?” Nurse Barbara questioned seeing Brittany nod slowly.

“Thank you,” Brittany smiled taking the crayons in her hands, “I know what I can do. I can make her a picture. That could make her feel better. I hope.”

“Good idea,” Hunt smiled, looking towards the lobby, “Maybe it will make her feel better.”

“I’m sure it will,” Mindy assured her with a small smile seeing Brittany begin to draw a picture, “Hunt, do you think that we should call Guy and Gabe to tell them that we are here?”

“They won’t be home anytime soon,” Hunt replied taking in a deep breath, “All I know is that they are away on their anniversary, so we will try to call them later, but right now we should just wait to see if we hear anything new on the girl.”


“Hart, you can’t just leave it like that,” Jenna frowned following him out into his kitchen. “The man is your father.”

“Yes, but if you recall I told you what an ass he was. I don’t know what prompted him to come here tonight, but whatever it was, he can go elsewhere,” he blurted out stubbornly opening the refrigerator to discover some very soured milk inside. He pulled it out and started to dump it down the sink.

“I realize that you’re upset with him, but aren’t you the least bit curious about what he had to say?” she asked watching him dump the milk until the container was emptied. He ran the water and turned on the garbage disposal before answering.

“Nope, not really,” he shook his head at her before tossing the container in the trash, “and if you’re smart, then you won’t be curious about it either. It’s just trouble.”

“Okay, but what if he needed something? What if he wanted to say something important,” she asked again seeing him move to the refrigerator again, “Hart come on.”

“Jen, the only thing my father is good for is a headache and considering that I came here tonight to spend a romantic night with you, well I would just as soon stop dwelling on the past and focus on the future,” he reached out to her pulling her into his arms. “Can’t we just do that?”

“Hart, I just don’t want…” she started once more only to feel him silence her with a kiss.

“No worries, just anticipation,” he picked her up in his arms carrying her over to the kitchen table. He used one arm to push the mail out of the side when Jenna noticed an envelope on the floor that was sent from Walt Steiner.

“Hart look,” she motioned to the envelope seeing quite a few of them on the ground that he’d discarded in putting her on the table.

“Jen, I don’t care,” he blurted out in frustration, “My father was an ass--a complete and total ass and I had nothing that I wanted from him. I still don’t. He made my life hell and I got over it. He’s free to live his life his way and I’m going to do it mine.”

“Hart, it’s just that…” she began again feeling the tension riding over his body. He took a step back and released her with a scowl.

“Do I get on you about your father when you don’t want to speak to him?” he snapped back at her.

“Hart, I was just saying…” she found herself at a loss.

“Jen, I know what you’re trying to do here, but you don’t know my father like I do. He’s just full of bull and if you give him a crumb, you’ll find that he’s just an opportunistic loser who likes to manipulate any and all situations in his favor. He’s not really someone you want to know.”

“Even so, I think that the fact that he’s tried to write you and I’m guessing he’s tried to call you too since you’ve got over thirty messages on your machine says that something’s up,” Jenna pointed out with a frown.

He walked over to his machine seeing the number of messages for him, “I’m sure that it’s not my father,” he shrugged before pushing the button. Wouldn’t you know the first voice on the machine was Walt Steiner.

“Hart, it’s your father. I realize we haven’t talked in awhile, but…”

Hart shut the machine off. “Okay, so maybe he’s called. So what?”

“You’re not at all interested in what’s on his mind?” she questioned eyeing him intently.

“I look at it this way Jen. I haven’t spoken with him since my mother died and I haven’t found it in me to take in his lies any longer. I told you what he put me through and I watched my mother drink herself to death in dealing with him. I’d just as soon skip over that same fate,” he finished walking out of the kitchen in a haste.

Jenna looked to the floor again seeing all the letters for Hart. Curiously she picked one up but rather than invading Hart’s privacy, she set it back down on the floor and walked out of the kitchen. She spotted him back in the bedroom looking out the window onto the lake. Moving in behind him she wrapped her arms around his waist.

“I’m sorry that I came off as being so pushy,” she whispered in the back of his ear.

“It’s not your fault,” he wrapped her hands up with his, “It’s just that my family is a touchy subject.”

“As if I don’t know how that feels,” she replied with a small smile, “and if you say it’s off limits, then I’m not going to question it. If you didn’t want to talk to your father, then it’s none of my business.”

“It’s not that,” he slowly turned around to face her, “It’s just that…”

“That what?” she questioned tilting her head up to meet his sad eyes.

“That I’d really rather not go down that road again when I have something really wonderful in my life for the first time. I’d rather look forward instead of back,” he confessed leaning in to kiss her, “At least for a little while.”

“So what’s stopping you,” she mouthed in response holding onto him as she tried to push his father’s arrival out of her mind. She just wondered if Walt Steiner would really give up on trying to reach Hart after he’d made an appearance at his house. Given the number of letters and messages that Walt had left for him, Jenna had the distinct feeling the Hart’s past was far from out of his life for good.


Don sluggishly walked through the door of his home before throwing his coat onto the table. It had been a long day at work for him and he was exhausted.

“What the?” he questioned hearing the laughter of two woman in his living room. “Who is here?”

Don walked through the hallway and spotted Shannon on the couch with his mother. They were laughing and joking with each other from what he could tell. Was he imagining this? He must be, or something really weird was going on.

“Mom? Shannon?” Don approached the two woman, placing his hands on the back of the couch. “What are you two doing?”

“We are talking silly,” Alicia slapped his hand lightly, “Aren’t two woman allowed to talk each other and have a good time?”

“A good time?” Don questioned, raising his eyebrow in interest. “What has been going on here?”

“Nothing really,” Shannon answered with a small laugh, “Your mother and I were talking about when you were younger. You were afraid of the guy on the oatmeal container?”

“Mom,” Don blushed, not believing that his mother would tell Shannon something like that, “I was not afraid of it. I just didn’t like it.”

“Honey, you were afraid of it,” Alicia declared with a small laugh, “Every time that I tried to make oatmeal for breakfast, you would cry and scream for me to put the container away because that man was going to get you.”

“Oh, she told me about the time when you were in soccer,” Shannon snapped her fingers, seeing Don gulp down, “How you kicked the soccer ball and it hit some person on the stands and that person fell down knocking about ten other people down.”

“I slipped,” Don protested, feeling his face get hotter by the minute, “Anyways that was an accident.”

“She showed me the baby pictures she had of you and you were so cute,” Shannon emphasized her every word, seeing Don look away from her.

“So did you two do anything else other than embarrass me?” Don questioned with a small frown seeing Alicia nod slowly. “I’ll take that as a yes?”

“Well, actually we were talking about the house,” Alicia replied looking around the room, “We were thinking about how you should redecorate. It seems a little to sad in here. You know, the colors are too dark.”

“Yeah, we were thinking that you could put a light blue in this room and a white in the bedroom,” Shannon told him with a small laugh, “I think it would be a great way to start making the house a better way to living here.”

“Why don’t you have a seat and we will talk about what we were planning,” Alicia patted the seat next to her as Don took a seat.

“Don’t you think I should pick my own colors in my house?” Don questioned, arching his eyebrows at the thought of his mother and Shannon redecorating his house.

“No, you’re a man,” Alicia pointed out seeing him nod slowly, “Men have bad taste in colors.”

“You mean, I have to live in a house that you two like?” Don questioned seeing them nod slowly. “You two are hardly ever here. So why would I let you do that?”

“Because you are never here either,” Alicia answered with a small smile, “Also, I am your mother and you are supposed to listen to what I have to say.”

“Yes mom,” Don sighed, cracking his shoulders and sinking back into the couch, “Why don’t you tell me what you two have in mind. Maybe I will think about it.”

“Believe me, you will be doing more than just thinking about it,” Shannon promised with a small wink as Alicia got up to explain what she wanted to do with the room. It was going to be a long night.


Diego let out a big yawn as he walked into his office. He was so exhausted and he was very close to falling asleep standing up if he didn’t lie down.

“Oh, that feels good,” Diego groaned falling back into the couch and closing his eyes, letting out a big yawn to only hear the door open and close, “I thought you said you would be okay, just for tonight.”

“Far from it,” Cori answered as Diego quickly opened his eyes, surprised that he was seeing her before him right now, “I am nowhere from being okay.”

“What’s wrong?” Diego questioned, but he realized that he made a bad a move when she began to explain what was wrong. She was going to go on and on about it. He really thought she was Sarah when she walked in, but obviously he was wrong.

“Well, get this,” Cori sighed in disgust, shaking her head slowly, “I saw something that shocked the hell out of me today. I went to Dave’s house and guess what? His ex is staying at his place, but not only that--there is a little girl there and she is saying that she is Dave’s kid.”

Diego kind of gave her his attention as he looked up at her, but right now he was just too tired to give advice. He remembered how she had gotten so angry when Sarah and Shannon had gone on and on about their problems--now she was doing the same thing.

“Maybe your brother has a good explanation,” Diego suggested seeing Cori shake her head quickly and begin to rant even more, “Would you just shut up and come over here to kiss me?”

“Okay,” she shrugged with a small laugh, walking over towards him, kissing him lightly, “Better?”

“Much,” he agreed with a small yawn, quickly sitting up and reaching for his light switch, turning off the lights, “Now how about you and me get some sleep. I know the both of us could really use some of that right now.”

“Sounds good to me,” Cori agreed with a small laugh as he gently pulled her down to the couch with him, “No one can tell that you are tired.”

“Me, no way,” Diego shook his head slowly, before yawning deeply, “Let’s just say it’s been a long day. A very, very long day.”

“I would have to agree with you,” Cori nodded, feeling him wrap his arm around her waist as she cuddled into him, “Your couch is comfy.”
“Tell me about it,” Diego sighed, scooting back into the leather couch, “I love this couch. It’s good for sitting, but it makes an even better bed.”

“You know, it feels good to be here with you,” Cori whispered, enclosing her fingers with his gently, “I mean really. It’s been a crazy last few days and now I get to be here with you. It means a lot to me to have some quiet time.”

“Me too,” Diego agreed before opening his eyes, “There is only one problem with this quiet time.”

“What’s that?” Cori questioned with a small smile, turning to face him.

“It isn’t quiet,” Diego replied with a small grin, “To get some sleep it needs to be quiet.”

“Oh, sorry,” Cori laughed, shaking her head slowly, “We should get to work on going to sleep. So, goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Diego kissed her quickly before closing his eyes to go to sleep. With her in his arms right now, everything seemed to feel perfect.


“Be difficult all you want,” Kellen sighed, taking a step outside, wrapping his arms around her shoulders, “Now why don’t we get you to your car.”

“Hey, get your hands off of me,” Heather snapped as he began to lead her towards her car and away from the house. “I deserve to see Charles.”

“What you deserve is a rude awakening,” Kellen snapped stopping at her car, “Leave Kipp alone. You have no right to come here and treat him like that. He is better than some little toy you could just play with.”

“I am going to go back and talk to him,” Heather declared going to step away, before Kellen placed his hands on both sides of her, “What are you doing?”

“You aren’t going anywhere near him,” Kellen promised with a small smile, “So why don’t you have a nice day and go find someone else to torture.”

“I will be back,” Heather yelled as Kellen began to walk back up the sidewalk towards the house, “I can promise you that Kipp. I will be back.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Kellen rolled his eyes before turning around to look back at her, “Why don’t you go complain to someone who really cares about what you have to say. Maybe your lawyer because that’s the only person who will give you his time.”

Before Heather could say anything else, Kellen walked into the house and shut the door behind him, but made sure to lock it up too.

“I can’t believe this,” Kipp groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose before shaking his head slowly, “Why does she want to do this? She never cared for Charles before and now she wants him. What is she trying to do here Kellen?”

“I’ll tell you what she is trying to do,” Kellen frowned, squeezing Kipp’s shoulder gently, “She’s trying to win Charles. She is thinking of this as a game. You are the other team and she is against you--trying to make sure that she wins this game. What she doesn’t realize, is that this is far from a game and you aren’t going to lift up the white flag. You are going to fight for that baby, you are going to keep him. I promise.”

“Kellen, in all seriousness,” Kipp began with a small laugh, “You really think I can go up against Augustus Ashford? I mean really? Me?”

“Why not?” Kellen questioned, shaking his head slowly. “Don’t give up when you haven’t even started. You know that you can, you have the strength right here.”

“I know,” Kipp nodded after Kellen pointed towards his heart, “I am just worried. I don’t want to lose my son.”

“You won’t,” Kellen promised, seeing the upsetting look on Kipp’s face, “You just have to believe that there is nothing that is going to keep you two apart.”

“I wish I had the strength that you did,” Kipp sighed, beginning to walk back towards the bedroom where Charles was now awake. “Hey little guy.”

Kellen watched from the door, seeing the way that Kipp held Charles in his arms--the way he looked at him. Kipp really was worried about losing Charles, but he had nothing to worry about. Kipp was a good father and they would see that, hopefully.

“I promise Charles,” Kipp began, taking in a deep breath, “I am going to do everything in my power to keep you with me. Nothing is going to keep us apart. I will always be there for you. Always.”

Kellen frowned, thinking of how it would be if Kipp really did lose Charles. Kipp would be down for weeks, but that’s not even the right thing to be thinking. Kipp was a great guy and he was supposed to be the parent to be there for Charles. He has been from the begging, the first day Kipp saw him. Heather left the baby, she abandoned him when Charles needed her the most. The closest thing Charles ever had to a mother was Sarah, his aunt. Kellen vowed that he was going to do whatever it took in his power to keep Charles with Kipp. Kellen had to help his best friend, Kipp needed his help now of all times.


“There’s just nothing left to say Dad. As much as I hated to admit it, Brant is right,” Grady replied thinking about the confrontation he’d wound up rehashing to his father, “This is all my fault. I’m the one who brought Susan into all of our lives. I knew better than to go down that road, but I wouldn’t listen to the warnings that people gave me. If I wouldn’t have married her…”

“Grady that’s like saying that you’re to blame for the bad weather we’ve had or that it’s your fault that no one won the lottery this week,” Elliot sight bringing his hand over his son’s. “The way I see it son you’re not in charge of the world and you have to stop thinking that this is all on your hands. Susan is a menace and that has nothing to do with you…”

“Yes, but if I hadn’t married her,” Grady began again, “I should’ve followed my instincts, but instead I was thinking with my…well, I just wasn’t thinking.”

“Yeah, well we live and we learn, but there’s no telling what would’ve happened with Susan even if you hadn’t married her. She works for Cameron Stone and that in itself should say right then and there what kind of woman she is. Grady this is not on your hands and what Brant told you was coming from anger--and his own frustrations at not being able to stop any of this from happening. He needed someone to blame and it was easy to make you a target since he knew you were already feeling guilty.”

“But it’s more than that,” Grady stood up from where he’d been seated, “He was dead on about so many things--things that I’d thought myself and now, well now I just feel like nothing is ever going to find a way to work itself out…”

“It will. You have to believe that. It’s a horrible thing that happened with Kyle and with Kenneth, but right now you need to stay focused. We need to work on finding Jade and when we bring her home, you’ll see just how wrong you were about your being the one to blame in all of this,” Elliot tried to encourage him.

“Maybe you’re right dad,” Grady nodded back at him.

“I know I am, which is why I want you to stop beating my son up. He’s all that I’ve got left and I don’t want to see you tear him to pieces in the process of trying to deal with all of this,” Elliot suggested with a small breath, “In fact, why don’t you come home with me and your mother? We have your old room open and…”

“No, dad I think I just need some time alone,” Grady admitted bringing his fingers through his dark hair. “I think that’s really all that it is. After a night alone to collect my thoughts I’m sure I’ll be fresh in the morning.”

“Which is all the more reason why I think you should come home with me. I don’t want you alone tonight. I just don’t think it’s a smart idea considering…” Elliot tried once more.

“I’m not going to go for the bottle if that’s what you’re worried about. Avery already talked me out of it,” Grady promised as he saw the fear behind his father’s eyes, “She made me see that’s not going to help anything and I refuse to go down that road again. That’s what started this mess with Susan.”

“Even so I’d feel better if you came home with me. If you’d only…”

“Dad I’m fine,” Grady insisted walking over to the door, “But you’re not going to be if you don’t get home soon. You’re exhausted and mom is probably worried sick about you. I promise if I change my mind I’ll be on my way over or I’ll call. Okay?”

“Okay, but if you feel any of the urges…anything at all that you want to talk about, then please son, please call…”

“I will,” Grady nodded saying his good-byes to his father. Once Elliot left, he looked around his home thinking of how empty it felt without Jade. Things just weren’t going to be getting any better and Grady feared what the future would hold in store for him if he didn’t find her.

His thoughts lingered back to Susan. He’d known she was trouble from the moment she had returned to town, but never in a million years did he believe that a woman he once loved would turn out to be so blatantly evil. It seemed almost incomprehensible considering that at one time Grady had felt he’d spend the rest of his life with her. Even now he realized that she was nothing like the woman he’d thought he’d fallen in love with all those years ago.

“Stop dwelling on it idiot,” he heard a voice in the back of his head scold him. He reached for the light ready to call it a night when he heard a knock on the door. Thinking to his father’s requests, he had the feeling he knew what was next. Elliot had decided that it wasn’t safe for Grady to be alone and truth be told Grady was starting to reconsider his answer as well.

“No, you’re not going home to mom and dad,” he told himself while walking over to the front door. He heard another knock and he took in a breath resolving to not give in to his fears. He opened the door and spoke up firmly, “I said I was fine.”

“Then why don’t I believe you?” Avery replied standing on his porch with her hands on her hips. She looked up at him expectantly before tapping her foot, “Well are you going to invite me inside?”

“Avery, what are you doing here?” he questioned blinking back at her. He stepped aside as she moved in past him sliding underneath his arm to enter his home.

“I was worried about you, so I came on over to make sure that you were okay, which I can see that you’re not,” she explained matter of fact. She took a long look around the house before facing him once again, “So spill it Grady, what’s up?”

“Avery, you shouldn’t be here,” Grady argued with her closing the door to keep the cool night air from coming in. “You should be with Brant at the hospital and…”

“And what? You’re going to ignore me now after what Brant said?” she asked bluntly, “Is that your ultimate solution in this matter?”

“For God’s sake Avery I don’t want to argue with you right now,” he snapped at her, “I just want to be left alone.”

“Well I don’t think that you should be left alone tonight especially not after what happened at the hospital. Grady, you can’t carry this weight on your shoulders. What happened to Kyle and to Ken is not your fault. It never was your fault and Brant was out of line when he said that.”

“No Avery he’s right. They’re all right,” he threw his hands up in the air, “I’ve somehow made this all about me when it’s Jade that I should’ve focused on. If I wouldn’t have been so damned stubborn in having to do things my way, then everyone would be okay right now.”

“Kyle went to Susan’s because he wanted to. If I recall correctly we told him not to,” she stated plainly, “We were the ones who told him it would lead to nothing but a dead end. He still wanted to try against our protests.”

“Yes but we should’ve talked him into going with us. We should’ve tried…” Grady insisted further.

“For the last friggen’ time Grady, Kyle chose to go over there. I’m not saying that I don’t feel guilty as all hell about what happened, but we weren’t the ones who held a gun to his head and made him go there. We asked him not to. He did what he did because he wanted to help us--to help you and me and once again Kyle got burned,” she took a step towards him, “It sucks and it’s wrong on so many levels, but the truth to the matter is that it happened. There’s nothing we can do to change it, but we can try to move forward and help him.”

“Help him,” he repeated with a dry laugh, “Just like I helped you after Ken raped you.”

“Grady, that isn’t relevant to what we’re talking about,” Avery added dismissively.

“No? It’s not?” Grady folded his arms in front of his chest, “So you’re telling me that you’re not even the slightest bit resentful over the fact that Susan drugged him and that in turn had him do what he did to you?”

“Grady it wasn’t your fault. Hell, I’m not even sure it was Susan’s,” she threw her hands up in the air, “I’m the one who chose to sleep with him. I was the one who was feeling like a horrible, rotten wife because I wouldn’t allow myself to bond with Brant. When Ken came to me I thought that he was Brant. I offered myself to him knowing full well that I didn’t really want to be with him. I had a nightmare and when he comforted me, I felt like I should give him something in return. I tried to give something of myself that wasn’t really there and in the end I got burned. I don’t blame you for that. You weren’t the one who was there in my head when I gave into Ken. I was doing what I felt I had to do--what I was obligated to do at the time because it was my duty, but you want to know what it amounted to? It only wound up giving me a huge headache.”

“Avery, you were put in a situation where you didn’t know better…where you believed that…”

“That I was giving my husband a sympathy screw,” she snapped throwing her hands out in the air, “I thought that it would make him happy only gee guess what it wasn’t my husband. I didn’t realize until after the fact that my wanting to please the world around me and make everyone else happy cost me more than I ever bargained for. The same goes for you. You’re so worried about what you do hurting someone else--about how your feelings can upset the balance of the world around you, but guess what Grady? The balance is already shot to hell.”

“Even so, if I didn’t…” he argued with her.

“If you didn’t…if you wouldn’t…” she groaned back at him, “Don’t you ever get tired of playing the martyr? I mean honestly shit happens. I hate to be blunt, but that’s what it comes down to. You can either roll with the punches and endure or you can crawl up and die. I chose to try to move forward. I pushed what happened into the past and I found happiness with Brant once I stopped lying to myself. What you need to do is stop blaming yourself and maybe just maybe you’ll realize that Grady isn’t the grand master ruler of the world. He can’t make the clouds rumble or a natural disaster in the world around him. He’s just a man. A man with a lot of heart and a few problems he’s facing, but he’ll get through it. He’ll find a way to fight back and in the end he’ll come out on top.”

“But at what price?” he sighed heavily, “In case you haven’t noticed pretty much everyone around me has suffered for the things I love--for the things I believe in and I’ve just sat back idle and let it happen.”

“Grady, you didn’t let any of this happen. You were just put in a bad situation. We all were, but once you stop blaming yourself and start seeing that, well maybe just maybe you’ll realize that it’s time to start thinking about what comes next. That’s really all that matters,” she moved in closer to him, feeling his anger melting away as she reached out to him, “that’s what’s going to keep us strong and endure through all of this. I mean who knows maybe one day we’ll find a way to come out on top of it, right?”

“Given that you’ve suddenly taken to helping me out, I highly doubt life is going to get any easier for you,” Grady sighed caving into listening to her, “It’s only going to be causing you problems, which once again seems to be a trend for us.”

“If I could deal with you launching a full on attack on me, then I’m pretty certain I can handle being your friend. I mean hey, I think as it stands you and I both have pretty crappy luck, so if we tough it out together, it might make things turn around for us,” she laughed lightly feeling the tension easing up a bit in the room that surrounded them.

“Do you really believe that?” he questioned curiously.

“Not really, but it sounds good,” she half laughed, “Now how about we put on some coffee or something and talk for a while? It might do us both some good.”

“What about Brant? Where’s he at tonight?”

“He’s at the hospital with his brother where he belongs and I’m here with my friend, which is exactly where I want to be,” she assured him before walking into the kitchen.

“Friend,” Grady repeated thinking about all that he’d put her through over the last year. It was ironic how things were turning out, but in a strange way he found himself grateful for that very thing. Having Avery on his side was really turning out to be something he could learn to appreciate--even if she was a tad bit over the top. It was a refreshing change.


Brant hung up his phone wondering why Avery hadn’t answered. Knowing that she’d been exhausted he figured that she must’ve gone to sleep, which he was certain was good for her. She’d been through the ringer and back and being at the hospital wasn’t exactly the comfort of home. Still he’d hoped he could’ve talked to her before she’d fallen asleep. There was just something to be said about hearing her voice that put his mind at ease. Yes, things were strained between them lately, but he was hoping after the repeated crisis after crisis finally stopped going on that maybe just maybe they’d find a way to find some peace with one another.

Taking off his jacket Brant returned to Ken’s room ready for yet another long night. Why he hadn’t gone home, he didn’t know, but now, well now he realized it would be a long night of crap television and thoughts of his wife consuming him. Boy was it going to be a rough few hours.

“Brant…you’re here,” he heard Ken’s voice from the center of the bed.

“Yeah, I’m here,” Brant rubbed his neck. Setting down his jacket over one of the chairs, Brant looked to his brother seeing Ken’s eyes reflecting the same kind of exhaustion that Brant felt. “Where else would I be while you’re center stage like this?”

“I guess I just…just didn’t think that you’d be here,” Ken confessed quietly. “I mean after everything that’s happened…”

“Ken, you’re still my brother. It doesn’t mean that I have to like you, but when it comes to things like this I should be here for you,” Brant reminded him pointedly, “Not like you’d do it for me these days, but still…”

“I guess I’m just…well, just bowled over by the fact that you even bothered that’s all.

“I know about Susan,” Brant enlightened him, “I found out after Deidra told me.”

“So you know how she drugged me,” Ken paused another sigh erupting from his dry lips, “That doesn’t really change much for us though, does it?”

“Quite honestly I don’t really know how to feel,” Brant admitted moving in closer to him, “I mean here I am and there you are and we’re in two different worlds it seems.”

“It’s always been that way in case you haven’t noticed,” Ken added in a reflective tone.

“Even so you had your thing going on and I had mine, yet we always seemed to make sense,” Brant continued, “I mean I was the one who was bound and determined to break all the rules, but with you, well you just…”

“Didn’t act like this,” Ken closed his eyes remembering all the horrible things he’d done, “And sure I could say that this was all the drugs, but on some level I should’ve been able to control it.”

“Yes you should’ve, but at the same time I can’t blame you for all of this. When I think of what Susan did--of how we almost lost you, well it got me thinking…”

“About?” Ken reopened his eyes.

“About us. About the fact that once upon a time we used to be the best of friends. Yes, we were never like one another, but we still had that connection. You looked out after my back and I watched out for yours. We didn’t try to sabotage one another or do something that would bring us both down. We were friends and family and that really meant something…” Brant trailed off shaking his head, “I know I wasn’t there for you like I should’ve been when Caitlin died but…”

“But you weren’t why this happened,” Ken added quickly, “I made the choice to deal with it inappropriately and if it wasn’t for you calling Tim out here to see me, well I may have still continued down that path. He and I had a long talk and I really think he got through to me.”


“I’m going to rehab. I’m checking myself into a place for therapy. I know that I have a problem and while I’m willing to admit it’s not all of my fault, a huge chunk of it was a part of me that I never knew existed. I mean deep down I always kind of thought it might be there, but I never really tapped into it. Now that I have,” Ken paused worry evident in his tone, “It scares the hell out of me Brant. For so long we fought to keep that part of our lives buried--our father’s evil out of our minds, but now…I’ve seen it first hand. I’ve lived it and now I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to live with myself.”

“Ken, you can’t just think that this was all you,” Brant saw his brother get choked up on emotion, “This went beyond our father.”

“But when it came right down to it, I saw the madness and I let it flow inside of me. I was so overwhelmed with my anger,” Ken continued in between breaths, “that I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t want to stop and in looking at the damage I’ve caused…I know that there’s no way to fix that. I can’t take it back.”

“Even so, there’s still hope for you. If you’re serious about rehab and wanting to change, then you know I’ll be there. I’ll help you every step of the way,” Brant promised him, “I mean hey that’s what family is for.”

“I don’t deserve it, but for what it’s worth, thank you Brant,” Ken offered up a half smile, “I spent the last few months thinking of you as my own worst enemy, but deep down I see that I’m really my own worst enemy.”

“I think when it gets down to it Ken we’re all our own worst enemy,” Brant added knowing that while they were covering some new ground with one another today, things were far from over for the both of them. Until they were able to face the past and come to terms with what they’d both feared the most, Brant knew things would still be far from free and clear for them. Though tonight as he sat beside his brother’s hospital bed, he knew it was a good starting ground.


“What happened Barbara?” Ria asked pulling her friend aside as her fears consumed her. On the ride over to the hospital she’d heard Kevin trying to calm her down, but in the not knowing what was wrong with Trisha, she couldn’t help but worry about what was going on.

“Two kids brought her in earlier and she’s in bad shape. Mentally worse than physically,” Barbara explained to her motioning for Ria and Kevin to follow. “She’s in an exam room and she’s pretty shaken. Apparently she was attacked by some creep she met at a bar and…”

“Oh my God,” Ria gasped in astonishment, “Are you saying someone she left with did this to her?”

Barbara nodded, “She’s not saying too much about it, but she was cut. Her throat looks worse than it is, but I suspect that whoever did this wanted to make sure that she couldn’t scream.”

“Trisha…” Ria felt her knees grow weak as Kevin stepped up behind her reaching out to hold her supportively.

“Have they found the son of a bitch that did this to her,” Kevin questioned with a low snarl, “Is he in custody?”

“Not yet, but the police are here and they want to talk to Trisha,” Barbara continued to explain to Ria. “She’s kind of closed off at the moment and I was hoping that maybe you could go talk to her…”

“Of course,” Ria nodded turning to Kevin, “I have to go see her.”

“Take your time. I’ll be here waiting for you,” Kevin squeezed her hand gently, “I’m not going to go anywhere.”

“Thank you,” Ria watched him for a moment, so many emotions running wild from within.

“Come on I’ll take you to her,” Barbara urged Ria on before turning to Kevin, “The couple that brought her in is in the waiting room if you’d like to go speak with them.”

“I don’t mind if I do,” Kevin nodded seeing Ria leave with Barbara. Guilt tugged at his insides as last night replayed in his mind. Never in a million years did he think that when he’d agreed to go to that party with Trisha, it would all blow out of control and spin into this. He’d hated that he and Ria had hurt her in their being together, but more so he found himself racked with guilt over the fact that some violent creep had taken it upon himself to hurt her when she was vulnerable. He just prayed that she would be okay.

Walking into the waiting room Kevin spotted a younger couple before him. He saw them playing with a small little blonde girl and he found himself wondering if they were the ones who’d found Trisha. No one else was in the room, so it had to be them. Making his way over to them, he cleared his throat to capture their attention.

“Excuse me,” Kevin began uneasily.

“Yes?” Hunt looked up to see the mountain of man before him. He sat up straighter, though you could see a spark of fear behind his eyes.

“I was told that you two were the ones who brought in Trisha Merhan earlier,” Kevin spoke up not sure how to approach the subject.

“We were,” Mindy nodded up at him, “Is she alright? They said we could leave after we talked to the police but…well, we were worried about her.”

“Yeah,” Brittany looked up from where she sat on the floor with her coloring book, “Is the pretty sad girl going to be okay?”

“I sure hope so sweetheart,” Kevin couldn’t help but smile at Brittany.

“Me too,” Brittany replied motioning to the drawing she was working on. “I was making this for her. Do you think she’ll like it?”

“I’m sure she’ll love it,” Kevin nodded down at her seeing the way her eyes seemed to size him up.

“You’re really tall,” Brittany noted with a giggle, “You’re like a giant aren’t you?”

“Not exactly, but I’m pretty tall,” Kevin smiled down at her before looking to Hunt and Mindy, “She’s cute. Is she yours?”

“Ours?” Mindy’s eyes widened at the suggestion before she shook her head, “No she’s a friend of mine’s daughter.”

“Well regardless she’s an angel,” Kevin couldn’t help but smile thinking about what it was like to be that young and innocent. He could remember quite clearly the day that all changed for him. Life went from being sweet to cruel and as he watched Brittany coloring, he thought about Trisha--about the way she once colored pictures for him--about how he’d helped her learn how to ride a bike and in that moment Kevin wished like hell he could take her back to that innocence again. He wished that he could find a way to keep her from ever getting hurt and most of all he wished that he could find the monster that attacked her and make sure that he never, ever hurt another woman ever again.


Ria made her way past the guards to where she was told her sister would be. She could hear the normal hustle and bustle of the hospital in the background. It was a sound that she’d gotten used to over the years of being here, yet now that her sister was the patient on the table she was about to face, it was a rather unsettling moment.

“I’m so sorry Ria,” she heard one of the nurse’s say to her as she pushed back the curtain and walked in to discover her sister sitting on an exam table with her arms folded in front of her chest. She was staring off blankly as Ria moved in beside her.

“Trisha,” Ria spoke up gently not sure how her sister was going to react to seeing her in the room after everything that happened.

“Ria,” Trisha half questioned turning her eyes towards her older sister. Her lip quivered and Ria noticed the bandage over the front of Trisha’s neck as tears clouded her vision. Without another word Trisha leaned into Ria, her sobs intensifying.

“Oh baby, what happened,” Ria questioned wrapping her arms around her sister.

“I was so angry…so upset with you and Kevin that I started acting like a brat,” Trisha explained in a raspy tone between broken sobs, “I went to this dumpy bar and this guy started flirting with me. He seemed really cute and being that I wanted to feel like I wasn’t a complete loser I went back with him to his hotel room and…”

“It’s okay,” Ria smoothed her fingers through Trisha’s hair, “Take your time baby. I’m here for you.”

“I was so scared. I didn’t think he was like that. He looked like he was a nice guy, but Ria I was wrong. I was so--so wrong. The things he tried to do to me,” Trisha broke into full blown tears, her body shaking at the memory of the attack on her. “All I could think of was getting out of there--about escaping before he could rape me or worse--kill me. He had this knife to my throat and he cut me. He kept saying he would hurt me worse if I tried to get out of there, but I had to escape…”

“You’re right you did and you’re safe now,” Ria felt her own eyes cloud over with tears, “You’re safe sweetie and I’m not going to let anything happen to you ever again. He can’t hurt you anymore.”

“Ria I’m so sorry. If I wasn’t acting like a complete jerk, then none of this would’ve happened. I wouldn’t have been so stupid and…” Trisha continued painfully, “I never should’ve run away from you like that. It was immature and…”

“And nothing. You were hurting and I’m sorry that I didn’t keep looking for you. I should’ve found a way to stop this from happening,” Ria replied her words laced with heavy emotions.

“No Ria, you did what you could. I know that you didn’t meant to hurt me. I know that’s not what you were doing with Kevin and I’m sorry,” Trisha sniffled wiping at her face, “I know I cause you a lot of grief, but I really do love you. I love you so much.”

“I love you too Trisha,” Ria hugged her once again, “and I promise you I’m not going anywhere from here on out. We’re going to get through this with one another. I promise.”

“Thank you. I don’t know what I’d do without you,” Trisha confessed holding onto her sister as she rehashed the nightmare leading up to this moment in time. Somehow in having Ria there, it made this horrible situation feel a lot less horrible. She wasn’t alone any longer. She was here with her sister--one of her best friends in the whole world and for that she was very thankful after she came so very close to losing everything.



...to be continued...