Episode 239

Deidra looked at the clearing ahead and felt a breath of relief escape her lips. She’d been feeling adventurous yesterday when Dean had suggested that they’d take a hike, but after they’d made it halfway up the hill and spent their night under the stars, she couldn’t help but wonder just if this place would ever be a reality. Now that they were up at the top of the clearing, she started to wonder if it was real or only imagining it. She took another step forward seeing a small cabin ahead of her.

“Well, what do you think?” Dean questioned in an unusually cheerful mood. He stepped in behind her, slipping his hand over her hip before kissing the back of her neck, “You like?”

“Hmm, well you know it does tend to offer up a welcoming vibe after being eaten by mosquitoes last night,” she replied tilting her head back to look up at him. “I can’t believe you actually called that a small walk. That was like ten miles Dean.”

“Nine point three, but whose really keeping track,” he shrugged his shoulders releasing her and walking around towards the cabin. “Come on. I can’t wait to show you around.”

“I can’t wait to find a place to just sit down and relax,” Deidra muttered under her breath seeing the cabin coming more into view. She had to admit it looked peaceful and quiet and right about now that seemed to be more inviting than anything else. She wiped at the sweat on her brow before speaking up again, “You know I never realized how truly out of shape I was until last night.”

“See now I didn’t think you were out of shape,” Dean glanced over at her, “I thought you did exceedingly well under the circumstances.”

“No you didn’t. You thought I was a mess when I actually made us stop and camp it out,” she curled her lip in a pout at him, “Admit it. You weren’t prepared for me to be all huffing and puffing like that.”

“You aren’t huffing and puffing,” Dean set his backpack down before turning to pull her into his arms. His nose nuzzled her neck before he placed a hot, wet kiss underneath her earlobe, “at least not until we were in front of that fire in the sleeping bag together.”

“Dean,” she swatted at his chest playfully feeling a warmth fill her features. She met his dangerous dark eyes and felt a jolt of pleasure run straight to her core at the memory, “please…”

“I’m just saying,” he confessed tucking a loose strand of her dark hair behind her ear gently, “Nothing was sexier than experiencing you like that last night.”

“It was completely spontaneous and, well a bit reckless considering we had no idea what was lurking in the woods,” she replied sheepishly remembering only too well how thrilling the experience had been.

“At that time of night, well I don’t think even the animals were out and about,” he tried to assure her loving the way she was bashful about being uninhibited, “Of course even if they were I think they would’ve seen things to make them proud.”

“I’m sure,” she nodded biting on her lip nervously, “Although I do have to admit this is a bit of a stretch from tickets like you said this would be when you asked me to go away with you.”

“So I lied,” Dean shrugged his shoulders squeezing her in closer to him, “You knew what you were in for when I stopped the car and I didn’t hear any protesting.”

“And you’re not hearing it now, but well, I just thought it was a very big surprise considering I figured we’d be braving it at some hotel, not out and about in the wilderness,” Deidra admitted feeling him kiss her again. He reached out easing her arms out of her backpack and dropping it to the ground before reaching for her again.

“I happen to like you in the wilderness,” he mouthed nibbling on her earlobe, “It brings out the more primal side of you which is very sexy.”

“Dean, right now I’m dirty and sweaty. I’m sure I smell like, well, I don’t even want to get into how awful I must smell after this morning’s walk so for you to even say I’m sexy shows the sun has damaged your brain,” she wrinkled her nose at his comment.

“But you are sexy,” he replied pulling back to search her dark eyes, “You’re by far the sexiest woman I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.”

“Now we’ve resorted to flattery,” she grinned in response, “Cute.”

“It’s not flattery. It’s the truth,” he eased his lips in against hers once again.

“Well, since we’re up for truth telling, I have to admit that right now all I’m really craving is a shower and maybe some sleep. I just want to get cleaned up and…” she felt him cut her off with another quick kiss.

“Your wish is my command,” Dean stepped aside. He reached for her hand leading her in closer to the cabin before pointing over to some strangely scrapped together wooden ledge of sorts before them. “There you go.”

“What is that?” she asked tilting her head to the side. She took a step forward seeing a showerhead from above the one flimsy piece of wood. “Dean, that’s not what I think it is. Is it?”

“There’s your shower,” he whispered over the back of your neck, hugging her in closer to him, “but don’t worry there isn’t anyone for miles around here.”

“You don’t honestly expect me to…” her words tapered off as she felt his hands sliding in underneath the damp material of her t-shirt.

“Of course I do,” he breathed nibbling on her neck in a sensual, seductive nip, “but trust me you’ll enjoy it. We can take one together.”

“Dean, I just don’t think,” she shifted in his arms turning around to face him. She watched him take a step back. He pulled his shirt up over his head to reveal the welcoming, muscular lines of his perfect body.

“Don’t tell me that you’re afraid someone is going to see us,” his words taunted a bit further as he kicked out of his shoes.

“Well, not really, but…” she cleared her throat uneasily seeing his fingers pop open the button of on his shorts. Within a matter of seconds they fell to the ground. His dark eyes penetrated hers as he stood before her basking in the sun’s warming rays over his naked male form.

“But what?” he stepped in closer to her again, the heat of him radiating over his skin onto her.

“I just don’t think that…” she started again feeling his hand over the small of her back. His lips beckoned hers to temptation once again and before she knew it, she had her arms up over her head accommodating his request for her to give in to temptation. He tossed her shirt onto the ground before she quickly shimmied out of her shorts.

She took another long look around fearing that someone might see them, but Dean on the other hand seemed cool and collected as usual. He moved in against her, the warmth of his body sparking tiny impulses straight to that place below her belly--the place where she longed to give into temptation with him. She sucked in a sharp breath feeling his hardened length brush up against her thigh offering teasing hints of things to come between them.

“This is insane,” she whispered in a tight, winded breath.

“So live a little and let insanity be your guide with me Deidra. I know you want to let go of what it is you think you should be and just start feeling all the things you’ve denied yourself,” he prodded her further picking her up in his arms completely and carrying her over to the showers. He fumbled with a dial for a moment or two before the water poured over them offering up the beginnings of the end for Deidra and her fight with herself when it came to holding back on denying what she wanted. She claimed his lips in a hot fire, her body longing for more of the wild and reckless man before her. Dean was right. They were all alone with only each other and the sun overhead felt nice. It felt good and as she lost herself to passion with him so openly, she realized that he’d enticed her in ways that she’d only dreamt about before now. She was no longer Deidra Byrne, boring little housewife who had no real notion of sex going beyond the bedroom, but more so she was Deidra Byrne wild and uninhibited seductress ready to embrace each and every one of life’s little temptations as it was offered to her. Now with Dean she realized that she had changed indeed and she found herself loving every minute of it.


“Zoë, what a wonderful surprise,” Brant beamed enthusiastically seeing his aunt at the breakfast table with his grandfather. He motioned to Avery, “Avery, you remember my Aunt Zoë.”

“Of course,” Avery smiled down at her, “It’s wonderful to see you again.”

“Thank you Avery,” Zoë replied brightly, “It’s nice to see you as well.”

“So I take it that grandfather managed to talk you into staying in town for a while,” Brant noted holding out a chair for Avery as she took her seat at the table.

“For a little while, although I do have some business to take care of myself while I’m in town,” Zoë explained with a soft smile of her own.

“Really what kind of business?” Brant questioned reaching for a bagel and offering it readily to Avery. She readily accepted before handing him some juice that she’d poured into a glass for him.

“Well, you see I came to town because,” Zoë started when the faint rumble of laughter filled the air surrounding the group.

“Oh Ken,” Michelle’s voice screeched as everyone looked up to see Ken at the doorway standing with Michelle on his arm.

“Good morning everyone,” Ken mused with a proud grin motioning for Michelle to follow him into the dining area, “Isn’t it a beautiful morning?”

“It was,” Brant grumbled under his breath catching the look from Avery before all eyes fixed on Ken once more.

“I’m so glad to see you’re all here,” Ken explained with a wide grin, “Brant and Avery you met Michelle, but I don’t think Grandfather or Aunt Zoë has yet, have you?”

“No, I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure,” Zoë replied politely sensing her father’s uneasiness with the situation. One look at Brant and Zoë could see that Ken’s companion was clearly not a welcome one. “It’s nice to meet you Michelle.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Michelle shook her hand greedily before she looked to Augustus, “And you must be Ken’s grandfather. He’s spoke about you so very much that I feel as if I already know you.”

“I’ll bet,” Augustus replied dryly doing his best to remain neutral as he tried to scrutinize the situation and weigh out what was happening.

“So Ken, to what do we owe this displeasure this morning,” Brant mouthed bluntly not even bothering to be polite about the situation before him.

“You know normally something like that would bother me Brant,” Ken frowned down at him, “But after last night I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf. I’m not going to even let that one register with me considering that last night I finally had an awakening.”

“Right,” Brant leaned back in his chair doubtful, “and how much did that cost you Ken? Ten grand? Twenty maybe?”

“Brant,” Zoë shot him a look unable to believe his cynicism.

“No let him go on and say what he will,” Ken waved his hand dismissively, “Unlike Michelle and I, Brant is trapped in his own world of jadedness and cynicism. He doesn’t realize that true power of forgiveness or spirituality and…”

“If you’ll excuse me I think I need to go vomit or something,” Brant wrinkled his nose at his brother’s words.

“Brant,” Avery gave her husband a strange look. She reached out for his hand seeing him slipping away. He leaned down to whisper in her ear.

“I have something I need to take care of. It’s about what we talked about last night. I’ll be back,” he promised giving her a quick kiss on the cheek before walking away.

“So Avery,” Michelle moved in towards her once Brant left, “Kenneth tells me that you too have had a personal tragedy in your life--that you lost your husband in a bombing and that was what had prompted you to marry Brant.”

“Actually, I just remembered I have a phone call to make,” Avery rose up from her seat as well not wanting to give Michelle the pleasure of her pretending to be polite. Given what Brant had divulged about Michelle, the last thing she wanted was to get to know her any better.

“Well, I guess I know how to clear a room,” Michelle laughed lightly before sitting down in the chair that Avery formerly occupied.

“Forget about them, they aren’t worth it anyways,” Ken waved his hand dismissively before taking Brant’s chair. He looked to the untouched glass of juice his brother had and he raised it to his lips, “So Grandfather, tell me how has life been for you?”

“It’s been alright. What about you Ken?” Augustus spoke up tentatively. “This seems to be a change from what I was seeing in the hospital.”

“That’s because I’ve found my new beginning and I owe it all to this little lady right here,” Ken admitted motioning to Michelle with loving eyes as Augustus realized that suddenly things had gone from bad to worse. There was no mistaking it. Ken was about to embark upon a world of trouble, but he was too blinded by the beauty beside him to realize it.


Avery let out a sigh as she entered the bedroom and sat down on the bed. Everything seemed to be chaos around here, nothing could just be calm these days. A sudden ringing snapped her out of her thoughts as she reached for her purse and quickly pulled out her phone.

“Hello,” Avery answered quickly, noticing that the number belonged to Grady, “Grady? Are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” Grady answered with a small sigh before going straight to the reason he called her. “Well, I guess I called you because I thought you should know that Jade’s memorial is tonight.”

“Really? Alright, I will get things all together,” Avery stated, standing up from the bed and looking towards the clock. “Why is it happening so quickly?”

“Um, Seth and Kevin decided that they didn’t want to wait because they thought Jade would want this whole thing to be taken care of,” he informed her with a deep sigh.

“Who is Kevin?” Avery questioned with a small interest, she never remembered someone by that name.

“It’s her cousin, he came down a while ago to be here for Seth,” Grady replied, looking towards the clock, “And they decided that they would make the memorial later tonight.”

“He sounds like a good cousin,” Avery quickly got out before thinking for a moment, “I can see why they wanted everything to happen quickly, Jade would want it that way. How are you feeling about this whole memorial?”

“How do you expect me to feel?” Grady questioned with a small shake of his head. “I didn’t mean to sound bitter towards you there. I‘m just upset considering.”

“It’s okay,” Avery hushed, nodding to herself as she stared towards the window, “It was a dumb question--I should know for myself how you are feeling.”

“I guess I just can’t believe this whole thing is happening,” Grady declared, thinking for a second as he shook his head, “I never imagined this happening. It’s really hard.”

“I know it is,” Avery agreed before taking in a deep breath, “I will be there tonight okay? I promise.”

“Alright,” Grady nodded to himself, sitting up from where he was sitting, “I appreciate you coming Avery…I’m sure it would have meant a lot to Jade.”

“It’s no problem Grady,” Avery assured him, switching the phone to the other ear, “I would do anything for you. Listen, I have to get ready, but I will be there tonight.”

“Alright, I’ll see you then,” Grady said his goodbyes before hanging up with Avery. How was he truly going to get through today?


“How are you feeling?” Blake questioned, running her hand over Seth’s shoulder lightly.

“Horrible,” Seth answered truthfully, letting out an exhausted sigh. He hadn’t been able to sleep for days and every night it just seemed to be getting worse. “I don’t think I am ready for this whole thing.”

“It will be okay,” Blake promised with a small sigh, squeezing his shoulder lightly, “I will be here for you.”

“I don’t want to say goodbye to her Blake,” Seth breathed in deeply, feeling his eyes begin to burn over again. “I don’t think I can. Not like this. I don’t know if I could make it through today.”

“Everything will be fine,” Blake hushed taking a seat next to him, “Jade would want you to be okay. She wouldn’t want you to always be sad over this.”

“It’s kind of easier said than done,” Seth declared, shaking his head slowly, “I don’t think people truly understand how hard this is until you are in my situation. It’s harder than everyone thinks.”

“I believe you,” she sighed, leaning her head against his shoulder, “I know what it felt like when I lost my mother and my father. It was a horrible feeling. I would hate to have to deal with losing Kenny or Brant.”

“You never have to,” Seth pointed out with a small sigh, “They are always going to be here for you Blake. That’s what I should have been like to Jade. I should have been there for her.”

“You were always there for her Seth and she knew it,” Blake stated with a small sigh, “You should know that she always loved you and knew that you were her protector. Now, she could just be the one who takes care of you. She‘ll be your guardian angel.”

“I don’t want to her to be my guardian angel Blake,” Seth protested with a small frown, “Does anyone get what I am saying here? I don’t want her to take care of me, I don’t want her to be my guardian angle--I want her to be my little sister that I get to see every morning.”

“I know Seth, but we can’t turn back time,” Blake replied, biting down on her bottom lip, “I wish we could so we could stop everything from happening, but we can’t. Everything happens for some godly reason and I’m sure something good will come from this Seth. You know that Jade loved you, but there was nothing that you or anyone could have done to stop all of this.”

“Up until a couple of days ago--I would have agreed with you,” he insisted, shaking his head slowly, “but now that my sister is gone from my reach forever--I know that it isn’t true. What exactly did Jade do that made her deserve this Blake? Nothing. She was a good person who didn’t deserve a thing of this.”

“You’re right, she didn’t,” Blake watched as Seth rose from where he was sitting. She followed his movement and stood up while he paced the room. “You just need to calm down a little bit Seth.”

“I can’t calm down Blake,” Seth stopped his pacing to look at her with his pain filled eyes, “How can I? Today is my last day to ever even come close to being with Jade. How can I say goodbye? How can I say it like this?”

“Don’t worry,” Blake wrapped her arms around him to hug him tightly. She needed--no not needed, she wanted to be there for him throughout this whole thing. “Don’t worry, I will be here with you every step of the way and we will work on this thing together. I promise we will be able to make it through Seth. It will all get better soon.”


Angela hung up the phone finding herself increasingly worried about Kevin. It had been days since she’d last spoken with him and at the time of their conversation he’d seemed rather upset about Michelle. She’d thought she’d cheered him up, yet when she hadn’t heard anything, it left her wondering if perhaps there was more going on than he’d admitted to her. She looked at the time wondering if he was awake or if he’d gone out for his morning swim somewhere. Either way it didn’t explain his never picking up the phone. Maybe this one particular call, but not the rest.

“No luck?” Nick questioned walking back into the kitchen to see her seated at the table with the cordless phone.

She shook her head with a frown, “None and that worries me. It’s not like Kevin to just ignore my calls.”

“Maybe he’s busy and something came up with his cousin,” Nick suggested putting on a pot of coffee. “You said things were a bit intense right now for him.”

“Well yes they were…I mean they are, but still…”

“But still what…” Nick replied seeing the crease in her brow, “Ang, what is it?”

“I just can’t help but wonder if he’s hurting. There hasn’t been a day since I was seventeen where I haven’t talked to Kevin. Okay maybe there were a few of them, but this, well this just feels so completely out of character for him. He and I have had our differences, but we’ve always found a way to work through them. We’ve talked regularly and now…” she sighed emphatically.

“You’re feeling left out of the loop,” he noted raising a curious brow.

“To put it mildly yes,” she replied with another nod, “to think of him hurting, well that bothers me. He’s my best friend in the whole world and I feel like there’s this whole wall of secrets between us--like we’re drifting away from one another.”

“Is that because he’s not answering his phone or because you’re feeling guilty about not telling him about our getting married,” Nick prompted reaching for a coffee mug.

“Maybe it’s a little bit of both, but I could just tell when I talked to him that something was off. I know he was worked up over seeing his ex-wife, but there was more to it. I can’t put my finger on it, but something isn’t right with Kevin. I can feel it and it’s this nagging worry inside of me that won’t go away.”

“Well you can always try calling him tonight. Maybe he’ll be around then and…” he watched her stand up.

“I know, but still I can’t help but worry. I guess it’s just part of who I am,” she shrugged her shoulders turning around to face him, “I’m sorry to keep complaining about it.”

“Hey he’s your best friend. You have every reason in the world to be worried. I’d be worried too if I were you,” Nick replied understanding completely, “That’s what happens when people love and care about each other. It’s only natural for you to be worried.”

“I am worried,” she added with a frown, “I mean if he’d just have answered…”

“He’ll answer,” Nick tried to assure her pulling her into an embrace, “and maybe when you do finally reach him, you should tell him about us. I can see that it’s festering inside of you, so why not just get it out on the table so you two can work through it?”

“I don’t know if I can do that now considering all that’s going on in his life,” she bit down on her lip nervously.

“Angela, you can’t keep stalling,” he touched her face tilting her head up so that their eyes met, “Besides I know you. If you and Kevin aren’t okay with one another by the time you and I get married, you’re never going to be happy with this--with any of this. You’re never going to feel like you can go through with our being married until you have his approval.”

“I don’t need his approval to get married,” she frowned up at him.

“I didn’t say you needed it, but rather that you wanted it,” he corrected seeing the sadness behind her eyes, “He’s your best friend in the whole world and not having him here is hurting you. I don’t want our being together to be something that adds to it. You two need to talk about things and work this out somehow.”

“You’re right. I know you are, but I just hate the idea of what this will do to him. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t take away from what I feel for you, but…” she offered up in explanation.

“You don’t have to tell me. I understand how important a best friend can be and I’m not ever going to try to make you think that you have to choose between the two of us. I want Kevin to approve of this as much as you do,” he revealed wrapping her up in his arms, “I want him to be a part of our lives.”

“Thank you Nick,” she hugged him tighter than before.

“For what?” he replied feeling her melt into him.

“For being so understanding. I know that sometimes I can be impossible and with this thing with Kevin…” she began again.

“Hey, he’s someone special in your life and I know how important it is for you to have him around,” Nick spoke up encouragingly, “I just hate seeing you upset about the distance between the both of you and I don’t want to be the cause of it.”

“You’re really not,” she assured him quietly, “I really believe that something else is going on. I just have this gut feeling that Kevin’s not telling me something. I can’t really explain it, but when it gets down to it, I think there’s something else happening. He’s hurting about something, but he’s just not telling me…”

“In time I’m sure he will. When he’s ready to talk he’ll do it. My only suggestion is to not stop trying Angela. That’s all you can do,” he continued in an encouraging tone hoping that whatever it was that was going on between Angela and Kevin could find a way to resolve itself before things were beyond repair between them.


“Who is that?” Ria questioned, watching as Kevin looked at his cell phone that began to ring. She tensed her eyebrows as she watched him turn off his cell phone after looking at the number. “Was that Seth?”

“No,” Kevin answered, shaking his head while putting his phone back in his pocket. “It was just one of my friends from back home. I just don’t really feel like talking to anyone right now--it really isn’t the time.”

“I’m sure your friends would understand what‘s going on,” Ria assured him as he shook his head slowly. “I mean, they are your friends, right?”

“Well, yeah,” he nodded slowly before shaking his head, “But no one really knows why I am over here. I mean, I have a couple of friends there, but mostly all my friends have to deal with my work. Just, changing the subject--I would just like to deal with what is going over here. That’s all that really matters to me right now.”

“Alright,” she let off on the topic as she watched him pull his shirt off and reach for one of his dress shirts out of his bag. “I know the feelings you must be having are horrible and that’s why I am going to agree with you on this one.”

“Well, anyways,” Kevin took in a deep breath, sitting down on the bed while watching her get ready. “Did you check in on Trisha after finding the note on the door for you?”

“Yeah, I made sure that she was doing okay,” she stated, thinking for a moment. “I believe she said that mom was home and she would be fine staying there.”

“Well, that’s good,” Kevin pointed out letting out a deep sigh before falling back onto the bed, resting his arms behind his head.

“You feel that bad, huh?” she questioned joining him on the bed and resting her head on his shoulder. “What’s on your mind Kev?”

“Everything,” he retorted, just staring up at the ceiling while thinking things over in his head. “I just can’t believe that she is really gone. I never imagined that it would be her before me.”

“I know,” Ria frowned reaching down to grasp his hand in hers tightly, “Jade was like my little sister my whole life and now she is gone. It’s going to be hard without her here.”

“You know,” he thought for a moment before letting her know what was going on through his mind, “I was always here for Seth and Jade from day one until I took that job. If I would have just turned down the chance to have that job, I could have spent more time with Jade. I could have been here with her so the person who took her would have know not to mess with her.”

“Kevin, you know that it wasn’t your fault,” Ria hushed him with a small shrug of her shoulders, “You deserved to become a boxer. If you weren’t a boxer, you would have the record of being the youngest champion in that league.”

“I wasn’t talking about…” Kevin began before cutting himself off from going any further. “I know what you are saying, but I just wish things could have been different. I hate seeing the way that Seth has been acting. I am trying to be…”

“You’re trying to be strong for Seth,” Ria finished, watching his eyes look down into hers, “You want to be strong for everyone, but deep down inside you are just as bad. You are torn from what is going on, you just won’t let it out when you really should.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do Ria?” Kevin questioned, feeling his eyes become glossed over as he looked at her. “Am I supposed to give in and say something like, all of you are right. Jade is never coming back, so we should all give in and not be strong over this. I am a hypocrite when it comes down to it because I want to give in. I can’t be strong Ria when I felt like I could have done something to help her. I just don’t know what I am going to do.”

“All of us are going to work through this thing together,” Ria promised, watching as Kevin looked away from her. She touched his chin and made him look back into her eyes. “All of us are going to work together through all of this. I’ll always be a shoulder to lean on if you need me Kevin.”

“I don’t know what I would do without you Ria,” Kevin whispered, running fingertips down her arm lightly. “I think I would have been going out of my mind right now if you weren’t here.”

“I’m glad I could me here for you then,” she decided with a small smile, feeling him lean down and kiss her lips lightly. She felt him get in over her before she wrapped her arms around his neck tightly.

“I’m glad that you are here for me,” Kevin whispered with a small sigh, “I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.”


“Okay Blake,” Sarah sighed, writing down the remainder of what her and Kyle needed to know about the memorial that was going to take place later today. Kyle had left her a note earlier that he was going out for a run, but he hadn‘t returned home yet and it had been a couple of hours. “I’ll be sure to tell him when he gets back. See you soon.”

“Let me guess,” Kyle shut the door behind him as she jumped and turned around to see him walk across the bedroom to his bag in the corner of the room, “That was probably Blake telling you when the memorial for Jade was right?”

“Where have you been?” Sarah questioned, seeing Kyle shrug as he pulled his wet shirt over his head and rub the back of his neck slowly. “When I woke up you were just gone. I thought we could wake up and have breakfast together or something.”

“I went for a run when I woke up this morning. I don’t know why, but I guess I just had the urge to get some steam off by running. Maybe we can take a rain check on that breakfast soon,” he replied with a small shrug, throwing his shirt to the side, “I left you a note in the kitchen saying what I was going to be doing.”

“I know,” Sarah nodded, remembering the note she found on the kitchen counter after searching around the house for him. “But don’t you think that it’s a little too--scary for you to be doing that already?”

“Why would it be scary Sarah? Because Susan is out there somewhere?” he questioned her seeing her look away from him and towards the ground. “What? You think I am afraid that she is going to do to me what she did to Jade? She’s going to kidnap me and kill me?”

“That’s not what I meant Kyle,” she declared, looking up at the stubborn expression on his face, “What I was trying to say was that you could still be sick at this point in time. I don’t want you to get worse.”

“Sure that’s what you meant,” Kyle rolled his eyes, reaching into his bag to grab some clothes, “So, are you going to answer my original question? That was Blake on the phone with you right?”

“Yeah it was,” Sarah answered, folding her arms out in front of her chest noticing that Kyle seemed to be ignoring almost everything right now. “The memorial is later tonight.”

“Thank you,” Kyle replied, throwing his bag back down to the ground before walking straight into the bathroom without even looking at her. She stood there for a moment before hearing him calling out to her, “I’m taking a shower.”

“Kyle, would you just talk to me for a second?” Sarah frowned watching him walk out of the bathroom slowly, “Just talk to me a little, that’s all I am asking from you.”

“What do you want me to say Sarah?” Kyle wondered, leaning against the doorframe and watching her dark eyes look up into his. “What is that you want to hear me say?”

“I just want you to tell me what you are feeling right now,” she sighed with a small shrug of her shoulders, “That’s all.”

“Fine, you want to know how I feel. I’ll tell you,” Kyle began, taking a step around her to look out the window. “I’m thinking about how Jade didn’t deserve any of this. I’m thinking about Susan and what type of person she is in my mind. And I feel like psycho because every time I hear that woman’s name--I can only think of things I would like to do to her to get revenge. And some of the things aren’t very good. So, if you are wondering what I am thinking--I feel like killing Susan with my bare hands. Happy now?”

“No, not really,” she shook her head slowly, watching as Kyle turned around to face her after just staring out the window. “I was hoping you would have more of a happy thought.”

“What happy thoughts do I have to live for Sarah?” Kyle questioned, shrugging his shoulders as he thought for a second. “I’m losing just about everyone I care about. What am I supposed to be happy about? Every single time, I could have stopped each and every one of those deaths if I would have just opened my eyes.”

“I am really getting tired of this Kyle,” Sarah shook her head slowly, looking down towards the ground, “Every single time you say that, I feel like smacking you in the back of the head.”

“Excuse me?” Kyle stared at her awkwardly as she took in a deep breath before looking up at him. He had never heard her say something like that before to him.

“I’m tired of the--I have nothing to live or be happy for. Or even better--I could have stopped everything,” Sarah mocked as Kyle eyed her carefully. “Everything happens for a reason and even someone as heroic as you--can’t stop it. If you wouldn’t be so damn stubborn right now, you would realize that you have so much to be happy for at this point in time you just don’t realize it.”

“What is that Sarah?” Kyle questioned with a small frown as he stared across the room at her, seeing the way she was looking at him. “Where is Russell? Where is Jade? Where is my mother and my father? Oh, that’s right they are all…”

“You have me Kyle,” Sarah hushed him, taking a step forward and placing her finger over his lips gently, “That’s all that really matters right now--that we still have each other.”

“I know that Sarah,” Kyle sighed, feeling one of her arms wrap around his neck tightly, “And I thank god every day that I have you. I love you so much and I hope that the feeling always stays mutual between us.”

“You may be a little stubborn right about now,” Sarah smirked, teasing her fingertips in over his abdomen slowly. She felt the muscle contract and relax underneath her touch as his dark eyes met hers. “But I will always want to be with you--and I will always love you. Even if you are being a little pain in the butt. No one could ever take your spot Kyle, no one.”

“Sarah,” Kyle quickly grabbed her hand in his, feeling her fingers pulling at the drawstring of his workout pants, “Not now--you don’t want this from me.”

“I just want you all around Kyle,” she replied, feeling his fingertips caress her cheek gently as she leaned into his touch. “I love you no matter what.”

“I love you too,” Kyle repeated, leaning down to tease his lips in over hers gently. “I always will.”

“I know,” she smirked, pulling at the string of his pants before seeing them fall to his ankles in quick moment, “Which makes us inseparable.”

“Inseparable,” he nodded slowly, wrapping his arms around her waist tightly before leaning down to kiss her once more. He massaged his mouth against her full lips before whispering between their kiss. “So, that’s what you would call it?”

“Yeah, I guess that could be the word,” she chuckled as his hands ran in over her spine lightly before pulling her in against his hard body, making her gasp out at his quickness. “Oh so many things come to mind when I am with you.”

“Really?” he questioned with a smirk, kissing her again as her lips parted to his eagerly. He teased the tip of his tongue in over hers before breaking their kiss. “Why don’t you tell me what comes to mind when you are with me?”

“I think…” she began, pulling him down to her to steal another kiss from his eager mouth. She felt him begin to suckle on her bottom lip for second before she pulled away. “I would much rather show you what comes to mind when I am with you. I‘ll give you something to be happy about.”

“Hey now,” Kyle laughed after feeling her push him back on the bed before she got above him and straddled his waist, “Wow, you’re really aggressive.”

“Yeah, I am as bad as they get,” she rolled her eyes before leaning forward to steal a kiss from his lips one more time. As their kiss deepened, her hand reached down between them to tease her fingers in over his hard body. Her fingers curled around his straining masculinity as she began to tease him with firm, slow strokes. A smirk crept over her lips as she saw him bite down on his bottom lip to hold back a groan. His mouth once again claimed hers with kiss after kiss as she touched him over and over again.

“Sarah, stop,” he grabbed her hand in his, moving her hand away from his body. If she was going to continue touching him like that, he was bound to go crazy very soon. He felt her mouth run over the center of his chest before nipping at his warm skin. His hands ran over her smooth shoulders as he felt her move lower and begin to kiss his muscular abdomen. He felt her lips begin to linger lower before he grabbed her and stopped her from going any further. “No, don’t do that.”

She felt him pull her back up and over him before he leaned up to kiss her again. He brushed his tongue up against hers before grabbing her hips in his hands and rubbing up against her slowly. She felt the heat of his body radiating against hers as she let out a small sigh. She hadn’t been able to be this close to Kyle in a while and it was getting better by the minute. Her body was becoming more desperate for his by the second with him rubbing up against her like he was.

“I love you,” he whispered reaching one of his hands up, outlining her now swollen lips with his thumb slowly. “I’m sorry about everything that has happened lately.”

“Don’t worry, I‘ll always love you,” she smiled, kissing the pad of his finger lightly before feeling his hands reach to the robe that was covering her shoulders. He began to pull at the material, watching it slide down her shoulders in a swift motion. He gave her a small smile before rising slightly higher from the position he was in on the bed.

Sarah closed her eyes, feeling his warm mouth run over the soft skin of her shoulders slowly. His tongue grazed up against her skin as he felt her fingernails scratch in over his broad shoulders. Her head tilted up, feeling his mouth hover above her neck before kissing it lightly. He let a groan out after feeling her nails dig into his shoulders, breaking the skin as he nipped at her neck. Right now was a way to show her how much he loved Sarah. She was the one that gave him the most solace after everything that had been happening to him lately. She never gave up on him and she never was going to give up on him. His hands grabbed the robe that rested at the top of her arms before pulling it down slowly. She felt his lips begin to kiss over the hollow of her neck, nipping at her soft skin slowly. He removed his hands from her robe after sliding it down to the bottom of her elbows. He leaned back with a smirk to get a look at her beautiful body before him.

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered leaning up to kiss her as he reached up, kneading her breasts in his hands lightly. She bit down on his bottom lip roughly as his gentle hands caressed her body slowly.

They had made love many times before, but every time they were together it always felt like a whole new experience with him. A gasp fell from her lips as Kyle replaced one of his hands with his mouth, flicking his tongue over her heated flesh slowly. She let out a soft moan, running her hands through his hair before feeling his teeth nip at her skin once again. She scratched her nails up his muscular back, hearing him moan against her skin which sent shivers throughout her body. His hands ran up and down her back while his bottom lip traveled up her body before he began to kiss her once more. He crushed her in closer to him, bringing her in over his body more while his hands ran in over her soft hips. She rested her forehead against his as their bodies were united once again. Quickly, he grabbed the robe that was wrapped around her body and pulled it off before throwing it to the side. He kissed her like he would never stop as his hands grabbed onto her hips and guided each movement they made. He took a moment to lean back to look into her dark, passion filled eyes. She was so beautiful as her face twisted with pleasure while they made love. His hands roamed her body slowly, feeling her head rest on his shoulder as their bodies moved together at the same pace.

“I love you so much,” he whispered, running his bottom lip along her neck slowly as he felt her deep breaths against his shoulder and in his ear.

“Kyle,” she cried out his name, scratching her nails along the bottom of his back getting a deep growl out of the back of his throat. Her nails continued to tease up to his shoulders as he sped up the pace between them.

The way she breathed against his skin drove him crazier by the second. No one could ever make him feel the way that she made him feel. Nothing could ever equal up to how important she was to him in his life. Her mouth closed in over his again as her fingers traced the perfect lines of his chest and abdomen slowly. Another cry passed her lips as he pressed her in against his muscular chest tightly. His lips captured hers for what seemed like forever as they both lost themselves to pleasure within each other. His breathing was heavy as he held onto her tightly. He never wanted to let her go from his grasp, never. He laid back on the bed, bringing her with him while he held her in his arms tightly.

“Kyle,” Sarah rested her head against his chest that seemed to rise and fall as he breathed. She listened to the steady, rapid beating of his heart while his hand ran along her shoulders lightly. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Kyle replied, kissing her forehead gently before looking up towards the ceiling. “I wish I could just hold you forever and never let go.”

“You never have to let go,” she lifted her head up to kiss him once again, tasting the passion behind his kisses. “I will always be here for you.”

“I hope so,” he whispered, wrapping his arm around her waist tightly. He wouldn’t be himself if he had lost her, good thing for him that she knew the love he had for her was so strong. If she didn’t, he would have to be worried. “I don’t know how I am going to get through everything today.”

“Don’t worry,” Sarah hushed running her hand around the center of his chest lightly, “I’ll be there with you. You won’t be alone.”

“I knew I could always count on you,” Kyle smirked, flexing his bicep to get a tighter grip on her, “it’s just the thoughts in my mind that are bothering me.”

“It will all be over soon,” Sarah promised with a small frown, hating the way that he killed himself over everything bad that always happened.

“That’s what I am afraid of,” Kyle sighed, looking towards the window that had shadows passing through it. “One second you have a strong grasp on someone and then they are gone. That’s why I am going to hold onto you forever. I’ll always be here to protect you, always.”


Valerie stepped through the doors of the church thinking about the memorial ahead of her. While she knew full well that Ria had warned her to behave, she was convinced now more than ever that she would find a way to reach out to Seth. He would need her and she’d make damn sure that when the opportunity arose that she was the one at his side not Blake.

“Stop gloating,” JT frowned leaning in towards her feeling at complete unease beside her. He looked around the church feeling the somber mood as he had been half tempted not to come with Valerie on her latest caper, “That’s tacky for even you.”

“I’m just here for Seth. He needs me,” she replied emphatically batting her eyelashes at him before suppressing a small smirk, “I am his wife after all.”

“You’re just sick. You know that,” he shook his head at her disapprovingly. “I mean okay I told you to warm up to him because his sister died, but I didn’t think you’d be taking this approach.”

“Oh what are you whining about,” she rolled her eyes at him letting out a small groan in the process, “You should be thanking me for bringing you along considering that Diane is obviously going to be here. She was Jade’s best friend after all.”

“You know, the more I listen to you talk, the less I like what I’m hearing,” JT frowned at her, “If you came here simply because you wanted to ignore the fact that someone died, then I think you’re wasting both of our time here.”

“That’s rich coming from you. You’re the one who has been salivating at the opportunity to get Diane back. You’re the one who pointed out the news about Jade’s death and…” she tried to remind him impatiently.

“And I’m the one who actually gives a damn about the fact that a living, breathing, wonderful woman died here. You might want to be a self-absorbed bitch, but that’s not my style,” JT shook his head at her before walking off to go take a seat at one of the benches.

“Well,” Valerie huffed folding her arms in front of her chest as she couldn’t help but wonder about JT’s strange behavior. Well, if he wasn’t going to at least try to help himself, then it was his loss. As far as Valerie was concerned today was about getting closer to Seth and one way or another, she would do it. Before Blake realized it, she would be out the door and Valerie would be on her way back in. Big changes were coming. Valerie could feel it.


“You feeling any better?” Ben wondered, taking a step toward Diane before handing her a mug. “You should drink this, it will make you feel better.”

“Thank you,” Diane smiled accepting the drink, watching as he took a seat next to her. “I guess I am feeling a tiny bit better. I just can’t believe that this is happening.”

“I know that it’s hard sweetheart,” Ben hushed, wrapping his arm around her shoulders tightly. He remembered how last night she hadn’t gotten any sleep because of the crying that seemed to over take her time and time again. “Everything is going to be okay. I’m sure that Jade is in a better place right now.”

“I don’t think that away from us is a better place Ben,” Diane sniffed, wiping her eyes with the back of one of her hands. “I don’t think that she should have went away. She should still be here with us, not dead.”

“I’ll get that,” Ben declared, hearing the phone ring before getting up and answering it. “Hello. Oh, hey Ria.”

Diane listened in carefully as Ben talked to Ria over the phone. She watched as he wrote a few things down on paper. The thought of Jade kept passing through her mind as she looked away. What was she going to do without her best friend around?

“Thank you Ria,” Ben sighed, hanging up the phone before returning to the couch next to Diane, “That was Ria with some news on the memorial for Jade.”

“Really?” Diane questioned, looking up at Ben as he nodded slowly. “When is it going to take place.”

“Later tonight,” Ben answered with a small frown, watching her nod slowly and rest her mug on the end table before getting up from where she was sitting. “What are you doing?”

“We should be one of the first people there,” Diane determined with a small sigh, watching Ben stand up and follow her towards the bedroom. “I have--I have to be there for Jade.”

“I know,” Ben hushed after noticing the tears that began to run down her cheeks. He reached out to hug her in his arms, feeling her head rest against his chest. As he felt her tears begin to soak through his shirt, he truly knew what she was going through. It had to be a horrible feeling losing your best friend. “Everything is going to be okay Diane. We’ll be there early for her. I promise.”

“I know Ben,” Diane sniffed, pushing her hair back behind her ear, “I just feel so bad because I lost the only real friend that I have ever had in my life. She was the only person who truly knew the real me.”

“I know that she is watching over you right now Diane,” Ben declared, running his hand through her soft hair lightly. “She’ll always be here for you.”


“Please tell me that you’ve found something--anything,” Brant pleaded with the man on the other end of the line, “I need to put an end to this madness that my idiot brother has gotten himself wrapped in.”

“And you’re sure this is the only way to do it,” Brant’s private investigator questioned uneasily, “I mean I see what you’re trying to say, but it sounds a bit extreme to me boss if you catch my drift.”

“Unfortunately for Ken, he needs extreme right about now or else he’s not going to see that what he’s doing is going to be worse than the way he was before. I need you to put a rush on this because it can’t wait,” Brant reminded him harshly, “The sooner you get me what I need, the better.”

“I’ll see what I can do boss, but it will take time and resources,” the man stalled a bit causing Brant to let out a groan.

“I’ve already offered you more than adequate payment and resources,” Brant added bluntly, “Now I expect that you’ll have results within the next few days or else…”

“I’ll do what I can Mr. Ashford,” the man promised before Brant hung up the phone. He inhaled slowly thinking about the way his brother was falling down the wrong path all over again. He’d truly hoped that after Ken had nearly lost his life, that he’d try to pull the pieces together again, but instead Brant knew that Ken had opted to be played for a fool. Maybe it was his way of punishing himself for the way he’d been before, but Brant couldn’t just stand back and let it happen.

“I take it you’re still working on helping Ken,” Avery’s voice rose over his contemplations. Brant turned around to see her standing at the doorway eyeing him intently.

He took a step forward. “How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to see that you’re just a tad bit frustrated and concerned,” she replied matching his movement. “I take it things weren’t going as smoothly as you would’ve liked.”

“I just don’t want to get my hopes up about this considering I think it’s Ken’s last chance,” Brant sighed reaching out to pull her into his arms, “I just wish that someone would throw me a bone here.”

“Maybe if you offered up the details, I might be able to help you with them a bit,” she suggested helpfully, “I mean that’s what I’m here for, right?”

“Not this time,” he watched the disapproval behind her eyes, “I mean it’s not that I don’t want to let you in on the details, but I don’t want to get worked up for this and then watch it fail.”

“Brant, I’m sure whatever it is you have planned for Ken will help. He seemed like he genuinely wanted to change when I saw him in the hospital,” Avery sighed thinking about Ken’s downward spiral, “He wanted to reach out to someone…”

“Yeah and unfortunately he latched on to one of the most venomous, treacherous women. I’d hoped he learned with Susan, but the man is a moron. I think what Susan did to him caused him to lose all common sense and rationality.”

“Now Brant. You know that Ken always had a kind heart…” Avery started remembering the man she’d known long ago.

“Yeah, well it’s not his kind heart I’m worried about. It’s what he’ll do with his life savings if she has her way with him. I can feel that this is just a setup,” Brant frowned shaking his head, “I just want to help him help himself before it’s too late.”

“I know you do and I want that too,” she hesitated before speaking up again, “although I really have to admit I came in here before to talk to you about something else other than Ken.”

“What’s on your mind Avery?” he searched her eyes.

“Grady,” she replied before quickly adding, “I talked to him earlier and he told me that they’re having Jade’s memorial later. He gave me the details and I really think that you and I should go there together. He’s really upset and…”

“Say no more,” Brant pressed his index finger to her lips to quiet her words, “We’ll be there at the memorial. It’s the least that we can do considering…”

“Thank you,” she pressed a kiss over the pad of his finger.

“It’s where we belong,” he paused lost in his own contemplations, “although I don’t like the idea of what this is doing to you Avery. I see how upset you are and that worries me. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t be upset considering that this was a horrible thing to have happen, but I can see the weight of it taking it’s toll on you. I just don’t want this to be too much for you…”

“I just feel like it’s like losing Russ all over again. In seeing Grady go through this,” Avery confessed as he removed his finger from her lips, “It just really hits home to me, but I’m trying not to make this all about me. This is about Grady and Jade and what has happened with them.”

“Hey, it’s okay if you’re thinking about Russ,” Brant wrapped his arms around her, “I mean it’s only natural that something like this would bring all of that back to you.”

“Even so,” she sighed leaning into him, “right now I just want to be strong for Grady. I need to be there for him and hope that he can pull through this.”

“You did,” Brant curled his finger underneath her chin to urge her to meet his gaze, “that in itself speaks volumes about the woman that you are.”

“All it says is that I was able to find a reason,” Avery confessed unable to fight the tears that threatened, “if I hadn’t been pregnant when Russ died, then I don’t know what I would’ve done. I don’t know how I could’ve held on, but with our daughter…”

“Hey, I know you. You would’ve kept fighting,” Brant tried to encourage her.

“Even so, now that Grady’s lost Jade and their child, I don’t know where this is going to take him. I don’t know what’s going to happen to him and that frightens me. Even after today if he can make it through the memorial, I don’t know if he’ll have the strength to keep pushing on. I’d like to think so, but when I saw how destroyed he was when they found her…” Avery shook her head feeling Brant wrap her up in his arms, “I just don’t know what will come of him.”

“He’ll keep pushing on. I’m sure of it. It won’t be easy, but sooner or later he’ll find his reason,” Brant replied thinking about his own brother and what had happened once Ken had lost it all. Surely Grady wouldn’t fall to the same fate, or would he?


“Well,” Ben began helping Diane out of the car before looking up at the building before him, “We’re here. I would guess that we are probably the first ones here too.”

“Good,” Diane sighed, following Ben towards the doors to the building before walking in. Her eyes wandered off to where she saw Seth, Kevin, Grady, Ria and Blake all together. “Seth, Kevin.”

“Diane,” Kevin smiled, turning around and seeing Diane again after so many years. He felt her arms wrap around his neck tightly as she hugged him.

“It’s so good to see you,” Diane pointed out before hugging Grady and then going to hug Seth, “I’m so sorry Seth. I am going to miss Jade so much. She was like my sister and…”

“I know,” Seth frowned, reaching out to hug Diane in his arms tightly. “Jade would be happy to know that you were here for her.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Diane replied, stepping back away from Seth as he let go of her.

“Hey, Ria,” Ben whispered, catching her attention as he moved his head motioning her to follow him.

“What is it?” Ria questioned, walking up to him as he looked towards the ground. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, I just wanted to apologize to you for being such a jerk that one day,” he apologized with a small frown, “I was out of line and I shouldn’t…”

“It’s alright Ben,” Ria assured him with a small sigh, shaking her head slowly before taking a quick glance over her shoulder to look at Kevin who let out a small smile. “I have already forgotten all about it. Anyways, it wound up working out for me in the long run.”

“Well, that’s good,” Ben nodded slowly before thinking it over for a second, “At least I think that’s a good thing.”

“It was,” she assured him with a small smile before hearing her phone begin to ring. She grabbed the phone from her pocket and noticing it was the number to the man that Kevin would call her ex. “I should probably just turn this thing off anyways.”

“Good idea,” Ben agreed as she turned off her phone and they walked back to the group that was now talking about Jade in the past. Tonight was truly going to be hard for everyone.


“So what do you think?” Michelle questioned leading Ken through the park as the picnic was in full effect. They walked over towards the water after having conversed with a few more members at the meeting. “You still feel like this is the place for you?”

“Actually,” Ken couldn’t help but smile in response, “I do. I really feel like this is the place where I’m going to start over again.”

“I’m so glad you feel that way Ken,” Michelle smiled up at him rubbing her fingers over his arm gently, “I know when I was going through my divorce I really felt like my world was coming to an end. My husband was an abusive jerk that thought that the best way to solve his problems was to hit me. Each and every time he beat me I thought that I deserved it--that I’d somehow brought it on myself by not being good enough for him and after a while I kind of grew numb inside. Even after the divorce I kept saying it was all my fault. I kept on thinking if I was a better wife--if I would’ve just kept him happy and did what he wanted that he would’ve treated me better. I thought that if I could’ve found a way to satisfy him that he would’ve just loved me. I blamed myself for the way it all ended and it wasn’t until New Beginnings that I realized that it wasn’t my fault.”

“Your ex-husband did all of that to you,” Ken’s eyes widened as he thought back to the time when Jimmy had put Caitlin in the hospital. Gazing into Michelle’s dark eyes, he could see the fear reflected behind her eyes and he instinctively reached out to touch her cheek gently, “No woman should ever have to face that.”

“No they shouldn’t,” she leaned into his touch before letting out an ironic laugh, “but then again I figured it was my price to pay at the time for marrying a boxer. He was a real brute and he didn’t even come close to having a heart. He worked for this mafia boss and he thought it was fitting to treat me like a piece of property. He told me what I could and couldn’t do while he went out and screwed the boss’s daughter. He cheated on me right and left and then when he came home at night, he took out all of his frustrations on me. He kept telling me if I’d only been better to him--if I’d only lay up that he wouldn’t hurt me…”

She trailed off with heavy emphasis, tears glistening behind her dark eyes, “I really believed that was the case, but then I met Candice. She helped me pull my life back together and she showed me that I wasn’t weak or horrible. She taught me how to put my feet on the ground again and stand on my own. She showed me that there were options out there and that if you had faith, well anything was possible. She really gave me reason to keep pushing on.”

“I’m sorry that you had to go through that Michelle,” Ken spoke up sympathetically, “I had no idea.”

“Not many people do,” she let out a soft sniffle, “Even after I left him, well I struggled to make ends meet. I started working at that bar doing degrading things to myself and I guess I sort of resorted to that right around the time we met. I lost my faith and turned my back on this place--on this family we have here, but after I almost lost you, I realized that I couldn’t let my past destroy me. I couldn’t let my ex-husband get the power over me again. I couldn’t let the memory of his fists or his insults come back to haunt me.”

“I know how hard it must’ve been to get away from him,” Ken continued his eyes full of compassion, “The woman I loved endured something similar to what you’ve told me. She was in a very abusive relationship for years and it drove her to move from place to place. She and I had only a few brief months of happiness before the bombing, but even then on the day of the bombing her ex had found her. He had a gun and if the airport hadn’t blown up, well I don’t know what would’ve happened…”

Silence followed as he too had tears behind his eyes. Finally he mustered up the strength to speak. “I guess we’ll never really know on that, will we?”

“I’m sure wherever she is, she’s proud of you for making this step Ken,” Michelle squeezed his hand supportively, “Even now when I think of the donation you made to the center--what you did, well it’s only the beginning. When the center is built we’ll be able to offer a safe haven to women like myself and the one you loved. We’ll be able to teach them that they can escape the abuse and that they will find freedom in their faith.”

Ken nodded, his eyes moving from where they stood to the container of donations on the stage a few feet in front of them. “I just wish that there was more we could do to make all of that a reality. I hate to think of another woman experiencing that.”

“So do I, but that’s part of what this picnic is about. We’re hoping to raise the funds for the building and,” she saw that he was focused on the donation bucket, “I spoke with someone in real estate. I have an agent I was talking to who has found something that wouldn’t be overly expensive, yet it would offer what we’re looking for in terms of location…”

“How’s that going?” Ken glanced over at her again.

“Not as good as I’d initially hoped for considering that it’s a bit more expensive that I’d anticipated, but Candice has faith that there is still a chance for that vision to become a reality after today,” she smiled up at him, “This picnic is a start.”

Ken looked around realizing that while there were at least a good forty people at the picnic, there was still so much needed. He eyes the donation bucket once more before reaching into his pocket and pulling out his wallet. He opened it up, pulling out all that was inside. Saying nothing he walked over to slip everything he had into the bucket before him. He turned to look at Michelle seeing surprise register behind her eyes.

“Ken, I can’t believe that you just did that…” she gasped approvingly, “You already did so much and…”

“And I want to see this get off of the ground. I know a few people who can get you a good deal on a place for the center. I know a few locations and if you’d like I can try to pull a few strings,” he suggested with an afterthought.

“I appreciate that but I’m not sure we’ll be able to raise everything by the deadlines we have,” she shifted on her feet.

“Whatever they raise here today, I’ll match it,” Ken promised with a small smile, “Hell I’ll double it. See what everyone can do here today and maybe we can work out an arrangement where I can help on putting the pieces together. I can add some of the legal aspects to it and maybe even invest myself.”

“Are you serious?” her eyes widened.

“Yeah I am. I mean given how important this project is, I think this might be something that’s worthwhile. It’s something that I know Caitlin would be proud of,” Ken nodded in response before offering up a sympathetic smile, “and furthermore if this place can do what you believe it can, then I want it to be something special. I want it to help those who are frightened and feeling hopeless. I want to make a difference for those out there who need the help--for Caitlin since I wasn’t able to give her what she needed soon enough.”

“Oh Ken, I know she’d be so proud of you. I’m so proud of you,” Michelle replied wrapping her arms around his shoulders and offering a small squeeze knowing that Ken was about to make so many dreams come true--starting with hers.


Deidra felt a tiny shiver race over her as Dean opened the door to the cabin for her to walk inside. She quickly rushed past him, her damp hair clinging to the back of her shoulders as laughter surrounded them. She spun around to see him chasing her from behind. With a goofy grin, he kicked the door shut with his bare foot before reaching out to her eagerly.

“Going somewhere,” Dean questioned nibbling on her neck as Deidra let out a small squeal.

“Dean stop!” Deidra laughed wildly thinking about all the fun they’d had in the showers. They’d spent far more time in there than she’d intended and her fingers were proof of it. She looked to the small wrinkles on her skin as another laugh overtook her, “Stop.”

“Stop what,” he nibbled further on her neck causing her to squirm after he’d reveled in the victory associated with finding her ticklish spot.

“That’s no fair,” she spun around in his arms, turning away from him.

“I never said I play fair,” he mouthed still keeping his arms around her waist, pressing her up against his strong chest, “When did that factor into the plan?”

“When you rescued me in that parking lot,” she tilted her head back to meet his dazzling brown eyes, “You were supposed to be gallant and charming, not scheming and evil.”

“Hey, I’m not evil,” he wiggled his brow at her before claiming her lips in a quick, frenzied kiss, “I just like to play a little naughty every now and then…”

“Oh I’ll say,” she giggled once more, “You’re so lucky that we don’t have anyone else out here to hear you when you get going.”

“To hear me,” he repeated arching a curious brow, “Deidra, I really don’t think I was being the loud one. You were the one screaming when…”

She covered his hand quickly, “Don’t you dare say it. Don’t you dare even think it!”

“Think what?” he grinned widely, “That you can’t get enough of me? That you want me and when you finally have me, you have no problem letting me know just how much you enjoy having me around?”

“Oh please Mr. Ego,” she rolled her eyes shaking her head at him, “You only wish I enjoyed you that much.”

“No I know you enjoyed me that much,” Dean leaned forward showing off the light scratches she’d imprinted over his shoulder and his back. “I have all the proof I need right here.”

“Hmm, well truth be told I wasn’t thinking about you,” she tossed her wet hair back over her shoulders emphatically feeling the slick dampness tease over the curve of her spine, “I was actually fantasizing about someone else.”

“Someone else you say, huh?” he eyed her skeptically.

“That’s right. Someone tall, dark and handsome who just so happened not to be you,” she lied taking a small step backwards.

“And just who might that someone be?” he arched a curious brow.

“If I told you, it would kill the fantasy,” she giggled in response, “but you can rest assured that he completely improved your performance.”

“I’ll give you improve,” he reached out to her, tickling at her sides. She laughed wildly wrapping her arms around him eagerly. Their eyes met and he let out a small laugh of his own, “You’re such a liar.”

“Maybe. Maybe not,” she wiggled her brow at him, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“I already know,” he confessed stealing another sensual kiss from her lips, “I knew it from the first moment I first laid eyes upon you.”

“Yeah, well I just want you to know that I’m not easy to get. If you think that I’m some kind of…” she began breaking away from the kiss.

“Sexual goddess,” he finished with a small smirk, “Yeah I figured that out a while ago, but I have to be honest with you and tell you that I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve as well.”

“Is that right,” Deidra eyed him intently.

“Oh yeah,” he nodded in response, “and if you give me five minutes to get it all together, then I can promise you an experience you’ll never forget.”

“Something tells me we’re going to need more than five minutes with the way your ego is swelling Dean,” she teased playfully scratching her nails over his chest.

“My ego’s not the only thing swelling here,” he assured her scooping her up into his arms. He carried her down the hallway to the bedroom, maneuvering his way around the cabin knowing full well that he was going to give Deidra a trip she’d never forget for as long as she lived. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a framed photo on the wall, knowing that it wasn’t supposed to be there. Still he was thankful that she hadn’t noticed before he pulled her into the bedroom. He carefully set her down on the bed leaving her with one lingering kiss before stepping away.

“Hey, where are you going,” she curled her lip in a pout watching him move backwards towards the door.

“I’ll be right back,” he promised rushing out into the hallway and pulling the photo off of the wall. He heard her shuffling around the room, but before she could investigate what he was doing he popped his head back in the bedroom. “Just give me a second. I left the condoms in the other room.”

“Okay,” she nodded leaning back on top of the comforter looking to the ceiling overhead. Much to her surprise and dismay she could see herself reflected overhead. Her smiled faded a bit before she waved her hand around seeing her own naked form moving over her. She sat upright hearing Dean outside the room. Seconds later he returned and she pointed her finger to the ceiling.

“What’s this?” she asked with a small sideways glance honestly not expecting such a thing out of him. She watched him closely knowing that while they’d crossed a few sexual boundaries with one another today, this one was completely out of the water. She sat up straighter clearing her throat again, “Please don’t tell me you brought me in here because of, well…that…”

“What?” he motioned to the ceiling, “Does that worry you?”

“Slightly,” she confessed shrugging her shoulders, “Let’s just say I’ve never found myself in this kind of position before.”

“And now that you have,” he slid in on top of the bed beside her, his dark eyes looking up to follow her gaze before he turned to her again, “how does it make you feel?”

“A little self-conscious,” she confessed with a small sigh feeling him lean in to press a feathery light kiss over her shoulder.

“What else?” he mouthed in a warm whisper nudging her back onto the comforter.

She fell back into the pillows her eyes fixed on the ceiling above. There for her hungry eyes was the perfect reflection of the all male lines of Dean’s body. He was sexy as hell and as he moved in over her, she felt a new sensation teasing over her every synapse. She licked her lips in anticipation as her arms curled around his torso.

“Well?” he questioned kissing her shoulder teasingly.

“Intrigued,” she confessed with a small breath.

“What else,” he probed further, his hands traveling up and over her rib cage warming her body at the touch.

“Excited,” she murmured sliding her hands up and down over his spine catching the movement in the mirrors above, “sensual…”

“What else,” his lips moved in over hers dipping down to taste the sweet surrender behind her soft moans of anticipation.

“Ready to delve into an experience unlike anything I’ve ever known,” she revealed curling her fingers through his thick, dark hair ready to explore the fire that began to build between them. Dean was opening her up to new worlds--to new experiences and while she’d never thought of herself having much of a voyeuristic side, she couldn’t help but take in the guilty pleasures of making love in such an eye-opening fashion.


“I guess this is it,” Kevin sighed, taking a step next to Grady who was now standing by the doors to greet people. “I can’t believe this is actually happening.”

“You and me both,” Grady agreed, looking out towards the walk way where Gabe, Guy, and Mindy were approaching. They said their hellos before going back to talking to each other. “It’s like it’s a movie. Something that you just wish would end up having the happy ending.”

“I wish everything in life was like that,” Kevin sighed, taking a look across the walkway to see JT and Valerie approach them. “What are they doing here?”

“Hello Kevin,” Valerie smiled walking in around him before taking a look back at Grady, “You too Grady.”

“Just forget about it man,” Grady urged Kevin, noticing the tension behind his features, “We’ll fix everything later, it will be okay.”

“Grady,” Kyle’s voice called out to Grady making him turn around, “Hey.”

“Kyle,” Grady smiled, reaching out to hug his best friend and noticing that Sarah was right behind him. “Thank you for coming her Kyle, it means a lot.”

“She was my friend too Grady,” Kyle pointed out with a small sigh, taking a step back away from Grady, “It’s the least I could do for her. She was a great girl.”

“That she was,” Grady agreed before reaching out to hug Sarah, “It was great that you could come too Sarah. I appreciate this.”

“I thought Jade was a great person,” Sarah sighed, leaning away from his hug before going to Kevin and hugging him lightly. “It’s sad that it turned out this way because she didn’t deserve this.”

“No, she didn’t,” Kevin agreed, letting go of Sarah before turning towards Kyle and reaching his hand out to shake Kyle’s hand. “We should probably get in there soon.”

“Good idea,” Grady agreed with a small sigh leading the small group towards the main room. They joined the rest of the people in the front row, including Grady’s parents who had arrived earlier. Everyone settled in before looking towards the front where the priest approached.

“Shall we begin?” the priest questioned looking out to the people with a nod.


...to be continued...