Episode 240

“Hey, how are you feeling?” Ria questioned walking up to where Kevin was standing. He just seemed to be standing in corner after the end of the memorial, staring out. “You alright?”

“I’m fine,” Kevin assured her with a small frown, looking up into her worried filled eyes, “Trust me--I’m fine.”

“If you say so,” Ria sighed as Kevin leaned back into the wall. He obviously had a lot on his mind, she could just tell by the look on his face. “What’s bothering you besides the memorial? I know something must be bothering you.”

“Well,” Kevin thought for a moment before shaking his head, “I guess I just feel guilty that I didn’t tell my best friend where I was or what happened. She has been nothing but good to me, and I don’t tell her about this.”

“So, that’s what’s bugging you,” Ria grabbed his hand in hers, running her thumb over the top his hand, “Why didn’t you tell her about this? I’m sure she would be there for you.”

“That’s the point,” Kevin shook his head slowly, thinking back to how close him and Angie are, “I know that she would be here for me. I guess the only reason that I didn’t tell her was that she already had so much on her hands and I didn’t want her to get stuck with another thing.”

“Stuck? Kevin, you think that she would feel stuck with this?” Ria questioned, as his eyes met hers. “If this best friend of yours feels stuck when she should be there for you--then she is no friend at all. I know she probably isn’t like that, so why don’t you just call her and tell her.”

“Well,” Kevin began, taking his cell phone from his pocket and turning it on. He had already gotten eight messages from Angie just today. “I don’t know why, but I guess I just don’t feel comfortable calling her.”

“By the looks of it,” Ria looked down at his phone noticing how many messages he had, “she seems to be worried about you. Why don’t you just call her and let her know that you're alright. Tell her what is going on--I’m sure she will understand.”

“No, not right now,” Kevin declared, shaking his head. He would call her later and let her know everything, but he wasn’t ready to do it right now. “I just can’t do it right now.”

“Alright, if that’s what you want to do,” Ria shrugged with a small frown before shrugging her shoulders, “It might feel a little bit better if you let her in on something. You may not feel as guilty. I’ll be right back.”

“Alright,” Kevin nodded slowly, looking down towards the ground. Ria was right, he should have called Angie already and he should call her now, but he couldn’t do it. Something inside of him just didn’t want her to worry. She already had her own problems to deal with. His eyes raised up from the ground, looking out by the door seeing a woman walk in. “Angie?”

He shook his head pinching the bridge of his nose before looking back up to see if he was just dreaming, but the woman he thought was Angie was already gone. He must have been dreaming, or something.


“I just can‘t believe this is happening,” Diane began as her and Seth took a seat on one of the benches, “I never imagined this happening now. Actually, I never imagined this happening.”

“That makes two of us,” Seth pointed out with a small sigh, leaning back into the sturdy bench, “I just don’t think I wanted to imagine my baby sister being dead. I guess on my mind was the thought of her being home and coming back safe. Obviously my wishes aren’t going to come true.”

“You never know,” Diane thought for a second before shaking her head, “I can promise you one thing--Susan will not get away with what she has done to Jade. She can’t hide for much longer and once the police find her--she is going to burn.”

“I really don’t care if Susan burns,” he declared with a small frown, shaking his head slowly, “Whatever happens to Susan isn’t going to bring Jade back. So what makes it better knowing that Susan is going to jail?”

“The fact that she will never be able to hurt someone else again,” she offered with a small frown, “It may at least feel better knowing the person who hurt your sister is going to rot in jail for what she did. She will never be able to be free like this again.”

“I guess,” he shrugged, taking in a deep breath after feeling her squeeze his shoulder lightly, “I just rather not think about Susan at this moment. This moment is supposed to be dedicated to Jade, not the person who ruined her life.”

“Jade would be very happy to know that you were here for her Seth,” Diane assured him with a small smile, “I know that she loved you and I know that she would be encouraging you to be strong. To live a happy life.”

“I guess we both know her a little to well,” he decided with a small chuckle. There was always going to be a quarry in his whole mind about being happy though. “I just don’t think I will be able to take this off my mind. I don’t know how I am going to live without her. It is going to be so different.”

“You aren’t going to be without her Seth,” Diane pointed out, grabbing Seth’s hand in hers to place it right above his heart. “She will always live on throughout you--that is if you let it happen. You just have to live off the happy memories you had with Jade. Don’t let her get away from your heart, because that’s the true time that you will forget her.”

“Thanks Diane,” Seth sighed as he leaned forward and hugged her lightly in his arms, “I appreciate you being here for me and for Jade.”

“I wouldn’t miss this Seth,” Diane replied, patting him on the back lightly, “I just had to be here for my best friend. The both of you were like brother and sister to me, so now I am going to warn you. I am going to be on your butt all the time. Jade would want me to promise to take care of you, so I am going to live up to that promise mister.”

“Oh great,” Seth let out a small laugh before wiping at his stinging eyes, “I just hope that Jade is in a better place where she finally gets to have somewhat of peace in her life. Wherever that might be.”

“I’m sure she is Seth,” Diane whispered, rubbing his shoulder lightly. “In fact, I know she is.”


“Thank you both for being here today,” Blake started approaching her brother and Avery, “It means a lot to Seth that you are here to honor his sister’s memory. This is hard on everyone and…”

“This is where we belong,” Avery added with a sympathetic expression, “Jade was a friend of mine and I’m going to miss her. She was a wonderful woman.”

“She really was,” Blake nodded in agreement turning to her brother, who now had his eyes on his pager. “Brant?”

“I’m sorry,” Brant apologized looking up. He eyed the room for a moment before turning to his sister, “I hate to do this, but I have to take this call. It’s urgent and if I don’t answer…”

“Of course,” Blake nodded as he leaned in to kiss her cheek gently.

“I’ll be right back,” he promised walking away from her and leaving her and Avery alone with one another.

Silence followed his exit as the two women stood beside one another at a loss. Avery searched the room for Grady as Blake cleared her throat again to recapture Avery’s attention.

“Look, um, I know you and I haven’t exactly gotten off on the right foot with one another here, but I think I owe you an apology,” Blake cleared her throat uneasily. She saw the way Avery’s eyes widened at that admission and she explained further, “I wasn’t exactly thrilled to discover that you and Brant were married. I mean I really didn’t think that you were any good for him, but now, well I’m glad we’re able to put those personal differences aside and think about what matters. I know how hard you worked to find Jade when she was missing…”

“I just wish that I could’ve been able to help bring her home before this happened,” Avery sighed heavily straining to fight the right words, “and I don’t blame you for your reservations about my marrying Brant. I know that I haven’t exactly been the model wife, but…”

“You make him happy,” Blake cut her off abruptly, “and that’s what really matters. Despite the fact that Brant always acts like he’s tough and in control, he’s really like a teddy bear. He’s all big and bad on the outside you see, but inside he’s just a whole mess of emotions and concerns. He’s an incredible man and I just want him to be happy.”

“So do I Blake,” Avery added with a thoughtful expression, “Your brother has been very good to me and the last thing I want is to make him feel like he made a mistake. He’s a wonderful husband…”

“And a great brother,” Blake attached to Avery’s statement, “I’d do anything for him and vice versa. He’s been good to me and I know how hard he’s fought to find happiness in his life. He’s been burned by love before and…”

“And this time it won’t be the same,” Avery tried to assure Blake knowing full well that she was far from earning Blake’s trust.

“Yeah, well Heather made a lot of promises too, but they didn’t mean a thing when she hopped into bed with that Hollywood bigwig. I mean sure Brant will say that it didn’t matter--that it was irrelevant and nothing of consequence in the long run, but when Heather did that he was upset. It hurt him a lot.”

“I know it did,” Avery nodded remembering the big explosions that followed Brant and Heather’s over publicized breakup.

“I would just hate to see him somehow stumble down that road again. Given all he’s been through this past year with love and business and even helping Ken and I, he deserves a break,” Blake prompted further, her eyes searching the room in an involuntary attempt to locate Seth.

“At this point I think we all do,” Avery replied knowing that it had been a hard year. Being at Jade’s memorial was proof of that, but hopefully everyone would find a way to endure even after all of the horrible blows that fate had put upon them.


“How are you holding up Grady,” Gabe asked looking to the man before him. While he knew he really shouldn’t have had to ask the question, Gabe knew full well that Grady looked like he needed to talk. It had been obvious earlier during his arrival at the church when the priest had been speaking to the group. There was so much left to say and to feel about the woman who had been ripped from this world in such a cruel fashion.

“I’d be lying if I said I was okay,” Grady confessed to Jade’s friend, “I just can’t believe this is real. I mean one minute she and I were planning on the rest of our lives together and now… It just doesn’t seem like this is really happening.”

“I know what you mean. I can still remember spending time with her--the long talks that we had with one another when you were in jail. She would go on for hours about how much she loved you and she just had this sparkle in her eyes. I knew how important you were to her and I have to admit I was almost envious of that kind of love,” Gabe revealed remembering his friend fondly, “Jade was an incredible woman and my daughter thought the world of her.”

“Jade thought the world of Brittany as well,” Grady smiled back at him, “She loved children and I know that she really had fun when she was around Brittany. Even though we’d never really talked about it, I knew that Jade was looking forward to being a mother--to our settling down and having a family…”

Silence followed as Gabe thought back to the night that he was with Jade when she’d discovered she was pregnant. She’d been so excited and full of hope.

“I know you and Grady obviously weren’t planning this, but if you are pregnant,” Gabe started reaching for a couple of mugs for them.

“Then it opens up a whole new world of complications,” Jade sighed bringing her hand in over her abdomen, “Not that I don’t want this, because in a strange way I do, but…”

“But you’re scared,” Gabe motioned for her to sit at the table, “You’re afraid of what comes next, huh?”

“Well yes, that and then there’s…” she paused clearing her throat uneasily, “Gabe, there are so many other things going on here. Things that I’ve never told anyone before--not even Grady…”

“Jade, if you want to talk, then you know I’m here for you,” he returned to the kitchen table to take a seat across from her, “but if you’d rather not…”

“No, I think I want to,” she insisted reaching out for her steaming mug, “In my own way I think I need to.”

“Okay,” he reached out to squeeze her hand supportively, “talk to me sweetheart.”

“It’s just…” she paused contemplating her words as a lump of emotion built in the back of her throat, “It’s just so complicated you know. I mean sure I guess I kind of always knew that this would come up, but…”

“But you weren’t expecting to find motherhood threatening to come at a time like this,” Gabe offered watching her features darken a bit.

“It seems to come at times when I’m just not prepared for it,” Jade paused choked up on emotion. Her eyes misted over as she began to divulge a secret that only Seth had known the truth about, “I told you that when I was fourteen I was raped…”

“I know,” he nodded before squeezing her hand supportively, “and that was a horrible, horrible ordeal for you to have gone through. I wish like hell you didn’t have to face something like that…”

“Yeah, well I did and just when I thought the nightmare was over, well a short time later I discovered that I was pregnant,” Jade confessed painfully, “At the time I was in a strong state of denial. I had a nervous breakdown after what those monsters did to me. Sure, Seth did all he could to try to make the whole situation easier on me, but then when I found out about the baby, it was like I was living through the rape all over again…”

“Oh Jade,” Gabe’s eyes glistened with emotion, “I had no idea…”

“No one did,” she admitted with a painful expression, “Seth and I were the only ones who really knew about the baby. At the time I’d been taken to the hospital things were different than they are now. It was a different place and time and when I ended up being pregnant, well I had one of two choices. I could either keep my baby or I could terminate the pregnancy. Either way it was something that I knew would change my life forever. Even now when I think about it…”

“Oh Jade,” Gabe got up from where he’d been seated to move over to the table and embrace her. She broke off into tears of anguish as he held her, “I’m so sorry.”

“I just never thought that something like that would happen to me. That I would end up having to go through something like that and then to be pregnant…I mean my God I was only fourteen,” she continued shuddering at the memory, “I remember hating them all--hating the world--hating my father for what he’d done to me and hating what those men had turned me into. My life wasn’t mine any longer and I resented that baby. I hated what was growing inside of me and then when I had to make a choice…”

“Jade, I’m sure that you did what was right for you,” Gabe tried to soothe her tears knowing full well that pain like what she’d endured would never completely fade away.

“I made an appointment for an abortion,” Jade explained, her voice hollow and empty, “I knew it was the only choice I had in the matter. Seth and I argued about it, but it was what I had to do. I couldn’t be a mother then. I couldn’t have that baby.”

“Of course,” he nodded, “you were only a child yourself.”

“It was unfair and it never, ever should’ve happened to me,” Jade’s voice grew empty as she thought back, “but then when I went in for my appointment, they did an ultrasound and I saw the baby. I saw the life growing inside of me. Gabe, despite how much I hated being pregnant, I saw my child and that changed things for me. I knew then that I couldn’t go through with the abortion. I couldn’t kill my baby when what happened wasn’t the baby’s fault.”

“So you’re saying that you…” Gabe’s eyes widened with obvious surprise.

She nodded, “I wanted to keep my baby. Even though I’d been so bitter about it at first, I decided to stay pregnant. Seth promised he’d help me with what was going on and we left town. We went to stay with an aunt of mine while Seth worked to help me prepare for the baby. God, he gave up so much in order to help me through this situation. I mean he had a scholarship in the making to go to one of the Big Ten colleges for football, but he threw it away to help me and my child even knowing where my baby had come from. He’s an amazing man and I’m lucky to have a brother like him…but even with all Seth’s help…it wasn’t enough. I tried so hard, but it just wasn’t good enough…”

Her voice tapered off as Gabe noticed the strange expression that crossed over her features. It was as if she was reliving her own private hell all over again.

“I carried the baby almost completely to term, but then there were complications and…” tears streamed down her face, “It was in part to my being so young and then after the ordeal and the breakdown… I tried so hard but…”

“Oh Jade,” Gabe felt her hugging him tighter than ever.

“My son died because I wasn’t able to get out of what they did to me. I hated him in the beginning--hated him so very much that it ended up killing him when I finally realized how wrong I was…” Jade sobbed into his chest, “I lost my baby because I wasn’t strong enough.”

“No, Jade, that’s not what happened,” Gabe shook his head as he tilted her head up towards him. He wiped at her tears, “It just wasn’t the right time. Your son knew that as much as you loved him his place wasn’t in this world. He’s with the angels, you know?”

“I know,” she nodded biting back on her tears, “but after that, I just never thought--I mean I never believed that I would be facing this again. I mean sure okay maybe I thought about what it would be like to be a mother and have a family, but for so long I blocked out what happened. I went on living like my son never existed. I went on pretending that I could ignore what happened, but then when I started to suspect that I could be pregnant…”

“It call came rushing back to you,” he noted watching her face twist with emotion.

“It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?” Jade sniffled, “I mean here I am at one of the worst possible times in my life wondering if I could be pregnant and my boyfriend is in jail with the possibility of never getting out.”

“That’s not going to happen,” he tried to assure her, “Grady will beat this.”

“I’m just not so sure. Gabe, when I was pregnant the last time things were so wrong. My child was created out of hatred and rage, but with this baby--if I am pregnant, then that means that the love Grady and I have with one another is responsible for this,” a small smile spread over her features, “It’ll be a life created out of love and what we have…”

“Which is all the more reason why it’s right for you if you are in fact pregnant,” Gabe wiped at her tears, “Maybe fate is trying to give you and Grady a reason to believe.”

“But if I’m not and this is all for not…” Jade trailed off, dropping her gaze to the floor, “I mean I know all the reasons why it’s not the right time, yet I’m so afraid if I’m not pregnant--that it means that I’m being punished all over again. That somehow I’m paying for what happened with my son…”

“Jade, you did all you could for your son. I’m sure of it,” Gabe insisted with a small sigh, “Sweetheart, I see the way you are with my daughter and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that you gave all you had for your boy. Even under the circumstances that surrounded you, I know you and your heart. You’re full of a lot of love Jade and I’m sure that if you are in fact pregnant, then you’re going to give that child all of what’s inside of you. You’re going to be a wonderful mother and whether it’s today or a few years from now, I have no doubt in my mind that you and Grady will have that family that you’ve dreamt about. You’ll have your happiness Jade.”

“I hope you’re right,” she leaned into him hearing the alarm go off alerting her that it was time to find out the answer to the question that had haunted her. Clearing her throat, she felt her fingers tingle a bit with nervousness before she looked to Gabe, “I guess the mystery is now over huh?”

“So it would seem,” he tucked a strand of her dark hair back behind her ear, “Are you ready for this?”

“Ready as I’m ever going to be,” Jade admitted with a weak smile hoping that whatever the results told her that she would be able to find a way to make it work.

As she’d told Gabe the last time this came up, she’d had mixed emotions, but now, well now the idea of having Grady’s baby was something that would change her life forever. Before Grady she’d known a life of pain and heartbreak, yet even in facing what they’d gone through with one another, she had to admit that in loving him she’d finally found a slice of heaven. They had something together that she’d always longed for and as she made her way back into the bathroom ready to see what fate had in store for her, she wondered if maybe just maybe things would start looking up for them.

“Well,” Gabe questioned from the hallway watching as she reached for the test ready to see what they had to tell her, “Jade…”

She eyed it for a long moment feeling as if her breath had been stolen from her throat. Her eyes misted over and as she felt Gabe reach for her shoulder, she couldn’t help but be bowled over with emotion.

“Jade, what is it,” he asked watching as she spun around to face him once again.

“Gabe, the test is positive,” she blurted out with a tearful smile, “I’m pregnant.”

“You’re pregnant,” Gabe had repeated pulling her immediately into his arms, “Oh Jade, this is wonderful news.”

“I’m having Grady’s baby,” Jade had practically squealed unable to quell her enthusiasm. She practically leapt into Gabe’s arms feeling him spin her around the room before her voice raised with emotion, “I’m having Grady’s baby.”

“Yes, you are,” Gabe had laughed entertaining the notion with her as they’d had their own private celebration.

“Do you know what this means? What it will mean to the future,” Jade practically squealed feeling as if this news was a sign of things to come.

“It means that good things are right around the corner. That’s always what a child brings. It brings hope and miracles along with it. Grady’s going to be home soon Jade and when he is, you two are going to make the most beautiful family with one another,” Gabe encouraged her pulling her into his arms.

“I’m having Grady’s baby. We’re really doing it,” Jade squealed excitedly feeling Gabe pick her up and spin her around the room as it seemed that all was right for the first time in a long time in the world.

Gabe returned to the moment, his sad eyes now upon Grady, “I’m so sorry that dream was taken from you Grady. I know how much Jade wanted for the two of you to have that family together. She would’ve made a wonderful mother.”

“Yes she would’ve,” Grady couldn’t help but smile as tears filled his eyes, “She had so much love and so much heart, which is why it’s so hard for me to accept that she’s gone. To think that when I leave here, I won’t be able to hold her in my arms again. I won’t be able to plan for the future with her and our baby. I won’t ever see my child grow up--watch my son or daughter have a chance to experience life all because of someone I once let into my life. Susan stole that from me and I can never get it back.”

Gabe watched Grady break down into tears and instinctively he reached out to embrace Grady. Granted they weren’t the best of friends, but to see him so broken up--to know what Grady had lost, it only intensified Gabe’s sadness as he was well aware of the shattered dreams that you could never truly have back. Embracing Grady, he felt the stoic man fall to pieces in his arms and in that moment Gabe find himself wondering how life could be so cruel to rip away the one and only happiness Jade and Grady had ever known. It was just so very wrong to take away that chance for a new beginning after so much pain had surrounded Jade’s young life.


Ben walked up behind Valerie after spotting her across the room. He tapped on her shoulder gently watching her turn around to face him. She looked up at him with wide brown eyes before offering up a small smile.

“Ben, hey,” she spoke up in a low voice.

“I see you made it to the memorial,” he replied watching the tears glistening behind her eyes, “I’m glad that you did.”

“I couldn’t just not be here considering that I lost a good friend of mine,” Valerie sighed emphatically, “I mean I know Jade and I weren’t nearly as close as we used to be in our younger years, but she was so special in my life. She was there for me growing up and I viewed her like a kid sister.”

“I know,” Ben rubbed his hands together, “I just can’t seem to get it through my head that she’s gone. Even now when I think of all the times we all just kicked back and hung out, I never thought that any of us would be gone from this world--especially not Jade. She’s always been such a breath of fresh air and…”

“And in losing her, it’s like the world is just falling to pieces around us,” Valerie nodded in agreement, her eyes scanning over the room for any hopes of spotting Seth, “I’m just so worried about Seth. I don’t know how this is going to effect him. He and Jade were more than just brother and sister. They were the best of friends and I know how much he loved her.”

“This hasn’t been easy on him at all,” Ben replied shaking his head at the thought, “This hasn’t been easy on anyone especially considering how much Jade had ahead of her.”

“When I think of how much Seth gave up in his own life to make Jade’s life easier, it burns me to no end to think that all of his efforts wound up in vain,” she added with a heavy sigh.

“I don’t think they ended up in vain,” Ben couldn’t help but comment, “considering how far Jade went in her life, I think it only proved how much he cared about her.”

“Well that’s what I was trying to say,” she corrected herself quickly, “I guess what I meant to say was that I hate to think that she was so young and had so much to accomplish ahead of her, yet she wasn’t given the opportunity to do so. It isn’t fair.”

“No, it isn’t,” Ben agreed wholeheartedly. “I mean after everything this still feels like it’s not real--like this can’t be happening to one of us.”

“We were all so close,” she added remembering the time when she’d been part of the group--long before she’d run off to chase her modeling dreams. “Things felt so much easier back then. Everything just kind of fell into place with Seth and I, but now, well I feel like we’re strangers. I feel like we’re worlds apart, but I know he’s hurting. I know that he needs me more than ever and it bothers me that I can’t give him what he needs.”

“He knows that you’re here,” Ben glanced down at her, “Believe it or not that’s something that matters even if you two aren’t close like you once were. Your being here today and showing your support is something that will stick in his mind.”

“You really think so,” she asked hopefully. Perhaps a little too bit hopefully, she reminded herself in an attempt to try to tone it down a bit, “I mean I know he was so angry with me before when I left, but maybe now--maybe we can try on fixing the damage that was done between us.”

“It was a lifetime ago Val,” Ben looked to her again, “I think that old wound is ancient history. I mean you did what you needed to in order to follow your dreams and Seth did what he could to find his.”

“Even so the fact that we were married and together, well we had a love that shouldn’t have been ignored. I was chasing the wrong dream and I had it all with Seth. The day we got married…” she started remembering clearly when they’d tied the knot.

“Was something you both were too drunk to realize what it was that you were doing. I mean let’s face it Val,” Ben eyed her intently, “Seth wasn’t what you were looking for. You both just kind of fell into that old adage that leads you to believe that good friendship can lead to romance. Sometimes it works, other time it doesn’t. When you two actually did wind up with one another, none of us really believed you were serious.”

“Why do you say that?” she frowned at his confession.

“Well, for starters you were both buddies. I mean sure that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be lovers, but it just seemed awkward. One day you were pals, then the next you slept together, then blew it off. After that, well I knew Seth had a thing for you, but then you’d ran off with that quarterback. What was his name again?” Ben glanced over at her again.

“What does it matter?” she folded her arms in front of her chest with an impatient huff. “I always knew that Seth was the one.”

“Hmm, it never seemed like that,” Ben scratched his chin lightly, “especially after you started seeing that basketball star and then that guy on the hockey team. I think after that Seth realized that your sleeping together probably wasn’t the smartest of moves…”

“Ben, it wasn’t like that,” Valerie curled her lip in a pout. “I loved Seth, but I was afraid to commit to what was happening with us. It wasn’t until our wedding night that I realized how lucky I was. I was just too stupid to stay in town and fight for what I wanted. I took the job working on that damned shoot and after that, well I was too embarrassed to come back to town and admit I was wrong. I let my pride get in the way and…”

“And it worked out for the best,” Ben reminded her keeping a careful watch at her eyes, “I mean you were able to get to travel the world, have the career of your dreams and Seth found Blake. I’ve honestly never seen him more happy than he has been when he’s with her.”

“I highly doubt he’s happy right now,” Valerie scowled immediately hating Ben’s support of Seth and Blake’s relationship.

“Blake’s a good person Val,” Ben commented with a shrug, “She’s like a sister to me and I honestly can’t think of two people more perfect for one another. I mean, yeah okay, there’s obviously not going to be happiness at a time like this given what happened to Jade, but I know that together they will pull through this.”

“Yeah whatever,” Valerie rolled her eyes seeking out Seth along the way. She spotted him in the far corner with Blake at his side, no doubt eating up this position in his life. It made Valerie want to vomit considering that she was Seth’s wife--not Blake. But Blake could enjoy it now because it simply wasn’t going to last. Valerie would be sure of it!

“Seth’s moved on and obviously he’s not the only one,” Ben noted not wanting to dwell on why they were truly gathered at the memorial, “So tell me who is the guy you’ve been hanging around with? I saw you walk in together and…”

“He’s nobody,” Valerie curled her lip in a pout. “He’s just a friend.”

“A friend huh?” Ben arched a curious brow, “What kind of friend?”

“None that’s really worth chatting about,” she waved her hand dismissively unable to keep her eyes off of Seth and Blake who were now holding onto one another. Seeing them together made her blood boil and she promised herself that one way or another she would find a way to put a stop to their oh so nauseating romance.


Diane stood at the back of the chapel unable to refrain from falling to pieces at the thought of losing the only real sister she’d ever known. Sure, Deidra was her sister, but with Jade, she was someone who had always been there--someone who had always found a way to make things right when the world was falling to pieces. Jade was the one person in the world that meant the most to Diane and it felt as if a huge chunk had been ripped out of her heart. Unable to hold back her tears Diane let her head drop forward as her grief consumed her.

“Hey,” she heard a whisper as she felt a hand on her shoulder. Instinctively she turned into the welcoming arms of the man behind her. She couldn’t stop thinking about Jade--about all that they’d lost now that Jade had been taken from her. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right at all and now all she could do was sob over the one true friend she’d lost in her life.

“It’s okay beautiful,” she heard a voice whisper and suddenly she knew it wasn’t Ben’s arms she’d fallen into. Tilting her head upward Diane saw JT’s concerned eyed upon her. She practically leapt out of his arms as her tears of grief transformed to a fit of rage.

“What the hell are you doing here?” she hissed perhaps a bit too loudly. She looked around the room quickly before dropping her voice a little, “You have no right to be here!”

“No right?” JT repeated with surprised eyes, “Diane how can you say that? All I was trying to do was comfort you and…”

“I don’t need your comfort just like I don’t need you coming here and destroying my best friend’s memory by making a mockery of her memorial,” Diane snapped at him clenching her fists at her sides.

“A mockery?” he repeated with obvious offense, “You know while most people would love to forget it, I cared about Jade too.”

“Yeah right,” Diane rolled her eyes, “The only thing you care about is annoying the hell out of me and making my life miserable.”

“As much as I’d love to let you think you have that honor Diane, the truth to the matter is that I cared about Jade very much,” JT frowned down at her, his agitation outweighing his longing to get her back in his life, “For your information Jade was good to me at a time when no one else could’ve cared about me one way or another. She and I dated for a while even if the rest of this world would like to forget that.”

“Oh they haven’t forgotten,” she glared up at him, “but they just excuse that moment in time and pass it off as a moment of weakness on Jade’s end. She only was around you because she felt pity on you and for the record it wasn’t dating.”

“No,” JT argued with her, “it was more than that. She was my friend when you broke my heart. She was with me when you ran off after Andy and I cared about her.”

“You don’t have a caring or compassionate bone in your body. The only reason you slept with her was to get back at me, but it didn’t work JT. She saw right through you and you repulsed her just like you repulse me,” Diane spat in his face harshly, “Your being here only proves how far from the truth you are about your life. Neither Jade nor I wanted you around and that hasn’t changed. You’d be the last person she wants here.”

“No Diane,” JT mouthed with a scowl, “Unlike you Jade wasn’t afraid to admit she liked me. She was honest enough to admit that she didn’t think I was half bad which is more than I can say for a self-centered, egotistical twit like you. Unlike you and your self-absorbed obsessive side, Jade had a heart and an honesty about her that made her a woman you couldn’t help but love. You on the other hand, well if I didn’t have this thing for you like I do, then I wouldn’t bother with you.”

“Why don’t you do us both a favor and let go of your so called thing and stay out of my life from here on out,” Diane snarled at him before turning around to run off in a haste.

“If only it were that easy,” JT sighed heavily reminding himself that Diane was grieving right now. Yes, he was angry with her--sometimes he even found himself hating her, but this wasn’t about him and Diane. This was about Jade and whether or not anyone else liked it, he was here to pay his respects. Unlike Valerie, JT wasn’t going to be all about his own agenda. He was here to honor Jade’s memory and that was what mattered today. Looking to the front of the chapel at the photo the family had set up, JT vowed to pay his last respects to one of the few people in Coral Valley who had truly treated him like a person.


“Kyle?” Sarah called out Kyle’s name as she went back to where she was seated earlier with Kyle. She thought that he would be in the front already with the other people, but he wasn’t. In fact, he was in the same spot and it seemed like he never moved at all--he was just staring out at something. She reached out to touch his hand gently. “Kyle, are you okay?”

“This isn’t right,” Kyle whispered, his eyes traveling down towards the ground as he shook his head, “This really isn’t right.”

“What isn’t right?” Sarah questioned, noticing the way his dark eyes looked up into hers after she asked the question.

“This whole thing,” Kyle replied with a small frown, “This should have never happened. It’s just not right. Jade didn’t deserve any of this.”

“No, she didn’t,” Sarah agreed with a small frown as she watched his eyes look back towards the front of the room, “At least we know that Susan isn’t going to get away with this. The police will find her and she will go down for what she has done to everyone.”

“Screw the police,” Kyle hissed, shaking his head slowly, “They can’t do anything at this point. If they could do anything, Susan would be in jail right now. But would you look at that? She isn’t in there. Susan will go down, but not by the hands of the police--it will be by the hands of me.”

“Kyle, don’t get yourself all worked up again,” Sarah begged, watching him lean forward and rest his elbows on his knees. “You have to believe that Susan will be found.”

“Oh, I know she will,” he replied, clenching one of his fists. “You know, it’s obvious that your life is filled with pain and happiness. When it comes to our lives and the people’s lives around us there is a whole lot of pain. Probably more pain than happiness. The only thing I can promise you Sarah is the fact that when I get my hands on Susan, I am going to give her the most pain in the world. She will wish that she didn’t mess with anyone in this town. When I see her, I am going to give her no mercy and I am going to spread a vengeance in her life that will make her wish that she was dead.”

“You just need to rest,” Sarah urged him with a small frown, “You could still be sick and…”

“Damn it Sarah, I have had enough rest,” Kyle blurted out with a small frown. He felt his phone begin to vibrate in his pocket before he pulled it out to look at the number.

“Who is it?” Sarah questioned eagerly, seeing the way that his eyes widened when he saw the number. “Kyle, who is it?”

“No one,” Kyle lied, knowing in fact that this was someone and that someone would be Susan. “I have to take this, I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll go with you,” Sarah suggested, going to get up as he shook his head and motioned her to stay there.

“I’ll be right outside, I promise,” Kyle stated, walking away and through the lobby before walking outside. He took one last look at his cell phone before realizing this was his time. His time to deal with this whole thing his way.


“Tell me you’ve got something good for me,” Brant spoke hastily into the phone. He thought back to his brother and he hoped that this page from his private investigator meant only good things.

“This time you’re in luck,” the man boasted cheerfully, “Unlike the last project you gave me, this one proved to be far easier than anticipated.”

“Then that means you have results, yes?” Brant questioned eagerly his worries about his brother slowly fading a bit. He thought of this new plan to get Ken to start opening his eyes to the reality Michelle brought with her. If nothing worked at this point, then he was certain this was his last chance to get Ken to wake up.

“I have,” the man replied proudly, “I found her.”

“Where is she?” Brant asked eagerly looking around to see others around him making their way into the memorial. Suddenly his gleeful spirits felt a bit inappropriate. He walked away from the church feeling the breeze sweep over him.

“Overseas,” the man explained a long pause following.

“But you can reach her yes?” Brant couldn’t help but wonder aloud, “I mean you wouldn’t have called me if that wasn’t the case, right?”

“Well no, but…” the man hesitated another uneasy silence sweeping over the conversation, “there are some things that I didn’t explain to you yet.”

“What kind of things,” Brant questioned clenching his cell phone tighter. He looked off to the distance seeing the trees moving with the wind their leaves a bright shade of green on this warm morning in Coral Valley.

“Complications,” his private investigator began to explain, “They weren’t something we were banking on at all, but once I located her.”

“What kind of complications?” Brant asked feeling as if he was running around in circles on this one.

“Complications that neither one of us planned on and unfortunately they might be something that will keep her from listening to what we have to say,” the man continued to divulge his finds to Brant as Brant found himself hoping that he could work around this latest set of complications. He had to find a way to save Ken no matter what the cost!


“I had a wonderful time today,” Michelle explained sipping her iced tea as she and Ken sat in the gardens outside the Ashford mansion.

“So did I,” Ken confessed rubbing his arm just a bit. “It was a very eye opening experience for me.”

“I’m so glad that you feel that way,” Michelle smiled over at him sensing the discomfort he was feeling after their long day. She reached out to rub at his shoulder, “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” he replied with a quick breath feeling her fingers over his arm, “I guess I’m just not up to full speed yet.”

“Given all you’ve been through I think it’s going to be a while before you can claim that kind of recovery.” Michelle added continuing to run her fingers over his tense muscles, “In time however I have faith that everything will start back on track again.”

“I’d like to think so,” Ken decided with a sad smile, “Of course I know the road to redemption won’t be easy given some of the sins I’ve committed against those who care for me, but I’m going to keep trying to find my way back.”

“I think you’re making a wonderful start,” she continued seeing the hope behind his eyes, “and by coming to the meetings like you’ve been doing, you’re showing that you are ready to leave your old life behind.”

“I was in a place that I really didn’t want to be in,” Ken sighed heavily, “and I guess I just got caught up in everything that happened to me. I couldn’t see outside my own misery long enough to really, truly think about everyone else. The doctors tell me it’s in part due to the drugs that Susan injected me with, yet…”

“Yet…” Michelle watched him closely.

“There’s one thing that I truly regret--” he trailed off remembering the night he’d deceived Avery. He closed his eyes thinking back to how he’d preyed on her vulnerability--how he’d betrayed a lifelong friendship simply because he’d been so set on revenge against Brant.

“Ken, where did you go,” Michelle inquired reaching out to touch his arm again.

“To a place I certainly didn’t want to be at,” he replied with a small groan, “I just hate thinking about what I lost in the madness that surrounded me.”

“You’ll find a way to get it back. I promise you,” Michelle squeezed his leg catching his eyes over her.

“Maybe,” he shrugged, “but right now I’d rather talk about you. While you were speaking with Candice I made a few phone calls and I got into contact with my friend who is the real estate agent. He says he’s got a place that might be perfect for the center and it’s in a wonderful location. He says he thinks he can get a pretty good deal on it for me considering that he owes me a few favors.”

“Oh Ken I don’t know what to say…” Michelle’s eyes widened.

“Don’t say anything yet,” Ken smiled down at her, “just wait until you see it and then make your decision.”

“Oh Ken,” Michelle tipped up to kiss him quickly, her enthusiasm bubbling over her, “you’re so amazing.”

“You’re not so bad yourself,” he teased with a wink before looking to her again. There was just something behind her dark eyes--something about being with her. On some level he had to have misjudged her. He thought of all the ways he’d been ready to rid himself of Michelle, but now he could see so many wonderful things about her. Unable to help himself he leaned in to kiss her tenderly wondering if being with her would truly be the new beginning he needed to start his life anew.


“This is unbelievable,” Hart decided, stepping forward next to Jenna who was talking to Don and Shannon. “Well, it’s believable, but I never thought it would be Jade. I just don’t understand what was going through Susan’s mind.”

“I’ll tell you what was going through her mind,” Shannon began, shaking her head slowly, “Absolutely nothing. All Susan cared about was herself and that was all. She was psycho and no one really saw it coming.”

“I think everyone saw it coming,” Jenna declared with a small frown, looking around the room. The four had showed up earlier to be here to support their friends and this whole scene was so depressing. “We just didn’t realize she would go this far. I mean, everyone knew that Susan was a little whack. No one knew that she was that bad though.”

“I feel bad seeing everyone like this,” Don declared with a small sigh, “I wouldn’t want to be in any of their places. If I lost my little sister, I would go on a rampage. I don’t know how I would react to that.”

“I know,” Hart agreed with a small nod before taking in a deep breath, “We would all probably feel the same if we were in this position--horrible.”

“Yeah,” Jenna nodded before looking back towards the restrooms, “I am going to go freshen up, I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll go with you,” Shannon decided, leaving Don and Hart to themselves. “Speaking of the clearly deranged, have you heard anything new on Bruce Mathis case?”

“I have just heard the news from a while ago,” Jenna replied, holding the door open for Shannon before entering herself, “I don’t understand what is going on with him. It’s like one minute he is a professional at this and leaves no traces, and then all of a sudden it’s like he’s lost his touch.”

“He’s definitely lost something,” Shannon agreed with a small frown, “Something just has to give though. I know it sounds kind of different, but I have been wondering--do you think it’s possible that maybe Bruce helped Susan with this whole thing. I know it sounds kind of impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible,” Jenna pointed out with a small nod, “I could very well see Bruce doing something like that. He’s losing his touch and needs someone’s help to get things done. I could see that happening.”

“I just wonder how he would be able to get away with something like that,” Shannon pondered, putting all of her ideas together, “He is getting really messy, he’s leaving a simple trail for us. We just haven’t gotten all the clues together yet.”

“We just need to take a long look at this,” Jenna thought for a moment, “Bruce is a master--a god at what he does. So, what is it that is making him mess up? He never messed up and now all he can do is just give a woman a fright.”

“Maybe something is on his mind,” Shannon suggested with a small shrug of her shoulders, “The only question is, what is on his mind? What is it that has him messing up over everything?”


“Man,” Hart began with a small frown, watching as the women disappeared behind the closed door, “I still can’t believe that you married Shannon.”

“Yeah well, surprise, surprise,” Don began with a small smirk behind his features, “I did.”

“That’s what scares me,” Hart shivered at the thought of even being close to that woman. “She is a wild one--actually crazy would be more of the word there.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Don agreed with a small nod, letting out a deep sigh as Hart thought for a second.

“No, I am serious man,” Hart started with a small chuckle as Don’s eyes looked up at him, “You should have heard some of the things I have heard about her.”

“Just, let’s stop talking about my wife okay,” Don begged, rubbing the back of his neck as he saw Hart nod slowly. “This has kind of been a real bad year hasn’t it?”

“Bad?” Hart questioned with a frown, shaking his head at the question. “It has been horrible Don. It’s like there is no luck around Coral Valley anymore.”

“Tell me about it,” Don nodded, looking around the room to see the saddened faces, “Look at what being a good person does to you. Jade was a good person and look at what happened to her. It’s very sad that this happened to her. I just can’t believe that Susan would take it this far.”

“I could,” Hart declared, looking down towards the ground. Susan always seemed to be infatuated with pain and that should have been a good enough clue to show that she was crazy. “Susan just wanted to add more attention to her.”

“Or maybe she just wanted to add more funerals to the list,” Don pointed out with a frown, folding his arms out in front of his chest. “Funerals seem to be the popular place around Coral Valley.”

“Tell me about it,” Hart closed his eyes tightly as he thought for a moment. “I should’ve know that something bad was going to happen. My father is back in town.”

“Really?” Don questioned, the sound of surprise behind his tone. “What does he want?”

“Who the hell cares?” Hart scowled, thinking to what he remembered about his father. Walt Steiner was nothing, but a no good man who had the middle name trouble. “I’m done with him Don, I don’t care anymore.”

“I know man,” Don nodded slowly, patting his friend on the back lightly, “Believe me, I think I knew that the day you took your dad’s company on. That took some guts Hart and I give you some credit. I can’t say I don’t blame you for doing that though. If I had a father like yours, I would have done the same thing.”

“Lucky for you that your dad is actually a pretty cool guy,” Hart began, thinking back to when they were younger. “I always wanted to have a father like yours. I just got lucky enough to have Walt Steiner. The biggest jerk on the planet.”

“Well, I can promise you one thing,” Don started, wrapping his arm around Hart’s shoulders, “Your father should have realized the day you took his company down was the day that you stopped dealing with him. He probably just wants money, so forget him.”

“Damn right,” Hart nodded agreeing with the words that had come from his friend‘s heart, “I am not going to let him back in my life no matter what it is that he wants.”


“It was nice of you two to come to the memorial,” Elliot decided, watching as Hunt and Mindy stood before them. “I know that Jade would appreciate this. I know that Grady does.”

“It was the least that I could do,” Mindy declared with a small sigh, looking up at Cheryl and Elliot. She felt Hunt wrap his arm around her waist for support before she went on. “Jade and Brittany were buddies and I thought Jade was a real great person. I am really sorry about all of this because it should have never happened.”

“It’s nothing that you could have stopped dear,” Cheryl assured her with a small frown, “No one could have stopped this from happening.”

“I guess when they say everything happens for a reason,” Hunt took in a deep breath, looking between Elliot and Cheryl, “That’s what you should truly believe.”

“I know,” Mindy nodded slowly before going on to her thoughts, “The world just seems too unfair lately. Ever since Russ died, more bad things just keep piling on everyone more and more.”

“Well, hopefully we can just get through all of this together,” Elliot sighed, reaching over to hug Cheryl in his arms tightly, “All of us just need to have faith and everything will be alright.”

“I hope so,” Cheryl sighed, thinking of the words that Elliot had just said. “I really do.”

The one thing that was bothering all of them was Grady. Grady had been through so much already and all it seemed to be doing was getting worse.

“I hope that Grady will be able to get through this,” Cheryl frowned, leaning into her husband’s embrace, “I just don’t know how he is going to take all this.”

“He seems like a strong enough man,” Hunt pointed out with a small frown before looking towards Grady, “I’m sure he will hold up fine.”

“I hope so,” Elliot let out a deep breath, thinking for a moment, “I know it isn’t easy losing the woman you love. It’s probably the hardest thing you could go through with life. It’s just not a fair thing.”

“I can only imagine what Grady is feeling right now,” Mindy replied, looking towards the saddened figure of Grady’s. “I hope he will be okay.”

That was the one thing that everyone had today at the memorial. Hope. You needed faith, you had to have the smallest faith for Grady. He had encountered so many things in the last few years and everything just seemed to be piling up and piling up all the time. The only thing that everyone could do was just pray that nothing else was going to happen to anyone. If something bad was to happen, the whole town would probably break down to bits.


Avery walked up to the front of the church noticing the lost look on Grady’s face. She could see he was heart-broken, his world shattering completely around him and her heart ached to make it right. She remained silent seeing the way his eyes were fixed on the photograph of Jade before him. Saying nothing she reached out to touch his shoulder, feeling him barely move at her touch. He didn’t bother to look back and see her, but rather his hand fell flat over hers.

“I just can’t believe she’s gone,” Grady confessed painfully his eyes never straying from the vision of the woman he loved, “After all that time I fought what I felt for her, to think that it could end so poorly…”

“I know,” Avery whispered quietly squeezing his shoulder again.

“It’s just so hard to grasp that life is so random--that one minute we’re here with those we love and then the next,” he shook his head, his grief overtaking him, “it’s just not how it was supposed to be. She should’ve been safe--should’ve been here today and if not for Susan, then who is to say that…”

“Grady don’t do this to yourself,” Avery pleaded with him in a worried voice.

“Avery if she hadn’t loved me. If I’d never given in to what I’d felt for her, then Susan wouldn’t have targeted her. She might’ve had a chance to…” Grady argued with her, finally tipping his head back to look up at her.

“Grady if you hadn’t opened your heart to her, then you would’ve missed out on the greatest love you’d ever known. You would’ve lost those special moments and had nothing,” she touched his cheek tenderly, “those are something that no one can ever steal away from you.”

“I just ache at the thought of the moments we’ll never be able to share,” he sighed leaning into her touch as his tears glistened behind his eyes.

“I know,” she mouthed reaching out to embrace him. She hugged him tight wishing like hell that she could ease his pain, but she knew better. She knew more than to try to promise him that it would be alright. They both knew that wasn’t how life would be again for either one of them.”

Avery squeezed him in her arms thinking about all the things she should say--that she wanted to say, but she found herself at a loss. She ran her fingers up and over his spine in a slow, soothing movement hoping like hell to ease his pain. He seemed to be warming up to her support, but she knew it was a long road ahead of him. She opened her mouth to offer up a few words of support at long last, but instead she found herself staring back at the door--at the man who had just walked into the church.

“Avery I…” Grady began feeling her stiffen in his embrace. He pulled back just enough to catch the expression on her face. He tilted his head to the side gazing in the direction she was fixed on.

“Grady maybe we should just go over there or…,” she reached out for his hand in an attempt to drag him away before he’d spotted the unwelcome guest, but it was too late. As soon as Grady’s eyes fell upon Cameron Stone, who now stood in the archway collecting a bunch of stares and whispers, Avery knew they were in for trouble.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Grady snarled feeling his rage bowl over him. He released Avery’s hand and took a step forward. “He has no right to be here.”

“Grady wait,” Avery tried to plead with him, but it was too late. Before she could say anything further he set off in Cameron’s direction.

“I’m going to kill him,” Grady mouthed to himself ready to make the man who had stolen his life away from him in the past finally pay for his sins. Tonight Cameron would feel the pain that Grady was feeling one way or another.

“Grady wait,” Avery tried to prevent him from doing something that would cause a scene, but no sooner were her words out Grady was on top of Cameron pounding him into the ground. There was no denying the unmistakable rage behind Grady when he’d tackled Cameron to the floor. There was anger--fury and above all else a fight that had ensued that spelled trouble.


Kyle felt his throat go dry as he flipped open his phone to answer. His mind was filled with anger as he spoke up.

“Hello,” Kyle answered, waiting a few seconds only to hear silence, “Hello?”

“Kyle,” Susan’s voice came through the receiver as he fought to hold back his anger at this point in time, “It’s Susan.”

“I couldn’t have guessed,” Kyle began, clenching his fist at his side before walking away from the building, “What do you want Susan? You know, you have a lot of nerve calling me.”

“I know Kyle and I am sorry,” Susan began, shocking Kyle with her words, “I just really need to tell you something and it can’t wait Kyle.”

“Tell me something then,” Kyle shrugged his shoulders with a small scowl, “Tell me whatever it is you want Susan because I can’t really stand this.”

“I can’t tell you over the phone Kyle,” Susan decided, hearing Kyle go silent. “Are you still there? This is something really important Kyle.”

“Yeah, I’m here,” Kyle replied, thinking things over to himself. With her saying the words that she couldn’t say anything over the phone got to him. That meant she wanted to see him in person. Which meant that he would get close to getting his hands on her and bringing her back to let her rot in jail the rest of her life. His choices were so hard, but so easy to make.


...to be continued...