Episode 245

The scene replayed in slow motion--the moment of Susan’s declaration--the look behind her eyes when she’d confessed to Kyle the truth about what had prompted her to ask him to meet her there. He’d been shell-shocked--astonished by what she was saying to him. In that one moment of awakening and understanding Kyle had felt his whole life flash before his eyes. He’d been hurt, angry, in an uproar and in that one instant, he’d felt the first flicker of something more than hatred rush over him. Susan was pregnant. She was having his baby and suddenly all the hate and the rage was replaced by something far more primal--something unexplainable as he thought to the fact he was going to be a father. He’d hated her--hated everything she’d stood for, yet in that instant she’d revealed the news about their child to him, he’d felt something else--something that he couldn’t quite explain.

“A father,” Kyle could still hear his small voice echo out through the night, his words a faint whisper through the thick dense forest.

“That’s right Kyle,” Susan had informed him after letting it sink in, “I’m pregnant.”

“But how…” Kyle had thought to himself remembering how she’d offered him proof of her declaration. However, before he could really let that sink in, that’s when the piercing noise flew through the night. One moment Susan was reaching out to embrace him, but the next, her lips were parted and a low, guttural hiss spilled over her lips. Her body fell forward into his and Kyle had stumbled backwards. He looked down to question her actions--to try to register what was happening, but when he noticed the blood pooling at the center of her white shirt realization registered. It had been a gun.

The sound had been someone shooting at them. The person had aimed through the night and hit Susan right square in the center of her chest. Her eyes were widened with horror, her breaths coming out in short, heaving gasps as Kyle held her. He dropped to his knees feeling the weight of her body toppled onto him and in that instant he found himself paralyzed with fear. Yes, he may have come up to this place--to this out of the way piece of nowhere to capture her--to take her in and very well wind up killing her himself for all that she’d done, but when he thought back to that moment she’d informed him she was pregnant it had changed all the rules.

“Susan,” Kyle spoke her name desperately, his body jolted at full attention as he held onto her. He felt her tremor in his arms as she started coughing up blood. His eyes dropped to the thick redness over his fingers, to the stain her blood was creating over him.

“Kyle…” she breathed his name, the sound broken by the air escaping from her lungs. Her brown eyes were full of fear--of all the vulnerabilities that Kyle had never imagined Susan to be capable of. His hand pressed over the wound in the center of her chest hoping and praying to stop it from taking her to a place Kyle didn’t want her to go. He needed her to hold on--needed her to fight what was happening if for no other reason than their child.

“Susan look at me,” Kyle pleaded with her, his voice raw with emotion and fear, “I’m going to get you to the hospital. You’re going to be safe. I promise you that…”

“Kyle,” a voice rose from the night as Kyle looked up to see Grady approaching. He rushed out from the thick forest of trees that had been shaded by the night. Seeing his friend racing through the woods, Kyle’s first instinct was to call out to him, to ask for help, but when Susan began to shudder and shake in his arms, Kyle’s focus returned to her.

“Just hold on please,” Kyle begged of her thinking of the life that she was carrying inside of her--the life that had been created out of her rage and insanity, but it was his life too nonetheless. She was having his child and that baby suddenly became the focus of everything.

“Kyle watch out,” Grady mouthed moving around the perimeter. He had a gun in his hand as his intense green eyes surveyed the night. He glanced down at Kyle before listening, “I think they’re still out there.”

“How could this happen,” Kyle questioned more so to himself than anything else.

“I don’t know, but whoever is out there could be waiting for the moment to take another shot,” Grady replied his worries about his friend mounting. He glanced over at Kyle seeing the blood all over his hands, up over the center of his shirt, “Were you hit?”

“No, but Susan…” Kyle trailed off pushing further onto the wound that had taken a chunk out of her chest, “Grady we need to get her to the hospital. We need to help her. We have to call someone…”

Grady stiffened at his friend’s request. It was in that moment that Grady finally took notice of Susan’s condition. He saw her laying in Kyle’s arms, her mouth gaping open flapping in small breaths like a fish would do once it had been taken out of the water. There was a small hissing sound and at first Grady had thought it was coming from her lips, but then it dawned in on him that it was originating from where she’d been shot. The small noise continued as Grady realized that air was escaping from her obviously punctured lungs. Her eyes were wide with terror and as Grady stepped forward, he felt his entire life that he’d shared with her--their marriage pass before his eyes.

“We have to help her!” Kyle explained in a shrill voice, “We have to get her out of here and to the hospital Grady. We have to…”

“No,” Grady blurted out feeling himself overtaken by an entirely new set of visions. His memories of Susan and their brief time together were replaced by the thought of what she’d done to Jade. He closed his eyes remembering the love that had been stolen from him by Susan’s hand. There was no mistaking the emotion that had overpowered him now. He could almost hear Jade’s screams of terror--feel her fight for freedom and her attempts to break out of the burning madness that had stolen her life from her. He could almost feel the ache that had filled her when the fire had consumed her completely after days of countless torture all at Susan’s hand.

“What?” Kyle questioned in a moment of bewilderment, “Grady, if we don’t get her out of here, she’s going to die. We need to take her to a hospital before…”

“So let her die,” Grady blurted out coldly taking a step towards Susan. His thoughts of finding the person who’d shot her had taken to becoming an afterthought as he remembered all that Susan had put him through over the years. She was responsible for stealing his happiness--for taking away his one and only chance for a future--for a family and now, well now in seeing her barely holding on--lost inside the realization that it was all going to be over for her in a matter of minutes, it felt as if justice had found it’s way of sneaking up on all of them. Susan was about to receive the final payback for her sins.

“What?!?” Kyle shook his head at his friend in disbelief. He turned his attention to Susan again catching that glimmer of terror behind her eyes, “Please Susan just hold on. We’re going to get you out of here.”

“Forget about holding on,” Grady growled down at her, “Forget about anything that you thought you could get away with Susan. You finally found that you couldn’t outsmart fate. For what you did to everyone--to all of us, this is justice. This isn’t nearly what you deserve, yet…”

“Grady stop!” Kyle roared at him, his voice loud and terrified, yet full force causing Grady to refrain from taunting the dying woman in Kyle’s arms. Grady took a step back looking to Kyle in a state of disbelief.

“How can you tell me to stop? She raped you! She killed Russ! She killed Jade and…” Grady argued with his friend finding it hard to even comprehend why Kyle would even dream of trying to save Susan. After all the madness she’d created, there was only one place she belonged and it most certainly did her justice to have been the recipient of this kind of blow.

Okay, so Grady had momentarily felt that he’d be the one to give it to her, but at the last second--at that moment when he’d raised his gun contemplated taking her life for all that she’d done to Jade, he’d chickened out. He couldn’t find the will or the power to make that bold move towards ending it all, but somehow fate had stolen that opportunity away from him. He could clearly remember the sound of the shot--felt it as if it was from his own gun, but it hadn’t been. He could still feel his hand shaking, the tears stinging behind his eyes, but then when Susan had fallen he’d felt a breath of relief. He’d felt a huge weight off of his shoulders--that was until he’d realized that Kyle was with her. Seeing her drop into Kyle’s arms, Grady had feared for his friend. He’d been worried that Kyle had been hurt, but now as Susan’s blood poured out over onto Kyle, Grady was certain that Kyle was in a state of shock. He’d lost his damned mind and that was what was guiding him in his motivation to keep Susan alive. It was what was causing him to be blinded by the bitch she truly was.

“Kyle…” Susan whispered in a tortured sound, her face was divided by obvious pain as Grady watched Kyle lift his hand to her face. His blood-stained fingers touched her cheek gently while his other hand gripped over her wound pressing on it desperately.

“Please hold on,” Kyle begged of her, his eyes clouded by tears unable to mask the emotions that he was holding onto. He glanced up at Grady again, desperate in his appeal, “I left my cell phone in the car. You have to call an ambulance. You have to get them up here right away. You have to…”

“I don’t have to do a damn thing!” Grady reminded him harshly. He dug his heels into the ground bound and determined not to make another move, “I owe her nothing. She’s taken my soul from me and I wouldn’t lift a finger to help her now. She’s getting what’s coming to her!”

“Grady, this isn’t about Susan,” Kyle pleaded with him in a cracked voice. “This is about me…about my son or daughter…”

“What?” Grady blinked back at him with obvious confusion. He shook his head as if trying to process what Kyle was telling him, “What are you talking about?”

“She’s pregnant,” Kyle blurted out unable to refrain from the worried tears that burned at his eyes, “She’s having my baby and…”

“What a crock of shit,” Grady threw his hands up in the air, “Is that what she told you?”

“Grady please…” Kyle watched Grady step forward, his eyes falling to Susan again.

“Is that what you told him?” Grady questioned harshly, his voice cutting through the night like a knife assaulting Susan, “Is that your latest trick? Your game to get him to notice you and take to your side…”

“Grady please…” Susan’s voice was small, a faint, flickering echo of the woman she once was. Her strained eyes cast upon him and he could see the life force draining from her second by second. Her body was cooling and her lips trembling, but none of that mattered.

“Please nothing,” Grady shook his head at her overcome with sheer disgust, “It’s nothing but games Susan. That’s all you’ve ever been capable of.”

“Grady stop!” Kyle shouted at him, “We’ve wasted enough time already. Go back to my car. Get the cell phone and…”

“No,” Grady argued with him, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to sit back and watch Susan get what’s coming to her after what she’s done. This is justice at it’s purest form!”

“She’s having my baby Grady,” Kyle pleaded with him, “I can’t let anything happen to my child…”

“She’s lying to you Kyle. She’s just saying that to manipulate you,” Grady tried to appeal to his friend. “She knows how desperate you are to have something real in your life--she’s trying to spin the situation around so that you’ll believe in her--that you’ll give up hating her and…”

“I saw the pregnancy test results,” Kyle shouted over Grady’s bitter argument, “She’s having my child.”

“The hell she is,” Grady spat at Susan rising up again to take a step back. He moved another step back just eyeing her with all the contempt he’d felt inside of him. She’d torn his world apart, taken his life from him and now it was all about her getting what was coming to her.

“Grady please. Grady get my phone!” Kyle’s voice echoed through the night, but Grady was too far lost in his own madness remembering the love he’d had stolen from him. He thought of how smug Susan had been--how cold and calculating she’d been and in that moment in time he wanted her to suffer--to pay the ultimate price for her sins.

“Grady!” Kyle snapped with a roar, turning his attention to Susan. He was afraid to let go of her--afraid to move, yet he knew if he did nothing, there would be no hope for her.

“Kyle please…” Susan begged of him, her eyes misted over with tears, “Our baby…our…”

“Just hold on. Oh God please hold on,” Kyle looked to his hand seeing her wound now sputtering blood out at him. There was too much of it. It was coming too fast. There was no stopping it. No way of getting it to ease up. The bullet had gone through her and now…

“Go to hell Susan,” Grady taunted further leaning down to further lash out at her, “and take your games and your lies with you.”

“Damn it,” Kyle fought with himself reaching out to squeeze Susan further into his arms, “Grady stop this. Get my phone. We need to call for help. I need you to…”

“To what?” Grady extracted a phone from his pocket. He dangled it in the air before Susan seeing her eyes following the every movement, “Call for someone to give Susan the second chance that she never gave Jade? To let her have that last reprieve that she stole from the mother of my child? To give her that break that she so richly deserves?”

“Grady,” Kyle reached out for the phone feeling Grady snatch it away from him.

“I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction,” Grady mouthed pulling the battery out of the phone and dropping it to the ground, “There’s your reprieve Susan.”

“You son of a bitch…” Kyle roared watching laughter overtake Grady. While he knew full well that Grady had reason to hate Susan--to want her dead, just knowing that she was carrying Kyle’s child was enough to make him think. It should’ve been enough for him to stop fooling around and do something. Now as Kyle’s eyes fell to the two pieces of the phone that Grady had thrown to the ground, he felt a desperation overtake him.

“Choke on that Susan,” Grady mouthed turning around to walk away. He took two steps forward before hearing Kyle let out a strong, thunderous roar. Spinning around he noticed Susan on the ground by herself while Kyle crawled to collect the pieces of Grady’s cell phone. He shuffled to put them together before dialing 911 in a haste.

“Please someone help…” Kyle bellowed into the phone before crawling over to Susan, “I need an ambulance. The mother of my child’s been shot. She’s pregnant and we don’t have much time. You have to hurry!”

“Kyle she’s lying. She’s not pregnant,” Grady marched over towards him again, “She was never pregnant.”

Kyle finished with his call dropping the phone as Susan’s gasps turned into a sickening gurgling noise. He rushed over to her scooping her up into his arms.

“Help is on the way Susan,” Kyle promised thinking about his dreams for a family. He remembered losing his parents--saw their deaths pass before him in living color and now as he held Susan he just prayed that he wasn’t too late. He’d hated her, but he couldn’t let her die. He couldn’t lose the baby she had growing inside of her. He couldn’t risk giving up on that dream--on that son or daughter he’d always longed for.

“She’s nothing but a liar and a manipulator,” Grady argued with him hating to see his friend play into Susan‘s final act of madness.

“I saw the test Grady. I saw the test…” Kyle repeated squeezing Susan in his arms. He kissed the top of her head, smoothing his fingers through her damp blonde hair while his other hand stayed firm on the wound applying what he hoped would be enough pressure to keep it from taking her away. He needed her to hold on--needed to keep her alive for their son or daughter. He needed to stop this madness before it took away what mattered most in this world. He needed for her to hold on. Needed it like the air he breathed.


“It will be okay Sarah,” Avery assured Sarah with a small sigh as she watched Sarah pace back and forth between the lobby of the mansion. “Everything is going to be fine, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

“I hope you’re right Avery,” Sarah sighed, stopping only for a second to think about Kyle and Grady. Something had to be wrong, they searched the whole town for Kyle and Grady--only to find nothing. If something wasn’t wrong, they would be home already. They wouldn’t have left without telling anyone. “I just can’t believe that we can’t find them Avery. We have searched everywhere and found nothing--absolutely nothing. We have searched every place possible where they could have been, but not a trace of them.”

“Maybe we didn’t just look good enough Sarah,” Avery offered up, trying to calm Sarah down with some type of way to get her mind off the worst, “Maybe there are together at some place we don’t know of. We both know Kyle and Grady, they do a lot of things together and sometimes they just don’t want to be bothered. They are always their for each other, I‘m sure they will be okay. I’m pretty sure they can take care of themselves.”

“I know that they would have used to be able to take care of themselves a while back,” Sarah began with a worried expression as she thought about what could happen, “but now, I just don’t know about those two. Kyle has been different since he was drugged. He just doesn’t seem like he is thinking straight anymore. Like his mind is always filled with bad thoughts and I just feel like he isn’t really himself anymore. Grady is even worse than that too, he just lost Jade and when you lose one of your loved ones, it changes you. You should know that.”

“I do know that Sarah,” Avery nodded, trying to think of something to cheer up their hopes in finding Grady and Kyle safe, “but we can’t always think the worst here. We do know that Grady and Kyle are very strong Sarah. I think they will be fine. Together, nothing can break them apart.”

“Are you two ready to go out and look around the town?” Brant wondered, walking down the stairs after making a few calls and then finding his keys. “I’ll go get the car and pull it around. Don’t worry, everything will be all set.”

“I’m ready,” Sarah replied, watching as Brant opened the front door before hearing his cell phone begin to ring.

“Maybe I should get this first,” Brant stated, taking in a deep breath before shutting the front door. He pulled out his phone and answered it quickly, walking into the other room.

“That must be something very important,” Avery pointed out seeing Sarah nod slowly. They waited a couple of minutes before seeing Brant come out of the room with a slightly worried expression. “Who was that?”

“That was someone I called earlier on Kyle and Grady,” Brant informed them with a deep frown, “Well, they have been spotted I guess is the first thing I should tell you.”

“Are they okay?” Avery questioned quickly, not even letting Brant answer her question. “Are they hurt?”

“I’m not sure,” Brant shrugged, thinking back to what the person had told him on the phone, “They said there was a 911 call made and they’ve been taken to the hospital. They didn’t say if anyone was hurt.”

“They are at the hospital?” Sarah questioned with a gasp as Brant nodded slowly. “We have to go to them. What if Grady or Kyle is hurt?”

“I’m sure they are just fine,” Brant promised with a small sigh walking towards the door, getting ready to go get the car, “but just to be safe, let’s get over there to find out what is going on. To make sure they are okay.”

“Okay,” Avery agreed to follow him as she motioned Sarah to come quickly, “I’m sure Grady and Kyle are fine. They are probably just there to see someone. Or maybe one of them just hurt their wrist or something. It’s going to be okay.”


“What is taking Cori so damned long,” Dave huffed impatiently moving around his living room in a full, determined stride. He clenched his fists at his sides thinking about his sister’s inability to just accept the choices he’d made in his life. He loved Carly--loved Kayla and yet there was Cori ready to add her two cents in on the situation over and over again.

“I’m sure she’ll be here soon,” Carly replied worried about her husband now that his anger seemed to be taking control of his emotions, “You know this mess really isn’t something you should get angry with her about. It happens sometimes and it’s only natural with children to find messes.”

“This isn’t about the mess,” Dave answered tightly. He inhaled slowly trying to keep his agitation under wraps long enough to try and make it through a normal conversation with his wife. “I know that children make messes. I don’t really have a problem with messes…”

Carly threw out a look of disbelief upon hearing his words.

“I really don’t,” he continued with a heavy sigh, “but what bothers me is what Cori is trying to pull. I thought that at our wedding she’d finally accepted what it was that I wanted in my life, but this just shows that…”

“That what?” Carly questioned finding herself at a loss.

“That she doesn’t respect me or my decisions,” Dave sighed heavily dropping down into one of the chairs. He ran his fingers over his dark hair before looking to Carly again, “I’m so sorry about this.”

“About what?” she asked blankly, “About the mess?”

“No about Cori giving you a hard time. She just gets it in her head that once she makes up her mind about something, that’s all there is to it. She doesn’t think about how her little tantrums can effect other people--about how her going off on a rampage can be hurtful and…” Dave tried to explain his sister to her.

“Dave, given what you and I have been through with one another in our relationship, I think it’s only natural that Cori try to keep you from harm’s way. She sees me as someone who broke your heart and at one time I was that,” Carly’s eyes fell to the floor, “I didn’t exactly make things easy on you and in her own way she’s trying to stop you from having to feel the kind of hurt you did before. She doesn’t want to see you aching again and…”

“I was only aching because I couldn’t be with you,” Dave explained his voice swept up in a whirlwind of emotions, “I know that at times it might’ve been hard to believe, but Carly, I never stopped loving you. I never stopped wondering about what if…”

“And now that we know where this is headed,” she looked up to see him standing before her.

“I don’t want anything to get in the way of it. I love you,” he cupped her face in his hands drawing her nearer to him, “Marrying you was everything that I wanted and I don’t want Cori to put a strain on that for us. You and Kayla are my world and the last thing I want is to see Cori causing us problems.”

“I know Cori doesn’t like me Dave,” Carly sighed empathetically, “She’s going to have to get used to this situation. She’s going to have to adjust to my being her sister-in-law and to Kayla being her niece. You’ve had a few days to settle into this, but Cori hasn’t had that luxury. All she’s seen was the hurt and that’s what’s driving her emotions. I mean hey, so she left the house a mess. Big deal. For all we know she and Kayla were having the times of their lives and she’s ready to play an active role in all of this.”

“I wish I could believe that, but I know Cori. It’s like when we were younger and she had a fit because she didn’t get her way. She would go on these tantrums and do things--things that you wouldn’t pick up on unless you knew her really well…” Dave began again thinking about his sister’s fits she’d had in her youth.

“She’s not a little girl anymore Dave,” Carly reached out to touch her husband’s cheek gently, “I really don’t believe that’s where she’s coming from anymore. If you start laying into her when she comes back with Kayla, I can pretty much guarantee that she’s going to rebel. She won’t hear a word you have to say and it’ll only wind up upsetting the both of you all over again.”

“So what do you suggest?” Dave asked with a creased brow, “That I just ignore all of this.”

“Maybe,” Carly slid her arms around his waist pulling him in closer yet, “I mean if you think about it, maybe life’s little messes are just what we need right about now.”

“I know what you’re trying to do,” Dave tilted his eyes towards her catching the smile that formed at the corners of her oh so sensual mouth.

“And what’s that,” she questioned lazily leaning up on her toes to kiss him gently.

“You’re trying to get me to forget about all of this so that you can make nice with Cori,” he replied in a suspicious tone, “You’re thinking if we take a more civil approach that maybe just maybe she might open herself up to the idea of us being together.”

“Would it be so bad if that’s what I was thinking about doing?” she asked with a small sigh, “I mean would it be so horrible for us to let this go and just enjoy life for a little while?”

“Well no, but…” Dave frowned down at her as a sudden realization swept over him, “I’m taking this too far, aren’t I?”

“Just a little bit,” she nodded pinching her fingers together, “but I’m sure if we can just agree to let this one slide, we can find a way to salvage the evening. I’m sure it won’t take too long to clean this mess up and then maybe after we can…”

“Can what?” Dave arched a curious brow watching the way her dark eyes flooded over him offering up hints of sensual promise for them.

“Work on making nice with Cori and spending time with our daughter. I’m sure she would love to have you read her a bedtime story and then maybe later,” Carly teased her nails over the center of his chest, “well maybe later we’ll be able to come up with our very own bedtime tales…”

“I like the sound of that,” Dave leaned in to steal a kiss from her lips, “Very much Mrs. Warner.”

“Oh how I like that,” Carly mouthed sliding her arms around his shoulders, loving the feel of his solid strength beneath her touch. She hugged her body closer to his, feeling the warmth radiating between them. Their lips met in a searching, complete exploration sending sensations bouncing between them. The warmth that had started at their lips had moved it’s way down to the tips of Carly’s toes as she felt his hands outline her spine in a loving gesture.

“So where did you say Cori was at again,” Carly mouthed teasing her tongue over her husband’s lower lip before nibbling gently.

“Not far from here,” he replied squeezing her in against his eager form. He thought of all the ways he’d love to see the honeymoon continue for them starting with the here and now, but unfortunately he was well aware of the fact that his sister’s arrival wasn’t all that far off. Groaning inwardly he eased out of the kiss, “Cori should be here shortly…”

“Well I suppose that gives us a few minutes to work with before she is,” Carly decided leaning up to kiss him again only to hear the bell ringing. She felt a warmth fill over her cheeks as she took a step back, “Obviously I spoke too soon.”

“Yeah, well I don’t think we can get this out of the way soon enough,” Dave replied moving in for one last kiss as his thoughts lingered to the time in front of him when he could be alone with his wife again. Visions of the previous night’s lovemaking haunted his mind, burning him to the core as he walked over to the front door ready to face his sister. He knew he had to be nice, but given his frame of mind, he felt that might be an exceedingly difficult task. Reaching for the door, he opened it with a pasted on smile ready to do what was needed to make nice.

“Dave,” Deidra’s voice came out in a shrill wail as he realized that it wasn’t Cori at all on his doorstep. “you have to help me!”

“Deidra,” Dave questioned tilting his head to the side. His eyes swept over her and as far as he could see she was clad only in a tattered, dirty white robe. There was mud and dirt caked over her legs--over her face and as she fell forward into his arms breaking out into heaving sobs, he couldn’t help but embrace her.

“What’s wrong?” he asked pulling what appeared to be dried out leaves from the back of her head after they’d been tangled in her hair.

“You were right about everything. I should’ve listened to you. I should’ve thought about everything. He’s crazy. He’s trying to kill me!” Deidra blurted out tearfully, unable to hold back on her emotions, “I’m not safe. I never was…”

“Dave, honey what’s going on,” Carly questioned taking a step forward only to discover Deidra in his arms trembling like a leaf. “Dave…”

“I don’t know,” Dave mouthed before addressing Deidra once again, “Deidra, you need to talk to me. You need to tell me everything that happened. What is going on?”

“Everything is falling apart,” Deidra replied emphatically her words broken by her tears, “Dean’s a lunatic and I have only myself to blame for that. He’s lost his mind and now…Dave, I just know he’s going to kill me for what I’ve done. You need to help me!”


“I don’t think I have ever appreciated going to a party like I have been today,” Kellen sighed, closing the front door to his house behind Kipp. “I mean, I don’t think I have ever left a party like this feeling as happy as I am right now.”

“I knew what you meant Kellen, don’t worry about explaining,” Kipp smiled with a small shrug as Kellen sat down on his leather couch, “So, what do you want to talk about? You know, we are alone and it is easier to talk so…”

“I just want to make sure this is real,” Kellen stated, watching as Kipp walked towards the couch to take a seat next to him, “I don’t know how this happened. Do you even feel like you are making the right decision Kipp?”

“In a way, I don’t know what I am doing here Kellen,” Kipp admitted, reaching over to rest his hand on top of Kellen’s hand caringly, “but what I do know, is that this feels like the strongest thing I have ever had. And in a way, it feels like it is the best decision I have ever made in my life Kellen. I want to be with you. I don’t want to lose you from my life forever.”

“I have waited a very long time to hear you say that,” Kellen chuckled, shaking his head slowly, “I am just really happy that I can actually let my feelings out now Kipp. I never felt so good about one person. I never felt so safe and loved with one person. Kipp, with you--I know I can always be happy.”

“I want you to always feel like that,” Kipp pointed out with a small smile, enclosing his fingers tightly with Kellen’s, “I want you to feel safe with me. I want you to feel like you can trust me and be with me without worrying.”

“I have felt that for a long time Kipp,” Kellen informed him with a small laugh, “I probably sound pathetic, but I have felt that way since the first day I met you Kipp.”

“Its not pathetic at all Kellen,” Kipp protested with a small frown, reaching out to run his thumb along Kellen’s cheek lightly, “I am flattered that you like me and I feel the same way towards you. I would never see you as pathetic. Don’t ever think that.”

“I’ll remember that,” Kellen smirked, leaning into Kipp’s touch, “I just can’t believe this is happening.”

“You need to believe this is really happening Kellen,” Kipp frowned, running his hand along the side of Kellen’s arm lightly, “I mean, I don’t want you out of my life and I don’t want you out of my son’s life. I know you will be good for Charles and I know will be even better for me Kellen.”

“I’m so glad you feel that way,” Kellen smiled leaned forward to press a small peck against Kipp’s lips. “Speaking of Charles--where is he? Where did you leave him?”

“I left him at home,” Kipp answered with a small shrug after seeing the way Kellen looked at him with a slight bit of confusion, “Heather is watching him right now. I left Charles with her.”

“Are you out of your mind Kipp?” Kellen questioned with a small frown, backing away from Kipp. “You actually think that she would take care of him? Even knowing that she doesn’t know a thing about what she is doing?”

“I didn’t see any harm in it happening,” Kipp shrugged seeing the way that Kellen frowned after what he had just said, “I wanted to get to you as soon as possible. She was the first person I could think of. Anyways, this will show if she can actually handle being a mother. I’m sure that she is doing good.”

“Believe what you want Kipp,” Kellen shook his head slowly before looking down at his watch to see what time it was, “Maybe we should go back to your place to see how he is doing. I don’t want Charles to be hurt. I don’t care about Heather, I just want to make sure that Charles is going to be okay.”

“I’m sure he will be fine,” Kipp sighed standing up before reaching his hand out to Kellen’s to help him up from the couch, “That’s what I like about you. You care about my son like he is your own.”

“I wouldn’t think anything less of that perfect little boy,” Kellen declared, grabbing his coat from the couch, “Now let’s get going.”


“Tonight’s been so very wonderful,” Michelle confessed leaning into Ken. They sat together in front of a roaring fireplace at the Ashford mansion reflecting on the day with one another. After they’d stopped off to see his friend about getting things in order for the sale of the building, they’d returned to his place for a quiet dinner for two complete with candlelight and romance.

“I’m so glad to hear you say that,” Ken touched her cheek gently. He lifted her eyes to meet his gaze, “I wanted this to be a special day for you given all that you’ve brought to my life.”

“Oh Ken,” she smiled tilting up to kiss him tenderly, “I’m so glad that we were able to find our way back to one another here. I thought for sure that I’d lost you before. I was so afraid and…”

“And you don’t have to worry about that anymore,” Ken teased his fingers through her hair lazily.

“I’m so glad to hear you say that because the truth to the matter is that I’ve had something on my mind for a while--something that almost losing you put front and center for me.”

“What’s that,” he questioned seeing a spark of enthusiasm behind her dark eyes.

“Well, I got to thinking about how it felt when I almost lost you. It really made me start questioning everything. I thought about life and about all the broken dreams and promises I’ve had. I thought about all my many mistakes, but then in being with you, well it got me thinking about all the things that I still wanted from this world. I thought about the things I’d put off like having a family and settling down and it hit me that I still want those things. Each day I get further and further away from it and I don’t want to be one of those women who wake up one morning wondering where her life went. I want to be happy with a man I can love--a good man who loves me back and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the only man I wanted to share those dreams with was you Ken,” she shifted in towards him on the sofa. She traced the lines of his lips before continuing, “I really started thinking about the paths I’ve taken in my life and Ken it made me see that they all lead back to the one thing I truly want--to the man that I hope I can someday share my dreams with.”

“Michelle I…” he started to speak only to feel her press her index finger over the center of his lips.

“Ken please let me continue,” she begged of him, “I mean I realize that this is kind of fast, but I feel like we’re old souls united by a common bond--like we’ve loved before in another lifetime and that’s why I know I can ask you what it is I want to ask and I know you’ll understand…”

“Okay,” he replied tentatively leaning back into the sofa, “What’s on your mind Michelle?”

“Us and the direction we’re taking with one another,” she confessed reaching for his hand and taking it in hers. She brought his fingers up to her lips kissing them gingerly before her eyes fixed on his once again, “Ken, I know we started this off wrong, but then we had a second chance as friends and lovers and now, well now I want you to be the man that I share the rest of my life with…the missing part of my soul.”

“Michelle are you saying…” he questioned with wide eyes.

“Ken, I want to marry you. I want for you to be my husband and share my dreams with me from here on out,” she spoke out in a bold declaration. “I love you and I want to marry you. So what do you say? Will you marry me?”


“And that’s when I saw the photos,” Deidra recounted the dream vacation with Dean leading up to the nightmare that followed, “I did what I had to in order to get out of there alive. I stabbed him with a letter opener after hitting him over the head and I took off knowing that if I stayed I’d be dead.”

“Oh Deidra,” Dave replied pulling her into his arms, worry consuming him.

“So you’re telling me that he just had photos of dead women on his computer out in the open for anyone to just happen upon,” Carly took in Deidra’s story detail per detail thinking about how shaken up Deidra was when she’d arrived on their doorstep earlier. “He was just doing what? Looking at them?”

“I don’t know,” Deidra confessed turning to Carly, “I didn’t actually see him looking at them, but they were up on his computer--along with all those pictures of me… When I saw them I freaked and I didn‘t stick around to ask for an explanation. I did what I had to in order to survive.”

“You did the right thing in coming here,” Dave replied squeezing Deidra’s hand gently, much to Carly’s dismay. “I’m not going to let him hurt you.”

“I was just so afraid. I didn’t know what to do. I ran like hell knowing that my life depended on it,” she informed her friend in a rushed breath, “I knew it was a long way down, but I just didn’t care at that point. I started running through the woods and then I lost my balance. I tripped somewhere along the way and fell for at least four miles…”

“Oh Deidra,” Dave spoke her name sympathetically as his eyes cast over the scraps and bruising over her knees. Carly had given Deidra a blanket to wrap herself up in and Dave had called to have one of his men sent over to take some photographs in the event that they needed them down the line.

“How did you get over here anyways since you mentioned it was so far out of town,” Carly couldn’t help but ask with a skeptical eye. She watched the way that Deidra leaned into Dave bilking up the situation for all it was worth. Watching her husband stroke his fingers through Deidra’s tangled dark hair did nothing to ease Carly’s nerves. She cleared her throat again to alert Dave that she was unhappy about what she was seeing before she eyed Deidra expectantly, “Well?”

“I fell down the mountain and most of the way I just kind of rolled in the bushes and trees,” Deidra shuddered at the memory, “with the speed I was falling at it didn’t take nearly as long as it did when Dean and I hiked up there. I finally was able to recover and I pulled myself up off of the ground. I realized I was near a side road and I ran. I couldn’t afford to let Dean catch me you see so I kept moving. I knew if I kept moving I’d have a better chance than I would if I’d just stayed there doing nothing. All I could think about was how stupid I was--about how I just let this happen all over again. Here I was thinking that I found someone nice, someone who understood me, but he was a creep just like Christian was…”

“Who is Christian?” Carly offered up a strange look.

“Bruce Mathis,” Dave replied with a somber expression, “Deidra met him up on an island and she had the misfortune of spending time with him.”

“I see,” Carly nodded uneasily, “and how was it you were able to run off unscathed from that situation with Bruce Mathis? Did you stab him as well like you did with Dean?”

“No,” Deidra shook her head, “I didn’t have the time to think about it. I was upset when I’d met him. He and I had a brief, but horrifying fling--one that I regretted right away. He’d talked about his upcoming divorce and I talked about mine and…”

“So you slept with him thinking that he was a married man,” Carly replied with a curious expression.

“What does it matter Carly,” Dave glared over at her, “Deidra was able to escape before he could hurt her and that’s all that matters.”

“Sure,” Carly mouthed her lips turning in a scowl as Deidra returned to sucking it up from Dave. She didn’t know who to be more upset with Deidra for showing up and having a crisis, or with Dave for spooning out the attention to her. Watching the two of them together left Carly well beyond unsettled and as she shifted in her chair uneasily she found her dislike for Deidra growing exponentially.

“Listen to me,” Dave began with a solemn promise, “You’re safe now. I won’t let him or anyone else near you. We’re going to get one of my men down here to help you file a report right here instead of going downtown. We can talk this out and I’ll have him brought into custody.”

“Tell me something,” Carly thought aloud, “If you and Dean were out of town for this little misadventure, why didn’t you just go to the local police? Why come here to Dave’s house?”

“Because I wasn’t sure who I could trust. I knew I was making bad decisions and…” Deidra’s words were interrupted by the sounds of the doorbell ringing. She practically leapt off of the couch in a panic.

“It’s okay,” Dave promised embracing her once more much to Carly’s dismay. “I’m sure it’s just one of my officers coming over to take a statement.”

“Or our daughter since we were expecting her home. The last thing she needs is to see this happening,” Carly mouthed dryly catching the surprised expression on Deidra’s face.

“Daughter?” Deidra gave her a strange sideways glance.

“That’s right,” Carly nodded firmly.

“It’s a long story. We can get into it later,” Dave promised moving up from the couch to answer the door. Worried about his best friend, he just hoped that he could bring the bastard that hurt her into custody. When he found Dean, well, let’s just say that Dean was going to have to answer to him big time. Reaching for the door, Dave found himself more than eager to get this over with so that he could move onto the next step, but instead of seeing his officer before him, he found himself face to face with the devil himself.

“Dave,” Dean spoke up in a small, pinched voice, “can I talk to Deidra? I heard she was here and I need to tell her that…”

“You sick son of a bitch,” Dave lunged forward not thinking about anything other than the anger and rage he’d felt towards the man that hurt his best friend. Forget about waiting. Payback was about to start right here and now!


“So tell me about yourself,” Michael smiled, carrying the two coffees to the table and setting them down, “I know that you are Ria’s younger sister and that you’re name is Trisha, but what else is there to know about you?”

“Um,” Trisha thought for a second seeing the way that Michael looked up at her, “there really isn’t anything to tell. I mean, I guess I could say that I have a bright personality, most of the time.”

“Well, that’s always nice,” he decided with a small smirk, watching as Trisha thought for a second, “So tell me, what were you doing out today?”

“I was just trying to set something nice up for Ria and her boyfriend. They have been having a really hard time lately and I was trying to do something to make them have a better night. You know, to lighten up their moods,” Trisha explained with a small shrug, “I just thought it might be nice for a change.”

“That was very thoughtful of you Trisha,” he pointed out with a small nod, taking another sip of his coffee, “I think Ria will appreciate that. I wish people would do something like that for me every once and a while. It would be nice to have someone around to appreciate me I suppose.”

“You will sooner or later,” she assured him with a small shrug, “I mean, I haven’t yet, but I haven’t lost faith. Ria is happy with her boyfriend Kevin and I know someday, I am going to have the same kind of relationship with someone.”

“At least you still have some kind of faith in love,” he pointed out with a small smirk, “I mean, some of us don’t even have the faith. You top me off with that one.”

“You don’t believe in love?” Trisha questioned, seeing the way that he thought the question over. He left her in silence before she spoke up. “I’ll take that as a no.”

“After what has happened to me in the past,” he began with a small frown, “I don’t think that I have a lot to believe in, but enough about me. Let’s think about something else.”

“Alright, so what do you do for a living Michael?” she wondered, seeing the way that he looked up at her and set his drink back down on the table.

“I guess you could say I am a researcher,” he explained with a small shrug, “nothing important.”

“Nothing important?” Trisha questioned with a small chuckle seeing him shrug. “I think that sounds pretty important. That means you are smarter than most people. I like that about you.”

“Well, thank you,” Michael smirked, taking another sip of his coffee, “I like that someone thinks that what I do is cool. It’s really nice for a change.”


“You think we got here fast enough?” Kipp questioned with a slight bit of sarcasm behind his voice. They had just left Kellen’s house not even a few minutes ago and they were already at his house. Kellen drove, he must have been really, really worried about Charles to go that fast on the road.

“Sorry, I just wanted to get here and make sure that Charles was okay,” Kellen pointed out, locking his car up as he met Kipp and walked up the driveway with him, “I just want to make sure that everything is okay and we don’t have a thing to worry about.”

“I told you,” Kipp began, wrapping his arm around Kellen’s arm tightly, “Heather is with him, I am pretty sure that Charles will be fine with her.”

“Heather is what I am worried about,” Kellen whispered seeing the way that Kipp quickly opened the door.

“Would you look at that,” Kipp smiled, looking forward to see Charles sleeping in Heather’s arms and Heather was sleeping too. “They look so adorable together.”

“Adorable, right,” Kellen nodded slowly, shutting the door that Kipp forgot to close as he walked over to Heather and Charles. “Maybe you should take a picture or something. You are actually seeing Heather not evil for a change.”

“Oh, good idea,” Kipp snapped his fingers, running over to one of the drawers in the kitchen and pulling out a camera. He ran back into the room with a wide smile. “I got it.”

“Here,” Kellen reached out to take the camera from Kipp’s hands, “I took photography, I’ll take the picture for you Kipp. It would be my pleasure to do that for you.”

“Thanks Kellen,” Kipp grinned as he watched Kellen line up the picture and take about three shots, “That’s probably good enough. I will go and put Charles to bed. Maybe it will make Heather more comfortable.”

“Comfortable, that’s what she really needs,” Kellen gritted his teeth after seeing Kipp grab Charles in his arms lightly before taking him back into the bedroom.

Kellen’s eyes watched over Heather as she shifted where she was sleeping. Kipp thought this was cute, but he had to think different. There was no way that Heather was acting like this out of the goodness of her heart. She had to be up to something.

“We should let her sleep,” Kipp pointed out with a small sigh, seeing Kellen nod slowly after being taken out of his own thoughts about Heather, “Just follow me. We can talk or something.”

“Okay,” Kellen nodded slowly before taking one last look at Heather. Something seriously had to be up.


“You’re serious?” Ken searched Michelle’s eyes as if trying to find the punch line of this awkward scenario that she’d set before him. He saw her face solemn and full of hope before him and he knew he didn’t need to ask any further. He released his hold on her and moved back on the couch. Bringing his hands up through his hair, he felt a sudden uneasiness sweep over him.

“What’s so wrong with my wanting for us to get married?” she questioned sensing his retreat, but she was unrelenting in her hopes for a positive response out of him. “We work so well together. We’ve both hit rock bottom and worked to pull ourselves up…”

“Yes, but it’s just so soon. I mean we hardly know one another and…” Ken tried to reason with her thinking about all the reasons swimming around in his mind about why this was a really, really bad idea.

“Ken, how much more can we know about one another,” she threw out a pointed look that hinted at memories of the times they’d been intimate with one another in the past, “I’ve shared all of my demons with you and I know what I need to know about you. When I almost lost you it only reminded me how much you mean to me. Ken, I don’t want to lose you again. You mean far too much for me to have to face that.”

“Michelle, I just don’t know if now is such a good time considering that I’m still a mess. I’ve got so many things to make up for in my life and…” he began stammering a bit as he rose to his feet.

“I can help you with that,” she stood up abruptly reaching out to him, “Together we can find a way to rectify the past and seize the future in the process. We can create the kind of lives that we‘ve always wanted and I know that our getting married will be a good thing.”

“Michelle, why would you even want to marry someone like me? I’ve been nothing but trouble to those who are close to me and…” he started again.

“That’s not important. That’s the past. I see the man you are and I know where you want to be. I can see it all becoming a reality for you--for us and I think that now is the perfect time for us to just forget about what the rest of the world expects for us and go for it. We should just quit trying to play it safe and do what feels right for us,” she held his hands in hers, “Ken this is right for us. Deep down you know it is and if you look inside yourself you’ll see that we belong together. We’re already getting into a business together if you will, so why not make one more appealing merger between us? One that will bring us joy and happiness and completion at long last?”

“Michelle I just don’t think that…” Ken stopped himself remembering all he’d been through when he’d lost Caitlin. He’d loved her and she’d slipped away. He’d wanted to marry her--to share his dreams of a future and a family with her, but it was ripped from him. The same thing had happened with Wendy. They’d had so many plans to share their lives together and he’d loved her with all that he had in him, but she too had faded from his life.

With Michelle, well he couldn’t say that he’d felt the same way, yet there was something there. There was an understanding in her that no one else in this town had where he was concerned. She loved him and wanted to be there for him. She wanted to be the one to share his forever and as he thought about how lonely he’d felt over the last few months, he realized he didn’t want to feel that way anymore. He didn’t want to feel as if there was no purpose--no reason left for him. Michelle was offering him a chance to walk away from that--to move onto something with substance--something real and whole. He could be alive again and as crazy as it might’ve sounded, it felt like it was exactly what he needed.

“Please Ken. I promise that I will spend the rest of my life making you happy if you let me,” she pleaded trailing her fingers over the center of his chest, “I love you.”

“Michelle I…” he reached out to stroke her face gently before offering up a small, poignant smile, “I can’t think of a reason why I shouldn’t say yes.”

“You mean?” her eyes widened in response.

“Yes,” he nodded knowing full well he could think of a million reasons why he should run away from this, but the main reason that outweighed all of those were that he didn’t want to be alone again. He didn’t want to be empty and hated and lost inside himself. He wanted a future and freedom and happiness. It was something he could possibly have with Michelle and he intended to hold onto it with all that he had in him. “Yes I’ll marry you.”


“Where do you think they could be at?” Avery questioned stepping out of the elevator with Brant and Sarah after just rushing to the hospital with them. She looked around the hospital and saw no one around. “Do you think they are really here?”

“That’s what the person told me,” Brant replied, seeing one of the police officers in the corner. “Here I will go and talk to one of the officers to find out what is going on. To see if they know anything about all of this.”

“I’ll go with you Brant,” Avery decided, looking back at Sarah worriedly, “Sarah, do you think that you will be fine by yourself for a minute?”

“I’ll be fine,” Sarah replied, looking around the hospital slowly. If Kyle or Grady was here, they were going to find them. “Don’t worry about me, I am okay.”

“We’ll be right back Sarah, just make sure that you wait up for us” Brant promised walking away with Avery, leaving Sarah to herself to search for someone.

Sarah’s eyes finally came to a stop when she noticed what seemed to be Kyle a few feet in front of her.

“Kyle,” Sarah called out, quickly walking up to Kyle who seemed to be pacing back and forth. She touched his shoulder lightly, watching as he seemed to jump from her touch. She felt the blood on her fingertips when she noticed that he was covered in blood still. “Oh my god Kyle, are you okay? What happened?”

“I’m fine Sarah, no, I am far from being fine right about now” Kyle replied to her, looking down at his blood stained clothes, “This isn’t my blood Sarah, this is…”

“Is it Grady’s?” Sarah questioned after seeing the way that Kyle paused and couldn’t let the words out of his mouth. “Kyle, talk to me. Does it belong to Grady?”

“No,” Kyle snapped, looking down at Sarah with anger behind his face, “It doesn’t belong to Grady. Grady isn’t capable of bleeding, he doesn’t have a heart.”

“Kyle, what is going on then? Kyle please talk to me and tell me something,” Sarah pleaded an answer from him, but still nothing happened as he began to walk back and forth again throughout the room. “Who does the blood belong to?”

“Sarah, just be quiet,” Kyle begged, looking down at his bloodstained body, “I just need some time to think. I need some answers too. I just can’t sit here like this.”

“Kyle, I don’t understand,” Sarah stated with worry, watching as he glared back at her over his shoulder.

“You don’t need to understand anything Sarah,” Kyle pointed out with a scowl, “No one needs to understand. All you need to know is that someone in there is fighting for their life and they don’t deserve this at all.”


“Excuse me,” Brant called out to one of the cops who were talking to a nurse. “Excuse me officer.”

“Can I help you?” the officer questioned turning around to face Brant and Avery. They were worried from the answers they might truly be getting. “Is there something that you need?”

“Um, yes there is,” Brant replied with a small nod, “I was hoping you could tell me about Kyle Houston and Grady Denton. We got a call that they were here and I was hoping you could tell me if something was wrong with them. They are some of our really good friends and we want to make sure everything is okay.”

“Those two guys?” the officer thought of their names for a second before shaking his head slowly. He remembered Houston and Denton. They were the two boys that came in the hospital earlier. “Neither one of them are hurt. They both witnessed the shooting though.”

“The shooting? There was a shooting around Coral Valley?” Avery questioned with a gasp, seeing the officer before her nod slowly. “Who was shot?”

“Susan Hastings,” the officer answered with a small frown, thinking back to the way that they found Susan earlier. “The woman doesn’t look so good, they think we might lose her tonight. You don’t have to worry about the shooter though, we have him in custody. He is talking like you would not believe.”

“What is he saying to you?” Brant wondered, watching the officer think it over for a moment. “Did he say why he shot Susan? Was it for someone or something?”

“He said why he shot Susan alright,” the officer nodded slowly before letting out a small sigh and shaking his head slowly, “You see, he is trying to tell us that he was hired by Susan herself to kill Mr. Houston’s girlfriend.”

“So wait,” Avery thought over that information for a moment before shaking her head, “You are telling me that Susan hired some guy to kill Sarah?”

“I guess so,” the officer shrugged unsurely, “The guy says he made a mistake and thought Susan was the girlfriend. Yet did he know that he was wrong. It was far from it.”

“So this guy killed Susan, thinking that it was Sarah?” Brant questioned, trying to understand the information given to him. “How could someone do that?”

“I don’t know, that’s a horrible thing to even try and attempt” Avery gasped, thinking about the clues before looking up at the officer, “Thank you for your time officer.”

“We should go and find Sarah to tell her what’s up. Just to make sure she is okay,” Brant pointed out, walking back towards where they left Sarah. “I can’t believe that this is actually happening. Why would Susan do something like that?”


“Dave!” Carly gasped rising up from her chair just in time to see her husband plummet out of the front door onto the lawn. She eyed Deidra with contempt knowing that whatever followed was her fault, but still she couldn’t stand back and do nothing.

“What’s happening?” Deidra questioned rising up on her shaky legs. She thought to the voice she’d thought she’d heard and she had to ask, “Was that Dean?”

“That’s right princess,” Carly glared over at her, “your boyfriend is here and it looks like he’s attacking my husband.”

“What?” Deidra’s eyes widened in horror as she thought back to the way she’d wounded Dean. She remembered clearly the expression on his face when she’d stabbed him. The look of pure shock and utter horror that had drained the color from his face with the twist of the letter opener.

“You’d better hope that I can put a stop to this,” Carly warned waving her finger in Deidra’s face as she ran into the other room seeking out her pepper spray.

On shaky legs Deidra rushed over to the door watching the two men tearing one another apart on the front lawn. A few of the neighbors had come out to see the display, but no one had tried to stop it. It was as if everyone was stunned by the display before them. Dean and Dave rolled around on the lawn, hitting and kicking, slugging and punching one another with an animalistic force that caused Deidra to stand in stunned silence. She thought of the man she’d thought she’d known--the man she’d thought she’d fallen in love with and as she watched Dave kicking the crap out of him, she wished that she’d never been so stupid in the first place.

“Get out of my way,” Carly shoved Deidra aside. She marched onto the lawn just in time to watch Dean gain the upper hand. He sat over Dave, his fists flying down at the police chief with an angry force. There was no mistaking the rage and hatred emanating from the blows Dave was taking, but just before the two men could tear one another apart Carly let out a shot of the flare gun that she’d found. The popping noise caused both men to jump a bit.

“Stop it right now or else!” Carly shouted at the two of them seeing the blood that stained the front of Dean’s shirt from where Deidra had to have stabbed him.

From the tear on the front of his shirt, it almost looked like he had done a quick job of stitching himself up, but it didn’t last. The blood was soaking through the material again and Dave looked up to see what was happening. Feeling himself on the verge of spinning the situation around, he jabbed Dean where he’d been stabbed, causing Dean to buckle back with agony. He dropped to the ground and Dave slid out from underneath him. He shoved Dean face first into the grass and reached into his back pocket for the handcuffs he had with him.

“You’re under arrest you son of a bitch!” Dave shouted in a staccato, breathless hiss ready to slam the book at the man who dared to deceive Deidra and break her heart.

“Get off of me,” Dean growled up at him, “I’m warning you.”

“About what?” Dave shoved Dean further into the damp grass hearing Dean wince in obvious pain. Good. It served him right Dave remarked in a small mutter hearing the sounds of sirens approaching. Finally one lunatic was to be stopped--never to be allowed to hurt Deidra again.

“Or else I’ll have charges brought against you,” Dean cocked his head up to look up at Dave, “I swear if you don’t get off of me right now I’ll have you brought up under some serious consequences for tampering with a federal investigation.”

“You’re so full of shi…” Dave shook his head at Dean in disbelief.

“You think I’m bluffing,” Dean questioned with a pinched breath. “Check my back pocket. The left one…”

“No. I’m not buying into it,” Dave argued with him.

“Afraid I might be telling you the truth,” Dean replied unable to ignore the sharp, stinging sensation in his abdomen. His head dropped to the ground again sucking in a breath of thin, spiky blades of grass with the movement.

Still disbelieving, Dave reached for Dean’s pocket seeing a wallet inside. Cautiously he pulled it out moving just a bit to keep Dean pinned to the ground. He took a look at the driver’s license inside, thumbed through the first couple of charge cards and that’s when he finally found what Dean had him looking for. His eyes widened in horror as he fell back onto the grass breathless.

“Oh shit,” Dave mouthed looking down at the man before him as the details of Deidra’s story were starting to become painfully clear to him. He glanced over at Deidra, then back to Dean and suddenly everything made sense--too much sense for comfort during a moment like this with Dean face down on the ground with a mouth full of Dave’s front lawn and bleeding uncontrollably.


Avery walked down the hallway spotting Grady over by the benches pacing back and forth. Immediately she rushed over to him knowing that he had to be upset over what was happening. Reaching out to touch his arm, she felt him flinch beneath her touch. He spun around to face her with intense wild eyes.

“Grady, are you alright,” Avery questioned seeing the expression on his face. “What happened?”

“I could’ve killed her Avery,” Grady replied solemnly, “There I was with a gun wanting to take her down--to shoot her and put an end to her madness, but then I chickened out. I had the power in my hands, but…”

“But what? Grady what happened up there?” Avery questioned worriedly seeing the lost look on his face.

“Tonight I saw my world come to an end. I thought about what I’d lost--about what I won’t ever have in my life again and somehow redemption was right around the corner,” Grady closed his eyes thinking back, “I stood in the trees--just watching and waiting hoping that the perfect moment would return--that I would be able to serve my ultimate revenge, but then…”

“Grady, you’re not making any sense,” Avery shook her head at him watching the madness sweep over him.

“I had no choice,” Grady explained drawing in a heavy breath, “I had to put the pain and suffering to an end, but right when I’d made up my mind, that’s when it happened. That’s when I found myself in a place where the choice was made for me. I heard the sound of the gun and for a split second I thought I was the one who had done it…that it was me finally holding together enough courage to do what I’d convinced myself I would do, but I wasn’t. Someone else had taken that from me and in that moment I felt relief and worry and sadness all in one--not for Susan, but for what I’d lost--for what she’d taken from me and for the realization that I would never get it back again.”

“Oh Grady. I’m so sorry…” Avery began finding herself at a loss.

“That’s just it Avery. I’m not,” Grady explained matter of fact, “Susan is getting what she deserves and I can’t bring myself to feel sorry for her. Not in the least.”


Kyle paced around the hospital corridor ready to run a hole into the linoleum. His heart was pounding, head throbbing and all the while his thoughts were consumed by Susan. He kept replaying the night’s turn of events over and over again in his mind. He couldn’t lose sight of what had taken place. He couldn’t forget the way she’d fallen into him after she’d told him she was pregnant. He could remember the way she looked at him when she was fighting for air--she couldn’t have deserved that. No one could’ve deserved that. Yes, he’d hated her--hated her with every fiber of his being, yet when she was bleeding and so very lost in his arms all he could think about was his child--was about that little piece of him that she had inside of her.

“Kyle, you need to sit down. You’re making me nervous,” Sarah reached out to him touching his arm in an attempt at calming him. He tore his arm away from her in a quick, violent jerk his eyes darting down at her with obvious venom.

“I’m making you nervous Sarah?” he repeated shaking his head at her, his long hair swaying with the movement. His eyes narrowed, his jaw clenched and his mouth was pinched into a small hiss, “A woman is on the operating table no doubt fighting for her life. She was gunned down in my arms--her blood all over my hands and you have the audacity to say that I’m making you nervous.”

“Kyle, that’s not what I meant…” she began turning her attention to his hands, to the blood that stained his chest, his arms and his fingers. “I was just trying to…”

“Well just stop trying Sarah because I don’t want it and I certainly don’t need it,” he snarled at her, his gaze straying down the hallway to where Avery and Grady stood with one another. He could see them talking--no doubt going on and on about his violent betrayal in leaving Susan to rot. The scum, Kyle thought his anger mounting as once again Avery stood babying the man who’d proven tonight that friendship and loyalty didn’t mean anything to him. When Grady had ripped that phone apart, Kyle had wanted to choke him--to strangle him for being so smug, so heartless, but he couldn’t. He had to react. He had to find a way to save Susan…to save his child and calling for that ambulance had cost him precious seconds with helping Susan, but fortunately it didn’t take long for help to arrive.

“Kyle talk to me,” Sarah tried to reach out to him again feeling him stiffen beneath her touch. “What happened out there tonight? What were you doing out there? Where did you go?”

“Hell Sarah,” Kyle mouthed in a low, raspy tone, “I’m in hell bound and broken there betrayed by my best friend.”

“I don’t understand,” Sarah blinked up at him in confusion, “Kyle where is this coming from?”

“If anything happens to her--happens to them, then so help me God he’s a dead man,” Kyle mouthed before beginning with the obsessive movement back and forth across the floor. Back and forth. Back and forth.

“Kyle please,” Sarah tried to appeal to him one last time, but before she could capture his attention the doors before them opened and the doctor stepped forward.

“How is she?” Kyle questioned racing over to the man in front of him, “Tell me you were able to help her--to help the baby…”

“Baby,” Sarah mouthed feeling a sudden sinking feeling. Suddenly things were starting to make sense. Could it be that Susan was pregnant? That she had told Kyle that he was…

“No,” Sarah whispered under her breath fearing that her worst nightmare had come to life. Was Susan pregnant with Kyle’s child? Had her rape of him resulted in something that no one could take back? Was that one night of horror something that could ruin their lives forever and…

“I’m sorry,” the doctor replied breaking through Sarah’s thoughts and giving her the answers she was seeking. “We tried everything that we could, but she had lost too much blood and the damage was beyond our repair. I wish that we could’ve done more, but…”

“No,” Kyle shook his head adamantly, “No, that can’t be right.”

“What happened? What’s going on?” Avery questioned joining the group. She saw the color drain from Sarah’s face, the way Kyle’s face twisted in agony, “What happened?”

“I’m afraid she didn’t make it,” the doctor explained offering up a few more apologies as Kyle took a staggering step backwards. He looked as if the wind had been knocked out of him. He felt the walls closing in around him and in that moment everything he’d saw in his future--everything he’d hoped for and dreamt about after Susan had told him about his impending fatherhood came crashing down around him.

Unable to stop himself from shaking, Kyle looked over to where Grady stood. He could see the smug expression on his face--the breath of relief that escaped Grady’s lips in learning Susan’s fate and in that moment Kyle found himself unable to refrain from letting loose on him. He spun on his heel marching forward towards Grady like a wild, reckless train who’d been left to guide itself through an impending crash. Grady didn’t even see it coming--didn’t have time to prepare for the blow as Kyle’s hand curled around his neck, clenching it tightly. He slammed Grady back into the wall lifting him off of the ground and slamming him again and again into the drywall behind him.

“Kyle…” Grady gasped his name in horror. Kyle could see that he was hurting him--see that he was stealing the breath from his lips, from his lungs, but he didn’t care. With each forward movement he pounded Grady back into the wall again and again until finally Grady seemed to grow limp in his arms.

“Kyle stop!” Sarah screamed in a shrill voice trying to get him to ease up on Grady.

“You killed her! You murdered her!” Kyle repeated over and over again until finally he dropped a now trembling Grady to the ground. He thrust his foot forward kicking Grady right square in the center of his abdomen before Kyle clenched his hands in fists at his sides. “You’re dead to me. You killed them and now you’re dead to me Grady. Dead!”


...to be continued...