Episode 257

“Okay, what is wrong with you?” Kipp questioned as soon as he shut the door behind him. They had left the mall and came straight home after seeing Sarah and Blake. Kipp watched as Kellen set the bags on the ground before facing Kipp. “Something is up and I want to know what it is.”

“I’m fine,” Kellen replied with a small shrug, folding his arms out in front of his chest, “I’m perfect, just perfect.”

“Bull,” Kipp frowned because he knew that Kellen was lying to him. Kipp could just see the tension that Kellen had inside of him when he was around Blake and Sarah. He knew Kellen too well and right now he knew that something was wrong with Kellen. “Something is up and I want you to tell me.”

“There isn’t really anything to tell you Kipp,” Kellen declared, letting his arms fall at his sides, “I just find it a little ridiculous.”

“What is ridiculous?” Kipp questioned, watching Kellen look down towards the ground before shrugging his shoulders.

“The fact that every time I go away and come back,” Kellen began, thinking back to what he seemed to be seeing all the time with Kipp and Sarah, “You are always with that woman. I’m getting kind of tired of it. She clings to you like a leach.”

“Sarah?” Kipp questioned, watching Kellen look away from him. “What do you not like about Sarah? She’s my friend.”

“Friend?” Kellen let out a small laugh before shaking his head slowly. “You will bend over backwards for that woman and every time she needs help, she runs to you. Every time I see the both of you together, you are always in some type of embrace.”

“Kellen, are you jealous?” Kipp watched Kellen as he saw a muscle tense in Kellen’s jaw. Kipp let out a tiny laugh as he shook his head slowly. “You are jealous of Sarah aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah,” Kellen rolled his eyes before his piercing blue eyes met Kipp’s dark eyes. “You will do anything for that girl and she just keeps coming back. She is using you and you know--you are too blind to see it. It’s like she wants you now…”

“I don’t believe this,” Kipp continued to laugh shaking his head slowly, “I really don’t.”

“Oh, so you think it’s funny?” Kellen began to feel anger building behind his body as he threw his hands up in the air. “If you think it’s so funny--then you can stay here alone and laugh with yourself. I’m going to get my stuff and I’m leaving.”

“Kellen,” Kipp called out, watching Kellen angrily walk into his bedroom. He followed Kellen into the bedroom, watching as Kellen picked up his things. “Stop.”

“I am not going to stop,” Kellen snapped, giving Kipp a small glance, “You think it’s so funny, so why even bother?”

“Kellen,” Kipp rolled his eyes, watching Kellen walk towards his bedroom door. Kipp caught Kellen’s wrist in his hand tightly before Kipp pulled Kellen to face him.

“What?” Kellen pulled his wrist back angrily, watching Kipp lean past him before shutting the door.

“We need to talk,” Kipp declared, folding his arms out in front of his chest. “I think we need to get something straight between us right now.”


“That was awkward,” Blake stopped the long silence between Sarah and her after Kipp and Kellen left. “It was nice to see those two again after a while.”

“Something gives me the feeling that Kellen doesn’t like me,” Sarah pointed out with a small frown, “I really don’t know why, but I really don’t think he thinks too highly of me.”

“Oh, Kellen likes everyone,” Blake assured Sarah with a small wave of her hand. “ He probably is just tired, when he doesn’t have his beauty sleep--he gets a little grumpy.”

“I hope that’s it,” Sarah thought for a minute before shaking her head. She looked forward to see Seth approaching the table that they were at. “Looks like he finally made it.”

“Hey you two,” Seth smiled, taking a seat at the table before letting out a small sigh. “You would not believe the day I have had.”

“With what I have been dealing with lately,” Sarah began, leaning forward in her chair, “I just might. What happened?”

“Valerie must have been thinking it would be a nice day to annoy me again,” Seth informed them with a small shake of his head, “I can’t believe that woman, she is just ridiculous. I don’t know what it is with her, she just doesn’t get the point.”

“She’s an idiot,” Blake blurted out, placing her hand over Seth’s caringly, “You just need to ignore her. Eventually, she will go away and take a hint.”

“I think that is going to be hard to do at this point,” Seth explained, thinking back to the discussion him and Valerie had before she hurt her ankle. “She is hooked on the idea of us still being married. She is a psycho, maybe I should call Grady soon to have him help me out with the whole divorce thing.”

“Good luck with that,” Blake let out a small chuckle before shaking her head slowly, “I don’t see Grady doing that anytime soon. Now that him and Kyle are fighting.”

“Grady and Kyle are fighting?” Seth question, a tiny bit confused by the information he just got. He looked between both Sarah and Blake, they both nodded their heads as he thought things over for a moment. “Why?”

“Long story,” Blake declared before leaning forward and resting her arms on the table. “Probably a little too long for you to hear.”

“No, I want to hear about this,” Seth declared with a small sigh before shaking his head slowly, “I want to know what’s going on. Sarah?

“Well, you know how Susan died?” Sarah questioned, seeing Seth nod slowly. “You probably heard about it on the news or something. Well anyways, I guess Susan told Kyle out of nowhere that she was pregnant.”

“She could have been pregnant,” Seth pointed out before going on with what he was saying. “What I mean by that--was, she seemed like the girl who got around to a lot of guys. Did Kyle think it was his?”

“Yeah,” Sarah answered with a small nod, gulping down before thinking back to what had happened, “When Grady had the chance to help Kyle, he didn’t. Kyle got angry, nearly beat Grady to death…”

“Wait a second, are we all talking about the same Kyle and Grady?” Seth questioned, leaning back in his chair as he watched Sarah nod. “Kyle Houston and Grady Denton?”

“Yeah, and if you think Kyle and Grady fighting is bad, wait until you hear this,” Blake held her finger in the hair and pointed at Sarah, “Tell him what else happened.”

“Well,” Sarah paused for a moment, looking away from Blake and Seth as she spoke, “Kipp and I went to Susan’s house to sneak around and see what we could find. We found evidence that Susan was lying to Kyle and then I went to tell him that. And then…”

“What? Sarah, what happened?” Seth questioned, getting Sarah’s attention as he let out a small frown. “I’m your friend too, I can help things out.”

“I’m not sure that anyone can straighten things out,” Sarah decided, folding her hands out in front of her on the table, “We broke up. Kyle broke up with me.”

“Wait a second, what?” Seth shook his head, his eyebrows tensing as he thought. “You mean, the Kyle Houston that I know very good, the one that loved you more than anything in this world--broke up with you?”

“Well, he isn’t exactly the Kyle Houston that you know,” Sarah stated with a small frown, shrugging her shoulders as she spoke, “He sure isn’t the Kyle Houston that I know. And now, I don’t think I am ever going to get him back.”

“Of course you will,” Seth hushed, leaning forward to squeeze her hand friendly in his, “I know Kyle, even if he is being stupid. That man loves you Sarah, I don’t think he really could just stop loving you like that.”

“Yeah, well--I think that was the old Kyle,” she pointed out before thinking about the subject for a minute. “You know, I have to do something. I will see you later okay?”

“Alright,” Blake nodded slowly standing up and hugging Sarah before Sarah left. Blake took a seat next to Seth before shaking her head slowly. “I’m worried about her Seth, I really am.”


“That’s a nice thought,” Kyle sat there for a minute before shrugging his shoulders, “No Mindy. I’m not going to fix things because I wasn’t the one who hurt Sarah, she hurt me.”

“Which would give you more reason to do it,” Mindy declared with a small nod as he shook his head slowly. She watched him take a sip of his smoothie before she went on. “I’m not kidding.”

“How is it a good idea Mindy?” he questioned, shrugging his shoulders as his dark eyes met hers. “She’s the one that hurt me and proved to me that she couldn’t handle these type of situations--so why go begging back for her?”

“Because it proves that you are the better person,” Mindy pointed out, seeing him roll his eyes as she spoke, “I’m serious Kyle. You make her feel bad and then she will be at your feet.”

“No,” Kyle answered once more, watching as the disappointment grew behind Mindy’s features, “I figure, you can’t go back and change what she said. The only thing you can do is move forward with life and go on. I know how she feels now, so I think I can take a hint.”

“Obviously you can’t take a hint,” Mindy rolled her eyes before shaking her head at him, “Stop acting like a muscle-head moron and listen to me for once.”

“A muscle-head moron?” Kyle laughed, shaking his head slowly before looking up at her with his intense eyes. “Believe me Mindy, if I wanted Sarah back that badly, I would have her on her knees begging for me. And it sure wouldn’t be with my arm muscles if you get my point.”

“Okay, I didn’t really need to know that,” Mindy pondered that for a moment before shaking her head, “Kyle you really should just listen to me. You can bitch and moan--hell even get angry with me…”

“Would you just stop,” Kyle groaned, rolling his eyes as she spoke, “I don’t need to be the one to apologize Mindy. I did nothing wrong. Actually, I did do something wrong--if she wanted to believe that I broke up with her, I guess I should have broke up with her then and there. Shouldn’t have I?”

“Okay, now you really are acting like an idiot,” Mindy pointed out, reaching out to poke him in the shoulder, “I thought you were smart, at least that’s what I have been thinking since the first day I met you. So tell me, was all that respect I have had for you a waste? Are you not the hero that I thought you were?”

“Mindy, don’t do this to me,” he begged, looking away from her as she gave him the upset eyes. He rubbed his aching forehead before looking back at her. “I don’t want to do it, okay?”

“Kyle, you are going to do it,” she ordered, looking over his body before her, “If you don’t, I watch wrestling and I know how to tackle your ass if need be.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Kyle chuckled, his eyebrows tensing as he thought about what she just said. “Why is this such a big deal for you anyways Mindy? Why are Sarah and I important to you?”

“Because I believe in true love Kyle,” she stated with a small shrug as she reached out to squeeze his hand gently, “And I think it sucks when it gets torn apart.”

“But what you aren’t getting, is that I had nothing to do with this. She hurt me,” Kyle restated with a deep sigh, “She proved to me that true love wasn’t enough in some cases Mindy.”

“That’s another thing we are going to work on,” Mindy sighed, watching a muscle in his jaw tense as he looked up at her. “We have to work on getting your head out of your ass. So you can get back with Sarah. I need for you two to get back together.”

“You’re nuts,” Kyle pointed out with a small roll of his eyes before getting up from the table, “I am going to leave because I don’t want to hear anymore of this Mindy. I am already feeling bad enough you know.”

“You will feel better if you made up with her,” she insisted, watching him give her one last look before turning away. He was about to walk away before she called out to him. “If you don’t do it Kyle, then so help me god--I’ll…”

“You’ll what?” Kyle snapped looking back at her. “Spank me for being a bad boy?”

“I might,” she replied before standing up from the table, “You would probably like that though. So, if you don’t go and apologize to Sarah, I will post the pictures of you that I found. You know--the ones of you at Russell’s bachelor party. I’ll post every single one of them on the internet if you don’t.”

“You are just being stupid,” Kyle folded his arms out in front of his muscular chest, “You have no idea what you are really talking about? What? Did Grady tell you about that or something?”

“Um no, I saw the pictures Houston. Might I say, you look really sexy when you are totally bombed,” Mindy smirked at him, watching his face turn pale as she spoke. “And believe me, I am being very, very serious about posting them.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” Kyle let out a small chuckle, “You would want to keep those to yourself.”

“Well, I’m not so sure. I mean yeah, I like having a laugh every now and then,” she shrugged, keeping her eyes on him as he gulped down, “but I think others would want a small laugh too. They would probably find it very--amusing. It shows you in a very unflattering light, if you get my point.”

“So what,” Kyle shook his head slowly before letting out a small laugh, “Maybe someone other than Sarah will like them. Now if you will excuse me…”

“No, I will not excuse you,” Mindy snapped, getting up from the table. He began to walk towards the locker room as she took a running start towards him before leaping onto his back.

“What in the world are you doing?” Kyle questioned as she locked both of her arms around his neck. “Are you crazy?”

“If I have to do this to keep you to stay,” Mindy began as he tried to reach his hands up to pull her off him. It was no use with him trying because she had an iron grip. “I guess I must be crazy.”


Chris stood behind the tall plant near the fountain hoping to catch a glimpse of the conversation taking place between Diego and Cori. Unfortunately the running water of the fountain was making it increasingly difficult for him to hear anything other than the occasional word which meant one in maybe thirty words being said at the table. Frowning he craned his neck forward a bit into the plant, using his hands to part the thick green leaves before he felt a warmth from behind him.

“Well, what have you come up with?” Heather hissed leaning in over Chris causing him to jump forward practically toppling forward face first into the plant. He stumbled a bit, but Heather caught him before he could blow their cover completely by falling.

“Didn’t I tell you to wait?” Chris snapped at her spinning around to glare down at her. “I told you that it would be safer for me to see what’s going on with the lovebirds rather than have you over here making a scene.”

“Chris, you’ve been over here for almost twenty minutes right now and there’s nothing significant going on other than you getting up close and personal with this plant,” she eyed him wearily, “which I have to admit scares me a little.”

“I’m not getting up close and personal with the plant,” he defended himself just in time to get a mouthful of green leaves in his mouth. He pushed it away from his face in a huff, “I’m just doing what you asked me to do here.”

“And what have you discovered?” she asked placing her hands on her hips impatiently, her blue-green eyes eyeing him expectantly.

“Well, for starters it doesn’t look like they’ve decided what they want to eat there--I mean it looks a little dead in terms of the meal and then well, I did happen to notice that Cori’s got this adorable little ankle bracelet on that only adds an extra hint of sexy to her…” Chris felt her punch him in the stomach nearly causing him to buckle backwards once again into the plant. “Hey, I’m just saying.”

“I didn’t send you over here to ogle Cori. I had you come over here to figure out what it is that’s going on between them. You know to see if things are going well or if they’re going bad and…” she frowned pushing him aside, “Move. I’ll look for myself.”

“Heather, I really don’t think that’s such a smart idea considering that,” he felt her shove him out of her way again before he threw his hands up in the air, his finger catching with the fountain beside him and sending water splashing up at Heather.

“Chris!” she chastised glaring over at him.

“Sorry,” he raised his hands again catching another bit of the spray from the fountain with the movement. He set his hands down opting to remain silent while she spied on the man of interest. She stood still parting the leaves of the plant to stick her head in between their green covering. Chris leaned forward his chin resting on her shoulder. “Well, did you see anything?”

“Chris, would you just back off,” she snapped moving backward just enough to bump the back of her head into his face.

He let out a wince as he fell backward, this time losing his balance completely. He fell to the ground with a thud sending a tray a waiter was carrying over down with him.

“Chris, I don’t believe you!” Heather scowled down at him seeing the mess he’d made. There were people looking over at them and she could see Cori turning her head in their general direction. She quickly pushed the plant in front of her face before turning around to glare at Chris. “I told you not to cause a scene!”

“What?” Chris pulled himself up off of the ground wiping at the chocolate that was now on his sleeve. He dipped his finger into the goop on his clothing before dropping it into his mouth for a taste. “Not bad. I think we’ll have two of these over at our table.”

“Chris!” Heather snapped his name before glancing between the leaves of the plant again.

“On second thought maybe you’d better make that three of these,” Chris decided dipping his finger into his mouth once more. He reached out for his sleeve offering a taste up towards Heather, “You have to try this. It’s really good. I don’t know if it’s a mousse or what, but…”

“Oh God he’s coming over here,” Heather squealed pulling Chris up off of the ground in a panic. “What are we going to do? Diego is coming over and if he sees us like this, then he’s going to know that we’ve been watching him. He can’t know that’s why we came here because if he does, then it’s over for sure. He’s not going to understand and…”

“Must I do everything,” Chris groaned reaching out to Heather and pulling her into his arms.

Before she could question his actions, his lips eased in over hers, planting a very explicit kiss on her lips. Feeling that she was caught off guard, he urged her up against the wall just where they were standing, his hand sliding around her slender waist. He felt her body grow rigid, but as he heard the sound of footsteps beyond where they stood, he felt her arms curl around his shoulders. His free hand began to travel upward over her soft curves enjoying the way it felt to be holding her. His tongue dipped in between her now parted lips and he felt her brush up against him with a soft sigh. She kissed him back clearly losing herself to the moment as hints of chocolate lingered over the both of them, their mouths moving and colliding in a bittersweet union until finally Chris pulled away from her with a lazy smile.

“What do you think you were doing,” Heather questioned fighting to catch her breath as he held onto her.

“Saving you from sudden death,” he whispered watching her protest curling over her kiss-swelled lips, but before she could issue any complaints in his direction, he spotted Diego approaching out of the corner of his eye. He dove in once again kissing her with far more enthusiasm than he had the last time.

He felt her bite down on his lip, clearly indicating that she wasn’t happy with his taking advantage, but rather than wincing like he’d wanted to, Chris just eased his fingers up into her hair tugging on it in a firm, but not too harsh motion warning her to keep things in perspective. She must’ve caught on because he’d felt her arm curl around his waist, her leg brush up against his causing him to further ease her back against the wall they were standing beside. His fingers coiled down over her hip, fanning out over her warmth. He pulled her towards him, melting her body against his and soon he felt her tongue teasing his in a slow, tantalizing motion. If he’d ever thought kissing Heather before would be hot, this just proved to be scorching regardless of the circumstances behind how it had happened.

“Um sir…” a man cleared his throat uneasily capturing Heather and Chris’s attention. Their kiss continued a second longer, but when the man cleared his throat again Chris shot upward knowing that it was obviously too good to be true where the kiss was concerned.

“Yes?” Chris replied lazily, reluctantly tearing his mouth away from Heather’s. He turned to face the waiter who now seemed less than thrilled with their display.

“We’re ready with your meal whenever you are,” the man remarked with a wrinkle of his nose before glaring between Chris and Heather.

“Ah yes thank you,” Chris nodded dismissively watching the man stomp off before he turned to Heather, “What meal?”

“I ordered for us while you were wasting your time in the plant,” she shrugged her shoulders. “I figured it was the least I could do to kill time.”

“Hmm, well good thinking,” Chris nodded standing up straighter as his eyes darted to Heather’s lips.

“So do you think he saw us?” Heather questioned turning to face Chris again when she noticed her lipstick smeared over his mouth.

“I’m not sure, but if he did, well I can guarantee that right now he’s wondering how in the world he let you slip out of his reach,” Chris offered up in reassurance.

“Chris, you’ve got um…” Heather brought her hand up to the corner of her mouth trying to indicate her find to him.

“Right dinner. Let’s go,” he reached for her hand parading her over to their table once again all the while getting strange looks. He glared back at the one man in particular who was watching him before he and Heather sat down. “Boy some people are so rude. I mean honestly the way they just stare at you like…”

“Chris, you’ve got some lipstick right there,” Heather pointed her finger at him.

“Where?” he asked wiping at his mouth and missing it entirely.

“Right…there,” she gave up reaching for her napkin. She leaned over the table to dab at his mouth hoping to rid him of the crimson shade that covered his lips. Their eyes met for a long moment and an uneasy silence followed.

“Heather, about that kiss,” Chris began his fingers reaching out over the table top to skim over her hand that lay before him. He felt her soft skin thinking of all the ways in which he’d love to have the opportunity to get to know her better, but before he could say anything further she groaned.

“Damn,” she slid back into her chair, a scowl pressing over her features.

“What?” he questioned confused.

“Diego’s back at that table with her. He’s not acting like he saw anything,” she huffed folding her arms in front of her chest, “Chances are he didn’t and we wound up doing this for nothing.”

“Nothing,” he repeated reaching for his water glass before letting out a small laugh, “Right.”

“Oh well, the night is still young,” Heather tried to remind herself again and again. She turned her attention to the plate before her ready to dig in. She saw Chris pick up his fork and do the same. Seconds later he started to spit it out reaching for his water frantically.

“What in the hell did you order for me?” Chris gulped downing his glass of water in between talking to her. “It tastes like garbage.”

“I’ll have you know it’s a very healthy veggie mix. It’s one of the specialties here and it’s sure to…” Heather began in protest watching him push the plate away from him.

“Make me want to eat a cow after I throw up,” Chris groaned reaching out across the table for her water, “That’s terrible.”

“And you’re completely vile,” she muttered at him disapprovingly.

“Why didn’t you just order me a steak or something?” he questioned blankly.

“Because I don’t do steak and as long as you’re around me, then neither do you,” she reached for a forkful of her food once again watching the agitation grow behind Chris’s features.

“Oh I more than do steak,” Chris waved for the waiter, “a large, juicy one and you’re going to have to watch every single second of pleasure I derive from eating it.”

“I will not. You’re not getting it!” Heather snapped back at him, “This isn’t about you…”

“Considering I’m covered in chocolate after trying to help you out with your ridiculous man seeking quest, the least you can do is let me eat what I want to eat,” Chris announced flagging down the waiter once again to take back the plate that Heather had ordered for him. While he wanted to be accommodating, there was no reason why he couldn’t enjoy himself in the process. Sure, kissing Heather had been nice, but eating her rabbit food--not a chance.

“You’re such a brute,” she wrinkled her nose at him, “and for the record I don’t want to watch you masticate on some raw piece of meat. It’s nasty and it’s…”

“Something you’re going to have to deal with or else I’ll walk and leave you to work on getting your little boy toy back all on your own. Or better yet I’ll go have a talk with Cori and let her know what you’re up to,” he dared his dark eyes fixed upon hers.

“You wouldn’t,” she mouthed with a scowl.

“Just watch me,” he moved to get up from where he sat as the waiter arrived.

“Okay wait,” Heather frowned up at him, “You can have the steak.”

“Excellent,” Chris smiled triumphantly at her before turning to the waiter, “I’d like the biggest steak you’ve got in this place and as I told the other guy three of those chocolate thingies. They were pretty good there.”

“As you wish sir,” the man nodded jotting down a few notes before Chris smiled over at Heather again.

“See now isn’t it better now that we’re on the same page? I work so much better after a good meal,” Chris mused with a laugh.

“I hope you choke on it,” she grumbled stabbing the vegetable before her.

“And if I do, it won’t help you win any brownie points with your psychiatrist, so why don’t you stop wishing death upon me and stay focused for now,” he suggested his eyes fixed upon the way her face grew flushed with anger.

“Fine,” she pouted knowing that while Chris was driving her crazy, she had to stick to the game plan. She had to find a way to win Diego back even if it meant having to do things that she wouldn’t normally do like making out in a classy restaurant with someone like Chris Foley. Okay so maybe it was a low point, but then again kissing him hadn’t been all that bad. No. It was bad. It had to be bad considering the source, she tried to tell herself. She glanced over at Chris seeing him staring at her with a dreamy-eyed expression and she let out a groan. Boy was it going to be a long night after all!


Brant stood outside the hotel room door armed with a renewed sense of purpose and a box of bagels tucked under his arm. In his other hand he held two gourmet coffees he’d picked up on the way back over here. Sure last night he’d tanked when it came to getting the results he was looking for, but he was after all Brant Ashford and Brant never gave up--even when the chips were down.

“You can do this,” he mouthed to himself reaching out to knock on the door. He waited patiently hearing the sounds of it opening only to discover the familiar face before him.

“Brant, what are you doing here?” she groaned back at him, “I thought I told you last night…”

“I know what you said, but I really think that you should at least give this another chance. Maybe I didn’t present my case clearly last night,” Brant offered up with a bright smile, “I mean it could’ve been jet lag setting in and let’s face it that never makes anyone really on the top of their game. I’m sure that once you hear me out this morning that…”

“Brant, I already told you,” she frowned up at him.

“I know what you said and I heard it, but hey the way I see it,” Brant motioned to the box that he was holding, “I have breakfast right here with me and who can’t appreciate a good meal right?”

“Brant I really don’t think,” she started uneasily reaching for the door again.

“You can go ahead and close the door if you like, but that won’t make me go away,” Brant promised taking a step back. He nodded to the floor beneath him, “I’ll just camp out right here and have a picnic if you’re really thinking that closing the door on me is going to shut me up.”

“This is harassment,” she replied less than impressed by his warning.

“Maybe so, but what else do I have to do around here?” he questioned bending forward to set the tray of coffees down on the floor. He did the same with the box before reaching for his suit jacket and pulling it off. “I’ve got all the time in the world to wait here for you to hear me out.”

“Brant, I already told you that it was a bad idea. It’s not happening. I can’t go back to Coral Valley and that’s final,” she glared down at him.

“Fine, then be that way,” Brant plopped down on the ground reaching for the box, “I’ll just enjoy this breakfast all by my lonesome out here. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to attract attention of other hotel goers and then maybe they’ll call security which would no doubt bring the media out this way because I am after all an Ashford. Before you know it there will be cameras buzzing all around this place and I’ll have no choice but to tell the media exactly why I’m here on a day like today…”

“Brant,” she scowled down at him, “that’s blackmail.”

“No baby, that’s using the gifts that God gave me to get to where I need to be,” Brant opened up the box eyeing the bagels before him before selecting a cheese one, “the choice is yours. Either way I’m going to eat.”

She walked out into the hallway looking around before letting out an impatient huff. “Fine. Get up.”

“What? What was that?” he brought his hand up over to his ear, “I didn’t hear you. What did you say?”

“I said get up!” she snapped at him placing her hands on her hips.

“Well, I would, but you see I’ve already started breakfast and I really don’t want to walk away from a meal when…” Brant let out a long sigh knowing full well that his display was embarrassing her. Sure, she hadn’t said anything, but the color rising over her cheeks pretty much said it all.

“You can come inside,” she blurted out in frustration. “You can come in here if that will get you up and out of the hallway.”

“Gee, I don’t know. I mean I wouldn’t want to intrude,” Brant shrugged biting into his cheese bagel. “Mmm…this is good. You should really try one.”

She watched him hold the box up towards her and she snatched it away from him, jerking it out of his hold, “I’ll have one inside the hotel room. Now get up!”

“Hmm, well I don’t know,” Brant reached for a coffee extracting it carefully from the tray. He held it out to her watching her reluctantly accept it before he moved to pick up his own. He lifted it to his lips taking the first sip of the sugary sweetened coffee. “I mean you haven’t exactly said the magic word yet.”

“Magic word,” she repeated now completely frazzled. “What magic word?”

“Why please. Haven‘t you learned anything in all your years about manners,” he mouthed innocently taking another sip of his coffee.

“Please Brant,” her dark eyes begged of him knowing full well that the longer she was out in the hallway the harder this would be for her.

“Please what?” he replied making her go out on a limb for what she wanted. He chomped on another bite of the bagel again.

“Come inside with me please,” she paused seeing the pleasure he was deriving from this circumstance, “or else I’ll change my mind and leave you out here.”

“You wouldn’t dream of it,” Brant placed the bagel in his mouth keeping it between his teeth as he pulled himself up off of the floor. He eyed her intently before tearing off a piece of the bagel and grinning at her, “See now how hard was it to just be nice?”

“Oh…” she threw her hand up in the air nearly knocking the box of bagels out of her other hand while watching him prance proudly into her hotel room. Sure she’d tried to get rid of him--to give him the boot, but in true Ashford fashion, he was being increasingly difficult which only meant one thing--trouble.


“Slow down a second,” Ken began seeing the eagerness building over his pal’s features, “I know that I appointed you my best man, but…”

“But nothing. We’ve got lots to do in so little time,” Don continued with a bright grin, “The way I see it, we’re really going to live it up with it being the last time you’re ever going to be a single man. I mean hell I wound up in bed with my wife not even really remembering the wedding ceremony so I missed out on all of this fun stuff so we’ll have to make sure that same mistake isn’t going to be happening with you.”

“Okay, I get that Don, but I really would like to check in with Michelle and,” Ken started pulling his cell phone out of his pocket in an attempt to reach out to the woman he was about to marry.

“Oh no you don’t,” Don mouthed swiping the phone out of Ken’s hand. “That is so not how this works. This isn’t about looking to the future. This is about the here and now and the here and now is taking you to the first trip on our day of adventure. I was thinking we’d hit up a couple of bars, then the strip clubs since we’re not doing the whole traditional bachelor party there…”

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Ken mouthed pondering the thought for a long moment.

“Hey, you’re not supposed to think about it. It’s my job as your best man to make sure that you live life to the fullest before you’re stuck with the ball and chain,” Don wrapped his arm around Ken’s shoulders boisterously, “I mean hey don’t get me wrong there are some perks to that ball and chain, but at the same time there are women out there who are waiting to tantalize--longing to have their last big wild night with you before you go off and get respectable. These were all of the things that I missed and there is no damn way that I’m about to let the same happen to you. The way I see it you will enjoy tonight. You will party like you’ve never partied before and you’re going to have all those years of being a bachelor pale in comparison to this one night that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. I’m going to get you blind stinking drunk and by God you’re going to enjoy it!”

“You’ve lost your mind, haven’t you,” Ken couldn’t help but laugh at Don’s eagerness.

“Ken my boy. Think about this. Strippers, booze and a whole hell of a lot of partying. What can get better than that?” Don wiggled his eyebrow at him before motioning to the cab that had just pulled up in front of their hotel, “Oh look our chariot has arrived.”

“You’re nuts. You know that,” Ken shook his head at Don before looking to the cab.

“Nuts or not, you’re going to have the night of your life,” Don nudged Ken forward before carefully tucking Ken’s cell phone into his right pocket. Oh sure maybe Don was laying it on thick, but by the end of the night Don promised himself that this ridiculous notion of a wedding between Ken and Michelle would be over before it started. Hopefully Brant would be able to work his magic like he always did and knowing Shannon she was probably already working on adding the finishing touches in making this wedding to be one that would never, ever stand a chance of coming to completion. Getting into the cab with Ken, Don made a vow to himself to do anything and everything he could think of to give Ken all the reasons in the world to not think of Michelle. Drinking and strippers was most certainly a promising start--and one that Don would certainly fail to mention to Shannon when she checked in on him later. After all the less she knew about his tactics, the better. She could do her job and he’d have to chalk up the environment the best he could with Ken while he did his job as well. Boy what a challenge that would be, Don chuckled to himself ready to show Ken a night that would ultimately spin his life around forever!


“This is such a great place,” Michelle muttered, looking around the club. The lights were flashing, making her close her eyes as she felt a little dizzy. “I mean, how fun is this?”

“Really fun,” Shannon replied, holding back a small bit of laughter as she heard the slur behind Michelle’s voice. “Here, how about another one?”

“Sure,” Michelle nodded after Shannon slid her another shot. She drank down the burning liquid before wiping her mouth. “If I wasn’t smart, I would think you were trying to get me really, really drunk.”

“But you are too smart to think that,” Shannon pointed out, knowing that was the real thing she was trying to do to Michelle. The plan her and Don had set up had to have Michelle totally bombed. “You need to totally get bombed at these type of things.”

“You are so right my friend,” Michelle nodded slowly before hitting her hand on the table to motion the bartender to get her another. “This was really generous of you I hope you know. You buying all the drinks and…”

“Hey, what can I say?” Shannon questioned with a wide smile, trying to hide the disgust she had for Michelle away. “You’re my new best buddy. You can get used to this.”

“I like the sound of that,” Michelle stated with a small shake of her head before getting up from the barstool, “Excuse me, I have to use the little girl’s bathroom.”

“Alright, I’ll be here,” Shannon waved, watching Michelle walk into the bathroom. She rolled her eyes before pulling out her cell phone. “What an idiot.”

Shannon’s whole plan was to get Michelle drunk and it didn’t take much to achieve that goal. Actually, it was very easy to do. She dialed a number on her cell phone before raising it to her ear. She had to make this call quick before Michelle got back.

“Yeah hey, it’s Pryce,” Shannon heard the other officer on the phone before looking back at the bathroom door. “I need you to do me a favor. I need a background check on a woman named Michelle Sprite. Alright, call me back when you get the information. Bye.”

“Hey, who was that?” Michelle questioned, coming up from behind Shannon and sitting down.

“That was Don, he wanted to make sure we are having fun,” Shannon lied quickly before smiling widely, “Which we truly are.”

“Of course,” Michelle slurred before drinking down another shot. “So much fun.”


Avery stood on the front porch at the Denton’s house hating to have to come here under these circumstances, but after the letter she’d received from Grady she knew that there was no other alternative. She hadn’t seen Grady’s car in the driveway, but maybe just maybe if he wasn’t there, then Cheryl and Elliot might know where he’d drifted off to. With worry coursing through her veins she knocked on the door hoping to find the answers she was seeking out.

“Avery hi,” Elliot answered the door looking rather surprised to see her standing on the porch.

“Hi Elliot,” she started uneasily, “can I come in?”

“Oh of course,” Elliot nodded opening the door up to her further, “I’m surprised to see you today. Is everything alright?”

“Actually I came over to talk to you about Grady,” Avery confessed taking in a long, slow breath, “You haven’t seen him by chance have you?”

“No, not as recently as I would’ve liked,” Elliot shook his head at her, “I tried calling him earlier, but I didn’t get any answer.”

“That was what I was afraid of,” Avery mouthed worry sweeping over her features.

“I thought I heard someone come in. Elliot is someone here?” Cheryl questioned seeing Avery standing before her, “Oh Avery, honey how are you?”

“I’ve been better, been worse,” Avery shrugged her shoulders before looking to Cheryl, “Have you seen Grady lately?”

“No, Elliot and I were just trying to reach him earlier, but we didn’t get an answer. We’d tried his cell and…” Cheryl stopped herself sensing Avery’s discomfort, “What is it Avery? Is something wrong?”

“I’m honestly not sure,” Avery replied with a heavy sigh of her own, “I mean I know things have been difficult lately…”

“Of course they have,” Elliot added thinking about his son’s recent loss, “I know how hard this has been with him losing Jade and…”

“And he and Kyle being alienated from one another,” Cheryl added stepping in closer to the group, “Why I haven’t seen him this upset in a while. Elliot tried to talk him into coming over here and staying with us, but he’s been so stubborn.”

“He’s been burying himself in work and the more I try to reach out to him, the more he pushes us away,” Elliot admitted with a heavy sigh, “I wanted to get him to be with us as Cheryl said but…”

“He’s been taking this very hard,” Avery replied thinking about her last encounter with Grady, “I was with him not so long ago and I could see that he’s torn up about this. I even went looking for Kyle in the hopes of helping patch up what’s wrong between them, but I couldn’t find him either. I went back to Grady’s house and saw that he was gone. Then I got home and discovered that Grady sent me a letter.”

“What kind of letter?” Cheryl couldn’t help but ask.

“It was a rather strange one and it had me concerned,” Avery offered up not wanting to get into the details of the poignant message Grady had left with her. His letter had contained some of the most heartbreaking things she’d experienced in her life and with the finality of it, well, she found herself fearing for the worst. The way he’d spoke in the letter made him seem as if he was outside of himself lost in a world of darkness that had consumed him. Thinking about how the letter had effected her, Avery promised herself that she wouldn’t go into details with Elliot and Cheryl. If she had she knew full well how upset they’d be over it. “I think he’s really hurting right now and I’d just like to find him.”

“Why? What did it say?” Cheryl couldn’t help but ask worry creeping in over her brow, “What did he want Avery?”

“He wanted to meet with me,” Avery lied knowing that she couldn’t let them know the truth behind his words, “and when I went to his place, well he wasn’t there. I thought that maybe he’d stopped by to see you and…”

“And you thought that what? That we might know where to find him?” Elliot added piecing Avery’s words together.

“Something like that,” Avery nodded hearing the phone ring. The sound caused her to practically jump out of her skin.

“Maybe that’s him now,” Cheryl blurted out rushing over to answer the phone in the kitchen.

“Just what is he getting himself into this time,” Elliot asked sensing there was more to the story than Avery was giving them.

“I’m not really sure Elliot, but I do know that I need to find him. I need to talk to him--to explain things…” Avery trailed off her eyes darting over to the photograph that was resting on top of the coffee table. In the image she saw Grady and Russ standing in front of a lake holding up a fish that they’d caught earlier in the week at summer camp. Suddenly a thought occurred to her.

“Avery…” Elliot reached out to touch her shoulder snapping her out of her daze.

“I have to go. If you hear from Grady then please call me and let me know,” she replied in a rushed voice turning to walk out of the house.

“That wasn’t him. It was Andrea from the clinic,” Cheryl announced returning to the room to find her husband standing there by himself with a perplexed expression on his face, “Elliot, where did Avery go?”

“I don’t know,” Elliot frowned turning to face his wife, “but something tells me that maybe we should start a search for him of our own.”

“You mentioned that he was burying himself in work. Do you think it’s possible that he’s over at the office?” Cheryl couldn’t help but ask.

“I’m not sure, but it’s worth taking a look,” Elliot leaned over to kiss her on the cheek before searching the room for his keys. “You stay here in case he calls or stops by. I’ll take my cell phone in case you need to reach me.”

“Alright,” Cheryl nodded watching her husband leave as her worries mounted about what it was that her son had gotten himself into now. Knowing how hard he had taken the loss of Jade, Cheryl feared that something else had happened that could’ve pushed Grady over the edge. It was so easy for him to fall into the drinking habit and if that was what was happening again, then there was no telling what was around the corner. Walking back into the kitchen she stared at the phone saying a silent prayer that it would ring and Grady would tell her that everything was okay. However, her instincts were telling her a different story altogether. One that might not have such a happy ending.


“Damn it Mindy,” Kyle growled, trying to shake Mindy off of him as she tightened her grip around his thick neck, “Get off of me. People are going to think we are crazy.”

“Let them think that we are crazy, because in a way the both of us are,” Mindy declared as Kyle continued to try and shake her off of him. “You aren’t going to get me off Kyle.”

“Yes, I will,” Kyle stated with a small growl as he felt her bite his neck out of no where. “Ouch, you just bit me. You really are crazy, aren‘t you?”

“No, but if it gets you to listen--I’ll do it again,” Mindy warned as he shook his head quickly, “Does that mean you want me to bite you again or does that mean you are going to give me five minutes?”

“I’ll give you two minutes,” Kyle felt her arms tighten around his neck even more as he felt her legs wrap around his waist. “Okay, but make the five minutes fast.”

“Fine,” Mindy nodded slowly, keeping her grip on him still very tight, “You are going to go and apologize to Sarah. You are going to tell her that you love her and you understand what happened between you was a mistake.”

“It wasn’t a mistake if she meant it,” Kyle pointed out with a small groan as he felt her arm tighten around his throat. His face began to grow red as he tried to loosen up her arms, “You’re choking me, I hope you know.”

“That means you won’t talk then,” Mindy pointed out with a small smirk as he still tried to move her arms, “Now, I will let go if you promise to go apologize to Sarah.”

“No, I’m not going to do it,” Kyle decided, feeling her arms close around his neck even more. He closed his eyes tightly as he stumbled a bit. “You are going to kill me Mindy.”

“Tell me that you are going to go apologize to Sarah,” Mindy whispered in his ear as he shook his head once more. He fell to one of his knees as she finally saw him nod. “Tell me yes…”

“Yes, okay?” Kyle coughed, feeling her let go of him and get off of his back. He rubbed his neck as he breathed in deeply. “You’re crazy, you just tried to kill me.”

“It worked,” she pointed out, watching him slowly get to his feet, “Right?”

“Whatever,” Kyle waved her off, walking towards the locker room door as he felt her push him inside of the locker room. She followed him inside as his eyes fell on her like she was crazy. Scratch that--she really was crazy, she just proved that. “You’re in the men’s locker room and I really don’t think you look like a man.”

“Well, from the looks of things there are no other guys in here,” she pointed out looking around the locker room before looking back towards him. “Tell me that you are going to apologize to Sarah before I decide to do something very mean.”

“What are you going to do?” Kyle questioned, feeling her shove him against the locker room door. “Are you going to beat me up?”

“Close enough,” she declared, reaching down to grasp him through his jogging pants. “Now tell me yes, or Kyle junior gets it.”

“What the hell are you doing?” Kyle’s voice raised an octave as she kept a tight grip on him. “Mindy, let go of me. Please.”

“No, not until you tell me you are going to apologize to her,” she watched as Kyle’s face began to turn red as he looked forward at her. “Kyle, I swear--I will rip it off. And judging by the looks of things, you are going to be missing a lot of your body.”

“Fine, fine,” Kyle nodded quickly, biting down on his bottom lip to hold back his pain, “I’ll go to her. I promise, I promise. Mindy, please…”

“Okay,” Mindy let go of him and backed away. She watched as he fell to his knees and looked up at her with his pain filled eyes. “Sorry, that was the only way to get you to agree.”

“Ouch,” Kyle groaned, getting up on his feet as he breathed in deeply. “You are crazy. I really hope you know that.”

“Hey, what can I say?” she questioned with a small smile as she watched him place his hands over the front of his pants. “It worked didn’t it?”

“Sadly, yeah. It did,” Kyle nodded slowly, resting his head against the back of the wall. “Do you do that to everyone to get your way?”

“No, just you,” she answered with a small chuckle, seeing another muscle in his jaw tense as his voice sounded a bit cracked.

“Well, you should do that more often. You might get your way more,” Kyle gulped before looking towards the lockers. “Can I get dressed now?”

“Are you going to talk to her?” Mindy wondered, watching him nod quickly. “Remember, you never go back on a promise.”

“To you?” Kyle laughed, nodding his head slowly. He walked towards the lockers slowly as he let out a small breath. “I will do anything you want, for the sake of you tearing me to pieces.”

“That’s good then,” Mindy decided, watching as he looked back at her.

“I hate you,” Kyle shook his head slowly as continued to walk towards the lockers. “You like to hurt me.”

“You love me Kyle,” she chuckled watching him shake his head at her. “You will thank me soon, I’ll call you later.”

“Yeah, whatever,” she heard him reply to her before she walked out of the men’s locker room.

There was no doubt in Mindy’s mind that he was going to approach Sarah now. If he didn’t, she was going to continue to annoy the hell out of him.


“Make it quick,” Kellen frowned, dropping his bag to the ground as he watched Kipp search for words to say. Kellen rested his hands on his hips, waiting for Kipp to say something. “What?”

“Kellen, you have absolutely nothing to worry about,” Kipp assured Kellen with a small sigh, “You have to be crazy to think you do.”

“Well, then I must be crazy,” Kellen declared with a small shrug of his shoulders, “because every time I am around Sarah, I feel some type of negative energy about her. She doesn’t seem like a good person Kipp--and I can just tell it.”

“Sarah is a good person Kellen,” Kipp insisted, letting out a small frown before shaking his head. “Kellen, I want you and only you. Not Sarah.”

“Really?” Kellen questioned, seeing Kipp nod slowly as Kellen eyes him slowly. “Prove it to me then because I really don’t believe it.”

“Fine,” Kipp nodded slowly before pushing Kellen up against the wall. “You want me to show you how much I want to be with you? Okay then.”

“Hello,” Kellen gasped, feeling Kipp rip open his button down shirt before pulling it down his arms. “That was one of my favorite shirts I hope you know.”

“I’ll buy you a new one,” Kipp promised before pulling Kellen towards him. He pressed a kiss in over Kellen’s lips as he began pulling Kellen’s tank up Kellen’s torso.

“Kipp,” Kellen tried to stop Kipp after Kipp had pulled off his tank top. “You don’t want to get me started.”

“But, I think I do,” Kipp decided, with a small nod as he grabbed Kellen and pushed him back on the bed. “I don’t think I have felt something for anyone like I feel for you.”

“Wow,” Kellen chuckled as Kipp got in above him, “When I said prove it--I think I met more along the lines of an I love you, but…”

“You’re getting more than that,” Kipp smirked, leaning forward to press a passion filled kiss over Kellen’s lips. “Oh, and here--I love you.”

“I love you too,” Kellen replied with a small smirk as he pulled Kipp back down to him. He felt Kipp’s hand unbuttoning his jeans as he kissed Kipp. “Wait, I think I heard something.”

“You’re hearing things,” Kipp tried to assure him, going back to kissing Kellen before Kellen pulled back from the kiss again. “What is it?”

“I really think I hear your doorbell,” Kellen breathed in slowly as he nodded towards the bedroom door. “Maybe you should check it out.”

“Fine,” Kipp groaned, getting up from the bed and walking towards the bedroom door. “Get as comfortable as you need while I’m gone.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Kellen smirked, blowing Kipp a small kiss before placing his arms behind his head.

“I’ll be right back,” Kipp promised giving Kellen a small wink before walking into the hallway. Kellen was right, the doorbell was ringing. “I wonder who that could be.”


“Hello,” Diego answered his phone after walking away from the table for a moment. Cori had been talking to him and he kind of felt bad because he really wasn’t paying any attention to her. His mind was filled with worry and when his cell phone began to ring, he knew that it was moment to escape and be by himself for a moment.

“Diego, it’s Sarah,” he heard her sniff, showing that she had obviously been crying.

“Sarah, is something wrong? Are you hurt?” Diego questioned quickly, worry overcoming his body as he looked down at his watch. “Sarah?”

“Calm down,” Sarah let out a small smile before wiping another tear from her eye, “Are you really busy right now?”

“Not really,” Diego answered quickly, taking a glance back at Cori for a moment. Of course he promised to give Cori a night to remember, but if Sarah needed his help--he couldn’t turn her down. “Why?”

“I was hoping that you might be able to come over--so we could talk,” Sarah replied with a small sigh, “I really don’t think anyone would understand other than you.”

“Of course, I will be there in a little bit okay?” Diego looked down at his watch one more time before taking in a deep breath. “I can be there in about fifteen minutes.”

“Alright, sounds good,” she nodded, looking back at her clock to see what time it was, “I’ll be waiting for you.”

“Okay, bye Sarah,” Diego smirked, hanging his phone up before looking back at Cori. He felt a small rush of guilt overcome him as he thought about Cori. He walked back towards the table as he thought of a way to tell her what had happened. Cori’s eyes met his as he let out a small frown. “Cori, I need to go.”

“Go where?” Cori questioned uneasily as Diego pointed towards the door. “Where are you going Diego?”

“Sarah called and she needs my help,” Diego informed her with a small frown before letting out sigh, “I can take you home.”

“No, I’ll just walk,” she replied with a small shake of her head, “Go, she needs your help.”

“Okay, I’ll call you later. I already took care of the bill,” Diego gave Cori a kiss goodbye before leaving in hopes of helping Sarah out.

“Help,” Cori muttered under her breath before rolling her eyes. She looked around the room before noticing someone she had seen before across the room. “Heather?”

A big rush of anger overcame her as she saw the man Heather was with quickly look away from her. She angrily stood to her feet and walked over towards the two.

“What in the world are you doing here?” Cori snapped, looking down at Heather.

“Eating with a friend of mine,” Heather smirked, trying to hide the fact that Chris had brought her here to spy on Diego, “Why are you here? Are you here with Diego?”

“I was here with Diego, but he‘s gone now,” Cori declared with a small nod. “Now tell me why in the world were you and this guy here spying on me and Diego?”


Brant opened his hotel room door tossing the key across the bed before sitting down on the edge. He closed his eyes thinking back about his attempt to appeal to the woman he’d flown all this way to see. Like last night he’d hit a brick wall with her. Even after he’d pull out all the stops, she had still refused him.

“Brant, I just can’t do it. I can’t ever go back and if you keep pushing me, it’s only going to make things worse,” her voice echoed in his head over and over again.

“But what about Ken? Can’t you just push your own situation aside for a little while and think about what’s best for him? If you don’t come with me, he’ll only end up hanging himself and we both know that. You’re his last hope and if you refuse to help him, then I don’t know what’s going to happen to him. I don’t know where he’ll end up other than in his own personal hell. It’ll be a never ending cycle and he’ll keep spiraling down until it ultimately destroys him. You don’t want that to happen do you?” he’d tried to appeal to her with no luck.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was supposed to work,” Brant muttered under his breath reaching for his phone ready to update Don on his progress or lack there of it. Dialing Don’s number he was pleasantly surprised to hear Don answer.

“Hey, it’s me,” Brant explained hearing a muffled sound on the other end of the line.

“Oh hey mom. Yeah how are you doing?” Don replied with extra emphasis. “Yeah just give me a minute and I think the connection will come in clearer.”

“You’re with Ken right now, aren’t you?” Brant couldn’t help but ask knowing full well what his friend’s answer would be.

“Yeah, sure I’m with Ken right now. Yeah give me a second and I’ll tell you all about it and you can fill me in on Matt. Just give me one more minute,” Don’s voice echoed into the phone as Brant heard another rustling on the other end of the line. A few seconds passed before Don returned. “Okay, so tell me you’ve got good news for me.”

“I wish I could say I did, but right now things aren’t working out on my end like I was expecting,” Brant paused thinking about how he’d hoped to have better news about the situation at a time like this. “What about you? How are things holding up on your end? Obviously Ken’s with you, so is it safe to assume that you’ve gotten him away from that lunatic he thinks he wants to marry?”

“I did even better than you’d believe. I convinced Ken that as his best man I’ve got this whole pre-wedding bachelor party extravaganza set up for him. We’re so far from where you thought he’d be right now,” Don boasted proudly, “I’ve been keeping him so busy that he doesn’t have time to check in on that gold digging skank.”

“That’s my man,” Brant felt a smile lift over his lips, “and Ken’s not catching on about any of this, right?”

“Are you kidding,” Don laughed proudly, “He’s clueless, which explains how he got himself in this situation to begin with. After meeting Michelle I can see why you’re worried man which is why I enlisted a little help of my own on this one.”

“What do you mean?” Brant questioned uneasily not really sure what kind of plan Don had come up with on his end, but knowing Don it could either be really good or really bad considering Don’s luck.

“I asked Shannon to…” Don started to explain as Brant nearly choked at the words. “Brant, buddy are you alright?”

“Did you just say Shannon?” Brant asked in a labored breath, “As in your wife?”

“Yeah, I asked her to help out with this one and she’s really being a team player on this,” Don explained excitedly, “She’s not too fond of Michelle either so when I told her about how we have to find a way to keep Ken and Michelle far from one another right about now, well she was more than happy to oblige.”

“And here I thought that she’d say no and want to put our plans to an end considering that she hates me,” Brant muttered under his breath thinking about his ex-lover.

“Oh she still hates you, but she loves me, so you know…in that sense you lucked out,” Don added with a bright grin of his own.

“Whatever works for you man,” Brant shrugged his shoulders, “As long as you’re positive that Shannon won’t flub this up.”

“Brant you know Shannon. When she sets out to do something,” Don began thinking about his wife bold and aggressive attitude.

“Yeah, yeah I know. She gets it done, which will totally work in our favor. I think I’m almost afraid that this trip will wind up being a dead end. As much as I hate to say it I almost think that what I came here for isn’t going to happen. I wish I could’ve gotten more, but at this point with time running out…” Brant trailed off hating to admit to failure when so much was riding on his helping Ken.

“Hey, we’ll find a way to stop this wedding. Whether or not you succeed in what you went there to do, we’ll get Ken away from that woman. I promise you that man. This won’t end badly,” Don assured him whole-heartedly.

“I hope you’re right because if you’re wrong about this,” Brant offered up uneasily.

“Trust me. I won’t be wrong about this,” a long pause followed before Don spoke up quickly, “but I’d better get going before Ken starts to get suspicious. Trust me on this one. I will keep a good eye on him and make sure that he won’t be able to contact Michelle. This wedding is one that won’t be happening.”

“I hope that’s true,” Brant mouthed saying good-bye to his friend. He hung up the phone thinking about what he still had to do. Sure there was a chance that she wouldn’t cooperate. Hell, he kind of already figured that this trip had become a bust, but he hated to give up now.

“I have to find a way to make sure Michelle doesn’t get Ken where she wants him,” Brant stood up starting to pace around the room in the hopes of coming up with some alternative plan. He looked to his cell phone contemplating whether or not he should call Avery. He’d missed her even though he hadn’t had the luxury of having the time to do so, yet at the same time he knew that his being away was best for them. He looked to the phone again reaching for it. He started to dial her number before he finally hung up.

“No, now isn’t about Avery and I. It’s about Ken,” he reminded himself tossing the phone back down on the bed only to hear it start to ring. Wondering if perhaps he and Avery were somehow on the same page--that the connection was still there between them he sprung forward plopping down on the bed to answer the phone eagerly. “Hello…”

“Brant,” he heard a familiar voice on the other end of the line speak out to him. While it wasn’t Avery, it was a woman he had hoped to hear from, “hey.”

“Hi,” Brant sat up quickly thinking about the way he’d thought he wouldn’t be hearing from her again. There was a long silence that he was met with. “Are you still there?”

“As crazy as it makes me,” she hesitated again, “Yes I’m still here. I think we should talk again.”

“Does this mean that you’ve changed your mind?” he questioned hopefully wondering if all wasn’t lost in his quest to help Ken.

“It means I’d like to talk to you--over here again. Not on the phone,” she lowered her voice again, “if that’s not a problem.”

“No, that’s not a problem at all,” Brant looked at his watch, “I’ll be back over there in about ten minutes. Will that work for you?”

“Yeah, it will,” she replied saying nothing more. He heard her hang up the phone and he did the same praying that this was a second chance. Perhaps his words had gotten to her. As he collected his things grabbing a quick drink in the process, he just prayed that all things would pan out in his favor. Ken’s future was depending on it.


“Where are we going now?” Michelle questioned looking around the street. The buildings were dark and her vision was to blurry for her to actually truly realize where they were going. Michelle leaned into Shannon as she nearly lost her balance.

“We are going to this new place,” Shannon informed her, lying perfectly as she let out a small smile, “It really hip and cool. I know you are going to love it.”

“Right,” Michelle nodded slowly before following Shannon past two doors. She blocked her eyes from the bright light before letting out a small groan. “Bright lights.”

“What do we have here?” an officer approached Shannon as Shannon pulled out her ID.

“I’m part of the FBI and I found this woman on the streets,” Shannon lied, putting her ID away as Michelle was on the verge of passing out. “She’s a prostitute and I caught her on the streets soliciting.”

“Oh really?” the officer looked Michelle over before nodding slowly. “She looks like one. How about we lock her up in the back?”

“Sounds good,” Shannon nodded, following the officer towards the cells. The officer opened a cell before Shannon pushed Michelle inside it.

“Good job,” the officer smirked, taking one last look at Michelle after locking up the cell. “I would have made the same choice.”

“Of course,” Shannon smiled widely, walking out of the back and outside. She pulled out her cell phone before letting out a small laugh of victory. She dialed Don’s phone number, smiling ear to ear as she heard the ringing.

“Tell me you have some good news,” Don begged, picking up the phone quickly after noticing the number. “Make my day.”

“She’s locked away,” Shannon informed him with a small laugh, “She’s a prostitute soliciting. So I guess we could say mission accomplished.”

“Baby, I love you,” Don stated with a wide smile as he thought to himself for a moment, “but the true question is--will we be able to hold this thing out long enough?”

“Of course,” Shannon promised with a tiny nod as she thought things over, “I mean--I don’t think Ken will be finding her anytime soon. I really don’t think she is going to get out that easy.”

“Good,” Don chuckled before looking down at his watch, “Now, I think it’s time that you came back to see your very handsome husband. I have a surprise for you.”

“A surprise?” she questioned with a tiny grin. “I think I like surprises.”

“You deserve this one sweetheart,” Don promised with a small smile. What they pulled off tonight would have to be put in the books. This was truly too good to be true.


Grady sat on the edge of the bed feeling the fear that had consumed him earlier replaced by an emptiness. The shaking in his hands were now replaced by a numbness as he held the gun. He stared at it for what felt like hours on end. His life had flashed before him--every single grueling minute leading up to this moment in time as the tears stung behind his eyes. There would be no turning back after tonight. There would be no stopping the direction that destiny had charted for him. He knew what he must do.

Raising the gun in his hand he felt the courage he’d been wrestling with for most of the night finally settle in. His mind was made up. This was the only answer to his problems. He’d made his peace in his own way with Kyle and Avery and soon they would know the truth about how he’d felt. Yes, he hated to let his parents down, but at the same time he’d already given them more misery than they’d deserved. They were good parents. They’d treated him well and he was sure that while his absence in their lives would be something that they would take hard, it wouldn’t be like when Russ died. Russ was always the one who had done things the right way--the one who had really made something of himself. Grady on the other hand only knew how to cause pain to those around him--to those he cared about, but that trend would end tonight.

No one else that he loved would be butchered because of his mistakes. No one else that mattered would have to feel the pain that he’d caused simply by bringing evil into their lives. Yes, Susan may have been gone, but he too was to blame for what had happened. If he hadn’t married her--if he hadn’t have gone down that path, then it all would’ve been different. Russ would still be alive. Jade would still be there with him--she would be happy and able to live out her life the way she’d wanted to. Avery wouldn’t be miserable. Kyle wouldn’t be lost in a world of grief.

“No more,” Grady mouthed tears burning down his cheeks as he raised the gun catching a flicker of light off of the metal before him. Opening his mouth he prepared to bite down on fate, but then an image popped into his head. There was a chance that he could screw this up. Given his track record perhaps this wasn’t the right way to do this. He had to do this in such a way that it wouldn’t’ come back to cause those who cared about him more pain. He couldn’t wind up in the hospital as a vegetable to be a burden. This had to be done properly. Removing the barrel from his mouth he raised it up to his temple feeling the cold, hard metal pressed in against his skin.

“You can do this,” he mouthed to himself feeling tears stinging at his cheeks, his teeth clenched as his heart thudded in his chest. There would be no turning back--no changing the outcome. This night would be the ultimate ending to a failed existence. Holding the trigger with his finger he started to pull back a bit. His finger locked up, leaving him in the state of being almost there--almost ready to make his final exit. He thought he heard a sound from beyond where he sat, but then realized it was his heart pounding in his chest daring him to do what he was there to do. He was so close--so ready--so willing to take that leap when a voice sounded out.

“Grady stop! Please don’t do it,” the voice beckoned him. At first he thought it was his conscience speaking, but as he opened his eyes he saw Avery standing before him worry washing over her as she took a step forward, her tear filled eyes beckoning him again, “Grady please put the gun down.”


...to be continued...