Episode 267

“I don’t ever want to lose you again Wendy,” Ken whispered, wrapping his arms around her tighter. “I’m never going to let you go again, no matter how long the lengths I have to go are. I want to be here for you every step of the way.”

“That’s the thing Ken,” Wendy frowned, pulling slightly back from him. She reached her hand up to touch his cheek gently, staring into his dark eyes. “I don’t think you can handle following every step of the way. Ken, I don’t want you to be hurt when it comes to the end…”

“Don’t,” Ken placed his index finger in over her lips gently, “I don’t even want you to think about that. I am going to do everything in my power to get you better. I promise.”

“You can’t get me better, don’t you think I’ve tried?” Wendy questioned with a small sigh as her saddened eyes looked away from his. “I can’t let you live through the pain Ken, I can’t let you go through all that pain.”

“I don’t care,” Ken protested, slipping his fingers in underneath her chin to make her look up at him. “I want to be with you Wendy. I want us to start over.”

“It won’t last Ken, don’t you understand that?” Wendy questioned with a small frown, feeling a tear slide down the side of her face slowly. “You want to be with me forever, but you don’t understand that forever to me isn’t long at all. I want to be with you Ken, I really do, but…”

“But nothing,” Ken cut her off, reaching up to push a tear away from her cheek. He reached his right hand down to hers, enclosing his fingers with hers tightly. “Wendy, I don’t care what my father said and I don’t care what is going to happen. All I want to think about is, how can I start my life over with you. You say you want to be with me, so be with me. Whatever happens in the future, we can work through together. We could be a team and you will never have to do this alone. You’ll always have someone to lean on Wendy.”

“I don’t want to lean on you Ken,” Wendy declared, feeling him squeeze her hand tighter in his. Her eyes were blurry from the tears that were falling. “I can’t put you through all the pain. If I keep leaning on you Ken, you’re never going to be happy.”

“Yes, I will,” Ken insisted with a small shake of his head. He couldn’t believe the words he was hearing right now from Wendy. For the last few years, he had been wishing like hell he could somehow reach out to her again. That he could restart and redo whatever it was that he did wrong. “I don’t want to lose you again Wendy, I don’t care what the chances are. There have been plenty of times where doctors have said something, but it doesn’t happen. Anyways, I have loved you my whole life no matter what, what makes you think that is going to change now? I’ve wished like hell that I could get you back. I wished that I could hold you in my arms again, and now I have the chance. I have the chance to be with the woman I dream about every night. Wendy, I’ll be there for you.”

“I know you want to be there for me Ken,” Wendy began as he placed his index finger over her lips once more to hold her off.

“Wendy, I won’t let you leave,” he declared, shaking his head slowly as he spoke. He wasn’t about to give up the best thing that had walked back into his life. “I don’t care what the obstacles are, I don’t care how long it takes to get you better, I want to be with you. Just please don’t break my heart again by leaving me. All you need to know is that if you need a hand to hold, mine is right here for you. I can be here for you at any time. You have to know that.”

“Ken, I…” Wendy sought for words to say, but she was cut off by the emotion she was feeling inside for Ken. Without saying anything else, she leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly. “I love you Ken, I always have. And if you truly want to be with me, to go through all of this--then I won’t stop you. I’m just giving you a warning now.”

“Well pass all the warnings,” Ken whispered, running his hand through her dark hair lightly. “I want to be here, I want to go through all of this. Most of all, I want to be with you.”

“I want to be with you too Ken,” Wendy stated with a tiny sigh, leaning into the warmth of Ken’s body as he held onto her tightly. She had longed to hold him like this again for so long and now she was here with Ken. “I have always wanted to be with you. Since the first time I saw you and I still do.”


“Would you please stop hitting me,” Don begged, folding his arm around his stomach after punched again by Michelle. “What is your problem? Don’t you handle things better than this? You’re so damn aggressive.”

“You’re damn right I am aggressive,” Michelle yelled pulling herself away from Hart’s grasp. She walked up to Don and hit him in the stomach once more making him let out a small groan. “And no, I will not stop.”

“I am so going to get you,” Don gasped for air as he hunched over for a minute. He felt Michelle jump on his back and her arms wrap around his neck tightly. “Damn girl, what are you on steroids?”

“Here,” Hart took a step forward towards them as Don tried to pull her off him. Don motioned Hart to stop before he came closer to them. “You don’t need any help I guess?”

“I can handle this,” Don assured him with a small groan as he leaned and grabbed Michelle’s legs so that he had her body up on his shoulders. “You want a ride? I’ll take you for a ride.”

“What are you doing you idiot?” Michelle questioned, feeling Don begin to spin around in circles over and over again. He must have done it at least ten times before one of the guys spoke up.

“What are you doing?” Hart couldn’t help but ask in a tiny laugh as he watched Don continue to spin around in circle with Michelle on his shoulders. “Don, your going to make her throw up on you man.”

“I don’t care,” Don replied with a small shake of his head as he felt the room spinning around him. He felt Michelle grip onto his shoulder tightly as he heard Hart laughing in the background. “This will stop her from hitting me for a while.”

“Don you might want to,” Hart watched, cutting himself off with a tiny amount of laughter as he saw Don begin to spin faster. “You might want to stop.”

“You’re probably right,” Don felt himself become dizzy as he slowly stopped and set Michelle on her feet, watching as she fell down on her butt.

“Don, watch out,” Hart called out to Don, watching as Don stumbled backwards towards the benches and flipped over the bench with his feet hanging over the top. “Don, are you okay?”

“I’m okay,” Don answered with a small groan as he pulled his legs off of the bench and slowly pulled himself up. He let go of the bench that was giving him the support to stand up, but it only made him fall to the ground face first. “Okay, I think I need some help.”

“Coming,” Hart chuckled, walking over towards the benches, reaching down to help Don up by his arm. He watched Don slowly get to his knees before getting to his feet. “You okay man?”

“I’m fine,” Don answered, feeling Hart let go of him as he stumbled backwards in to the bench.

“You alright?” Hart questioned, seeing Don now sitting on the bench. “Man, do you need help?”

“No, I’m all good,” Don lied with a small shake of his head as he lifted his hand up in front of his face. He shook his head as his vision was still blurred. “Man, it looks like I have three hands.”

“Come on,” Hart rolled his eyes as he pulled Don up from the bench and helped him walk over towards Michelle who was now getting up from the ground.

“You asshole,” Michelle yelled, throwing her fist out and nailing Don in the nose, making him fall face first to the ground again. She watched as he tried to get up, but only fell back down to the ground. “You are such a loser.”

“I’ll be back,” Don groaned, slowly getting to his knees and crawling towards the door. He looked back towards Hart with a sympathetic frown, “take care of her while I’m gone.”

“Don, where are you going?” Hart questioned, watching Don crawl out into the hallway and away from sight. “Oh great.”

“Well, now what are you going to do?” Michelle questioned, folding her arms out in front of her chest. “Come on Hart, what’s your next quest to being an even bigger idiot?”

“I think it’s calling me right now,” Hart smiled, pulling his cell phone out and answering it as he held his index finger up to motion Michelle to wait. “Steiner. Oh really? That’s great news.”

“Who is it?” Michelle eagerly questioned, seeing the weasel smirk spread over his features. “Who is it?”

“It’s about your friend Candice,” Hart informed her with a small smile, holding the phone down for a minute. “She got arrested for taking money and I suggest that you leave while you can.”

“And why is that?” Michelle questioned, seeing Don walk back into the room with pop can against his nose.

“Where the hell did you go?” Hart wondered, looking back at Don who slowly approached them. Don pulled the can away from his nose for a moment before letting out a small wince.

“To get something cold,” Don answered with a small groan, placing the can back on his nose. Michelle reached forward to snatch the pop away from his nose as he let out a small whimper. “Ouch, give me that back.”

“You‘re ridiculous,” Michelle pointed out with a small shake of her head. She pointed towards Hart with the pop can still in her hand, a frown spread over her features. “Hart needs to finish talking”

“Oh yes, like I was saying,” Hart began in a sarcastic tone, nodding his head as he spoke, “We have Candice in custody and she is willing to give up all the information on you.”

“Bull shit,” Michelle saw Hart arch his eyebrow up in as he eyed her over slowly, “that’s bull, she wouldn’t do that.”

“Looks like some friends will do anything to get out of jail,” Hart stated with a small shake of his head. He looked over at Don before smiling widely. “What would you say about that Don?”

“I would say that you’re screwed,” Don stuck out his tongue at her raising his hands up and wiggling his fingers at her.

“That’s it,” Michelle took a step forward towards Don, watching as he quickly ducked behind Hart, grabbing onto Hart’s jacket.

“Oh damn man, don’t let her touch me,” Don begged, looking over Hart’s shoulder at Michelle. “She hits hard man and I won’t hit back. Just stay away from me.”

“Anyways,” Hart rolled his eyes, pointing towards his phone, “If you don’t believe me, I can let you talk to them. But if you realize that the look on my face is serious, I suggest that you go and you go now.”

“You are serious,” Michelle muttered, looking into Hart’s eyes as he nodded slowly. She started to walk towards the door before turning back around at them. She saw Don step away from Hart as she held up her hand. “All of you are going to pay in the future. I can promise you that.”

“Yeah, and if you come back to town you are going to get slammed,” Hart informed her with a small wink before shrugging his shoulders. “I almost forgot you’re a blonde, I should make things more clear for you. By getting slammed, you are getting put in the slammer. As in jail.”

“Screw you,” Michelle shook her head slowly before hearing someone speak up once more.

“Oh yeah, well you owe me a dollar twenty-five for that pop,” Don pointed out towards the soda in Michelle’s right hand.

“I’ll give you something better,” Michelle turned around and launched the pop at Don, watching as it hit him between the groin and his stomach. “Damn, I missed.”

“Bitch,” Don’s eyes crossed as he fell to the ground and heard Michelle leave the room. “I can’t believe her.”

“I can,” Brant offered up, walking forward as Don looked back to see Brant sitting on one of the benches in the corner. A small frown appeared over Don’s features as Brant got off the bench and walked over towards Hart and Don. Brant stopped in front of Don to pick the pop up from the floor before opening it and taking a sip. “What?”

“That’s was mine I hope you know,” Don pointed out with a small groan as he slowly rose to his feet. “You’ve been here the whole time?”

“Yeah, I just figured you were handling it so well,” Brant shrugged his shoulders, taking another sip of the pop, “that I would let you handle everything Don.”

“I hate you,” Don frowned, reaching out to grab the pop from Brant’s hands. He took a sip of it, feeling Brant pat him on the back, making him spit out the pop.

“I’m sure you do,” Brant laughed along with Hart as Don glared back at them. “It looks like you really got Michelle though man. What a way to stand up against someone who is about ten inches shorter than you.”

“Hey, at least I tried,” Don shrugged, taking a sip of the pop before handing it to Brant. “I really hate that woman.”


“I still don’t know if this is such a good idea,” Jenna began uneasily staring across the table at Walt now that they were seated at a private booth at one of the local café’s. While she knew full well that Hart would be upset about her even entertaining the notion of spending time with his father, Walt had come off as seeming so desperate--so eager to reach out to her that she couldn’t refuse. Of course she just hoped that this meeting wouldn’t come back to haunt her in the end.

“I appreciate your giving me some of your time,” Walt offered up with a small smile, “It’s more than my son has done these days.”

“Your son seems to have plenty of reason to feel the way he does,” Jenna added stiffly remembering the things that Hart had said about his father during the brief moments she’d been able to get him to open up.

“And I’m not about to deny that,” Walt set his hands down on the table top, “because I’ll be rather frank with you Ms. Carpenter. To call myself a son of a bitch wouldn’t even begin to be an accurate depiction of the man that I am. I treated my son poorly growing up and I don’t blame him for any of the animosity that he feels towards me right now. I deserve his anger and most of all I can’t blame him for how he feels now that I’m back in town.”

“I don’t understand,” Jenna gave him a strange look, “If you know all those things, then why are you here? Why do you keep trying to contact him?”

“Have you ever had a moment when you had a bit of an epiphany? Where your life seems to flash before your life and you suddenly realize all of your mistakes and where you went wrong,” Walt questioned his eyes filled with a sudden sense of remorse. Before Jenna could answer he continued to speak, “Well Ms. Carpenter I must admit that up until a couple of months ago I may have had that same expression on my face as you did. In my mind nothing I did was wrong, yet it wasn’t until one cold morning that I woke up and saw how far I’d fallen from where I once was. Here I’d buried my wife, alienated my son and my professional life went down the tubes. Yes, I’d been able to rebuild my empire after some work, but I could never get back the things that I’d lost--the things that a man in my position would want to hold onto…”

Jenna watched him fall into a deep, profound silence and in that moment it all became suddenly clear. She gasped, “You’re dying, aren’t you?”

He said nothing but with the way his eyes met hers in that moment, she knew that she’d hit the mark. While she’d heard the stories of the monster who had made Hart miserable, there before her was a man who was facing his impending demise and in those seconds of silence she saw someone before her who was hurt and clearly vulnerable.

“It’s amazing how the realization of one’s mortality comes into play only at a time when you see just how close you are to losing everything,” Walt replied with a poignant smile, “It’s only then when your life becomes apparently clear to you. It’s in those moments of awakening that you understand how far you fell from where you’d intended to be…”

“I’m sorry,” Jenna offered up in consolation reaching out across the table to squeeze his hand gently. She realized what she’d done and she pulled back, “That’s why you’re here, aren’t you? To make amends with Hart before you’re gone?”

He nodded, “Although from the looks of things I don’t believe that I’m going to get that opportunity. My son is a very bitter man and I know I have only myself to blame. I realize that I have no right coming here and asking him to be a part of my life--to have me back again, but there is so much I realize that now I need to say--so many things that I need to do…”

“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that is something that you can just make happen,” Jenna informed him honestly her thoughts returning to the man she loved, “Hart’s got a lot of hurt going on inside of him and I don’t know what will come of it.”

“If he’s anything like I raised him to be, he’d rather see me six feet under rather than have any kind of reconciliation,” he sat up straighter, “As I said before I know I only have myself to blame for this, but at the same time I’d like to at least try you see. At my age when you get to this point, you have to take stock in your life and I know now that the most important things in life were the ones that I pushed so far away from me. I’m just hoping that I can give this one more try--one last chance to see what I can make of it all…”

“I can’t make you any promises,” Jenna offered up with a sad smile, “but maybe I can…”

Her words were interrupted by the sound of her cell phone. Reaching into her pocket she half expected to hear Hart on the other end of the line alerting her that he was home, but instead she was met by the sounds of Sam’s tears of frustration.

“Jenna, hey…” Sam sniffled sounding completely overwhelmed, “Look I know that I probably have no business calling you like this, but my mom and I got into this big fight. She kicked me out of the car in the middle of it and I didn’t know who else to call. Wayne is out of town for that seminar and I don’t have my purse on me and…”

“Where are you Sam,” Jenna questioned worry evident in her tone.

“I’m downtown,” Sam explained with a small pause, “Near the train station I think. I was out with my mom having dinner and she completely flipped out on me. One minute we were talking about the party I was planning for Wayne and the next, well she just totally wigged out. I just don’t know who else to call since most of my friends live way out of town and my best friend is on vacation and…”

“Say no more,” Jenna decided glancing over at Walt briefly, “I can be down there in about five minutes. Just stay over by the fountain and I’ll be there as soon as I can be.”

“I don’t mean to be a bother Jenna, but…” Sam began again obviously shaken by her mother’s anger.

“It’s okay honey. I’ll be right there,” Jenna promised saying her good-byes to Sam before looking to Walt apologetically, “I’m sorry, but I have to cut this short. A friend of mine is in trouble and…”

“I can hear that,” Walt nodded eyeing her intently, “Although I must confess I was hoping we could talk a bit further.”

“I would, but…” Jenna thought about Sam--about how upset she appeared to be. Knowing full well that a fight with her mother had to be ugly since Jenna had often had some of those with her own mother, Jenna wanted to find a way to help her through the sticky situation. Looking at Walt again Jenna also knew that they had far more to discuss.

“Why don’t I drive you to where you need to go?” Walt suggested with a small smile, “I mean it’s the least I can do…”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea considering that…” Jenna’s thoughts lingered to Sam once more.

“You parked in the structure and I know it can take forever to get out of there. I remember what it was like on a weekend like this,” Walt motioned to the people flooding out of the parking structure. He could see the uneasiness building behind her eyes and he reached into his pocket withdrawing his keys, “Look if you would feel better driving, then by all means my car is at your disposal.”

Jenna eyes the keys for a long moment recalling the sound of desperation in Sam’s voice. She knew only too well how hurt Sam must’ve been and without further hesitation she swiped up Walt’s car keys from the table top.

“Nothing personal,” Jenna explained rising up from where she said. “No offense.”

“None taken,” Walt replied holding his hands up in the air to alert her that he was alright with the situation. He followed her out of the café as Jenna’s thoughts returned to Sam. She just hoped and prayed that whatever it was Sam and Beth had fought about that Sam wasn’t torn to pieces over it. Okay, so maybe it was a little too late for that, but still Jenna was going to do what she could to try to make the situation a little bit better for everyone.


Dave walked through the hallways of the hospital slowly as he searched for the room he was told to go to. Earlier, he had been called with the information about Bruce’s attack. He heard how Deidra had been attacked and he was just a little worried. He didn’t know how hurt Deidra had gotten in the fight and he had to wonder how she got away from him. Sure, he heard bits and pieces on what happened, but no one really knew for sure what truthfully happened.

“This is it,” Dave sighed to himself as he leaned forward to knock on the door lightly. He heard Deidra call to beckon him into the room as he pushed opened the door slowly, seeing her sitting on the edge of the bed with Dean. He saw that Dean’s arm was wrapped around her shoulder tightly as he smiled and shut the door slowly. “Hey you two.”

“Dave, hey,” Deidra smiled, looking up to see Dave slowly walking over towards the bed. “What are you doing here? I didn’t expect to see you.”

“I heard what happened,” Dave informed her with a small gulp as he thought of all the things that had happened. Dave slid his hands into his pockets as he watched Dean kiss Deidra’s forehead gently. “I came to hear the full story on this whole thing. It’s like everyone has all of their stories mixed up.”

“Oh, well I don’t know if I can tell you everything,” Deidra frowned looking over at Dean as Dean shrugged his shoulders. “You should tell him what you saw sweetheart.”

“Uh, well,” Dean began, running his fingers along the back of his neck lightly. He thought back to the event that had happened earlier, he should have it down perfectly now with all of the people he told already. “I walked into the bathroom after the bodyguard we put on her said she was in there for a while. I saw that she wasn’t there and then I heard her scream.”

“So Bruce was in the bathroom when you went in there?” Dave questioned with a small frown, seeing Deidra nod slowly. “I am going to kill that guy. He was supposed to go in there with you.”

“Don’t do that,” Deidra begged, shaking her head slowly as she spoke. “I begged the guy not to go in there, he shouldn’t get in trouble for something I wanted him to do. It was my stupid mistake, not his.”

“Fine,” Dave shrugged his shoulders, giving the time for his anger to go down before he nodded, motioning Dean to go on with his story. “Go ahead with the story.”

“Well, I found them and tried to fight Bruce off,” Dean remembered the fight that he truthfully was getting quite tired of telling. “He got me down by stabbing me, but at least I can say I saved Deidra. That’s all that matters to me.”

“Well, I guess you could say you’re a very brave man,” Dave replied with a small sigh as he watched Dean hug Deidra in closer to him. “I just want you two to know that Bruce won’t get away with this. We are going to find him and make sure he pays.”

“Thank you Dave,” Deidra smiled, watching as Dave walked back towards the door before turning around.

“One more thing,” Dave held is hand up in the air as a small frown passed his lips. “I want you two to be careful. I don’t want anything to happen to either one of you.”

“Thanks,” Dean smiled, watching as Dave walked out into the hallway and shut the door behind him.


Judy and Richard rushed off of the elevators heading towards where they’d been told that they could find Deidra. Seeing her straight ahead of them, Judy sped up hoping to get a few words in with her daughter after Deidra’s brief phone call hadn’t made much sense. Rushing into the room Judy noticed Deidra standing beside a hospital bed where Dean lay before them.

“Mom, thank God you’re here,” Deidra embraced her mother with a breath of relief, “You have no idea what tonight has been like. I mean it’s been a few days of hell, but…”

“But what’s going on,” Judy questioned worriedly.

“Dean saved my life,” Deidra replied glancing over at her own personal hero, “Bruce Mathis came back to try to get me. He attacked me at the hospital, but before he could hurt me, Dean came in and was able to get Bruce to let go of me. He saved me and got hurt in the process.”

“It was nothing,” Dean added with a thoughtful expression, “I was just doing what I felt was right.”

“And it’s because of him that I’m still here today to be sharing this moment with you,” Deidra explained a smile pressing in over her lips, “I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

“Hopefully we won’t have to think about that anymore,” Judy turned to eye Dean intently seeing the way Deidra’s eyes had lit up when she spoke about him, “I think thanks are in order because you made sure that I wouldn’t be losing my daughter.”

“It was nothing,” Dean paused, “Well it was worth it actually because I couldn’t bear the thought of that man hurting her either. I knew that I had to find a way to keep her safe even if she was less than thrilled about having me around.”

“I was wrong about that,” Deidra moved in beside him placing her fingers gingerly over his shoulder, “and I don’t plan on making that mistake twice in a lifetime.”

“I’m so grateful to hear that you’re both okay,” Judy continued thinking about how close it must’ve come to her daughter being hurt.

“What about Bruce,” Richard questioned breaking his long silence as he noted Dean’s injuries. “What happened with him? Was he taken into custody or what?”

“Actually,” Dean hesitated exchanging worried glances with Deidra.

“Dean tried to stop him, but he ran off into the night. They are still looking for him,” Deidra informed Richard with a small breath.

“And they don’t anticipate that he’s gotten too far. He’s gone from being careful about things to becoming a man on the edge. He’s letting his emotions get the best of him and that’s something that we believe will ultimately be his undoing,” Dean replied turning his attention to Richard.

“In other words what you’re telling me is that man is still very much on the loose and he’s out there without anyone having any inkling of where he’s gone to once again,” Richard remarked with a scowl, “My daughter is out there and all you can tell me is that you think that this time everyone is closing in on him.”

“Rick, I’m sure that they will find him. If he was involved in some kind of scuffle with Dean like this, then there’s no way that he can…” Judy offered up knowing full well about Richard’s worries.

“Trust me Judy. As long as he’s still out there, then Avery is far from being safe. The man was obsessed with her. He wanted nothing more than to destroy her,” Richard mouthed with a tight frown, “Remember her honeymoon?”

“Well yes, but…” Judy stammered a bit not knowing what to say.

“The best of the FBI are out there right now searching for him. He won’t get far,” Dean tried to offer up in an attempt to ease Richard’s mind.

“That was what they’d said before when Mathis was able to break into my daughter’s home and turn her world upside down,” Richard shook his head his worries mounting, “I’m afraid that as long as that man is out there, then my daughter will never be free. She will never be able to have the kind of life that she was dreaming about. He’s tried to take away her dreams time and time again and if he’s not caught soon, well I don’t want to think about what he can do to my little girl. I have to find her and make sure she’s safe…”

“Rick,” Judy watched him walk out of the room before turning apologetically to Dean and Deidra.
“I can call and check on how the search is going,” Dean suggested knowing full well for those whom Bruce had hurt, the fear and danger was far from over!


“Kyle?” Grady muttered Kyle’s name again, pushing at Kyle’s body again. Grady placed his right arm over Kyle’s abdomen as he heard Russell get up from the corner of the room. “I’m so sorry Kyle, please--say something.”

“He can’t be dead,” Russell muttered, walking over towards Grady and Kyle. Russell watched as Kyle’s body laid limp in the middle of the room with Grady over him. Russell watched as Grady pushed his hand into Kyle’s chest again trying to get him to move. “He just saved all of us, he couldn’t be dead.”

“This can’t be happening, this all has to be a horrible dream. Russ you’re here and Kyle is dead,” Grady felt his voice tighten as he realized what was going on before him. Grady rested his head against his arm as he let out a small groan.

“Grady,” Russell reached out to touch Grady as he felt Grady pull his arm away from him. “Grady, come on. You have to get up. We have to get you some help.”

“No, I‘m not going anywhere without Kyle, I can‘t leave him. He‘s been through too much to let us give up on him now,” Grady snapped, looking back at Russell with an angered expression. His eyes were filled with pain as he turned back towards Kyle. He slammed his palm into Kyle’s chest as he let out a small breath. “Damn it Kyle, wake up. Kyle wake up.”

“Grady,” Russell frowned, watching Grady slam the palm of his hand into Kyle’s chest a few more times. Around the fifth hit, he saw Bruce’s body move as he heard a small groan. “Oh god, where’s the gun? Bruce is still alive.”

“Ouch, you don’t need to kill me. I think I deserve to live after what I did,” Kyle’s voice echoed in a small joking tone that ran through Russell and Grady’s ears. Grady raised his head up to see Kyle’s eyes slowly opening. Kyle raised his hand up to the spot that Grady was hitting as he let out a small wince. “Damn, what are you doing to me? Trying to break my heart or something?”

“It’s not a joke Kyle, you’re actually alive,” Grady muttered, seeing Kyle try to move Bruce off of his arm. “I thought…we thought you died.”

“I must have passed out,” Kyle groaned, trying to push Bruce off his arm again. “Could I have a little help here from anyone? Any help at all might be nice.”

“Sorry,” Russell bent down to quickly push Bruce’s body off of Kyle. He watched Kyle sit up slowly as he let out a small hiss. “You got shot too, we have to get you and Grady help real quick.”

“I’m not shot,” Kyle stated with a small shake of his head as he looked over at Bruce. “If I had to take one guess, I would say he was the one that got shot.”

“But you’re bleeding,” Grady pointed down to the white shirt that was covered in blood.

“It’s not mine,” Kyle explained, lifting up the bottom of his shirt as he looked over his abdomen. He lifted his shirt up a little more as he saw the redness over his chest. “If anything, I would say I am going to have quite a lot of bruises later. Unless you see anything. Any bullet holes?”

“None that I can see from here,” Russell replied with a small sigh of relief, “You scared the crap out of all of us man. We all thought you died.”

“I’m sorry about that guys,” Kyle apologized, pulling his shirt back down as he let out a small sigh. “I just passed out, I didn’t mean to scare all of you.”

“We’re just thankful you aren’t hurt,” Russell pointed out, hearing Grady let out a small groan as he placed his hand over his wounded shoulder.

“Hey,” Kyle reached out to move Grady’s hand away from his shoulder, seeing the wound on Grady’s shoulder. He looked back at Russell as a small frown appeared over his features. “Can you get me a sheet or something?”

“Uh, sure,” Russell nodded, quickly running towards the bed to grab one before bringing it back to Kyle. “What are you going to use it for?”

“What are you doing?” Grady questioned, watching Kyle rip it into few pieces before motioning Grady to move in closer to him. Kyle wrapped the sheet around the upper part of Grady’s arm and under his arm before tying it. “Ouch, be careful.”

“It has to be tight to stop the bleeding Grady. I don’t want you to lose too much blood,” Kyle informed Grady with a small frown as he reached for the buckle of his belt. He pulled the belt out of the loops of his jeans before wrapping the belt around his own thigh and pulling it together to stop the bleeding of the wound from where Bruce had stabbed him.

“Listen, Kyle,” Grady began with a small frown, slowly sliding back towards the wall. “I think I should get something straight about us. Something that I should have said a long time ago…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Kyle frowned, hearing a small whimper from the corner of the room. “Is Avery okay?”

“Russ,” they heard Avery call out as Russell quickly rushed over to Avery’s side.

“It’s okay baby,” Russell hushed, holding Avery in his arms tightly. “I’m here, it’s okay.”


“Ria honey, I was hoping I would catch you,” her former lover explained with a seductive smile making his way into her living room with one solid confident step, “and here you are all mine for the taking.”

“Actually I was just on my way out,” Ria began uneasily not comfortable with having her former flame with her at a time when her thoughts were full of Kevin. Right now was the last moment in time that she wanted to deal with having to face what had fallen to pieces when Kevin arrived in town.

“Good, then we can go out together,” he explained stepping further into her apartment, “We can just put these in some water and then…”

“No, you’re not getting it,” Ria followed him into her kitchen where he started to search through her cabinets for a vase of some kind. Coming up empty he reached for one of her drinking glasses filling it half way with water before setting it on the counter.

He unwrapped the roses carefully and then deposited them into the water. Satisfied he took a step back and displayed them to her, “How’s this?”

“They are truly lovely, but I’m afraid that we need to talk about…” Ria began uneasily thinking about the way Kevin had told her lover to get lost. At the time she’d been a bit flabbergasted about the situation and maybe she was still feeling a bit of that now, but somehow things only felt even more tense. She knew that Kevin was gone and if she had half a mind to get over him, this would be the solution, but how could she even think about getting over a man who had turned her world upside down in so many wonderful ways?

“Ria darling I realize that you were upset with me and I can’t really blame you for being so cold, but I would like to make this up to you,” her lover stepped forward extending his arms out towards her in an attempt to provoke an embrace of some kind.

“Look, I really don’t think this is a good time,” Ria placed a distance between them taking a step back, “You see I meant what I said on the phone. Things just aren’t working between us. Not like they were…”

“I wholeheartedly agree and that’s why I came over here to patch things up,” he explained taking a small step forward, “I called around and checked your schedule at the hospital and…”

“You’re checking my schedule now?” Ria’s eyes widened clearly surprised by this bold move on his part.

“Well yes. I mean I had to make sure that everything was in order for the weekend we have ahead of us. I’ve made a few phone calls and I figure that we can catch a bite here in town and then we’ll take the jet out to Paris. Maybe explore a little bit of France for a while over the weekend and…” he began to chart out the details of the romantic getaway he had planned for her.

“No,” Ria blurted out stiffly.

“What did you say?” he blinked back at her confused by her words.

“I said no,” she repeated again with much heavier emphasis. “I’m not going away with you. Not to dinner and most certainly not to Paris. I know this concept might be hard to grasp, but it’s over between us. Not for just one night, but for always.”

“Ria…” he frowned before a laugh spilled over his lips, “Oh I get this. This is your way of testing me, isn’t it?”

“No, this is my way of telling you that we’re finished. Over,” she threw her hands up in the air before making her way over to the front door, “I’m sorry, but what we had between us is over. I tried to be polite about it, but now, well now I’m really in no mood to get into this, so how about I just spell it out for you in simple terms that you might be able to understand? I’m breaking up with you. Our relationship if you can even call it that is finished starting now.”


“Are you okay?” Sarah questioned with a small frown as she sat down next to Diego on the steps. She saw the way that Diego’s worried eyes looked up into hers. “What is it?”

“I don’t know,” Diego sighed, shrugging his shoulders as he spoke. He folded his hands together as he looked out into the area before him. “I’m just thinking about things.”

“About what?” Sarah wondered with an eager expressing as she reached out to place her hand over Diego’s knee gently. “What’s on your mind?”

“Do you think we made a mistake last night Sarah?” Diego couldn’t help but ask her. A small sigh passed his lips as he looked over into her dark eyes. “I mean, don’t you feel the least bit guilty about what we have done?”

“Why?” Sarah muttered under her breath as she saw the way that Diego’s eyebrows tensed. “Diego, why would we have to be feeling guilty about something like this? We both wanted to do it right?”

“Well, yeah, but don’t you think we should have thought about what the others would have felt like?” Diego pondered for a long moment before rubbing his chin slowly. “Sarah, what about Kyle?”

“Kyle,” Sarah whispered his name, taking a moment to think about things as she let out a small chuckle and shook her head. “He doesn’t love me anyways.”

“I thought that too for a while Sarah,” Diego began, a memory passing his mind as he thought about what Sarah had just said.

“All of them don’t understand Diego,” Kyle insisted, resting his head against the wall, “They don’t understand how much I am hurting right now. And even worse, none of them care about it.”

“Sarah cares about you Kyle,” Diego pointed out with a small shake of his head, watching Kyle sink back against the wall, “You may have lost your child, but you don’t want to risk losing the love of your life.”

“I love her so much Diego, I really do,” Kyle admitted, taking in a deep breath, “I have never loved someone so much in my whole life, but she doesn’t understand what’s going on either. I try to let her in, I really do. I just don’t know what to do any more. What she said to me, ripped my heart in half.”

“Don’t push her away Kyle, people make mistakes. You should know that yourself,” Diego stated as he reached out to squeeze Kyle’s shoulder, “If you ever listen to me on anything, listen to me when I tell you to not push her away. It will be the biggest mistake in the world.”

“I’m trying,” Kyle let out a deep sigh as he ran his hand over the back of his neck lightly, “You don’t know how hard I am trying, I just don’t want to be hurt again. That’s what I am truly afraid of. I don’t want to be hurt by the woman who says she loves me with all her heart and always had.”

“If you let her in Kyle, she is isn’t going to hurt you,” Diego pointed out, reaching out to squeeze Kyle’s shoulder gently, “You just have to let her in. Let her back in and everything will be okay.”

“You think she has always been there for me?” Kyle questioned with a small shake of his head as a saddened smile appeared over his lips. “Nope, not at all. I was dead in love with the girl when I was younger, I never gave up on her, but she always tore me apart Diego. When I was hurt, there was only one person that was there for me and it wasn’t Sarah. I guess you could say people change, but I wanted to love her so bad most of my life. Diego, now that I am in love with her, I realize that she probably doesn’t even love me.”

“She loves you Kyle,” Diego protested, placing his hand on Kyle’s shoulder gently, “She understands you and what is going on.”

“Would someone you love say she wouldn’t be able to accept your child?” Kyle asked Diego with a small frown as Kyle stood up to his feet. “Would you say someone loved you if you had a child with another woman and the one you love with your whole heart told you that she wouldn’t be able to accept your child?”

“Kyle come on,” Diego frowned, standing up straight as Kyle paced back and forth between the room. “You know she loves you.”

“I love her, so much,” Kyle began to shake his head slowly as he thought of something else to say. “I know she doesn’t tell me everything, she never has. How am I supposed to know if she really loves me? I would have risked my life for her, but she wouldn’t have risked hers for me. I love her Diego…”

“Let me talk to her man, I’ll get her to open up,” Diego promised, seeing Kyle nod slowly. “I promise.”

“I got her to open up alright,” Diego muttered, shaking his head slowly as he saw Sarah look over at him awkwardly. “Sarah, there is something I need to tell you.”

“Diego,” Cori’s voice boomed over them as she walked down the steps, “Kayla called, she left her teddy bear in the car. I have to go and take the bear back, you coming?”

“No, I think I am going to stay here a little longer,” Diego stated with a small shrug as he watched Cori get into the car. Okay, so that was kind of a bad move, but what should he have done?


Sam sat on the corner of the fountain feeling a chill rise in the night air. Holding her arms against her slender frame she found herself wishing like hell she would’ve worn long sleeves to dinner instead of the small pink t-shirt that she’d grabbed in a haste. She closed her eyes replaying the fight with her mom in her mind again and again until she heard a sound of a car approaching.

Opening her eyes again she spotted Jenna and a man she didn’t recognize approaching in a car Sam was sure she hadn’t seen before. Quickly she collected herself and stood up from where she’d been seated. Taking in a breath Sam opened the door to the car and hopped into the backseat feeling the warmth of the car surround her like a welcoming glove.

“Thanks for picking me up,” Sam began grateful for the ride, “I’m sorry to bother you, but…”

“But nothing,” Jenna frowned noticing Sam’s attire, “What was your mother thinking in dumping you off down here?”

“She was just being her usual bitch self,” Sam paused realizing how awful that must’ve sounded. Her eyes shifted between Jenna and Walt nervously, “Sorry I don’t mean to sound callous, but I’m just upset right now…”

“Hey, if my mother dropped me off in the middle of nowhere wearing what you were wearing, then I’d have no higher an opinion of her than you do of your mother,” Walt spoke up glancing over at Sam who still seemed to be shivering. He reached for his overcoat he’d slipped out of once he’d gotten into the car and held it out over the seat for Sam, “Here put this on. It might help.”

“Thank you,” Sam replied gratefully accepting the jacket. She slipped into it feeling a warmth surround her and she sank back into the seat.

“You’re very welcome,” Walt looked over at Jenna then back to Sam, “So what happened tonight honey?”

“Well we were just out for dinner and before I knew it my mom had a fit. She started talking about my father--about their divorce again which she does every now and then. She was saying horrible things about him and then she started laying into me about how wrong I was to take the job with Hart and…” Sam shook her head before flashing Walt an apologetic smile, “I’m sorry. I’m sure you think I’m nuts. I mean I’m a complete stranger and here I am dumping on the both of you when you were obviously busy.”

“No we weren’t too busy for you Sam,” Jenna explained glancing over at her from the rearview mirror, “Walt and I were just having coffee and…”

“That sounds good right about now,” Sam rubbed her hands together still unable to rid herself of the chill that hung over her.

“Here you can have mine,” Walt suggested holding out the Styrofoam cup that he’d been holding. He noticed the strange look Sam was giving him before he explained further, “I didn’t drink any of it. I just kind of got it to go.”

“Thanks um…Walt was it?” Sam eyed him curiously.

“Oh right,” Jenna piped in finding herself intrigued by the exchange between Walt and Sam. While neither one of them knew of the connection between them Jenna could see it clearly as they interacted. “Um Sam, this is Walt Steiner--Hart’s father and Walt, this is Sam Callaway a friend of mine…”

“Callaway,” Walt scratched his chin lightly, “Why does that sound familiar?”

“It’s a familiar name,” Sam shrugged her shoulders before accepting his coffee, “Thanks for the drink.”

“Not a problem,” Walt nodded with a small smile. Jenna watched him for a moment wondering if he knew about Hart and Beth’s past as it seemed he was trying to make some kind of connection.

“So Sam, where would you like me to take you?” Jenna questioned thinking about the reason for the ride in the first place, “Obviously you don’t want me to take you home, so what do you say you come back to my place with me? I have to pick up my car from where we left it, but if you don’t mind doing that then we can go back to my place for a while. Hart’s out of town helping a friend and it’s quiet over there.”

“Actually,” Sam paused considering the offer, “I think I’d like that. I mean I just really don’t want to face my mom after this and I think the more distance we keep between us the better tonight.”

“You’re probably right on that and hey maybe we can call Wayne as well,” Jenna suggested catching the way Walt was taking everything in, “Wayne is my brother. Sam is his girlfriend.”

“Ah I see,” Walt nodded glancing over at Sam again, “How’s the coffee?”

“Actually it’s my favorite,” Sam smiled thankfully, “I mean other than the fact that it’s warm it’s absolutely wonderful. I love café caramels there.”

“You and me both. I admit growing up when I was around your age I absolutely loathed coffee. I thought it tasted like motor oil, but eventually I acquired a taste,” Walt revealed to her with a tiny laugh, “Of course if they made them that good back then, perhaps I might’ve taken to them sooner.”

“Oh I know what you mean coffee by itself is dreadful, but if you add a few elements to it, well you can almost forget it’s coffee,” Sam added with a small laugh of her own.

“Almost,” Walt and Sam blurted out at the same time causing Jenna to feel even more unsettled about having put them together in the same car. Sure neither one of them realized just what was going on there--that Walt Steiner was meeting his granddaughter for the first time, yet suddenly it felt as if it was something they were fated for. Here Sam was just beginning her life after facing a near death experience and there Walt was at the end of his rope after a long and troubled life leading him to his illness. Together they seemed to mesh well and Jenna couldn’t help but wonder as she watched them continuing to talk to one another if maybe just maybe fate had a plan for the Steiner family after all. Sure Hart was ready to write his father off completely, but after tonight, Jenna wasn’t so sure that it was really, truly everything that Hart should do. Yes, she could understand the hurt he was feeling, yet with his father seemingly a changed man, she wondered if maybe there would be a way to work on fixing some of the damage that had been done over the years. Hearing Sam’s laughter as Walt continued to speak with her, Jenna realized that yes there was in fact some kind of hope still alive out there.


“Did you hear me,” Ria questioned watching her former lover staring at her with a blank expression on his face. She placed her hand on her hip and eyed him intently, “Do I have to repeat myself for you to grasp the concept?”

“Oh I grasp the concept Ria, but I’m not really understanding the justification for it,” he made a small movement closer to her, “I mean yes we’ve had our share of ups and downs, but overall I’ve thought that our life together was quite nice. We had fun and…”

“And it was something that neither one of us were too serious about. You said it yourself that you had obligations that you were clearly caught up in,” Ria answered trying her best to keep her voice cool and even despite the fact that right now all she wanted to do was cry over Kevin. God, how pathetic was that? Still she had to remain firm with her resolve even if Kevin was off with a woman he still had feelings for.

“I know that I screwed up baby, but if you’ll give me a second chance,” he reached out for her in an attempt to touch her arm. She pulled away from him.

“You had a second chance and a third and a forth,” she continued to recount how time after time he’d been too busy to meet her friends, too tied up in his world to even consider what might be happening in hers. When she’d really needed him, he wasn’t there for her and now that only reminded her of how wrong things had been between them.

“Ria, I know you are upset about the mistakes I’ve made, but I can assure you I’m a new man. I needed time to get my priorities in order and believe me I have,” he explained his voice thick with emotion, “I know that I could’ve been better with you--that I should’ve given you more attention and I was wrong. My making our relationship a secret was a mistake and I see that I should’ve taken a different approach. I want that for us now Ria. I know you deserve better.”

“You’re right I do,” she nodded firmly, “and I have better. I have a chance at happiness and I don’t want to go down this road with you again. I know what we had wasn’t even remotely close to something that I’ve dreamt about and if I lied and pretended that it was, I’d be making a mistake.”

“A mistake would be in ending it so hastily,” he sighed heavily reaching into his pocket, “I wanted to do this while I was in Paris with you--while we were in the most romantic city in the world, but you leave me no choice…”

“No choice about what…” she couldn’t help but ask watching him pull out a small jewelry box from his overcoat. She eyed the small black box intently as he stepped forward.

“Ria, I know that you were starting your life here in Coral Valley, but in our time together you’ve opened me up to a whole new world. I realize that in loving you my life has turned around in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. You’ve opened my eyes to things I never believed were possible before and now, well now I want to do the same for you. I want to take you away from this life--from this place that has only been a burden hanging over you. Ria I want for you to find happiness and love and that fresh start you’ve been longing for,” he paused opening the box and holding it out towards her to reveal an oversized diamond ring inside. “Ria Merhan, I know that our life together hasn’t been perfect up until now, but I’m willing to change that. I want to change it. I want to be the man you want--the man you need and the man who can make each and every one of your dreams come true. What I’m trying to say to you is that I don’t want this to be the end for us, but merely a new beginning and a chance for you and I to come together like we always should’ve been. Ria, will you…”

“Oh God,” Ria’s jaw practically dropped at the sparkling diamond before her. She couldn’t believe what was happening. Her she was dumping him and he was about to propose. That had to be where this is headed.

“Ria, please don’t discard our love,” he reached for her hand taking advantage of the moment of shock that washed over her, “I know that I’ve been behaving like a jackass, but I don’t want that to be something that keeps us from happiness together. I promise you that if you give me another chance that I will give you anything and everything your heart desires. I will spend my days loving and cherishing you in every way imaginable. You won’t ever have to cry again because I’ve hurt you. You won’t ever have to feel like I’ve abandoned you or that I’m not putting you first. From here on out I want to put you first for today, tomorrow and for always. Ria Merhan, I know that I’ve behaved like a fool, but alas right now more than anything I’m begging you for a second chance. I’m begging you for one more opportunity to let me into your heart--to let me share my love and my life with you. I’m asking if you can find it inside of you to push the past behind us and make our dreams a reality by your becoming my wife.”

“I don’t believe that I…that this…” Ria stammered again thinking about how this was the last thing she’d expected to be happening. No the last thing she thought would happen would be Kevin leaving her to go back to Angela, but this, well this topped the cake there.

“Marry me Ria and I swear to you that you won’t ever have to shed another tear again. I will find a way to make each and every one of your fantasies a reality. It can all be yours if you say yes and make me the happiest man alive,” he appealed to her holding the ring out once again as Ria felt her life suddenly flash before her eyes in ways she never thought possible until now. Suddenly without hesitation she realized she had her answer. Clear as day she knew exactly what she was going to tell him and before she could think twice the answer began to fall from her lips.


“Brant,” Ken called out, walking back into the alter with his arm securely around Wendy’s waist. He wanted to hold onto her forever from this point on. There was a thought in his mind that he could be dreaming, just maybe he could. That’s why he wanted to continue to hold onto her. He wanted to make sure that she never had the chance to leave his life again.

“Ken,” Brant smiled, walking up with Hart and Don at his sides, “How are you two getting along? Pretty good?”

“I think we are doing great,” Ken smiled, holding Wendy tighter to him. “I want to thank you for everything you have done here today. You made this moment perfect guys and I don’t know what I can do to make it up.”

“Pay for my hospital bill,” Don suggested, hearing a small laugh come from Wendy’s lips. “I’m not kidding Wendy, you won’t believe some of the things she did to me today. I got flipped over a bench.”

“Which was his fault,” Hart added as Don glared over at him. Hart simply shrugged his shoulders, hearing both Ken and Wendy laugh. “Go on man.”

“I got decked in the nose, a pop can got thrown at my…” Don began, pausing for a moment as he pulled on the collar of his shirt. “Ken, you’re crazy for even thinking about marrying her. She is a nut when it gets down to it.”

“Well, I guess you could say I was blinded before,” Ken replied with a small frown before looking over at Wendy. “You can say that I feel a whole lot better now that I am seeing in a whole new light.”

“Good, because I am just plain tired of getting my ass kicked here,” Don explained with a small shake of his head as Ken let go of Wendy for a moment. Ken reached forward to hug Don lightly as Don held his hands up in the air.

“Don, do me a favor though,” Ken began as he moved back from Don slowly after hugging him. He saw Don nod slowly as he shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t ever kiss me or squeeze my butt again.”

“Hey, that was for your own good,” Don pointed out with a small frown as he felt Hart pat him on the shoulder lightly.

“Sure it was,” Hart joked, pointing towards the door as they all walked out. “It might be a good time to start going.”

“That was only to get Michelle away from him,” Don protested, watching everyone walk away. “Come on guys, you know I’m not like that.”


“What is it that you wanted to tell me?” Sarah questioned, watching Diego run his hands through his hair slowly. “Diego, what is it?”

“It’s Kyle Sarah,” Diego explained in a deep breath as he tried to think of a way to tell her everything. “When I used to talk to you, I thought that Kyle would be a bad guy. I went to talk to him that one day and I saw that he really loved you Sarah, I slept with you when I knew he was in love with you.”

“Diego, how could you come to that conclusion?” Sarah wondered, watching Diego shrug his shoulders as he thought of what to say.

“Sarah, he told me himself that he loved you more than anything,” Diego informed her with a small laugh as he couldn’t believe what he did to Kyle. “I told him I would talk to you and I end up making love to you.”

“Why are you even worrying about it Diego?” Sarah wondered, a small frown passing over her features as Diego stood up slowly. “Diego?”

“Because what I did wasn’t me Sarah,” Diego stated with a small shake of his head. “Sarah, I probably broke some guy’s heart when he finds out what happened.”

“Who said he was going to find out?” Sarah eyed Diego over slowly as Diego watched her closely. “I mean truthfully, why would we tell him?”

“Because he has the right to know Sarah,” Diego pointed out with a small shake of his head. “Don’t you realize that I…we did something wrong here.”

“Kyle won’t find out if we never talk to him about this,” Sarah assured him with a small shake of her head. “Who even knows what he wants anymore. He’s so confusing when it gets down to things. He always has been.”

“Sarah, this is the man that not even a week ago you were planning on spending the rest of your life with. You told me that you loved Kyle,” Diego explained with a small frown as he shook his head slowly. “Now what’s up with the sudden change?”


“Warner here,” Dave answered his phone thinking about the mess that was waiting for him here in Coral Valley.

“Hey Dave it’s Shannon,” she began quickly speaking into the phone, “where are you?”

“At work dealing with this Mathis mess. It’s been a bit crazy around here considering…” Dave started to explain to her.

“Yeah tell me about it. Listen if you get word on Mathis, let me know. I know that our people are looking for him, but at this point I’m a bit concerned,” Shannon revealed to him, “I know he’s close to the breaking point and…”

“I think he passed it months ago Shannon and the FBI should’ve been right on it,” Dave frowned wishing like hell that everyone he’d cared about could’ve been spared the grief that was associated with Bruce Mathis.

“Yeah well, I’m doing my part. I spoke with Grady Denton earlier and he’s been out of town with Avery. I asked him to keep her away from Coral Valley, but I haven’t heard from him all day. I told the others I work with about it, but well…they seem to think that Mathis is in town still,” she informed him with a groan, “Still since I haven’t heard anything from Grady I’m wondering where they could be.”

“You mean he hasn’t checked in?” Dave asked with a small frown.

“No, but Kyle went up to the Denton Cabin to check things out. I get the feeling that something more is going on up there and maybe it’s worth looking into,” Shannon revealed her voice full of concern. “Since I haven’t heard anything from anyone who went up there, it’s got me less than happy about the situation.”

“Yeah tell me about it,” Dave looked to the things on his desk, “Tell you what. I’ll go with you. If your instincts are telling you that something is up, then chances are you’re knowing better than any other idiot you work with. If you think Mathis went there…”

“All I’m saying is I haven’t heard a damn word from anyone and I don’t like that,” she added with a grumble.

“That makes two of us. I’m at the police station right now. Pick me up and I’ll go out there with you,” Dave decided knowing full well if Bruce Mathis was on the loose Avery Morrison would no doubt be his next target.

“You’ve got it,” Shannon replied hanging up the phone in the hopes that all was well with her friends. She just prayed that Bruce hadn’t found his way up there to destroy each one of them.


“Avery, honey can you hear me,” Russ questioned pulling her into his arms. His fingers traced over her cheekbone trying to take in every inch of her as his heart swelled with love for her. He thought of how close he’d come to losing her--to losing all of this and in that moment he’d never felt more lucky than he did right now. He felt her fingers ease out over his forearm curling around him as she spoke up in a low, whisper of a voice.

“Russ, is that really you,” she questioned her eyelashes fluttering. She inhaled sharply still trying to focus on his face before her. Her grip on his arm intensified, “tell me I’m not dreaming this--that you’re not just a figment of my imagination.”

“I’m real. This is real,” he leaned down to kiss her tenderly, his lips brushing over hers in a soft, subtle sweep, “I’m back baby and I’m not leaving you ever again.”

“Russ, oh Russ,” she broke out into tiny sobs her heart filling with love for the man she’d believed had been out of her life forever. She felt his breath over her face, the warmth of his arms around her and she reached out to him. She touched his face gently letting out a tiny whimper at the realization that he was truly there beside her, holding her and keeping her in the safety of his arms. “How can you…Russ how can you be here?”

“It’s a long story, but I promise you that I’ll tell you everything when I get you home,” he assured her bending down to kiss her forehead gently, “Right now however we need to get you to the hospital baby. We need to make sure that you’re okay. That our little one is okay…”

“Our daughter,” Avery blurted out, tears clouding her vision as she hung onto him effortlessly, “our daughter Russ.”

“Daughter,” he repeated suddenly thinking about what she was telling him, “we’re having a little girl? We’re really having a little girl?”

She nodded again a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, “You were right all along. I never should’ve doubted you because you are always right.”

“That’s right,” he nodded a proud smile spreading over his features, “just like when I promised you that we’d be together forever. You know that I’m just too damn stubborn to ever let anything keep me away from you. We’re going to get out of here and…”

“And it doesn’t look like we’re going to have anything to keep that from happening,” Kyle pulled himself up off of the ground before eyeing Bruce intently. He’d just searched Bruce for a pulse finding none and he took that moment to let out how he was really feeling. He swung his foot hard into Bruce’s abdomen causing Russ to look up at him with a confused expression. “What? I was just making sure he was really dead.”

“I think it’s safe to say he is,” Grady added slowly staggering backwards and sliding up the wall despite the fact his arm felt like it had just been ripped off of his body.

Everything that happened flashed through his mind, but now he could see the cards as they lay before him. His gaze traveled over to his brother--to the impossible reunion that he never believed would be happening with Russ and Avery. Seeing them together again, Grady thought about what had transpired between him and Avery less than twenty four hours earlier. Things had been so seemingly meant to be--so leading towards all signs pointing to their needing to be together, yet with Russ holding Avery whispering words of love and assurance to her…

“Come on,” Kyle motioned to Grady snapping him out of his daze, “We have to get the car.”

“Right,” Grady nodded casting one last longing look over at Avery. The dream had ended almost as soon as it had began. Seeing her in Russell’s arms only complicated the situation, yet somehow it was all starting to make sense.

“I’m going to get you out of here,” Russell promised again kissing her forehead before holding her closer to his chest. He pulled himself up off of the floor ready to go for Kyle’s car when Avery let out a scream, her head tipping back in obvious agony.

“Oh God,” Avery felt another sharp pain overtake her, her body twisting with the movement as Russ struggled to keep her in his arms. Her scream intensified and suddenly Kyle and Grady returned to the cabin fearing that perhaps Bruce wasn’t dead after all.

“What’s wrong,” Kyle questioned in a panic seeing the look of sheer terror over Russell’s features.

“I just tried to move her and…” Russell began worriedly turning his attention to the love of his life, “Avery, what is it?”

“It’s Bruce…he drugged me before…did something and…” Avery bit down on gritted teeth another pain ripping right through her. She held back tears knowing full well what was happening. She tilted her head to face Russ as a sudden contraction seemed to be hitting her hard in the abdomen, “Russ, I’m going into labor.”

“How do you know?” Russ asked catching her expression--there was no mistaking the glare behind her eyes--the way that she was ready to crawl out of her skin with pain evident.

“I don’t think she’s bluffing on this one partner,” Kyle released Grady all the while limping towards Russ and Avery, “We need to get her somewhere quick…”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Avery dug her fingers into Russell’s shoulder, her breath coming out in a thick, raspy sound, “Oh God Russ…”

“We don’t have time to take her anywhere else. The nearest hospital is at least forty miles from here,” Grady added moving in closer knowing full well what was starting for all of them.

“Then we’ve got no choice,” Russell decided looking down to the woman he loved, “We’re going to have to have the baby here.”

“What?” Avery’s eyes widened in horror. “No Russ we can’t do that. It’s not time yet. This is just because of the drug Bruce gave me and…”

“And time or not, our daughter isn’t going to wait,” Russell informed her his voice full of worry as he looked to Kyle and Grady. “Let’s get her back into the bedroom.”

“Russ we can’t have our daughter here,” Avery squealed bringing her hand over her abdomen, “This isn’t how we planned it--it’s not…”

“Avery, whatever Bruce gave you it’s only going to hurt the two of you if you keep fighting this. We’ll get help, but for right now we have to do what we have to do,” Russ explained touching her cheek gently as he saw the worry behind her dark eyes, “Trust me everything is going to be okay.”

“We can’t lose her Russ. We can’t lose our baby,” she cried out her tears overtaking her.

“We’re not. I promise you whatever happens I am not going to let that be an option for us. We’ve come too far together to lose her now,” Russell whispered as Kyle motioned for Russ to take Avery into the bedroom knowing full well that whether they were ready for it or not, Russ and Avery’s daughter was about to make her grand entrance in the world.


...to be continued...