Episode 268

“So, how are you feeling?” Martha questioned as her and Angela got some things to make for a small snack. “Are you feeling any better or are you still feeling down?”

“I think I am feeling a little bit better,” Angela informed Martha with a small shrug as she thought about the time she had spent with Kevin. “Kevin knew how to make me feel better. He knows how to get me to relax.”

“Yeah, he’s a really good guy,” Martha pointed out with a tiny smile as she looked around the kitchen, “Speaking of the big guy, where is he?”

“I don’t know where Kev is,” Angela shrugged her shoulders as she heard steps coming in from behind her. Angela turned towards the door, seeing Kevin walking into the kitchen as he buckled his pants back up slowly. “Hey, where have you been?”

“Finding some clothes to put on,” Kevin answered with a small sigh as he held his shirt in his hand tightly. He gave a small shrug before pulling his white tank top on.

“Did you find what you wanted?” Angela questioned seeing Kevin shrug his shoulders. Kevin’s body was still wet from the bath, so the shirt he was wearing stuck to his muscles, showing the contours of his muscular body.

“Damn kid,” Martha turned around to look at Kevin as she placed her hand on her hip. “What are you doing, getting more muscular by the minute? You look hot.”

“Yeah, right,” Kevin laughed, running his hand through his wet, thick hair. “I’m just a normal guy.”

“Normal?” Martha questioned with a small laugh as she stepped up towards Kevin. She pointed down to his abdomen where you could see the curves of the muscle in his stomach. “That’s hot kid. Don’t you think that’s hot Angela?”

“Yeah, it’s very hot,” Angela assured Kevin with a small laugh as she looked back at Martha. “Kevin doesn’t need someone telling him he’s hot, he already knows that.”

“Not quite, but you know,” Kevin paused for a second before looking down towards the ground. “Thanks for the compliments though. It was nice.”

“Kid, as long as you keep wearing those shirts,” Martha began with a small laugh as she watched a small smile appear over the corner of Kevin’s lips, “you will always be steaming. Hell, you’re always hot, but steaming with those shirts.”

“Well, thank you,” Kevin chuckled with a small shake of his head before his dark eyes met Angela’s. “Angie, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure, I‘ll be right back Martha,” Angela nodded, noticing that Kevin probably wanted to talk to her alone without Martha. She grabbed Kevin’s hand and led him into the living room. She stopped in the middle of the room to look up at him as he squeezed her hand in his tightly. “What is it Kev?”

“I know this is something you probably don’t want to talk about right now, but I have to say something and get it off my chest,” Kevin declared, letting out a small sigh as he ran his thumb over the back of her hand gently. “I know this Nick guy meant something to you and I’m sorry that this happened to you.”

“Kevin, it was something you couldn’t have stopped,” Angela pointed out with a small frown as Kevin placed his index finger over her lips gently.

“Angie, what I want to say is that if I could, I would take away all the pain you are feeling right now,” Kevin began, feeling her squeeze his hand in hers tightly. “Hell, I would give up my own happiness, just so you could be happy.”

“Kevin,” Angela looked up into Kevin’s eyes as she noticed a seriousness behind them. “I know you would and that’s why…”

“I’m your best friend,” Kevin finished with a half smile before shrugging his shoulders. He brought her hand up to his lips as he laid a small kiss upon it. “You know, I think you need to know that you’re a very special person. All the guys who hurt you, don’t realize how special you truly are. You’re a diamond Angie and those two losers acted like idiots. They act as if they can pick you up, use you to get what they want and then throw you away for something better. What they don’t realize is that you’re someone that they should cherish their whole life, there is nothing better. I know that‘s what I would want to do, cherish you for a lifetime.”

“Kevin, I’m not really that special,” Angela pointed out with a tiny laugh as he shook his head slowly.

“You don’t understand Angie,” he began in a tight breath as he held her hand in his. He raised her hand up to his chest, placing it over his heart as he slightly smiled. “Do you feel the beating of my heart?”

“Of course,” Angela laughed, looking up into his dark brown eyes. “It’s a perfect feeling.”

“Well, every single thing I say is coming straight from my heart,” Kevin whispered as he caressed her hand with his fingertips. He felt a warmth behind his body as he saw her dark eyes look into his and a smile crept over his lips. “Every thing I describe you as, is what you truly are. You’re that gold that only one person is lucky enough to have. And if you’re that one person, you are the luckiest man in the world.”

“Kevin, you make me sound like I am like a goddess or something,” she laughed, sliding her hand in over his chest, still feeling the rapid beating of his heart. “I’m not that special.”

“If you don’t believe you’re that special, then you need to go take a look in the mirror woman. You are a true goddess. You‘re beautiful, loving, smart, sometimes a little pain in the butt…” Kevin played before letting out a small sigh as she lightly poked him in the shoulder. “I want you to know that you may not have Nick and you may not have no name, but you’re always going to have me to lean on. And I promise, I’m never going to leave you.”

“You’re the one person I can truly count on Kevin,” Angela smiled feeling his right hand slide in over her cheek and caress it gently. She leaned into his touch as his hand slid into her silky hair slowly and pulled her in a little bit closer to him. “I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“That’s the one thing about me,” Kevin took a minute to think over what he was about to say, “I’m never going to leave you and that is one thing I can promise. I will never leave your side. You need me, I’ll be there. If you need a backrub, I got the hands. Hell, if you need money, I have the wallet. If you end up falling down and hurting yourself, I’ve got the hand that can lift you up off the ground and I have strength to carry wherever it is that you need to be. If you want loving, caring, honesty, loyalty, trust, and friendship--I have the big old heart to give you that. All of those things and many more come along with having me, so you never have to worry about what you need because I can be the one to help you.”

“Kevin,” Angela smiled, feeling his thumb caress her cheek gently. She reached her hand up and placed it on his wrist as she looked up into his dark eyes.

“Angie, I came to the island so fast because of one main reason,” Kevin informed her with a deep sigh before shaking his head. “Angie, I…”

“Yes?” Angela questioned with a small smile as Kevin seemed to be stuck on his words. He looked down towards the ground and then back up at her. “You what?”

“Angie, I…” Kevin stalled again before shrugging his shoulders, “I just want you happy. I want you to be happy and I want you to live the life you deserve. I want you to be happy with a man of your choice and I want him to cherish you like I think you should be cherished. The way I would…”

“I don’t think that’s going to be happening anytime soon,” she pointed out with a small sigh, feeling him curl his finger in underneath her chin, making her look up into his serious, brown eyes. “No guy seems to be that interested.”

“Don’t ever say never,” Kevin frowned, sliding his fingers in against her cheek again. “I know that life hasn’t always good and I’ve seen what it can put the both of us through. Through your darkest moments in life and your best moments, there has always been someone who has always loved you. You think you may be down for the count and there may be no way out of it, but there is so much life ahead of you and you’re bound for happiness.”

“You sound so confident Kevin,” Angela declared, letting out a small laugh he looked down towards the ground. She reached her hand up to touch his cheek gently, motioning him to look at her. “What is it Kevin?”

“I just don’t understand what it is Angie,” Kevin began with a small shake of his head. The thoughts of all the ways that Angie had been hurt ran through his mind as he felt a small pain in his chest. “I don’t know why all these guys are treating you like this. It’s like every time someone says they love you, they just knock you down to the ground.”

“It’s because they all turn out to be jerks,” Angela added in as Kevin nodded slowly. “There have only been about two people in my life I can count on.”

“And that’s the thing Angie, you can count on me to help you up. Anytime you need someone, I can be strong for you. I wish that it would be as easy as me holding you in my arms and just keep holding you until the hurting is gone. If you want fall apart, you can hide in my arms and I guess I could try my best to help you get past that pain. I wish I could be the guy to just make all that pain disappear for you,” Kevin frowned, feeling as if everything he had ever tried in the past had turned out to be somewhat of a failure. He just wanted her to be happy.

“You are Kevin,” she tried to assure him as he shook his head slowly. He reached out to grab both of her hands in his tightly, giving the both of them a small squeeze.

“If I was that man, I wouldn’t have allowed all of those idiots to hurt you,” Kevin stated with a small shake of his head as he felt her hand slide up his arm and in over his shoulder. His voice became tighter as he spoke up again. “Angie, it breaks my heart every time you get hurt and I want you to be happy. Whether you have the man of your dreams or even m…” Kevin paused for a moment before shrugging his shoulders. “Maybe a substitute, but no matter what--I want them to make you happy.”

“Kevin,” Angela thought of something to say, but from all the things that Kevin was saying to her was actually choking her up inside. She held back the dampness behind her eyes as she felt Kevin step in closer to her. “I don’t know what happy is.”

“Maybe you should allow someone who loves you, to show you,” Kevin suggested, wrapping his left arm around her waist and pulling her in against him gently. He reached his right hand up and pushed a piece of her hair away from her eyes gently before gently brushing his thumb in against her cheek. Her eyes closed as she took in the warmth of Kevin against her. A small breath escaped Angela’s lips as Kevin leaned forward and pressed a small kiss against her cheek. Feeling him lean in closer to her, she wrapped her arms around his neck to hold onto him tightly. “I think I should let you know a little something about happiness.”

“And what happiness is that?” Angela questioned, feeling him lean back from her a small bit, resting his left hand in against her hip gently.

“These two amazing children are the key to your happiness,” Kevin replied, reaching down between them to caress her stomach with the back of his fingers ever so slowly. “What I want you to know is that you may think you don’t have a father for these children, but I will always be here to protect you and these two little miracles.”

“I couldn’t let you do that Kevin,” Angela pointed out with a small gulp as she felt a tear slip down the side of her face slowly. She felt him reach his hand up to brush away her tears slowly.

“That’s what I would want to do Angie,” Kevin insisted letting out a small smile as his thumb brushed in over the dampness of her cheek. “When they are born, I would be the guy at your side for you, letting you break my hand in half because you were in so much pain. I’d let you do it though, because I would think you are the bravest person I’ve ever known. And my hand could always heal.”

“I’m not that strong,” Angela laughed, watching Kevin nod slowly. “You think I’m that strong?”

“Angie, I know you’re that strong,” Kevin pointed out with tiny smile as he thought about even further into the future. “And when they get home, I can be that one man who will feed them for you and I can burp them. If they have little tummy aches, I can be the man they throw up on. The man that doesn’t care if he gets thrown up on every two hours.”

“That would be a sight,” Angela laughed, feeling the warmth rise in over her cheeks as Kevin continued to talk about the twins. A small smile appeared over his lips as he thought about the future and what it would be like.

“When they are a couple of months old, they might have sleeping problems,” Kevin pondered for a minute before letting out a small laugh. “I would be there to sing them to sleep. I could hold the both of them in my arms and sing to them the best I could, even if I do sound horrible.”

“You’re not that bad Kevin,” she pointed out with a tiny chuckle as she still felt the gentle caress of his fingers against her stomach. “You’re a lot better than I am.”

“Well, then I could hold one of them and you could hold the other,” Kevin began with a small shake of his head, a small spread across his face. “We could both try to sing them to sleep with a duet. And then they could fall asleep and most likely be awake in about two hours. So, I would be there to take care of them while their mother has her beauty rest.”

“You make everything sound so perfect Kevin,” she sighed, feeling his left hand run up the side of her arm gently. “What other things could you see in the future with you and the babies?”

“Well, as they get older, I could be the guy that takes them to their first day of school with you. They could be afraid at first, but we could convince them that everything would be okay. They would come home saying they hated the first day, but then they would go back and love every second of it. At night, they would have trouble getting to sleep and I would be there to read them to sleep and make sure that they were both tucked in tightly. I would give them both a kiss goodnight and then I would walk over towards the door, but I wouldn’t turn off the light just yet. I would look back and look at how beautiful they are and I would realize that they are perfect in everyway possible. I could take one last look before turning off the light and then I would want to be there when they woke up each morning so I wouldn’t be able to miss out on their life. I would want to be there for them every step of the way. I would do this over and over again every day. Eventually, they would grow up a little more and I would love to be the guy to take them to their little league game or their dance recital. I would try to be the best coach I could be, or I could I try to be the best dance partner. Either way, I would love every second of it.”

“You make it sound like a fairytale Kevin,” Angela sniffed, unable to contain the tiny tears that fell from her eyes. “You make it sound so perfect.”

“Because it would be,” Kevin pointed out with a tiny smirk as he reached down to caress her stomach once more. “Sure they might turn to teenagers and think I’m not cool and I may be mean for not letting them out later then ten, but I would still love them like my own Angie. I would love to be the one to help you. It would be everything we ever wanted and dreamed of back in the day.”

“Yeah, it really would be what we wanted when we were younger,” Angela agreed with a small nod of her head as she reached out to run her fingertips in over his cheek gently.

“Angie,” Kevin whispered, feeling her thumb run in over his bottom lip. He kissed the pad of her finger gently before grabbing her hand in his. He brought her hand up to his lips as he kissed the back of it once more. A small smile appeared over his lips as he looked into Angela’s dark eyes. “I have to do something that I haven’t done in a long, long time.”

“What’s that?” Angela questioned, watching Kevin slowly drop down to his knees and reach out to press his hand in against her stomach gently. She felt him reach his arms around her waist and pull her in closer to him as he rested his head against her stomach gently. A small laugh escaped Angela’s lips as she ran her right hand through his thick hair gently. “What are you doing?”

“I’m listening,” Kevin began with a small smile as he gave her a small glance before pressing his ear in against her stomach once more. “I think I hear something.”

“No you don’t,” Angela laughed, seeing Kevin look up at her with a frown. “What?”

“How do you expect me to listen if you keep talking?” Kevin eyed her over slowly before pressing his ear in against her stomach gently. “They’re telling me that they love their mommy and she is the best mommy in the world.”

“Yeah, I bet they are,” Angela shook her head slowly before watching Kevin lean forward towards her stomach once more. She couldn’t help but feel a warmth inside of her with the things that Kevin was doing. He was being so caring and so wonderful to her.

“Hey you two,” Kevin whispered, talking to Angela’s stomach gently, feeling Angie’s hand slip into his hair again. A small smile appeared over his lips as he continued what was he was going to say. “You two are going to be very lucky. You have the best mother in the world. She is going to treat you great and you two are going to love her because if I do, you will too. I promise she will be great. I‘ve known you‘re mommy for a very long time and I love everything about her. Just imagine what it would be like when you got older. When you’re born, everyone is going to love you two. Just like I do right now.”

“Kevin,” Angela grinned, feeling her tears returning again and she couldn’t hold them back anymore as she felt Kevin lean forward and press a small kiss in over her stomach.

“And a second one for both babies,” Kevin smiled, kissing her stomach once more before slowly getting back up to his feet. As soon as he stood up, he felt Angela pull him into tight embrace as he wrapped his arms around her waist. Her head rested in against his shoulder as she felt him caressing the small of her back gently. A small sigh passed his lips as he leaned down to whisper something in her ear. “I am going to do everything in my power to bring those two very special babies into this world and give them the life that they rightly deserve. You will always have me here Angie, always. I can love them just as if they are my own. I may have not been the guy that was there during the middle of your pregnancy, but I was the one that was there for you in the beginning. And I have to tell you, I’m already in love with your babies Angie. I have been since the beginning.”

“Kevin,” Angela lifted her head up from his shoulder as she looked up into his dark eyes. Her eyes were slightly red and her skin was damp from crying.

“I didn’t mean to make you cry Angie,” Kevin frowned, reaching his right hand up to push a tear away from her cheek gently. “I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No Kevin, you didn’t upset me,” she assured him with a small sigh as she felt his fingers curve in under her chin gently. “You actually probably made happier than I have been in a while.”

“So, you’re okay?” Kevin saw her nod as he leaned forward to press a small kiss against her cheek. He felt her hand run over the back of his neck gently as he went to back away from her, but felt her hold onto him. “Is something wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong Kev,” she whispered, leaning up on her toes to press her lips against his gently as she wrapped her arm around his neck.

His arm hesitantly wrapped around her waist as he felt the gentle caress of her lips against his. Everything he said to her was completely true. Every single word of it. Now that he was holding her tightly in his arms, he hoped she believed every word.

Angela sighed against Kevin’s lips as she continued to kiss him slowly, taking in the feeling of him holding her tightly. He felt her hand run through his hair as he pulled away from her and shook his head slowly, placing his index finger over her lips lightly.

“Don’t,” Kevin whispered, leaning down to lay a small kiss on her cheek and another against her forehead. His fingers slowly ran through her hair as he took in all the beauty of her eyes.

“I love you Kevin,” Angela whispered as he held her in his arms tightly. She gave him another small peck on the lips before shrugging her shoulders. “I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“The same thing goes for me,” Kevin pointed out with a small sigh as he held her tighter in his arms and rested his chin on her shoulder. “I’ll always love you.”

“I know that and that’s why I want you to be my best friend forever,” Angela whispered as he shook his head slowly feeling as if someone just kicked him right in the chest.

“Best friend,” he muttered to himself as he closed his eyes tightly. “You’re going to have me for a very long time. I promise you that because I will always be your…best friend.”

“Hey Angela,” Martha called from the kitchen as she walked out into the living room to see Kevin and Angela hugging. “I was just going to say you could help out now if you would like, but if you want--I can just do it myself.”

“No,” Kevin let Angie out of his embrace as he shrugged his shoulders and pointed towards the back of the house, “I have some things to take care of anyways. So, go ahead.”

“You sure?” Angela questioned seeing him nod slowly as he walked towards the back of the house. “Kevin?”

“Yeah?” Kevin stopped and turned around to face her as he watched her search for something to say. “What is it?”

“Thanks for everything,” Angela smiled slightly before pointing towards the kitchen, “I appreciated all that you said.”

“No problem,” Kevin winked, watching as Angie walked into the kitchen. He let out a small sigh as he shook his head and spoke lowly. “That’s what best friends are for, right?”


“Marry me Ria,” the words swirled around in her head over and over again. She eyed the oversized diamond in front of her thinking about how much money something like that had to cost, but even now that didn’t change how she felt about the situation. Taking in a long breath Ria forced herself to be honest with the man before her about how she really felt in this situation.

“No,” she shook her head firmly, “I’m not going to marry you.”

“Come on Ria. I know you’ve been upset lately, but…” he tried to appeal to her reaching for her hand in the hopes that the contact would remind her of all the things that they had with one another.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t,” she tried to pull her hand out of his reach. Her heart was fluttering, mind reeling with how horrible she must look in refusing, but deep down she knew full well she wouldn’t even be able to look at another man when her heart was still very much with Kevin.

“Ria, of course you can. We can just get married in Paris. It would be a beautiful, romantic fairy tale wedding and…” he stroked his index finger over her palm holding the ring up for further inspection.

“No, I’m afraid I can’t do it. I know that for a long time I really thought that would be something that I wanted--that having you do this would be what I dreamt about and yeah maybe a few months ago I would’ve gone for it, but now,” she shook her head a sigh spilling over her lips, “I can’t do it--especially now that my heart is elsewhere. The truth is that there’s someone else. There’s someone that I’ve loved for a very long time--even before you came into my life and I can’t stop loving him just because of what we had. He’s someone special and…”

“Someone special huh,” he replied with a doubtful expression, “and just where is he now?”

She watched her former lover fold his arms in front of his chest, doubt clouding over him. While she wished that she could say that Kevin was back in the bedroom waiting for her to return with pancakes and strawberry syrup, she knew better. She knew that it wasn’t as cut and dry as she’d hoped for, yet that didn’t change the way she felt.

“So you’re telling me that you’re just going to throw away what we have for someone who clearly can’t give you what you need? Someone who can’t even bother to be here?” he challenged reading the confusion behind her eyes, “Well?”

“I’m not throwing what we have away because when it gets down to it what you and I were doing was just wasting time until something better came along. I didn’t want to believe that, but it took my finding Mr. Right to realize just where my heart truly was. It was in being with him that I realized what I truly want out of life,” Ria added confidently.

“And just what is that? Where is he right now?” he questioned still doubtful of Ria and her words. The more she told him, the more it felt like he wasn’t believing anything she had to say.

“He’s…” Ria started only to hear the sound of her cell phone ringing. Reaching for it, she quickly answered grateful to whatever escape was on the other end of the line, “hello.”

“Hello beautiful,” Kevin’s voice rang over the line catching her completely off guard, yet captivating her in every way imaginable. At the sound of his voice she could feel a warmth that spilled out over every inch of her. While he’d only said hello, she felt as if it was something far more intimate--something that was oh so very personal between the two of them and a blush spread over her cheeks.

“Kevin,” she smiled unable to help but sound gleeful as she held the phone closer to her ear, “hey…”

“Hey yourself,” Kevin teased an uneasiness in his voice, “What’s going on?”

“What?” she blinked back glancing over her shoulder at her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend.

“I was just sitting here and I felt like something was wrong. I don’t know what it was, but something inside of me told me that I had to call you--that you needed me,” Kevin paused letting out a small, nervous laugh, “It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?”

“Actually,” Ria faced her the man in front of her completely, “No. It really doesn’t. I was just trying to tell someone to leave and…”

“Someone,” Kevin repeated tightly, his voice shifting after a moment’s contemplation, “Would that somebody happen to be that somebody that never deserved you in the first place? That somebody that I told repeatedly to leave you alone because you weren’t interested?”

“Well…” Ria started uneasily not really knowing how to answer him.

“Put him on the phone,” Kevin suggested with dark undertones.

“What?” Ria’s eyes widened at the mere suggestion of Kevin talking to him again.

“I said put him on the phone,” Kevin repeated smoothly though his voice hinted at something much, much darker, “I think I’d like to talk to the man who blew it big time so that I can thank him for paving the way for me to be happy with the woman I love. Let me have a few words with him.”

“Kevin, it’s really not a good idea,” Ria began again seeing curiosity brewing behind her former lover’s eyes.

“Is that him?” he asked his eyes perking up, “Ria, is that the man that you’re willing to toss us away for?”

“Look Kevin can I call you back? I can just…” Ria stammered a bit feeling like she was in the middle of something that could turn suddenly very ugly.

“Let me talk to him,” Kevin urged again causing a shiver to race up and down Ria’s spine at the authoritative tone behind his voice.

“Does he want to talk to me?” the man in front of her asked.

Ria nodded, “But I don’t really think it’s a good idea considering that…”

“Trust me Ria. I’ll take care of this one,” Kevin pleaded her with her once more, his voice making a desperate appeal. “Let me talk to him.”

“Alright,” Ria finally nodded handing over the phone to the man in front of her. She watched him raise the phone to his ear and she took in a breath fearing what might transpire now that she’d opened up the door to conflict between the two men. While she wasn’t quite sure where she stood with Kevin right about now, there was no mistaking the tone in his voice as he prepared to go one on one with a man that Ria should’ve left behind a long time ago.


“Oh, hey Cori,” Carly smiled, opening the door slowly as she motioned Cori to walk in. “I’m sorry about calling you like that, Kayla just left her bunny rabbit and she was worrying.”

“It’s no problem,” Cori assured Carly with a small shrug of her shoulders as Carly shut the door behind her. “Where is Kayla?”

“Aunt Cori,” Kayla yelled, running down the hallway quickly and over to Cori, wrapping her arms around Cori’s legs tightly. “You finally made it.”

“Hey there,” Cori smiled, leaning down to pick Kayla up in her arms as she held out the bunny that Kayla had left in her car. “You missing something?”

“Rabbit,” Kayla giggled, grabbing the bunny from Cori’s hands and then snuggling it in her arms tightly. “Thank you Aunty Cori, I thought he was kidnapped.”

“Nope, it looks like rabbit just wanted to go on joy ride with your aunt,” Cori played, reaching out to tickle Kayla’s stomach gently. “So, how is my little niece doing?”

“I’m doing good,” Kayla replied with a tiny shrug as she felt Cori put her down gently. “I am so glad you found rabbit. I don’t know what I would have done if I lost him.”

“No problem,” Cori smiled, kneeling down on the ground as she reached out to push a piece of hair behind Kayla’s ear. “You know, when I was younger, I used to have a teddy bear just like that, except him name was Diego.”

“Diego,” Kayla repeated, seeing Cori nod slowly, “Speaking of Diego, I got the coolest Dora the Explorer game with her cousin Diego--you want to see it?”

“Of course I do,” Cori answered with a tiny laugh as she watched Kayla run down the hallway. She slowly stood to her feet and turned around to see Carly staring at her.

“So, I guess I could take that you two are kind of serious now huh?” Carly questioned, watching as Cori pondered the answer she was going to be giving.

“Oh yes and it’s wonderful,” Cori informed Carly with a small sigh as she walked over towards the couch and took a seat. “Diego is a perfect guy and I don’t know what I would do without him.”

“I know what you mean,” Carly agreed, taking a seat on the couch next to Cori. I feel the same exact thing for Dave. I could never live without him.”

“Now that we’re on the subject of Dave,” Cori looked around the room before shrugging her shoulders, “Where in the world is he?”

“He had to go to work,” Carly informed Cori with a small shake of her head. “It’s this whole Bruce Mathis case, I don’t know if you heard about that, but Deidra had gotten attacked.”

“Oh,” Cori thought there for a moment, thinking about what Carly had just told her. “Does that Bruce guy ever give up?”


“Are you going to answer me?” Diego questioned with a small frown as he tried to get Sarah to speak up some how. “Do you really love him Sarah? You can at least answer that for me.”

“Diego, if I truly loved him and you truly loved Cori, neither one of us would have done that last night,” Sarah pointed out as Diego shrugged his shoulders. “Why are you getting so worried Diego? I mean, really. When is the last time you even talked to Kyle anyways?”

“Around the time I promised him I would talk to you,” Diego informed her with a small shake of his head. He really loved Sarah, but there was a guilt inside him that made him truly wonder if what they did was wrong. “I went to see him and he told me that he loved you Sarah. He told me that he loved you more than anything in this world. For a while I believed he was a bad guy, but the other night…”

“Diego, if he truly loved me,” she paused for a moment to think of something to say. Her words came to a stop when Kyle truly ran through her mind. “He would have called me to try and make things better. He would apologize to me.”

“There’s a part of me that believes that too, but…” Diego began only to feel her press her index finger in over his lips.

“Then believe it because he would have done at least something,” Sarah declared, watching Diego shrug his shoulders as she spoke. “Diego, don’t worry about it. We can’t turn back time, anyways--do you feel that what we did was truly wrong?”

“Well, I really wanted to be with you Sarah,” he explained, pondering all the possible answers that he could be giving her right now at this point. “I just don’t want to hurt anybody. There is Kyle and then there is Cori.”

“Listen, I wish things were different with Kyle, but he isn’t going to change,” Sarah explained with a sad expression, holding her hands up in the air as she spoke. “I want Kyle to get better, I really do, but it’s something he is never going to get past. All he is going to do is dwell on himself.”

“Dwell on himself Sarah?” Diego questioned with a small frown as a small sigh escaped his lips. “He thinks his child just died, give him a break.”

“Well his child didn’t die and he needs to get over it,” Sarah rolled her eyes before reaching out to squeeze Diego’s shoulder gently. “What I think you need to understand is that you shouldn’t be feeling bad.”

“But we could hurt people Sarah,” he pointed out once more, throwing his hands up in the air. “There is Kyle and Cori. We could hurt the both of them extremely bad.”

“Cori?” Sarah questioned with a small laugh as she shook her head slowly. “You really feel bad about doing this to Cori. I would say she had something like this coming her way.”

“Sarah, you don’t understand the circumstances,” he pointed out with a small sigh as he remembered all the things that Cori had admitted to him a few nights ago. “Cori really isn’t that bad and I think she truly loves me.”

“But the point is, you don’t love her,” Sarah stated, nodding slowly as she spoke. What Diego was worrying about, she didn’t know. She could just tell that he was worrying way too much. “Diego, I think last night proved that you didn’t love Cori. You just might want to rethink the whole Cori situation.”

“Cori is actually a very sweet person,” Diego informed her with a small sigh as he thought about all the years he had known Cori. There were so many things that could have shown him that Cori liked him in the past. He shouldn’t have gone that far with Cori, he knew it would only lead him to more trouble. “Anyways, it’s not like you want to be a couple right?”


“You remember this place?” Ken questioned, closing the door behind him and Wendy once they walked into the mansion. “I miss having the memories with you here.”

“I remember what it was like here,” Wendy nodded slowly, looking around the big area before her. Her memories of when they were younger passed through her head as she stood in the middle of the room. “I guess I could say I have missed being here with you too.”

“Good, because I was hoping you would stay here,” Ken informed her with a small smile as she looked back to look him over. He simply shrugged his shoulders, knowing that she was probably wondering what he was talking about.

“What do you mean stay here?” she wondered, taking a step towards Ken as he stepped in closer to her. He reached down for her hand and grasped onto it tightly.

“Wendy, I want to make sure you never get away from me again,” Ken began, taking in a deep breath as he spoke, “I want you to stay in the mansion with me. With all of us. Before you start saying no, I would like you to know that we have plenty of room.”

“I couldn’t let you do that on my behalf,” Wendy muttered, feeling Ken place his index finger in over her lips gently. “You shouldn’t have to do all this for me.”

“I want to do it Wendy, please don’t tell me no,” Ken begged, letting a deep sigh out as he spoke. He wanted to spend every possible minute with her from here on out and he was about to do whatever it took to make that happen. “We can make it happen, all you have to say is yes.”

“But what about Brant and Blake,” Wendy suggested his brother and sister, trying to get him to think about the others in the family. “Don’t you think they would have a problem with me being here all the time?”

“No,” Ken answered with a small shrug as he thought about Brant and Blake. “Brant went all that way to bring you back to me and Blake loves you Wendy. She’s missed you for so very long, please say yes.”

“Ken, I don’t,” Wendy started to reject the offer before seeing the saddened look behind Ken’s eyes. “Ken--I guess I could, but before I do you have to talk to everyone to make sure it’s alright. I don’t want to be here when someone doesn’t want me here.”

“Everyone would want you here Wendy,” Ken pointed out with a small shake of his head. He reached his right hand up to caress her cheek gently as she let out a small sigh. “If I am happy with you here with me, they would want you to be here. Brant likes you and so does Blake. I don’t think there would be any problems in this household.”

“Are you absolutely sure about that?” Wendy eyed Ken over slowly as she watched him simply nod. “Then I guess I could say that is a wonderful idea.”

“Thank you Wendy,” Ken reached forward to pull her into his arms tightly. He held onto her before reaching down to grab her hand in his lightly. “Let’s go upstairs, I’ll show you around, just in case you forgot where everything is.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” she smiled, watching the smile on Ken’s face grow bigger. They walked up the stairs as her memories came back to her all over again. Maybe staying here might be a good thing.


Hart opened the front door to Jenna’s apartment feeling exhaustion weighing over him after the trip that he’d made. He slipped out of his jacket still finding himself proud of a job well done now that he, Don and Brant had done their best to get Ken’s life back on track again. Sure, it had been one hell of a ride, but when he’d seen the way Ken looked when they’d come back to Coral Valley with Wendy, Hart was certain that things were looking up. Kicking off his shoes he prepared to tell Jenna the details of his adventure when he heard the sound of laughter coming from the living room.

“What the…” Hart paused listening again to hear the sounds before curiosity got the best of him. He rounded the corner seeing Jenna and Sam seated on the couch in the middle of the living room playing Xbox with one another. Unable to help himself he let out a small laugh, “Well, what is this?”

“Oh hey Hart,” Sam waved up at him briefly before continuing to place the pod racer game that Hart had picked up for Jenna. The two were engaged in a heated race until finally Sam was victorious. Excitedly she let out a small cheer.

“You’re just too good,” Jenna chuckled setting her controller down, “No wonder Wayne never wants to play with you.”

“He’s just a chicken,” Sam laughed lightly thinking about Jenna’s brother for a second, “He’s never quite grasped the concept of this game and he hates that I’m better at him at it. I have tried to teach him though I will admit.”

“Yeah and I’ll bet he’s still frustrated,” Hart added with a smile, “I still suck at this game. Jenna always kicks my butt at it.”

“You mean you’re not just letting me win,” Jenna questioned with curious eyes.

“Are you kidding? Honey you know I’m one of the most competitive people out there and…” his words were silenced as she reached for his tie tugging him down for a kiss. Their lips met for a brief moment before Hart hopped over the couch to join the two women. “So what’s the score?”

“Well Sam has pretty much won every round there so I think I’m about to call it quits,” Jenna eyed her controller curiously, “then again maybe not.”

“Hmm, well since I’m not the only loser in the house tonight, how about we deal me into this,” Hart wiggled his brow watching Jenna pull out the other controller. He glanced over at Sam before looking to Jenna, “So what’s the slumber party about?”

“Beth and Sam weren’t exactly getting along tonight so she thought she’d crash over here. I figured you wouldn’t mind,” Jenna threw out a pointed look letting him know without saying a word that she saw tonight as an opportunity for Hart to get closer to Sam.

“Not at all,” Hart nodded in understanding grinning over at Sam, “That is if she doesn’t mind this old man crashing the party.”

“Well, I suppose not, but only if you promise not to eat all of the pizza we ordered,” Sam shrugged her shoulders.

“Hmm pizza,” Hart wiggled his brow, “How I love pizza. Did you get it with ham and pineapple?”

“Of course I did, but not for you. For Sam,” Jenna explained matter of fact. “That’s her favorite.”

“Really, it’s mine too. And I suppose you’re also going to tell me that you like extra sauce, light cheese,” Hart added curiously.

“But of course,” Sam nodded, “With pizza is there any other way?”

“Not for me there isn’t,” Hart added with a tiny laugh, “and since we’re having a fun time tonight, how about I let you all hear about my day?”

“I was wondering when that would come about,” Jenna noted watching Hart rise up from where he was seated.

“Oh trust me this one is a good one,” Hart waved his hand around in the air excitedly before glancing over at Sam, “but trust me you don’t want to try this one yourself unless you have professionals like my friend Don, Brant and I backing you up.”

“Uh oh this sounds pretty serious,” Sam replied exchanging glances with Jenna.

“Oh but it is, but trust me tonight I’m going to tell you a tale of how we saved a friend’s life just when he was in his darkest hour,” Hart chuckled eager to tell the tale of his latest adventure with his best friends, “though I will warn you by the time this story is over neither one of you is ever going to look at Don Leveski the same again. That’s a promise!”


“To your being the most convincing straight man to ever stage a gay act in the name of friendship,” Brant held up his glass to toast his friend with a small round of laughter. “Though from what Hart said you were so good at it that he too was almost believing that you had the hots for Ken.”

“Hart’s so full of shi…” Don started catching the expression on his friend’s face. “I was just doing what I needed to do in order for us to stall for time and it worked. You can’t tell me that you wouldn’t have done the same.”

“Honestly,” Brant sipped his drink before shaking his head, “No I don’t think I would. I mean I love you man, but I don’t think I’d start making out with you to stop the wedding.”

“You’d be surprised what desperate times do to a person. I had to think fast and it was all that I could come up with,” Don continued to explain himself further. “Mark my words Brant. One day you’ll be in a situation where impulsive thinking is needed and you’ll be throwing all logic and rationality out the window.”

“Perhaps,” Brant shrugged sipping his drink again before chuckling further, “but I don’t think it’ll ever involve slipping the tongue to any of my male friends there.”

“Hey, I did not slip him the tongue,” Don paused a strange look crossing over his handsome features, “At least I don’t think I did. No I’m definitely sure that I didn’t. I was just…”

“I know,” Brant patted his shoulder gently before growing suddenly serious, “and for what it’s worth, I owe you a huge thank you for saving my brother from ruining his life completely. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you and Hart helping me. I hate to think about what could have happened.”

“Fortunately for us we won’t have to worry about it getting to that. I think it’s safe to say that Michelle is history,” Don rubbed at his jaw lightly thinking of the attack Michelle had made on him. “I can’t say I’m disappointed about that at all.”

“You and me both,” Brant nodded drinking again, “Though I have to tell you I really hope that Ken and Wendy can work this out. It was a long shot in finding her like I did, but…”

“But I think they’ll be happy,” Don added hoping to assure his friend’s worries. “They have a lot to work with between them and I’m sure when it gets down to it, they will remember the love they have for one another.”

“Which once again was something that my father was more than ready to steal from them,” Brant sighed heavily thinking about the nightmares his father had hung over all of their heads. “It feels like even in death that man keeps finding a way to stick it to all of us.”

“He’s gone now Brant. You won’t have to worry about that anymore,” Don patted his back supportively.

“You’re right,” Brant nodded. “I know you’re right. If I would quit trying to dwell on the negative and focus on the positive, then I would see that this is a time for celebration and good times. Of course it’s too bad that Hart had to duck out on us early.”

“Yeah it would’ve been nice to have him here with us, but you know how it is when duty calls or rather the little lady,” Don teased with a small wink.

“The little lady,” Brant repeated his thoughts returning to Avery and how he’d been anything but close to her lately. He’d kept her entirely out of the loop in his plans for saving Ken and even when he’d had an opportunity to call her, he’d kept from doing so. Something still felt off in their situation, yet he wasn’t sure what would be needed to be done to fix it.

“Thinking about Avery, huh?” Don noted eyeing him intently.

“Yeah,” Brant confessed, “I can’t help it. She and I kind of parted on bad terms. I was a real jerk to her and I said a lot of things that I didn’t mean. I did some pretty horrible things too.”

“Such as?” Don questioned giving him a long look.

“Let’s just say I’ve been acting like the man I don’t want to be with her. She tried to make an effort with me and I treated her like she was just another girl of the moment,” Brant sighed heavily, “We had a really bad parting of ways.”

“Then maybe it’s time you follow in Hart’s footsteps and start getting home to fix things,” Don suggested supportively. “I know you love her and if you give as much effort into fixing it as you did into our helping Ken, then you two can move past this slump you’re in.”

“I’m not so sure about that. I mean there has been so much tension lately and…” Brant’s words were interrupted by the sound of the news report on television. Brant saw a picture of Bruce flash on the screen followed by one of Avery. He leaned in over the bar top and reached for the television set.

“What are you doing?” the bartender asked pushing him away from the bar.

“Turn this up,” Brant snapped seeing the man doing as instructed. A few seconds later there was word about Bruce’s return to town and the story spoke about how he’d gone after Avery and while there were no details at this time, there was apparently another murder.

“Oh God,” Don watched the color drain from his friend’s face.

“Don, I…” Brant stood stunned realizing what was happening. “I have to get to her.”

“I’ll drive,” Don decided worriedly. “We can call Shannon and see…”

“Just do it. I need to know,” Brant pleaded watching his friend make the phone call. A few minutes later Don hung up the phone.

“No luck,” Don shook his head solemnly. “I just got her voice mail.”

“Come on,” Brant reached for his jacket. “We have to find Avery. I need to know that she’s alright.”

“I’m with you man,” Don followed hoping that this time Bruce wasn’t successful in his mission to take Avery away from the rest of the world forever.


“What’s taking so long,” Russell questioned from where he sat beside Avery holding her hand in his, “Just hold on baby.”

“Hold on,” Avery repeated in a labored breath, “Russ, do you have any idea what this feels like? No, I don’t think you do. You don’t have the first clue what it feels like to be in labor do you?”

“No Avery, I don’t, but…” Russ felt her clamp down on his hand as another squeal escaped from her lips. This time however she wasn’t alone as Russ joined in the shout. “Grady, where the hell are you?”

“I’m right here,” Grady replied returning and moving in to the other side of the bed. He placed a damp washcloth over Avery’s forehead seeing her face twisted in agony as she turned to look at him. Her brown eyes fixed on his for a long moment and he couldn’t help but touch her cheek gently. “It’s going to be okay.”

“Would you all stop saying that,” she shouted arching her head back into the pillows, “This isn’t like it’s a beauty pageant here where I’m in a race for first prize. I’m having a baby in case no one noticed here and I don’t know what washcloths are going to do to help anything.”

“Avery, look at me,” Russell curled his fingers of his free hand underneath her chin forcing her to meet his gaze, “You have to calm down.”

“Calm down?” she repeated wincing at the thought, “Russ it hurts…”

“I know sweetheart and if there was anything I could do to take that pain away from you, you know that I would,” he promised stroking her cheek gently, “If there was something that I could do to ease your pain, then I promise you that I would. I would gladly take your place in bringing our daughter into this world if God would have it that way. I would…”

“Russ it’s not supposed to hurt this much. This is because of Bruce. Because he drugged me and…” Avery started in a panic feeling as if she was being torn apart from the inside out. She let out another pained wail squeezing Russell’s hand tighter than ever so much so that Grady could’ve sworn that Russ was turning blue in the face.

“Avery, hey we’re all here for you,” Grady offered up his hand hoping to help alleviate some of the pain his brother was going through, “Nothing is going wrong. It’s okay.”

“Would you stop saying that?” Avery snapped at him tossing out an icy glare in Grady’s general direction.

“I think I’ve got this one covered Grady,” Russell reached for his wife’s hand running his finger over the top of her palm in a soothing fashion, “Avery look at me. Please…”

“Russ it hurts,” Avery bit down on her lip fighting to repress the pain that was building inside of her. She felt his fingers skim over her cheek gently before they slid into her hair. She watched Kyle take a seat beyond the edge of the bed and she let out a shriek, “What does he think he’s doing?”

“You wanted me here with you, so he’s going to help,” Russell glanced over at Kyle briefly, “He’s going to help us here…”

“He can’t do that,” Avery shrieked raising her voice urgently, “You can’t do that Kyle! You can’t be there. Russ, he can’t be there. He doesn’t know the first thing about delivering a baby. He doesn’t know what he’s doing!”

“How hard can it be,” Kyle shrugged his shoulders not entirely sure he was ready for this himself.

“Oh please Kyle, you can’t even find your way around a road map. How am I supposed to believe that you can help bring my daughter into the world,” Avery spat out at him fighting to keep it together despite the pain she was in.

“Avery, trust me I’m not going to let anything happen to the baby,” Kyle tried to assure her with a half smile knowing first hand that he didn’t have the first clue what he should be doing, “I mean I was a boy scout and they pretty much teach you to be prepared for anything.”

All eyes were on him for a long moment of silence and he shrugged his shoulders, “What?”

“You were a boy scout?” Grady couldn’t help but ask.

“For about three months, but what relevance is time in the grand scheme of things?” Kyle replied watching Avery go into another panic.

“We can’t do this. He can’t do this. Russ, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. None of us know what we’re doing. We should be at a hospital--not here at the cabin--not in this bedroom when…” Avery started her voice shaking with fear and worry mixed in with the pain of the moment.

“Listen to me sweetheart. Do you remember the first time that we were here together,” Russ questioned watching her trying to focus on his words instead of what was happening, “Do you remember when we were alone together at this cabin?”

“Yeah, you were trying to get into my pants even then,” she huffed impatiently her attention returning to what was going on around them. “Russ…”

“Avery, come on focus,” Russ pleaded with her stroking her hair gently, “You know as well as I did when we were here together something beautiful happened. We stopped worrying about the world around us and we started to focus on each other--only on each other…”

“Russ, I…” Avery’s pained expression shifted a bit as she looked to him.

“It’s okay baby,” he lifted her hand to his lips kissing it tenderly, “We were afraid back then too, but look at what happened back then. Think about everything that’s brought us to this moment in time--to now where we’re about to bring our little girl into the world. There isn’t a more fitting place for her to come to us. This is the place where we first fell into love with one another--the place where we found our way back to each other at times when it seemed that we weren’t going to make it and even now, this is the place where our hearts have always been together. I‘ve spent my whole life loving you Avery Morrison-Denton and I can‘t think of a more fitting time and place for us to be together sharing this miracle with one another.”

“Russ, I love you. I’ve loved you for so very long and when I thought I lost you,” she inhaled feeling her words choked up by the tears in her eyes, “Russ, you have no idea how much it hurt to think that I’d never have you with me again--to think that you were dead and I lost you.”

“It hurt about as much as thinking that I would never see you again--that we would never be together, but here we are against the odds with one another as it always should’ve been,” he promised kissing her gently, “Avery our love brought us to where we are today and our little girl is a sign of how right we are together.”

“But what if something goes wrong? What if this pain is a sign that…” she started to panic again only to feel him press a kiss over her forehead.

“The pain isn’t any worse than it was when we thought we’d never be together again, is it?” he searched her dark eyes wondering how in the hell he’d been able to keep away from her for so very long.

“No, it’s not,” she admitted honestly knowing full well that the pain of losing him had been a different kind of pain, the kind of pain that lead her to believe that she’d fallen to an emptiness into a despair that would never leave her. This pain was something new--something that alerted her to what was in their future--to the dreams that they had ahead of them for their daughter--for their life with one another.

“I think we’re ready to do this,” Kyle blurted out reaching for the bottle of vodka at his side.

“What are you doing with that?” Grady frowned glancing over at Kyle curiously. He watched Kyle lift the bottle to his lips and take a long, solid swig of the burning liquid.

“Look there’s no way in hell that I’d be down here doing this unless I have something to drink. This isn’t exactly a view of Avery that I want to remember after today,” Kyle confessed thinking about how he’d readily offered to be the one to help deliver the baby.

“I said I could handle it,” Grady frowned in response his eyes shifting between Russ and Avery.

“I can do it,” Russell sighed heavily feeling Avery squeezing down on his hand harder than ever.

“No, you can’t leave me. Russ you can’t go away,” Avery begged of him another contraction racking over her body harder than the last.

“Okay, I’m right here. I’m here just hold on,” Russell pleaded doing his best to keep his voice warm and comforting. He stroked her face gently knowing that this was about to change everything for them but in ways they’d always dreamt about.

“Avery I see something…at least I think I do,” Kyle admitted dropping the bottle he was holding to take a good look at what was going on.

“Let me see,” Grady moved over to assist Kyle causing Avery to let out a groan.

“Russ, please don’t tell me that we’re going to have to forever remember this day as Kyle and Grady bringing our daughter into the world. This is absolutely the last thing I wanted for…” Avery’s words were cut off by another urgent need to push.

“Avery, she’s there,” Grady blurted out excitedly, “I can see her. Come on you can do this!”

“Shut up Grady!” Avery snapped at him catching the way his green eyes were fixed on her for a moment.

“No Avery you shut up! You stop acting like a stubborn little bitch and just do something right for a change!” Grady remarked sourly catching the first spark of anger behind her eyes. Yes, mission accomplished, “I mean really here you are whining about like a girl when obviously this is something a man could do without complaint.”

“A man could do without complaint,” she repeated with a huff, her fingers curling into the sheet beneath her on one side, the other squeezing Russell’s hand, “I’ll have you know that you couldn’t even begin to imagine how much this takes out of a person.”

“Yeah, but I know if I was the one doing it I wouldn’t be sitting there bitching. I’d just get the job done like a man does,” Grady taunted her further seeing that the distraction was working for her.

“Grady stop!” Russell snapped at him not really sure where Grady felt justified in doing what he was doing to Avery.

“No I’m not going to stop. If she wants to act like a whiner, then she’s going to be treated like one. Here she is mumbling about how much pain she’s in, about how much misery she’s in, but damn it if she would just spend less time complaining and more time getting the job done then we could all go home and call it a night,” Grady continued moving in to the other side of Avery’s bed. “I mean that’s really what it gets down to, doesn’t it?”

“You son of a,” Avery reached out to him, clamping her arm around his collar and pulling him towards her with homicidal intent when she felt another rush of urgency flow over her. She released Grady almost immediately turning her attention to Russ who had his arm around her shoulders. He spoke encouraging words one right after another to her and before Avery could let out another word the room was filled with sounds of another set of female lungs in protest.

“Oh my God,” Kyle gasped as he held the baby that had one hell of a time making her mother miserable. Despite the fact that Kyle was certain he was completely unqualified for this job as he held Russ and Avery’s daughter, he found himself overcome with a mixture of many emotions.

Grady moved in beside him, doing his best to cover the baby as her screams filled the room. He couldn’t help but smile down at his niece thinking about everything that lead to this point in time.

“Oh Avery, she’s beautiful,” Grady looked up at his brother and Avery watching as she sank into Russell’s arms overcome with exhaustion.

“You did so good baby,” Russell whispered in her ear kissing her temple gently. His fingers massaged her shoulders feeling her against him as Kyle stood up holding their daughter in his arms.

“Your daughter would have to agree,” Kyle carefully moved around the bed to carefully place the baby into Avery’s waiting arms. Once he was sure that Avery had her, Kyle placed a kiss on Avery’s cheek, “You did a beautiful job mom.”

“Thank you Kyle,” Avery smiled at him feeling a warmth fill her heart as her eyes dropped down to take a first look at her daughter.

“Look at her Avery,” Russell whispered reaching out to touch her little fingers. She kept screaming until she finally realized that she was in her mother’s arms. Instinctively she clamped onto Russell’s finger wanting to bring it to her mouth as her lips started flapping eagerly.

“Hey baby,” Avery smiled down at her daughter forgetting about the pain she’d been earlier now that she had her little angel in her arms, “Russ look at her.”

“I think she’s hungry,” Russ couldn’t help but smile, feeling his heart swell with love for the beautiful little angel in his wife’s arms. Up until now he’d dreamt about what this moment would be like, but nothing had prepared him for the pride and happiness that filled his heart as seeing his baby girl in Avery’s arms. It was as if everything that had happened was no longer relevant. All that mattered was the miracle they’d had with one another. Unable to help himself Russ kissed Avery’s face again, “I love you Avery. I love you so much for making all of my dreams come true.”

“I can’t take all the credit here,” Avery smiled tears of joy replacing the ones that had earlier stained her cheeks, “Russ, she’s so beautiful.”

“Just like her mother,” Russ touched her cheek lightly watching as their little girl attempted to nibble on his finger, “I think she’s perfect in every way.”

“Of course she is. She’s ours,” Avery added thinking about how long they’d waited for this day--to be together with their daughter. She closed her eyes for a moment thinking about how she’d thought this moment would never be and tears began to fall harder from her eyes, “Oh Russ we did it. We really did it.”

“Yes we did,” Russ assured her keeping his arm around her shoulders while his other hand was at his daughter’s disposal, “Everything is perfect…well almost everything.”

“What do you mean almost,” Avery questioned tipping her eyes up towards him.

“Well, in all the chaos we haven’t really had much time to think about what we’re going to call her--other than beautiful that is,” Russ teased with a sexy smile, the warmth of his green eyes melting Avery’s heart as she hoped to remember this moment in time for the rest of her life.

“Yeah about that,” Avery glanced down at their daughter thinking about how close she’d come to losing her. If Bruce had succeeded in hurting Avery, then her daughter would’ve been taken away forever. If it wasn’t for Russ and Kyle showing up with Grady, then… Avery tipped her head up seeing the way that Kyle and Grady were both watching the little girl clearly in awe of her. Smiling Avery realized the answer to her husband’s question, “Russ, I know what we should name her.”

“What’s that?” Russ asked pushing her hair away from her eyes to get a long look at her.

“Erin Leigh. Erin Leigh Denton after the two men who helped us bring her into the world unharmed,” Avery glanced over at Kyle and Grady, “That is if they don’t mind sharing the honors with her.”

“Mind, are you kidding? That’s awesome,” Kyle grinned goofily nudging Grady in the ribs, “Do you mind?”

“Not on your life,” Grady nodded eagerly.

“In that case,” Russell smiled proudly focusing completely on his daughter, who was now cooing in his wife’s arms, “Welcome to the world Erin Leigh. It’s been a wild ride getting to have you with us here and now, but it’s been wonderful knowing that at the end of everything we’re here with you. You’re everything that we ever could’ve asked for baby girl.”

“And everything that kept us believing for so very long,” Avery added snuggling in closer to Russ as they looked at Erin realizing that her birth brought about a new beginning for all of them. Things were finally as they should be at long last.


“Do you think what we did makes us together?” Sarah questioned in a whisper as she saw Diego shrug his shoulders. “I mean, I don’t know. Do you think that we’re a couple?”

“Well, it’s not really up to me,” Diego explained with a small sigh. He thought about everything that had happened between them before shrugging his shoulders, “I would think that we were something. Maybe not a couple, but something.”

“I thought we were friends,” she added her point, seeing Diego look over at her with different kind of expression. By that very look, she could tell he didn’t like that answer. “Then what would you categorize us as?”

“I don’t know, but I know for sure it isn’t friends,” Diego answered with a small frown as he folded his arms in front of his chest. He leaned back against the cool brick as he saw Sarah stand up slowly. “What do you think?”

“Well, I was in a relationship with Kyle,” Sarah began, thinking about everything happening in their lives at this moment in time. “You are in a relationship with Cori. I would say we have a lot of work to do.”

“As in?” Diego’s eyes looked up into hers as he saw her shrug. He rolled his eyes before taking a step forward. “Sarah, we have to come up with something to do here. I’m with Cori and I know you probably still have feelings for Kyle.”

“Screw Kyle, I really don’t care what’s going on with him right now,” Sarah declared, throwing her hands up in the air as she thought everything over. “You know, Kyle, Heather and Cori could all go away for all I care. All the three of them ever cause in my life is chaos and I don’t want that anymore.”

“What would you consider us Sarah?” Diego questioned, watching Sarah shrug her shoulders. He reached out to help her up off the ground as he looked into her dark eyes. “Sarah, I don’t know what it is, but something tells me that if Kyle asked you to come back to him--you would.”

“No, I wouldn’t,” Sarah shook her head, thinking about all the things she had been through with Kyle. Kyle was someone who obviously didn’t want anything to do with her, so she didn’t want anything to do with him. “Kyle is too into his friends to even care.”

“That’s what a good guy does Sarah,” Diego pointed out with a small shake of his head. “A good guy takes care of his friends, his family, and the one he loves. That’s what I want to do with you one day, but I have to know, can we be together--or are we only meant to be friends?”


“So what’s really up Cori?” Carly couldn’t help but ask noting that Dave’s sister seemed to be a little bit out of sorts the more that they talked with one another. Something was certainly bothering Cori and while she hadn’t said much, it was clear in her posture that something was going on. What it was however was another matter. Still, Carly was good at reading people and if things were ever really able to get normal around the family, she figured now was as good a time as any to offer a helping hand.

“Nothing’s up,” Cori paused contemplating her words as her thoughts lingered back to what she’d walked in on with Sarah and Diego. “Okay, so maybe that’s not entirely true, but still…”

“Want to talk about it?” Carly suggested seeing that something was bothering Cori.

“Well not really, but…” Cori bit on her lower lip for a second contemplating her words before letting loose. “Okay, so maybe this is going to sound silly, but I can’t stop thinking about Diego and his friendship with Sarah Marx.”

“Sarah Marx?” Carly gave her a strange look.

“Yeah, she’s Heather’s impossible sister and I don’t know what her problem is,” Cori continued in a small rant, “I mean it was bad enough that Heather was trying to sabotage the relationship Diego and I have going, but now it seems like Sarah picked up right where Heather left off. I mean Sarah has this whole ‘good girl’ act going that it seems most men eat up with a spoon, but I can see right through her. I know full well that she’s trouble and she’s trying to get between Diego and I.”

“I thought you said that things were going good between the two of you,” Carly noted seeing the anger burning behind Cori’s eyes.

“I thought they were too, but after we made love he started to get all strange on me. I’m not sure why, but he started finding reasons to put me off--to go see Sarah and deal with all of her so-called issues,” Cori rolled her eyes at the thought of Sarah. “I mean yeah I get that he’s a psychiatrist and he needs to help people, but I think this goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

“And let me guess. She’s a need queen that won’t let things alone right?” Carly thought to her own situation with Dave when it came to Deidra. “Have you said anything to Diego about it?”

“I’ve tried, but he’s impossible,” Cori added with a huff. “I mean he just can’t see how she’s manipulating and using him, but it’s so clear to me. Her boyfriend broke up with her, so naturally she’s looking for someone to latch onto and that someone tends to be my boyfriend.”

“I’m so sorry,” Carly frowned realizing how close Cori’s words were to what she herself was feeling about things lately. “Maybe you should try talking to Diego again and explain to him that this is really bothering you. Maybe if he sees how much time he’s spending with Sarah is upsetting you, then he’ll try to fix that. Maybe he’ll try to make things right between the two of you and stop putting Sarah first all the time.”

“Like Dave does with Deidra,” Cori couldn’t help but roll her eyes ever so slightly. Seeing Carly’s wounded expression, she relented a bit. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to attack you. It’s Sarah I’m pissed at, not you.”

“No, trust me I understand where you’re coming from and you’re right,” Carly sighed sinking back further onto the sofa thinking about her situation with Dave. “I have been less than effective in getting my message across given that Deidra is one of his best friends. At least that’s how he views her.”

“Well he’s an idiot,” Cori blurted out with a wrinkled expression. “My brother never sees how she uses him and unfortunately I think Diego is the same kind of guy there. He thinks he’s doing these good and noble things for Sarah, but she’s just using him. She’s just latching onto him until Kyle comes running back and then…”

“Do you think that he has feelings for her?” Carly couldn’t help but ask immediately recognizing the expression on Cori’s face.

“I don’t know, but I think she’s got some kind of feelings for him,” Cori noted with a frown. “I mean I’m not saying that she’s going to want a relationship with him, but she’s vindictive enough to make sure that he can’t have happiness because it would interfere with his catering to her when she wants him on call.”

“Well my best advice is just to let Diego know how you feel about him and hope that he’ll understand where you’re coming from. You just have to approach the situation in such a way where he doesn’t feel like you’re attacking him,” Carly sighed heavily shaking her head at the thought. “Men never respond well to a situation where they feel like they are having accusations thrown at them even if they are behaving like idiots.”

“Yeah tell me about it,” Cori sank back into the seat she was in. She curled her legs up underneath her thinking about how long she’d waited to finally have something with Diego. His behaving in this fashion was never part of the program. That bothered her--immensely.

“Who knows? Maybe it will find a way of working itself out? Maybe Sarah will start talking to Kyle again and she’ll leave well enough alone,” Carly tried to be helpful though she had to wonder if that would ever really be the case in those kind of situations. She thought about Dave and frowned. “I guess all you can do is hope that it works out for the best and that Diego proves to be what you need in your life.”

“And if he doesn’t it’ll be like all this waiting has turned out to be for nothing,” Cori reached for a throw pillow on the couch hoping that Sarah Marx wouldn’t be the key to ending her dreams of a happily ever after with Diego.


“Hello,” Kevin began taking in a breath as he prepared to clear the air between him and Ria’s ex-lover once and for all. While he wasn’t quite sure what he was going to say to that man, just the idea of Ria being alone with him had Kevin’s blood about to boil. That in itself made him very uncomfortable as he began to address the man before him, “You don’t know me, but I think it’s time that we had a formal introduction here. I’m Kevin Adonis.”

“Well Kevin,” the man before Ria began speaking into her cell phone with a condescending tone, “I suppose you’re the person that I should file a grievance with considering that I was just asking Ria to marry me tonight, but much to my dismay she refused.”

“Of course she did,” Kevin quipped in response, “After all why would she marry someone like you when she has someone like me in her life.”

“Someone like you,” the man pondered his gaze upon Ria once more, “and just what is it that someone like you brings to the table for someone as extraordinary as our Ria?”

“A whole hell of a lot more than you ever could,” Kevin answered flatly jealousy pouring out over his body, “She’s happy with me and from what I saw you never gave her that.”

“I could give her that and more if she’d let me, but she’s under some strange misconception that you are the proverbial knight in shining armor ready to sweep her up into your world of fairy tales and make all of her dreams come true,” he turned away from Ria and lowered his voice a bit, “but deep down we know that simply isn’t the case because I’m going to take a guess that a man like you couldn’t simply appreciate all that there is to indulge in with our Ria here.”

“I’ve indulged in far more with her than you’ll ever know and I’m warning you now, if you don’t walk out of there and leave her alone, then you’ll find out just how easily I can crush your head like a melon effortlessly if need be,” Kevin snarled in response being met by an uproarious laughter.

“Oh that is wonderful,” the man turned to face Ria with a chuckle, “Why Ria you never let me know that you were trading in a man of sophistication like myself for a brute like this one you have on hand here. Honestly what do you see in such a Neanderthal?”

“Believe me I’m far from being a Neanderthal and if you keep pushing your luck, you’ll see exactly why it would be wise for you to back up and leave my girl alone permanently,” Kevin warned sourly, his voice cracking with anger.

“Your girl,” the man bust into another round of laughter, “Oh you are ever so amusing and I’m sure whatever it is you think that you possess about you that makes you so damn special will in time wear off. Ria will no doubt sooner or later see through your mirage that you’ve worked around her and when that time comes into fruition I have no doubt that she will return to her senses and wear the ring that I have for her finger. Of course as I stand here I don’t see that you’ve given her one, so perhaps that’s a way of proving just how far your loyalty truly runs for her.”

“Listen you son of a…” Kevin snapped wanting to reach through the phone and snap the guy’s neck. He heard shuffling on the other end of the line and before he could let out another word Ria spoke up breathlessly.

“Okay that’s enough,” she mouthed as Kevin heard another kind of shuffling. There was a muffled sound before he thought he heard a door slamming. A silence followed until Ria spoke into the phone again, “What did you just tell him?”

“Nothing more than what I promise to own up to and act upon when I get back to Coral Valley,” Kevin replied meaning every word he was saying now that jealousy and rage swept over him.

“Don’t you mean if you ever plan on returning to Coral Valley,” Ria challenged locking the door in front of her after she’d managed to take advantage of the situation when Kevin was on the phone with her former love. She’d tossed him out into the hallway and reclaimed her phone before closing the door in his face. Now she looked around her apartment thinking about the memory of Kevin that still hung over her.

“I am coming back Ria,” Kevin tried to appeal to her, his voice softening a bit, “I didn’t mean to leave like I did.”

“Somehow you’ll have to forgive me if I have to tell you I find that hard to believe. One minute you were looking for Bruce Mathis in the hopes of helping Trisha and then the next I get a phone call telling me that you have to get back to the island and you’ll explain more later,” she let out a frustrated sigh, hurt weighing down over her, “What gives Kevin?”

“Ria I’m sorry,” he paused his voice full of regret, “You deserved better than that and…”

“I deserved a hell of a lot better than that especially considering that I really believed that you loved me. I mean I know I told you that I would be patient--that I would wait for you, but do you have any idea how it felt to come home and discover that you’d left without so much of a good-bye?”

“I didn’t have a choice Ria. I found out things about the man Angie was going to marry. He wasn’t at all who she thought he was. He was married and…” he attempted to plead his case with her.

“And of course you had to ride in to the rescue and be the hero. Tell me did you save her from marrying him? Is the wedding off now?” Ria questioned abrasively feeling jealous of the fact that he’d run back to the woman who had been a threat to their relationship.

“Yes, the wedding is off and Angie’s upset about that,” Kevin paused as if lost in his own contemplations, “but that doesn’t change anything for us.”

“Doesn’t it?” she blurted out before she could really think about what she was saying.

“Ria, I wish that I could make you see what’s going on--that I could make you understand, but…” he trailed off feeling lost by the distance that was obviously between them.

“But what Kevin? Here I had a man asking me to marry him tonight--a man that I stopped feeling for when you walked back into my life and there you are the man that I love with all that I am thousands of miles away with someone else. How am I supposed to feel?”

“Hurt and upset,” he replied catching her off guard with his response.

“Gee thanks Kevin. That’s refreshing,” she rolled her eyes at that comment.

“No Ria I only say that because that’s how I feel right now. When I think about him being there and my being here, well it only makes me realize how much I need you--how much I want to be there with you. Ria, I love you and I wish like hell that I could’ve done things differently,” he trailed off poignantly his heart growing heavy at the idea of being so very far away from her.

“But you didn’t do it that way, did you? We didn’t follow that path,” she felt tears stinging at her eyes. She closed her eyes trying to hold back on the emotions eating away inside of her--at the memory of being so close to him, loving him and holding him and having him near her only to feel him slip away.

“Go into your bedroom,” Kevin pleaded with her. “Ria, are you there?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” she wiped at the tears that strayed down over her cheeks, “but I don’t think going in there is such a good idea because every time I do all I can think about is you.”

“That’s exactly why I want you in there,” Kevin pleaded with her once more, “I need you to go in there…for me…”

“Kevin I…” she started to argue with him before letting out a long sigh, “fine, but just this once.”

“One time will be all it takes for me to convince you of what it was that I really had in mind for us,” he waited hearing her move through her apartment. He thought he heard a door and he talked to her again, “Are you in there?”

“Yeah, I’m in here looking at the beautiful disaster that we made of my room,” she confessed choked up on her tears, “Are you happy now?”

“Not yet,” Kevin replied hating to hear her cry, “Ria, now you have to do me another favor, but you have to do it exactly like I tell you, okay?”

“Kevin please,” Ria begged of him hating to be bowled over by the way that being back in her room reminded her over again about the time they’d shared in this apartment. Oh if he never came back, she was certain she would have to move out because this would drive her mad.

“Go over to your dresser--you know the one near the closet…” Kevin prompted breaking through her thoughts, “Ria, are you listening?”

“Of course I’m listening, but I don’t see the point,” she shook her head at him, “Kevin this is pointless considering that…”

“Just do it,” Kevin instructed further hearing hesitation behind her soft breath. He closed his eyes imagining the way it felt to have that same breath fall upon him after they’d made love--in the aftermath of passion with her arms wrapped around his shoulders holding onto him--loving him as if that emotion would never end. “Are you there yet beautiful?”

“I’m here, but why,” she asked pausing as she saw her own reflection in the mirror before her. She tucked a strand of her dark hair behind her ear before spotting the box of treasures she’d pulled out of her closet when she’d been reminding Kevin of their past with one another. Unable to help herself a smile lifted over her lip as she fingered the lid.

“I take it you’re by your memory box,” Kevin noted as if he was right there watching her standing beside her and taking in her every movement.

“How did you know,” Ria toyed with the lid starting to open it before stopping and releasing it.

“Because that’s where I wanted you to be,” Kevin mouthed a small smile teasing over the corners of his lips, “Open it up.”

“Kevin, I don’t really think that…” she began again.

“Just do it Ria. Trust me,” he urged hearing shuffling once more, “Are you doing it?”

“I’m working on it,” Ria opened up the box only to discover a homemade card before her with a series of pink and red hearts on the front of it. She reached for it seeing in two of the larger hearts there were two names in them. Kevin and Ria and then in a heart below it the word Forever was printed out.

“Did you find it?” Kevin asked hearing nothing but silence on her end of the line, “Come on Ria. Read it to me.”

“Kevin I,” she felt her vision blurred by tears as she opened the card to see sloppy words scrawled on the paper before her.

“Read it to me Ria,” Kevin insisted further needing her to understand what he truly had wanted for them.

“Fine,” she began choked up on the things happening inside of her. Tears still continued to flow, her heart heavy and full of love for him, “Roses are red, violets are blue, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never find another love like the one I have with you. I love you Ria Merhan.”

Kevin opened his mouth to speak again only to hear her break down into tiny sobs on the other end of the line. He could hear her breaths broken by her tears and he wanted more than anything to reach out and hold her--to take her into his arms and be with her sharing that moment with her instead of being thousands of miles away.

“There’s more,” Kevin couldn’t help but reveal as Ria’s sobs seemed to die down.

“Oh Kevin,” she found herself at a loss not knowing what to say as she held the tiny token of his appreciation.

“I know I’m not the best at coloring there, but I tried to stay within the lines,” Kevin explained with a tiny laugh, “It’s not the best…”

“Yes, yes it is,” she blurted out wiping at her face now that she looked like an idiot overcome with emotion.

“Even so, there’s something more. Keep reading,” he prompted hoping that she wouldn’t miss the rest of what was waiting for them.

“Okay,” she nodded reaching for a Kleenex from the box that sat atop of her dresser. She saw another round of fine print in a black crayon and she read aloud again, “I know this isn’t as special as the first ring, but I hope that it will be as special as it’s a token of what our future has in store for us.”

It was then that Ria noticed the tiny pink and red ribbon tied to the card. It appeared that Kevin had put a hole punch to the top of the construction paper and carefully tied ribbon that lead back into the box. She opened the lid again and followed the ribbon until it lead to a small velvet box.

“Did you find it yet,” Kevin questioned hearing a breath escape her lips, “Yeah you found it.”

“Kevin, what in the…” Ria reached for the small jewelry box unable to believe what he’d left for her.

“Open it up Ria, but before you do know one thing,” Kevin paused thinking about how he’d wanted to be there with her to see the look on her face when she finally saw what he’d had for her.

“What’s that?” she asked feeling as if she would crumble to pieces at the romantic gesture he’d made for her.

“This is something that should show you how I feel about us,” Kevin explained matter of fact, the warmth of his voice sending shivers racing up and over her, “This should show you just where my heart is. Open it.”

“Right now,” she replied wondering if she was just imagining all of this.

“Right now,” he encouraged her hearing a small whimper in the back of her throat and in that moment he was certain she’d done as he’d instructed her to do.

“Kevin it’s…” Ria found herself at a loss once her eyes fell upon the heart shaped pink diamond before her. It sparkled with an intensity unlike anything that she’d ever seen before in her life. There was something about it--something about the sentiment behind it that mirrored the same hearts Kevin had put on the card for her.

“It’s the key to our future,” Kevin explained simply, “and while I know you weren’t expecting it, that jerk reminded me of why I needed to share this with you. I wanted to be there to do this in person, but this will have to do. Ria, I want you to take the ring out of the box.”

“Kevin, I don’t know if…” she stammered a bit unable to take her eyes off the beautiful gem before her.

“Ria, just do it,” he waited for a moment hearing her shuffling with the box, “and I want you to put it on your finger.”

“Kevin…” she moved to put it on one of her fingers before hearing him clear his throat.

“Your ring finger Ria because when I get back to Coral Valley only then do I want to take that ring off of your finger,” Kevin explained causing her to stop what she was doing.

“What do you mean you want me to take it off when you return,” she replied puzzled by his request.

“What I mean is that when I return I want you to take it off your finger because when I come back I want to be the one to put it back on you when I ask you to be my wife,” Kevin replied his words coming out in a small, seductive whisper, “After we make love for hours I fully intend to slip that ring on your finger and remind you of how truly beautiful you are in my eyes. I’ll try to get the words out, but I’ll be a bit flustered and a bit scared like we both will be when the moment finally hits us…”

“And then,” Ria sat down on the mattress on the floor not caring that she nearly toppled over in the process.

“Then I’ll kiss you, but not with just any kiss. With a long, drugging kiss that leaves us both breathless and we’ll probably end up making love again after that, but once we do, I’ll take your hand in mine and I’ll gaze into your beautiful brown eyes and ask you the question that we’ve both been waiting a lifetime for,” he paused closing his eyes as he imagined himself with her right then and there, “I'll say Ria Merhan, will you share your life with me? Will you trust in my love for you and in our future with one another sharing your hopes and dreams with me? Will you let me be the man you’ve waited a lifetime to find--the kind of man that you would consider having children with? Sharing your life with? And then as you start to cry, I’ll reach out and touch your cheek wiping at your tears. I’ll lean forward kissing them away…starting with your eyes, then your cheeks and the tip of your nose that always wrinkles when you’re so happy that you can‘t help but be bowled over with emotion…”

“Kevin,” she couldn’t help but smile at the thought of all those things he was sharing with her.

“And then I’ll kiss your lips--I’ll kiss you in one of the most romantic, most incredible kisses that any man has ever given to a woman and only then will I ask you to be my wife--to be the one to share my forever with…”

“And when that day comes Kevin, there is no doubt in my mind what my answer will be,” she sighed her heart overflowing with love for him.

“And when you give me that answer I will slip that ring on your finger just like you are doing now and it will be the beginning of our pledge to one another--the beginning of our life together,” he continued laying back on the couch he’d been seated on, his eyes still closed and imagining how beautiful she must look right now.

“And then everything will be perfect,” she mouthed in response sliding the ring on her finger, “and I won’t take it off until I see you again.”

“You better not,” Kevin smiled thoughtfully, “Of course you might have to take it off when we have pancakes the next time, but we’ll try to work that around the proposal.”

“I think we can find a way to do it,” she laughed lightly wiping at her face as her mind focused only on him, “though I will tell you I stocked up on strawberry syrup.”

“Hmm, then I suppose it’ll be up to me to bring the pancakes this next time,” Kevin teased lightly wishing like hell he could be holding her right now instead of sitting in the middle of the room without her.

“How about you just work on bringing yourself Kevin,” she placed his card over her heart holding it as if it could bring her one step closer to Kevin.

“I promise you Ria. I will be back and when I am, nothing is going to stop us from being together,” he swore to her wishing more than anything that their dreams of a future together would one day become a reality.

“I’ll be here Kevin waiting for you wearing your ring and knowing what we have ahead of us,” she mouthed in response another sigh escaping from her now parted lips.

“I love you Ria. Don’t ever doubt that,” he whispered warmly over the line.

“I love you Kevin. Deep down I know I’ve always loved you and that won’t ever change regardless of where you are,” Ria promised opening her eyes to look at the ring she wore proudly on her finger knowing full well what it’s impact would mean on her life now that she and Kevin had shared this moment with one another. If there were ever any doubts about his love for her, they were now erased by the gift that he’d left for her. She snuggled back into her mattress closing her eyes again as Kevin began to weave another fairy tale of their reunion to her somehow leading her to believe in the promise of happily ever after that was still waiting for them.


“Oh my God are you serious?” Jenna doubled over with laughter after Hart recounted the tales of his misadventures with her and Sam. “Shannon is so going to flip when she learns that Don did that. I can only imagine the look on your face when he planted a kiss on Ken.”

“I thought he lost his damned mind, but I couldn’t argue it. Not if we were going to make sure that Ken didn’t marry that woman. He was dead set on doing it and Don knew that we needed to stall for time until Brant arrived,” Hart chuckled unable to get the image of Don kissing Ken out of his mind. If only he would’ve had a camera it would’ve been something he would’ve tormented Don with for every day from here on out.

“Unbelievable,” Sam shook her head wiping at the tears of laughter that had overtaken her, “And here I thought that my friends were nuts. Yours take the cake there.”

“Yeah well what can I say? We were all little boys who refused to grow up for a long time,” Hart slid onto the couch beside Jenna wrapping her up into his arms, “But now we’ve evolved. Though if you ever think about dating someone like me, you’d better watch out. Men like me are dangerous.”

“Don’t I know it,” Jenna jabbed at his ribs playfully.

“Well I don’t have to worry about that. Wayne has just the right sense of adventure in him without being insane,” Sam sighed heavily sinking back onto the sofa she was laying on, “He’s completely romantic and wonderful.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that because if he wasn’t I’d have to kick his butt,” Jenna teased lightly, “No seriously Wayne is a good guy.”

“I know and I’m lucky to have someone like him in my life. He’s really good for me even if my mother refuses to see it,” Sam frowned up at the both of them, “I mean yeah she hates the idea that I’m ‘tied down’ as she puts it, but I don’t see it that way. I see Wayne as someone who makes me happy and when we’re together I feel like the luckiest woman alive. How can that ever be wrong?”

“It’s not Sam,” Hart added thinking about Beth’s attitudes about life in general, “If you find someone who makes you feel special--someone who is a good influence and makes you want to improve your life, then that can’t ever be wrong as long as you’re happy.”

“I’m very happy with Wayne and I just wish my mom would understand, but maybe she just doesn’t because she’s so miserable. My dad left her so long ago that I think it’s just made her bitter,” Sam shrugged her shoulders, “I mean sure she dates every now and then, but she’s on this all men are jerks mode. I used to buy into it, but now I know better.”

“That’s good because if you didn’t, I’d have to be in some serious trouble here tonight since I’m outnumbered,” Hart added with a small laugh, “But seriously I was one of those jerks before the right woman came along. Now I know it’s not often you hear a guy admit to being such a creep, but it took the right woman to change my ways. You were just lucky you found a guy who had his priorities straight.”

“Yeah that’s what I tell my mom, but she just doesn’t get it. I don’t think she ever will,” Sam sighed heavily, “Which is really too bad because Wayne is amazing.”

“Hey if you’re happy, then who the hell is she to judge,” Hart offered up encouragingly hearing the doorbell alerting him that pizza was there. He got up to answer the door leaving Jenna and Sam alone.

“He’s really great,” Sam blurted out with a grin, “You’re lucky Jenna.”

“I know,” Jenna replied thoughtfully.

“He’s going to make a wonderful dad one day,” Sam added thinking about the fun she’d had when she was with Hart and Jenna.

“Someday is a bit sooner than you might think,” Jenna began thinking about everything that Hart still had to tell Sam. If ever there was a more perfect time to tell her the truth…

“That’s right,” Hart added coming in with pizza, “Jenna and I are having a baby.”

“A baby?” Sam looked between them, “Seriously?”

“That’s right,” Jenna nodded excitedly, “We weren’t exactly planning on it, but surprise we’re pregnant.”

“Which means I have to get into the practice of this dad thing right away starting now,” Hart sat on the edge of the couch after putting the pizzas on the table top. He eyed Sam for a long moment as if he was contemplating the truth he’d been harboring.

“Well I’m willing to help with that if you’d like. I mean you’re on a great start to it,” Sam confessed opening the pizza box, “I wish my parents were more like you two.”

Jenna’s eyes perked up and she glanced over at Hart trying to get him to say something. He shook his head at Jenna letting her know that he wasn’t prepared to disrupt Sam right about now. She frowned but opted to let him run the show.

“Well thank you and as for the parenting tips I think I could enjoy that,” Hart plopped down on the couch more completely, “The way I see it I can use all the help I can get in most anything these days.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Jenna chuckled feeling him toss a pillow at her as the three of them settled down for a night of pizza, games and good conversation. Life didn’t seem to get any better than that.


“Avery, Avery are you here?” Brant questioned rushing through the upstairs hallway at the Ashford mansion hoping that by some off chance his wife was in the bathtub or the shower or just some place where she couldn’t hear him. He pushed open the door to their bedroom seeing no signs of her. No one had heard anything and as he tried her cell phone again only to get nothing more than her voice mail his worries mounted. “God, where are you?”

“Brant,” Don’s voice rolled up the hallway. Brant rushed out of his bedroom to see his friend pushing up the stairs.

“Tell me you have something for me. Did you find her,” Brant asked worry in his voice. As he thought back to what he’d witnessed on television about Bruce Mathis being in town, he feared that this trip he’d taken had been the key to giving Bruce the freedom to come in and hurt Avery. If something had happened to her while Brant was away, then he’d never forgive himself. He hated to think that she could be hurt…that she could be…

“Not exactly,” Don hesitated something behind his blue eyes that made Brant stop and take notice. While his friend hadn’t said anything, it was obvious that there was something that Don wasn’t saying.

Frowning deeper Brant took another step closer to his pal, “What do you mean not exactly?”

“I mean I didn’t find her in the house, but I called Shannon and…” Don paused not really sure how to break the news to Brant on what was going on.

“And what? Don, if you know where my wife is and you’re not telling me, then…” Brant warned a scowl touching over his lips.

“You’re not going to like it,” Don explained with a heavy sigh, “I called Shannon and even though she couldn’t talk long, she told me that she was on her way to see Avery. That when Bruce came to town she called Avery and found her with Grady. Shannon asked Grady to make sure that Avery wasn’t in town and now Shannon is checking in on them now.”

“Wait a minute,” Brant paused thinking about what Don was telling him, “My wife is with Grady Denton?”

Don nodded, “I told you that you weren’t going to like it.”

“Well, why the hell would she go away with him,” Brant questioned almost finding the answer within himself as he thought back to Grady’s incessant need to be with Avery all of the time.

“Brant, I’m sure they were just thinking about her safety…about what was best for her with Bruce in town since we were helping Ken. I’m sure that’s all it was and with Shannon going to find them now,” Don tried to alleviate his friend’s worries.

“Where are they Don? Where did Shannon say that they were?” Brant questioned trying to fight the nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach. While he’d wanted to believe that everything was okay, something told him that his wife was in no better hands with Grady then she would’ve been with Bruce. Both were predators that preyed on her emotions in a great many ways and if Avery was alone with Grady then Brant was positive that she was anything, but safe. Looking over at Don, he spoke up with a tight voice, “Call Shannon back. I want to know where my wife is starting now.”


“We did it. We really did it,” Russell whispered proudly unable to keep his eyes off of the two most beautiful women in the world as he sat beside Avery seeing her with Erin. They were truly everything he’d waited his whole life to have and now that he was able to be with them again--able to share his dreams for his future with them, nothing could be more perfect.

“Hey look what I found,” Kyle laughed lightly holding up an old camera that he pulled out of a closet, “It’s even got film in it.”

“If you even think about taking a picture right about now, I will jump out of this bed and kill you Kyle,” Avery sighed heavily, her body overcome with exhaustion.

“Honey, I think he should take a picture so that we can remember this for always,” Russ touched her cheek gently feeling that her face was burning up. A frown touched over his lips as he looked to her, “Avery, honey how are you feeling?”

“Like I was just run over by a truck,” she replied breathlessly feeling Kyle snapping away at the camera. She tilted her head to the side glaring at him, “Kyle I swear I’m going to…”

Her words came to a staggering close as Russell felt her fall back into his arms. Kyle lowered the camera seeing his friend grow limp against Russ and immediately worry settled in over him.

“Avery?” Kyle stepped towards the bed seeing that she was unconscious. “Russ, what happened?”

“I don’t know,” Russ reached out to her feeling the heat burning over her skin as Erin started to cry out. Russell reached for his daughter carefully holding her out to Kyle, “Take Erin. Something’s wrong.”

“No problem,” Kyle nodded accepting the little one in his arms as Grady looked up from where he’d been seated.

“What’s going on?” Grady questioned groggily still feeling lightheaded after Bruce’s attack on him. That on top of the bullet in his shoulder and he was really starting to feel the after effects of the day. He stumbled to his feet seeing Avery in his brother’s arms, “Russ, what happened to her?”

“I don’t know. She’s not responding to me,” Russell’s voice rose with panic, “Avery honey. Avery wake up!”

“She said Bruce drugged her,” Kyle remembered doing his best to keep Erin from crying, “You don’t think that…”

“We have to get her out of here. We have to get her to the hospital,” Russ decided getting up off of the bed and leaning down to pull his wife into his arms.

“I’ll drive,” Grady decided seeing three versions of his brother standing before him. There was a sharp, throbbing sensation in his head and he felt a bit off balance.

“No I’ll drive,” Kyle remarked watching Grady stagger across the floor.

“You hurt your leg. You can’t…” Grady took another step forward before falling face first onto the floor.

Another sound slammed into the house and Kyle looked up to see Dave and Shannon in the front doorway. The moved through cabin cautiously and Kyle could see that they both had their guns pulled.

“In here,” Kyle shouted out cradling Erin in his arms. Dave appeared and Kyle motioned to the floor, “Grady just passed out and Avery needs to get to the hospital.”

“What about Bruce?” Shannon replied her eyes suddenly upon Russell Denton and she let out a yelp, “How the hell…”

“We don’t have time for this,” Russell hugged Avery closer to him, “We have to get my wife to the hospital. Something’s wrong. Bruce drugged her and…”

“Where is Bruce,” Dave questioned kneeling at Grady’s side.

“He’s dead and he’s over there,” Kyle motioned to the body face down on the floor just beyond the bedroom. “You don’t have to worry about him coming back anymore.”

“Even so I’d like to check,” Dave replied wearily seeing Bruce beyond where he knelt.

“Forget about Bruce!” Russell snapped commanding everyone’s attention. Dave looked up and it finally registered what he was seeing, “My wife needs medical attention and I can’t afford to have anyone stall any longer.”

“Shannon, you take Russ and Avery to the hospital,” Kyle suggested squeezing Erin in his arms, “I’ll let Dave take my car and Grady with us.”

“Alright,” Shannon nodded not needing to ask anymore questions as she lead Russell out to her car.

Kyle watched Dave nudging a now conscious Grady. It seemed that he was alert enough to be moved and realize what was going on. Kyle heard Erin let out a small cry and he kissed her head gently.

“Don’t worry baby. Everything is going to be okay,” he promised hoping that was the truth now that everything seemed to be falling to pieces around him.


...to be continued...