Episode 272

“Thanks man,” Russ patted Kyle on the back trying to at least let his friend know he was grateful for the support during what had to be one of the roughest patches in his life. While Russ had taken in Kyle’s words about the logic and reasoning behind Avery’s decision to marry that son of a bitch, Russ still couldn’t come to grips with the situation. Knowing full well how Brant had tried to ruin what he had with Avery over and over again, Russ felt the sting of the news still eating away at him--making him raw with anger and upset. Avery should’ve been spared that fate. She should’ve been… “With me…”

“What?” Kyle questioned glancing over at Russ, “What did you say?”

“I said that Avery is going to be with me,” Russ blurted out firmly, his finger curling into fists at his side, “I’m not going to let what happened while I was gone get in the way of my family. Avery and Erin need me right now and I’m not going to let Ashford get the best of me.”

“He can’t Russ,” Kyle reminded him once again, “because regardless of what words he keeps slinging around the hospital, you are Avery’s husband. You’re the love of her life and that’s not going to change. You two have a family with one another and that’s the key to solving this situation. Brant can bitch and moan, but when it gets down to it, Avery’s always wanted you--only you.”

“You’re right. You’re absolutely right,” Russ nodded urgently praying that his wife would wake up and feel ready to put the last few months behind her, “Erin and I need her. We can’t let Brant get us worked up now.”

“Exactly and besides if Ashford decides to give you anymore grief, let me deal with him,” Kyle offered up a small smirk thinking about his less than eagerness he’d felt when dealing with Brant in the past, “I can handle it and get him to see the obvious truth if need be.”

“I just want to see Avery. I hate this being away from her especially when I know she’s needing me right now. If I could just be with her, then I’m sure that she’d wake up. I’m positive that I’d be able to reach out to her,” Russell continued thinking about how long it had taken for fate to bring them together again. If only he’d known what he was up against. If only he’d been there sooner…

“She knows you’re reaching for her,” Kyle promised hating to see his friend so upset.

“I hope you’re right,” Russ sighed saying a silent prayer that he didn’t lose the love of his life after what Bruce did.

“He is right son,” Elliot added joining the two of them, “Avery knows you’re here and that you’re back again. It’s something that she’s dreamt about for so very long and now that you have the chance to embrace a future with your daughter together, I know she’s not going to let go of that. It’s something she’s fought too hard to have in her life.”

“And I’ve fought for it too dad,” Russ explained thinking about his daughter back in the nursery, “Erin’s everything we’ve ever wanted and I just know she’s waiting for Avery to come back to us.”

“She will,” Elliot nodded encouragingly, “and speaking of my little granddaughter, how is she?”

“She’s beautiful,” Kyle added with a smile, “She’s managed to charm everyone in the nursery. When Russ and I left Cheryl was with her and I don’t think she’s ever going to put her down.”

“I can’t say I blame her,” Elliot added with a proud grin, “if she’s anything like her father, then I’m certain she’s found a way to work the room and make her way into everyone’s heart especially her grandmother’s.”

“She’s the best of both Avery and I,” Russ beamed remembering his little girl, “She’s so special dad. You should go see her.”

“I will, but right now I’m worried about you son. I know how upset you are and maybe we should try to talk for a little while. Try to find a way to unwind,” Elliot suggested reaching out to touch Russell’s arm. “You should sit down and try to relax if you can considering I‘m sure you‘ve had a lot happening over the last couple of days.”

“I won’t be able to relax until I know that Avery’s okay. Until I can see her, I’m not going to leave this spot. I need to be with her,” Russ proclaimed, his words impassioned by his feelings for the only woman he’d ever truly loved with all of his heart.

“I know that son, but…” Elliot began again hating to see Russ in an uproar.

“Maybe I can help,” Barbara suggested moving in to join the group, “Russ I’ve been looking for you.”

“Why? Is something wrong?” Russ asked in a panic fearing that the worst had happened to Avery.

“No, not at all,” she shook her head taking in a small breath, “I mean nothing’s changed since Dr. Raines spoke with you.”

“That’s a good sign,” Kyle piped in after a moment, “It means that Avery hasn’t gotten any worse.”

“But she hasn’t gotten any better either,” Russell frowned glancing over at Barbara, “I need to see her.”

“I know,” she nodded with complete understanding, “and while I heard what Dr. Raines said, I know that having you in the room with Avery is the best possible thing for her. We all remember what she was going through when she thought you’d died and it tore her heart out. You’re really special to her and now that you’re back, well I really believe that your place is with her which is why I want you to come with me.”

“Where?” Kyle questioned curiously seeing the small smile that broke over Barbara’s features.

“Let’s just say I don’t mind bending the rules for those moments where true love comes into play,” Barbara revealed her grin widening as she focused her attention on Russ again, “So how about I take you to see your wife?”

“You’d really do that,” Russ questioned with wide eyes.

She nodded, “Yeah, I don’t care what Dr. Raines has to say about the matter. She’s too much of an impersonal grump most of the time anyway. She’s too caught up in her approach to really take the time to invest in the healing powers of true love. However, you happen to be in luck today because I hold a great value upon it and something tells me you and your wife do as well.”

“Thank you Barbara,” Russ couldn’t help but reach out to embrace her.

“You’re more than welcome,” Barbara let out a small laugh before taking a step back, “Although we’d better move quick so that we don’t get caught up in Dr. Raines’s radar there.”

“Oh yeah that’s probably a good idea,” Russ glanced over at his father, “Dad I…”

“I’ll go tell your mother the good news,” Elliot smiled back at him hopefully, “It’ll give me an excuse to see my granddaughter.”

“And I’ll hang out here for a while,” Kyle decided shrugging his shoulders.

“Actually, I was hoping you’d tag along,” Barbara confessed tilting her head up to look at Kyle curiously.

“You were?” Kyle arched a brow at her catching that little glimmer behind her eyes, “Really?”

“That’s right,” she nodded with a playful wink, “After all I’m still on duty and have patients to check in on which is why I need you to play bodyguard out in the hallway. You keep watch and make sure that Dr. Raines isn’t clued into what we’re doing.”

“Your secret is safe with me,” Kyle swore crossing his fingers over the center of his chest to show her he’d accepted the mission she’d offered them.

“Okay great, then you two come with me,” Barbara curled her finger motioning for them to follow as she took Russ to his wife to be reunited with her in the hopes that true love really would find a way to conquer all.


“You can’t be serious, can you,” Don’s eyes widened at the thought of the proposition that Brant had laid out before him seconds earlier. While he’d offered to help his pal in whatever way Brant needed, Don was starting to have second thoughts about his willingness to oblige.

“I’m very serious Don,” Brant nodded adamantly alerting Don to the fact that Brant was about to request that the impossible be pulled together in one of those last minute rush jobs that they were notorious for doing. “It’s the only way.”

“I get what you’re saying here Brant, but that’s a biggie,” Don couldn’t help but frown thinking about all that was involved in his best friend’s latest plan, “I mean it’s a big risk and…”

“And my marriage is worth it. Being with Avery and sharing my life with her is more than worth it,” Brant replied in an impassioned tone thinking about everything that had transpired between the two of them over the last few months, “I love her Don and I’d do anything to save my marriage.”

“I understand that, but this probably isn’t going to be a good idea to go about it like this. If anyone finds out about what’s happening, they aren’t going to be very happy,” Don warned worry evident in his eyes.

“I don’t give a damn if they aren’t happy about it Don,” Brant shook his head at his pal, “You can’t tell me that if the roles weren’t reversed and you were in my shoes having someone threaten to take it all away, that you wouldn’t do the same thing--that you wouldn’t reply so powerfully to the knowledge that you either had to do or die or risk losing everything that meant anything to you.”

“Well no I can’t…well yes maybe I could,” Don shrugged his shoulders indecisively, “I mean no, yes, maybe. Brant, why the hell are you asking me that? This is about you, not me. I honestly don’t know what I’d do, but I can tell you that what you’re proposing opens up a whole new can of worms that you might not be ready to touch just yet. It could get ugly and…”

“And I won’t lose my wife,” Brant blurted out desperately, “I’ve spent months having to deal with Russell’s idiot brother causing us problems, but the fact to the matter is that I love Avery and I know she loves me. We have something really special together and I can’t afford to just hand her over to Russ like what she and I share is nothing. You know how important this is to me Don. If you help me with this, then Russ won’t be a problem any longer. Neither one of the Dentons will ever stand in the way of my future with Avery and it’s something that I have to do.”

“Brant, I get what you’re saying, but…” Don shook his head again.

“Don please. Just do me this favor. If I lose Avery, then that’s it for me. I’ll have nothing left,” Brant pleaded with his friend, desperation overtaking his dark eyes, “I’ve waited all my life to feel this way--to have something this wonderful--this incredible in my life, but now that everything is right there in front of me, for it to just fade away without a fight…”

“I’m not against you putting in a fight, but are you sure you want to take this route? Things could get very dirty and,” Don offered up in another warning.

“It’s well worth the risk involved if at the end of it I’m with Avery,” Brant stated firmly, his jaw clenched with determination as he thought about his plan of attack, “This is the only way Don and if I don’t act now, then I could lose everything that I’ve been fighting for since she and I have been together. She loves me. I know she does and I know in her heart that she wants to be with me. We’ve come so far only to have this idiot come back and try to spoil it. Obviously the fact that he faked his death proves that he wasn’t all that interested in what was best for Avery.”

“There might’ve been extenuating circumstances,” Don tried to appeal to his friend catching Brant’s look of heavy disapproval, “Or not. Maybe we can find a way that we can get this accomplished without…”

“Don I’m begging you. This is my last chance at happiness and I can’t afford to just sit back and let fate rule this one. I need your help because I can’t lose Avery. Don please,” Brant pleaded with his pal hoping that Don wouldn’t turn him away in his time of need.

“Alright,” Don finally sighed having a nagging feeling in his gut that this was going to come back to haunt him sooner or later, “you can count me in on this one Brant. I’ll do whatever you need man. If you really want to go through with this, then I’ll back you up one hundred percent.”

“Thanks Don. You’re a lifesaver,” Brant patted his shoulder gently knowing that this was the key to holding onto the life he’d worked so hard to obtain. Nothing would get in his way after today--not even the return of Russell Denton.


“Do you want us to go and look for Kyle?” Diego questioned, seeing Sarah shake her head slowly as she looked up at him. “You don’t want to go find Kyle? We can try to find him and…”

“It doesn’t matter right now Diego, it really doesn’t,” Sarah sighed, pulling away from Diego’s arms. She looked down the hallway before shrugging. “I have no idea where Kyle is right now. That’s how I have been feeling for the last few months.”

“How is that?” Diego eyed Sarah over slowly, watching as she shrugged her shoulders. For a while, it seemed like Diego could understand Sarah clearly, but now it seemed like she was more confused that he thought.

“Well, lately I have never known where Kyle was,” she informed Diego with a small sigh, “Even when he was with me Diego. There was so many times where he would be home, but he would be off somewhere in his mind. You know, thinking about other things.”

“Well, there were so many things that were on his mind,” he pointed out once more, seeing her fold her arms out in front of her chest and looking away from him. “Sarah, Kyle had to deal with his best friend dying, Jade dying, Grady being in jail…”

“And not once did I feel like I could help him,” Sarah cut Diego off before he could go any further with his plans to help prove Kyle couldn’t have been that bad. “I tried to help him so many times Diego, but every time I did--the only thing I got was pushed away. I feel so out of the circle when I am with Kyle. This is how it has been for so very long--Kyle has been gone trying to save the world, while I am alone having no idea where he is or when he is ever going to be coming back. When it comes to Kyle’s world, I feel like such an outsider with him.”

“I think everything will be better sooner or later Sarah,” he tried to assure her, reaching out to touch her shoulder gently. He felt her hand slide in over his arm as he let out a small sigh. “How about we go downstairs to go get a coffee or something? We can talk about this downstairs if you would like to.”

“That sounds great,” Sarah agreed, taking a step in closer to Diego as he reached up to caress her cheek gently. Diego wrapped his arm around her shoulders gently as he led her over towards the elevators. “I don’t know what I am supposed to do about Kyle. I just wish I had some clue.”

“I really wish you did,” Diego muttered under his breath, trying to get past the things he remembered Sarah saying. He remembered the way that she had told him that she would never go running back to Kyle, no matter what. And now, it was very clear to him that she had lied to him. Maybe she was lying to herself at that point in time too because the way he saw her run to Kyle when she first saw him made him wonder if she was truly not in love with Kyle anymore. There were so many things that Diego would like to call Sarah on, but right now she didn’t need all of that. What Sarah needed was a friend to help her through everything. And that’s what he was going to try to be even if it took him his everything to just be her friend right now. “After we talk a little, we can come back up to see if we can find Kyle. How does that sound?”

“It sounds actually like a good idea,” Sarah replied with a deep sigh as they stepped onto the elevator. Maybe some quiet time where she could think about everything would really do her some good.

“Sarah?” Shannon muttered, looking before her as she noticed Diego and Sarah together on the elevator. She saw the way that Diego wrapped his arm around Sarah and that’s when she began to worry. She saw the doors close before she let out a small sigh. “Nothing is going on. Right.”


A small smile appeared over Cori’s lips as she reached the level that Diego’s office was on. Her thoughts had been everywhere lately, she was trying to think of ways to apologize to Diego for being what he considered a pain and now she truly thought she had the perfect idea. Cori turned the corner and went up to knock on Diego’s office door when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Sorry Cori,” Diego’s secretary apologized, seeing the way that she had made Cori jump. “I just saw you about to knock and I recognized you from the other times, so I figured I would let you know he isn’t in there.”

“It’s no problem, you didn’t scare me that bad,” Cori assured her taking in a deep breath as she looked back at Diego’s office door. “So, if he isn’t in there--where could he possibly be right now?”

“That I really don’t know,” the secretary shrugged her shoulders, trying to think of the last time she had seen Diego around the hospital. “I haven’t seen him today Cori, but if you would like me to try and do something to help you find him…”

“No, it’s okay,” Cori shook her head slowly, looking down to her watch. She knew that Diego was at the hospital because one of the other secretaries said they saw him come in earlier. “I know he is here right now, I will just try and find Diego myself.”

“Nonsense,” the secretary shook her head slowly before letting out a small frown. She saw one of the nurses walk by before calling out to them.

“Can I help you?” the nurse questioned, looking between Cori and the secretary.

“Have you seen Diego around?” the secretary asked, seeing the nurse nod slowly. “Do you know where we could find him, we kind of have an urgent problem on our hands.”

“Oh, I think he said he was going downstairs to the cafeteria to get a coffee,” the nurse informed them with a small frown, pointing back down the hallway. “I have to get going, but I hope you find him and that problem gets solved.”

“Thank you,” Cori smiled, waving goodbye to the nurse before walking towards the elevator. She looked back at the secretary and waved goodbye before getting on the elevator. “This is going to be great, he is going to be so surprised to see her.”

There were so many things she had planned to say to Diego to try and apologize for the things he thought she did wrong and she was going to say them once she got down there. She was going to make everything right between them today--no matter what.


Grady said his good-byes taking one last look at Avery before creeping out of the room hoping to go undetected. He rounded the corner seeing one of the nurse’s approaching and quickly he leaned up against the wall taking in a breath. He was cutting it close and he was well aware of that, but still he couldn’t waste the opportunity to get his feelings out on the subject. He had to let Avery know how he’d felt about things. He just hoped that she could hear him even if she wasn’t completely there when he’d said his piece.

“Well isn’t this interesting,” a voice roused Grady from his thoughts. Grady opened his eyes to see Cameron Stone standing before him with a smug expression, “I never thought I’d live to see the day that you’d be sneaking out of Avery Morrison’s hospital room. It seems almost completely and utterly uncharacteristic of the Grady Denton that I know oh so very well.”

“What the hell are you doing here Cameron?” Grady questioned with a tight scowl, his face narrowing in a pinched expression. “You have no business being here.”

“It’s a public domain. I think I’m well within my rights,” Cameron shrugged his shoulders, his dark eyes narrowing in on Grady, “and I must confess that you never cease to amaze me Grady. I mean here you are at Avery’s side worry taking over you on such a deep, profound level when clearly the loss of Jade is so very fresh on your mind. You’re just full of surprises aren’t you?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Grady stood taller taking a bold step forward in an attempt to get nose to nose with Cameron. His green eyes narrowed further up at the man and he found himself wanting to tear Cameron’s head off just by the smug expression alone that Cameron had over him. “What are you trying to imply?”

“Merely that Brant Ashford isn’t the only one who should be worried about you right about now. If Jade could see you now, she‘d be amazed at just how far you‘ve clearly fallen from where she thought you were,” Cameron challenged a knowing expression crossing over his features. He opened his mouth to say something more, but before he could he found himself interrupted.

“There you are,” a female voice blurted out before Cameron finish his statement. Grady felt a distinct tug on his arm and looking down he noticed Deana at his side.

“You are long overdue to take a trip with me,” she blurted out with a small frown, “because while you think you could just skip out like you did, that’s not going to keep you away from blood work right now. If you’d excuse us…”

“Of course,” Cameron nodded eyeing the perky little blonde nurse with moderate interest before taking advantage of the opportunity to duck out without having to deal with any backlash from Grady.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Grady grumbled glaring down at her with a frown.

“Saving you from yourself obviously,” she replied in her soft, southern accent, “which clearly is something you need someone in a full time position for, isn’t it?”

“Look, I was doing fine on my own,” Grady frowned at her shaking her head at her intrusion, “You didn’t need to butt in.”

“Maybe not, but when I see a medical emergency in the making, I try to avoid it as often as possible. I mean don’t get me wrong, but while I’m well aware that this is in fact a hospital, we don’t usually tend to bring our patents in after they’ve gotten into a fist fight in the corridor,” she explained pointedly her brown eyes fixed on him with a disproving stare.

“Don’t do that,” he frowned taking a step back.

“Do what?’ she questioned giving him a strange look.

“Make this all about me--like I’m someone who started this. If you had any idea who that man was, then I would be the last person that you’d be giving a lecture to. He was the one who started this and…” Grady argued with her stubbornly wondering just what Cameron had been up to.

“And I finished it, so you can thank me later,” she replied with a small triumphant grin, “I consider that my second favor for you of the day.”

“You call that a favor?” Grady shook his head at her issuing another groan, “I could’ve very easily taken care of that one all on my own thank you very much.”

“Yeah it shows Mr. Denton,” her pink colored lips curved into a frown, “seeing as you had a bullet hole in your shoulder I figured the last place you needed to be was going one on one with a man like Cameron Stone.”

“So you did know who he was eh?” Grady eyed her suspiciously, “So were you providing him an easy exit? Well isn‘t that convenient for him to have the new nurse on staff rushing to help him out. Maybe there‘s a reason behind that. Could you be on his current payroll?”

“Oh please you moron,” she grumbled in response shaking her head at him, “You really are more bullheaded than what they warned me about. I have read the papers okay. I know all about the grief that man put you through and forgive me if I thought to give a damn and make sure that you didn’t wind up in jail again. Hey if you’d like to catch him though, I’m sure that you can probably catch up. Just when you tear open your stitches and he’s pressing charges, well just remember I told you so.”

“Hey wait,” Grady watched her turning to leave. Taking in a small breath he thought back to how he’d wanted to kill Cameron right before she’d arrived. Maybe an apology was in order since she did after all help him out, “Hold on.”

“Yes?” she questioned folding her arms in front of her chest impatiently, “If you’re going to lecture me on saving your butt, then spare me the sermon because I have patients to take care of that actually do need my attention and unlike you, they actually appreciate me.”

“Was that sarcasm I detected in your tone?” he mouthed feeling his desire to be gracious and apologetic leaving him at the expression on her face.

“No it was raw honesty, something I’m sure a man in your profession is far from being used to,” she shot back at him icily, “but don’t worry I won’t be expecting any favors from you anytime soon since you self-righteous lawyer types are all alike. You try to stop them from making a fool of themselves and getting burned and they repay you with a saccharine demeanor and a less than savory wit.”

“Spoken like someone who has anything, but love for lawyers,” Grady noted her tone and the way she seemed to wrinkle her nose upon completion of her words.

“I’m just not another dumb blonde Mr. Denton. I just call them like I see them and with that thought fresh on your mind, I’m going to get back to work with someone who actually would appreciate my giving them assistance instead of someone who wants to argue with me for doing them a favor,” she snubbed her nose at him starting to turn away.

“You weren’t doing me a favor. I could’ve handled it myself,” Grady called out after her wanting to have the last word on the discussion.

“Whatever,” she replied waving her hand in the air dismissively before disappearing into a corridor and leaving him far more bothered than he thought possible. Sure maybe he’d given her a hard time when she’d stitched him up when he’d first come in, but he never imagined that a perky little blonde like her would be such a pain in the butt. Sure, she was saving him from Cameron, he thought to himself remembering her pride she’d taken in pulling Grady away from the confrontation. Yeah right, what a savior she’d turned out to be. Like he needed saving at a time like this when he was already far certain he’d already earned himself a first class ticket to hell for sleeping with his brother’s wife. Things didn’t get any lower than that, did they? Hmm, maybe if he kept talking to Deana Sherman he’d start to think so.


“You know, I think you have really great taste in music,” Chase smiled, browsing over the songs that Trisha had offered up to him. His eyes met hers in a small glance as he let out a small laugh. “You know, I wish all women had this great of taste.”

“It’s not that great,” Trisha smirked, seeing Chase frown and lean in against the jukebox. Trisha turned to face him more before shrugging her shoulders. “Oh come on Chase, I know you don’t like Madonna. No male on this earth is going to like Madonna.”

“Are you kidding me? That woman has such a great talent,” Chase informed Trisha with a small smirk as she rolled her eyes. “You don’t think so? I think her career has been amazing. This long and she still just keeps on going and going. You can’t tell me that every man in this world hates Madonna.”

“I can name a few off the top of my head that hate her,” she replied with a small shrug as she tried to think of a guy she knew that actually liked Madonna. “Other than that, I can’t name one guy that I know that adores her.”

“Well, now you have one,” he pointed out with a small wink, reaching up to push a piece of hair behind her ear. A wide smile appeared over his features as she looked back down at the songs. “You aren’t going to think I am some creep now, are you?”

“Of course not,” Trisha replied with a small chuckle as she looked back over at him. Chase stood up straight and took a step in closer to her as she looked up into his light blue eyes. “I actually find it quite charming. You like various types of music and I think it’s really charming.”

“You think it’s charming,” Chase pondered her answer, seeing her nod slowly as he let out a small chuckle. He shrugged his shoulders as he thought up with the next thing to say to her. “Charming enough to possibly go on a date with me?”

“A date?” Trisha muttered, seeing Chase nod slowly as she let out a tiny laugh. Chase frowned as he saw her look up at him and shake her head slowly. “I’m sure it would be great, but I don’t think I should. I’ve kind of been nervous because the last guy…”

“I’m nothing like other guys,” Chase insured her with a small shrug as he held his hands up in the air. “I will not try anything on you--I swear. I just want to get to know you more because you seem like a really interesting person.”

“You hardly even know me Chase,” Trisha pointed out with a small laugh, seeing Chase shrug his shoulders as she pointed that out. “You can’t even tell people a single thing about me.”

“Well, they say you could read a person by their favorite songs,” he stated with a small nod as he thought of something to say. There were so many things that came to mind, but he wanted to get her to say yes and he had to do it the right way. “And by what you showed me were your favorites, I would describe you as a fun, outgoing, kind of shy type of girl. You see, I’m the same way, but I won’t try to pull something on you Trisha. I swear, just one date and if you hate me, then you never have to go out with me again. I promise.”

“It sounds really nice, but…” Trisha felt a hand on her shoulder as she looked back at Ria who pointed towards the door. “Uh, Ria. Are you ready to go?”

“I’m ready when you are,” Ria answered as she saw Trisha look back at the blonde man behind her. “I can wait a little bit if you would like, I just got off the phone with Kev.”

“No, we should go,” Trisha sighed, looking back at Chase with small frown. She shrugged her shoulders before pointing towards the door. “I have to get going.”

“But,” Chase muttered as he saw Trisha start walking towards the door. Chase hit a button on the jukebox before stepping up on the barstool and then getting up on the bar top. He couldn’t get this done the right way, so he was just going to have to use his way. “Excuse me everybody and that includes you too Trisha Merhan.”

“Oh my god,” Trisha looked back to see Chase standing up on the bar and pointing over at her. “I think we should probably go now if I don’t want to be embarrassed.”

“I think I want to see this,” Ria laughed, watching as the bartender, reached for something behind the bar and gave it to Chase.

“Trisha Merhan, I am about to do something that was brought on by you,” Chase began, talking into the microphone he was given before pointing towards her again. “I didn’t want to do this Trisha, but it was you that made me do this.”


Don closed his office door behind him thinking about Brant’s request. While he had no problem being there for his friend time and time again in the past, he knew that this particular situation was going to need a little fancy footwork. If Don believed that stopping Ken from marrying Michelle had been a challenge, then he was certain this one would top the cake there.

Rubbing his palms together Don circled around to his desk and took a seat. Knowing full well that if the roles were reversed Brant would be moving heaven and Earth for him, Don couldn’t help but get himself motivated to help his buddy out. Reaching for the phone, Don decided it was time to enlist someone else in this little plan and hopefully it would wind up working out for the best when everything was said and done. Don heard the phone ring two times before Hart’s voice came over the line.

“Hey man, how’s it going?” Don began in a casual tone thinking about the misadventure he and Hart had just gotten back from.

“Better than I’m sure it is on your end. Tell Shannon yet about your wild affair there on the side,” Hart jabbed with a tiny chuckle.

“Oh admit it you were just jealous because you’d always wanted me to kiss you like that,” Don teased back lightheartedly.

“Only in my worst nightmares Don,” Hart groaned inwardly, “but seriously what’s up? Miss me already?”

“When would I ever miss you,” Don laughed lightly before growing suddenly serious, “Actually I’m calling you because Brant needs a favor.”

“Another one,” Hart paused as if contemplating the idea of Brant needing something, “Don’t tell me Ken has decided to marry Michelle anyways.”

“No, this time it’s not about Ken. It’s about Brant,” Don paused for a long moment, “It’s about his marriage.”

“What about his marriage,” Hart asked worriedly, “Has something happened with Avery?”

“Russell Denton is back in town,” Don blurted out thinking about the source of his pal’s distress, “and Avery’s in the hospital. Apparently Bruce Mathis met up with her while we were helping Ken and…”

“Oh my God. Is she okay,” Hart asked worriedly, “She’s Jenna’s best friend and…”

“Right now no one really knows anything other than she’s on the road to recovery…hopefully,” Don hesitated once again, “but since Russell is in town…”

“Brant must be going through the roof. Those two hate one another and given that Brant’s married to Avery,” Hart stopped himself pondering that statement, “Why do I get the feeling that we’re about to get into something over our heads again?”

“Because most of the time we usually do, but given the severity of the situation Brant needs a favor--one from the both of us here and it’s a big one,” Don explained with heavy emphasis, “He’s banking on us not to let him down when so much is riding on what I’m about to ask you.”

Hart was silent for a moment of contemplation remembering how much his friend needed them. Knowing that Brant had tried his best time and time again to help both Don and Hart when they’d needed a little helping hand, Hart was more than ready to oblige, “Tell me what he needs and you know I’m there Don.”

“Good, I was hoping you’d feel that way because I don’t think I can pull this off alone,” Don revealed divulging the details of Brant’s latest idea on how to save his marriage and ensure the future that he’d had with Avery.

Hart took it all in patiently before finally speaking up again, “So basically this all kind of rides on me going over to the mansion and getting what he needs.”

“That’s the start of it. You think you can do it?” Don reached for a pen scribbling something down on the pad of paper in front of him.

“Yeah, I can do it, but I will warn you that we’re going to be up against some fierce opposition in all of this,” Hart reminded Don with a small sigh.

“Yeah, but when we’re wrapped up in something like this, when are we not?” Don blurted out knowing that this was only step one in doing what his friend needed.

“Good point,” Hart replied quickly, “I’ll go get what Brant needs, but just make sure that he waits until I get there before he decides to take some action.”

“I’ll do my best to stall him, but you know how he is when he’s motivated,” Don warned him simply.

“Unfortunately all too well, but don’t worry I’ll be there shortly,” Hart promised as Don hung up the phone ready to take the next step in the plan to help Brant keep a hold on his marriage.


Guy and Mindy sat alone with one another after Cheryl and Elliot had gone off to check on Russ. Richard had decided he was going to check in on Avery and Erin and while Guy had wanted to do the same, he opted to stick around the chapel for a little while longer. Knowing that Mindy was by his side seemed to make things a little bit easier, but his worries for Avery still lingered.

“Hey remember the time that you and I cut class and we thought we’d sneak off to the lake with one another?” Mindy broke her long silence in the hopes of lifting her best friend’s spirit. “Remember we were so afraid your mom was going to catch us skipping school to go to that picnic, yet we did it anyways.”

“Oh like my mom was the only one we were worried about,” Guy glanced over at her with a small smile, “I think there was a bit more that you were worried about with your mother Mindy.”

“Yeah okay so I knew back then I could be in big trouble given that she was well on the road to becoming the judge she is today, but still,” Mindy tipped her head up to look at him. “I remember we still chanced it anyways and we thought we’d gotten away with it--that is until we spotted Russ and Avery out on the beach.”

“Oh God,” Guy couldn’t help but laugh, “I thought I was in trouble for sure given that I’d borrowed Avery’s car a couple weeks earlier and got into that accident. She was so mad about that considering that she’d just bought that thing.”

“I know. I remember,” Mindy nodded in confession, “yet when they saw us rather than turning us in, they came over and joined us for the day.”

“Yeah,” Guy laughed harder than he had earlier, “Russ also kicked my butt in the game of football we had going.”

“He sure did,” Mindy nodded leaning her head on his shoulder, “yet back then we always had the best of times, didn’t we?”

“Strangely yes,” he mouthed watching her lift her head up to look at him incredulously.

“What do you mean strangely?” she jabbed at his ribs throwing him a disapproving look. “Guy Morrison being around me has been the greatest adventure of your life. Admit it.”

“I’ll admit that I always got into trouble when I was with you,” he paused a smile cracking over his lips, “but beyond that yeah having you around has made my life a lot better. Those were great times we spent hanging out with Russ and Avery, even if we were their little tagalongs there. I mean honestly how cool could it have been for them to keep an eye on us when we were still in high school?”

“I don’t really think they were keeping an eye on us,” Mindy reminded him pointedly.

“Oh yes they were. As far back as I could remember Russ has tried to keep you out of trouble,” he tossed back at her, “He’s always been like that.”

“True, which is how I wound up working at the newspaper,” she continued thinking about the fact that Russ had returned from the dead. “I mean if you think about it, so many good things happened around Russ and Avery and now that they are together again…”

“I just hope they get a chance to see it last,” Guy sighed heavily shaking his head after a moment, “There are so many things that have happened this year.”

“I know,” Mindy nodded, “but I’m a firm believer in true love. I know that if two people are destined to be together, then they will find their way to happiness with one another. They will be able to overcome the odds and share the love that they were meant to from the start.”

“Still believing in fairy tales, eh?” he arched a curious brow.

“Your sister has the real life fairy tale Guy and she’s not going to give that up--not for anything,” she continued to explain laying her head on his shoulder once again, “I mean to get so close to happily ever after, if you think about it, they have their chance.”

“When she thought Russ died it tore her apart,” Guy sighed resting his head on top of hers. “And now…”

“Now she’ll find her way back to the man that loves her like it always should have been. You just have to believe that,” she spoke up encouragingly. “Guy I’m sure that they will be together somehow.”

“So love will save the day, huh?” he tipped his head to the side seeing her look up at him.

“That’s how the story goes,” Mindy smiled at him, her gaze dropping down to his lips then back to his eyes for a moment. “I mean you feel that with Gabe, right?”

“Well yeah, but he and I haven’t had to deal with something like this. Noelle is a tyrant, but she’s not like Bruce Mathis and…” he began to explain finding his words cut off by the feel of her lips against his. He stopped speaking taking a moment to savor the thought behind the kiss before they parted.

“Trust me. It’ll all work out,” she assured him squeezing his knee gently before smiling, “After all would your best friend lie about these things?”

“No I guess not,” Guy sighed heavily worried about his sister, but now also worried about Mindy after she’d kissed him. It had been brief and perhaps supportive, yet he knew deep down that she still had feelings for him. Their last round about with one another hadn’t completely curbed that emotion inside of her. He was certain that even though she had Hunt, she was still holding out hope for the thought that maybe one day.

“Hey I promise you only good things will follow,” she added feeling him reach out to touch her cheek gently.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you Mindy. You’re the best friend someone like me could ever ask for,” he mouthed hoping that in spite of the bond they were sharing with one another, she wouldn’t read this situation as anything more than it was.

“Yeah,” she nodded sensing his discomfort and taking a small slide back on the bench they were seated on. She cleared her throat uneasily, “Now how about we go and see what’s going on with everyone else and Avery?”

“Sure,” he nodded watching her get up and he soon followed his thoughts returning to his sister in the hopes that something had happened for the better with Avery.


“What is he going to do?” Trisha looked back at Ria who had a goofy grin spread over her features. She looked back at Chase who bent down to push another button on the jukebox. He stood back up before pointing at her once more. “This is so not funny.”

“This song is for you,” Chase declared as people from the party started to crowd around the bar, including Trisha because Ria had pulled her up to get a better look.

“Oh my,” Trisha looked down towards the ground, letting out a small laugh as she heard the music of Madonna start to play. She listened to Chase begin to sing the first part of the song before she looked up to see him dancing on the bar top. “He’s singing Like a Virgin Ria.”

“He isn’t that bad either,” Ria laughed once more as she watched Chase sing along with the song and do his best to dance to the song. “This guy is unbelievable.”

“Like a virgin, touched for the very first time,” Chase sang, unbuttoning three of the buttons on his shirt. “Like a virgin, when your heart beats next to mine.”

“Oh my god,” Trisha felt a blush run over her features as she watched Chase continue. She pushed her way through the crowd, making her way to the front as she looked up at Chase.

“You’re so fine and you’re mine,” Chase pulled his shirt off before throwing it down at Trisha. He turned around and shook his butt at her as he heard some of the other girls in the place around them.

“This can’t be happening,” Trisha tightened her grip on Chase’s shirt as she saw Chase, reach his hand out to hers as he started to finish the song. “No, I’m not coming up there.”

“Oh yes you are,” Chase breathed in heavily, grabbing her hand in his as he pulled her up and onto the top of the bar. His breathing became heavy as he stopped the song completely and looked out into the crowd. “Everybody this is Trisha and I am about to ask her something very important.”

Chase let out a small smile as he realized he had everyone’s attention at this point. He reached out to grab one of Trisha’s hands as he ran his thumb over the top of it gently.

“Trisha, will you go out on a date with me?” Chase questioned, seeing the way that Trisha seemed to look away from him. Chase let out a small frown before starting to talk up again. “It looks like Trisha is having second thoughts.”

“Chase,” Trisha began, hearing some booing coming from the crowd as she was about to say no once more. Chase’s blue eyes met hers again as he held the microphone up to his mouth.

“Everyone who thinks she should go out with me after what I did for her, give me some noise,” Chase held the microphone out towards the people around them hearing them clearly. “So what is it Trisha? Are you going to take a chance and go out with me?”

“Chase,” Trisha began again, looking into Chase’s blue eyes and biting down on her bottom lip . There was something about Chase’s eyes that made her feel so comfortable around him. “I guess. Yes, I will go on a date with you.”

“Great,” Chase smiled, jumping down from the bar and then reaching his hand out to her to help her down from the bar. He let out a small laugh as she tried to hide the blush over her cheeks. “So, where do I pick you up and what time?”

“Here,” Trisha grabbed Chase’s hand and pulled the pen from her pocket and wrote down her number and an address. “Call me later and we will set everything up.”

“Great, see you later then,” Chase kissed Trisha on the cheek as he started to walk towards the front door.

“Chase?” Trisha called out, seeing Chase turn around to face her. She held Chase’s blue shirt up in the air before throwing it over at him. “You might want that back.”

“Oh, thanks. I guess I might be needing this a little later,” Chase nodded slowly, giving her a small wink before walking out the front door of the place.

“Wow, that was kind of cute and romantic in it’s own kind of way,” Ria wrapped her arm around her littler sister’s shoulder before letting out a small laugh. “I think we have a good one on your hands.”

“That wasn’t funny at all Ria,” Trisha replied, looking over at Ria who seemed to be giving her a certain look. Trisha let out a small laugh of her own before shrugging her shoulders. “Okay, so it was kind of funny to hear a man singing that song, but it was embarrassing in it‘s own little way. You wouldn’t be able to stand it either Ria. I guess he was just trying to show that he could catch a crowd’s attention.”

“Little sis,” Ria began, letting out another small laugh as she replayed what had happened with Chase all over again in her head. “I don’t think it was the audience he was trying to get the attention of, it was only you sweetheart and I think it worked great.”


“Are you sure you are going to be okay?” Ken asked Wendy once more, seeing the color simply fade from her face as he helped her take a seat at one of the tables. He sat across from her before reaching out to grab her hand in his. “I don’t want anything to happen to you Wendy.”

“I’m okay Ken, really,” Wendy tried to convince him, thinking of ways she could try and convince him that she would be fine. “There is really nothing to be worrying about. I am trying to be doing my best and I just got a little winded from our walk.”

“That’s not winded Wendy,” Ken shook his head slowly, reaching out to touch her cheek gently before letting out a small sigh. “That’s being totally knocked out of air.”

“You don’t have to worry about it Ken,” she tired to assure him, thinking of a way to explain what was going on. She could see in the way that he looked at her that he was really worried. “It happens every now and then. It eventually passes.”

“I don’t want to risk it Wendy, maybe I should take you back home,” Ken suggested, seeing her shake her head automatically without even thinking twice. “I know you want to do this, but I don’t want to make things worse. We can try and approach things little by little. We don’t need to push everything on you at one time.”

“You aren’t pushing things on me Ken,” Wendy tried to assure him, letting out a small frown as she saw the worry behind his eyes. “I want to continue doing this and if I think we should stop or if I really don’t feel that well, I will tell you.”

“Do you promise me that?” Ken questioned, seeing Wendy nod slowly as he looked into her eyes and tried to register how she was truly feeling. “I don’t want you to be lying to me Wendy because I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

“If it will make you feel better, we can sit here for a while and have some more doughnut and cider,” Wendy offered up seeing Ken nod slowly. He reached his hand down to hers and gave it a gentle squeeze before smiling. “Is that a good idea for you?”

“It sounds perfect,” Ken nodded slowly, letting go of her hand as he went to get up before looking back at her. “I’ll go get some more, I will be right back.”

“Ken,” Michelle smiled, watching Ken stand up from the table as she stepped in closer. Michelle saw the way that Ken stared out at her before letting out a small frown. “No need to stand up on my presence. Isn’t this quite the surprise seeing you two here on the same day I am?”


Grady walked down the hallway thinking about how he was going to find a way to help his brother now that things were so up in the air with Avery. Grady had heard that one of the nurse’s snuck Russ in to be with her, which was something Grady was happy about, yet there was still so much hanging over all of their heads. It was almost as if he’d stepped into a nightmare and couldn’t find his way out of it even though some good had come of the situation. Bringing his fingers through his dark hair, Grady looked down the hallway to see Deana walking out of one of the rooms. He watched her move towards the nurse’s station and in that moment he felt compelled to say something more to her after their less than satisfying conversation earlier.

“Well, she is still around to brighten everyone’s day, but mine,” Grady blurted out stepping in behind Deana. He watched her cringe as she spun around to glare up at him.

“What’s wrong Grady? Get bored and decide you need an ambulance to chase,” she questioned placing her hands on her hips impatiently in an attempt to let him know that she didn’t have time to deal with the likes of him.

“Listen you, I’ll have you know that no one has ever accused me of something like that before today,” Grady wiggled his finger in her face finding himself wondering why in the world he’d even bothered to walk over to her.

“At least not to your face,” she quipped with an icy smirk making him want to reach out and strangle her.

“Oh that’s good Grady,” he thought to himself shaking his head at the way his thoughts were going. Still his green eyes focused on her big, brown eyes before him, “You think you’ve got me pegged, don’t you?”

“Unfortunately for you, I know I do,” she added smugly, “which is why I don’t see why you continue to keep running around in circles with me about this. I stitched you up, so you can be on your merry way and leave me alone.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Grady stated firmly planting his feet in front of her. He watched her eyes widen in surprise before he added a few more words, “because my brother’s wife is here at the hospital and we’re not sure what’s going to happen to her. She’s been through a horrible ordeal and…”

“And I’m sorry about that,” her features shifted a bit revealing a softer emotion behind her eyes, “while I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her, I’ve heard a great many stories about how wonderful she is. She and your brother are kind of a bit of a source of gossip around here.”

“Is that right,” Grady replied with a curious expression, “How so?”

“Well, not that I listen to gossip or anything, but there’s talk about their romance--about little Erin and about how Russ and Avery are kind of what people would call a real life super couple if they even exist in this world,” Deana revealed with a tiny laugh.

“Yeah well if they really existed, then yeah Russ and Avery would fit the bill. They’ve had more ups and downs in the romance department than anyone can even imagine and in their own way they still define love and romance for the rest of us. They really belong together and anyone who thinks contrary to that is only fooling themselves,” Grady added thinking about his brief fling with Avery. Sure, their lovemaking session was fresh on his mind, but in his heart he knew full well there was only one man for Avery and it was Russ.

“You mean like Brant Ashford,” Deana arched a curious brow catching the surprised look on Grady’s face, “Don’t look so shocked. That’s another source of gossip around here.”

“Let’s just put it to you this way,” Grady took a small step in closer to her, lowering his head enough to speak up to her in a small whisper of a voice, “When it comes to Avery’s heart, Brant doesn’t stand a chance at holding onto it. She’s not in love with him. She never was and even if Russ wasn’t alive, it would be over for the two of them. Avery’s not meant to be with Brant by any means.”

“Ah, strange the way you say that almost makes me believe that there’s some kind of romantic inside of you after all,” Deana noted releasing the defensive stance she had, “and here I figured all of that was a trait only your brother possessed.”

“Believe me I can be every bit just as romantic as Russ can, but only when the right woman comes along,” Grady explained in a matter of fact tone, his eyes sweeping over her curiously, “though something tells me that a woman like you isn’t used to being presented with romance too often.”

“And why would you say such a horrible thing like that,” she curled her lip in a pout, “given that you barely know me?”

“Because you wouldn’t be so uptight if you had a good man at home loving you in every way imaginable,” Grady replied realizing that his words came out in a far too flirtatious tone for his liking. He tried to regain his composure and sound more distanced, but he saw that surprise that registered behind her eyes. Still he had to try to cover, “I mean if you had a guy giving it you at home, then you wouldn’t be nearly as impossible in raking me through the coals.”

“Giving it to me?” she arched a less than impressed brow, “And just what exactly would you say ‘giving it to me’ entails?”

“All I’m saying is that if you saw more action out of work, then maybe just maybe you wouldn’t be such a nag,” he tossed back at her flippantly.

“And I’ll have you know that I see plenty of action with far more appealing men than you can ever be--not that it’s any of your business,” she wrinkled her nose up at him, “It’s just quite frankly to the point here that I don’t like you Grady Denton. You’re rude, arrogant and for some reason you think that you have a right to tell people what you think about them even if your opinion isn’t worth spit. Thus far you’ve been yet to impress me…”

“I didn’t realize I had to,” Grady wiggled his brow at her suggestively wondering where this sudden flirty side was coming from. Here he was having lost the love of his life, having slept with the love of his brother’s life and yet he was making small talk with this impossible woman before him. She was far too young for him--far too out of the question and yet she was sticking it to him in ways that somehow strangely delighted him.

“Believe me you don’t because I wouldn’t have noticed if you had been trying,” she mouthed sourly up at him, her fingers curling into balls at her side.

“Trust me princess,” Grady took another bold step forward, lowering his lips just enough to hover over her face knowing full well that it made her uncomfortable. Wow, there really was something about her dark eyes--about that mouth of hers and the way she looked up at him like she wanted to rip his head off. Oh she was something special indeed. Knowing full well she was agitated he moved in ever so slightly closer to her, his hand moving up as if he’d touch her, but instead he kept a safe distance speaking out in a smooth, determined tone, “if I wanted to impress you, I would’ve more than accomplished that mission because I’m that good.”

“Only in your dreams Mr. Denton,” she rolled her eyes at him taking a small step towards him despite the anger burning behind her eyes, “because men like you don’t come even close to turning me on.”

“The very fact that you mention it only means that the thought crossed your mind,” Grady challenged wiggling his brow at her, “I saw the way you were looking at me when I was being stitched up--the way you couldn’t take your eyes off of me or your hands for that matter.”

“I was just worried about not poking you with the needle,” she curled her lip in a scowl, “and as for my eyes, well if you would’ve got off of your ego trip long enough to pay attention to me--really, truly pay attention, then you might’ve seen that it was your friend who sparked my interest, not a loud-mouthed, foul person like yourself. You just aren’t my type. I’m not into jerk.”

“Right and that’s why you’re standing here with me right now nose to nose with me wishing like hell that you could get the opportunity to kiss me,” Grady tossed back at her with a sly grin knowing full well that this was the last thing he should be doing, yet in a strange way it felt, well good.

She eyed him for a long moment, her chocolate eyes wandering down to his lips for a second. He watched her lips part and she sucked in air in a low, raspy whisper. Her eyes widened as if she was in anticipation of his very suggestion, but before Grady could taunt her further she broke into a fit of laughter bringing her hand over her abdomen.

“Oh that was a good one,” she chuckled, her laughter growing louder by the moment, “That was probably the best one I’ve heard all week. You really are delusional, but in it’s own way it was hilarious. Truly.”

“But…” Grady watched her step away walking down the hallway doubled over with laughter. She tossed her blonde hair back over her shoulder before flashing him a small smile.

“Try to stay out of trouble Mr. Denton because knowing you I’m sure that will be something that you’ll really have to concentrate pretty hard on since you seem to have foot in mouth syndrome come naturally to you,” she finished with a small laugh before turning around and walking away leaving him wondering what in the world had prompted that odd exchange between them.


“Hey Kyle,” Shannon called out to her friend seeing him standing outside of Avery’s room at the hospital. While she’d come down to check in on the damage herself, she hadn’t expected to see him standing there. Now curiosity had carried over her, “what are you doing here?”

“Keeping guard,” Kyle motioned over his shoulder to the door, “The doc is being a pain in the butt about letting anyone in there, so we’ve had to sneak Russ inside to be with Avery.”

“Once again your soft spot for romance comes to the front burner,” Shannon couldn’t help but smile at him, “I hope Sarah realizes just how good she has it with you.”

“Gee and here I thought romance wasn’t your thing,” Kyle eyed her suspiciously, “Don must be working a number in on you.”

“Well, let’s just say he’s grown on me in his own strange little way, but this isn’t about Don and I,” she paused thinking about what she’d witnessed between Sarah and Diego, “Seriously how are you and Sarah doing?”

“Honestly,” Kyle contemplated a response to that question before his eyes returned to Shannon’s, “why do you ask?”

“Because I know how up in the air things were after what Susan pulled,” Shannon watched him tense up after that comment, “Kyle, I know how she hurt you--how she went out of her way to try to destroy your life.”

“And in a lot of ways I think she did,” Kyle shook his head poignantly, “I almost let what she did to me ruin everything that ever mattered in my life. Here I was thinking that I’d been burned by what had happened that night, but the truth to the matter was that the joke was on me. Not only did she drug me, but she lied about everything and put me at odds with everyone around me. All that time I thought if I was nice to her, I could find Jade, but then when everything was said and done…”

“It wasn’t your fault Kyle. None of it was your fault. It happens to even the best of us,” Shannon tried to offer her support.

“Why do I seriously doubt that,” he sighed heavily.

“Because you’re just not willing to see the truth when it’s right in front of you,” she paused contemplating her words carefully, “You know once I was working on this big case and when I say big, I’m telling you it was major. I’d made some less than professional decisions and I wound up sleeping with the guy that I was after. It wasn’t one of my finer points, but in the process I let everything around me come crashing down. I had been seeing this really great guy at the time, but I let my obsession with the case and with chasing after danger kind of suck me away from the life that I’d really started to love. Maybe it was my way of escaping, but in the process I alienated all those around me that I loved. It was a hard lesson to learn, but as I said before it happens to the best of us. One day we wake up and realize what we thought would be there forever isn’t anywhere to be found and that’s a terrifying thing.”

“Where are you going with this one Shannon,” Kyle eyed her suspiciously.

“I’m just saying that Susan’s gone. She can’t keep holding onto you unless you let her,” Shannon explained with a heavy sigh, “She’s dead, but you’re still alive and so is Sarah. I know how much you two love one another and if you still want to be with her, then don’t wait to make things right.”

“Shannon, it’s complicated,” Kyle frowned down at her.

“Complicated or not, we only get so many chances at happiness in our lives Kyle. If we keep closing the door on them we wake up one morning alone and bitter. Trust me I was almost in that position before Don,” she explained with a small, sad smile, “and it’s a very dark and scary place. You don’t want to go down that road. Trust me.”

“Shannon, I’d like to fix things, but…” Kyle trailed off remembering how he’d been blowing Sarah off lately. The last time they’d truly been alone together for any real substantial period of time he’d blown up at her and said things that now he was sure he couldn’t have meant. She’d been so hurt and vulnerable and he’d only carried his anger and wounded pride around with him once Susan had sent his life in a downward spiral.

“But nothing. If it’s worth having in your life, it’s worth trying to make it work even if that means putting in a good fight to make that happen,” she squeezed his arm supportively, “Don’t let a good thing slip away Kyle especially if it’s something you’ve always wanted and needed in your life.”

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’ll get to that,” he decided with a small nod, “I really do need to talk to her.”

“Yes you do and I can promise you that the sooner you do, the better off things will be,” Shannon added supportively hoping that his friend would find his way back to love again before that opportunity closed on him once and for all. If he didn’t act fast, Shannon had to wonder if he’d ever be able to turn back and be with the woman he loved.


“So, how are you feeling?” Diego questioned, watching Sarah look down at the cup in her hands before looking back up at him. “You have something on your mind that you would like to talk about?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah muttered, trying to think of something that she could explain to Diego. No matter how hard she tried, there wasn't something she could come up with to make him help her. Everything that was wrong, was too much for him to understand. “I am just confused--that’s all it is.”

“Well, being confused isn’t a small thing,” Diego pointed out, seeing the way that Sarah just seemed to look up at him with a bit of sadness behind her eyes. “Sarah, I think what you need to do is find out what the question you are looking for is and then I think you need to look inside your heart to find the answer to that question.”

“There are so many questions I have right now Diego,” Sarah stated with a small sigh as she saw Diego frown and reach out to touch her cheek gently. “I don’t think my heart is strong enough to find all those answers Diego.”

“I’m sure it is strong enough Sarah, I know you are a strong woman,” he pointed out with a small smile as she leaned into his touch. He slipped his hand down and placed it over hers on the table before letting out a small sigh. “I’ve seen your record, I know you are strong enough.”

“That’s really not funny Diego,” Sarah laughed, looking away from him as her fingers laced with his gently. Sarah saw the seriousness behind his eyes before she let out a small sigh. “Diego, I know things may sound a little confusing, but I am really trying to find out what is wrong with everything.”

“Believe me Sarah, I truly understand--don’t think that I don’t,” Diego whispered in a soothing tone before letting out a deep breath. “Sarah, I know you are just trying to set things straight and I am going to be here for you every step of the way.”

“I appreciate that Diego,” Sarah replied with a tiny smile before looking over towards the corner of the room. “I really appreciate you being here for me. I just wish I didn’t seem so confused while you are around. I am trying to make the best choices with my interest in mind and I have been leaving you out of my thoughts and for that I am sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it Sarah,” Diego hushed, shaking his head slowly as he reached his left hand up to push a piece of hair behind her ear gently. “Everything is going to be very clear to you very soon and I promise.”

“You promise what?” Cori snapped, walking up and approaching Sarah and Diego, watching as Diego pulled back and away from Sarah. “Tell me what’s going on and tell me now.”

“Cori, how long have you been standing there?” Diego muttered, looking between Sarah and Cori before finally settling in on Cori’s angered eyes.

“Long enough to see you two touching each other like two sick love puppies,” Cori answered with a small scowl, looking over at Sarah with a look of pure anger. “Tell me, what are you doing here with this bitch again? What is she trying to make you do now?”


Russ sat down beside Avery holding her hand as his green eyes fixed on the way she lay before him. She was so pale and her face was bruised after the obvious attack that Bruce had made upon her. Even now he thought back to the first time he’d learned of what a madman Bruce was and he still couldn’t bring himself to believe how far things had spun out of control after that.

“Hey honey,” Russ spoke to her in a small, soothing voice, “I just saw Erin and she misses you. She wants to see her mommy and I promised her that I would bring you to her when you woke up. You know that I’m never a man to fall back on my promises, so why don’t you help me out a little bit here and open those beautiful brown eyes for me?”

Russ sat in silence watching his wife knowing full well that there had been no reaction to his words. He raised her hand to his lips kissing it tenderly as he thought about how far he’d come to be with her again. Their life with one another had been complicated, in a constant state of turmoil and yet through it all they’d found their way back to love time and time again. When he’d found her at the cabin he’d been so afraid that Bruce had hurt her--that he was too late, but they’d been able to come out on top. They’d been able to bring their daughter into the world and they finally had that second chance they’d waited a lifetime to have with one another.

“Avery, I love you,” he mouthed leaning forward feeling the warmth of her beneath him, “I’ve waited a long time to hold you in my arms again--to share our daughter with you and I’m not about to accept defeat now. You have to find your way back to me, so that we can show this world that we’re not going to back down when the odds are stacked against us. You and I, we’re like two forces of nature. We keep raging on and pushing forward until we’re right where we belong--with one another. And that’s where you belong Avery--with me.”

“Says who?” Brant questioned from behind Russ. Russ looked up to see his rival standing in the doorway with a smug expression.

“Get out of here Ashford!” Russ warned with a scowl seeing Brant closing the distance between the doorway and Avery’s hospital bed. “You don’t belong in here!”

“Oh yes, I do,” Brant nodded smugly, the corners of his lips tipping up in a tight smirk, “because as it stands you are the one who has no right to be in here. Starting now I want you gone from her hospital room.”

“Sorry Brant, but I don’t give a damn what you want because what you want doesn’t matter. I’m not leaving my wife again as much as you’d like for that to happen,” Russell stated firmly, planting his feet in the ground as Brant snapped his fingers.

“Pity, I was hoping you’d do this the easy way, but I’d planned on you being contrary. Truth be told I’d anticipated you’d take the hard way, which is why I brought in a little reinforcement,” Brant snapped his fingers again and three men in hospital security uniforms entered the room circling around Russ.

“Look Ashford I don’t know what you’re pulling, but this isn’t going to help anything. Avery needs to get better and…” Russ blurted out glancing over to his wife’s bed.

“And I’m going to see to it that she gets the best treatment there is out there because I wouldn’t accept anything less for Avery,” Brant motioned to the man beside him, “I trust you know what to do.”

“Of course Mr. Ashford,” the thick necked man beside Brant reached out for Russ.

“Don’t you touch me,” Russ warned icily pushing the man’s hand away from his arm. Russell’s eyes fixed on Brant, “I don’t know what the hell you think you’re trying to pull here, but I’m not leaving my wife.”

“Oh yes you are because the fact to the matter is that she’s not your wife, she’s mine,” Brant blurted out just in time for Hart and Don to enter the room and stand beside him. Brant glanced over his shoulder at Hart, “Did you bring it?”

“Yeah I brought it,” Hart nodded in his best business as usual mode reaching into his pocket and pulling out an envelope.

“What the hell is that?” Russell snarled at Brant seeing the way the three leeches that Brant had brought with him were eyeing him darkly.

“This my friend is proof that you have no business being here with Avery,” Brant handed the envelope over to Russ. He nodded again towards Russ, “Open it up. I’m sure you’ll find it’s contents rather fascinating.”

“I don’t know what you’re up to Ashford, but…” Russell tore open the envelope only to see a marriage certificate in front of him. It was obviously a copy of Brant and Avery’s marriage certificate to be more specific.

“You see,” Brant began in a condescending tone, “while you’ve been going on and on about how you’re Avery’s husband and that you don’t want me here, the truth to the matter is that you don’t have a choice in the matter. Avery married me and I am her husband.”

“Only because she believed I was dead. You tricked her into marrying you--preying on her vulnerability,” Russ tossed the envelope back at Brant, “and this means nothing. The mere fact that I’m alive invalidates that and you know it.”

“Actually,” Hart cleared his throat uneasily taking a small step forward, “the only marriage that’s been invalidated was the one you claim to have with Avery. You see the truth to the matter is that while you rushed to have a quickie wedding, you weren’t able to get the papers through the proper channels, which means that…”

“Avery was never your wife to begin with. Whatever wedding you think you had wasn’t legal which means dead or not she was never, ever your wife,” Brant finished with a triumphant grin, “I want you out of this hospital starting right now.”

“No, that can’t be right,” Russ shook his head at Brant’s words feeling the lies behind them. “Avery is my wife.”

“Nope, she never was, never will be and never has been,” Don piped in with an icy smile of his own, “so spare yourself some grief buddy and just do yourself a favor and back off.”

“No. I want you out of here! I want you gone!” Russell shouted lunging forward towards Brant.

“Security,” Brant snapped his fingers and two of them men seized Russell by the arms rendering him motionless despite his protests and shouts. Brant took on small step forward glaring down at Russ, “Consider this your last opportunity to make a quiet exit before this gets ugly.”

“Go to hell!” Russell struggled against the hold the men had on him.

“Fine, have it your way,” Brant snapped his fingers again, “Guards I trust you know what to do. I want him escorted out of here right now! This man is no longer able to go within three hundred yards of my wife and I have the restraining order to back that up.”

“Also in the envelope,” Hart reached out to tuck the envelope in Russell’s pocket before taking a step back.

“I trust we’re finished in here Mr. Ashford,” the man holding onto Russell’s right arm asked.

“More than finished. Get him out of here,” Brant waved his hand dismissively watching Russ struggle with the guards. Despite Russell’s pleas the ball was now in Brant’s court now and he was going to take the time to savor this victory. He’d finally won after all this time. There was no stopping him now!



...to be continued...