Episode 280

“Russ son, I’m sorry that we haven’t talked about this sooner, but your mother and I thought it was best if this never came up,” Elliot cleared his throat uneasily knowing full well that neither Russ nor Grady would be happy about any of this. Grady was upset that Elliot had asked him to leave, but right now Elliot needed to focus on Russ--on making him understand the truth even if he himself hated to admit to it. Even now he found himself facing the hardest challenge of his life.

“There’s nothing to talk about dad,” Russ shook his head in a strong state of denial, “I know that Brant is just trying to pull something and…”

“He’s not Russ,” Cheryl broke her long silence tears still threatening behind her green eyes. She took a shaky step towards him, her gaze traveling between Russ and Elliot, “I’m afraid Brant didn’t know anything about any of this. No one did…”

“Except for your mother and I and it’s something that we’ve tried to keep from you for a very long time,” Elliot explained poignantly reaching out to Russ, “In my heart you’ve always been my son Russ, but the truth is…”

“No,” Russ shook his head refusing to listen to the nonsense being tossed out at him, “Dad don’t say it. Don’t buckle to the pressure that the Ashfords are putting on all of us. I know it’s not true and…”

“Russ, right after your father and I had Grady I took on another job,” Cheryl blurted out hating to tell the tale, but in her heart she knew that the secret couldn’t stay buried any longer now that the truth was thrown at all of them, “I started working for Nicholas Ashford…”

“Mom stop,” Russ began shakily unwilling to hear what she was saying.

“Son, believe me if we could’ve kept this from you for the rest of your life, we would’ve, but it’s too late now,” Elliot explained painfully, “Russ please look at me.”

“Dad, I know this isn’t true. I know that I don’t want to hear this,” Russell’s voice trembled as he looked to his mother, “Mom please tell me this is just some misunderstanding.”

“I wish I could, but…” Cheryl’s tears finally overtook her as she fought to get the words out, “After I started working for Nicholas your father and I started to have a strain in our marriage…”

“We lost a child you see,” Elliot began seeing Russell’s eyes so very lost as the truth fell upon them, “Our marriage was on shaky ground…”

“And I never, ever intended for anything to happen with Nicholas, but we…I…” Cheryl wiped at her face remembering the most shameful point in her life, “One night at the office when I was working late he came onto me and even though I knew it was wrong, we…”

“Just stop!” Russ ordered bringing his hands up to his ears, “This isn’t happening. This is not the truth!”

“Russ, son please,” Elliot reached out to him feeling Russ flinch at his attempt to reach out to him.

“If you’re trying to tell me that any of this is true, then I’m not your son,” Russell blurted out with a pained expression, “I never was…”

“You were always my boy. Do you hear me?” Elliot reached out to him refusing to let Russ walk away, “In this case biology means nothing. Your mother and Nicholas never had the love that we have--the love that we’ll always have…”

“But how?” Russ questioned tearfully, “Mom how could you…”

“I wish I knew Russ. I wish I could say why I did it, but even though I regret what happened with him--with the affair, I’ve never, ever regretted you. I love you Russ. We both love you,” Cheryl stepped in towards him wanting to reach out to embrace him as well.

“No,” Russ moved backwards, “don’t touch me.”

“Son,” Elliot spoke up once more.

“You lied to me,” Russ looked between the both of them, “My whole life has been nothing but a lie. All this time you raised me to hate the Ashfords--to despise what they are, yet you stand here before me and tell me that I’m one of them--that my father is the worst one of them all…”

“It’s only biology,” Elliot repeated once more his heart aching with each passing second, “Russ you have always been my son. You and Grady will always be my sons…”

“Except for the fact that bastard fathered me,” Russ shifted his head to look at Cheryl, “That man tried to murder me. He tried to kill me, yet knowing I was his son…”

“He doesn’t know,” Cheryl explained tearfully shaking her head as her hands reached out to hold him. She dropped them at her sides before further confessing, “When I found out I was pregnant I was terrified. I’d hoped above hope that Elliot was your father, but when it got down to it, it didn’t matter. We’d patched things up with one another and I quit working for Nicholas. I knew I was wrong…”

“Then you’re saying that what? That you found out when I was born and you decided it was something I didn’t need to know? That no one needed to know?” Russell’s eyes widened with shock and confusion.

“We didn’t ever want anyone to know Russ. It wasn’t important because the moment you were born, there was no doubt in my mind about where you belonged. Nicholas has no right to lay any claim on you. You were and are a part of this family and while Nicholas may be your biological father, you are a Denton in every sense of the word. You are absolutely everything that I wanted in a son--everything I needed and you and Grady are my world. I’ve done all that I could to protect you from this--from everything…”

“And look where it got us,” Russ shook his head mournfully overcome with a great many emotions. He looked to his mother with a pained expression, “Tell me that he took advantage of you--that this was something that you never wanted--that it was something that…”

“I’m sorry Russ,” Cheryl dropped her head, “I wish I could say what you want to hear, but you need to know that when it happened--when I was with him, it was something random--something that I wish I could take back, but I can’t. I can’t take it back and on some level I don’t want to because out of that came you. You are so very special and I love you. We love you so much…”

“Dad,” Russ called out to Elliot tears overtaking him.

“It’s going to be okay son,” Elliot promised reaching out to embrace him despite Russell’s hesitations, “You are my son. Do you hear me? This changes nothing! Nothing!”

“That’s where you’re wrong dad. This changes everything,” Russell replied embracing his father as he knew that life would never be the same for him ever again. Not now that he knew the truth about where he’d come from--about the man who had fathered him and then years later tried to rip away his happiness forever.


“Grady wait up,” Deana chased after him seeing how upset he was to be left out of the loop when something clearly important was going on with his family. “Grady please.”

“What?” he spun around to face her with a scowl. “What do you want? I thought that you weren’t one to take to wasting your time with me.”

“Look about what I said before,” she bit down on her lower lip nervously, “I’m sorry about that. You just rubbed me the wrong way and…”

“You didn’t give me a chance to rub you. You just started to lash out at me,” he pointed out with a sideways glance. “Though I guess it doesn’t say much when my family leaves me out of the loop there. It speaks volumes about my popularity level, doesn’t it?”

“I think that they just needed to talk to Russ,” Deana tried to explain to him thinking about what she’d heard in the hospital room earlier, “Clearly there’s a lot going on right now.”

“Which is why they shouldn’t have cut me out of the conversation,” Grady shook his head in frustration. “Russ has already been through so much that for Ashford to pull off a monster lie like this…”

“Grady look I don’t know what’s going on, but right now you have to realize that this situation isn’t going to get any better with you running off and pouting like this,” she stated plainly giving him a pointed look. “Yeah sure it sucks that you have to be out of the ‘family moment’ for the time being, but I’m sure that they will bring you back in as soon as you're ready.”

“Right,” he rolled his eyes at the comment, “That’s just how it’s always been with Russ. I’ve always been second fiddle in my father’s eyes and this is just another shining example of it…”

“I really don’t think that’s how it is,” she frowned up at him, “and I’d be even as bold to say that you’re behaving like a spoiled brat right now. Here your brother just returned home from the dead, he’s found out the love of his life could die, only to have her come back to life if you will, give birth to their daughter somewhere in all of that chaos and then he has to deal with Brant. I think the last thing on his mind right about now is stealing the limelight from you.”

“I didn’t mean it that way,” Grady sighed heavily, “I was just saying that…”

“You’re angry and you’re letting your emotions get you worked up in ways that you’ll regret later. You’re not upset with Russ or your parents. It’s just the situation that is causing tension for everyone. Admit it,” she insisted firmly, “You’re upset because this is something that neither you nor anyone around you can control.”

“You’re right,” he nodded in confession, “and unusually when life gets out of control I…”

“You what?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“I find means of trying to regain my control,” he confessed openly with a pained expression, “Which only winds up bringing me further down into the misery that surrounds me.”

“Then why don’t you end the cycle starting now and resolve to be there for Russ?” she suggested with wide eyes. “Rather than be pissed that you’re not in the conversation, let the moment pass and be there when Russ needs you to support him.”

“You’re right. You’re absolutely right,” he conceded with a small groan, “I know that.”

“Of course you do,” she tossed her long, blonde hair back over her shoulders and grinned up at him again, “because I’m always right. You should know that by now.”

He couldn’t help but laugh at her confidence even though the situation had him upset seconds earlier. There was just something about the way she looked at him that had him thinking about things other than what was happening with his parents and Russ.

“That’s not true,” he finally shook his head at her. “You’re not always right. I mean look at what you thought about me. You said I was a miserable person and that you hated me.”

“And you think that’s changed at all since I’ve known you,” she laughed lightly, a genuine smile spreading over her beautiful face. “I’m just doing my civic duty in talking you down. I don’t want another fist fight to take place in the corridor. That would just get messy and I’d have to clean it up…”

“Right,” he gave her a disbelieving look, “Keep telling yourself that, but when it gets down to it, you like me. Admit it.”

“I never tell a lie,” she shook her head at him, “but what I will say is that what you’ve done for your brother, it’s a very honorable thing. Not many people would be that dedicated to their family.”

“I’m not that dedicated,” Grady paused thinking about his time with Avery, “I’m not as good as I should be.”

“Well I think you’re good enough for Russ and he does too. That’s what really matters,” she spoke up encouragingly ready to say something more when her pager went off. She reached for it giving it a long look before frowning. “Look I hate to do this, but I have to go. Are you going to be okay?”

“Sure,” Grady nodded, “I’ll be fine.”

“Good because I’d hate to think that you wouldn’t be while I was gone. You know just in case you wound up causing a fist fight again or something,” she took a small step back giving him one last look.

“Admit it Deana. You like me,” Grady teased further watching her walk away.

“Keep telling yourself that Grady. Who knows you might actually start to believe what you’re saying…which would make one of us since clearly I’m not buying into that theory,” she mouthed in response loud enough for him to hear it as she walked away.

“You like me. I know it,” Grady decided seeing her move around the corner of the hallway as his thoughts returned to Russ and his family. While he wasn’t quite sure what was going on, one thing was for certain. He needed to be there for Russ through this difficult time and nothing was going to stop that from happening--not even his guilt over what had happened with Avery. As far as Grady was concerned he wouldn’t stop supporting Russ even if that meant pushing everything that had haunted him over the last few months aside forever.


“Say what you want to say,” Don shrugged knowing that there was something that Shannon wanted to say to him and he could tell by the look on her face that it was something that wasn’t going to be very good. “Go ahead.”

“I’ll tell you what I think of you Don,” Shannon nodded slowly before reaching out to squeeze his shoulder roughly. “I think you are an immature jerk.”

“For trying to help my friend?” Don questioned with a small wince, trying to move her hand off of his shoulder. “Shannon, I don’t see what I did wrong?”

“You could have just ruined everybody’s life if you would have kept the information away and locked up forever,” Shannon pointed out seeing Don look away from her as she slid her hand up and under his chin to make him look at her. “Don, do you realize what you could have done?”

“Avery belongs with Brant, not Russell,” Don snapped, his blue eyes looking into hers as he spoke. He took a step back away from Shannon as he let out a small sigh. “Whether Russell, Grady or that jerk Kyle wants to admit it.”

“You know these so called jerks are my friends and they are actually good people Don. I don’t think you realize it, but they were the ones that were right in this situation--not you,” she pointed out with a small shake of her head, folding her arms out in front of her as she thought about what to say next. There were so many angers that were flying through her head as of right now, she didn’t know what to say to him first. “When did someone give you the right to try and rule Avery’s life anyways? Who gave you the right to try and take away the choice of what she wants?”

“I was just trying to help her make the right decision,” Don replied seeing the glare that Shannon was giving him right now. “What am I supposed to say? Brant is dead in love with the woman and he would do anything for her.”

“That doesn’t mean that Avery loves him just like that,” she stated with a small frown seeing Don look over at the clock on the wall. “I think it’s time that I take you home Don.”

“No,” Don answered quickly, his blue eyes met hers as he shook his head quickly. “I think I will stay here just a while longer. You know, I have to see if everything is okay with Brant and I think…”

“You’re coming home Don,” Shannon ordered, reaching out to grab him by the ear and tug him towards the elevator as he let out a small gulp. “Brant can call you on the phone, that’s what they were made for.”

“Okay,” Don nodded slowly, bending down more as he followed her on to the elevator. He bit down on his bottom lip as he felt the pressure of her fingers over him. “Ouch, that’s a strong grip you have there.”

“It will be even stronger if you don’t hurry up,” Shannon replied with a small shake of her head, letting go off Don as he let out a small sigh. “You still want to stay here?”

“You know,” Don placed his hand over his ear, looking over at Shannon as he quickly shook his head seeing the look in her eyes. “I think Hart has it all covered with Brant.”

“Good, I’m glad you feel that way,” Shannon smirked looking away from Don as she looked down at her watch, “because I have something I need to show you.”

“Great,” Don’s eyes widened as he looked away from her and up at the numbers of the floors they were going down.

He kept wishing to himself over and over again that elevator would slow down and save him some more time on his life because he knew that once he got home, Shannon was going to kill him for doing this. Hopefully there was a way he could somehow slow things down and stay in a public place so she couldn’t kill him right away. Maybe he was wrong, but that was highly doubtable. There was always hope though.


Kevin looked out of the window of the jet thinking about what it would be like to return to Ria. While he wasn’t sure what he was going to expect when he got back to Coral Valley, one thing was for certain. He couldn’t wait to reach out and hold her like he’d never let go. Come to think of it, maybe he wouldn’t ever let go. He could just spend the rest of his life in heaven with her in his arms. Yes, that sounded like a wonderful plan indeed.

“You know if you grin any wider, it’s going to swallow up your face,” Angela teased rousing him from his daydream of Ria.

“I’m sorry,” he brought his hand up to his face feeling a warmth in his own cheek.

“Don’t apologize. Just share the good news so that we’ll both have something to smile about,” she wiggled her brow at him suggestively, “So tell me what’s on your mind?”

“Ways in which I can hijack this plane and keep you from going to Coral Valley,” he teased with a small laugh.

“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes at him, “Like you’d have a chance. Besides why are you so insistent upon keeping me away from Coral Valley? I thought you’d be thrilled to be returning to your family. It’ll give you a chance to break away from me for a while.”

“Yeah like that’s something I’m excited about considering that you’re going to be spending your time with Chris,” Kevin frowned back at her sitting up straighter in his seat, “You and I both know he’s trouble Angie.”

“He’s just my friend,” she waved her hand at him dismissively, “Besides you know as well as I do that right now the last thing I want to do is get involved in any romantic entanglements considering that Nick left me like that.”

“Yeah about that,” Kevin cleared his throat uneasily, “You know maybe we should talk about him.”

“Why? So you can rub it in on how stupid I am when it comes to men?” she questioned folding her arms in front of her chest, “No thank you Kevin. I think I’ll pass.”

“Angie, I know it hurts, but maybe if you let me tell you what I know about him, then maybe you’ll see why…” Kevin started hearing the pilot speak over the intercom to let them know that they were approaching some turbulent weather.

“Wonderful,” Angela sighed leaning back in her chair further, “this is always something I dread.”

“Bad weather?” Kevin questioned peering out the window to look at the clouds.

“No bad weather on a jet with you,” she replied readily remembering his phobia, “Every time we hit a situation like this you always think the worst…”

“That’s because you’re always hearing the worst on the news,” he frowned back at her feeling a bit shaky as his eyes were glued to the window, “It’s never good to be in a situation you can’t control.”

“Life is full of situations you can’t control Kevin,” she explained getting up from where she was seated. She moved in over to take a seat beside him placing her hand on his leg gently, “Like my spending time with Chris.”

“Angie, he’s trouble,” Kevin’s eyes darted towards her again, a scowl building on his lips.

“I like trouble,” she smiled at him leaning in closer, “Besides, you know Chris is only small trouble. There’s nothing major about my being around him.”

“There’s plenty of things that are major when he’s around. He almost landed you in jail more times than I care to admit and…” Kevin glanced down to see her fingers tracing over his thigh, “Angie…”

“Kevin, I’ll be fine. I’m always fine,” she promised sliding in closer to him, “You have to trust that.”

“What I trust are my instincts and those instincts are telling me that you’re looking for something reckless--something dangerous to get yourself wrapped up in now that Nick is gone,” he answered worriedly, “You have a habit of doing this. You react before you take time to consider all angles of a situation…”

“If you spend your whole life considering all the possibilities, then what fun is there?” she countered sliding her hand further up his thigh, “I thought spontaneity was a part of life--one that you rather enjoyed.”

“I do, but not at my friend’s expense,” he frowned deeper than before. He felt her fingers dance over his muscled thigh before their eyes met in a dark glance, “Angie, what are you doing?”

“Giving you one less thing to worry about,” she promised in a low, sultry breath leaning forward to nibble on his neck. He felt her hand drop to the center of his lap, her fingers pressing in over his zipper as her hot, wet kisses continued to move over his now excited skin. “I know how you hate storms Kevin.”

“Angie,” he whispered her name in a tight, strained voice. He closed his eyes feeling her fingers slide in beneath his slacks seeking out his now very aware masculinity. He sucked in a sharp breath feeling the first, determined stroke of her hand over him and his body sprang to life. “I really don’t think that…”

“You don’t have to worry Kevin,” she mouthed nibbling on his earlobe before her left hand traveled lazily into his hair. She tugged on it lightly before urging him to meet her lips in a frenzied kiss.

Before Kevin could say anything further, he felt her beneath him on the small couch, her fingers tearing at his slacks yanking them down his body. It was almost like the last time they’d taken a flight with one another. Well, not the last time really, but the last time they’d taken a flight together as lovers and if he didn’t say something soon, this flight would be no different. He felt her leg curl around his waist, her body calling out to his--begging him to give into passion, yet it was in that moment when reality came crashing down upon him.

“Angie wait,” Kevin detangled himself from her embrace, “we can’t do this.”

“What?” she blinked up at him clearly confused by his reaction to her, “Why not?”

“Because you’re hurting over Nick. You’re only doing this because you’re on the rebound and…” he explained with a sharp breath spilling from his lungs.

“So, what’s wrong with that? It’s not like we haven’t done this before when we’ve been hurting,” she licked her lips her eyes returning to his ever-so-kissable mouth, “and believe me Kevin I’m hurting right about now.”

“And I’ll be hurting more if I let us do this,” Kevin sighed heavily placing a distance between them, “Angie, I’m in love with someone--someone special and I can’t do this.”

“Since when,” she frowned sitting up to watch him retreat, “Kevin, it’s not like we’re getting engaged or anything…”

“We aren’t, but I want to. I want to marry Ria and I can’t let this get in the way of that. I’m not saying that it’ll happen today or tomorrow, but one day I do want that to happen,” Kevin explained matter of fact adjusting his pants as he looked to her again, “I’m sorry Angie.”

“Not nearly as sorry as I am,” she sat up straighter to watch him closely, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I do, and hopefully one day so will you,” Kevin added seeing her move away from him, “I’m sorry Angie. I don’t mean to hurt you, but I love her and we have a real chance at a future together--at a life.”

“That’s really all I ever wanted for you Kevin--for the both of us…” she nodded in response, “I’m happy for you--really.”

“I’m so sorry that you’re hurting,” he offered up again seeing a sadness behind her eyes.

“I’ll be fine. I’ll be just fine,” she insisted further, “You don’t have a thing to worry about Kevin. I’m fine…”

“Angie I,” Kevin blinked back at her with a startled expression. He felt the plane shaking around him a bit and he turned to the window with a worried glance.

“Kevin it’s fine. Kevin, wake up,” he felt a nudge on his shoulder. He sat up straighter practically jumping out of his chair as he looked up to see Angela hovering over him.

“Hey Kevin, it’s okay,” Angela mouthed worriedly, “The storm has passed. You’re going to be okay.”

“Angie I…” he stammered a bit, his eyes trying to focus as it dawned in on him that everything he’d just shared with her had been some kind of dream. He remembered the pilot talking about the storm, but then…

“You passed out,” she explained matter of fact, “We were talking and you did what you always do. You fell asleep at the first sound of thunder, which I suppose is a bonus since you missed the scary stuff.”

“Not exactly,” he thought to his dream before a smile spread over his features, “Although I did have an interesting dream.”

“About what?” she questioned curiously.

“My future,” he smiled up at her realizing what his mind was trying to tell him, “and it looks like it’s going to turn out just fine.”

“What about mine? See anything good there for me? Like maybe a single, sexy guy who will make me forget all about Nick?” she wiggled her brow at him before smiling.

“Not yet, but it’ll happen. You’ll meet Mr. Right and when you do, hopefully he won’t be in need of me breaking his neck,” he smiled at her feeling her take a seat beside him. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders before hugging her close to him, “I love you Angie. I hope you know that.”

“I do and I love you too, but I’d love you even more if you tell me about that girl that you’ve been keeping a secret from me,” she replied poking at his ribs lightly.

“Not a chance,” Kevin shook his head firmly knowing that while his dreams were leading him down a dark and dangerous path of the past, his subconscious had been smart enough to follow his heart. It did seem like things were finally turning around for him after all. He glanced down at Angela seeing her expectant eyes and he shook his head again, “Nope, I’m not saying a word…”

“You’ll tell me,” she laughed lightly snuggling into him, “Maybe not today--maybe not tomorrow, but sooner or later you’ll cave.”

“And when I do you’ll be in for the shock of your life,” he teased further feeling a smile tug at his lips. Yes, things were most certainly looking up.


“Why isn’t anyone saying anything,” Brant frowned glancing back over his shoulder at Avery’s room. “I want to be in there with her--to explain…”

“Do you think she’ll listen to you?” Hart questioned worriedly thinking about everything that had lead up to this moment in time. He saw the door to Avery’s hospital room open and Brant watched Richard walk out.

“It’s worth trying,” Brant decided throwing out an apologetic expression at his friend, “I have to go see her before Beth comes back and tries to keep me away from her…”

“If I see her, I’ll make sure she doesn’t catch you in there,” Hart promised watching Brant make his way over to Avery’s room. Taking in a small breath Hart hoped that Brant would be able to accomplish what he was hoping for with Avery.

“There you are,” Jenna’s labored voice called out to Hart. He turned to see her standing before him breathless.

“Jen, I was just about to call you,” he smiled at her taking note of her expression, “I take it you heard about Avery.”

“Avery,” she repeated blankly, “What about her?”

“Well she was just brought in a while ago. She had her daughter and…” Hart explained knowing how happy Jenna would be to hear about her best friend’s good news.

“Hart, I don’t want to talk about that right now,” she blurted out catching him off guard, “I mean eventually we can get to that because I will want to pay Avery a visit and give her my encouragement, but right now, well right now I need to talk to you. We need to talk.”

“Okay Jen, we can talk,” he touched her shoulders gently, “What’s on your mind?”

“Sam,” Jenna explained shamefully, “My mom came over tonight unexpectedly and she saw the baby magazines. She realized that I was pregnant and she started laying into me…”

“What is wrong with her,” Hart scowled thinking about Dorothy’s strong hatred for him, “Can’t she see that this isn’t helping anything? You don’t need to be stressing out over her tantrum now that you’re pregnant and…”

“Hart that’s not what’s wrong,” she paused drawing in a slow breath, “Apparently she saw you and Beth together around the time of the earthquake and she overheard Beth say that Sam was your daughter. She said that she saw you and Beth and…”

“And I’m sure whatever she told you was so far from the truth over the situation. Jen, you know your mom hates me and she’d do anything to make sure that you and I didn’t stay together,” he replied a tight scowl pressing in over his lips at the lengths that Dorothy had gone to time and time again to keep them apart.

“Hart, that’s not what I’m worried about right now either. You see she started lashing out at me and she told me that she knew about Sam--that she overheard Beth telling you and…” Jenna began breathlessly.

“And you already knew because I beat her to the punch. She couldn’t shock you with that one considering that you’ve known for quite some time,” Hart replied proudly thinking about how he’d been able to keep Dorothy from sabotaging him. Sure, she thought he was evil and manipulative, but the plain fact was that he’d always been honest with Jenna and it was that honesty that was saving him now.

“No Hart, you aren’t getting it. When she said those things Wayne and Sam walked in and overheard…” she waved her hand in front of his face to snap him out of the daze he was in.

“What?” he replied his smile fading at her confession, “Are you saying that…”

“Sam heard everything,” she blurted out with an exaggerated sigh, “I tried to talk to her, but she was upset and…”

“Where is she now Jenna? Have you seen her?” Hart questioned worried about his daughter.

“Wayne told me that she was coming here to speak with Beth. He said that she was pretty upset and…” Jenna explained quickly.

“We have to find her. We have to talk to her before Beth makes this worse because I know she has a knack of doing that,” Hart added thinking about his daughter’s well being.

“I couldn’t agree more. Wayne is parking the car, but when he comes up he wants to see Sam and…” Jenna started again.

“I think I know where we can find her. Beth was in with Avery a short while ago, but I’m sure she’s back in her office now. If not, then we’re going to wait for her because I need to talk to Sam,” Hart explained knowing that he should’ve said something sooner, but now, well now he had to face whatever it was that was waiting ahead for him.


Richard stepped out into the hallway thinking about everything his daughter had told him about Brooke’s hand in her undoing. Only having it all reconfirmed by his daughter’s tears and the proof that Russell had brought to the table only further infuriated him. To think that his wife--that the woman who had mothered his child had played such a malicious hand in destroying their daughter’s life was far too much for him to take at a time like this.

“Rick,” Judy approached him catching him mid-thought.

“Judy,” he turned to face her, feeling a strain overtake him at the knowledge that he’d been dealing with.

“Rick what is it?” she reached out to touch his shoulder feeling him tense up beneath her touch.

“It’s Brooke,” Richard mouthed icily, “I just found out what she’s done to Avery. What she’s been doing to her for years right under my nose.”

“I don’t understand,” Judy gave him a strange look.

“She’s been hurting my daughter. She killed my grandchild--Avery's son or daughter and she tried to hurt Erin,” Richard confessed hot tears of betrayal burning behind his eyes. “She faked her kidnapping and has been working with Nicholas Ashford all this time. She’s the one who brought Bruce into Avery’s life and she’s the one who has been sabotaging her again and again.”

“Rick you’re not making any sense,” Judy started seeing the hurt behind his eyes.

“That’s just it,” he let out an ironic laugh, feeling an anger stirring up inside of him unlike anything he’d ever felt before, “It doesn’t make any sense at all and that’s why it hurts so much.”

“Rick…” Judy felt him walk away from her pushing past her in the hallway. “Where are you going?”

“I think it’s time that I have a word with my wife. It seems that she and I have a lot to talk about,” Richard announced making his way to the elevators ready to go over to the nursing home to have a piece of his mind with Brooke once and for all after all of the nefarious things she’d done to their daughter. He’d been tolerant of a great many things with Brooke for so very long, but after this last act, no more. Brooke was about to get absolutely everything that was coming to her and he was going to be the one to give it to her!


“Hey, are you okay?” Sarah questioned reaching out to touch Kyle’s shoulder gently as he turned to face her. She saw the way that his dark, angered eyes looked into hers as she let out a small frown. “What’s on your mind baby?”

“I just can’t believe how much of a jerk that guy is,” Kyle replied with a small shake of his head, thinking about all the things that Don and Brant tried to do to sabotage Russ and Avery’s relationship. “They think they could walk around and ruin people’s lives. They take the one thing someone has that is good and they rip it right out of the person’s hands. They take the one thing that makes them happy, the one thing that could make everything better for someone and they just ruin it. It’s like Brant has so many problems, that he wants to make Russ hurt by going off and doing something that he knew would hurt Russ. I hate people like that.”

“Me too Kyle, but unfortunately there are people like that all around,” Sarah informed him, reaching down to squeeze his hand in hers gently. “We just have to get used to it--there is nothing we can do to change those kind of people.”

“There is something I can do,” Kyle pointed out with a small smirk, pulling his hand away from hers slowly to look at his watch. “I can push them out of my life. If someone intentionally does something to hurt me, they will be gone before they know it.”

“And you have the full right to,” she agreed seeing Kyle look down the hallway to where he had seen Russell earlier. “You worried about them?”

“Of course,” Kyle nodded quickly before letting out a small sigh, not being able to see Russell or Grady. “Where in the world did they go?”

“You know Kyle,” Sarah slid her hand in against his cheek to make him look at her as she let out a small smile. She slid her hand in over his shoulder as he looked down at her hand. “Maybe you should go home and rest, this might be something that only the family should be doing.”

“I am like family Sarah,” Kyle stated, his eyebrows tensing as he spoke to her, “this is the closest thing to a family I have left. This is my family.”

“Well, it’s obvious that something is happening between your family Kyle and maybe you can loosen up more at home,” she suggested seeing him close his eyes as she squeezed at his shoulder lightly. “Some rest might do you good.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Kyle stated with a small nod, thinking it over for a long moment before shaking his head. “I can’t go back to Russ and Avery’s place. I would be too worried.”

“You don’t have to go back there,” she pointed out with a small frown, leaning up to kiss his lips slowly. Her arms wrapped around his neck gently as she continued to kiss him before backing away slowly. “You can always come back to my place. Kind of like old times sake.”

“Are you sure about that?” Kyle questioned with a small frown seeing her nod without even thinking twice. He reached for her arms, unwrapping them from his shoulders slowly as he let out a small sigh. “I guess that could work. I’ll just lay down on the couch and come back in the morning.”


“You know, I think I left my wallet at the hospital. I’ll just go back and get it while you wait here,” Don lied as they got home, turning around towards the door to try and walk away from Shannon before she could try anything on him. “I promise it won’t take me very long.”

“Hold on one second,” Shannon grasped onto his hand before he could leave, pulling him in close to her. She slid her hand in against his jacket pocket, pulling out his wallet as she saw him slightly smile. “You didn’t leave it.”

“Hey, I thought I looked there,” Don replied reaching out to grab the wallet from her fingers before putting it back in his pocket. He gulped down as he looked up into her eyes worriedly. “Thanks for finding it for me.”

“No problem sweetheart,” Shannon wrapped her arm around his as she led him to the middle of the living room before looking up at him. “I think…”

“You know,” Don began with a small cough as he pulled away from her and started to back away slowly. There was no way he wanted to be alone with her right now and he was going to try and find away to stay away from her. “I am really thirsty, I am going to grab a quick drink.”

“Sit down,” Shannon ordered as Don heard a door open down his hallway as he saw Matt walk out of his room.

“Matt,” Don quickly walked over to his son, picking him up in his arms. Matt tiredly rubbed at his eyes as Don ran his hand along Matt’s back gently. “What are you doing up?”

“I had a bad dream,” Matt informed Don with a small frown, wrapping his arms around Don’s neck tightly. “Can I stay up with you for a while? Please?”

“Of course you can,” Don nodded slowly, taking a look over at Shannon making him let out a long sigh. “I’ll be here for you, you have nothing to worry about. Nothing is going to hurt you when daddy is home.”

“Can we watch television together? Like a cartoon?” Matt questioned with a small smile, reaching out to play with Don’s hair. “Can we daddy?”

“Of course little man,” Don walked over to the couch and sat down, feeling Matt cuddle in against his chest. “What cartoon do you want to watch?”

“You can choose,” Matt yawned looking over at Shannon who was still standing in the middle of the room. “Are you going to watch it with us Shannon? Come sit with us.”

“Yeah Shannon, come sit down with us,” Don smirked patting the couch next to him as he felt Matt’s arms wrap around tightly. “Everything is okay, I’m here now little guy.”

Everything was okay with Matt, he would never let anything hurt Matt, but the question was--how much longer was Shannon going to wait to kill him?


“Well, I guess welcome back,” Sarah shrugged walking into the house, hearing Kyle shut the door behind them. “Make yourself at home, you can go take a shower if you’d like or whatever.”

“No, I think I will just camp out on the couch,” Kyle shrugged his shoulders, following Sarah into the kitchen as she motioned him to follow her. “I just think some rest is what will do me good.”

“How about a drink? You want something to drink?” Sarah looked back at Kyle as he simply shrugged his shoulders seeing her pull out a glass.

“I guess some water could work,” Kyle replied with a small frown, walking over towards the window as he slipped on the floor falling against the counter. “The floor is soaked with water, I think I found the water I wanted.”

“I’m so sorry about that,” Sarah handed Kyle the glass watching as he slowly pulled himself up straight on his feet. “I got some water on the floor the other day and I forgot to wipe it up. Sorry.”

“It’s not a problem,” Kyle assured her, taking another step away from where he slipped earlier only to slip against another wet spot. As he tried not to fall, his water splashed up and onto his shirt as he let out a small frown. “Great.”

“I’m so sorry about that, I really need to wipe that up,” she watched Kyle as he looked down at his shirt that was now soaked, the material sticking to his muscular chest. “I can put that in the dryer if you’d like.”

“Sure,” Kyle shrugged unbuttoning his shirt slowly, pulling it down his arms as he let out a small groan placing his hand over his hurt ribs. He handed her his navy blue shirt before nodding towards the living room. “I’m just going to go and sit down.”

“Here, hold on a second,” Sarah motioned him to wait a minute as she walked down the hall way and came back with an icepack in her hand. “You might need this.”

“Thanks,” Kyle grinned walking into the living room as Sarah followed not far behind. He placed the icepack over his bruised ribs as he let out a small yelp. “That’s cold.”

“Let me see,” Sarah grabbed the icepack from his hands and moving it away to take a look at his ribs. “This looks really bad Kyle.”

“Yeah, well that’s what you get for risking your life,” Kyle half chuckled, feeling his ribs tighten upon the feeling. He let out a small hiss as he felt her fingers run in against his hurt body.

“Maybe you should have someone take care of you,” Sarah leaned up to press her lips in against his gently, running her hands up and over his chest. “A good nurse is what you need.”

“And what is the nurse going to do to me?” Kyle eyed her over slowly, feeling her push him back onto the couch as he let out a small groan feeling a pain in his hurt thigh. The television turned on, making him realize he had fallen back on the remote as he pulled it out from under him giving it a small glance. “Ouch.”

“Sorry about that,” she smiled getting in over him as he leaned his head back against the couch, looking up at her with his dark eyes. “I didn’t mean to leave it on the couch like that.”

“It’s not your fault,” Kyle replied with a small sigh, feeling her fingers run in over his abdomen tracing the muscle in his stomach. “Sarah.”

“It’s okay,” she hushed leaning forward and pressing her lips in against his. Her arms wrapped around his neck tightly as he pulled away from her slowly.

“Don’t you think this is a little fast?” Kyle questioned letting out a small frown as she eyed him over slowly. “I mean we just got back together and…”

“It will be okay, let me take care of you,” she whispered in his ear, gently nipping at his earlobe. “Everything is going to be all better.”

Kyle eyes looked over towards the television as he felt her lips in over the side of his neck. He watched the man on the television and saw the news saying that it would be raining later.

“Oh crap,” Kyle gasped feeling Sarah back away from him as he looked down at his watch. “Did I close the sun roof to my truck? It’s supposed to rain and I just got a new car, I don’t need this one ruined too.”

“Kyle, you closed the sunroof,” she assured him, leaning forward and kissing him once more. Her fingers ran in over his belt as she talked against his lips. “I remember you doing it.”

Kyle watched as she grabbed the remote and turned on a different channel trying to take his mind off the channel as she pulled down the zipper to his pants slowly.

“Would you look at that,” Kyle smiled widely, watching the television as she rolled her eyes looking down at him with her dark eyes. “I should call Russ, the Red Sox won the game.”

“You can call him later,” she placed her index finger over his lips gently as she leaned down to press a kiss against the side of neck. Her hand slipped into his pants, grasping his body in her hand tightly as he let out a small sigh.

“Sarah,” Kyle bit down on his bottom lip as his attention turned to the television once more seeing the thing that was cooking on the channel that was now on after Sarah had changed it once more. A small look of disgust appeared over his lips as he saw they were cooking sword fish. “Maybe we should stop.”

Sarah’s grip tightened on him as he let out a small frown, feeling a bit uncomfortable under her. Trying the best he could he tried to move her away from him, but accidentally brought his leg up wrong and made her fall back on the floor.

“Oh my, are you okay?” Kyle questioned, pulling the zipper back up on his jeans as he saw her slowly rise to her elbows. “I did not mean to do that.”

“What happened?” Sarah looked up at him with a small frown as she saw him button his jeans back up. “Is something wrong?”

“No, it’s just--I’m not really feeling it Sarah,” Kyle tried to explain letting out a long sigh. He ran his hand over his aching neck, letting out a small frown as he tried to think of a way to tell her something. “I got stabbed in the thigh…”

“I don’t think I’m catching what you’re trying to say,” Sarah pointed out seeing him shrug his shoulders as he thought of something else to say.

“Sarah, the plane just can’t seem to be able to take off,” Kyle motioned with his hands seeing her eyes widen at him, showing that it was obvious she still didn’t understand what he was trying to say. “The balloon just won’t inflate.”

“What?” Sarah’s eyebrows tensed as she saw Kyle sit up straighter on the couch, running his hand over his hurting abs gently. “What’s going on Kyle?”

“Sarah, I just got stabbed in the thigh. I don’t think I am going to be able to get it up--especially now,” Kyle pointed out with a small shake of his head as he watched her nod slowly. “And truthfully, I really don’t think it’s time that we start doing this kind of stuff. I mean we just got back together and I need to take things slow. I need to be able to be ready when it happens.”

“I understand, I‘ll wait for you forever Kyle,” she nodded slowly, standing up on her feet as she pointed back toward the hallway. “I’m just going to go get your shirt.”

“Right,” Kyle nodded slowly, watching as Sarah disappeared down the hallway. There was something different about the whole situation he was just in. Maybe he truly wasn’t ready to take her back yet.


“Samantha you have no right to talk to me that way. You have no idea what I’ve sacrificed for you time and time again,” Beth snapped at her daughter seeing the anger behind Sam’s eyes, but at this point she was beyond listening to her daughter’s tantrum, “Everything I’ve done I’ve done it to protect you.”

“Protect me from what? From having a father that cares about me in my life? Hart has been nothing but nice to me,” Sam replied sharply, “Ever since I met him, he’s been great…”

“That’s because he’s trying to spite me. He’s trying to rub it in my face that you’ll like him better--that you’ll run to him because I’m the one who tries to enforce rules and regulations and…”

“That has nothing to do with it mom. Hart’s a great guy and I don’t know why you couldn’t just tell me,” Sam shook her head at her mother, “He’s treated me more like an equal than you have.”

“That’s because you aren’t an equal Sam. You are my daughter and I’ve treated you as such. You’re my child and you shouldn’t be allowed to roam free and do as you will. Hart will offer you the world because he hates me. He’s ruined my life and he’ll stop at nothing to keep doing it. He wants to destroy me by turning you against me.”

“Hart didn’t say a thing about my being his daughter. He’s kept your secret for you though I’m sure you were hoping he wouldn’t so that you’d be able to throw this on my when it was most convenient to you,” Sam snapped back at her hearing the sound of someone at the door. Moments later Hart popped his head in seeing the two women in a defensive stance.

“And here he is,” Beth rolled her eyes at his arrival, “Father of the year who hasn’t done a damn thing for most of her life…”

“Beth, I think we all need to talk,” Hart entered the room closing the door behind him in an attempt to be calm. His worried expression filled his face before he looked to Sam, “Sam, honey we need to talk.”

“I have nothing to say to either one of you,” she started to walk off, but Hart moved in front of her.

“Sam wait. Please I know you’re upset, but I really think we should all talk about this,” Hart began again desperately.

“You mean like you felt the need to talk to me about this situation the other night when you and Jenna told me that she was pregnant?” Sam tossed back at him, “Back when you were asking me tips on being a good father?”

“Sam I wanted to tell you, but your mother insisted that I didn’t…” Hart started again before shaking his head, “That’s no excuse. I should’ve just been honest with you from the start. I owed you that much.”

“You’re right you did,” Sam replied sharply.

“But it’s not like you could give it Hart seeing as honesty has never been in your vocabulary,” Beth spat out from behind Sam.

“You be quiet,” Hart warned her sharply, “and Sam, I have to tell you that you have no idea how much I wanted to tell you the truth--about how many times I came close to it, but then I thought about my father--about the failures I had with him and I didn’t want to be like that for you. I know you love Travis and I didn’t want to be the thing that upset your world.”

“Did you really think that my knowing you were my father was going to do that?” she shook her head at him, “Did you think I would hate you because of this?”

“When I was your age, I probably would’ve been cheering from the rooftop to learn Walt wasn’t my father, but I know Travis isn’t anything like my father was. I know he’s been good to you,” Hart tried to stay on topic, “I knew you already had a family and…”

“And you figured you wouldn’t get in the way of that, right?” Sam watched him for a long moment, “But when it gets down to it Hart, from what I’m gathering you’ve only known a short time. You only recently found out.”

“I’ve known for a couple of months and I’m sorry that I didn’t say anything sooner. You shouldn’t have heard it the way you did,” Hart frowned thinking about Dorothy’s lack of tact. “I wish I would’ve said something sooner.”

“So do I, but we can’t take that back,” Sam paused contemplating her words, “Although I don’t put this all on you. I put this on her.”

“Sam, honey…” Beth began moving in towards her daughter.

“No mom, you’re the one who could’ve just told me the truth. Instead you wanted to keep playing games with me--to keep me on your leash…” Sam shook her head at her.

“I’m sure your mother felt she had her reasons,” Hart offered up surprising Beth with that statement, “When your mother and I knew one another before I wasn’t the man I am today. I wasn’t anything close to being who I am now. Jenna helped me grow up and I’m sure that your mother held back simply because of that man I once was.”

Beth stared at him for a long moment before scowling, “The man you’ll always be. You’ll never change Hart. You’ll just go about making empty promises to Sam and she’ll believe in you, then you’ll leave. You aren’t any good for her--for anyone.”

“I wasn’t before, but I want to be now,” Hart looked to Sam with pleading eyes, “I know that there are a million reasons why you’d be a fool to take a gamble on me Sam, but I promise if you give me a chance to try again, I won’t blow it like I did before. I won’t let you down as long as I can help it. I’ll try to be the kind of father you need--that is if you’re willing to let me try. That’s all I’m asking.”

Sam stood in silence looking between her mother and Hart before she finally nodded. “I’d like that. I’d really like that.”

Before Hart could utter a reply he felt her reach out to embrace him. Instinctively he embraced her back feeling as if the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders. He eyed Beth for a moment seeing her heavy disapproval, but he didn’t care. Right now he was sharing a moment with his daughter and nothing in the world could compare to what he was feeling here and now. It was the closest to heaven that he’d been in a very long time other than when he was with Jenna. It was almost perfect.


“Look I promise I will be there as soon as possible,” Deana explained into the phone in a muted voice. “I know that I said I’d be there a little while ago and I’m sorry about that, but I’ve been tied up at work. Yes, I swear I’ll be there as soon as I can. Of course. I love you too.”

Deana finished with her good-byes and hung up the phone thinking about the day she’d had. She never intended on having such a full schedule, but that was work for you. Nothing ever seemed to go as planned and even if life outside the hospital was waiting for her, she knew that she had to keep up with things here. Being that it was a new job the last thing she wanted was to screw things up even if she had an inside connection. Still she refused to let that be the key to her keeping her job. She wanted to prove herself--to show the world that she wasn’t an impossible loser and even if that meant putting in a little more effort at the hospital so be it. She wasn’t that same reckless, stupid kid she once was and she was out to prove it.

“I’ll do fine,” she insisted bringing her hand over her abdomen before making her way down the hallway. She stopped outside Christy’s office seeing the head of PR swiftly packing up things on her desk. Curious she knocked on the door catching Christy off guard. “Something wrong?”

“What?” Christy looked up at her with a worried expression, “No nothing is wrong. Why do you ask?”

“You just look a bit upset. Anything you need to talk about?” Deana questioned curiously.

“No not at all, although I have to say I probably won’t be around here much longer,” Christy added quickly pushing another few things into a box. “I think it’s time for me to move on.”

“Move on?” Deana gave her a strange look. “What makes you say that?”

“Let’s just say I made a fatal mistake in falling for the wrong guy in this town,” Christy replied cryptically. “I thought I was going to live the high life, but now I’ll be lucky if I get out of Coral Valley with my life.”

“What’s wrong?” Deana couldn’t help but ask her. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

“No, this is my mess,” Christy finished with her things pulling a box up into her arms, “and I have to fix it. Though if you’re smart you’ll listen to me about one thing.”

“What’s that?” Deana couldn’t help but ask thinking about how she knew so little of Christy other than they’d had lunch with one another earlier.

“Don’t fall for the first guy in this town that tries to charm you. It always works out in a bad way. Even if they seem cute and charming it always spells trouble,” Christy mouthed cryptically before walking out of the office and leaving Deana with that warning.

“Don’t worry,” Deana thought to herself remembering Grady’s come ons with her. “I’m not that stupid--at least not this time.”

Deana took one more glance around Christy’s now empty office and let out a long sigh knowing only too well how falling for the wrong guy could very well turn a woman’s world apart. Frowning at the memory that swept over her, she vowed never to go down that route again. It was a mistake she’d lived through once and she’d be damned if she did it again. She promised herself a new life in Coral Valley and even if she had to fight for it tooth and nail that was exactly what she was going to have. She’d make sure of it!


Grady paced around the hallway after finishing up his conversation with Deana. While he wanted to burst in through the door and see what was going on, he’d tried to keep from letting his first instinct guide him into making a bad situation worse. He’d hated to be excluded from the family especially now when his parents owed him and Russ a great many answers to the questions that Shannon had brought to the table with those damned DNA tests.

“What is going on in there,” Grady mouthed to himself before finally breaking his vow to stay calm. He marched into the room finding his brother embracing their father tears overtaking him. He turned his eyes to see Cheryl standing in the corner of the room arms wrapped tightly around herself as tears were falling from her eyes as well, “Russ…”

“Grady,” Russ stood up turning to look at his brother. In that moment Russ had a flashback to the moment in time when he’d learned about how Jade was raped by the Ashfords--about how the Ashfords had gone out of their way to destroy anything beautiful and in that moment Russ realized whether he liked it or not he was a part of that. He remembered when Nicholas had tried to murder him--had tried to take his life away and in that moment of realization, the irony hit him that Nicholas already had. Feeling the walls closing in around him Russ took a step back.

“I need to get out of here. I’m sorry, but I just can’t stay here. I can’t…” Russ stumbled backward before rushing past Grady in an attempt to get away from the situation.

“What did you say to him? What did you do?” Grady questioned in an accusatory tone thrown out at his parents, “Please tell me that you cleared all of this up--that you told him those tests were rigged.”

“Grady, I think maybe it’s time we all have a talk. Maybe you should sit down,” Elliot suggested his worried glances turning towards the door where Russ had just run out of.

“No, I don’t want to sit. I just want to know the truth. Tell me that Russ is not an Ashford,” Grady demanded his eyes shifting between his two parents. “Tell me this is a misunderstanding.”

“We can’t do that son,” Elliot explained seeing Cheryl fall to pieces in front of him, “As much as we want to…”

“Then what? How can this be possible?” Grady’s green eyes lingered to his mother, “Mom?”

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Cheryl sank into the chair behind her burying her face in her hands. Her tiny sobs broke through the silence in the room.

“Are you saying that she…that you and Nicholas…” Grady’s jaw dropped in horror. He shook his head feeling a sick unsettling movement in his stomach. The thought of his mother and Nicholas Ashford together was enough to… “Russ can’t be his son!”

“I’m sorry Grady, but we wanted to avoid this…” Elliot offered up thinking about the number of years that he and Cheryl had worked to keep the truth about Russell’s paternity a secret.

“How could you do this to him? How could you both do this?” Grady questioned shaking his head disapprovingly before turning to walk out of the room.

“Grady wait. Please don’t go. I don’t want to lose you too,” Cheryl explained in a small sob.

“You haven’t lost either one of us, but you shouldn’t have lied. You should’ve told him the truth before he had to go through this. He never should’ve found out this way. He never should’ve had to face that in front of that crowd. This should’ve been a family thing--between us,” Grady turned to leave again.

“Grady wait!” Elliot called out to him hoping to appeal to him.

“I’m going to find my brother because I’m damn certain he needs me right now. He’s just been to hell and back and I’m not about to let him go over the edge--not when he’s got the whole world in front of him. He needs me right now and that’s where I plan on being, so don’t try to stop me,” Grady warned his parents before exiting the room leaving Cheryl and Elliot to deal with the fallout of this situation they’d brought on by keeping their sons in the dark about what they were hiding all of those years.


Brant slipped into Avery’s room knowing that at any moment his presence could be detected and he’d end up in a world of trouble, but right now he didn’t care. Right now all he wanted was to be able to see Avery and explain himself to her. He stepped further into the room seeing her looking out the window as he felt a heaviness in his heart. Slowly he approached her watching her turn to look at him when he stood beside her bed.

“Somehow I had the feeling you’d be back,” Avery noted curling her fingers around a Kleenex in her hand that she’d picked up after her father left.

“I couldn’t stay away from you,” Brant replied tentatively taking a seat beside her on the bed, “I know that you probably wish I would, but right now there are things I need to make clear to you.”

“I think they were clear enough when Shannon came in here,” Avery cut back sharply, her dark eyes filled with a sudden flash of pain.

“No they weren’t. They were so far from being clear that I knew I couldn’t let that one pass us by without further conversation,” he reached out for her hand feeling her withdraw it from his reach, “Avery please. Look at me.”

“I can’t,” she shook her head refusing to meet his gaze, “I can’t look at you when I know in my heart about all of the lies--all of the deceptions.”

“Up until today I have never deceived you. I have always been honest with my heart--honest about what it was that I wanted for us. I have never tried to shield what it is that I want between us. I have never tried to pretend to be something that I am not,” he watched her tip her head up to see her dark eyes reflecting so many of his own emotions behind them, “until a little while ago.”

“Like when you lied about Erin,” Avery challenged watching his reaction.

“Avery, I didn’t want to lose you,” he reached for her hand once more this time feeling her stay still beneath his touch. He ran his index finger over the top of her palm before speaking up again, “I still don’t want that.”

“I think this situation kind of presents itself as quite obvious to us Brant,” she replied stiffly her words hoarse and cracked. She squeezed the Kleenex in her hand tighter fighting to keep herself cool and even despite her raging emotions.

“No Avery it’s not,” Brant shook his head adamantly, “While I’ve done a great many things in the hopes of making you happy--in the thought of making a future for us, I have never, ever done anything to hurt you. I never tried to take Russ away from you. I never played a hand in that.”

“Brant, after what Russ said before, how can you even…” Avery started again tearfully.

“Because it’s simply not true. I had nothing to do with what your mother has done and I’m finding it hard to believe that my father could be alive,” Brant replied his dark eyes filled with raw honesty, “You were there when he died--you know how I feel about him…”

“But I know how you felt when I married Russ. I know you love me and…” Avery spoke up again.

“I would never do that. I would never, ever do that Avery!” he explained adamantly, “I might be a lot of things, but I am not a murderer. I would never, ever hurt you or Erin or Russ for that matter. I’m not going to lie to you and pretend that it doesn’t terrify me that I’m going to lose you now that he’s back, but at the same time I swear to you I had nothing to do with him being missing. If I had any idea at all that he was still alive, then I would’ve done everything in my power to bring him back…”

“Right,” she mouthed up at him, “Like I should believe that.”

“If you look inside your heart you’ll know it’s the truth,” he reached out boldly to touch her cheek gently, “Avery, I love you and in loving you I’ve been willing to let you be happy--to push my own heart aside and give you what you’ve wanted, but never in that wanting you to be happy did it include me sabotaging your life. I was there when Brooke hurt you. I did everything that I could to protect you, so why would you believe that I would take part in anything that twisted? In anything that she could’ve done to harm you?”

“Brant, I hear what you’re saying, but…” Avery started finding herself at a loss.

“Avery, you’re my wife,” Brant reminded her honestly reaching for her hand and bringing it up over the center of his chest, “You are the second half of my heart, so why would I go out of my way to harm you? To hurt you?”

“Brant, it’s just with what Russ said…” she began again.

“I’m not denying that Russ wasn’t through one hell of an ordeal. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is that he’s going through, but right now it’s you that I need to explain myself to. It’s your belief in me that I need. I need you to trust that I would never, ever hurt you--that I wouldn’t destroy what we have between us. Avery, I love you and I don’t want to lose you. I need you in my life, but if you can’t trust me--if you can’t believe in me, then what hope do I have for holding onto you? I know you love Russ and I know that up until he died he was always your first choice, but after we were married, I know you fell in love with me. I know that we have something special and I know that you can’t just discard me without thinking about this--without knowing that our marriage is real. It’s solid and it’s something that we can both hold onto if you’ll look inside your heart and see that I’m all of those things you once believed I was. I’m your husband and I love you. I’ve been in love with you since I first met you and if you’ll just remember what we’ve shared with one another, you’ll see why I could never do those things that Russ accused me of. You’ll see that I’m someone who is worthy of your heart--of your love and you’ll think twice about letting go of me. You’ll know in your heart that this isn’t something you can just walk away from…please Avery I‘m begging you. Just hear me out.”


“Oh my you are a sight for sore eyes,” Chris rushed forward to pull Angela into his arms excitedly, “You’re more beautiful than ever.”

“Chris, it’s so good to see you,” Angela hugged him in response feeling him scoop her up into his arms as Kevin watched on with a heavy frown.

“And here I figured you’d be the size of a house when you said very pregnant, but you’re barely even showing,” Chris set her down taking a long look at her, “You’re hot Angel.”

“And you’re just full of it like always,” she shook her head at him before feeling him lean in to kiss her cheek.

“I’m full of a lot of things when you’re around,” he mouthed with a smirk before his eyes fixed upon Kevin, “And I see you brought the baggage boy with you.”

“Chris,” Kevin addressed him with a heavy look of disapproval, “here I was hoping you’d get lost on the way over here.”

“Who me? No never. I have this great new navigation system in my car that gets me where I need to go without any problems. It’s really kind of interesting because it’ll give you information on just about anything and I so want you to check it out Angel,” Chris leaned in closer to her to whisper in her ear, “Please tell me he’s not going to be joining us.”

“As much as I’m sure you’re getting ready to spend the day with me and Angie,” Kevin cleared his throat uneasily, “I have somewhere I need to be.”

“Ah, and we get back to the heart of the matter,” Angela spun around to look at Chris, “Kevin has a mystery lover and it seems he’s being rather tight-lipped about the affair.”

“Really?” Chris arched a curious brow, “That is certainly something worth talking about.”

“And it’s none of your business,” Kevin pointed out with a frown, “Neither one of you, so why don’t you both just get it out of your heads that you’re going to dig up information on the woman I’m meeting with. She’s smarter than to spend time around the likes of you Chris and Angie, well eventually you’ll meet her.”

“Why not sooner rather than later,” Angela suggested with a wiggle of her brow, “She can have dinner with us and Chris.”

“Now we all know I’m smarter than that,” Kevin replied with a small wink reaching for his one bag, “but I will warn you now if you wind up getting Angie into any kind of trouble Chris, I will have no hesitations about killing you.”

“Point noted,” Chris saluted Kevin before turning to Angela, “You ready for a night you’ll never forget?”

“In more ways than you can imagine. Just let me…” she began turning to look at Kevin only to discover he’d already started off towards the airport exit. Just as well she decided knowing that he was in a dark mood lately. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but eventually she would get it out of him one way or another. Now however as she looked to Chris she found herself ready to face her next adventure. “Let the fun begin.”

“After you,” he smiled down at her, “Your chariot awaits.”

“I’m all yours,” she replied glancing over at Kevin one last time before preparing herself to make the most of her time in Coral Valley. Something told her after this trip life would never be the same for her ever again!


...to be continued...