Episode 281

“I still can’t believe you did all of this for me Kellen,” Kipp smiled watching Kellen pull on his jacket slowly. “I wish this night wouldn’t have to end.”

“It’s not going to be the end just yet,” Kellen replied with a small grin, looking back over his shoulder at Kipp who seemed to be wondering what Kellen was talking about. “You see, right behind us is a really nice lake. So if you’d like to join me, I would love to walk with you for a while.”

“I think I like the sound of that,” Kipp nodded slowly, feeling Kellen’s arm wrap around his shoulders as they walked towards the door out of the planetarium. “I really wish I could do something really great like this for you, but I think this topped everything. I don’t think there is much I can really do to make something so special for you like this was for me.”

“That’s the thing Kipp,” Kellen began as they reached the water and he motioned Kipp to sit down next to him, “I really don’t need you to do anything for me. I am happy with just having you next to me during the night. Kipp, I’m happy with the feeling of your fingers holding mine.”

“I know, but I always think that you might need more,” Kipp tried to explain the worries he held within. The worries that Kellen may get tired of him or Kellen might just think that Kipp didn’t love him. “I just…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Kellen hushed Kipp placing his index finger over Kipp’s lips gently as he let out a small sigh. “Nothing you could do Kipp would make me not like you anymore. Everything you do, just makes me like you more. I want to be able to give you what you haven’t got in life. I hope that I can be the one person that can be your everything. I want to make sure that you truly love me.”

“I do love you Kellen,” Kipp glanced over into Kellen’s light blue eyes, seeing the way that Kellen looked down towards the ground. Kipp reached out to slide his finger in underneath Kellen chin, gently turning Kellen’s face to make him look up. “Look at me when I tell you this Kellen. You are the only person that has proved they loved me. You don’t have to do anything to prove it to me because I can tell by the way your beautiful blue eyes look into mine. You are the only person that has tried to fulfill my dreams and give me everything I need in life. Not only do I love you, but you’re my best friend. That’s what I need in my relationship, someone that could be my friend--someone that I could trust and tell them anything. And still when the day is over, no matter what I’ve said you--still tell me you love me. I love everything about you Kellen. I love your smile, your eyes, and even the way you snore at night.”

“I do not snore,” Kellen frowned, letting out a small laugh as he saw Kipp let out a small smile.

“You see, that’s what I’m talking about. I love your laugh. You just brighten up my day with what people would consider the smallest things, but to me they are the biggest things,” Kipp informed him with a deep breath, running his hand in over Kellen’s muscular shoulder. “I want to spend as much time as possible with you Kellen because I love you. What I feel for you is nothing less than love.”

“I’m very glad to hear you say those words,” Kellen smirked, his eyes looking out into the water before them. Kellen felt Kipp’s arm tighten around his shoulders as he let out a small sigh. “You know, my mother once told me that life is like the water. You have to continue on with the current--whether it’s waves or smooth, just go on with it and follow the way you feel is right.”

“It’s a good way to think about life and choices,” Kipp agreed with a small nod seeing Kellen let out a small laugh.

“Yeah, I always thought so. Though my mom is kind of loopy, I still think she knew what she was talking about,” Kellen shrugged his shoulders thinking about all the things he learned in his life. “You see, when I was younger I didn’t have a lot of friends because I mean look at me, I‘m not exactly the type of guy that all the jocks want to hang out with.”

“And everyone was stupid because they missed out on an amazing person,” Kipp assured Kellen with a small nod as he saw Kellen simply shrug. “Believe me--you’re amazing.”

“Thank you, I appreciated that very much. But when I did have friends, I was so happy that I could keep them. Every friend I had, I paid close attention to and I got a good friend one day. To this day, he is still my friend even after I embarrassed the hell out of him. Around the time when my brother was getting married I was probably nineteen,” Kellen began with a small smile as he thought of a way to explain what he was feeling to Kipp. “I met this one guy and I used to always look at him and think he was so stupid. He was so in love with this one girl and he would never give up on her. I kept asking him why he was doing it and every time he would tell me, I don’t know. He would say, I love her and that’s where he left off. He would do anything for her and I sat there watching him do this for years. I would think to myself, why does he continue to do this? I always thought that this guy is an idiot when it came to love, but when I met you I realized everything he was doing is all about true love. I would wait years for you Kipp. I would give my everything for you and that’s what I feel about true love. I will never give up on you, I love you and I always will.”

“I love you too Kellen,” Kipp leaned over to give Kellen as small kiss on the lips. “You never have to worry about losing me because I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”


Heather paced around Kipp’s living room taking another look at the time. While she was certain that Diego should’ve been here by now, she almost wondered if he’d decided to ignore her request. Granted they hadn’t spent much time together lately, but it was one of those spur of the moment notions that had prompted her to call him. Now she just hoped that he took the bait and paid her a long overdue visit. Pushing the curtain aside she took one last look outside before turning around ready to call it a night. She was halfway into the hallway when she heard a knock at the front door.

“Just like clockwork,” Heather grinned excitedly adjusting her sexy red satin blouse a bit before taking one last look at her appearance. She blew at kiss at her own reflection before going over to the door and opening it with a wide smile, “Why Diego, it’s so good to see you.”

“Heather, I got your message,” Diego replied his gaze traveling over the woman before him. He couldn’t help but notice the outfit she was wearing from the sultry top to the very flattering black skirt that revealed far too much leg on one side with the slit--not that he was complaining, but still. He cleared his throat and refocused on her eyes, “What’s going on? You sounded frantic.”

“I was at the time,” she sighed heavily leaning in further against the door watching him, “Kipp had just left with Kellen and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Charles was upset and I couldn’t get him to calm down. I tried, but it seemed he was so very upset and…”

“Really,” he replied with a doubtful expression wondering more and more if this was some kind of setup as she invited him inside. He looked around the living room seeing the shadows cast over the wall except for in the small area where she’d had a small lamp on. There was an exotic scent in the air and it didn’t take him long to realize it was her hypnotic perfume once she spun around and faced him again.

“Yes really,” she nodded with wide eyes, “It was horrible Diego. I was worried that I wasn’t doing the right thing and…”

“And in motherhood I’m sure you found that it all came to you eventually. He sounds rather calm right now,” Diego noted watching her closely. She stepped forward her fingers teasing over the lapels on his jacket slowly.

“For now,” she nodded again her lips curving into a small arc, “but I don’t know what could happen later which is why I invited you over. I figured you’re so wonderful with children that if Charles wakes up and he’s upset again, you’ll know what to do.”

“I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now,” he mouthed his eyes dropping down to see her index finger curling in around his jacket over onto his shirt.

“I might have, but I could always use a few pointers,” she mouthed suggestively taking a step back, “Can I interest you in a drink?”

“A drink,” Diego repeated seeing the picture now clearer than ever before him, “Heather, don’t lie to me. Charles was never in any kind of trouble was he?”

“I never said he was in trouble. I said he was fussy,” Heather corrected circling around to Kipp’s bar area, “There’s a difference.”

“Right,” Diego nodded seeing her reach for a bottle of champagne, “Don’t you think maybe you should wait on that since you’re nursing?”

“Not tonight,” Heather shook her head at him pouring herself a glass, “Although if you’re interested, I’m sure we can find another good way to put my body to use tonight after a drink or two.”

“Heather, are you flirting with me?” Diego questioned finding himself amused despite his vow to be completely miserable for the night.

“If I was, would you flirt back,” she replied sauntering over to him holding a glass of champagne out to him.

“I’m afraid we both know I can’t do that,” Diego frowned at her reluctantly stepping in closer to her.

“Then have a drink,” she suggested with a small wink, “It might give you reason to let go of your inhibitions for a while. You might actually have fun.”

“Actually I think I should probably go,” Diego cleared his throat uneasily thinking about what had transpired between him and Sarah. Suddenly guilt swept over him all over again for a new reason altogether, “Given the kind of night I’ve had, I’m really not much company, so since there’s no disaster here…”

“But there will be,” Heather added quickly, “There will be a huge disaster if you leave. You see I’ll be an absolute wreck Diego. I’ve missed you and considering you’re probably one of my only friends in Coral Valley, I don’t know what I’ll do if I have to spend the night alone.”

“Heather I don’t think…” he began again seeing her wounded expression.

“Diego please. We were friends once upon a time, weren’t we? You used to care about me at some point, right?” she batted her eyelashes at him again this time depositing the glass in his hand.

“We still are friends Heather, but…” he felt her fingers brush up against him causing him to think about all the things he should be doing--all the places he should be at instead of here with her. However, in the same thought he remembered Sarah and Kyle at the hospital with one another and how foolish he’d been to think that something more could’ve come from their being together. Finally he raised the glass to a toast she was starting, “One drink, but then I’m out of here.”

“Trust me,” she smiled up at him sweetly, “after one drink, you’ll find that you won’t want to leave.”

“I think you’re wrong on that Heather,” Diego began sipping his glass of champagne as he found himself wondering how he’d gone from living his quiet life of solitude to becoming a man with more romantic quandaries than he knew what to do with. It almost seemed unfair!


“Sarah,” Kyle walked into the wash room as he reached out to touch her shoulder gently, watching her jump at his touch. “Hey, it’s okay. It’s only me.”

“Sorry, I guess I’m a little jumpy right now,” Sarah let out a small frown as she watched Kyle step into the room slowly. “I don’t know why, but I am.”

“It’s okay, everyone get s like that sometimes,” Kyle pointed out with a small sigh, looking down at her with his dark eyes. “I know I seem to get like that a lot lately. Are you okay? Did I hurt you earlier?”

“No, you didn’t hurt me,” Sarah shook her head slowly, letting out a deep sigh as she reached out to curl her fingers around Kyle’s tightly. “Kyle, can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Kyle nodded slowly, shrugging his shoulders as he saw her look up at him with a worried expression. “What’s on your mind sweetheart.”

“Do you still love me?” Sarah questioned with a small sigh seeing the way Kyle looked away from her. “I mean, do you really still love me? I still love you, but what just happened…”

“I still care about you greatly,” Kyle replied with a small nod, his dark eyes meeting hers in a small glance. “I just don’t think I’m ready for that yet. I’ve just gone through so many things, I just have to take things slow.”

“Which basically means you don’t love me anymore,” Sarah shook her head slowly as she let out a small frown. “Good going Sarah, you always seem to ruin everything.”

“You didn’t ruin anything, don’t think that,” Kyle pressed his index finger in over her lips gently. “I just was thinking about how fast I moved things and I can’t let that happen again Sarah. I played with my emotions and when things got hard we didn’t work well together.”

“But you don’t care about me anymore Kyle,” Sarah pointed out, reaching out to run her hand over the side of his face gently, feeling the roughness of his small beard against her fingertips. “I screwed up big time. It was only a few months before we went apple picking. Do you remember that?”

“I remember that,” Kyle nodded slowly, leaning into her touch and bringing his hand up over hers. “I couldn’t forget something like that Sarah.”

“But now you can, I hurt you Kyle,” Sarah let out a deep sigh as she saw Kyle reach his hand to touch her cheek gently. “You should…”

“Sarah stop,” Kyle cut her off, stepping in closer to Sarah pressing her in against the washing machine. “You make it sound like you killed me--we’re fine.”

“Are you sure about that?” Sarah questioned unsurely, seeing Kyle nod as she looked up into his dark eyes. “I need something to know that Kyle.”

“Fine, if that will make things better for you,” Kyle picked Sarah up placing her on the machine before him. He pulled her forward, pressing his lips in against hers, pulling her body in closer to his. “Is this good enough to show you we are okay?”

Kyle didn’t even let her answer as he pulled her back into a kiss, feeling her hands run in over his neck slowly. He felt the gentle tug of her fingers at the chain on his neck as he pulled away from her.

“Don’t touch that,” Kyle snapped as her eyes widened, watching him fix the chain necklace. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s just, I don’t like people messing with that. It’s really important to me.”

“I never really remember you telling me what that was all about,” Sarah pointed out watching Kyle hold onto it tightly, closing his eyes as he set it back down. “Who gave you that?”

“Someone very special to me,” Kyle answered quickly, opening his eyes back up to look at her with a small frown. “Someone that was supposed to change things in my life. It doesn’t matter who it’s from, but I wear it to remember the time that should have been. I wear this because it reminds me of what I should have had.”

“Okay,” Sarah stopped for a second trying to take in the information he had just given her. She tried to put together what he just said, but only shook her head in response hearing the timer going off. “Your shirt is done.”

“Thanks,” Kyle sighed seeing her grab his shirt and hand it over to him. “You know, I’m feeling kind of bad. You mind if I take a shower?”

“No, not at all,” Sarah nodded slowly as Kyle walked over towards the bathroom. “I’ll wait for you out here.”


Grady stepped into the hallway just outside of the nursery seeing Russ standing at the window, not really going inside, but not staying away enough to indicate that he was going somewhere. He just stood watching--looking in on his daughter now that it seemed his tangled thoughts were eating away at him. With a heavy heart Grady approached his brother saying nothing, but in standing beside him he knew Russ could sense his presence.

“How could they do this,” Russ questioned lowering his head a sinking feeling carrying over him now that he remembered the horrifying confession that his parents thrust upon him, “How could this be happening?”

“I honestly don’t know Russ, but when it gets down to it, it doesn’t matter what they say,” Grady replied matter of fact standing up straighter all the while hating to see his brother upset, “What you learned today isn’t who you are…”

“Grady, are you not getting it? They just told me that my father is a man that tried to kill me? That mom had something with that monster that raped Jade? That I’m a part of that bastard…” Russ looked away his words coming out heavy and broken by emotion, “How can you even look at me right now? How can you even be standing here next to me when we’ve spent our lives hating them all?”

“Because you aren’t one of them Russ,” Grady reached out to pat his shoulder gently, “You’re my little brother just like you’ve always been. You’re Russell Denton--the stubborn, spoiled brat who never listens to what I’m telling him. You’re the same guy I shared a room with for almost ten years--the same guy that was with me at each and every one of my baseball games over the years--the same kid I taught how to ride a bike and the same guy who believed at the age of six that Avery Morrison was better than chocolate ice-cream, which I still don’t understand even now…”

Russ couldn’t help but smile at that comment, “That’s because you never saw how truly beautiful Avery is. She’s incredible.”

Grady felt a moment of remembrance come to him about Avery, but he pushed it aside, “She’s an impossible one I’ll tell you, but I can say with a clear conscience and an honest heart that she loves you--she’s always loved you and only you, not for where you came from--not for who your parents are, but for who you are. She loves that man you’ve become Russ and nothing that’s happened today changes that,” Grady explained fully intending to lift his brother’s spirits, “You’re one remarkable man Russ.”

“Grady, I really don’t need to be…” Russ started to object.

“No you do Russ because the truth to the matter is that while you’ve spent most of your life looking up to me and trying to be like me, in reality I always wanted to be like you. You were always the one that was able to rise above anything that came your way. You were always the strong one--the one who believed in faith and love after I’d just about given up on the world around me. You didn’t let anything bring you down. You had a dream and you stuck to it. Hell, even when I tried to kick you down for believing that miracles can happen, you proved me wrong. You always prove me wrong Russ and now that you’ve got the whole world at your hands, I know that you’re going to show me that happily ever after still exists in this world. You and Avery--you’ve got everything with Erin and that little girl doesn’t give a damn who your father is because when it gets down to it, a father isn’t about biology. I mean okay yeah that plays a big part in things, but it’s about heart and Russ you have a lot of it…”

“But she’s an Ashford. I’m an Ashford,” Russell gritted his teeth biting down on the horrible realization all over again.

“And I’m an alcoholic. I’d much rather be in your shoes,” Grady offered up with a small smile, “I mean hey you’ve probably got a huge trust fund out there somewhere because of that. No one pays me to go to AA, so you‘re one up on me again.”

“I highly doubt that,” Russ shook his head at his brother’s attempt at humor, “Grady, you know this changes everything. It’s changing everything we’ve known--everything that we’ll be…”

“Only if you let it Russ,” Grady pointed out hoping that his brother would listen for a change, “Granted you were delivered some pretty horrible news today, but it’s not like this wasn’t something that just happened.”

Grady saw the way that Russ glared over at him.

“What I mean is this isn’t something you can change. It’s not affected who you’ve become and as long as you remember who you are in your heart, it won’t change you,” Grady continued with an impassioned tone, “I mean hey, sure this might be something that we’re all going to deal with--that we’re all going to have to face given that our parents lied to us, but it doesn’t make them any less our parents. You know that dad loves you. You’ve always been his favorite…”

“Hardly,” Russ shook his head at his brother, “You’ve always been his favorite and we both know that now. After all you’re his son and I’m…”

“Giving him his own share of ulcers seeing as both of his sons are impossible, stubborn jackasses at times,” Grady finished for him not willing to let his brother slip into a dark spot over this news. “I mean hey we’ve always been the Denton brothers against the world and it’s always going to stay that way…”

“But Grady we both know that I’m not…” Russ sighed heavily, his gaze returning to his daughter again.

“You’ve got the heart and soul of a Denton and that will always be with you,” Grady patted his brother on the back. “You won’t be changing from that. It’s not going to happen.”

“And what if it does? What if I turn into one of them?” Russ questioned worriedly.

“Then I knock you on your butt and we start working on fixing that,” Grady explained with a simple shrug, “Besides you’re missing the big picture here.”

“And what might that be?” Russ inquired turning his attention to him again.

“Well, the way I see it, you might’ve been given this news which is upsetting, but you were also given the best news in the world,” Grady added further.

“Which is?”

“That Erin’s your daughter. No matter how much Ashford tried to skew this battle in his favor, Erin is yours in every sense of the word and if anything, this news about you being an Ashford is another setback for him if you want to be technical,” Grady continued a small smirk curling up over his lips, “After all when in this town has an Ashford been denied anything he’s ever wanted?”

“Grady are you suggesting that…” Russell’s jaw practically dropped at his brother’s insinuation.

“Hey, it might suck to have the title, but why not use it to throw your weight around a bit? Especially if it means that at the end of this farce he’s trying to control you and Avery wind up in one another’s arms with my niece there,” Grady suggested with a wide smirk, “What do you say? You ready to do battle Ashford style?”

“Just the thought makes me cringe, but if it’s going to get things back to where they should be,” Russ finally nodded knowing that he had to take something with him that could put a positive spin on the situation. “It’s time for me to get things back on track with my family--with Avery and Erin starting now!”

“There’s the spirit!” Grady cheered him on, “So are you going to stop whining and go do something about all of this?”

“You’re damn right I am. I’m going to see Avery right now and I dare anyone to try to stop me,” Russell announced marching past his brother ready to take on the world if it meant reclaiming his life all over again.

“There’s the spirit little brother. There’s the spirit,” Grady watched him approvingly hoping that he’d done the right thing in giving Russ the pep talk about things. More than anything he wanted his brother to be happy and he wasn’t about to let anyone take that away from Russ. Not when Grady knew himself what it was like to lose the one woman who mattered more than anything to him. Grady looked to Erin again and smiled, “That’s right Erin, your dad is going to make everything all better again. Just you watch.”


“Brant I,” Avery started biting on her lower lip nervously before she finally spoke up once again. She forced herself to face Brant, her dark eyes searching out his once more, “I know that you didn’t have anything to do with what happened to Russ.”

“You do?” his eyes widened a smile spreading over his lips, “Oh Avery I knew if you’d just hear me out, you’d see that I knew nothing about what had happened…”

“When Russ mentioned your father, you looked just as stunned as everyone else. Given what I know about him--about what he’s done to you, I don’t believe for a second that you would ever work with him for any reason especially not to hurt me,” she revealed remembering all that she’d learned about Brant during the last few months, “I know that you aren’t capable of that kind of evil even if the world wants to believe otherwise. You are a warm, kind man with a heart of gold even if it’s buried in there a bit deeper than most…”

“That’s right,” he nodded encouragingly squeezing her hand in his, “and it’s that heart that loves you with all that he is. Avery, I know that we’ve shared some incredible things with one another over the past few months and when I married you, I know you didn’t feel the same way about me that I did about you, but over time we evolved, didn’t we?”

“Yes, we did,” she replied quietly thinking about their marriage, “Brant we’ve had some good times together.”

“Better than good and I wanted for us to have forever. I know you planned on it with Russ, but Avery while I know I’m not the man he is, I can promise you that I’ll be all that you need--all that you wanted. As it stands you’re my wife--we’re the ones that are married and…” he continued to plead his case.

“But you lied to me. You tried to make me believe that we’d made love--that Erin was your daughter and…” she paused thinking about the blurred visions that she’d had of that night in question, “We really didn’t make love, did we?”

“No,” he shook his head guilt riding over him. His eyes dropped to the floor as he spoke up again, “I went home after you’d passed out, though right now I wish I hadn’t because more than anything I wish that Erin was my daughter not his.”

“You shouldn’t have lied about it,” Avery sighed heavily feeling her heart full of so many mixed emotions, “Brant, if only you’d been honest…”

“Avery, when I left town I had no idea that all of this would take place. I thought that we needed time to figure things out--time for us to get our priorities in order. You were so focused on Grady and…” Brant’s words trailed off, “If I had any idea what I would’ve come back to, I never would’ve gone.”

“Brant I…” Avery stopped herself straining to remember the turn of events that lead to the here and now. She could remember the tension between her and Brant--the way she’d been a mess when he’d left--the letter she’d gotten from Grady and how she’d been searching for him in the hopes that she would keep him from doing something stupid. She could remember seeing Grady with the gun--seeing him so close to the edge and then… Then all she could remember was waking up at the cabin with Bruce and the rest of the ordeal was a blur. She tilted her head to the side looking at Brant closely in an attempt to remember why he’d left, “How did it go?”

“How did what go?” he questioned seeing the strange expression on her face.

“Ken. Is he…is he okay,” she questioned tentatively remembering his reasoning for leaving.

Brant nodded, “Don, Hart and I stopped the wedding with a little help from Shannon. I brought Wendy home and I think they have a chance--I think he’s going to find happiness finally.”

“I’m so glad,” she smiled back at him, her brown eyes filled with a warmth and admiration, “You’re such a good brother.”

“I try to be, but I know I have room to improve,” he reached for her hand again, “Of course right now I’d rather like to know how I rate as a husband. Am I good husband Avery?”

“One of the best,” she confessed without a moment’s hesitation, “Brant, you’ve done so many things for Erin and I--things that I could never repay you for and…”

“Do you love me,” he questioned reaching out to slide his fingers through her dark hair. She felt him move in closer to her as their eyes connected. “Tell me Avery, am I wrong to think that you still have something for me in your heart? That a part of you is as much with me as it was with Russ? That somewhere inside of you there’s a part of you that wants to share your life with me?”

“Brant I…” Avery stammered suddenly feeling very put on the spot by what he was asking from her. She started to pull away from him only to feel him urge her closer to him.

“Avery I love you more than I ever thought I was capable of loving another person in my life. You make me want to be a better man. You give me hope and reason and without you, well I just don’t know what would happen to me…I just don’t think that…that I could do this…that I could make it without you…”

“Brant please…” she felt her breath catch in her throat, “Don’t…”

“Don’t what? Don’t tell you how I feel about you? Avery, you’re my wife and I don’t want to let you go. Not now, not ever,” he announced reaching out to her and pulling her in for a desperate kiss hoping that somehow he could keep her remembering the love and the magic that they shared between them.


“Hey kiddo,” Don frowned rubbing Matt’s back gently with his hand as he let out a small sigh. “You seem to keep falling asleep on me little buddy. I think it might be time for bed little body.”

“Come on daddy, can I please stay with you for a little while?” Matt begged looking up into Don’s blue eyes as Don looked over at Shannon who seemed to be watching him angrily the whole time. “Please can I?”

“If you stay up much longer, I don’t think you are going to be able to stay up for what I have planned for you tomorrow,” Don stayed with a small smile as he saw Matt look up at him with a wide smile. “I can let you stay up, but…”

“Alright, I will go to sleep,” Matt felt Don hold onto him tighter as Don stood up from the couch. Matt wrapped his arms around Don’s neck tightly as Don walked down the hallway towards Matt’s bedroom. “What do you have planned tomorrow daddy? Is it something really cool?”

“That my son is a secret,” Don replied laying Matt down in the bed gently as he started to tuck him in slowly. “I can assure you that you will love it though sweetheart. Though, the faster you go to sleep the faster you will get it.”

“Can you at least read me a bed time story?” Matt questioned with big eyes, looking up at Don with a small frown. “Please daddy. Can we ready the Perfect Little Piglet?”

“Of course we can,” Don looked back at Shannon who was standing in the doorway watching Don with Matt. “How about we all get in this bed and Shannon reads it to you?”

“Yeah,” Matt laughed pointing over at Shannon as he motioned her to come into his room. “Can you read me the story tonight Shannon? I would really like it if you did.”

“Of course I will,” Shannon grabbed the book as she watched Don slide in the bed next to Matt. Matt rested his head against Don’s chest as she walked over towards the bed with the book in her hand.

“Lay down with us,” Matt made room for Shannon as he watched her get into bed with them. “I love this story. I love the both of you.”

“We love you too little guy,” Don kissed his son’s forehead gently, holding Matt tighter in his arms. Don’s blue eyes met Shannon’s as he let out a small frown. “How about that story?”


Kevin walked out of the elevator and towards Ria’s apartment door as a wide smile appeared over his lips. There were so many things running through his mind as of now with how he was going to talk to her. How was he going to approach the situation of their proposal. He promised her all of those wonderful things, he was going to stay true to that. Things should be going as planned.

“This is going to work,” Kevin assured himself with a small nod as he stopped in front of her apartment. A small hiss escaped his lips as he itched at the center of his chest and then his abdomen slowly. His skin had been itchy since he had been on the plane earlier. “This is so weird.”

Not bothering with it, Kevin took a step up to Ria’s door and knocked on it gently hearing a rustling behind it before it opened.

“Baby,” Ria smiled widely as Kevin walked through the door, feeling Ria jump up into his arms as he kissed her quickly.

“I’m home sweetheart,” Kevin smiled widely, feeling her hands run through his hair as he kicked the door shut with his heel. “I missed you so much Ria.”

“I missed you too Kevin,” Ria kissed Kevin over and over again, missing the feeling of having him with her every day. “Don’t ever leave me like that again Kevy.”

“I won’t, I promise,” Kevin spun her around his arms, a wide smile appearing over his lips as he tried to go on with what he had originally planned on doing. “It felt so wrong not having you with me, but I do believe I promised you something.”

“Why yes, you did,” Ria wiggled her eyebrows a wide smile appearing over her lips as Kevin kissed her once more. Kevin pulled her tighter against his chest, spinning her around once more.

“Oh god,” Trisha’s voice groaned from the corner of the room as Kevin looked back at Trisha coming out of the kitchen. “You two really need to wait two minutes before you are all over each other. It’s sick you know.”

“And the promise is ruined,” Ria frowned feeling Kevin let her down back to her feet, watching as Trisha walked over towards them.

“It’s nice to see you too Trisha,” Kevin smiled reaching out to hug Trisha in his arms tightly. Sure, he planned on coming home and fulfilling the promise he made to Ria over the phone, but he had some time on his hands. There would be plenty of time to do that later. “Whether you may be happy to see me or not--I’m very happy to see the both of you.”

“I missed you too big Kev,” Trisha nodded looking over at Ria, smiling widely as she spoke, “but Ria missed you so very much. Her days were horrible without you.”

“Yeah, funny,” Ria sarcastically laughed walking over towards the couch as she motioned Kevin and Trisha to follow her. “Come sit down, I want to hear what happened while you were away.”

“Well,” Kevin itched at his stomach again as he heard the doorbell ring, stopping him from sitting down. “I’ll go get that.”

Kevin walked to the door and opened it to find a blonde man before him holding a sweatshirt in his hands.

“Who the hell are you?” Kevin questioned with a small frown, looking out at the blonde as he took off the sunglasses covering his blue eyes.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the man extended his hand out to Kevin as Kevin looked down at the hand. “I’m Chase.”

“Well Chase, why don’t you cut to the chase and tell why you’re here,” Kevin began feeling Trisha push him back and away from the door. “Whoa.”

“Sorry about that, Kevin gets to be a bit intimidating sometimes,” Trisha apologized feeling Kevin step in closer behind her. “What’s up?”

“Well, you left this with me and I figured I would give you it back,” Chase reached out to give Trisha the sweatshirt only to feel Kevin snatch it from his hands. “Are you her big brother or something?”

“No, but thanks for the Chase, bye,” Kevin went to shut the door, grabbing it by the handle before feeling Ria hold it open. “Ria?”

“Why don’t you come in Chase? I’m sure Trisha would love to have you in for a while and I am sure Kevin would love to meet you,” Ria pointed out, looking up at Kevin seeing a frown appear over his features as he began to itch at the center of his chest once more. “Isn’t that right Kevin?”

“Yeah,” Kevin looked down at Chase seeing Trisha allow him room to come in. “That’s perfectly fine.”


“So this is Casa de Foley,” Chris explained setting Angela’s bags down in the foyer before turning around to face her, “What do you think?”

“I think it’s more certainly a step up from that run down place you had back in France,” she laughed lightly thinking to her brief time with him overseas, “then again I think you had…what was it again, buckets to keep the water from coming in through the roof?”

“It was actually paint cans, but that’s a whole lifetime ago,” he waved his hand dismissively at the thought of the past before offering his arm out to her, “In fact, let’s just skip over part of that time altogether and take a look at the aquarium. I know you’re going to love it.”

“Hmm, you never do you,” she teased lightly giving him a very complete once over, “You’re always trying to tempt me with your big…fish.”

“And you love every second of the temptation,” Chris replied with a sparkle behind his eyes, “After all now that I’ve got you alone with me without Kevin threatening to tear me to bits, you have no idea just what it is I plan on doing with you.”

“Chris, sweetheart, I don’t have to know what you have planned to know that just by thinking it Kevin would gladly tear you to bits,” she teased with a playful wink following him into his study, “Oh Chris, it’s beautiful…”

“See, I knew you’d think my taste was improving,” Chris watched her move over to the fish tank, “Now I know that it’s a bit excessive given there are so few of them in there right now, but…”

“It’s amazing,” she replied watching the colorful fish swim around happily. She glanced over her shoulder to wink at him, “So tell me how many women do you bring to your aquarium with less than noble intentions?”

“You mean within the last week or does just today count?” he wiggled his brow at her suggestively.

“I’m almost afraid to ask,” she offered up with a small laugh, “although I probably should thank you for not showing up at the airport donning only that red ribbon. Kevin might’ve died on the spot there if you had…”

“Yeah well I figure since the big lug doesn’t have a ring on your finger, you’re still open territory,” Chris motioned to her hand seeing the pearl on her finger, “Unless of course I’m too late and he proposed as a precautionary factor.”

“What?” Angela looked down to the ring she was still wearing and a crimson blush of embarrassment rose over her features, “Oh this…well, this uh…”

“Yes?” Chris eyed her expectantly taking a seat on the couch. He patted the cushion beside it before motioning for her to join him, “Tell your good buddy Chris just what the story is behind that ring.”

“Believe me if I told you, you’d think that I lost my mind,” she groaned inwardly sliding in to sit beside him.

“The mere fact that you didn’t marry me when I asked you to only proves that you’ve lost your mind Angel,” he reached out to tuck a loose piece of her dark hair behind her ear. “So tell me, what’s the scoop?”

“Believe it or not, I found myself believing in romance all over again Chris and it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” she sighed dropping her head on his shoulder, “Well almost the stupidest thing…”

“And so the tale begins. Give me all the juicy details and I promise I’ll find a way to make you feel better about this revealing we’re going to be doing with one another,” he promised curling his arm around her and holding her close to him, “Tell me Angel Babe all about the man who broke your heart and about the one who lead you to think that you could find romance with Mr. Wrong when Mr. Right has been right here waiting for you in Coral Valley all this time.”


“The end,” Shannon whispered seeing that Matt was already sleeping against Don’s chest. There was an obvious sign that Matt was out and would be for the rest of the night. “I’ll give you a minute.”

“Okay,” Don nodded watching Shannon walk out of the room and into the hallway. “I love you Matt.”

He felt Matt shift in his arms as he let out a small smile looking at the way his son slept in his arms. A small amount of guilt passed through his body as he thought about what he had done with Russell. Everything inside of him wanted to be with Matt, he wouldn’t be able to live without Matt and if someone took the privilege of him being with Matt, then he wouldn’t be able to go on. Now he realized what he would have done to Russ and what it would have made him feel.

“It was for the best,” Don tried to assured himself, gently moving Matt out of his arms and tucking him in gently as he got out of bed. “Good night son.”

Don tiptoed out of Matt’s room and shut the door quietly, walking towards his bedroom. The thoughts and worry were passing over his body as he thought of what could possibly be happening to him with Shannon.

“What are you doing?” Don heard a noise in his bedroom as he pushed open the door and saw Shannon packing a bag that was on the bed. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going away for the night,” Shannon informed him as Don walked into the room, throwing his hands up in the air. “I’m sorry, but I can’t be with you right now. I can’t be like this with you.”

“Shannon, come on,” Don begged, grabbing her by the wrist as he tried to get her to stop walking. “Would you listen to me for a second?”

“Listen to what Don? Let me go,” Shannon pulled out of his grasp and went back to packing as Don tried to think of something to get her to stop from leaving. “All I hear from you is crap Don. You should be smarter than this.”

“Shannon, I understand what I did may seem wrong,” Don tried to explain, resting his hands on his hips as Shannon continued to pack, “but I did it for my best friend. You wouldn’t do something like that for Kyle if the circumstances were the same? I know you would.”

“You don’t know anything Don,” Shannon snapped stopping in her pacing to look up into Don’s blue eyes. “I would have known it was wrong and I would have told Kyle it was wrong. I wouldn’t have gone through with that. I can’t continue to be around you.”

“Of course you can,” Don snapped grabbing her by both wrists and pulling her in against him. “Whether you want to admit it or not, you know part of me was right. And I’m sorry, but you aren’t leaving.”

“You can’t make me stay,” Shannon began only to feel Don’s lips smash in against hers before pushing her back against the bed. “Don, I’ll stay only under one condition.”

“And what’s that?” Don looked up into her eyes, seeing that one look and he knew what it was she wanted. “Are you serious Shannon? Come on--I mean, fine. Okay. What ever you want--you can have. Just to make sure you stay, I‘ll do anything for you.”


“This is just great,” Sarah let out a small groan, flipping through the channels on television while she waited for Kyle to get out of the shower.

“Hey,” Kyle’s voice awakened her thoughts as she saw him walk into the room, holding a white towel around his waist. His body was still dripping from the water as he flipped his wet hair back. “Do you happen to have any of my old clothes or anything like that?”

“Of course I do,” Sarah nodded slowly, getting up from the couch and motioning Kyle to follow her into the bedroom. “What do you need?”

“I don’t know, something I can sleep in I guess,” Kyle shrugged, following her into the closet to see her looking through clothes. She handed him a pair of pajama pants as he nodded slowly. “These will work great, thanks.”

“No problem,” Sarah nodded as Kyle stood there for a moment and looked out at her. “Is something wrong?”

“Could you turn around for one second?” Kyle questioned seeing her nod slowly before turning and doing what he asked of her. He quickly pulled on his pants before walking over towards the mirror on her dresser. “Okay, you can turn back around.”

“I hate to tell you this Kyle, but I’ve seen you naked before,” Sarah pointed out with a small nod seeing him look back at her. “Are you really okay?”

“I’m absolutely fine,” Kyle assured her, looking at his cuts and bruises in the mirror. A small hiss escaped his lips as he ran his fingers over the side of his arm gently. “Just a little bit achy.”

“I guess it’s a good thing I told Heather no about coming over then,” Sarah went over and sat down on the bed as Kyle looked back at her with a tense expression.

“What do you mean by that?” Kyle questioned, fixing the chain around his neck and wiping it off with the towel he had been wearing earlier. “Why didn’t you want to go over and see Heather?”

“Give me a break Kyle, all she wants to do is find out more things about Diego,” Sarah looked up into Kyle’s dark eyes as he looked down towards the ground. “She said she wanted to know if I would like to see Charles…”

“I would have loved to see Charles and Heather,” Kyle informed Sarah in a tight breath before looking back at himself in the mirror. “I wish you would have said yes, I would have done anything to see that little guy. Especially after what happened.”

“I’m sorry,” Sarah frowned watching as Kyle picked up one of the cards on her dresser. “I mean, I can call her back if you would like me to.”

“No, I’ll call her in the morning. I think I’d like to talk to her,” Kyle replied in a deep breath as he walked over towards the edge of the bed and sat down next to Sarah. “You see this card?”

“Yeah,” Sarah nodded slowly seeing him roll the card between his fingers over and over again. “What about it?”

“It’s kind of like a dream or a life you wish for,” Kyle continued to roll it between his fingers, letting out a deep sigh. “It’s rolling on and you keep living your dream, until one day--it disappears.”

“How did you do that?” Sarah watched as the card disappeared and left her stumped. Kyle shrugged his shoulders before watching her eyes look his hand over.

“And then you think it’s gone and hope it comes back, only to find that it’s lost somewhere in time,” Kyle explained flipping the card back to his fingers as she stared at it for a long time. “The one object that makes someone happy can show up and appear, but the feeling you once had for them could be gone and make no changes in life for you no matter how hard you try. Even when someone like me wishes it could.”

“Where did it go?” Sarah watched the card disappear once more as Kyle stood up from the bed and to his feet. “Okay, that was kind of different.”

“Well, I’m going to go hit the couch. Good night Sarah,” Kyle waved at her walking towards the door. He turned around to face her, pressing his arm in against the doorframe as he let out a small sigh. “You might want to take the card out of your pocket.”

“What?” Sarah reached into her right pocket to find the card that Kyle had been playing with. “The king of hearts.”

“The king that stabs himself because of the heart,” Kyle looked her over once more before shaking his head slowly. “Unfortunately for him, he can’t change his past or his future. Lucky for people like us we can change our futures. Good night Sarah.”

Sarah watched Kyle walk out of the bedroom as she held the card in her hand looking over the design. What was Kyle just hinting at there?


“I really think I should get going,” Diego cleared his throat uneasily, his gaze traveling down to Heather’s long legs curled beneath her on the sofa. She’d made no qualms about what her intentions were throughout the evening and with each suggestive comment, Diego found himself even deeper in a world of guilt over what had happened with Sarah. Here he’d been attracted to Heather from the get go, yet she’d been too reckless--too dangerous and yet he’d taken the biggest risk of his life in bedding her sister. It was all too much--far too overwhelming. He sat up straighter on the couch finishing off his glass of champagne, “The drink is gone.”

“So I’ll pour you another,” Heather flounced over to him practically coming crashing down on his lap, “Let me just refill it.”

“Heather, I should’ve stopped letting you refill it two glasses ago,” Diego cast a knowing look over at her, “It really is getting late.”

“Diego, do you not find me attractive anymore?” she questioned tapering her fingers over the back of the couch sliding nearer yet to him. “I mean at one time you looked at me like you couldn’t take your eyes off of me, but now, well now I’d say that we’ve been playing a game of cat and mouse all night.”

“Heather, I don’t think we want to go down this road again,” Diego tipped his head up to watch her closely, his dark eyes reading the messages she was sending him, “I think you know where I stand on this issue between us.”

“Actually no I don’t,” she shook her head tossing her long, blonde hair over her shoulder, “because your first reservation about me stemmed from the fact I was a married woman.”

She held her finger up to show him that it was now bare, “One problem solved and then there was that matter of your thinking I was somehow a patient of yours. Given that we never truly went through therapy with one another, I think it’s safe to say that you can’t hold that against me either.”

“Heather, I’m not holding anything against you, but I can promise you that what you think you want and what you’re going to have happen between us are two very different things,” he sighed heavily knowing that he would have to fight whatever craziness it was that she always stirred up inside of him. He closed his eyes briefly remembering the first time he’d kissed her--the first time he’d really, truly kissed her when they were at the children’s hospital. Even now that kind of fire stirred up sparks of passion inside of him, but almost as soon as he found himself lost in that memory, he thought of Cori--of hurting her and of Sarah--of what they’d fallen into with one another. Something like that just couldn’t be erased especially not when he was sitting next to Sarah’s sister thinking very similar thoughts about Heather.

“Be in control. You’ve done it this far and you’ve already slipped up once.,” he thought to himself, “Don’t do it again.”

“Don’t do what again?” she asked curiously pulling him out of his own inner conflict. He looked down to see her leg casually pressed in against his thigh and he cleared his throat uneasily.

“Heather I really have to get going,” he leaned forward to set the champagne glass down on the counter, but before he could move out of her reach he felt her hand press into the center of his chest.

“Not so fast,” she explained firmly, “I think we’re going to have a talk before you go running off on me. While I realize that you might not feel comfortable around me lately, I think it’s time we get down to the heart of the matter. The reason why I called you here tonight…”

“I think that’s fairly obvious,” he nodded towards her blouse spotting the fact that she’d opened a few more buttons at the top.

“Diego,” she shook her head at him before curling her finger underneath his chin and urging him to meet her eyes once more, “While you might think you know everything, I want to know why you’ve been ignoring me. Why is it every time we’re alone in a room together, you’re ready to go running in the opposite direction? Come to think of it before tonight, I can’t really remember when you’ve been alone with me for more than five minutes.”

He saw her frown and he couldn’t help but offer a nervous smile, “That’s because you’re dangerous Heather.”

“So because of that you’re saying that I’m not worthy of your time?” she replied with a curved smile.

“That’s not what I’m saying,” he argued shaking his head at her, “I’m just merely stating that we’ve obviously got the lines blurred in this relationship here and I don’t want you to get the wrong idea…”

“You mean you don’t want someone like me to think that for a second you might actually be inclined to admit to any kind of attraction between us given that I’m so bad,” she raised her hands in the air offering up a tiny shudder at the sound of it, “when you’re so noble and above the rest of us being a goody.”

“I never said I was better than anyone Heather,” he frowned over at her, “and if that’s the impression that I gave you…”

“The impression that you’re sending off is that you aren’t at all interested in my company, well, no that’s not entirely true because given the way your eyes seem to undress me when they get the chance, I can see you’re interested, but you’re keeping me at arm’s length. Why?” she replied straight to the point.

“Heather, I think you and I have a long and complicated history with one another and…” he started in a feeble attempt to offer up an explanation.

“That’s a lie and we both know it,” she finished off her glass of champagne, “I’m no stranger to this game Diego, so why don’t you just put it out on the table as to why someone like I am not worthy of someone like you when I can clearly see that your latest plaything was no where near as stimulating as I could be.”

“Cori wasn’t a plaything,” Diego frowned at her insinuation, “She’s a sweet girl, but…”

“But you’re all for the bad girls every now and then. Every good guy secretly dreams about being ravished by a bad girl once in a while,” Heather whispered hotly over the side of his neck sliding in beside him to the point where her leg was firmly pressed in against his, “admit it.”

“Who said I was a good guy?” Diego questioned matching her tone and tipping his head to see the fire burning behind her eyes. Their lips were a mere fraction of an inch apart as he wiggled his brow at her, “I’m not as noble as you make me out to be Heather.”

“Oh yeah,” she couldn’t help but smile licking her lips with an anticipatory promise before her eyes drifted to his ever-so-sexy mouth, “well, if that’s really the case, then prove it.”

Before Diego could offer a witty response to their repartee he felt her finger slide through his thick, dark hair tipping his head in closer to her. Her soft vanilla flavored lips touched his with a hint of blueberry and champagne in a slow, tentative kiss. He felt her palm press him back into the sofa, using the leverage from her movement to climb into his lap. Without thought or reason, he slid his arm around her waist offering her a fulcrum as she tipped down to taste his mouth more completely.

“Mmm…” Heather sighed, her soft sound buzzing against his lips. Her fingers further tangled through his hair tugging on it ever so slightly while tipping it back against the top of the couch. With that movement his lips parted just enough to offer an entrance to her sensual temptation. Her tongue dipped inside his mouth tasting and teasing him with even more sweetness to savor.

“Heather,” he mouthed her name feeling her fingers drop down over the center of his shirt. So much for Heather being shy or timid. She was a very cut to the chase--matter of fact woman and with each planned movement over the center of his shirt, he felt her fingers falling in beneath the material to his muscled chest. “Heather wait…”

“What?” she questioned opening up his shirt enough to allow it to slide down over his shoulders. She leaned forward the ends of her long hair dropping down to tease over his bare, bronzed skin.

“I don’t think we should be doing this. No, I know we shouldn’t be…” Diego started to object feeling her press her finger to his lips to silence him.

“Of course we should,” she spoke up encouragingly, “I haven’t forgotten what it was like the last time we were this close and judging by that kiss you haven’t either. Of course I will have to tell you that this time I look much better looking naked than I did the last time…”

“Heather, it’s not that. It’s…” he felt her nibble on his lower lip, tongue darting quickly in over that sensitive spot on his bottom lip before she suckled on it for a moment of tortured emphasis. He closed his eyes letting out a small sigh of pleasure before he focused again, “Heather we can’t just…”

“Diego if this is about that girl you’ve been dating, then forget about her and think about me,” she challenged with a sexy smile, “You know you’re dying to know what this feels like for us.”

“Heather, I’m not going to deny I want you,” he answered feeling her movement over his lap causing a whole other set of sensations rocking through him. This was positively the last thing he’d needed yet ironically something he’d wanted for a long time--even before he’d met Sarah or reconnected with Cori, yet…

“You couldn’t deny it if you tried Diego,” she pulled back just enough to peel her blouse off and discard it to the floor. She shook her hair out letting it fall from her shoulders over onto him. Sliding her arms around his body, she leaned forward to sink her teeth over his earlobe in a sultry movement, “We both are far too aware of the attraction.”

“I do want you Heather…” he blurted out without thinking feeling ready to kick himself for not being more level-headed and focused around her.

“Then problem solved,” she tore his shirt down his shoulders caging his arms beside him on the couch.

“Heather, this is a really bad time for me. Trust me. This really isn’t the time that we should be doing this especially considering that we haven’t connected in a while and…” he tried to reason with her feeling a small amount of logic burning into his brain.

“And what better way to reconnect than this,” she offered up once more, bringing her fingers in over the front clasp of her bra. She opened it, taking her time to slowly reveal herself to him. Despite his protests, she could see that she’d captured his attention and when her bra joined the blouse on the floor she rolled her shoulders back giving him a better view of her body, “See now I told you things were looking better now that I’m done with that whole pregnancy thing.”

“Heather I…” Diego shrugged his arm out from his shirt in an attempt to reach out and pull her off of his lap, but once her lips collided with his, he found himself holding her, wanting her--delving into his more primal side in squeezing her closer to him. He felt her fingers pulling open his belt, ready to continue to take this passion to the next level for them when the baby monitor sounded alerting them both that Charles was awake.

“Charles,” Heather murmured against his mouth sitting up straight to listen. After a few seconds she heard her son cry out again and she glanced over at Diego with apologetic eyes, “I really need to check on him--to make sure that…”

“I understand,” was all he was able to get out between the hot, desperate breaths that were escaping from his now swollen lips. He felt her pull up off of him offering him a bit of relief from the situation they’d gotten themselves into. What was he thinking? Even now as he watched her collect her blouse from the ground and quickly put it back on he knew he was getting into a whole new world of trouble.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes. I’m sure he’s hungry or in need of a change or…” Heather offered up again in explanation.

“Hey, your son comes first. Besides I think we needed a cool down,” he replied grateful for a moment to collect his thoughts. He watched her open her mouth to speak as if she was going to say something more, but before she finished the thought by vocalizing it, she nodded and went off towards Charles’s room.

Hearing her walk away Diego sank his head back onto the sofa wondering what in the world was wrong with him. How he’d come from being calm and rational to being exactly the kind of man he’d always told his patients to try to avoid if it was damaging to their self-esteem was beyond him. He closed his eyes hearing the sounds of Heather with Charles and he couldn’t help but smile.

“What’s wrong my handsome little man,” Heather’s voice cooed to her son, “Did you have a bad dream? Well don’t worry mommy’s right here. I’ve got Uncle Diego out there and even though he and Mommy were a bit busy, we’re never too busy for you baby boy. Come on. Let’s get you changed up.”

“I knew you’d come around,” Diego smiled realizing that Heather had adjusted to the role of mother more than she wanted the world to believe. Listening to her for a few more seconds, he couldn’t help but feel a relief over him now that she’d seemed to put some of her priorities in order. However, as he thought about how screwed up his were lately in between hurting Cori and falling for Sarah, well he knew that he could’ve botched it up even worse if Charles hadn’t bailed him out. Sure, there was no denying he wanted Heather. He had since he’d met her, yet was this because of that desire or because he was well aware that Sarah was with Kyle--no doubt with him right now sharing a reunion and…

“I think I’ll just have that refill on the drink after all,” Diego decided reaching for the bottle of champagne in the hopes that he’d be able to keep his head clear enough to make it through this visit with Heather in one piece.


“I don’t think I trust that Chase guy,” Kevin walked into Ria’s bedroom, sitting down on the bed after he watched Trisha walk out of the house with the Chase guy to go on a walk with him. “Something doesn’t seem right about him.”

“No guy Trisha dated ever felt right to you,” Ria pointed out with a small smile as she got on the bed behind Kevin, wrapping her arms around his shoulders tightly. “I think Tommy Patterson learned that when Trisha was in third grade. You’re like a big brother Kevin--you don’t want her hurt.”

“Well, yeah. Everyone seems to be stupid when it comes to men these days though,” Kevin shook his head slowly, itching at his stomach once more as he let out a small frown. “Almost everyone.”

“I take it Angie was that bad?” Ria questioned seeing Kevin nod slowly and let out a small sigh.

“She is stupid when it comes to men. You throw a guy in her life for three days and make her sleep with him--not even knowing him a little bit and she says she loves him. You throw in a guy that has amnesia and likes her because she looks like someone, but only leaves her. Throw in another psycho who has the hots for her and throw in a nice guy that would do anything for her--that has been there for her forever. I got to the island thinking she is going to be upset about this Nick guy, when she starts obsessing over some stranger she had a sexathon with months ago.”

“Well, some people just like different things I guess,” Ria replied placing a small kiss on the side of Kevin’s neck hearing him let out a small groan.

“Yeah, she likes the ridiculous choices,” Kevin closed his eyes, taking in the feeling of Ria’s lips against his skin. “She is so stupid when it comes to guys. I don’t even want to think about it right now.”

“Then don’t,” Ria whispered, moving her fingers to the buttons on the front of Kevin’s shirt, unbuttoning them slowly. “I have an idea to get her off of your mind.”

“Really?” Kevin leaned back, tilting his back enough to press his lips in against hers gently. “What is it exactly you have in mind to take my mind off of things?”

“I was thinking that maybe me and you could go and make some of our own pancakes in the kitchen,” she offered up with a wiggle of her eyebrows. “What do you say?”

“I say, I like that idea,” Kevin nodded with a wide smile as she got off the bed and walked over towards the door. “I’ll be right there.”

“Okay, I’ll start them and I will give you a minute to put your stuff away,” Ria nodded slowly, opening the door as Kevin stood up from the bed. “I’m only giving you a minute though.”

“A minute it is,” Kevin smirked watching her walk out of the bedroom as he itched at his stomach once more, letting out a small hiss. “What in the world is going on?”

Kevin walked over towards the mirror and slowly slid his shirt off his shoulders as he looked in the mirror, his eyes widening at what he saw before him.

“God no,” Kevin gasped looking over his chest and his abdomen. Kevin looked over his chest and his abdomen that had a rash spread over it. He outlined the rash with his fingers as his heart beat began to speed up. “A heart, a butterfly--Angie was here with an arrow pointing to my…”

Kevin walked into the bathroom and grabbed a washcloth and wet it down quickly. There was no way that could have left him with a rash. This had to come off or else a friendly game between Kevin and Angie was about to become his soon death.

“You’re getting it in my mouth,” Kevin coughed feeling her turn his head back to face Angie as he felt her hands continue to rub it on his face. “Gentle Angie. I may be rough, but I have skin that needs to be treated gently. You know I‘m allergic to most of this stuff.”

“Oh great,” Kevin gasped wiping at his rash over and over again trying to get it to go away. “Ria isn’t going to believe this was a game. It says Angie is here with an arrow pointing down to my…oh hell no. I can’t let her see this.”

Kevin quickly walked back into the bedroom and pulled out a black tank top pulling it over his torso and over the rash over his body. He walked back into the bathroom before letting out a deep sigh.

“I can’t believe of all times, this is happening now,” Kevin groaned lifting the tank top up to see his abdomen. “Oh god, I know that won’t go good with the sun tattoo. Ria is going to kill me, I can’t let her see this. I didn’t do anything, I’m screwed. Oh man, what do I tell her if she sees it? It was just a game and then she is going to come back with saying it was some kind of sick sex game. Oh god, take control Kevin. Don’t let her get you out of the shirt--it’s that easy. I’m eating pancakes, that’s not going to be easy at all. What am I going to do?”

“Kevin?” Ria called out as Kevin pulled his tank top back down covering his abdomen that had the rash of what Angie wrote on him.

“I’ll be right there sweetheart,” Kevin called out trying to think of how he was going to go through with this. “This is going to be just great.”


“So you never reconnected with him huh,” Chris sighed heavily his arms wrapped around Angela as they lay together on the floor in a heap of pillows.

“No,” she shook her head and sighed, “and I guess it’s for the best since he was married.”

“Married or not, I never would’ve let you go,” he replied reaching out to stroke her cheek gently, “I was a fool to accept no for an answer when you wouldn’t marry me…”

“Chris, you know why I couldn’t marry you,” Angela reminded him with a small sigh, “It wasn’t right for us then…”

“But what about now?” Chris countered propping himself up on his shoulders to feed her a piece of licorice he’d brought down to the floor with them once they’d started talking.

“Now I think it’s probably better if we skip this conversation altogether,” Angela sat up once more reaching for one of the pillows she’d been laying on, “I don’t think you and I would ever do well in marriage.”

“We might,” Chris sat up beside her reaching out to drape his arm over her shoulders, “I mean if you think about it we were really good at a lot of the things that marriage entails and I think if you allowed us to get naked for a while, you’d see that we’re still good at it.”

“Is sex the only thing that you think of,” she wrinkled her nose at him before stealing another piece of licorice.

Chris sat silent for a long moment before finally nodding, “With you it pretty much dictates what’s on my brain, but seriously Angel if those two idiots couldn’t see how good they had it, then who needs them? You’re far too beautiful, too smart and too intelligent to get sucked into their drama.”

“And here you are being my own personal pep squad,” Angela laughed lightly shaking her head at him, “You’re too good for me Chris.”

“I know, but hey don’t worry. One day you’ll be doing the same for me when I’m crying my eyes out about a woman who wasn’t smart enough to see the prize she had in me,” Chris shrugged his shoulders before scratching his head lightly, “Naturally you’ll have to bring the Kleenex and the condoms to make me feel better and…”

“In your dreams Romeo,” she rolled her eyes at him before laying back down on the floor with a large sigh, “I think I’ve just about given up on sex altogether.”

“No say it isn’t so,” Chris replied with a gasp, “Now I know that’s the bad experiences talking. Just because you met two failures who have corrupted you to believe sex is no fun any longer…”

“I never said it wasn’t fun,” she cast a glance over at him, “but I don’t think it’s worth the hassles anymore. I mean I think if you take a long look at me there are two very big examples to prove to the world that going off and having a wild fling with the sexiest stranger you’ve ever met is a bad idea. Not that I regret the fact that I’m going to have these two, but Chris, I have to tell you his not being in the picture doesn’t make it any easier. Then again I don’t even know his last name so…”

“Maybe if you told me his first I could help you track him down. I mean you still seem to remember him rather well and other than the over exaggerated adjectives about how wonderful he was or any references to his manhood, well, then you could try to lay it on me and I could do a search,” he suggested rolling onto his stomach and stretching his arm out to pull another piece of licorice from the bag and hand it to her. “I mean it’s the least I can do to find this guy and shake him down for hurting you like he did.”

“Right now I’d just settle for something good to eat and a warm bed to sleep in,” she replied closing her eyes for a brief moment before sensing him opening his mouth to say something, “Alone Chris.”

“Hey, get your mind out of the gutter. I wasn’t going to go there about your sleeping in my bed--at least not tonight, but rather I was thinking that since Kev-O ran off and did his own thing, then I really see no reason why you can’t spend the night here. I mean heaven knows that this place is big enough and I’m going to assume that you’re not going to go run off to Cam’s place just yet, right?”

“Not a chance,” she shook her head reopening her eyes to look at him. “I don’t think I’m up for that one just yet…”

“So stay here,” he repeated once again, “I’m being serious about this. I will lock my dirty mind in a closet long enough to make this an enjoyable trip for you. We can continue to catch up with one another, be roommates for a little while and maybe we can get working on that situation you wanted me to help you with where your mom was concerned. I already started looking into it and…”

“Find anything?” she perked up at the thought that maybe Chris had been able to uncover more than she had.

“Not yet, but I’m still working on it. Besides, the way I see it, your being here is good for me. It keeps me motivated and out of trouble,” Chris continued to plead his case, “You can stay in a guest room and I can stay in line. You know I’ve never been any good at that…”

“All the more reason to stay somewhere else,” she teased back with a small laugh.

“Trust me I’ll be the perfect gentleman--well, maybe not perfect, but good enough for now. Hey maybe even tomorrow I’ll take you down to my office or something and you can see just how dull this town really is,” Chris suggested with a bright smile, “You know I’m just looking for an excuse to bring some enthusiasm and excitement back to my life and you’re just the ticket.”

“Well since you put it that way,” she finally decided with a bright smile, “I accept, but I warn you at the first sign of any funny stuff…”

“Funny? Who me?” he feigned innocence before crossing his eyes and sticking his tongue out at her, “Never.”

“You’re such a dork!” Angela threw a toss pillow at him before falling into laughter realizing that while she had been avoiding old friends for a while, it was nice to be there with someone who could make her laugh yet be totally outside of all the drama she was going through for a change. It felt nice--very nice!


Russ stood outside Avery’s hospital room ready to make his move. There was no way that he was about to let Brant keep his family apart any longer. Regardless of what Russ had been given to deal with earlier, it didn’t change the way he felt about a future with Avery--about a family with her and Erin. It was something he was going to fight for--something that he was going to keep holding onto even if Brant hated the idea of Russ reuniting with Avery.

“We’re going to have it back again Avery,” Russ promised opening the door to her hospital room just in time to see Brant laying a kiss on Avery. Without hesitation Russ rushed forward reaching for Brant and pulling him up by the collar in a fierce sweep. Brant hadn’t seen it coming, but before he could response Russ shoved him across the room.

“You stay away from her!” Russ warned sharply glaring down at his long time nemesis.

“Russ,” Avery gasped horrified as Brant pulled himself up off of the ground dusting himself off.

“See Avery, I told you that this wasn’t really what you wanted,” Brant glared up at Russ, “I mean why would you settle for a brute like this when you could have a husband who understands you and gives you everything you’ve needed.”

“She already has that in me,” Russ lunged towards Brant as the two men started to fight with one another.

Moment by moment the fight intensified especially when Brant punched Russ in the face. Russ returned the favor knocking Brant forward into a tray and things fell to the ground. However, Brant recovered and punched Russ in the stomach bringing his knee up to Russell’s chest as he was bent over while Avery watched horrified.

“Stop it!” Avery shouted out seeing the two men she loved tearing one another apart. She reached for the nurse’s call button hoping that someone would come in soon, but no one seemed to be there listening. The fight intensified and Avery tried to shuffle herself out of bed to keep them from killing one another.

“Russ please! Brant stop!” Avery shouted at the both of them pulling them from their fight long enough to show them the worry in her eyes. Russ seemed to react almost immediately pulling away from Brant and reaching for Avery just as her knees buckled in causing her to fall forward.

“I’ve got you,” Russ replied gallantly rushing over to hold her in his arms.

“Avery, you should be in bed,” Brant mouthed moving in to the other side of her helping hold her up as both men urged her back into bed.

“You have to stop this. Both of you. You can’t just go killing one another…” Avery pleaded with them, her dark eyes shifting between the two of them, “I can’t let you do this.”

“He started it,” Brant replied sourly glaring at Russ. “He had no right to come in here on us when we were having a moment as husband and wife.”

“That’s bull and you know it. Avery is my wife and regardless of whatever you’re trying to pull on her, she belongs with me. She loves me,” Russ argued with him.

“As much as you’d like to think you’re the only one knucklehead she loves me too and she’s not about to throw what we have away to be with you even if you tricked her into getting pregnant in the first place,” Brant slapped back at him with his biting words.

“I didn’t trick her. I love her. Avery and I belong together,” Russ added glancing over at Avery, “Tell him. We’re soul mates.”

“And I’m the Easter Bunny. Avery and I belong together. She’s my wife and I’m not about to stand here and let you destroy what we have. Avery cares about us both, but in her heart I know she wants to be with me. She‘s my wife and…” Brant started to take a step forward before he froze where he stood. He looked to the both of them for a second before falling to the ground with a thud.

“What the…” Russ watched Brant drop and Avery let out a horrified gasp.

“Oh my God,” Avery cried out leaning forward once more, “Brant? Russ, what happened?”

“He’s just faking. He was fine and,” Russ paused seeing Brant now laid out on the ground, “Brant get up. Ashford get up!”

“Russ, I don’t think he’s faking,” Avery replied horrified as she looked to her second husband on the ground clearly unconscious. As she saw him laying there before her, she found herself filled with a sudden fear worrying that in her hesitance to explain her heart she’d pushed both men too far to ever take that hesitation back again.


...to be continued...