Episode 285

“Look I realize that there’s a lot that you don’t understand--hell there’s a lot that I don’t understand like you standing here in front of me for that matter,” Ken started in an attempt to pull together the pieces of everything that Russ had just thrown on him about Russell’s kidnapping and about the possibility that Nicholas was still alive. Top that off with everything else and Ken was fit to be tied. Okay, so it wasn’t like he hadn’t been at the heart and center of chaos in the past, but right now, well now he was back again stepping into his old shoes in trying to fix the mess in front of him.

“I told you your father was responsible for all of this,” Russ announced with a tight scowl, “and your brother is just bilking this situation for all it was worth. They planned this together from the start…”

“Russ, while I realize you’re upset, I can assure you that Brant and my father would never, ever plan something like this with one another. This is clearly Nicholas’s style if he is in fact still alive, but Brant would never, ever agree to go for this,” Ken defended his brother honestly, “Brant’s a lot of things, but he’s not a manipulator.”

“Of course he is. He’s wanted my wife for a long time and when Avery chose me, he knew he needed a way to get to her. Think about it Ken. You know how he was longing for her. It didn’t take him long to move in on her after I died. After I was gone he leapt at the opportunity to be with her. I’m sure that he took advantage of her vulnerability and…” Russell continued to lash out at Ken wanting nothing more than to go in and tear Brant out of that bed and force him to own up to what he’d done.

“Russ, you’re not hearing me. While I understand that none of this makes any sense to you, I can assure you that my brother has been nothing but caring and concerned with Avery. He’s always put her first,” Ken flashed back to that moment in time when his madness had driven him to hurt Avery. Suddenly he felt as if he was on shaky ground standing in front of Russ. “Look, I know that this is hard to understand, but I’m telling you, Brant didn’t do any of this. Our father is a monster and Brant would never, ever put Avery in harm’s way. He loves her very much.”

“So much that he’d be willing to wipe out the competition if he had to,” Russ blurted out still disbelieving, “Ken you know what he was like before I went missing. He was always trying to find ways to get between Avery and I and…”

“Russ, I really don’t think that he did any of this to hurt you. We thought you were dead. We all believed that you were one of the casualties just like Caitlin,” Ken explained feeling a twinge of pain upon him.

“Caitlin,” Russ gave him a strange look, “What about Caitlin?”

“She was one of the people who died during the airport disaster. We had just gotten home from Washington when…” Ken started as Russ felt himself transported to another place and time.

“Did you really think that you’d be getting away from me that easily,” Russ heard a voice in the back of his head calling to him. He could feel himself turning around to see a woman--a face that felt strikingly close to…

“No!” Russ blurted out stumbling a bit backwards. He nearly tripped over his own two feet as Ken watched him closely.

“Russ, I know it’s hard to accept. Believe me I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest when I lost her. I went down a dark and horrible road and I wanted nothing more than for it to end for me,” Ken confessed shamefully, “I wanted everyone to hurt as much as I did and I know that Avery felt that hurt too. When she got into that situation with Brooke, she felt trapped. She’d just lost you and my brother offered her friendship and support. They didn’t bank on falling in love with one another, but it happened and I know that with all of my heart that my brother would give his life for her if it came to that.”

“And that’s all the reason why I’m certain he’s not going to just walk away. Ken, I know he’s faking this whatever it is he’s trying to pull,” Russ shook his head again, “My instincts are telling me…”

“Things have changed since you left Russ. They aren’t like you remember--like any of us remember and I’m afraid as horrible as that sounds, you’re going to have to face the fact that Avery loves my brother too. Maybe it’s not what you and she have had all of these years, but she does feel something for Brant. They fell in love and that can’t just go away overnight. She thought you were dead and you can’t blame her for wanting to move on with Brant.”

“Regardless of where she moved on, it’s not relevant anymore. She wants to be with me--we want to share our lives together. We have Erin and…” Russ tried to plead his case with Ken.

“Have you asked her what she wanted? Have you talked to her about the fact that she’s still married to Brant? I mean did it ever occur to you that maybe Brant is holding on for a valid reason? Did you ever think that maybe just maybe Avery isn’t ready to let go of him either? She loves him. Regardless of what you might believe there is a place in her heart that is dedicated to my brother--a place inside of her that wants to be with him whether you like it or not Russ.”

“Whose side are you on Ken? I thought that you understood things with Avery and I. You know how hard we’ve fought to be together,” Russell blurted out less than thrilled with what he was hearing from Ken, “You’ve always tried to help us in the past.”

“I understand that, but this isn’t up to me. It isn’t even up to you. It’s up to Avery and while I hate to say it, maybe it’s time you stopped trying to beat the hell out of my brother and started thinking about what it is that she wants Russ. She has a new life now with Brant. She has something special with him and…”

“And you’re as crazy as your brother,” Russ shook his head at Ken, “I thought you were a decent guy--that you were someone I could count on--someone who could talk reason to about Brant. I thought that maybe just maybe you could get him to stop faking this, but all I see in front of me is someone who lost his true love, so now he’s trying to encourage me to walk away from mine. Well, mark my words Ken. It’s not going to happen. I’m not going to hand my family to Brant. I’m not going to let him take anymore time away from me. I don’t care what he and Avery had together. It’s finished. She has always loved me and she always will.”

“Russ, I’m just saying…” Ken started again.

“Well don’t,” Russ held his finger up in the air to silence Ken, “I love my wife and she still is my wife in my heart regardless of whatever tricks your brother has pulled out from his sleeve. I love Erin and I’ll be damned if I let Brant rip that from me. He and your father can go to hell for all I care because it isn’t happening. Not now, not ever!”

“Russ…” Ken watched Russ stomp off and in that moment Ken found himself at a standstill.

“And to think that jerk is now part of the family,” Hart mouthed stepping out of Brant’s room to see what was going on.

“Part of the family,” Ken repeated with a shrug, “Well I suppose since Avery is still married to Brant and to him and…”

“No, you’re not getting it,” Hart shook his head at him, “Obviously gossip doesn’t travel as fast as it once did in this hospital. Ken, Russell Denton is your brother and if I had to lay odds on what drove Brant over the edge, I‘d say learning that was probably it.”


“I’m sorry Guy,” Avery confessed embracing her brother once again doing her best to shuffle her arm around him, while her other arm held Erin closely to her. “I didn’t want you to find out any of this.”

“I’m the one who should be apologizing,” Guy replied his solemn eyes fixed upon Avery’s. He shook his head letting a sigh fall from his lips before he spoke up again. “I just wish…I just thought that…I never believed that…”

“No one did,” Avery replied painfully thinking about how hard the news about Brooke had to hit her brother, “I know she was your world and I never, ever wanted you to get sucked into any of this.”

“How could I not?” Guy questioned glancing down at Erin, “She tried to kill my niece--she hurt you and…”

“And I didn’t want you to be hurt by what happened. When she attacked me, I tried to keep that hidden, but…” Avery began thinking about the nightmare that had happened between her and Brooke.

“It all makes sense now,” Guy realized watching her closely, his gaze shifting between her and Erin. He kept his hand on Avery’s shoulder wanting to be there and show his support somehow, “The reason you rushed into the wedding with Brant is because he saw what happened---he knew what she did and…”

“And we didn’t want to ruin anymore lives,” Avery finished painfully fighting the tears that threatened, “When she tried to kill Erin…”

Avery paused choked up on her emotions. She glanced down at her daughter thinking about what Brooke had done time and time again to steal this happiness from her life. Holding Erin closer to her she felt small shivers racing over her. To see her daughter so precious and innocent it only further numbed Avery inside to think that her own mother could be so cruel. Avery couldn’t believe that someone who was supposed to love and care for you could sink to that level of ugliness in their heart.

“I wish I would’ve known,” Guy broke through her thoughts curling his finger underneath Avery’s chin. He lifted her gaze up to his before he whispered in a low, shivering exhale, “Oh God Avery if I had any idea that…”

“You couldn’t have stopped her. None of us could and there was no point in hurting you by…” Avery started watching the way Guy’s eyes dropped to Erin before he looked away.

“She can’t hurt me anymore. I’m done with her,” Guy explained matter of fact thinking about his confrontation with his mother, “I went to see her today at the nursing home. I heard her saying all of those vile, horrible things. I saw her confess her sins when our father was there and I knew that everything I’d ever believed about her was a lie. She wasn’t at all the woman that I thought she was. She couldn’t love or understand her children because all she does is destroy.”

“She did love you Guy. I don’t know what went wrong with Brooke and I, but I know you were so very important to her. You still are,” Avery offered up hating to see her brother’s heart breaking. She watched him lift his head again to reveal the painfully bleak expression on his face now that tears glistened behind his eyes.

“No that’s just it Avery. She never loved me. She just loved the idea of what she could turn me into. She wanted to control my life just like she tried to control yours. The only difference was that you were strong and brave. You wouldn’t crumble underneath her urgings. You stood your ground and you made a life for yourself--a life that she couldn’t tear away from you regardless of how hard she tried…” Guy began in a pained tone.

“She didn’t tear your life away from you Guy. You still remained who you are. You never let what she pushed on you steal your identity from you. You’re strong too and…” Avery offered up watching something cross over his features.

“I wasn’t even remotely close to being strong until tonight,” Guy admitted freely, something changing in his face, “When I learned what she did to you--when I heard what a monster she truly was, it was then that I realized that I didn’t need to live up to her expectations any longer. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. I knew that there was no point in hiding from who I am to please her when the very sight of her sickened me. It was then that I made the decision to tell her everything--to tell her what I thought of her--about how she was dead to me and how I would never, ever be what she was hoping for in her life…”

“You mean you?” Avery searched his eyes already knowing the answer before he nodded.

“I’m done lying about who I am especially when the person I was trying to protect the most in all of this is the one woman who has single-handedly worked to destroy our family,” Guy blurted out with tension in his jaw line. “I just can’t believe that I was so blind to her. I mean how could I not see how she was hurting you? How could I not know?”

“Guy she is a master manipulator,” Avery reminded him again feeling Erin fuss in her arms a bit. “None of us knew just how far she would go in order to get what she wanted, but now…”

“Now she’s irrelevant. She’s not going to be a part of our lives. I won’t let her hurt us again. I won’t let her tear your world apart anymore or mine for that matter,” Guy promised reaching out to touch Erin’s small hand, “She can’t take away your happiness anymore Avery.”

“No she can’t,” Avery reached out to place her hand on her brother’s gently, “and she can’t tear yours away from you either. You are free now Guy.”

“I know,” he nodded tipping his head up once again, “but I feel like such a fool. I feel like I could’ve stopped her if I’d paid attention--like I could’ve done something differently to keep her from hurting you from…”

“Guy stop,” Avery pleaded with him, “Don’t blame yourself for what she’s done. This was beyond the both of us. It was something that neither one of us could’ve anticipated.”

“Still there were signs. I was so stupid and now…” Guy began again with frustrated tears.

“No, I was the stupid one,” a voice called them both from their thoughts. Avery looked up to see her father standing in the hospital doorway, “I should’ve been the one who was strong enough to take you both away from her years ago, but I made a mistake--one that I promise you that I will spend the rest of my life regretting now that the damage has been done.”


“I think I like this color,” Ben decided taking a look around a room in his and Diane’s new house after they had just started to paint one of the smaller rooms in the house. They decided that it was getting a little too long of a waiting time and they wanted to be moving sooner rather then later. “I think picking white was a good choice, it fits almost every color carpet in this house.”

“By picking white, you just made it a little more boring,” Diane chuckled looking back at Ben, who was already covered in paint. “It looks like you like the paint better on you anyways.”

“You think this color is boring?” Ben placed his hand over his chest as if he was hurt by the comment she made. He dropped his paint brush down onto the newspaper before taking a step forward towards Diane. “I’ll have you know, this color is so far from being boring. If you think it’s boring, then you seriously have no taste.”

“Then I guess we both have no taste because this color is really boring. I mean just staring at it makes me tired. We should have gone with zebra striped or something like that,” Diane stated with a small smile, looking around the room before letting out a tiny chuckle. “I think it would have been perfect if we had zebra stripes inside this specific room. It wouldn’t be boring or ridiculous, it would look just right.”

“I think it would look ridiculous, I think white looks so much better,” he took a step in closer to Diane, seeing her follow his steps taking a few more in towards him. “I think it would look perfect everywhere.”

“Well, in that case you are missing so much,” Diane informed Ben, stepping in front of him and quickly bringing her paintbrush across his cheek. “There we go--we just about have it everywhere.”

“Oh, you so did not do that,” Ben walked back over to his paintbrush and picked it up along with the paint bucket. “I think it’s time for some payback.”

“Don’t you dare come at me with that stuff,” she backed away from Ben slowly, trying to duck to cover some way possible before he could get her with the paint. She saw the way his grin grew wider as he dipped the brush in the paint. “Ben, I swear if you do that…”

“What are you going to do Diane?” Ben whispered, cornering her into the corner of the room as she held her hands up in the air. Ben brought the brush across in the air, seeing the paint drops hit her face as he laughed out. “As I heard you say before, always aim for payback.”

“Oh, I’ll aim for payback alright,” Diane tried to grab the paint can from Ben’s hands, but his grip was too tight on it as she tugged harder. “Give me this bucket and I will show you what payback truly is.”

“Let go of it Diane, I won’t let you do that,” Ben tugged harder at the bucket, a gasp escaping his lips as the bucket flew up in the air sending paint everywhere.

“Ben,” Diane squealed feeling the paint pour over her head and his before the bucket hit the ground. She wiped the paint away from her face, letting out another small squeal as she looked up at Ben angrily. “Look what you did.”

“What I did sweetheart? I think it was the both of us,” he pointed out, pulling the bottom of his shirt up to wipe his face of with his clothes. “Well, I guess this means we are going to have to get more boring white paint.”

“I guess so,” Diane agreed going to take a step forward before slipping on the paint before her, sending her body falling into Ben’s chest and knocking the both of them to the ground in a thud.

“Are you okay?” Ben’s worried voice ran through Diane’s ears as he reached down to run the back of his index finger over her stomach gently. Before she fell he made sure that she would be safe over him and wouldn’t be able to hurt herself or the baby. “Sweetheart, talk to me. Are you okay?”

“Of course I’m okay, I fell on you,” she let out a small laugh, reaching out to wipe her hand against his cheek. She left a paint hand mark on his face after touching him, making her let out a small laugh. “That looks great on you.”

“As much as I like this paint,” Ben gently moved Diane up and off him before helping her back up to her feet. He wrapped his arm around her waist gently before letting out a long sigh. “I think we should clean up and maybe straighten up a bit. The paint might stay there forever if we don’t do anything to get rid of it.”


“What am I supposed to do?” JT asked himself, falling back into his couch and letting out a long sigh. There was no one around to talk to as of right now, not even Valerie.

There were so many things that were running through his mind as of now, he couldn’t seem to just calm down. Every thing he had been thinking about with Diane and her baby just had him stuck in a whirlwind of questions. He wanted to know what was going on with the baby just as much as Ben did because he had just an equal chance of being that baby’s father.

“This is ridiculous,” JT went to pick his phone up before rethinking it and leaning back into the couch. He shrugged his shoulders letting out a long sigh as Diane and the baby ran through his head. “I can’t just call casually, they will act like I am trying to stalk her or something. Maybe I should call her though, that might be for the best.”

Before JT could come up with a plan to do anything next, his phone began to ring making him break his thoughts. JT leaned forward and grabbed his phone quickly from the table, maybe his thoughts were working with him. It could be Diane calling to talk to him, but that was very unlikely in most cases.

“Hello,” JT answered his phone, not bothering to look at the caller ID because he already knew after thinking it over a couple seconds that it would never be Diane calling him.

“JT,” Cameron’s voice happily came from the receiver as JT pulled the phone away from his ear, hearing Cameron a little too perfectly. “How are you doing this great day?”

“I’m doing okay,” JT answered unaware of what Cameron wanted as he let out a small breath and leaned back more into the couch. “Though, I wouldn’t think that today is perfect. It’s far from ever being perfect.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Cameron paused for a moment, not quite sure on how he should answer to what his younger brother had just said to him. Cameron would always be able to talk to JT about it later, but as of right now he had to get the news out to JT before the thought slipped his mind. “I may have something that could make you feel better. I have an invitation for you, a dinner party at my house sometime this week.”

“Oh god, not again,” JT groaned falling back against the couch and placing the pillow over his head. He heard Cameron let out a small laugh on the other side as he placed the phone to his ear.

“This one is different JT, this is going to be very special,” Cameron informed JT with a wide grin, hearing JT shifting on the other side of the phone. Cameron stood up from where he was standing and walked over towards the window to glance out into the day. “Angel is in town and I want to have a little welcoming home dinner party. So, what do you say--you want to come?”

“For Angel, I guess I could arrange it,” JT decided shifting on his couch so that his legs were hanging over the top, while his head hung down at the bottom. “I guess it would be a good thing to come to. It’s not like I have anything else to do around here.”

“Well, in that case,” Cameron took a step towards his window once more before clearing his throat, “I want you to be on your best behavior. On other days it would be fine if you acted a little wild, but this my Angel we’re talking about so I want you to be very good. I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable around me or you.”

“You think I wouldn’t behave around her? Please Cameron, I know if I did anything wrong she would knock me on my ass herself,” JT frowned remembering some of the times in the past when Angela had gotten very angry with him and made it very clear that she was. “Believe me, I’m afraid to say anything bad around her.”

“That’s a good thing to feel then,” Cameron chuckled finding it funny that JT seemed to be more worried about Angela then he was towards Cameron. “Well, I guess I will call you with more updates later then.”

“Wait a second before you go,” JT called out before Cameron could hang up as he fell to the ground, letting out a small groan. He slowly sat up, rubbing the back of his neck. “I know you want me to come over later, but I was wondering if I could possibly come over right now. You see I’m having some problems I guess you could say and I kind of need some help. So, do you think I can come over for a little bit?”

“Uh sure, I guess if you want to,” Cameron agreed taking in a deep breath before sitting back down on the couch. “If you need help with something, I will try to do whatever I can to help you, I just might not be as much help as others.”

“That’s okay, I’ll take anything I can get. Bye Cameron,” JT hung up with Cameron before slowly getting up off the ground. He grabbed his keys from the coffee table, looking at the clock that lay on top of it. Maybe Cameron could help a little bit with what he was feeling. Cameron sometimes could give advice that no one would ever think of. “We’ll see what he has to say.”


“Angie slow down,” Kevin called out to Angela following her up the drive to Chris’s front door, “Angie come on. Slow down!”

“No!” she shouted not bothering to turn around and face him. She pushed the key code at the front door before reaching for the door and opening it. Without looking back, she pushed it to swing to a close behind her. Fortunately for Kevin he was able to kick his foot in before she could lock him out. Much to her dismay he followed her inside.

“Angie, I don’t know what the hell was going on with you and Cameron, but you don’t have to treat me this way,” Kevin chased after her seeing her stop dead in her tracks.

“No?” Angela spun around to face him with dark and angry eyes, “Why didn’t you tell me Kevin?”

“Tell you what?” he stared down at her blankly not sure where this sudden second wind of anger was coming from.

“Why didn’t you tell me about your cousin? About Jade dying?” she blurted out watching him flinch at her harsh accusations, “Why didn’t you tell me that you thought Cameron was involved in her disappearance?”

“Because I didn’t think it was important,” Kevin replied with a small frown.

“Not important?” Angela repeated in an incredulously agitated tone, “Kevin, your cousin is dead! You told me that you came to town to check in on your family, but never once did you even bother to say anything about her dying.”

“That’s because I didn’t want to bother you with it,” Kevin countered with a heavy sigh, “You were busy with your life and…”

“Kevin you are my best friend. Why would you think that my knowing your cousin is dead wouldn’t be important? I thought that we trusted one another--that we have been able to be open about everything with each other,” she shook her head at him, “but now I feel like you’re a stranger--like I don’t even know you.”

“Oh that’s wonderful to hear from you considering that you’re the one who has shut me out in the dark Angie. You’re the one who was going about having this double life while I was gone. You were going to marry Nick and you weren’t even going to tell me about it,” he frowned down at her, “You were planning on fully pledging your life to someone you hadn’t known more than a few months and yet you didn’t feel compelled to share it with me.”

“I did share it with you,” she shook her head up at him once more, “I shared all of that with you because I wanted you there with me at my side…”

“For a relationship that I didn’t support,” he grumbled in response at her, “I couldn’t do that. Even then I knew that he would be nothing but trouble for you. Even then I knew that…”

“That what Kevin?” she placed her hands on her hips agitation pouring out over her, “What are you going to say?”

“That he was going to break your heart. I knew he was no good for you,” Kevin answered matter of fact.

“So this is your big opportunity to say I told you so, right?” her eyes narrowed up at him angrily, “Well guess what Kevin, I hope you enjoyed it--I hope you enjoyed all of this, because I really don’t feel like I even know you anymore. You’ve done nothing, but lie to me and keep me in the dark about things, yet you stand there rubbing my mistakes in my face.”

“I’m not rubbing them in your face. I’m just saying that…” Kevin began in his own defense.

“You’re just saying that because you didn’t agree with my decision that you’re going to keep reminding me of how wrong you perceive it to be. Well yes I messed up, but it was what I wanted--there are lots of things that I still want and I’m not going to stand there and let you criticize me for them.”

“I’m not trying to criticize, but more so get you to use your head, which lately hasn’t really been something you’ve been capable of,” he snapped back at her. “Sure, I might not have told you about Jade dying, but that’s because I didn’t think it was worth sharing with you because I didn’t really believe you’d care. You completely disregard my thoughts and opinions about everything else lately, so…”

“So you figured you’d just hold in the pain about your cousin dying because I’m too much of an ice queen to share anything with?” she challenged with a tight scowl, “Or is it simply because your latest bedmate more than filled the void that you felt in distancing yourself from your best friend?”

“Leave her out of this,” Kevin warned with a snarl, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh sure I do,” Angela replied with a wicked smirk, “You aren’t getting it from me, so you go out and find someone else to replace what you feel you’re lacking with me.”

“You couldn’t be further from the truth if you tried,” Kevin grumbled in response, “Honestly Angie, jealousy doesn’t suit you well.”

“I’m not jealous,” Angela countered with a snide remark, “because if I wanted you like that I could have you in a heartbeat Kevin. I just don’t.”

“Well for the record then,” Kevin stepped forward inching in closer to her, “I should clear up a few things here and now for you. Regardless of what you think you could’ve had with me, the truth is you can’t have it anymore. I love someone else--someone who treats me a hell of a lot better than you ever did and even if you tried to hop into my bed, you’d only end up with a first class one way ticket to the door Angie. I’ve been over you for a very long time princess, so please don’t flatter yourself and insult my intelligence by presuming to believe that you’re the one woman in the world I couldn’t ever get over because you were barely a blip on the radar.”

Angela watched him for a long moment before clenching her fists at her sides and glaring at him, “Screw you Kevin!”

“Been there, done that,” Kevin scowled at her, “and it wasn’t all that memorable.”

“That’s not what you were saying back on the island--back when you were all upset about my finding something special with Nick,” Angela taunted further.

“Yeah well as always you picked another winner, didn’t you Angie,” Kevin mocked with a sarcastic laugh, “the string of losers just continues doesn’t it…”

“Hey Angel,” Chris popped his head into the hallway after he’d clearly come home again. He spotted Kevin and his casual smile faded.

“Speaking of losers,” Kevin grumbled under his breath.

“I see we have company,” Chris noted with a weary expression, “Kev-o.”

“Chris,” Kevin’s jaw clenched with obvious tension, “Do you mind? We’re having a private conversation here?”

“I don’t think it’s all that private considering I heard you all the way out the drive,” Chris stated the obvious, “I think my neighbors might’ve even heard you out there.”

“I don’t give a damn who heard us because right now all I care about is you taking a walk,” Kevin warned spinning around to glare at Chris.

“He’s not going anywhere. This is his house and I’m his guest,” Angela piped in arguing with Kevin, “He has every right to be here, but you on the other hand…”

“Am not going anywhere until you and I have a talk about everything that’s going on with us,” Kevin glanced over his shoulder at her, “Angie, I realize that you’re upset, but…”

“But nothing. You and Cameron have been treating me like I’m irrelevant and judging by what you just said to me, it’s clear that you still feel that way,” she huffed back at him.

“That’s not how I feel, but if you would stop being so damned stubborn all the time and you’d see that people do things to protect you,” he shook his head at her in frustration, “Damn it Angie, you are one of the stupidest smart women I’ve ever met!”

“Oh that’s really the right way to talk to your best friend,” she rolled her eyes at him.

“She’s got a point there,” Chris held his finger up in the air offering his input, “and maybe if we all take a step back and calm down, we can just talk this over and…”

“Shut up newsboy,” Kevin glared over at Chris before addressing Angela once again, “Angie, I really think we should take this outside.”

“No, I’m not going anywhere with you. I’m not going to even bother talking to you since you can’t even bother to be truthful with me,” she answered stubbornly, “You’ve made your intentions painfully clear and I think we’re finished here.”

“No, we’re not,” Kevin reached for her arm giving it a small tug, “We’re going outside.”

“No we’re not!” she snapped back at him, her eyes narrowing with anger as she pulled away from him.

“Angie I’m not giving you a choice! Outside now!” Kevin repeated in a stoic tone.

“No,” she shouted louder than before.

“Okay you two. Maybe you should just calm down considering that shouting is never really going to accomplish anything. The way I see it, you two need to take a breath and a step back and have a civilized conversation with one another especially considering that Angel is pregnant here. She doesn’t need anymore added stress and…”

“Don’t presume to tell me what she needs newsboy,” Kevin refocused his attention on Chris, “I’ve known her a hell of a lot longer than you have. She and I have a history and…”

“And so do she and I. She’s one of my best gal pals and I’m not about to let you upset her and put her children in jeopardy considering,” Chris argued in response stepping up in Chris’s face.

“Jeopardy,” Kevin chuckled, “That’s funny coming from a man who has gotten her into more trouble than I ever could’ve imagined. I have been there for her time and time again. I have stepped up to the plate when no one else was there. I was there before you. I was there during you and I’ve lasted a hell of a lot longer than you ever will, so you just back off and don’t tell me how to run my business with my best friend. The last thing that I would ever do is put Angie or her children in harm’s way and for you to imply that only proves what an idiot you truly are. Angie and I aren’t finished talking and we will finish our conversation whether you like it or not.”

With one last angry glare Kevin spun around to face Angela again only to discover she was no longer standing there. He heard the sound of a distinct slam down near the other end of the house and he realized it was a door. He frowned as Chris took a step forward and patted him on the back.

“I guess Angel didn’t like that idea Kev-o. Maybe it‘s time you do us all a favor and just leave for now,” Chris mocked him before pushing past Kevin in an attempt to go check on Angela.

“Not a chance,” Kevin finally decided chasing after Chris in the hopes of talking some sense into Angela once and for all.


“Oh, this is nice,” Deidra let out a small sigh, falling back against the couch next to Dean. She felt him wrap his arm around her shoulders as she leaned her head in against his shoulder. “I think I like having lazy days.”

“We should do it more often,” Dean pointed out with a small laugh, feeling her sink more back into him. They both had work off today and they were going to make the best of it. What better way other than resting would make your day less hectic? “It feels good to just sit down and relax. I hardly get to do it anymore with the jobs always having me on call.”

“Speaking of relaxing,” she moved her head away from his chest, looking up at him with her dark eyes. She saw the way he frowned when she sat up straighter on his couch. “I have a few questions I want to ask you.”

“Sure,” he nodded reaching his hand out to push a piece of her hair behind her ear gently. He felt her hand rest against his as he leaned in closer to her. “What’s on your mind sweetheart?”

“With you being an FBI agent and all,” Deidra began watching the look that spread over Dean’s features as he leaned back into the couch like he knew what was coming next. “Do I even know the person you are? I mean, is your real name even Dean Carlisle or is it something completely different?”

“Of course it is the same thing. My name is truly Dean Carlisle,” Dean nodded looking over at her with his dark eyes before letting out a long sigh. He shifted on the couch to get a better look at her, reaching out to squeeze her hand in his gently. “Deidra, everything you know about me is really true. The only thing I ever kept from you is my job, but I was forced to do that. You see, I’m not one of those guys who work the job and tell everyone they love something that isn’t true. I have let you in on everything about me.”

“So, everything you told me about your life is real? There is no pieces missing to the puzzle?” Deidra questioned feeling his hand slide in against her cheek gently. “I just want to be able to trust you Dean. I mean, I already trust you--I just want to make sure it stays strong.”

“Everything I have told you is true. The love I have for you is what makes me who I truly am. I could never lie to you,” Dean whispered leaning forward to press a small kiss on her cheek. “What has you worrying so much?”

“I don’t know,” Deidra leaned back in against Dean’s chest, feeling his hand slide in over her shoulders. His hand caressed her back gently as she let out a small sigh. “I guess you could say I have just had a really hard time trusting people my whole life. It’s like with Andy, I thought I loved him. Notice the word thought because I felt like he was my world. Then he hurt me so bad and it came out of nowhere. I knew I should have suspected it, but I was so blind to love with him. Now I know though, I am sure that I want this divorce with him to be done and over with as soon as possible.”

“I know sweetheart and I am going to do everything possible to help you get that,” Dean promised leaning down to press a kiss against her forehead before holding her in his arms tightly. All he wanted her to be was happy and he was going to make that possible for her the best way he could.


“Aunt Cori,” Kayla ran to the door after hearing it ring, knowing that it would be Cori because they had talked on the phone earlier. She quickly opened the door to see Cori before her. Kayla quickly hugged Cori in her arms as Cori bent down to hug her tightly. “I missed you so much.”

“I missed you too,” Cori laughed giving Kayla one last squeeze before letting Kayla go when she saw Carly walking into the room. “It’s good to see the two of you again.”

“The same goes for us,” Carly nodded slowly seeing Cori shut the door and walking into the house with Kayla by her side, holding Cori’s hand in hers tightly.

“Is it alright with you if I go finish watching my cartoon?” Kayla questioned, her big eyes looking up into Cori’s as Cori kneeled down on the ground. “I promise that when it’s over we can play.”

“That sounds great,” Cori nodded slowly seeing Kayla run down the hallway and back into her room. Cori slowly stood up seeing the look on Carly’s face as she tried to fake a smile. “So, how are you doing today?”

“I’m guessing better than you,” Carly pointed out walking over towards the couch to sit down, patting the seat next to her motioning Cori to come sit down so they could talk about what was going on. “You want to talk about what is going on?”

“I don’t know,” Cori took in a deep breath before lazily falling down to the couch next to Carly. She sank back against the cushions before looking over at Carly. “I guess I just have Diego still on my mind. I want him back Carly, I really want him back.”

“You have to be kidding me,” Carly watched the look that developed over Cori’s face, showing her that Cori was nothing but serious. “Why do you want him back so bad? He clearly wasn’t good enough for you anyways.”

“That’s the thing though, he was good enough for me. Diego was my everything,” Cori whispered thinking back to when her and Diego had been together. Everything she did today when Chris showed up was just a plan so she could see Diego. “I just want everything to go back the way it was when I first got here.”

“Don’t get mad at me for saying this, but Diego sounds like every no good guy out there,” Carly informed Cori with a disgusted look as she thought about everything Cori had told her in past days. “I mean, I would never put up with that. The next time I wouldn’t open up my heart to him, I would be closing my fist and blackening his eye.”

“I don’t think I could hurt him like that Carly,” Cori brought her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs as she spoke. She wanted Diego back so much that it was driving her crazy. “I just want him back.”

“Cori, the best thing for you would be to forget him,” Carly assured Cori, placing her hand on Cori’s shoulder supportively. “I mean if it was my life, he would be gone before he could say the words I’m sorry.”

“I don’t know what to think anymore,” Cori let out a long sigh before sitting up from the couch and walking over towards the front door. Cori gave Carly one last glance before shrugging her shoulders. “I should go, I have to go and think about some things.”

“Sis,” Dave smiled as Cori opened up the door when he pulled out his keys. He saw Cori slightly smile at him before walking out the door and past him without saying a word. Dave walked into the house, closing the door before letting out a small frown and pointing back towards the door. “What’s going on?”

“Dave,” Carly slowly stood up from the couch and walked over to her husband, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. “You really don’t want to know.”


“Where are we going?” Trisha questioned walking up the steps and holding tightly onto Chase’s hand as he led her up the stairs of a building. Chase had come to get Trisha to go out for a little bit, so they could get some more time to get to know each other. “Chase, how many levels are we going up.”

“A lot,” Chase glanced back at Trisha, a small smile appearing over his lips. He quickened his walking making her follow him faster as they reached the second level to the top of the building. “We’re almost there, I promise.”

“You better be right because I think I am about to pass out, we have been walking forever,” Trisha let out a small laugh as they finally reached the top of the stairs. Chase led her out on top of the roof of the building before grabbing both of her hands in his. “What are we doing up here?”

“Well, this is the building I work in when I am being the radio DJ,” he informed her with a small grin before shrugging his shoulders and pulling her along with him. “Whenever I want to just relax and be myself--I go here. It makes me calm and makes me feel like I’m in the perfect moment. I want to let you share that with me.”

“Oh my, this is really high,” Trisha looked over the side of the building, seeing the way the cars passed by them. He pointed over towards some trees and water on the other side as she let out a small laugh. “This is really nice Chase. I’m just worried about going back down all those stairs.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll just take the elevator down next time,” Chase promised pulling his sunglasses off and sliding them into his shirt pocket. He turned to face Trisha seeing the look on her face as he let out a small laugh. “We took the stairs because it feels cooler with what I am about to do.”

“Oh really? What’s that?” Trisha watched Chase jump up on the edge of the building making her gasp out as she watched him look back at her. “Are you crazy? Get back down here, you’re going to fall.”

“I’m not going to fall, I do this all the time,” he assured her with a small nod, reaching his hand out to her wanting her to come up with him. “Come on, I promise I won’t let you fall. Just be careful getting up here.”

“Chase,” she frowned feeling a bit worried, but when she looked into his blue eyes she knew she could trust him. As she grabbed his hand and stepped up on the edge of the building she realized something. She could trust Chase, just not gravity and the cars below. “You know, this is probably one of the stupidest things to be doing right now.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve only pushed one person over the side,” Chase joked seeing the way she looked over at him as he let out a small laugh and held onto her hand tightly. “I’m kidding sweetheart.”

“That wasn’t funny Chase,” she frowned balancing her feet better before taking a look over at him once more. She squeezed his hand in hers tighter before taking a look around the area before her. “This kind of opens up your thoughts.”

“That’s why I come up here, to try and clear up all my questions and thoughts,” Chase informed her with a small shrug of his shoulders before letting out a small laugh. “Speaking of questions, what’s the story on the big brother?”

“Big brother? Oh, you mean Kevin?” Trisha questioned with a small laugh seeing Chase’s eyes get wide as he nodded slowly. Kevin and Chase had kind of a tense moment every time they were around each other and it was quite obvious. “He has just been protecting me since I was a young. He just wants me safe and protected--that’s all.”

“Yeah, but I will protect you,” Chase assured her with a small frown, looking down at the cars moving below him. “I mean, there is something about you that makes me want to protect you and be with you a lot.”

“Well, I don’t know what’s up with Kevin, you just have to prove yourself to him. He’s an ex-boxer, so he is a little crazy when it comes to some things,” she informed him seeing the way that Chase looked over at her. She could tell by the worried expression on his face that he was worried about Kevin being a boxer. “Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you. Though, I did hear from one of his friends that he once hung someone over the side of a building by the side of their feet until they gave him the answer he wanted. Kevin is the type of guy that like shows up out of nowhere.”

“You know, how about we get down,” Chase suggested nervously looking over his shoulder towards where they came out. He slowly helped her down before jumping back on the roof himself. He sat on the edge of the building, keeping one of his feet firmly on the ground. “So, I have to show the big man that I am good enough for you? How am I supposed to do that?”

“Just be yourself, if I like you and he doesn’t--he’s just going to have to live with it,” Trisha informed Chase with a small smile before leaning forward to press a small kiss on his cheek. “Kevin is nothing to worry about.”

“That’s coming from you,” Chase let out a small shudder thinking back to the man that was pure muscle and would break his neck easily. “I would be the one he would be choking the life out of. I want to be on his good side and nothing less than that.”


“Daddy,” Avery called out to her father watching him enter the room, a somber expression sweeping over him. Guilt poured out over his body and as he looked to his children, Avery could see the heaviness that the truth was weighing upon him as well.

“I’m sorry that I let you down,” Richard explained looking between her and Guy, “both of you.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” Guy spoke up breaking his long silence. “You didn’t know.”

“I should’ve stopped this madness years ago. If I would’ve just divorced her and taken you both with me,” Richard started thinking about all of the opportunities that had presented itself in the past.

“I wouldn’t have gone then,” Guy interrupted refusing to allow his father to take the blame for all that had gone down in their family. He turned around to face his father fully, “I hated you so much for all the things she’d lead me to believe that you’d done to her.”

“Son it’s…” Richard watched Guy rise up from the bed.

“Don’t blame yourself for this. Please don’t stand there and try to make excuses for her and what she’s done. I refused to see the truth and I wasted so many years with everyone,” Guy explained feeling guilt weigh in over him. “I fought to make it up to her for all that she was missing--for all the wrongs I believed that you’d both put upon her, but now…now I feel so foolish…so…”

“Son you were just doing what any good son would do. You gave your mother something good to focus on and…” Richard explained sensing Guy’s discontent over what had taken place at the nursing home earlier.

“She’s dead to me. I meant what I said. If she comes near me or Avery or Erin, I won’t hesitate in taking her down,” Guy informed Richard point blank. “She’s not going to get away with what she’s been getting away with any longer.”

“No she’s not,” Richard nodded in agreement, “She will have plenty to answer to down the road. This isn’t over for her.”

“I hope she gets everything that was coming to her,” Guy held his fists tightly at his sides. He gritted his teeth before taking in another breath, “She deserves whatever fate pushes upon her for the way she’s tried to destroy us all.”

“But she didn’t. She may have hurt us and I won’t deny that there are things that we’ll never be able to get back, but we still have each other,” Richard paused his eyes focused entirely on his son, “Don’t we?”

“I’d like to think so,” Guy revealed after a long pause. He took a small step forward on shaky feet before standing in front of his father, “I’m sorry for all of the years I let you down--for all the times I disappointed you.”

“You’ve never been a disappointment son,” Richard admitted reaching out to pull him into a tight embrace, “I’ve always been so very proud of you. I’m still very proud of you and all that you’ve accomplished in your life.”

“But…” Guy found himself at a loss pulling back just enough to see his father’s sincerity.

“I’m just sorry that you felt you had to hide who you were all this time because of the situation your mother and I both put you into,” Richard continued to explain with a raw honesty in his tone, “I’ve never expected you or Avery to be anything other than what you are and I hope you realize that has never changed.”

“You have no idea how much that means to me,” Guy hugged him once again feeling a small sense of relief pour out over him, “I love you dad.”

“I love you too son,” Richard squeezed Guy tighter, his eyes shifting over towards Avery and smiling over at her now that Richard and Guy had started moving towards a turning point in their relationship. It was a new beginning, one that would take time and work to move past the pain that Brooke had caused them, but now there was hope.

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” Russell’s voice blurted out as he stepped into the room. “If this is a bad time…”

“Having you here could never be a bad time,” Avery couldn’t help but smile seeing the man of her dreams entering the room to join the other two important men in her life. She felt Erin cuddle into her and she smiled, “Your daughter’s been missing you like crazy.”

“It felt like an eternity that I’ve been away from her,” Russ replied sliding in to take a seat beside Avery on the hospital bed.

“You won’t have to worry about that any longer,” Richard added watching Russ interact with Avery and Erin, “You have my promise that whatever you need, whatever I can do, just name it and it’ll be done.”

“The fact that you both kept these two beautiful women safe for me is all that matters,” Russ wrapped his arm around Avery and smiled. “These two are my world.”

“Rest assured that we won’t let anything happen to them,” Guy promised as well seeing the bond between Russ and Avery was still as strong as ever now that they had Erin. “You two have waited a long time for happiness and even though my mu…Brooke has tried to take that away from you, I hope you know that neither one of us would dream of going down that road. You’ve always been part of the family and…”

“And I don’t blame either one of you for what happened,” Russ explained matter of fact feeling his daughter holding onto his finger. “Brooke made her bed and now she’s going to have to lie in it. She made her choices and fortunately for us they didn’t end up cost Avery and I everything.”

“I’m just sorry you had to endure that. I wish I had known--that I could’ve somehow prevented this…” Richard offered up apologetically.

“What’s done is done,” Russ decided with an attempt to lighten the mood even though everyone knew that this madness that had presented itself was far from over. “What’s important is Erin and that she’ll have us all here for her to help her have everything she could ever want. In this room alone I know she’s going to have a lot of love with all of us.”

“That’s right,” Avery nodded in agreement looking over the group of men that surrounded her and Erin, “She’s with her family and from where I’m at, I have to say she’s the luckiest little girl alive to have all of you who love her.”

“We’re the lucky ones,” Russ mouthed giving Avery a small kiss in the hopes that whatever the future brought for them things would start looking up sooner rather than later. It was about time for their family to finally find some peace and happiness now that the nightmare they’d experienced over the last few months was finally coming close to an end.


“Angie open up!” Kevin shouted through the door feeling Chris elbow him in the ribs.

“She’s not going to open it up to you acting all caveman like that,” Chris noted with a small frown, “Heck I wouldn’t even open the door with you shouting this way.”

“That’s because if I was shouting at you this way, you’d know you’d be in trouble, but Angie knows that I just want to talk to her,” Kevin finished turning his attention to the door in front of him once again, “Come on Angie. Open up!”

“Kevin, I really don’t think that…” Chris tried to reason with him once again.

“Don’t think. It was never one of your strong points. Then again neither was your writing, so…” Kevin tossed back at him sarcastically.

“Watch it bonehead. You might offend me and then I may have to pull out some of my karate skills on you,” Chris replied with a defensive stance pulling out some kind of strange looking move, “I am a black belt you know.”

“Only in your dreams,” Kevin chuckled rolling his eyes at Chris before stifling a laugh, “The only black belt you own is no doubt from Armani. Then again that’s probably a cheap knock off too knowing you…”

“Hey, I resent that,” Chris huffed impatiently.

“Regardless, I don’t care,” Kevin knocked on the door again, “Come on Angie. Open up! Don’t make me kick this door down.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You have no idea how expensive that door in particular is considering that I had it imported from Romania and…” Chris started to argue watching Kevin take a step away from the door as if he was fully prepared to follow through on his threat. He saw Kevin winding up and he leapt in front of Kevin to stop him from causing any damage to his home, “Stop right there Adonis! That’s expensive!”

“Like I give a damn,” Kevin nudged Chris aside glaring at the still closed door, “Angie I’m giving you until the count of three before…”

“Kevin, I’m warning you if you break my door, then I’ll call the authorities and….” Chris warned watching Kevin move in for the kill, “Kevin stop! I’m warning you.”

“One….” Kevin announced rolling up his sleeves.

“That’s it I’m making a citizen’s arrest right now. If you even think about causing any further destruction to my property,” Chris squealed in response.

“Two!” Kevin shouted louder than before.

“Kevin no!” Chris watched Kevin lunge forward and in a desperate moment, Chris rushed upon him jumping up on Kevin’s back and shoulders. He wrapped his arms around Kevin’s neck covering Kevin’s eyes with his hands and shouted, “I can’t let you ruin my home.”

“Let go of me newsboy,” Kevin brought his arms up to try to pry Chris off of him, but with Chris covering his eyes, Kevin couldn’t help but stumble forward. He continued to try to shake Chris off of him, but in being blind to his surroundings Kevin fell back into a wall hearing Chris grumble with the movement. He leaned forward trying to get Chris to fall off, but it was useless. Chris wasn’t letting go. He tried once more and again it felt next to impossible. Chris clung on tighter.

“I can’t let you destroy my home!” Chris announced tipping his head up in time to see him moving face forward towards the bedroom door ready to have a head on collision. Chris closed his eyes fearing the eminent explosion into the door, but at the last second, he felt the door pop open and he fell forward onto the guest bedroom floor with Kevin still holding onto him.

“What the…” Angela questioned seeing Kevin and Chris now in one another’s arms. “What are you two doing?”

“Trying to talk some sense in to him!” Chris explained.

“Trying to reason with you,” Kevin answered at the same time exchanging glances with one another.

“You both are idiots. I hope you’re aware of that,” Angela shook her head at them before slipping into her jacket.

“Hey, where do you think you’re going?” Kevin couldn’t help but question noticing the dress Angela had changed into.

“I’m getting some air away from you,” she replied flatly turning her attention to Chris, “I’ll see you later.”

“No problem,” Chris saluted her taking the time to admire her legs before she trotted off down the hallway.

“Angie wait,” Kevin called out from his place underneath Chris. Suddenly it hit him that Chris was still in his arms. Shuddering Kevin pushed him away, “Get off of me!”

“Hey, you started this,” Chris replied with a grumble as Kevin got up to discover that Angela had already left and without having listened to his reasonable explanation. Life was getting far too complicated for his liking especially now after this!


“I still can’t believe that jerk came in here and did that,” Hart frowned glancing over at his pal, “Don, we both know that’s the last thing Brant needs right now.”

“I realize that Hart, but we know Russ isn’t going to let up especially after what Shannon told him,” Don shook his head poignantly, “This is only going to cause one problem after another.”

“You believe it’s true?” Hart paused momentarily wondering if Brant and Russ were really brothers. Sure, he’d accepted it as truth, yet…

“You remember Nicholas,” Don added pointedly, “How can you doubt it for a second? More than likely half this town is related to Brant.”

“That’s a scary thought,” Hart shuddered rubbing his palms together, “Of course now what are we going to do? If Russ realizes what being an Ashford can get him--hell if Augustus learns about this…”

“We can’t let that happen,” Don frowned once more, “I mean sure okay Ken’s in on it, but from what you told me I’m guessing that he’ll be more than cooperative in this department. He’s not going to want to push Brant further over the edge.”

“Not after we saved his ass and Brant brought Wendy back,” Hart added firmly, “He owes his brother big time for that one.”

“Which means we’re going to have to find a way to help Brant reclaim his life again,” Don paused a dramatic look sweeping over his face, “at any cost.”

Hart watched his pal for a long moment searching his blue eyes. “Don, is there something that you’re not telling me? Something that you think we should be talking about?”

“Actually,” Don scratched his own chin lightly, “given the position Brant’s in right now, there’s really only one way to save him and to get this to work, we’re going to have to do something drastic.”

“Just say the word and I’m in,” Hart nodded eagerly, “especially if it means we can take down that jerk Russell Denton.”

“Oh believe me he’s going to see that he messed with the wrong Ashford,” Don added with a wicked look of determination, “because no one messes with my best friend’s happiness and gets away with it!”

“I second that,” Hart announced ready to push it to the limit if it meant helping Brant regain the life that was rightfully his!


“Thank you for all of this,” Heather whispered tiptoeing in to take a closer look at her son now that he lay in his crib lost in his nap. “Here I was afraid I wouldn’t have this together in time, but you did a great job…”

“I was just trying to help the best way I can,” Diego couldn’t help but smile seeing how comfortable Charles looked in his new bed, “I guess I remembered a bit more about this than I thought I did…”

“You did great,” Heather leaned forward to kiss Charles’s head before stepping back. She glanced over at Diego curling her finger at him for him to join her outside in her kitchen area. He followed without question and before long she had him with her at her table. “Sit down. I’ll make you some tea or something.”

“You don’t really have to,” Diego started watching her pull out a few boxes of exotic teas.

“I don’t mind really,” Heather smiled over her shoulder at him, “In fact I want to. You and Charles are my first real company here at the apartment and I’d like to celebrate in my way with two of my three favorite men in the world.”

“Looks like Charles ducked out on the celebration a little early,” Diego noted with a small smile watching her put some water on.

“Well what can I say? He’s had a big few days with his father and Kellen,” Heather laughed lightly a smile spreading over her sculpted lips, “I think it’s just his turn to catch up on his rest considering that Kellen keeps him very busy.”

“Kellen’s good with Charles. In fact from the looks of things, he and Kipp are very, um close lately,” Diego noted wondering if he’d overstepped his boundaries.

“I think they’re closer than you’re trying to politely imply,” Heather added with a knowing expression, “well, okay maybe you and I are on the same wavelength here, but still…”

“I guess I expected you to be a bit more, oh I don’t know dramatic about it given that Kipp had asked you to marry him at one point in time,” Diego couldn’t help but add remembering that dark moment in the past, “I guess I just thought that you two would…”

“Would what? End up with a white picket fence with two point five children and a dog with us both fantasizing about sexy men,” she tipped her head to the side before offering up a small laugh, “Don’t get me wrong. Kipp’s not chopped liver, but he’s not really my type either. Granted he and I will always be close because of the son that we share and a part of me will always feel connected to him.”

“As you should given that you have a child with one another,” Diego nodded watching her carry over a mug of tea to him, “There is nothing like the bond of sharing a life with someone else.”

“No, I suppose there isn’t and if you would’ve told me a few months ago that something like that would’ve mattered to me, well I would’ve told you that you were crazy, but now, well now I see how important that truly is,” she confessed sliding into the chair across from where he was seated, “but that doesn’t change that fact that Kipp and I aren’t meant to be together. He might be shy about really approaching the subject, but I really think that Kellen is really more his style…”

“Perhaps,” Diego shrugged, “though it is surprising given how devoted to you he was. I guess I just thought…”

“When I was younger--a lot younger,” Heather reached out to touch Diego’s hand briefly before pulling away, “There was this guy I knew--well, rather intimately and I really thought that he was a lady’s man if you will. All signs lead to that--or I thought they did at the time, but after he came out, well I realized the signs were there. Same thing goes with Kipp. I think all of his life he tried to be something he wasn’t and I was just someone who fit into that image that his father set out for him. His caring about me was only another one of the expectations he had of the lifestyle he believed he should be in. That’s not my saying that he didn’t care because I’m sure that he did, but deep down I’m not what he needed and vice versa.”

“Wow,” Diego’s jaw dropped as he gave her a second glance, “That’s really surprising coming from you.”

“Why?” she wiggled her brow at him, “Were you expecting someone with an IQ and an ability to reason that measured that of a wet noodle?”

“Well no, but…” Diego shook his head finding himself at a loss, “It’s just that you…”

“That I what?” she challenged with another wiggle of her brow.

“You’ve evolved,” he finished with a smile, “and I’m proud of you for that.”

“Well, what can I say. I’ve had some good guidance in that department,” she reached for his hand again, “Although I should warn you that doesn’t mean I’m going to be any less shallow or demanding simply because I’ve come to terms with the idea that Kipp is gay and that I wouldn’t have wanted to be married to him for the rest of my life.”

“Of course,” Diego nodded catching her playful expression, “Although it does offer up a new spin on things.”

“A spin that you might be interested in learning more about,” she questioned leaning in over the table, “perhaps intimately?”

“We’ve had this going for so long between us Heather and tonight has been so wonderful, so why spin this back to sex?” he replied eyeing her closely, “Doesn’t that kind of kill the progress we’ve made with one another?”

“What are you so afraid of?” she couldn’t help but ask, “That you might actually like being with me? That a woman like myself could teach you a thing or two about making love?”

“You’re not shy about the matter now are you,” he couldn’t help but reach up to adjust his collar uneasily.

“Not when it comes to something I’m really good at,” she shook her head a confident grin spreading over her beautiful face, “and believe me Diego I’m very, very good at it.”

“I have no doubts in my mind about that, but right now,” he paused thinking about how falling into lust had started a downward spiral from one woman to the other, “I just don’t think that it’s the time to…”

“To what? Explore a more carnal connection between us?” she wiggled her brow at him. Dropping her finger tip over the low neckline of her blouse, she traced it slowly hoping he’d take notice. To her delight he did notice. “Tell you what Diego. If you’re not really ready to cross that line, how about we play a little game to kill some time?”

“Heather, I don’t think that…” he watched her intently unable to refrain from eyeing the way her finger moved over her soft, velvety smooth skin.

“Trust me. You’ll enjoy this,” she decided getting up from her chair and tugging on his arm. She felt him protest, but soon he was up and following her into the living room. He felt her nudge him onto the couch. He fell back freely watching her cross the room making her way slowly over to the sound system set up across the room.

“Heather, what are you,” he started watching her switch on some sultry jazz piece.

“Just trust me on this one,” Heather waved her hand at him dismissively before slowly swaying to the music. She made a point to emphasize the sexy movements before reaching for a deck of cards on top of the stack of magazines.

Diego watched her closely before seeing her sit down in one of the chairs not far from where he sat. He saw her shuffling the deck and before he knew it, she was dealing cards to the both of them. He caught wind of her expression and couldn’t help but ask, “What’s this?”

“This my dear is a game of poker,” Heather explained with a bright grin, “except there’s a new twist on this game.”

“What might that be?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“Well, the way I see it since you’re being so restrictive about how things should go between us, I figure it’s time to really get things sizzling by making this a game of strip poker,” Heather tossed out at him with a casual wave, “If you win, then we’ll play by your rules. You can take the spoils of your victory or you can be on your way. The choice is yours, but if I win, well then it’s time for you to consider whatever it is I have in mind for the both of us.”

“And what if I tell you that I’m inclined to stop this before it starts Heather?” he questioned with a lump in the back of his throat, “What if I tell you that I’m not willing to submit to this kind of temptation?”

“Then I’m afraid we’ll have what is known as a Mexican standoff where only one of us will survive and be victorious,” she challenged raising a curious brow, “Come on Diego. What do you have to lose other than your pants?”

“You’re crossing a very dangerous line Heather,” Diego warned her simply, “Playing with fire can only get you burned and…”

“And clearly you’re too chicken to take the challenge,” she slumped back in the chair, “I see what this is all about. You’d rather not be bothered with me because you don’t see the fun in any of it. Maybe that little clue I was getting about Kipp could be said about you as well.”

“And just what is that supposed to mean?” Diego couldn’t help but ask with a frown.

“Well since Kipp just came out and decided he was all about Kellen…” she sighed with heavy exaggeration.

“I’m not all about anything other than women Heather,” he frowned back at her, “and for you to insinuate that just reminds me of how much you don’t really know about me.”

“Hmm, well then how about you put your money where your mouth is and prove it?” she wiggled her brow at him, “Unless of course you’re afraid that I’m a much better poker player than you and you’ll wind up at my mercy.”

“Actually Heather, I happen to be a fantastic player and by the time this is over, you’re going to eat those words,” he leaned forward accepting her challenge, “Although when I win this and I will, I’m going to surprise you because what I have in mind for you goes far beyond what you think I’ll do upon victory.”

“If it’s chicken out and go home, then no you won’t surprise me, but if you’re going to prove that you’re a man of action instead of reason, then I say bring it on,” Heather challenged with a wicked smirk, “but of course at the end of this I’m well aware of who will be on top of this situation. Me. And I can promise you that you’re going to enjoy it very much!”

“Well, we’ll just see about that,” Diego swiped his cards up ready to engage in a game with Heather ready to show her a thing or two about poker. While he wasn’t sure where this was going to end, he couldn’t help but find himself intrigued with the idea of spending more time with Heather. Yes, he’d had far too many romantic entanglements to deal with, yet he was already too drawn in to say no. After all, he knew he could play poker with the best of them. He’d just win this one and then he would call the shots. Heather would just have to deal with his terms. Victory would be his and then well, then he’d see what came next under his terms.


“Damn you Diego!” Cori kicked her long, slender leg out at the bag before her. She felt her pulse pounding, her body on fire and her heart blazing with a fury that carried deep down into her soul. How she’d wanted to make him see--to show him what a mistake he’d made in letting her go, but just when she thought she’d got the best of him, he up and vanished. She’d been by his place repeatedly--by the hospital, but there hadn’t been any sign of him. It was as if he was purposely trying to make her go out of her mind. He knew how to push her buttons and even now…

“You can’t ignore me forever Diego,” she muttered under her breath striking at the red punching bag in front of her furiously. Kick after kick and punch after punch had her roaring for some kind of action--ready to unleash the animosity and upset that he’d stirred inside of her. She’d waited forever to be with him and to be disregarded so easily--to be tossed aside for someone whom he hardly knew, well it didn’t make sense. It wasn’t right and she’d show him that this would not bode well for him.

“I will get you back!” she announced with a grumble, “You will be mine again. You can’t just dump me and think that it won’t effect me! You can’t just leave and pretend I was nothing! It doesn’t work that way. I don’t work that way!”

With that she pounded harder than ever at the punching bag ready to let loose of everything that she’d been harboring inside of her since Diego had dared to pick that witch Sarah. How she wished she could go back and get Sarah out of the way. If only she’d seen through Sarah sooner and…

“Whoa slow down,” Cori heard a voice speak out to her. She spun around to see Rob Leveski standing no more than five feet away from her watching her with obvious concern.

“Cori, hey everything okay?” he questioned watching her throw one final punch at the bag.

“Mr. Leveski,” Cori gasped taking a step away from her former high school basketball coach. She smiled at him brightly thinking about how she hadn’t really seen him in years, but now to see him standing in front of her, she couldn’t help but smile, “hey.”

“You okay,” he watched her closely searching her troubled features.

“I’m just…” she trailed off with a heavy groan, “It’s not worth getting into Mr. Leveski.”

“Of course it is especially since it looks like you’re ready to tear my gym down,” he offered up with an encouraging smile, “In fact, why don’t we go get a drink at the juice bar or something? My treat.”

“Okay,” she finally decided going over with him to get a smoothie with him. After a few minutes, they sat down at one of the tables near one of the windows to an aerobics class in session. She gazed on at the women for a moment before refocusing on him, “Thanks again Mr. Leveski.”

“Call me Rob,” he smiled back at her brightly, “I think we’re past that whole student/teacher thing considering I haven’t taught in a while.”

“Okay,” she hesitated before smiling at him, “Rob.”

“So what seems to be troubling you Cori?” he couldn’t help but ask her, “Perhaps relationship problems?”

“More like men problems. I think they are all jerks,” she paused after a moment, “no offense.”

“None taken,” he sipped his drink, “So tell me about it, what’s going on?”

“Well, I met this wonderful guy. I’ve known him for a while and I really thought that he was perfect--that he could be the one, but then,” she groaned outwardly, “He turned out to be like every other guy I’ve dated. He didn’t appreciate me and he left me for someone no where near as interesting as I am. I feel like he used me and now, well now all I can think about is how much I loved being with him.”

“You want my honest opinion on this one Cori,” Rob questioned watching her closely.

“Sure, why not,” she shrugged her shoulders, “I mean at this point well, maybe someone can make sense of it all. Maybe you can give me some advice on how to get him to remember what we had.”

“My advice to you is to forget about him,” Rob explained with a serious expression, “A guy like that obviously doesn’t know what kind of prize he has in a woman like you. You clearly cared about him and you tried to find happiness with him, but from what I’ve seen today, he really has only brought you to a feeling of misery. You’re far too young to let something like this bring you down. You have a lot going for you and a lot to offer a man and if that man in particular wasn’t interested in seeing what a prize you are, then it’s his loss--not yours. You can do better.”

“You really think so,” Cori’s dark eyes perked up as she looked to him again.

“I know so,” he reached out to pat her hand gently, “Cori, you’re an incredible young lady and any man out there would be happy to have you in his life. You’re funny, free spirited and you know how to make people listen. Those are all great qualities that helped you on the basketball court and it’ll help you in life. Any man who has the chance to get close to you and see how special you are will sweep you up in a heartbeat and show that guy you broke up with what he’s missing out on. In fact, once you meet Mr. Right, Mr. Last Week won’t even phase you. Trust me on this one.”

“I hope you’re right. I really do,” Cori dropped her gaze to focus on her smoothie once again.

“I’m sure of it kiddo. Sooner or later you’ll meet Mr. Right and when you do, nothing in the world will be able to stop you two from being together,” Rob finished squeezing her hand once again before his pager went off. He reached for it pulling it from his pocket. Throwing out an apologetic expression he smiled over at her once again, “Duty calls. I’m supposed to meet with someone out back…”

“Sure no problem Mr.…Rob,” she corrected herself watching him get up, “and thanks.”

“Anytime,” he nodded walking off after one last wave leaving Cori to watch his retreat. As she eyed him turning around the corner, she let his words sink in. Maybe Rob was right. Maybe she could find someone else--someone who was warm and encouraging and someone who really understood her. Diego really wasn’t that man. He’d never been that man if what Rob was saying was true, yet… Cori turned her attention to the end of the gym where one of the trainers was talking to Rob after having pulled him back into Cori’s line of vision.

“Maybe there is someone special out there for me after all,” Cori mused under her breath reaching for her straw and playing with it gingerly as she began to ponder Rob Leveski’s words of encouragement. Yes, maybe it was time to forget about Diego and move on indeed.


“Ken, I have to be straight with you about all of this,” Don explained with a heavy sigh updating Ken on Brant’s condition, “Given the things that Brant has had to deal with over the last few weeks, well I can’t say I blame him for shutting down like this especially after Russell Denton’s return.”

“I understand that, but Don what is going to happen to my brother,” Ken questioned worriedly remembering only too well how he’d gone off the deep end himself not long ago. Thinking about the way things had gone for him, well Ken couldn’t help but be increasingly worried about his twin.

Ken was no stranger to losing someone important in his life and even though he and Wendy were trying to get back what they’d had, Ken was well aware of what Avery meant to Brant. That had him very, very concerned about Brant’s recovery.

“I honestly don’t know what answer to give you Ken. He could snap out of this any second now or this could go on for a while. Given what he went through with your father and with the idea of that man still being alive, plus the threat that he could lose his wife…” Don trailed off, “I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Well, what would you do if you were in my position Don? What would you feel would be best?” Ken looked to his pal for support.

“First thing I would do is get him out of here. He shouldn’t be in these circumstances. He needs to be with people he loves and people who care about him,” Don continued to explain, “He needs love and support and familiar surroundings. He needs to be in a place where he feels safe.”

“But what about his health?” Ken couldn’t help but ask.

“Physically everything is okay, but mentally,” Don paused, “I would really want to refrain from sending him somewhere to be locked up which is what I think the others are leaning towards. I think he should be home with his family--with his wife…”

“Don you and I both know that’s not going to happen. With Russ back…” Ken frowned in response, “You know that Russ will never agree to Avery staying with Brant. It won’t be in the cards and…”

“Avery’s his wife and whether Russ likes it or not, this really is in her hands now,” Don concluded with a heavy sigh, “which was what I was going to talk to you about as well.”

“What do you mean?” Ken asked blankly catching Don’s strange expression.

“Concerning what happens next, Avery is the only one who can make any decisions about where Brant will be. She’s his wife so legally she’s the one who will decide what will happen to him,” Don hesitated a moment of realization settling in over him, “If we explain to her that taking him home is the best option, then she’ll have no choice but to agree to it.”

“She might agree to that, but…” Ken trailed off, “Don, I don’t think that she’ll agree to come home with him.”

“She has to Ken,” Don replied firmly thinking about Brant’s mental state, “because if she leaves him now I don’t think he’ll ever snap out of this. She’s so integral to what’s happening in his head that if she doesn’t help him, then he’s never going to see his way out of this…”

“Don, how in the hell am I going to get her to agree to…” Ken started finding himself at a loss.

“You won’t have to because I will,” Don announced moving past Ken, “and if she won’t listen, I’ll make her listen.”

“Don wait,” Ken started to chase after him. “You can’t just go into Avery’s room and demand that she take care of Brant. If you march in there and tell her that, then Russ is going to toss you out.”

“If I don’t go in there, we risk losing Brant forever and I’m not about to let that happen,” Don replied defiantly making his way into Avery’s room. He noticed the group surrounding him and judging by the expression on Russell’s face, he knew he was going to be in for a hard time.

“What are you doing here,” Russell frowned moving up to his feet from his position beside Avery.

“I need to talk to Avery,” Don explained in a firm voice his blue eyes cutting straight to her, “It’s about Brant.”

“Okay, that’s it. I want you out. Avery doesn‘t need anymore hassling right now,” Russell announced motioning to Richard, who stood up as well.

“I’m not here to hassle her,” Don blurted out quickly, “I wouldn’t be here unless I had to be.”

“Right,” Russ rolled his eyes, “Give us another line why don’t you?”

“Avery listen to me,” Don began urgently, “if you ever cared about Brant at all--if a part of you ever cared about him, then you’ll hear me out. You’ll listen to what I have to tell you because his life and his future depend on your doing just that…”

“That’s it. I’ve already heard more than enough,” Russell sighed heavily moving forward to escort Don out, “You’re leaving now.”

“No wait,” Avery blurted out breaking her long moment of silence.

“What?” Russell blinked back at her caught off guard.

“I want to hear him out,” Avery explained quickly her gaze traveling over to Don, “I want to hear what he has to say.”

“But I thought that…” Russ released Don giving her a strange look.

“How do you want me to help Brant?” Avery questioned as Don moved forward to speak with her.

“I guarantee your new bodyguard isn’t going to like it, but in my professional medical opinion what I’m about to tell you is the only way to help him,” Don began ready to divulge the details of his plan of action in the name of saving Brant from himself once and for all.


...to be continued...