Episode 289

“Chris, come on,” Angela curled her lip in a pout. She brought her fingers up to her eyes attempting to tug at the blindfold that he’d put on her, “I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal about this. I’m perfectly capable of…”

“Angel just trust me,” he whispered in the back of her ear doing his best to prevent her from taking the blindfold off. He reached for her hand lacing her fingers in his before he stepped in closer behind her. He curled his arm around her waist holding her in front of him securely. He spoke up once again his warm words adding a hint of mystery to the moment, “I promised you something special tonight and I plan on delivering.”

“Yes, but with a blindfold,” she paused contemplating what Chris had up his sleeve, “If this is somehow some little sex game you thought up…”

“Then I’d be using handcuffs along with a blindfold,” he teased lightly, his words vibrating off of the back of her neck, “Will you just trust your old buddy Chris for a second?”

“Do I have a choice,” she asked tipping her head back to listen to the sound of his voice.

“Nope, not this time. Now if you just take a step here and then another,” he continued guiding her up the cement until they stood in front of a large, oversized door. “Now I’m going to let you go, but I swear to you if you even think about taking off the blindfold…”

“I won’t,” Angela replied curling her lip in a small pout, “unless of course you change your mind and you’ll let me do it.”

“Not just yet,” Chris promised pulling the keys out of his pocket and slipping them into the front door, “Now watch your step again.”

“Where are we,” she couldn’t help but ask feeling the shift between warm and hot in the room surrounding them.

“We’re in a place where I am certain you have never been before,” he confessed closing the door behind them, “but I’m positive that it’s a place where you’re going to be delighted to be.”

“Enough already,” Angela groaned inwardly reaching to rip off her blindfold despite his earlier protests. She pulled the silken material off of her face only to discover that she was standing in the middle of a dimly lit banquet room of sorts that was filled with tables and chairs covered in various sheets. Turning to eye him curiously, she couldn’t help but ask, “Chris, what is this place?”

“Why this Angel babe is a very important place,” Chris pulled her into his arms, humming a tune. He began to spin and twirl her around the room, his melody inside his head growing more triumphant and jolly with each spin he made with her.

“Chris stop,” she couldn’t help but laugh holding onto him for dear life as if she would collapse should he stop moving. “Chris please…”

“I’m sorry, but I have to admit that I’m rather excited about this place because you see this place while it’s been closed down for quite some time, it was a spot where a great many festivities took place. It was one of the ritzy locales that folks in these parts turned to for an attempt to be jolly and enthusiastic.”

“Okay, and you brought me here tonight because?” Angela arched a curious brow.

“Because this is the very spot where your father stayed at with your mother when he proposed to her once upon a time,” Chris explained matter of fact, “You see I did a little digging around after you asked me to look up more on your mother and I happened to run into an old caretaker of this place who told me all about Cyrus Stone and his beautiful bride-to-be. It turns out that they had a very tortured love affair that came to an abrupt end when she shunned him for another man.”

“Another man,” Angela gave him a strange look, “Chris my mother died when I was born and…”

“And before you came to be, your father asked your mother to be his bride. She refused him and he took his broken heart and wounded pride with him and married Cameron’s mother,” Chris offered up the information that he’d dug up for her, “You see your father was a man of many things, but he was not one to beg for what he wanted. When he’d heard your mother moved on, he tried to pick up the pieces of his wounded heart…that is until one night on a night just like this, they met up with one another. Even though she’d pledged her hand to another and he was already married, they had a secret tryst right out here…”

Angela felt Chris pulling her out into the night--to the spot overlooking the water below. He wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to keep the breeze from chilling her completely.

“They stood here together lost in one another and he vowed to her that he would give anything to have one more night with her,” Chris whispered in the back of her ear, “Naturally she was torn, but it was here in that cottage right over there that they came together one last time--to share one last moment of their love for one another…”

“Where?” Angela questioned watching him point to the lighthouse just beyond where they stood. She saw a small, quiet, yet comfortable looking place near the water right on the beach. She strained to see if there was anything happening there, but it was all darkness.

“Your mother and father were together that night spending a great many hours dancing the night away on this balcony until they retired to the cottage,” he explained turning her in his arms to face him. He reached for her face, touching her cheek gently, “And it was there that they had you--it was that night that you were created…”

“But I thought that…” Angela blinked up at him, “Chris, how could you know all of that? I mean even if you talked to the caretaker…”

“Your father bought this place shortly after you were born. He had told the caretaker that regardless of business ending here, he wanted nothing to happen to this estate--to this place where he had shared a great many memories with the great love of his life--with your mother,” Chris smiled down at her, “and tonight knowing how upset you were I thought that there was no better place for you to be than with the spirit of the love that brought you into this world--with the memory of your parents.”

“Chris, I don’t know what to say,” Angela found herself at a loss feeling tears glistening behind her dark eyes.

“How about you say that you’re excited and that you love it and that you’d like to give me a big hug for doing all of this for you,” Chris teased with a small wink.

“I can do better than that,” she replied tipping up on her toes to kiss him gently. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders allowing the kiss to grow with the moment until she finally pulled away from him.

“Wow, I’d say that was a lot better than what I was expecting,” Chris grinned down at her sheepishly, “and while I know I’d love another thank you like that I know I’m not going to push my luck.”

“You’d better not,” Angela laughed lightly feeling him press at her cheek to wipe away one of her stray tears.

“Well, since we’re on the subject of my good deeds, how would you like for me to take you for a midnight stroll? Perhaps down by the water to the cottage?” he suggested holding his arm out to her. “What do you say?”

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she nodded in agreement reaching for his arm and longing to spend this night growing closer to the truth about her past and the memory of the parents that had been taken from her so very long ago.


“So does this mean that all is forgiven,” Kevin questioned pressing back onto the carpet with Ria over him now that they lay together basking in the aftermath of their rage induced love making.

“Do you really think that this changes things Kevin,” she frowned glancing across the floor to where the undergarments she’d been wearing simply to torture him after she’d vowed not to sleep with him lay. Okay, so she hadn’t held up to her end of the bargain there, yet there felt like so much that had happened with them in those unspoken moments of passion they’d exchanged. Tipping her head down to kiss the center of his chest, she noticed the scratches still imprinted on his otherwise flawless bronze skin.

“I really kind of hope so considering that I don’t do casual sex,” Kevin frowned slightly tipping his head up to look at her. He curled his arm around her back hugging her to him gently, “and if you think that’s what I was hoping for between us Ria, then you’re sadly mistaken. I told you once and I’ll tell you again that I’m in it for the long haul with us--that is as long as you’ll have me…”

“But I heard what Angela said. She mentioned that you were in bed with her and that…” she frowned feeling a tiny shudder press in over her at the very idea of him being with another woman.

“I was in bed with her,” Kevin said in a smooth and even voice knowing full well he could be opening himself up to an attack, but still he had to let her hear his side of the situation, “She was in her bedroom crying about Nick leaving her. She wasn’t speaking with anyone so I went in there and checked in on her. I was laying with her for a while and we had a talk about Nick and life in general.”

“Kevin, do you honestly expect me to believe that?” she questioned giving him an obviously disapproving stare.

“Well let me ask you a question. If Seth was upset and hurting and you were trying to make him feel better, should I think the worst about you being around him? If he said that you hopped into bed with him, should I ultimately assume you’re sleeping with my cousin,” he questioned arching a curious brow.

“That’s different,” she frowned back at him, “Seth is my best friend…”

“And Angie is mine,” Kevin saw she was not happy with the direction of this conversation and he felt her tense up in his arms, “and despite the fact that she and I once had a romantic history, that doesn’t mean that I’m ready to throw what I have with you away to delve down that road again with her.”

“But she said she was sure that you were still so obviously in love with her--that you still had feelings for her and…” Ria felt him place his finger over her lips to silence her.

“I do have feelings for her and yes on some level I do love her. Hell, I’ll always love her, but it’s not the kind of love that I can build a future on. It’s not that kind of love and though it took me a while to see that, I know now that it won’t ever be and I’m honestly okay with that. I mean I won’t lie to you when I tell you that she was probably one of the first women in this world that I truly can say I loved, but it’s in the past tense. I don’t want to see her hurt, but I can’t keep running to her aid every time a situation arises. I realized that the last time I went running and I need to distance myself from her.”

“I hear what you’re saying Kevin, but I find it hard to believe considering that…” Ria began again still unable to repress the feelings eating away inside of her.

“Ria trust me when I tell you that I don’t have any intentions of trying to rekindle any kind of flame with Angie,” Kevin sighed heavily feeling the warmth of Ria’s body over his, “As much as you might think I’m not telling you the truth, the reality is that Angie and I don’t really know each other like we used to. Sure, she might have it in her head that I’m lost in love with her, but I’m not. Hell, she doesn’t even know about my being Donna Nevik.”

“No?” she replied her eyes wide with his confession.

“Not even close,” he shook his head at her before a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, “and when you approached me with that book I was sure that Blake was the one that told you.”

“Blake knows?” Ria’s eyes widened.

Kevin nodded, “She and Seth both know, but I swore them both to secrecy because it was a part of my life that I don’t readily share with the rest of the world. I mean sure I could, but well, how much do you think I would be able to get away with writing if my readers knew I was a man--hell, a man like me no less.”

“Well, for what it’s worth when I didn’t think you were writing about her,” Ria’s nose wrinkled in response, “I kind of liked it.”

“Just kind of huh,” he scratched his chin lightly, “well if it was only okay, then I shouldn’t bother showing you my manuscript, then should I? I mean I’ve been working on it overtime, but…”

“But nothing,” Ria poked him in the ribs, “You have a lot of making up to do here considering that you left and you got me upset over…”

“Technically you got yourself upset because you didn’t ask me before thinking the worst,” he shook his head at her, “which was your first mistake.”

“My first mistake was letting you go to that island in the first place without me,” she blurted out unable to contain the flicker of animosity still brewing inside of her.

“Yeah, well don’t worry the next time I go back I’m taking you with me because I would love to get you in my place, maybe lock the rest of the world out for a few days and…” Kevin’s fingers trailed over her spine in a sinfully wicked movement.

“And you’re changing the subject again,” she leaned down to kiss his ever-so-sensual lips leisurely, “You were telling me about that manuscript of yours…”

“Hmm, well I suppose we could get back to that, but right now I’m really enjoying having you here in my arms doing…” Kevin started only to feel her detangle herself from his arms. He frowned watching her retreat, “Hey, where are you going?”

“I want to see that manuscript of yours,” she explained reaching for his shirt and wrapping herself up in it, “Are you coming or what?”

His gaze traveled from head to toe over her thinking about the million and one ways to answer that question. Finally he sat up motioning over to her computer with a slight nod.

“If you want to see what I’ve done, then why don’t you check your e-mail?” he nodded once again before laying back and placing his hands behind his head.

“My e-mail?” she repeated giving him a strange look.

“Yeah, I really did intend on showing you my work of art tonight before you blew up at me,” he nodded casually watching her stride over to her laptop. He watched her sit down and after a moment he closed his eyes, “Let me know what you think of it.”

“Kevin, I can’t believe that you,” Ria’s words trailed off as she noticed an e-mail from him. She clicked on the message and she heard him shuffling behind her.

“Why don’t you indulge me and read it aloud? I want to hear how good I did with this one,” she heard his voice bubble over with pride.

“We’ll just see about that,” Ria decided settling into her chair and taking a closer look at the text, “Dreams of Forever. Hmm, catchy title.”

“Of course,” Kevin noted with a small smirk. He glanced over at her knowing that despite the rocky beginnings, he would have to be quick about making his move. Soon Ria would figure out what his intentions were and he couldn’t have her reaching that pivotal moment before he did. Quietly pulling himself up off of the floor, he could hear her reading the first few lines he’d typed out for her.

“And as she sat gazing at the computer monitor mindlessly trying to forget the numbness that had dictated a great many moments in her life, she had no idea what was truly going on. She wanted to believe that she was in control of everything--that she could somehow bring the pieces together, yet they only found that feeling of serenity lost in one another’s arms,” Ria read aloud, her eyes skimming the computer screen in front of her, “She knew that he was the one--the man she had waited forever for, but the secret she wasn’t aware of was that he would be completely lost without her. In reality he had loved her ever since he was young enough to understand the concept and now, well now with forever on the line, he knew that there would never be a more perfect moment.”

Ria paused feeling a tiny laugh bubble up inside of her, “Well I suppose this is a good start, but you kind of missed the beginning, didn’t you?”

“Just keep reading,” Kevin instructed stepping in behind her.

“He knew that tonight would be unlike any other night because tonight would be the one night that he sealed his destiny with her forever. Tonight would be that pivotal moment in his life that would ultimately lead them both to where it was they’d longed to be--lost with one another forever,” Ria continued to read the page to herself, “but before it all began, he knew there was one last thing to do--one last lingering question that would forever change the course of their future. If he could only muster up the courage, he had thought to himself, but unfortunately in all of his thoughts of how perfect it could be, he’d found another way to reach her another way to… Um, Kevin honey I think you’ve got a bit of a run on sentence here…”

“I realize that Ria, but keep reading,” he shook his head at her laughing lightly at her need to correct him especially with something like this.

“Okay fine,” she huffed focusing completely on the words before her, “Tonight would change his life forever in ways he’d always dreamt about--in ways he’d always wanted because tonight he was going to ask her the one question that had been on his mind from the first moment he’d kissed her. Approaching her as she sat before him beautiful as ever and oblivious to his intentions, he felt his heart hammering in his chest, his pulse racing into the night, yet there was nothing more perfect, more wonderful than watching her seeing the way she was concentrating on the task at hand when in reality what she was doing was completing what he began in offering her the task at hand. She read the page, her eyes glued to the computer as she cracked a joke or two completely unaware that he was right there behind her--holding his heart in his hand waiting to give her the token of his affection--the key to his heart and in that moment she heard a soft whisper at the back of her neck in a soft, gentle, loving tone…”

“He said, ‘I’ve never loved any woman like I have loved you and that’s how I know this is real--this is true and that’s why I came here tonight to tell you that beyond a shadow of a doubt I know that you’re the one--that you’re the only one for me,” Kevin’s words swept over her skin causing shivers to race up and over her when her own words echoed his, “that’s why tonight I knew this couldn’t wait. I knew that I couldn’t let this go without asking you the one question that has been on my mind since you walked back into my life again.”

Ria heard Kevin grow silent and in that instant she read the last line of his passage and gasped.

“Well, aren’t you going to read it, or should I,” Kevin whispered suggestively feeling her sitting before him in a state of shock.

“You should. You most definitely should,” Ria stammered in a shaky voice. She felt him spin her chair around so that they were now face to face. He knelt before her holding in his thick fingers the ring he’d left her with when he’d returned to the island to be with Angela.

“Ria Merhan, I have known since the first time you and I crossed paths that you would be trouble. I knew that I would have one hell of a time forgetting about the way you could make me laugh, about the way you could make me smile and through the years I always wondered what would have happened if I’d only been brave enough to tell you what it was that I thought about when you came to mind. Now that we’ve found our way to one another again, I don’t want to hold back any longer. I don’t want to hide from my heart and I know that maybe I used Donna Nevik to get me to this point, but this isn’t Donna. This is all me--all Kevin Adonis and when I tell you that I’ve never felt like this before, you need to know that this is from my heart,” Kevin reached for her hand placing it over the center of his chest, “With every beat my love for you grows stronger by the second. I love you more than I ever imagined I could love anyone and that’s why I came here tonight--to fulfill the promise I made to you before I left. Granted, you kicked my ass a bit and roughed me up like only you can do, but even through the battle all I could think about was how I wanted a great many more of them with you. About how the only woman I want to put me in my place is the one seated before me. When I saw how upset you were over the exaggerations Angie tossed at you, well it only proved to me even further how much you love me. I know this is true--this is real and that’s why I come to you today with my whole heart asking you to make my one wish of forever a reality. Ria Merhan, will you make my dreams come true--our dreams a reality by saying yes to the most important question I may ever ask other than pass the strawberry syrup and pancakes.”

Ria couldn’t help but let out a small laugh as he pulled her ring out from his pocket. He placed it over her finger ready to slip it on should she give him the answer to the question that he was about to ask. His brown eyes sparkled with love, his face a mask of nervousness and passion rolled into one as he spoke up again.

“Ria, I love you with all that I am and all that I could ever be and that’s why I know in my heart that there is no other woman in this world that I would ever want to be with other than you. You are my heart, my safe haven and my reason to believe in love again. If it wasn’t for you I would spend my life miserable and I would probably be beating myself up for not opening my mouth sooner…”

“I’m about to if you don’t get to the point and just ask me already,” Ria blurted out practically bursting at the seams as his ring dangled over her finger.

“Ria Merhan…will you…” Kevin began easing the ring over the tip of her finger, “Make me…”

“Yes,” Ria blurted out excitedly, “yes Kevin. Yes.”

“Can I finish here?” he couldn’t help but laugh at her seeing her overwhelming enthusiasm in the moment.

“You asked me to read all that was there and I already had my mind made up from the moment I saw it,” Ria motioned to the screen behind her that had the question he was planning on asking her flashing before them, “Granted you didn’t have all of what you just said there, but…”

“But you’ll still marry me anyways huh even without my getting the opportunity to say it?” he arched a curious brow realizing he’d given her food for thought.

“Well, since you put it that way ask me again. Ask me now,” Ria decided trying to keep her emotions under control long enough for him to do this the way he wanted to.

“Ria Merhan, my wrestling buddy, my pancake loving, smart-mouthed, sexy as anything, shirt ripping soul mate. Will you find it in your heart to give this old fool a chance at trying to match you in a game of wits, in being able to wake up with you each and every morning sharing a life of laughter and love with you? Will you give me a chance to show you the world of love you’ve never known as we grow old with one another sharing our lives together with our family--with our children who will no doubt be as beautiful as you are? Will you give me the opportunity to spend forever with you as your husband loving you for the rest of our days here together?”

“Kevin, don’t you know by now how I feel about this,” Ria smiled down at him reaching out to cup his face in her hands. “I would’ve married you the first time you asked if I was old enough, and now that you’ve done it again, there is no way that I’m ever going to let go of you now. I always swore that there would only be one man out there that I would marry and when he was unavailable I gave up on love, but now that he’s back in my life again, I wouldn’t dream of letting him go.”

“I’ll never let you go,” he promised rising up on his knees to kiss her with all the love he held inside for so very long. He’d swore that this moment would be perfect--that this night would go exactly as he had planned it. As he pulled Ria into his arms, he realized that absolutely nothing went as he expected, yet in kissing her and being with her and looking forward to sharing the rest of his life with her, Kevin realized that the night couldn’t have been more perfect than it was in this very moment.


“Don,” Shannon’s light eyes met Don’s intense blue eyes as she let out a small frown, standing up from the couch to take a step in closer to him. “How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to know that I’m not good enough for you,” Don replied with a small shake of his head, throwing his hands up in the air as he spoke. “At least that was what I got out of your mouth.”

“Don, that’s not even close to what I was trying to talk to your mother about,” Shannon tried to explain taking a glance back at Alicia before letting out a long breath. “I admit I didn’t understand at first Don, I was just trying to understand everything. That’s all.”

“That’s not all it sounded like,” Don stated with a small frown looking towards his mother before grabbing onto Shannon’s hand tightly. “We’ll be right back mom.”

“I’ll be in the kitchen,” Alicia shrugged her shoulders, walking back into the kitchen as Don looked back at Shannon again.

“Follow me,” Don led Shannon towards his old room before motioning her to follow him in. He took a seat on the edge of his old bed before letting out a long breath. “What is it with you Shannon? I try to be everything I can be for you, but it’s never enough.”

“It’s just Brant,” she thought of a way to explain everything she was feeling, seeing the way his blue eyes followed her every movement. She walked over towards the window, taking a glance outside before turning to face him again. “I don’t know Don, I just think he makes you do stupid things.”

“He doesn’t make me do anything Shannon,” he declared with a small chuckle, itching his chin gently before shrugging his shoulders. “They say you can try and help someone along in life, but they make their own decisions. I do what I do because it was my decision, not because Brant made me.”

“I know that people say you make your own decisions, but Brant obviously has an influence on you there,” she pointed out with a small frown, folding her arms out in front of her chest as she thought about the past events that Don had just recently pulled. “It’s at least a little bit obvious of that.”

“Well yeah, what about it?” Don simply questioned seeing the way her eyes met his as he shrugged his shoulders. “Brant is like my twin brother, I would do anything for him.”

“You have to realize that he was making a mistake Don,” Shannon shook her head slowly, knowing the stunts that Brant had been pulling recently. “You can’t keep helping him out when he needs to get out of a situation he shouldn’t even be in.”

“Why not?” Don watched her intensely seeing the way she shifted away from him and towards the window as he spoke to her. He scooted back more on the bed, resting his back against the wall the bed was pressed against before letting out a deep breath. “My friend asked me to be there for him Shannon. When he needs me, no matter what the circumstances are--I’ll always be there for him. You can’t change that about me. You’re going to have to live with that because if you can’t, then I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Don, I…” Shannon fought for words to say, but came to a blank as she looked into his light blue eyes. There were so many things she should have said, but the way he was looking at her just made her come to a stop. Don was serious about this, he was very protective of his friends and family and there truly was nothing she could do about it. “I know you’re protective of Brant.”

“Before you go on,” Don held his hands up in the air, cutting her off before she could go any further with trying to understand where he was coming from. “What you have to realize is that I have always been the type of person that if when I was a kid, my baseball team was going against Brant’s, I would be the pitcher that gave him a good pitch just so he could hit a homer. Just so he could win the championship game I would do that for him, Brant’s friendship is important to me. I wasn’t able to be happy, so I need him to be happy. I want to make sure that Brant lives a happy life.”

“Did you really do that?” Shannon couldn’t help but ask about the baseball game, seeing him let out a small laugh before shaking his head slowly in disbelief. That’s when she realized that maybe going off topic wasn’t the best thing to do. “I know I didn’t understand at first Don, but I think I do now.”

“Do you really? I mean really,” Don paused for a second grabbing his pillow from the head of the bed, holding it close to his chest before he shrugged his shoulders. “Are you really going to be okay with all of this or are you going to just give up on me and leave without a trace?”


“The car is in order sir,” the man standing before Ken explained clearing his throat uneasily, “the ambulance will be taking Mr. Ashford to the estate as his wife requested and then we are to meet the help you’ve arranged to have there.”

“It sounds like everything is in order,” Ken nodded seeing the man before him holding a clipboard, “Do you need me to sign anything?”

“Actually I really need his wife to sign here,” the man explained motioning to the blank line at the bottom of the page, “I was going to ask her for her signature myself, but her nurse mentioned she’s with her baby and…”

“I’ll take it to her,” Ken decided grabbing the clipboard and heading towards Avery’s hospital room. While he was certain she was busy filling out her own paperwork, he knew this couldn’t wait. He knocked on her hospital room door before stepping inside to find her near her bed with Erin in her arms, “Avery, can I talk to you for a second?”

“What?” she questioned looking up to see Ken standing before her. She seemed to be apprehensive for a moment before she finally nodded, “Of course. Is something wrong?”

“I just need you to sign a few more papers for Brant,” Ken explained moving forward to take a good look at Erin, who now seemed very contented in her mother’s arms. He watched Erin reach out to pull on Avery’s shirt curling the sleeve between her tiny fingers, “Avery, she’s beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Avery smiled unable to repress the feeling of pride that swept over her at the knowledge that her daughter was happy and healthy in her arms, “We like to think so.”

“She’s really amazing,” Ken couldn’t help but add thinking about how precious Erin was, “You and Russ are both very lucky.”

“I know we are,” Avery nodded tipping her head up to look at Ken seeing something behind his eyes. “I know this probably isn’t the time, but would you like to hold her?”

“Seriously?” Ken’s eyes widened with obvious surprise, “You would let me do that?”

“Of course I would,” Avery decided with a small nod, “I mean she is your niece after all.”

“Well yes, but given what you and I have been through…” he started watching Avery raise her hand in the air.

“How about we just put the past in the past and think about what the future has ahead for all of us,” Avery suggested in a small voice feeling him take a seat beside her on the bed. She carefully placed her daughter into his arms watching his reaction to her.

“Oh Avery, she’s a little miracle,” Ken couldn’t help but smile at Erin as she let out a small yawn. “She’s so perfect and…”

“Everything I could’ve ever asked for,” Avery smiled feeling her daughter’s presence in her life making everything that once felt so big and horrible fade into something wonderful.

“I can see how you could very easily feel that way. You went through a lot to have her and with Russ coming home again,” Ken paused unable to contain the questions that were still burning inside of his mind, “Avery, why are you putting all of this in jeopardy?”

“I’m not putting this in jeopardy,” Avery replied giving him a strange look. “Erin’s fine and…”

“I’m talking about what you’re doing with Brant,” Ken cut straight to the point, “I realize that you and Brant had something together, but now that Erin is here, I would think that everything would be clear--unless of course there’s something else going on.”

“Ken, I’m not going to lie to you. This situation is complicated and even if I wasn’t Brant’s wife right now, I wouldn’t walk away from him. He’s very special to me. He’s been good to me--to Erin and I and I can’t ignore that,” Avery reached out to touch her daughter’s small hand, “I know he loves us and…”

“Avery, are you sure this is what you want to be doing? I mean I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that Brant isn’t going to be crushed if you went back to Russ, but if you keep prolonging the obvious and you lead him on…” Ken began hearing someone at the other side of the room.

“My thoughts exactly,” Grady interrupted causing both Ken and Avery to look up at him standing near the doorway. “I was coming here to see what was going on today given that there is a lot of gossip going around this hospital lately.”

“Grady,” Avery spoke his name in a small whisper, her mood darkening just a bit.

Ken looked between the two of them and cleared his throat uneasily not wanting to cause another commotion between him and Russell’s brother. He glanced over at Avery before speaking up again, “I came in here to have you sign a few papers. They are over there on the nightstand.”

“These?” Avery asked reaching for the clipboard and the pen.

“They are just release papers saying that you’re authorizing that Brant be transferred home,” Ken continued to explain to her not bothering to look at Grady.

“Okay, sure. I’ll sign them,” Avery nodded quickly jotting her signature down for him.

“Thanks,” Ken offered up a half smile before motioning to Erin, “but I should probably get her back to her mommy since they are waiting for those papers.”

“Okay,” Avery replied holding her arms out for her daughter, “Russ should be back in a bit and we can meet you over at the mansion.”

“Alright,” Ken agreed giving her one last look before glancing over at Grady briefly, “We’ll see you there.”

Without another word Ken left the hospital room leaving Grady and Avery alone to talk. Grady rubbed his palms together feeling a headache building in the back of his head curling around into his temple. Still he knew that he had to speak with Avery and this couldn’t wait especially now that he knew what she intended to do where Brant was concerned.

“How’s she doing this morning?” Grady questioned making casual conversation. He sank onto the mattress beside Avery taking a long look at Erin. “God, is it just me or does she get more beautiful each second?”

“It’s not just you,” Avery smiled down at her daughter, “I think she really is the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen.”

“And she’s pretty spunky too,” Grady watched Erin waving her finger around in the air overhead, “which I’m sure she got from her mother.”

Avery watched Erin squeeze at Grady’s finger making a small scrunched face in doing so and she couldn’t help but laugh, “I think she’s trying to pay you back for being such a jerk when she was coming into this world.”

“I wasn’t being a jerk,” Grady objected with a small frown, “I was just trying to get you to concentrate.”

“By being a jerk,” Avery added shaking her head at him, “Grady, face it when it comes to me you have this predisposition to be less than welcoming most of the time.”

“I do not,” he paused catching her look of disbelief, “Okay, so maybe sometimes I’m that way, but overall I should hope you know by now that you’re someone that’s important to me.”

“Only when the mood strikes,” Avery laughed watching her daughter trying to pull Grady’s finger into her mouth.

“Hey, I think I object to that,” Grady paused his eyes memorizing the way Avery’s face seemed to light up with happiness in being with Erin. There was just something about her when she held her daughter--about the way her eyes were filled with so much joy and love that it took his breath away. If he’d ever thought she was beautiful before, it paled in comparison with this moment in seeing her with Erin. Still that was irrelevant to what he had to say to her, “Avery, what are you doing? What are you really doing here?”

Avery glanced up at him confused by his question, “What do you mean Grady?”

“What I am trying to say is why are you throwing away your second chance at happily ever after with Russ to cater to Brant,” he questioned unable to refrain from reaching out to graze his fingers against her cheek lightly, “Are you doing this because you’re concerned about Brant--because you really feel this is the only alternative or are you doing this because of us?”


“I can’t believe that you’re carrying on about this with Deidra,” Dave frowned moving into his bedroom to find Carly sitting up in bed reading a book, “I mean are you really going to take his case?”

“Dave, I told you for the hundredth time,” Carly started keeping her voice down so not to awaken Kayla. She watched her husband pull his shirt off over his head and move in beside her, “I’m doing this because it needs to be done.”

“Yes, but with what you said before. I can’t help but remember what you said about Deidra,” he replied with a heavy sigh, “I mean do you really hate her that much that you’d be wiling to side with the enemy?”

“Dave, I’m not siding with anyone. It’s a divorce. People have them every day and besides if I wasn’t handling this for Andy, someone else would be--someone who might be far less forgiving than I am,” she replied reaching for her book once again.

“Carly,” he pulled the book away from her, “you can’t tell me that you took this just because you were looking for work. I know from what you said earlier that you don’t like Deidra.”

“What reason has she given me to feel anything, but contempt for her Dave?” Carly tossed back at him sourly seeing him set her book on the nightstand just beyond where she lay. She felt him move in over her placing her book beside the phone before moving back into his spot beside her.

“Carly, she really isn’t that bad,” Dave tried to reason with her hoping that he could find a way to bridge the gap between his wife and his best friend.

“Dave, you can’t tell me that she doesn’t lean on you more than she should because we both know that is far from the truth if you even think about denying it,” she warned holding her hand up at him, “I mean each and every time she comes calling, she expects you to jump and cater to her every whim. She’s hoping that you’ll always be there to be her fallback guy and…”

“And nothing,” Dave leaned in closer to her, his dark eyes fixed upon hers, “She can’t have me as her fallback man because you are my wife. You are the only woman that I want to fall on my back for again and again…”

“Dave, that’s so not funny,” Carly felt him wrap her up in his arms before laying down on the mattress and taking her with him. He pulled her body over his before his arms caged her in over him.

“Carly, right now Deidra is the last thing on my mind. I don’t want to fight about her or about your taking Andy’s case, even though I think you should’ve not done it,” Dave continued tipping up to steal a quick kiss from her lips, “They are irrelevant to us…”

“Not when she keeps calling on you to…” Carly began feeling Dave spin her around onto her back. She gazed up at him seeing an undeniable hunger for her burning behind his eyes.

“This is the first time we’ve had more than five minutes alone with one another since we’ve been back from our honeymoon. I don’t intend to let it go to waste by talking about the failures in our friend’s marriage,” he mouthed in a low whisper.

“You are the one who brought it up after you walked in here,” Carly added giving him a pointed look.

“I’ll take it back and I’ll seal that promise with a kiss,” Dave bent down to caress her soft lips with a slow, drawn out movement. He ran his fingers over the side of her heavenly curves catching the silken material of her nightgown with his touch. Bunching up the fabric, he pulled it up over her hip exposing the warmth of her body to his eager touch.

“Dave,” she murmured his name so ready to enjoy some alone time with her husband when the phone started to ring. Letting out a groan she dropped her head back into the pillows and closed her eyes, “I’ll bet that’s Cori since you’ve been waiting for her all day.”

“Let her wait for me for a change,” Dave mouthed pressing a feathery light kiss against the side of her neck. The ringing continued and Carly groaned inwardly before pulling the phone off of the dresser.

“If you don’t talk to her, you’ll be regretting it all night and I know you won’t enjoy what I have in mind for us,” Carly whispered nibbling on his lower lip before Dave reluctantly answered the phone.

“Hello,” he spoke up in a slightly agitated tone.

“Dave, I’m so glad that I caught you,” Deidra’s exasperated tone began speaking to him, “I didn’t know who else to call and…”

“What’s wrong,” Dave questioned stiffening at the sound of her voice. “What happened?”

“It’s Diane. She came into the hospital tonight and…” Deidra’s voice broke off into tears, “She had a miscarriage. I’ve been trying to get a hold of Dean, but he’s not answering his pages and…”

“How is she doing,” Dave sat upright thinking about Diane.

“She’s not good. I mean she’ll be okay physically, but she was really upset and it got me thinking. I started remembering what it was like when we were younger and I couldn’t protect her. She’s hurting and…Dave I just don‘t know what I can say to her. I mean she‘s upset and I think she just needs to know people care about her.”

“Is Ben there?” Dave questioned seeing the looks he was getting from Carly.

“Yes, but I just hate being here alone especially when I get to thinking about the time when Andy and I were in this situation--when I was pregnant and he left me alone to face this on my own and…” Deidra broke down into tears, her words blurred by her tiny sobs, “I hate to call you like this Dave, but I don’t want to be alone right now. I wanted to reach Dean, but…”

Dave sighed heavily knowing that he was going to wind up in a world of trouble especially now that he and Carly were about to have some quiet time with one another. Still, he knew how upset Deidra was and he couldn’t just leave her alone to face the demons of the past. Repressing a groan, he checked the time, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Dave, I’m so sorry to upset you, but…” Deidra started again.

“It’s no problem,” Dave replied quickly, “Just stay put and I’ll be there soon.”

“Thank you so much,” Deidra added as Dave hung up the phone and turned to Carly.

“So what does she need now?” Carly folded her arms in front of her chest, “What crisis is Deidra having that she can’t make it on her own right now?”

“Her sister just had a miscarriage,” Dave replied with a heavy sigh, “I’m not really sure what the circumstances are surrounding it, but she sounds pretty upset. She said that Diane is taking it hard and…”

“And she needs you there to fix it right,” Carly arched a doubtful brow.

“I should go check in on Diane. She’s like a sister to me,” Dave started to explain feeling Carly grow increasingly agitated.

“Of course she is,” Carly slid out of bed making her way to the bathroom.

“I won’t be long,” Dave called out after her, “I just want to check in on Diane and…”

“Of course you do,” Carly cast a glance over her shoulder at him, “You need to be there because once again when Deidra says jump, you are ready to ask how high. Then again I’m sure that isn’t really relevant since it’s obvious that you’d do just about anything for her.”

“Carly wait,” Dave watched her disappear into the bathroom clearly upset with him. Still, he knew that he should be there for Diane. It was unfair for him not to show his support, yet he knew that Carly was well within her rights for being upset. Still when it came to friends…

“I promise I’ll be back soon Carly,” Dave mouthed under his breath trying to think about Diane and what she was going through. That was really what was important right about now.


“Is this the place kiddo?” Rob looked over at Cori as he pulled up to the house that Cori had directed him to. Cori nodded slowly as a small smile appeared over Rob’s lips. “Well, take it easy.”

“Thank you very much Rob, you don’t know how much this means to me,” she reached out to give his hand a small squeeze as a smile appeared over the corners of his lips. “I don’t think I could have gotten through the day if it wasn’t for you.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Rob shrugged giving her a sympathetic expression before turning down the radio. “I mean, we all have our bad days.”

“Unfortunately, mine has been a bad last few months,” Cori frowned moving her hand away from Rob’s, reaching out towards the door before feeling him reach for her hand pulling her back towards him. She fluttered her eyelashes at him before letting out a small smile. “Yes?”

“Kiddo, don’t give up hope okay? You need to be happy,” Rob urged her with a small grin, gently squeezing her hand in his before shrugging his shoulders. “You’re like my kids Cori, I want you to be happy.”

“Thanks,” Cori smiled widely opening the door a bit before giving him a small wink and stepping out of the car. “That really means a lot to me.”

“You know,” Rob paused for a minute taking a look at the house behind her before shrugging his shoulders. “If you never need me for anything, anything at all--I will always be there for you. You’re like another one of my daughter’s, I will always be able to help you out anytime you need me.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Cori nodded slowly holding onto the door tightly before taking a glance back at the house. “Thanks again for taking me Rob.”

“Anytime kiddo,” Rob nodded slowly before shrugging his shoulders, “You know where to find me if you ever need me at all. If anything is bothering you, I’m just a phone call away.”

“Thanks,” Cori waved goodbye, shutting the door before walking up the sidewalk. She took a glance back at Rob as he started to slowly pull away and she waved as he drove. “Bye.”

Maybe she would do what Rob told her to do and just take it easy tonight. Tonight, she had some really good plans set out for the rest of the night. Plans that should work out perfectly good.


Avery sat in silence, her dark eyes fixed on Grady’s. There was something about the way he was looking at her, something about the faintest movement of his fingers over her cheekbone that caused her to shiver for the briefest of moments. She felt her breath catch in the back of her throat before she spoke up once more.

“Grady, I don’t understand,” she blinked back at him confusion setting in.

“Of course you do Avery,” Grady continued in an impassioned tone, “I know why you’re putting it all at risk to be there for Brant. I know that you feel that you owe him something for the way things played out with all of us, but just because of what we fell into--because of what we did…well, that doesn’t mean that you have to offer yourself up to a life of servitude to Brant. You don’t owe him anything because of what we shared with one another.”

“Grady I…” Avery tipped her head to the side watching him with wide, confusion in her eyes.

“Avery, please don’t let your guilt ride you into giving it all away,” he continued to plead with her, “I know that you love Russ and he’s where you want to be, so don’t put him through this simply to make up for the fact that you believe you owe Brant something. I know in my heart that you don’t love him and that you don’t want to share your life with him when…”

“Grady I have to do this. Brant is still my husband and if my being there can help him regain his sense of self again, then I’d be a fool to turn my back on him,” Avery started to explain to him, “He needs me now and…”

“Avery, I know you. I know you more than you know yourself at times and I can understand why you’re feeling like you have to make up for what you believe was a mistake, but our being with one another was not a mistake. It was an indication that you and Brant weren’t supposed to be together in the first place. Our turning to one another isn’t reason for you to throw your life away,” he continued to plead with her knowing that she would regret choosing to stay with Brant when everything she had longed for was now a reality.

“Grady, I don’t understand,” she began again when a thought occurred to her, “Oh wait. I get it. You’re saying this because you’re assuming that I’m doing this because Brant was jealous--because he and I were fighting about my spending time with you. You think that I’m choosing to stay with him because he left town after we fought about the friendship that you and I have with one another…”

Grady watched her for a long moment before lowering his voice to a sultry tone, “Among other things. Avery, I know that you and I both can’t forget what happened in that cabin--about that time we shared when…”

“When you tried to kill yourself,” Avery gasped thinking about the flashing image in her mind of Grady with a gun pressed to his temple, “Grady, I was so afraid that I would lose you when I received your letter and then when I went after you, Brant wasn’t around when I did that. He had no idea what I was doing, but if he had been home he would’ve agreed with the moves that I made. He wouldn’t have let me allow you to die. I had to be there for you.”

“Yes, but after…” Grady paused for a long moment searching her eyes as he felt a weight in the air between them. Suddenly another chord struck inside of him, “Avery, do you remember that night you came to the camp to save me?”

She nodded, “Of course I do. I was frantic after I got your letter and you had that gun to your head. I tried to talk you down and eventually you listened to me. You tried to be stubborn, but obviously I was able to get through to you.”

“Do you remember anything else?” he questioned a numbness filling the pit of his stomach.

“We went to the cabin after because you knew Bruce was out there,” she answered shakily, “He attacked you somehow and…then Russ was there and…”

“Yes, that all happened, but do you remember anything else? Anything about that night you saved me? About the next morning…” he continued his voice growing a bit more desperate as a sudden fear swept in over him. “Avery, do you remember what happened after you saved me?”

“Of course,” she smiled at him tenderly, “You and Kyle helped Russ bring Erin into this world and for that I will be forever grateful. You saved my life that day when Bruce tried to take everything away from us--you helped Erin and I when we needed you the most and…”

“No Avery,” Grady shook his head realizing that she had forgotten--that somehow in all of the chaos she had allowed their night with one another to slip her mind completely, “I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about when we were at that camp and…”

“And what?” she asked uncertainty filling in her features. Erin let out a small cry and Avery redirected her attention to her daughter. “Hey honey, it’s okay.”

“It looks like I arrived just in time to find Uncle Grady picking on my little girl,” Russell’s voice teased moving closer towards the trio. Grady looked up to see his brother standing there before them with an oversized pink teddy bear in hand. Russ took a bold step forward before depositing the bear in Grady’s arms. “Here Grady, you take this present I got for my little girl and I’ll take my little princess off of her mother’s hands for a minute.”

“Sure,” Grady mouthed quietly watching Russ take Erin into his arms and kiss the top of her head gently.

“Well hello princess,” Russ cooed to his daughter, “Did you miss your daddy? I promised you that I would be back in no time and as you can see Uncle Grady is holding your snuggly bear.”

“Snuggly Bear,” Avery repeated with a small smile, “Oh Russ, it’s so cute.”

“Not nearly as cute as you two are,” Russ explained leaning forward to steal a kiss from Avery before glancing over at Grady, “Forgive me if I don’t give you a kiss today here Grady.”

“If you did, I would have to think that something was seriously wrong with you,” Grady offered up with a small smile. “I’ll settle to be the bear babysitter.”

“And it looks oh so very good on your lap there,” Avery noted with a tiny grin.

“So what did I miss? What’s going on that’s got Erin piping in her opinions?” Russ questioned glancing between Grady and Avery.

“Your brother was just expressing his unhappiness about our going to stay at the mansion with Brant,” Avery explained with a heavy sigh, “and I was just trying to tell him that this is the right thing to do.”

“Unfortunately I haven’t been able to talk her out of it, but I will be staying there with her,” Russ reassured his brother, “We’ve already got the wheels turning on this one and if you would like to come on over and see us…”

“I think you both have it covered,” Grady rose to his feet politely excusing himself from the situation now that he felt like the odd man out somehow. He saw Russ with Erin and Avery and knew full well that they were well on the road to being a happy family. Sure, maybe he still didn’t agree with what Avery had decided in helping Brant, yet the reality set in that it wasn’t his place to advise her. Russ was her husband--well, maybe not, but he was the man she was going to share her life with. He was Erin’s father and he was the man that Avery always should’ve been with. Given that Avery couldn’t even remember what she and Grady had shared with one another, Grady wondered if maybe just maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

“Grady, hey are you okay,” Russ questioned breaking through Grady’s lingering thoughts, “You look like you just saw a ghost. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Grady nodded quickly taking one last look at Avery before clearing his throat, “I just need some air, but you two just be careful okay. If you need anything and I mean absolutely anything, then just call. Don’t hesitate.”

“We won’t,” Avery reached for his hand pulling him in closer to her. She placed a small kiss on his cheek before he moved back. He gazed into her eyes for a long moment before finally stepping back.

“Good luck both of you and please whatever happens don’t let the Ashfords get to you. Don’t let Brant win,” Grady directed his words to his brother before leaving Avery’s hospital room vowing to keep his act of indiscretion with Avery locked in the back of his mind forever. Now that Russ was back and Avery had let the moment slip her mind, he swore that he would never, ever allow himself to let the past destroy his brother’s life. Never again!


Ben sat beside Diane’s bed just holding her hand and reflecting on what had happened leading them up to the here and now. While he’d wanted to stay strong for her, there were still so many questions in his mind that he knew would go unanswered from here on out. Leaning forward he rest his head against the rail on the side of her hospital bed feeling the weight of the last few hours taking it’s toll on him.

“You should go home,” Diane’s tired voice suggested rousing him from his moment of contemplation. He picked his head up once more and looked at her with a worried expression. Reaching for her hand again he squeezed it gently before speaking up in a muted whisper.

“Hey beautiful,” he brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it gently, “how are you feeling?”

“Do you want an honest answer?” she questioned with a small sigh, sadness sweeping over her features.

He nodded, “As hard as it may be I’ll take the truth any day.”

“Okay, but remember you were the one that asked for it,” she warned him before attempting a weak smile, “The truth is that I feel terrible, but not nearly as bad as I would if you weren’t with me right now.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Ben promised lifting her fingers to his lips again, “not now, not ever.”

“I just wish…” Diane bit down on her lower lip fighting the tears that pooled in the back of her eyes. “Never mind. That’s not going to change anything. It’s just when I think about what happened--when I really, really start thinking about how this all just fell on us so suddenly…”

“Diane, you need to rest. You need to try to relax and…” he started seeing that she was getting worked up all over again about the tragedy they had just experienced.

“No, Ben, I have to say this,” she squeezed his hand briefly, “I had this dream while I was sleeping. I was in a room--a white room that felt so surreal. I was there and I was holding our baby…I was rocking our baby in a chair and the baby was wrapped in a white blanket and…”

“It’s okay,” Ben started feeling a pain rush over him at seeing her crying.

“Jade was there. She came into the room and told me how beautiful the baby was. She spoke with me--made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I knew that she would look after the baby. She was promising to do everything she could for him. It felt so real and…”

She stopped herself choked up on her emotions.

“I know,” she nodded biting down on her lip once more, “I knew when I felt our baby in my arms that somehow we would be able to make it through this--like our baby was trying to tell me that we could pull through this--that our child is in a better place now and…”
“I’m sure that’s true,” Ben agreed feeling as though there was still a horrible weight upon their shoulders. He touched her face gently and leaned in to kiss her, “I love you Diane and I promise you that we will get through this together.”

She offered up another weak smile before something passed behind her eyes.

“Diane, what’s wrong?” he couldn’t help but ask seeing something was troubling her.

“I just…I…” she stopped before taking in a long breath. She closed her eyes as if she was waging war within herself before facing him again, “It’s just that I have to wonder if this was fate trying to give us some kind of sign about our baby Ben. If maybe we lost the baby because someone was trying to tell us something about the circumstances surrounding the baby. With JT and…”

“Just stop,” Ben instructed knowing full well where she was headed with the conversation, “Diane now isn’t the time to think about that. Right now we need to focus on being here for one another.”

“I know, but with JT,” she felt her lip tremble at the thought, “What if he was…”

“Diane, hey don’t do this,” Ben reached for her before climbing into the bed beside her, “Don’t do this to yourself when right now you need to rest. You need to focus on healing and worrying about the past isn’t going to help anything.”

“Even so, Ben what if…” she felt him place his arm around her.

“Now isn’t time for what if. Now is a time for you to focus on getting strong again,” Ben whispered warmly in her ear. “You need to rest and…”

“Ben it’s just…” Diane started to protest once again before feeling the weight of the exhaustion she was carrying with her. Leaning into his strong arms, she closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. “I love you Ben.”

“I love you too and I’m always going to love you,” he spoke in a soft, reassuring voice knowing in his heart that he would do everything in his power to be there for Diane in her time of need. Just the mention of JT had given him a moment of doubt about the circumstances leading them to where they were, but as Diane drifted off to sleep in his arms, he realized that the past didn’t matter. All that was important was the future they had ahead of them with one another--the future that he was going to work his hardest to make perfect for them!


JT stood behind the bar wiping at the counter despite the fact that his mind was elsewhere. He was half tempted to call in sick for the night, but given that he was on shaky ground with work, he decided not to push it. Besides that he needed something to keep him distracted until he got word from Lulu. However, it felt like an eternity with each passing moment.

“Hey there loser. How about giving me a Cosmopolitan?” Valerie’s voice poured out over the loud thrumming music of the bar. Noticing she got no response from him as she slid onto the barstool, she tapped her fingers impatiently on the countertop, “Hello. Earth to JT. Snap out of it!”

“What?” he grumbled back at her, “What the hell do you want?”

“A little courtesy might be nice,” she frowned back at him catching the icy glare he issued her, “Gee, what crawled up your butt and died tonight? You catch Ben and Diane in a lip lock.”

“Oh would you just stifle it,” JT snarled at her, “I’m in no mood for your annoyances especially not tonight.”

“And just what makes tonight any more special than any other night,” she wiggled her brow at him, “Come on sour puss, tell me what happened that has got your boxer shorts in a bunch.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but tonight I happen to have faced a tragedy. I happened to have…” JT’s words were cut off by the ringing of his cell phone. Immediately he pulled it out of his pocket and walked away from Valerie to answer.

“Well aren’t you just a rude little jerk tonight,” she frowned glaring over at his general direction. She watched him speaking on the phone and then with shaky hands he hung up. She opened her mouth to say something snaky to him, but there was something about the expression on his face that caught her off guard, “JT, what is it?”

“That was the hospital. I asked a friend of mine for a favor and…” he trailed off tears burning behind his eyes.

“JT, what’s wrong,” Valerie questioned worriedly seeing that whatever he’d just said on the phone, it couldn’t be good. “JT talk to me.”

“I have to go. I have to…” JT pulled off his apron moving around the back of the bar to leave.

“JT wait,” Valerie chased after him catching his arm, “What is with you? You’re acting as if someone died tonight.”

“Someone did die tonight Valerie,” JT snapped spinning around to glare at her, “I just lost my child tonight. Diane had a miscarriage.”

“You mean that she…” Valerie’s eyes widened in response, “Well how do you know that…”

“A friend of mine just confirmed it. Tonight that was my baby that Diane lost,” JT wrenched his arm away from her before pushing his way through the crowd to escape the reality that surrounded him.

“Oh my God,” Valerie gasped realizing what she’d just happened upon. While she’d thought about going off after JT, she knew him well enough to know that it would’ve been a big mistake to do that. She glanced back over to the bar seeing a few customers approaching the bar ready to get their drink orders. Normally she’d walk away and ignore it, but given what JT had just been delivered she let out a long sigh.

“You’re going to owe me for this one Mahoney,” she mouthed reaching for his apron and moving in behind the bar to help him out. She looked to the man in front of her giving him a less than thrilled expression, “What can I get for you?”

“How about a beer and your phone number?” he slurred back at her reaching out across the bar.

“How about a broken finger and a trip to the emergency room?” she suggested pinching at his hand before he pulled away.

“Damn, I was just playing around with you,” he frowned back at her.

“Well don’t,” she mouthed handing him a beer before grabbing one for herself knowing it was going to be a long night after all.


Carly tossed and turned beneath the blankets finding it anything, but easy to get some rest after Dave had left to go to the hospital to be with Deidra. Carly had tried to reason with herself over the situation, but it kept returning to that moment where she could remember seeing Deidra latching onto Dave when she’d rushed to escape being with Dean. Even now Carly couldn’t forget the neediness that had overtaken Deidra every time she was around Dave. It was as if Deidra was single-handedly trying to manipulate Dave into always playing her sidekick--to always be pushing aside his own happiness to help her obtain hers.

“Oh Dave, why can’t you see what she’s up to,” Carly frowned knowing that she’d given Deidra plenty of ammunition to get between her and Dave back when Carly had been sleeping with Ken, but that was long before she and Dave had gotten married. Now that Carly and Dave were a family with Kayla, the last thing she wanted was to have Deidra get in the way of that.

Reaching for the phone, Carly decided she was going to call Dave, to talk to him and tell him how she felt, but before she could dial she heard a silence on the other end of the line. Pausing for a moment when she heard a voice on the other end of the line, she sat frozen for a second.

“Hello,” the familiar voice started again.

“Andy, is that you?” Carly questioned wondering how Andy was on the phone before she’d heard it ring.

“Hey Carly, I was hoping I caught you,” Andy replied after a moment, “I hope I didn’t wake you.”

“No I’m still awake,” she confessed thinking about how much she’d like to strangle Deidra right about now.

“Look about calling earlier, I just got your message and I thought that I would call back. Dave sounded pretty pissed when he heard it was me,” Andy paused for a moment, “and I figured that I might’ve gotten you into some kind of trouble with him.”

“No, your wife seems to be doing that nowadays,” she huffed sitting up straighter in bed, “Really it’s no problem.”

“Then why does it sound like it’s one?” Andy questioned curiously, “What had Deidra done now?”

“Nothing new or surprising Andy,” Carly replied not offering up too many details about the happenings around town. “She’s just being her usual self.”

“And Dave’s being his, huh?” Andy coughed lightly, “I hate to be the one to say this Carly, but he’s got this thing for her. It’s been there ever since high school and she knows how to play it.”

“I’ve been seeing that,” Carly noted shaking her head, “So what can I do for you Andy?”

“Well, I’m guessing that Deidra isn’t willing to cooperate yet especially if she’s leaning on Dave, so that’s why I was calling you to see if you’d be interested in getting together soon. I was thinking about flying back home to make this official so that I can move on with my life and maybe just maybe if I’m there face to face with Deidra, she will stop stalling and just give me the divorce,” Andy explained matter of fact, “I know it’s a bold move on my part, but…”

“No Andy,” Carly shook her head thinking about how Andy’s return in town would send Deidra into a state of shock, “I think it’s a perfect idea. It’s the best way to put an end to all of this. When can you book a flight in?”


“Hey there,” Dave walked up to Deidra who had been sitting in the lobby by herself, just out in the area before her. He gently rested his hand on her shoulder as he watched her dark eyes look up into his. “How are you doing kiddo?”

“Better than my sister,” Deidra replied with a small frown watching as Dave took a seat next to her, reaching out to grab her hand in his gently. “I can’t believe that this actually happened to her.”

“It’s tragic when things like this happen,” he reached out to push a piece of her hair away from her face, a small frown appearing over his features as he saw her look up at him. “They shouldn’t happen to people like your sister and it’s sad, but they say things always happen for a reason.”

“I know,” Deidra took in a deep breath, feeling his hand caressing her shoulder gently before she gave him a small glance. A small sigh escaped her lips as she leaned back in her chair and rested her hands on the sides of the chair. “What are you doing here anyways?”

“I heard what happened and I thought I should come check on you,” Dave explained in a long breath watching the way that Deidra looked away from him. “I figured you could use some company and obviously I was right.”

“I just don’t understand why things like this happen Dave,” Deidra tried to search her feelings and find good things about this, but all she could keep thinking about was how upset Ben and Diane were. “Ben and Diane were trying to very hard to make their lives better. They tried to be there for each other and you see where that got them. Maybe it’s a sign telling all of us that no matter how strong love is, it’s never strong enough to keep your happiness in your life.”

“Hey now, don’t start thinking like that now,” Dave frowned reaching out and sliding his index finger under her chin, making her look up at him with her dark eyes. “You can’t give up just like that because I know that isn’t true. Look at you and Dean for instance--you two are happy now and you worked things out. Eventually you two are going to be happy together forever with a family.”

“I don’t think a family,” she paused thinking about what Dave had said before she shook her head slowly. “I don’t see a family in my future anytime soon.”

“Well, that’s what I said a while back too, but look at me,” Dave shrugged his shoulders, leaning back in his seat as he thought about his family and his past. “I never thought I would go anywhere in life, but look at me now. I have an amazing wife and an amazing daughter. My life is at the best peak right now, sooner or later Ben and Diane will have that again. You can’t just give up hope by a big speed bump, you just need to keep trying.”

“A speed bump? I think this is a little bigger than that Dave,” she pointed out with a small shake of her head thinking of how hard this was on Diane already. “I think this will affect them a little more than a speed bump.”

“Eventually, they will have a family just like they wanted,” Dave explained standing up and leaning down to pull Deidra into a small hug. “But until then, they need people like you and me to be strong for them and not to give up. What may be happening right now is very sad, but what I think Diane needs the most is her big sister at her side as strong as ever.”


“I can’t believe her,” Diego shook his head slowly as he walked up the steps of his house, pulling his keys out of his pocket. His mind had been filled with the angry words that Sarah had said to him earlier and all he kept doing was thinking of what he did to upset her.

With that thought in mind, he opened his front door and closed it with the heel of his foot before walking over towards the kitchen. There were so many things that Sarah shouldn’t be mad about him for and he didn’t know why she was right now.

“I really thought she cared about me,” Diego rested his hands against the top of the counter, closing his eyes and remembering the way it was to be making love to her. The way her body felt against his and now it just seemed like it was all a dream. “Now that Sarah has Kyle back she doesn’t want anything to do with me.”

It was obvious that Sarah and Kyle were back together now, one thing that he had on his mind was if Sarah made love to Kyle yet. If she had, did she even think about him once?

“What does she even see in Kyle anyways?” Diego questioned pulling a bottled water out of the refrigerator before taking a small sip of it. He thought about the differences between him and Kyle and he couldn’t help but compare the two of them together as he walked into his bedroom. Thinking of all the differences, he pulled his shirt off trying to come up with something good towards his side. “Kyle has muscles, I really don’t. He’s a blonde and I have dark hair. He has hazel eyes, I have brown. He looks like a god and I look like a normal person. He’s a private investigator and I’m a head doctor, oh man. What was I thinking when I thought she really wanted me? No wonder she likes Kyle more that me, I’m no where near him in the looks department.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself sweetheart,” Diego heard Cori’s voice as he began to pull his pants down slowly. With the sound of her voice, he pulled them right back up slowly turning around to see Cori under the covers on his bed. “Houston may be a hottie, but you--you’re dead sexy.”

“Cori, what are you doing here?” Diego gasped grabbing his shirt back off from the dresser and wrapping it around his neck. He couldn’t help but notice the blanket that was riding up on her leg, leaving him a small glance before he shook his head slowly. “Please tell me you are wearing something there.”

“Why don’t you come over here and see for yourself,” Cori suggested with a small wiggle of her eyebrow as Diego stood frozen in the middle of his room. There was something he was going to have to do, the only bad thing was he couldn’t come up with what he was going to do to get her out of here.


“I wouldn’t just up and leave you Don, I think you should know that,” Shannon pointed out seeing the way he looked up at her and that’s when she realized that maybe he really didn’t know how she was feeling. “I would never just leave you out of the blue.”

“How am I suppose to know that?” Don questioned in a small whisper, pulling his legs up to his chest as he stared out at her. “I mean, you send me all these mixed emotions that I can’t even read. It’s like you hate me and then you want something from me Shannon. I’m so confused about what it is you want from me.”

“I’m sorry Don,” she apologized thinking of a way to explain all the feelings the had been holding within for quite a while. She came over to the bed and took a seat on the edge of the bed, her back facing Don as she spoke. “I have been thinking about our relationship for quite a while and…”

“That’s the thing Shannon,” Don blurted out scooting forward on the bed and sitting next to her with his legs hanging over the side. “You can’t be thinking about it anymore. I need to know because if I am putting myself in a relationship that is going to take me nowhere, I need to get out now. I need to know what you want out of this relationship.”

“Don, I think it’s obvious that I care about you,” she pointed out with a small shrug, trying to fake a small smile as she thought about the feelings she had for Don. Her heart seemed to be going everywhere lately and she really couldn’t tell what she was feeling for Don lately. “What do you want out of this relationship?”

“What I want is for you to love me like I love you,” Don explained in a small tone, his pain filled blue eyes looking up into hers. “I don’t think you understand it Shannon, but you are the only person I have been willing to give a chance in four years. I have been trying to make things work with you Shannon because I want to be a man that can make you all better. I want to make your life a happier one, I want to be the man you can talk to--not the man you run away from. I just want someone to love me like I love them and I want that from you. You say you care about me, but you need to do more than care. You have to be something more, something that means more than just friendship Shannon.”

“Don, I’m sorry okay?” Shannon shook her head slowly, trying to think of some type of apology she could give him that sounded truthful because this time everything she was thinking up really was coming from the heart. “I should have been more understanding because I don’t have a relationship like that. I should have put myself in your shoes and tried to understand more.”

“You see, that’s not your fault though,” Don pointed out reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “I was the one that should have explained everything to you a long time ago. I guess I can lighten up a bit with Brant, but…”

“No, you don’t have to do that for me Don,” Shannon shook her head slowly seeing the way that his eyebrows tensed together when she placed her hand over his gently. “I know you care about Brant and I can’t make you give that up. I should never even try either.”

“You mean that?” Don questioned leaning back on the bed and resting his hands behind his head, seeing her look back at him he let out a small smile. “I appreciate that.”

“You see,” Shannon laid back against bed next to him, feeling his arm wrap around her shoulders and pulling her in closer to him. “I may not like how close you two are, but I truthfully understand every little bit about it and that’s part of what I love about you.”

“What?” Don pushed a piece of her hair away from her face and behind her ear before seeing her look up at him with her blue eyes. “What do you mean by that?”

“I love you Don,” Shannon smiled sliding her hand in over the side of his neck as she felt his arm slide around her waist as his light blue eyes gazed into hers. “I wouldn’t be doing all of this if I didn’t, so Don--I really love you.”

“You really mean that?” Don smirked feeling her lean forward and kiss him gently before pulling away slowly. A wide grin spread across his features as he pressed a small kiss against her forehead. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear you finally say that truthfully.”

“I’m sorry it took so long,” she felt him pull her in closer to him, making her rest her head against his hard chest before she continued on with what she was saying. “I guess I couldn’t read the feelings I was having for you, when all along they were love. I love you Don, so very much.”

“I love you too Shannon and I will always love you from here on out,” Don promised cherishing the way that it felt to have her in his arms and how she had just admitted her feelings for him. “I promise you that and it will always be true, damn true.”


“So how is he doing up there?” Augustus questioned seeing Ken descend from the long, winding staircase at the Ashford estate. “Any changes?”

Ken shook his head a somber expression sweeping over him, “Not at all and while I was hoping that this was some kind of mistake the fact to the matter is I’m afraid that Brant won’t recover from this one. Don said that the best thing was to take him home and let him heal in his own home, but…”

“But what?” Augustus questioned with a worried expression.

“I just don’t know what’s going to happen especially now that Brant thinks he’s going to lose everything. He and Avery were something solid in his life--something that I don’t think he ever thought he was going to lose, but now…”

“Now all the rules have changed,” Augustus nodded in complete understanding thinking about the rumors of his son still being alive. “Nicholas has twisted this situation beyond anything we could have expected.”

“And if he’s still out there, I’m sure that this is far from over,” Ken sighed thinking about the nightmares that his father had left behind in his ‘death’. “There’s no telling what his next move will be and with Brant…”

“We’ll get him through this,” Augustus promised in an attempt to be assuring even though he himself wasn’t quite sure what to expect with his grandson. “We’ll find a way to help him heal.”

“Avery has agreed to that as well and with her staying around,” Ken started thinking about the arrangement Avery had made with Don and Ken.

“She’s up there now, yes?” Augustus questioned glancing over towards the staircase once again.

Ken nodded, “Yeah she’s up there and looking in on him. Maybe it will make a difference. Don really believes that she’s the key to his recovery and now that she’s here…”

“How does Russ feel about this?” Augustus couldn’t help but ask with a worried expression thinking about his newfound grandson.

“Russ doesn’t like it at all, but rest assured gramps as long as Avery’s staying here, then so am I,” a voice explained as Augustus and Ken looked up to see Russ standing in front of them with a suitcase and a bag draped over his shoulder. He flashed them both a wide grin before letting out a small laugh, “Rest assured family, I’m finally home and ready to get the wheels of Brant’s recovery well into motion.”


...to be continued...