Episode 292

“Heather,” Diego spoke up as they stood outside his doorstep with one another. He looked at Charles in her arms and felt a moment of guilt wash over him at how he‘d treated Heather earlier about Sarah, “look about before…about what I said about Sarah…”

“It’s fine,” she waved her hand dismissively reaching into her pocket and pulling out some money for the bill for their breakfast. She handed it over to him to which he gave her a strange look, “I said I would treat you today, remember?”

“I realize that,” he pushed her hand back towards her, “but I behaved like a jerk and I think I owe you something nice.”

“You don’t owe me anything other than friendship,” Heather countered holding the money out towards him once again. He took it from her fingers and reached out to drop it back into her purse knowing full well she would have difficulty retrieving it with Charles in her arms.

“I told you I wanted to do this,” Diego smiled over at her hoping that she wouldn’t further protest, “You both kept me from thinking about the things that have been bothering me lately.”

“Like Sarah and her problems?” Heather arched a curious brow eyeing him intently as if trying to read his mind. “She’s gotten to you, hasn’t she?”

“What do you mean by that?” he frowned back at her trying to deflect from her line of questioning.

“What I mean is it’s clear that she’s gotten under your skin,” she confessed with heavy disappointment in her tone, “She’s good at doing that and before you know it you get sucked in.”

“She’s just a friend of mine who has been going through some rough times lately. She had to deal with her and Kyle splitting up and…” Diego tried to defend Sarah to Heather once again.

“Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but Sarah losing Kyle was her own fault,” she countered with a small scowl, “It usually is, but after the fact she tries to play down situations like she’s not a victim.”

“I think that’s a little harsh,” he shook his head at her disapprovingly, “She’s really not so bad. She was worried about you when you were in the hospital and she looked after Charles when…”

“Diego chances are that she did it simply because she was hoping that I would keel over and die in the hospital so that she could steal Charles from me too considering that she steals just about everyone else from my life,” she informed him point blank, a bitterness in her tone as she shifted Charles in her arms protectively. “Regardless of how noble you think her intentions were, they weren’t, but this time it didn’t work out for her. She couldn’t take my son away from me and she still can’t.”

“That’s not what she was going for,” Diego’s dark eyes drifted over to where Charles lay against Heather’s shoulder at perfect ease despite the upset in her voice.

“I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a bad mother,” Heather defended herself with an abrasiveness in her tone that surprised Diego. “People can say a lot about me and most of it is probably true, but they can’t say that I don’t give my everything to my son. He means the world to me.”

“As he well should,” Diego replied sensing the defensiveness in her tone, “I wasn’t trying to imply that…”

“Forget about it,” she took a step back and exhaled slowly to keep her blood from boiling. “Look thanks for breakfast, but I’m going to get going because I have to take Charles somewhere. He and I have plans and…”

“And I’d invite you in, but,” Diego glanced over his shoulder at his front door remembering the mess that Cori had left for him inside. “On second thought, are you sure that maybe we can’t do something else? Maybe I could take you for an ice-cream or something and…”

“I’m lactose intolerant,” Heather replied with a small smile when a sudden thought occurred to her, “though if you aren’t busy I do have somewhere else that I’d like to take you if you’re interested.”

“Hmm, well when you make it all cryptic like that, how could I refuse,” Diego replied with a warmth in his voice as he pondered the idea of spending more time with Heather. Perhaps in spending the day with her and Charles it would take his mind away from Sarah and the disaster his feelings for her had brought into his life.


Avery pulled the large French doors behind her shut before turning around to glare at Kyle and Russ. She found herself at a loss as she thought about the party still going on in full swing outside of the room they were in. Her gaze fell upon Russ, but then she couldn’t help but glance over at Kyle catching his tiny smirk.

“What the hell are you smiling about?” Avery grumbled at him looking less than thrilled with his company.

“It’s a party,” Kyle shrugged his shoulders before feigning a look of seriousness, “You know you should lighten up Avery.”

“Lighten up,” Avery’s eyes shifted between the both of them as she tried to comprehend some kind of rational explanation of why in the world they would be carrying on in such a fashion, “Do either one of you have any idea what is happening right now?”

Kyle raised his hand, but Russell shook his head at him in a silent plea to get him to just stop trying to joke about the situation.

“Look Avery, we were just having a little fun,” Kyle explained quickly knowing that he and Russ were both in some hot water with her, “We just decided to have a few friends over. Actually I was the one who decided to have a few friends here. Russ invited Sarah and I over after her apartment went up in flames and well I was just so excited that he was still here that I thought a celebration was in order. Augustus didn’t seem to mind, so…”

“Kyle stop,” Russ stepped forward his green eyes fixed on Avery, “This is my fault.”

“Unfortunately I believe you,” Avery folded her arms in front of her chest glaring at him, “This is so something you would’ve pulled when you were a teenager, but why now Russ? Why here?”

“Because I’m trying to show you that Brant is faking all of this,” he explained throwing his hands up in the air with obvious frustration, “The man has been playing us all since I came back to Coral Valley and if you’d only open your eyes about it…”

“My eyes are open and what I see in front of me is an immature, childish prank that’s only causing more problems than it’s worth. I mean really, what in the world were you thinking in starting this? I mean really do you think anyone here is happy about the mess you’ve started out there?” she pointed to the doors with heavy disapproval, “Russ, this is someone’s home, not a free for all. No one that lives here is going to be happy about this.”

“Actually Augustus seems to be having a grand old time. He met a few friends and…” Kyle stopped when her eyes shot daggers at him, “Okay, I’ll shut up.”

“Smart choice and you,” Avery’s dark eyes fell upon Russ once again, “Did you really think having a party and causing all this destruction would pull Brant out of the state he’s in?”

“Avery he’s faking it. He’s been looking for a way to reel you in and now he’s found it. He’s just using this made up breakdown to keep you at his side and if you’ll just think about it for a minute,” Russ tried to appeal to her, desperation filling his green eyes.

“I’m not stupid Russ, but you are if you think that this is somehow going to prove that you’re the better man. Even if Brant was faking, which I’m sure that he’s not, this wouldn’t be acceptable. Remember our daughter is also staying here and given that she’s barely a week old this is the last thing she needs,” Avery’s eyes darted between them once more before she let out a thick disgusted groan, “from either one of you. I would’ve thought that you two of all people would’ve taken her into consideration in all of this.”

“Avery, I am taking Erin into consideration. She’s the reason why I can’t let Brant destroy us. I can’t let him…” Russell strained to find the right word when there was a crashing noise that took place outside the room.

“Maybe I should check on that,” Kyle offered up worriedly seeing two men try to play football with a vase they’d picked up. He rushed out of the room in order to stop the disaster before it happened.

“You can’t let him what?” Avery questioned her voice unyielding. She ran her fingers through her dark hair wishing like anything she could just knock some sense into Russ, yet as he stood there before her with his pleading eyes, she found it hard to find the right thing to say to express how truly upset she was.

“Tear us apart Avery. I mean you already married him. Isn’t that enough for us to face,” Russell blurted out in frustration, “He thinks that he owns you now that you’re his wife and I’m starting to think that maybe the reason you’re refusing to see what he is all about is because while I was gone you liked that role you were put in with him.”

“Excuse me?” Avery’s dark eyes widened in astonishment, “Just what are you trying to imply Russ?”

“That since I was gone you found yourself enjoying being Mrs. Brant Ashford and now that he’s so obviously stringing you along, you really aren’t interested in fighting for us like you once were,” Russell blurted out without thinking, immediately regretting the words as they fell from his lips.

“I can’t believe you just said that. If you were at all in tune with me like you used to be…” she began with a huff.

“That’s just it Avery. I’m starting to think that you’re not interested in being in tune with me again, but rather you’d give it all away for Brant. You would sacrifice what we have to cater to him when we are the ones who were meant to be together. You should be my wife right now and it irritates me to no end that we’re here instead of in our home with one another--with our daughter no less!”

“You’re jealous, aren’t you?” she questioned with wide eyes, “You’re jealous of the fact that I was still here pushing on while you were gone. The fact that I married Brant when I thought you were dead is upsetting you. That’s what this is all about.”

“You’re damn right it is because it never should’ve happened!” he snapped back at her gruffly, “You never should’ve married him.”

“I did it because I was trying to survive Russ. I had no choice!” she protested further. “I did what I did because…”

“Because you were always wondering what if. You were always hoping to get to know what it was like to give Brant what he wanted and now that you’re on his side, he’s obviously got it now, doesn’t he?” Russell challenged unable to refrain from the bitterness that overtook him. “Tell me Avery. Are you here because you care about Brant’s condition or rather that you’re not ready to give up on the thought of being with him? Maybe you never even wanted me to return at all. I know Brant thinks I sure put a crimp in his plans of happily ever after, but what about you?”

Avery fought the tears that burned in the back of her eyes as she held her fists at her sides. She shook her head at him with obvious indignation, “I think that you’re a jerk Russell Denton. Nothing short of a rude, obnoxious, childish jerk and right now, I don’t think I like you very much.”

Kyle opened the door walking in to catch the end of Avery’s words as she turned towards him with a glare.

“Either one of you,” she huffed stomping out of the room as Russ and Kyle exchanged worried glances with one another.

“I have to fix that,” Russell blurted out in a panic rushing past Kyle.

“Yeah, you’d better,” Kyle replied knowing that while he’d been trying to help, this perhaps had become something that would be a major setback for his two friends. Watching Russ chase after Avery, Kyle just prayed that this little stunt hadn’t cost them a chance at happiness with one another.


“Well what do you hear other than this place falling to pieces?” Brant frowned thinking about the party taking place downstairs. While he wanted nothing more than to go out and tell Russell Denton and all of his friends to leave immediately, Don had convinced him just to wait it out.

“I’m not sure, but…” Don popped his head out ready to investigate further for his friend when he spotted Blake out of the corner of his eye. Quickly shutting the door, Don spun around to face Brant in a frenzy. “Get back in bed! Get back in bed!”

“What?” Brant blinked back at him clearly confused.

“We’re about to get company,” Don mouthed under his breath watching Brant rush over to the wheelchair near the window. He quickly situated himself underneath the blankets remembering the expressionless face he’d carried with him since he’d come home. He just hoped this gamble paid off. He heard the door open and out of the corner of his eye he spotted Blake and Sarah at the front of the room.

“Blake, hey,” Don rushed over to her side hoping that his friend had enough time to keep convincing the world around him that he was lost inside himself, “how are you?”

“Don,” Blake embraced her brother’s best friend, “hey. Don, have you met Sarah?”

“Actually yes I have,” Don smiled at her politely, “You’re Kyle’s girlfriend right?”

“Right,” Sarah nodded an uneasiness falling over her as she looked over towards Brant, “and you’re Shannon’s husband.”

“So I keep trying to remind her,” Don laughed lightly rubbing his hands together before looking to Blake, “So how are you doing?”

“I’ve been better, been worse,” Blake replied honestly unable to look away from her brother, “What’s happened to him?”

“He’ll be okay,” Don offered up encouragingly watching Blake move in beside her brother, “He’s just having a rough patch right now.”

“How did this happen?” Blake couldn’t help but ask worried for her brother, “I mean first Kenny had a breakdown and now Brant…”

“It’s been a rough year for your family I know Blake, but I can assure you that we’re going to pull your brother though this. Brant’s a fighter and he’s just a bit overwhelmed.”

“Because of what everyone is saying about Russell Denton?” Blake couldn’t help but ask thinking about the gossip that she’d heard on the way upstairs by a few partygoers. “Is it true what they’re saying?”

“What have you heard,” Don questioned uneasily not really sure if he should delve into a conversation about Russ with Blake.

“That he’s our brother,” Blake paused a look of obvious distain over her features, “that he’s our brother and not only that, but our father is still alive somewhere hiding out.”

“I don’t know about the part about your father, but that situation with Russ,” Don frowned with a heavy sigh, “unfortunately it’s true. We found out by chance at the hospital--because my idiot wife couldn’t keep her mouth shut…”

“Idiot wife,” Sarah piped in giving him a curious look, “Something tells me Shannon wouldn’t like to hear you saying that.”

“Okay so she’s not an idiot,” Don backpedaled thinking about how Shannon would murder him if she heard him saying that, “but she could’ve been a little more discreet about revealing the story about Russ.”

“So then you’re saying that creep downstairs is my brother, then?” Blake’s eyes widened before a scowl swept over her further, “Here I thought he was dead and…”

“Honestly Blake, who stays dead in Coral Valley these days,” Don joked lightly seeing that the mood was anything but humorous, “Okay, honestly I don’t know what happened to Russ or what brought him back, but I wish that he would just get lost again for your brother’s sake. Brant’s taken the news of his return hard and…”

“And let me guess. Now that Brant is like this Avery is completely uninvolved with him, right?” Blake’s eyes narrowed darkly, “Brant gave her the world and she’s going to ignore that and go back to her ex, right?”

“It’s complicated, but I think Avery’s going to do right by your brother. I mean Brant has been a great husband and it’ll show. Russ is clearly chaotic and…” Don offered up as Blake touched her brother’s shoulder.

“If Avery hurts him, then I swear I’ll kill her myself,” Blake vowed watching her brother with obvious upset. Kneeling in beside him, she gazed up into his dark eyes, “I don’t care what everyone is saying I’ll never accept that man as a part of our family and I won’t let him take away your happiness Brant. I promise you that much.”


“Hey Shannon,” the officer that called her to the police station greeted her with a smile, “thanks for getting here so soon. I didn’t mean to bother you, but when this guy came in, I knew that you’d want to deal with this situation personally.”

“Thanks for being discreet about it,” Shannon thanked the officer following him down the long, quiet corridor to the jail cells, “I know that you were going out on a limb for me, but…”

“It’s nothing,” the man waved his hand dismissively before pushing open the secured door to allow her inside to the back, “given how much that you’ve done to help out here over the last few months, it’s the least I can do. Besides, you promised that maybe you’d put in that word with your bosses for me with the feds.”

“I don’t know if you really want that considering that I’m not always on the best terms with them,” Shannon sighed heavily thinking about her tortured employment with the FBI. “You might do better to hop in on your own and prove your worth that way. I’m not really on the top of their list right now especially after how that whole Mathis investigation went down.”

“Yes, but you were there when Mathis met his maker and I think that in itself has put you up in their eyes. You did after all close the case,” the officer stopped moving long enough to face her again, “Even if he was already dead when you got there, the papers are hailing you as the hero.”

“You shouldn’t believe everything that you read, but for what it’s worth, I’ll see what I can do for you,” Shannon promised with a polite smile turning her attention to the area in front of her, “I think I can take it from here.”

“Okay, holler if you need anything,” the officer waved with one last encouraging look before leaving Shannon to deal with the impossible prisoner.

Sighing Shannon moved forward, her thoughts turning to the reason she’d been called down here today. Of course she had thought of a lot of reasons why work would want her here--a ton of reasons why the CVPD might want to have a word with her, but no, none of those reasons had anything to do with this visit. This visit down to the jail today was completely personal. It was something that she dreaded, yet something she couldn’t avoid.

Rounding the corner of the long, narrow hallway, she spotted him seated on a cot at the far end of the room a deck of cards in his hands. He seemed to be completely focused on the game of solitaire that he was playing--so much so that he hadn’t bothered to look up once she stood in front of him at the bars to his cell. She cleared her throat anticipating what she would say to him at a time like this, but instead he held up his hand to silence her.

“I’m almost finished,” he replied gruffly, his eyes fixed on the cot leaving her to watch the top of his head. “Don’t break my concentration.”

“I don’t think you’re supposed to have those in here,” she replied with a sneer irritated already at having had to been called down here. “If memory serves me correctly those should’ve been taken from you when you were put in here.”

“Hey, what can I say? When it comes to me all the rules get broken and that’s a good thing,” he explained lifting his head up to reveal his mischievous expression. Pushing the cards into a scattered pile, he rose to his feet revealing his mud-caked clothing. “Besides, it’s not like I killed anyone or anything.”

“No, you just ran your car into a light post,” she glared down at him, “and while you think you got out of this one clear and free think again because there will be consequences for this one Nate.”

“Shannon, Shannon, why don‘t we just cut through the BS and you just do what you were called down to do and get me out of here,” he shook his head at her. Slowly, he made a casual stride over to the bars to face her down. His dark eyes reflected the same defiance that Shannon had once known herself. His impossible stare burned down deep into her and as he grinned at her, she realized she wanted to slap the smugness off of his face.

“You know I don’t think you deserve any favors right now Nate. You obviously haven’t learned anything from the favors I’ve done for you in the past,” she explained with a look of sheer disgust, “You never grow up, never listen to reason and most of all you can’t stop drinking long enough to just stay out of trouble.”

“Now I highly object to this one,” he raised his finger up in the air to defend his actions, “I was not drinking this time. Ask your buddy back in the office. I took a test and there was not a drop of alcohol in my system. It was all a misunderstanding you see…”

“A misunderstanding,” she replied with a look of disbelief.

“That’s right,” he nodded emphatically, “You see I was driving down the road minding my own business with the top down on the Vette and then wouldn’t you know it, this beautiful blonde drove by. She waved and then blew me a kiss and before I knew it she tricked me into driving off of the road.”

“She tricked you,” Shannon replied with a doubtful expression.

“That’s right. She flashed me and before I knew it, the light post and I were in a collision. I mean I couldn’t help it that some random woman I never met before decided to take her top off to get me to notice. I was shocked and then before I knew it, slam, there I was in a whole heck of a situation with this sparking light in my face. My Vette was smashed and…”

“And you’re an idiot Nate! If I believed this story, which I don’t, well then I’d say this was still your fault and if I really listened to that voice inside my head, I would turn around right now and leave you here to rot for a while,” she quipped in response, “Some time in jail would serve you right for your stupidity at a time like this.”

“You could do that, but really Shannon,” he watched her turn around to leave throwing her hands up in the air. Confidently he tossed out the words he knew she would listen to, “whatever would mom say if she heard you talking like this?”

“Don’t bring mom into this,” she spun around to snap at him, “She’d be highly upset if she saw you carrying on in this way.”

“And she’d be even more upset if she knew that my dear old sister left me here in jail to rot when she could’ve very easily cleared up this silly situation for me in the first place,” Nate wiggled his brow at her issuing a challenge, “So Shannon, what’s it going to be? Are you going to help your little brother or do I call mom and tell her all about how you decided to turn your back on family?”

“Go to hell Nate,” Shannon shook her head at him a frustrated sigh spilling over her lips. She contemplated choking him in that moment and doing both her and her mother a favor, but she knew that would only cause more problems. Of course now that her brother was in town, she realized whatever choice she made was going to lead to trouble. Nathan Pryce simply wouldn’t have it any other way!


Grady stepped off of the hospital elevators searching the hallway for the woman who had rushed off after snapping at him. While he’d wanted her to at least show some appreciation for his gesture, he was more than bothered by her retreat. So much so that he had to find his way to the hospital to see why she was in the midst of sudden rudeness once again. He scanned the hall before finding her exiting one of the patient rooms. Without a second thought he stepped up behind her ready to say something to her.

“You know you could have at least said thank you,” Grady leaned in over her shoulder to whisper in the back of her ear. She spun around to glare up at him with her angry brown eyes, something clearly less than appreciative behind them.

“Look I didn’t ask for your charity,” she snapped up at him, clenching her fists at her sides, “and if you think I owe you something now because you paid a bill for me, then you’re mistaken. I’ll have the money for you in a little while because I don’t have any cash on me at the moment.”

“Hey I wasn’t coming here to collect,” he raised his hands in the air defensively, “I was just trying to see if you were alright.”

“I’m fine,” she hissed spinning on her heel and turning in a new direction away from him.

“Wait a second,” Grady sped up to catch her, “I didn’t do anything wrong. I was trying to help.”

“In case you haven’t noticed Grady,” she stopped moving long enough to face him again, this time with an even more bitter expression on her face, “I don’t need your help or your irritating visits here. I have a job to do and…”

“And I’m not trying to stop you,” he frowned down at her put off by her sudden tone, “I just thought that you looked upset and I wanted to make sure that you were okay after that guy was hassling you at the restaurant.”

“I could take care of it myself. My credit card was not maxed out like he said it was. He just didn’t know what he was doing and…” she started to explain herself when Barbara passed by with a worried expression on her face.

“Um Deana I hate to intrude, but you’re needed down in emergency right away,” Barbara informed her quickly, “Zane is down there and…”

“Zane,” Deana’s eyes flashed with fear before she darted off in the direction Barbara had spoken of.

“Deana, it’s not as bad as…” Barbara went off after her as Grady stood there thinking about Deana’s reaction to hearing the word Zane.

“Who is Zane?” he muttered to himself before opting to follow both women and find out just who it was that had Deana in such a frazzled state. Quickly Grady took off down the hallway ready to see just what it was that had upset Deana, when he spotted her near the far corner of the room rushing towards a small boy on one of the stretchers.

“Oh God,” Deana gasped in horror moving in to his side. She reached out to the little boy and practically pulled him into a suffocating embrace before she looked up at the woman who stood beside him. “What happened?”

“He was trying to be Spiderman again in play time,” the older woman informed Deana with a disapproving look, “and once again he was a distraction to the class, but this time not only did he put himself at risk, but the other children as well.”

“I was just having fun,” the blonde boy pouted turning his head up towards Deana to reveal the blood on the front of his shirt. There was a cut on his head and Deana’s face drained of color upon seeing it.

“Oh my God. Zane, what were you thinking?” Deana questioned reaching out to touch his face, “How many times have I told you that you can’t just leap off of things?”

“Obviously not enough,” the woman beside the stretcher glared down at Deana with a disapproving stare, “You know it’s been customary in my business that if children are unruly, then their parents tend to be the root of their problems for not giving them the kind of discipline that they need. Things like these are simply unacceptable especially when I have a classroom that is no doubt falling apart at the seams simply because your son is a wild child and cannot control his monstrous behavior.”

“Stuff it Mrs. Rey,” Zane wrinkled his nose up at the woman before she let out an emphatic huff.

“The nerve of this impossible Satan child,” the woman snapped before focusing on Deana again, “You should be ashamed of yourself to have raised such a spoiled brat who is clearly incapable of anything, but poor behavior. He displays all the classic symptoms of anti-social behavior and…”

“Pardon me for saying this Mrs. Rey, but my son is far from what you’re accusing him of being,” Deana scooped Zane up into her arms protectively, “and if you really feel that way about pre-school aged children, then maybe you should look into a new line of work. Children play and get into trouble at times. It’s called being curious.”

“Yes, but you have heard what curiosity has done to the cat,” the woman pinched her lips together and scowled at Deana, “Though I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything more from an unfit, unwed mother who clearly should’ve kept herself out of the bedroom during her teen years when…”

“Okay lady back off,” Grady stepped up to the woman having heard enough of her belittling Deana for the moment. He pushed himself between Deana and Mrs. Rey before she could get out another remark, “Before you lay into my wife about our son’s behavior, maybe you should think before you speak. My son is clearly a curious boy and he likes to be adventurous. In fact, the way I see it, my son looks like he needs stitches and if you aren’t careful I’m going to sue you and your school for negligence for not taking the proper precautions to ensure that my son is safe. Tell me, where were you exactly when he took the spill from wherever it was he leapt from?”

“That’s beside the point,” Mrs. Rey huffed back at him, surprised to see him standing before her.

“Oh no I think it’s exactly the point and I strongly suggest you stop harassing my wife. She and Zane don’t need this from you or your school. The way I see it, I will be filing a complaint and seeing to it that you and your school will take full financial responsibility for your part in causing my son to be injured,” Grady withdrew a business card from his pocket, “and if you have any further problems with Zane or anything else regarding Deana, then I strongly suggest you speak with me because I’m quite certain that you and I will have a lot to talk about.”

“Well I…” the woman brought her hand up to her chest in a mock huff before shaking her head, “You should see fit to keep your son and wife in order because that kind of behavior is frowned upon at our pre-school.”

“Yeah well the way I see it my son won’t be returning to your school and if you ever speak to my wife that way again, a lawsuit will be the least of your worries,” Grady warned her in a menacing tone seeing the woman take a defeated step backwards. She opened her mouth to speak up, but thought twice of it and threw her hands in the air.

“This is not my problem because this was not my fault,” she stated sourly before spinning on her heel and marching to the elevators without another word.

“I’ll be getting in touch with you very soon,” Grady waved at her, heavy sarcasm in his tone.

“Yeah you tell her dad,” Zane piped in surprising Deana at the way Zane seemed to play along with what Grady had just done. “No one gets away with talking to my mom that way.”

Mrs. Rey gave them all one disapproving look before the elevator doors closed leaving Deana and Zane alone with Grady. Deana tipped her head up to see Grady’s confident smirk, his green eyes triumphant. He faced her again seeing her wide open mouth now that surprised rocked over her, but rather than saying anything about the matter his gaze falling on her momentarily before he turned his attention to Zane.

“So what really happened Zane?” Grady questioned in a non-accusatory tone looking to Zane.

Zane shrugged his shoulders before speaking up again, “Someone in my class bet me a whole ten dollars that I couldn’t jump off the top of the bookshelves without breaking my leg.”

“What?” Deana’s jaw dropped again, “Zane, how many times have I told you that you aren’t supposed to take bets? That you shouldn’t hurt yourself or do careless things just because someone tells you to?”

“But mom I didn’t break my leg and I got ten dollars. It was ten dollars mom. How could I say no to that?” Zane’s wide eyes questioned curiously as he pulled the money out of his pocket.

“I’ll tell you how. You’re going to need stitches right now and that’s going to cost you and me more than ten dollars,” she frowned down at him before turning to Barbara. “I need to get him stitched up.”

“How about I take him in there?” Barbara suggested seeing how worked up Deana was. “Zane and I can fix this up easily.”

“Yeah and Barbara won’t be so grumpy,” Zane wiggled out of his mother’s arms and looked to Grady, “Thanks for the save man.”

“Don’t mention it,” Grady nodded with a small wave, “If she ever bothers you again, you just call me.”

“Do you have one of those cards?” Zane asked remembering what Grady had given his teacher.

“I sure do,” he nodded reaching into his pocket.

“I can’t read yet too well, but maybe soon I can get it all together,” Zane replied when Deana was paged over the intercom.

“Oh damn,” Deana cursed under her breath seeing the way Zane looked at her.

“Mom you’re not supposed to swear,” Zane shook his head at her disapprovingly, “That’s what you’re always telling me.”

“I know I shouldn’t, but I was supposed to get down to see Dr. Reynolds and…” she began with a worried expression.

“I’ll go with Zane to take care of his stitches,” Grady piped in seeing the apprehension behind Deana’s eyes before he spoke up again, “That way I can keep him clear of Mrs. Rey if she comes back for more.”

“I just don’t think that…” Deana started hearing her name again. She turned her attention to Zane and the gash on his forehead. “Don’t you go anywhere because I will be right back.”

“He’ll be okay,” Grady promised seeing Deana reluctant to walk away from her son when it was clear she was more than upset about the recent turn of events that had lead him to the hospital to begin with.


“Alright, shirt straight?” Chase asked himself taking a look at his light sky blue shirt he had put on earlier at home. It took him at least twenty minutes picking out the perfect outfit for Trisha and even worse was the fact that his father was behind him the whole time, letting out little chuckles here and there.

Chase fixed his hair pushing it back as he reached out towards the door to knock on the door, but before he could it swung open and Chase took a step backwards seeing Kevin before him.

“Hi,” Chase cleared his throat, pulling his sun glasses off as he gave Kevin a glance over. Kevin was wearing a pair of black athletic pants and had no shirt on, but that wasn’t really the thing that had him taking a step back and away. He noticed the baseball bat that was in Kevin’s hands as he gulped in deeply. “How are you doing today?”

“Me?” Kevin smiled closing the door behind him as he stepped out into the hallway with Chase, taking a step in closer towards Chase who stepped back and ran into the wall behind him. “I’m doing great today, how about you?”

“Pretty good,” Chase answered with a small nod, loosening up as he saw Kevin grip the baseball bat in his hands tightly as Chase let out a small chuckle. “What’s the bat for?”

“This old thing?” Kevin simply shrugged his shoulders as a small smile appeared over his lips. He raised the bat seeing Chase stumble backwards and Kevin let out a small laugh. “You are kind of jumpy aren’t you? This is just a bat I used back in high school and the beginning of college.”

“Really?” Chase pulled at his collar, loosening it as he began to relax a bit. Kevin nodded slowly as Chase thought of something quick to say next. “I played baseball too back in the day. So, what position did you play?”

“I was the pitcher,” Kevin replied with a small nod seeing Chase watch him with his blue eyes as Kevin shrugged his shoulders. “I believe I had like the best record in batting and pitching in my school district. I think at the age of sixteen I could throw at least eighty-nine miles per hour.”

“Wow, that’s really fast,” Chase pointed out seeing Kevin nod slowly before letting out a small smile. Chase shrugged his shoulders sliding his hands into his pockets, watching as Kevin lightly swung the bat back and forth lightly.

“Yeah, it is. Only imagine my batting, that was the best quality. I could knock someone’s head off with this thing,” Kevin informed Chase with a small nod as Chase gulped in deeply seeing Kevin wiggle his eyebrows up and down. “I would hate to be a guy that pissed me off when I had this things in my hands.”

“Tell me about it,” Chase nervously laughed seeing Kevin nod slowly as Chase tried the best he could to try and change the subject, but came up with nothing. “Were you scouted or anything like that?”

“I was,” Kevin nodded thinking back to the point in time where he could have had everything handed to him on a silver platter if he would have just made the right decisions. “They actually told me I might be good enough for the major leagues.”

“What happened?” Chase took a step forward seeing Kevin lower the bat before shaking his head slowly. “Did you get an injury or something?”

“No, I just made some wrong decisions and it led me to place I wish I never would have been in the first place. If I would have gone the other route, I would never have to experience the stupid people I have had to go about with,” Kevin let out a small laugh seeing Chase give him a stare as he shrugged his shoulders. “If I would have picked baseball over boxing…”

“Wait a second, you‘re Adonis the boxer?” Chase snapped his fingers seeing Kevin look up at him as Chase stepped in closer to Kevin looking closely at him. “White trunks with black and red trim man. The youngest boxing champion ever, man I watched you all the time when I was a teenager man of course you are like only a couple years older which means you were like a teenager yourself. You were the best.”

“You think so?” Kevin smirked as Chase nodded slowly and Kevin sat down on the floor of the hallway and Chase followed, turning to face Kevin more. “I don’t think I was that good.”

“Not that good? Damn, you don’t need a baseball bat to take off someone’s head all you need is your fists,” Chase gazed at Kevin in glory of the man that was sitting next to him. The man he wanted to be like when he was a teenager. “I watched all of your matches. I know at one point time you were gone for so long and then you came back. You were amazing when you came back, but there was one match that stuck out in my head that me and my buddies actually went to. It was you and that big nasty guy--what was his name? Bang Bam?”

“Boom Boom?” Kevin questioned seeing Chase snap his fingers and nod his head quickly. Kevin let out a small chuckle before shrugging his shoulders. “Cary Meloni. What about that match?”

“Man, you were killing him through that match and you got him down on the mat,” Chase remembered the moment he saw Kevin in the match. “I swear you grabbed his head in your hands and held your hand back like you were going to kill him man, but you just let him go and walked away. What was going on there? I mean, you won the match and good job, but wow--I thought I was going to see history there.”

“History would only be pay back,” Kevin pointed out with a small shake of his head seeing Chase give him a small glance over. “You remember how you said I was gone for a while?”

“Yeah,” Chase nodded seeing Kevin look away from him for a moment before turning back with a small smirk over his features. “Hey dude, are you okay?”

“Well, let’s just say my best friend died in the hands of Boom Boom before I even became champion. Even before I even met…” Kevin thought about Angela for a minute before shaking his head slowly. “My friend AJ was nineteen and so was I. We were in the business together and I have to say I was horrible starting off. AJ on the other hand was ready to be champion and everyone knew he could be. The qualifying match for the number one contender came down between Boom Boom and AJ. AJ had the match won, but Boom didn’t take that too easily. An illegal shot right to the nose, he broke AJ’s nose pushing it up and it instantly killed him. I watched my best friend die right in front of me and there was nothing I could do about it. So, I quit and I never wanted to be in the business again.”

“That’s harsh man, I can’t believe he would really do that. I‘m sorry,” Chase frowned placing his hand on Kevin’s shoulder for a moment before letting out a small sigh. “It wasn’t your fault, how did you even get back in that business?”

“I had nothing to go on for. Nothing to love, no best friends, my family was busy--what else could I lose. I wanted to let go of my anger, go loose on whatever I could and some day pay Boom back for taking away the only friend that understood me. Unfortunately, life had a change of events and my anger had to be pushed back and I could no longer hurt him like I wanted to all those years,” Kevin paused remembering to the past and everything that had killed him on the inside when he was younger. “If you thought that it was bad what he did to AJ, you have no idea what he was planning on doing to another person I cared about.”

“What happened to him?” Chase couldn’t help but ask seeing Kevin shrug his shoulders and think things over for a moment. “Is he still fighting?”

“Maybe in his casket because he is dead,” Kevin informed Chase with a small shake of his head, itching his chin as he spoke up in a small whisper. “I don’t know who killed the guy, but I guess they say you get what you deserve and he got it alright. I still have to wonder to this day who did it though because there were no clues whatsoever. It makes me interested to find out who really did it.”

“Someone with a lot of balls obviously. Someone with the highest degree in criminal law,” Chase chuckled trying to lighten the subject as Kevin nodded slowly and let out a small laugh. “Man, you are like coolest person ever.”

“Yeah, right,” Kevin saw Chase eyeing over his baseball bat as he handed it over to Chase with a small smile. “You want it?”

“You mean it? Like really?” Chase muttered seeing Kevin nod slowly as Chase looked down at the baseball bat before letting out a small smirk. “I may sound like a complete idiot, but would you like sign this for me?”

“Are you serious?” Kevin muttered with a small shake of his head seeing Chase nod slowly and motioned over towards the apartment. “Let’s get up and go check on a few things in the house--then I will sign it for you.”

“Cool,” Chase followed Kevin up off the ground before feeling Kevin turn around and grab him by the collar tightly. “Whoa, what’s up man?”

“If you hurt Trisha, that baseball bat will no longer be in your hands,” Kevin warned seeing Chase gulp down as Kevin looked down at the bat. “I’ll shove it up your…I think you get the point.”

“Yes sir,” Chase nodded slowly following Kevin into the house, letting out a deep sigh knowing that Kevin could kill him three million ways over, but now he might have a chance at Kevin actually liking him.


“Hey there kiddo,” Rob smiled seeing Sam and Hart walk into the doors as he walked up to greet them with a wide smile. “I was wondering when you were going to be showing up to set everything up.”

“Well, you know my family,” Hart paused with a small smile, wrapping his arm around his daughter’s shoulders as she let out a small laugh. “We kind of wait until the last minute, which is partially my fault.”

“I know you way too well and I was guessing right I would say your daughter was nothing like you were when you were a teenager,” Rob pointed out with a small smirk as Hart let out a small laugh feeling Sam lean in closer to him. “You should be thanking the heavens for that one. You would drive yourself insane if you were like Hart when he was a kid.”

“Well, he couldn’t have been that bad,” Sam decided looking up at Hart with a small laugh realizing that no matter how bad he had been when he was younger, he obviously did something right to his personality. Now he was the nicest and most caring person she had ever met and that was something she was proud of saying. “So, do you have any cool ideas for this party?”

“Well, from what you told me about this Wayne,” Rob led them over towards the things he had spread out over his desk so they could take a look at a few things. “He sounds like a kid that likes to have fun, but he is laid back so I was thinking the purple and blue colors. Like the decorations could…”

“Rob?” Cori popped her head in Rob’s office, cutting him off in the middle of his sentence as she placed her hand over her mouth and let out a small gasp. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“No, it’s okay,” Rob motioned her to come into the room as she walked over towards his desk, taking a look at the things that were laid out in the middle of his desk. “I was just trying to help them come up with something for a party they are planning for a very special person.”

“A party?” Cori muttered with a small clap of her hands as both Hart’s and Sam’s eyes looked up at her with a small bit of interest. “I can help you guys out, I happen to be a great party planner. I have been doing it for a long time and I do pretty good at it. I would love to help out.”

“Really?” Sam questioned in a small smile seeing Cori nod slowly as Sam quickly nodded. “I would love for you to help us out. It might be nice having a second girls opinion because sometimes I’m not too quite sure if I am doing this all right.”

“I’m sure you are doing everything perfectly,” Cori grabbed a chair from the other table and pulling it up towards the desk seeing Rob looking at her with a small smile.

“You know, this is really nice of you kiddo,” Rob pointed out seeing her shrug her shoulders and look over towards Hart and Sam. “You don’t have to do this you know if you don’t want to.”

“I want to,” Cori assured him with a small smile before shrugging her shoulders and looking over at Rob with a wide smile. She would do anything to help Rob out, anything. “I really wouldn’t want anything less.”


“Ms Gibbons it‘s so good to see you,” Calvin greeted her with an overzealous grin, “I didn’t think I’d be seeing you for a while given the nightmare I heard you went through, but when you called I got the lens right up for you and ready to go.”

“You’re the best,” Heather leaned in to kiss him on the cheek.

“No, you’re the best,” Calvin’s eyes widened in surprise, “and that job you had done on your face, why you don’t look a day over twenty.”

“Thanks,” she laughed lightly displaying the work she’d had done after the extensive damage that the fire had caused, “I had the best of the best helping me with that little problem and now it’s a thing of the past.”

“Well whatever the secret was, you should so keep up with it,” Calvin gushed before his eyes fell upon Diego who was holding Charles in his arms, “Well what is this?”

“Calvin,” Heather smiled back at him, “I’d like you to meet my son Charles. He’s the reason I called you here today. I thought that maybe you might be interested in being the first one to take an exclusive shoot with him.”

“I’d be honored Ms. Gibbons,” Calvin nodded his gaze traveling to Diego and Charles, who had now found himself very interested in Diego’s tie, “He’s such a handsome young man. He looks just like the both of you. He’s got his mother’s beautiful nose and his father’s face.”

“Oh I’m not…” Diego began to explain as Heather lifted Charles out of his arms.

“So tell me Heather is this going to be for a big media exclusive? Will this be something that we’ll be placing on the cover of a big magazine like when you were engaged to Brant or…” Calvin questioned curiously.

“This is just going to be a first official photo shoot for my precious little boy,” Heather explained proudly, “and I was thinking that you could look at it as your first assignment for me working with the company.”

“Ah yes, I’ll have you know I’ve been working on a lot of things lately--things that I’m sure you’re going to be very impressed with,” Calvin continued excitedly, “You mentioned you had a couple other photographers lined up to be on staff.

“That’s right, but I figure I’m going to leave the big things to you given all of your talents,” Heather smiled at him, “After all, you were the only one I truly let photograph me for a long time given that you are the best.”

“That’s what I intend to be,” Calvin nodded before motioning for her to follow him, “and you can trust that I will make these photos great.”

“I knew you would,” Heather motioned for Diego to follow her.

“So when did you two make things official?” Calvin questioned glancing over his shoulder curiously at Diego. “Granted, I don’t know your name yet, but…”

“I’m Diego Hernandez,” Diego replied with a small smile.

“Ah yes the psychiatrist Heather was always gushing about,” Calvin nodded in recognition before winking at Heather, “He’s even more handsome than you told me.”

“Well, you know I don’t like to brag,” Heather replied with a casual grin.

“So tell me is this a family photo? Am I going to be putting the three of you in these or…” Calvin began to explain to them.

“Actually I’m not his father,” Diego cleared his throat again.

“Oh, well I was just assuming that…” Calvin’s eyes widened before he gave Heather a curious look.

“Charles is Kipp Mahoney’s son,” Heather explained giving up on trying to lead Calvin to believe otherwise.

“Wait, you mean Kipp Mahoney, son of Douglas Mahoney?” Calvin’s eyes widened.

“That’s right,” she nodded.

“Well, you are most certainly working your way up in the world and keeping very yummy boy toys at your side,” Calvin added in a hushed voice before motioning over to his area he’d had set up for a shoot, “How about we start by putting Charles over there.”

“I think we can arrange that,” Heather nodded moving over to the mark and taking a seat behind her son. She began to fuss with him and Diego watched the exchange between the two of them unable to keep from realizing how beautiful she was with Charles. There was just something about motherhood that brought out a new side of Heather.

“She’s stunning isn’t she?” Calvin reached for his camera and began clicking away at what was taking place in the casual moments between mother and child.

“Yes she is,” Diego nodded watching the ease at which Charles seemed to melt into his mother’s embrace. While Diego had found himself feeling rather awkward around Heather lately due to what had transpired between him and Sarah, somehow that nervousness was erased in watching her interact with her son.

“Diego come on over here,” Heather suggested waving her hand at him.

“No Heather, I can’t,” Diego shook his head at her, “Really I can’t just…”

“Of course you can,” Calvin gave him a nudge. “I think you’d look great in the photos…”

“But I’m not his father. It wouldn’t be right and…” Diego felt Calvin nudge him further.

“Trust me these are going to look great,” Calvin insisted pushing Diego in front of Heather.

She held her hand up to Diego and flashed him a sexy smile, “Come on Diego. This time I promise I’ll play nice. So nice in fact that I won’t try to talk you out of your pants in front of the camera.”

“As if I’d let that happen,” Diego couldn’t help but smile back at her.

“Oh believe me if I wanted it to happen, it would, but for now, well just take a seat and have some fun,” Heather suggested tugging him into the shot with her and Charles as they shared a fun day in front of the camera with one another.


“I knew you’d see it my way,” Nate grinned walking out of the police station after Shannon had helped him get out of jail. They walked down the steps of the city offices and he rubbed his hands together before looking to the sky above, “Although I do have to admit I think I need a ride now that I’m out since the car is in the shop so to speak.”

“Listen Nate,” Shannon stopped walking long enough to turn and glare at him, “While I realize that you think you got off with a clean slate today, that’s not the case.”

“What do you mean that’s not the case,” Nate frowned looking at his sister with a puzzled expression, “The way I see it, you did us both a favor in getting me out of jail. You kept me from having to hire a lawyer and get mom dragged into it and you also helped yourself by making sure that you didn’t have your reputation tarnished by your brother being locked up.”

“Don’t think that I really believe you were doing me any favors because one,” Shannon stepped in closer to him, “I really could care less about my reputation being tarnished since I do enough of that on my own already and two, you aren’t out of hot water yet. I already called mom and told her what you got yourself into.”

“What?” Nate’s jaw practically dropped, “Shannon, why would you do something that insane? I would’ve thought that you would’ve been smarter than that. I would’ve hoped that you would’ve found some way to keep her out of this.”

“Why? So that she could go on believing that you aren’t the rebel that she knows you to be,” Shannon shook her head at him, “Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way Nate especially since I’ve gone above and beyond my sisterly duties to bail you out of this one.”

“And just what is that supposed to mean,” he frowned back at her.

“It means that you’re going to have to make up for the damage that you’ve caused and since mom informed me that you were once again fired from your last job, well I think we will have to come up with some kind of arrangement,” Shannon informed him with a twisted smirk.

“What does that mean?” he couldn’t help but ask watching her walk off to her car with him chasing behind him. “Shannon talk to me! What did you do?”

“Let’s just say that I saw to it that you won’t be a problem around here by having too much time on your hands,” she replied with a simple shrug unlocking her car and motioning for him to get inside.

“Yes, but what does that mean?” Nate dropped into the passenger side of the car eyeing her curiously, “Shannon!”

“It means that you are going to have to find a way to pay the city back for the damages that you caused,” she informed him point blank staring up the engine.

“That’s what car insurance is for,” he folded his arms in front of his chest, “So I’m not paying.”

“Oh yeah mom informed me of that one too,” she tossed a glare out at him, “Your insurance is expired so that means you’re going to have to make up for this little boo-boo by seeing to it that it comes out of your pocket.”

“No way,” he shook his head at her pouting in protest.

“Nate, you’re not a child anymore. You’re a grown man--an adult and you’ve been one for a while. You’d think after going through all that schooling that you’d have it together, but you’re still no better off than you were ten years ago,” she sighed heavily, “which is why I’m going to jump start the step in the right direction for you. I talked to a friend of mine in the courts and I’ve lined up a job for you…”

“A job,” he repeated with a huff, “No way Shannon. I’m not doing it.”

“Fine, then you can go back to jail,” she turned the car off pulling her keys out of the ignition, “The choice is yours.”

“Shannon I’m not doing it,” he protested watching her move to open the door.

“Okay, then let’s get you back inside,” she shrugged moving to leave the car.

“Wait, okay,” he groaned in response seeing her get back into her car, “but at least tell me what kind of job it is. I’d like to know what you got me into here.”

“Trust me, you’re going to love it,” Shannon smirked hoping that this time she would be able to teach her brother a lesson in discipline that he would be sure not to forget. Who knew? Maybe just maybe he’d grow up along the way!


“Oh, this is so sweet,” Chase grabbed the bat that Kevin signed for him as he let out a small laugh, holding it in his hands carefully. “Trista is not going to believe this.”

“Make him believe,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders with a small smirk feeling a pair of arms wrap around his shoulders loosely as he looked back to see Ria behind him. “Sweetheart.”

“You aren’t harassing him are you?” Ria questioned feeling Kevin turn around and place his hands on her hips gently before leaning down to press a small kiss over her lips.

“Now why would I do something like that?” Kevin smirked at her comment before leaning in and giving her another small kiss on the lips. “I was actually being very nice.”

“Somehow I doubt that,” Trisha replied walking up behind them and over towards Chase as she gave him a small glance, looking at the bat in his hands. “Why do you have a bat signed by Kevin?”

“He is like my favorite boxer of all time,” Chase answered Trisha as Ria looked up at Kevin and saw the wide smirk that developed over his features. “This is going to go in a glass collector’s box. It’s so very cool.”

“Kevin, cool?” Trisha questioned with a small laugh, seeing Kevin’s chocolate brown eyes narrow in over at her. Another laugh escaped her lips as she watched Kevin wrap his arm tightly around Ria’s shoulders. “He isn’t that bad, but he isn’t that special. Come on, lets go.”

“Okay,” Chase nodded feeling Trisha pull him towards the door before seeing Ria wave him goodbye.

“Remember what I said Chase,” Kevin flashed him a fake smile seeing Ria look up at him as he shrugged his shoulders when Chase shut the door. “Maybe we should go and follow them, I mean it could never hurt.”

“I’m sure they will be just fine,” Ria promised with a small smirk, turning around to face Kevin and holding his hands in hers tightly. “Now, I do believe I have a story that I am supposed to be reading very soon. One that was promised to me a little bit earlier in the day.”

“Yeah, about that,” Kevin paused grabbing her hands in his as he walked backwards towards the couch and sat down pulling her on top of him. “I thought we could get back to something else. Something a little more romantic maybe.”

“You can’t get off that easily Kevy,” Ria whispered running her hands down his abdomen slowly, feeling the ripples of hard muscle underneath her fingertips. Ria came to a pause when she saw something that looked a little weird over his abdomen. “What in the world--is that a heart on your stomach?”

“What?” Kevin’s eyes widened as he remembered the rash that Angie’s make up had given him as he let out a small gasp looking down towards his stomach. “I can explain everything, I swear I really can.”

“Yeah?” Ria looked up at him with a small laugh seeing Kevin look up at her with a small frown. “Kevin, you just have the outline of a heart because of my belt. You were probably laying on the heart shaped buckle earlier, don’t worry about it.”

“Oh, yeah,” Kevin looked back down at his stomach, thanking the heavens above that the rash was now gone and was no longer there. “About that manuscript thought, I was thinking that maybe we could play out a scene in that book. You know, the one scene that everyone waits for in a romance novel.”

“Kevin,” Ria gasped feeling Kevin stand up and throw her over his shoulder, carrying her over towards the bedroom as he let out a small laugh. Being here with him was the one thing she wanted to do for the rest of her life and now that they were engaged, they could have many moments like this in the future together.


“We’re all set,” Barbara finished with Zane’s head looking at the work she’d done with tending to his cuts and bruises, “though you know Zane you can’t keep your mom worrying so much. She’s too nice for that.”

“I know,” Zane nodded taking in a small breath, “does that mean that you’re going to give me stitches that hurt now?”

“Nope, we’re all done,” Barbara shook her head smiling down at him. “What I gave you are a form of liquid stitches and they won’t hurt at all.”

“Really?” Zane questioned with a curious expression raising his eyebrows. “Do I look like Frankenstein now?”

“Nope,” Barbara shook her head removing the gloves she’d been wearing, “These stitches won’t show like the ones you’re thinking of.”

Zane frowned kicking his legs over the side of the table, “That’s a bummer because I think Frankenstein is cool.”

“I don’t think your mom shares the same belief,” Barbara couldn’t help but laugh at his words, “but rest assured she will be in here shortly. In fact, how about I get you something to color while you’re waiting for her?”

“Way cool. I think I like that,” Zane nodded enthusiastically as Barbara exchanged looks with Grady.

“We should be fine,” he assured her seeing her walk out of the room before he turned to Zane, “You know you’re a really brave guy. I don’t think I would’ve taken stitches so well at your age.”

“Did you even have stitches at my age?” Zane questioned giving him a long look, “How do you know my age?”

“I don’t actually, but if I had to guess I would say you’re four, right?” Grady eyed him curiously.

“Four and a half actually,” Zane corrected with a simple shake of his head, “but you were close.”

“I’m glad,” Grady laughed watching Zane move around to see if he could get a look at his stitches on the reflection of the metal box on the wall. “You know you gave your mom a scare today.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Zane shrugged his shoulders simply, “I mean she just worries a lot. Too much actually.”

“I think it’s just because she loves you,” Grady offered up with a thoughtful expression, “I know when I was about your age my mom used to worry about me all the time. In fact I remember one time when I was in the hospital too for doing something kind of like what you did today.”

“You mean you jumped like Spiderman because someone gave you ten dollars?” Zane’s eyes grew wide as he turned to Grady.

“No,” Grady laughed lightly thinking back to his misspent youth, “I was actually the guy who dared my little brother to take a dive off of the top of our bunk beds, but then he didn’t know how to do it right, so I thought I would show him and I ended up needing twenty stitches in my chin. I still have a scar to prove it.”

“Really?” Zane replied excitedly leaning in closer to Grady to inspect it, “Can I see it?”

“It’s right here,” Grady pointed to the small spot on his chin that would forever hold the truth about that day he and Russ were playing around in their old room with one another. “And I can tell you my mom was really, really upset with me but it was just because she loved me just like your mom loves you.”

“I know she does, but it’s just,” Zane stopped himself turning his attention to his swinging feet in front of him.

“Just what?” Grady questioned curiously.

“Can you keep a secret?” Zane asked innocently eyeing Grady again.

“Of course,” Grady nodded bringing his own hand up over his chest, “Cross my heart.”

“The truth is that I don’t know if I really like it here. At my school kids pick on me and my mom,” Zane’s voice grew dejected and he looked away again, “She’s just always working and I miss when we used to play together. I miss hanging out with her and it being the two of us. Now she’s always worried about work and me…”

“Hey, I’m sure that’s just part of being new in town. She has a new job and it’s never any fun in school being the new guy, but you’ll make friends,” Grady tried to encourage him, “When the kids see how cool you really are…”

“They don’t think I’m cool. Mrs. Rey hates me because I don’t have a real dad and they are all so mean there,” Zane confessed with a somber expression. He brought his hand up to the side of his face to itch his cheek, “They all laugh and make fun of me there. I hate it, but my mom thinks it’s a good school.”

“Well, if you don’t like it and it’s really that bad, maybe I can talk to her,” Grady suggested seeing Zane perk up at his words. “Maybe I can tell her some of what you told me.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Zane shook his head adamantly, “I don’t want my mom to get more stressed out.”

“I think she would just want you to be happy,” Grady offered up hearing footsteps in the doorway.

“That’s right. If you don’t like that school, we can always find another one,” Deana piped up alerting the both of them to her presence. “I just thought you liked it there.”

“I hate it,” Zane admitted bringing his arms out to embrace his mother, “I’m sorry I got into trouble mom.”

“It’s okay,” she kissed the top of his blonde head. “You don’t have to go back to mean old Mrs. Rey’s class ever again. We’ll find you a new school where you can make new friends who won’t try to dare you to hurt yourself, okay?”

“Okay,” Zane nodded before patting her arm gently, “Don’t worry about me mom. I promise I won’t jump off a bookshelf again for ten dollars. Next time I’ll make it be a hundred.”

“Zane,” she threw out a warning look.

“I’m just kidding,” Zane raised his hands in the air laughter pouring out over him when Barbara brought him the crayons and the coloring book.

“Here we are,” Barbara showed Zane what she brought him, only to have him leap off of where he’d been seated to grab them.

“Zane, why don’t you color for a second while I talk to Grady,” Deana decided seeing her son already diving into the coloring book in front of him. He barely paid any attention to her as Deana curled her finer to urge Grady to follow her out into the hallway. Grady nodded and did as instructed.

“He’s a cute kid,” Grady spoke up before Deana could say anything.

“Yes, he is, but I don’t like him getting hurt like that,” Deana replied thinking about how much more damage her son could’ve had happen to him if he had fallen in a different way. Still that wasn’t why she’d brought Grady out into the hallway. Focusing on him again she took in a breath, “but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to say something about what you did before with Mrs. Rey.”

“Look Deana, I know it wasn’t my place, but I didn’t like seeing her rail into the both of you like that. That woman has no place teaching children if she can be so cold and callous.”

“I agree with you wholeheartedly, but still I feel like I should explain,” Deana cleared her throat uneasily. Her gaze shifted to the floor before she spoke up again, “You see Zane and I moved here a little while ago after we decided we needed a change. Things haven’t always been easy and…”

“And I’m guessing that has something to do with his father,” Grady couldn’t help but ask catching the way that she seemed suddenly defensive.

“Zane’s father hasn’t been in his life for a very long time and I’d like to keep it that way,” Deana frowned wrinkling her nose with heavy disapproval, “He never showed any interest, so I figured it was best for Zane that he didn’t have to deal with that kind of hassle. It’s always just been the two of us and with what you did today…”

“I know I was completely out of line and before you decide to tell me off, I’d just like to say…” Grady started once again in his own defense.

“Thank you,” Deana interrupted catching him by surprise with the small smile that carried over her. “I know that I’ve been kind of harsh with you lately, but I really appreciated you standing up for us. People don’t do that too often in my life and I’m glad you stepped in when you did. Zane appreciated it too.”

“It’s the least I could do after you helped me and my brother,” Grady replied with a warm smile of his own, “I mean hey what are friends for?”

“Friends,” she repeated arching a brow at him.

“Yeah, I’d like to think we’ve reached that point with one another,” he held his hand out towards her, “So what do you say? Am I worthy of being a friend yet?”

“I’ll think about it,” she teased before offering her hand in response, “I’m just kidding. I’m honored to have you as a friend Grady.”

“I’m honored that you’re honored,” Grady laughed lightly seeing a sudden warmth behind her eyes that let him know that today he’d finally made some progress with the one woman in this town that was destined to hate him. Maybe there was a time for second chances in his life after all.


“This house is turning crazier by the second,” Blake let out an exhausted sigh as she walked down the hallway with Sarah at her side. “Brant is in there going through all this pain and…”

“I’m sorry about this whole stupid party thing,” Sarah apologized seeing Blake look over at her with a small frown. “Kyle has been such an idiot lately. It’s like his brains flew right out the window.”

“It’s not all his fault,” Blake pointed out with an understanding shrug as she led Sarah into her old bedroom where there actually was some peace and quiet. “He’s just trying to protect his best friend, kind of like I know my brother would do it like.”

“Kyle is just being stupid all together,” Sarah pointed out seeing Blake sit down on the edge of the bed, looking up at Sarah with her light blue eyes. “Ever since Susan pulled that shit on him he has became a completely different person.”

“He seems kind of normal to me,” Blake stated with a small shrug seeing Sarah shake her head slowly and let out a deep breath. “What’s so wrong with him?”

“I don’t know what to say about him that is right lately,” Sarah informed Blake with a small breath as she took a seat next to Blake on the bed. “He cares about his truck and his video games more than he does me.”

“Did he say those exact words?” Blake questioned hearing Sarah mutter something, but it was too low even for her to hear it. “How about we take our minds off of Kyle right now and go do something else?”

“Sure, what’s on your mind?” Sarah asked still having Kyle on her mind and how ridiculous he was being lately. There were so many things Kyle had been doing wrong to her lately and she wondered if she would even be able to have the relationship with him they once had.

“Well, I was now starting the little community center I planning on making. I was setting some plans up for it,” Blake began to speak, tearing Sarah out of her thoughts. Blake reached over towards her dresser taking some papers off it and showing it to Sarah. “I’m having a hard time trying to understand these things and I was wondering if you thought Diego might want to help out with this. I could use all the possible hands available.”

“Diego,” Sarah repeated his name, setting the papers down on the bed before standing up and pacing back in forth between the room. “Why would I know anything about Diego? I don’t care about him, I don’t even hang out with him. How would I know what he was going to do or what he would want to do?”

“Okay, why are you freaking out now?” Blake couldn’t help but notice the whole attitude change of Sarah right before her eyes after mentioning Diego’s name. “What is so bad that you have against Diego? What‘s wrong with the both of you.”

“Nothing,” Sarah lied watching Blake’s eyebrows tense, knowing that Blake didn’t believe any words that just came out of her mouth. Blake was her best friend, she needed to let Blake know what was going on. “If I tell you something, you promise you only keep it to yourself?”

“Of course Sarah,” Blake nodded quickly seeing Sarah turn towards her, running her hands through blonde hair slowly. “What is it Sarah?”

“Diego,” Sarah paused not knowing how she was going to put words together with what happened between her and Diego. Thinking quickly, Sarah blurted out everything in a small amount of time, not knowing how to explain things slowly. “When I thought Kyle broke up with me, I got with Diego because I didn’t feel loved. When I say got with Diego, I mean I slept with and well--now I have Kyle again and Diego wants me too so now I am having problems because of what I did with Diego.”

“What? That was a good one, like you would really sleep with Diego,” Blake laughed shaking her head as she thought about the jumbled sentence Sarah had just put together. Blake’s eyes met Sarah’s eyes as she let out a small gasp realizing the seriousness behind Sarah’s features. “Oh shit, you really are being serious.”


Don locked the door shortly after Blake and Sarah left. Leaning up against the door he let out a heavy sigh of relief before looking to Brant. Moving forward he spoke up in a quiet voice in the hopes that no one else heard what was going on.

“That was close. Almost too close,” Don reminded Brant with a firm warning look, “I thought for a minute there Blake and Sarah caught us.”

“I feel horrible about that,” Brant frowned thinking to how upset his sister was, “Blake didn’t deserve to be deceived like that. She should hear the truth and not be lead to think I’m some kind of vegetable.”

“Brant, you’re doing this to save your marriage. I think that Blake would understand that,” Don offered up seeing the obvious upset behind his friend’s tired eyes, “You have to keep remembering that.”

“I’m trying Don, but at the same time I don’t want Blake hurt. I’ve already lied to her once already and that doesn’t sit well with me,” Brant confessed further, “The idea of deceiving her doesn’t sit right with me Don.”

“I understand that and I can’t say I blame you either, but we can’t let anyone know about this,” Don warned him sharply, “At least not until you’ve had time to make your move on Avery.”

“I know that, but this just feels so much like,” Brant’s words trailed off a sudden sense of despair rushing over him.

“Like what man?” Don stepped forward catching the less than thrilled expression on his friend’s face.

“Like something my father would pull,” Brant sighed heavily, “I mean if Avery is really ready to walk away from our marriage…”

“Just stop before you start,” Don shook his head at him, “Don’t even got there. Brant, you know you love Avery and she loves you. She married you because she wanted to spend the rest of her life with you. That was her decision.”

“Yes, but it was one that she made when she thought Russ was dead,” Brant frowned thinking about his less than traditional courtship with Avery. “She married me because she felt backed into a corner.”

“It doesn’t matter how it happened Brant,” Don shook his head at him, “I mean look at Shannon and I. We were strangers when we got married and yet even against the odds the relationship is still going strong.”

“Don, it’s a little different considering that…” Brant began again.

“Tell me that you don’t believe in your heart that Avery doesn’t love you. Tell me that you’re ready to walk away from this without a fight because if you do, I swear you’ll prove you’re nothing like the man I’m friends with. The Brant Ashford I know is a fighter. He isn’t about to back down when a situation arises that he can come out on top of. He laughs at the odds and takes them head on. He…” Don proclaimed in an impassioned tone.

“Okay I get it Don, but I’m warning you now that I’m going to have to work at this overtime to prove to Avery that our life together is better than what she thinks she had with him,” Brant’s jaw flexed with tension, “I need to make her admit that she loves me somehow.”

“We can do that. Trust me,” Don began pondering the situation, “The fact that she’s here is already putting doubt in Russell’s mind and maybe if we get Hart to step in and help…”

“No,” Brant shook his head, “We can’t get Hart involved in this. It’s too risky. He’s with Jenna and Jenna is Avery’s best friend,” Brant frowned again hating to keep his pal in the dark, “While I know he wouldn’t betray my confidence, he’s still in a place that could wind up getting him in trouble if Jenna found out.”

“True, but he’s good at these things,” Don offered in response scratching his chin for a moment, “Though maybe you’re right. Maybe we should spare him the kind of situation that Shannon and I went through.”

“That was the general idea,” Brant frowned again, “I really hate this Don, but you’re right. This is the only way to get Avery to face the fact that she cares about me. Once she sees this, she’ll have no choice but to follow her heart.”

“Which will ultimately lead her back to you,” Don finished hearing voices outside the room. He fell to silence and rushed over to the door hearing a woman shouting.

“Don, what is it?” Brant questioned wheeling himself over closer to his pal.

“Get back Brant!” Don waved his hand dismissively at him, “I think it’s Avery.”

“Avery’s back,” Brant’s eyes widened.

“Yes, but she’s not alone. It almost sounds like,” Don paused opening the door to peer out into the hallway. He quietly closed the door again, “I think she’s fighting with Russ. She looks pretty pissed.”

“I have to see this,” Brant moved forward ready to take a look for himself.

“You’ll blow it if she sees you,” Don waved at him once again, “Stay back and let me check this out. Though I have to tell you from the sound of it maybe things are looking up after all.”

“I hope you’re right,” Brant replied straining to hear what it was that Don was watching take place in the hallway.


“Avery please wait…” Russell chased after her catching her arm in the hallway, “Please just listen to me…”

“I think I’ve heard more than enough,” Avery spun around to glare at him, “You’ve made your feelings painfully obvious and this little beer ball you and Kyle have put on here shows just how you really feel.”

“Avery, I’m upset and I’m frustrated and you can’t blame me for that. Here I was ready to begin my life with the only woman I have ever loved and then Nicholas Ashford took me away from that. I was pulled away from you and locked up for a while until I escaped. Nicholas and Brooke did everything in their power to keep us away from one another. I had amnesia and I fought like hell to find my way back to you only to discover that you’d found love with another man,” Russell sighed taking a breath to try to calm his nerves, “Yeah, okay so maybe that does make me a little crazy, but Avery damn it I love you and the thought of losing you terrifies the hell out of me.”

“Russ no one said that you were going to lose me,” her voice softened a bit as she noticed the pain behind his vivid green eyes.

“Avery, when I was still around, Brant was constantly trying to sabotage us. He was preying on your emotions--on your feelings for him and then for me to come back to discover you’d married him,” he shook his head somberly, “Try to imagine how this feels for me--how it feels to learn that the person you hated the most in this world stepped in and took your place in my life. How would you react?”

Avery stood silent for a long time before taking in a breath.

“Well?” Russ eyed her expectantly.

“I would hate it,” Avery replied stubbornly folding her arms in front of her chest, “and I would probably do everything in my power to prove to you that you didn’t belong with her--that you and I had something worth fighting for.”

“Like the time you showed up at the cabin when you thought I was with Johanna. You were ready to do whatever you could to stop anything from happening between Johanna and I. Remember?” Russell watched her face twist with a strange combination of emotions. “Remember when you showed up on my doorstep in the pouring rain using any feeble attempt that you could to try to get me to let you inside--to get you through the door so that you could stop what you believed was going on…”

“I was just hurt because I thought you took her to our special place--that you’d made love to her at the one place that was sacred to us,” she reminded him with a small pout, a shiver racing up over her spine at the memory of what had driven her miles from school to be with him.

“I would never do that to you,” he reached out to touch her cheek lightly, “Avery, I could never betray what we had with one another like that, but when you thought I had, it hurt, didn’t it?”

“Of course it hurt. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and stomped on over and over again,” she answered honestly tears pooling in her dark eyes.

“Well imagine what it would feel like for you to be standing where I’m at right now in being so close to our dreams, yet so far away,” he continued his words laced with emotion, “Avery, I love you with all that I am--with my whole heart and when I found out that you and Brant got married, it felt like I’m sure you did that night that you believed I’d taken Jo to the cabin to make love to her. It felt like everything that we fought for was stolen from us--as if Brant had my life--my family and there was nothing I could do to have it back again.”

“Russ that’s not what…” she started feeling him press his finger over her lips to silence her words.

“Avery, I love you with my whole heart. I’ve loved you ever since the first moment I first saw you. You have always been and always will be the most important person in my world along with Erin. I know that we’ve had a horrible set of situations rise upon us, but you have to believe me when I tell you that you have always been in my heart even when my mind has been clouded. You are the one and only reason for my finding the strength to make it back to Coral Valley. You and Erin are absolutely everything to me and if I lost you…”

“Russ, you’re…” Avery tried to speak up again, but her words were cut off once more.

“Avery, you are my heart, my soul and my reason for everything. I know that I’ve been acting like a man possessed and in some ways I know it’s wrong, but you’re someone that I absolutely cannot live without and if I had to face that,” Russell took in a breath bringing her hand over the center of his chest, “Avery, when I think about this situation--when I think about what’s happened, I’m so afraid that I’m going to lose you and Erin--that I’m going to have to face the rest of my life without you. When the world thought I was dead, I was trapped inside myself, buried inside my head as a victim of the forces that were working against us, but now that I’m home--now that we can be together again, it feels like this hold Brant has over you is the one thing that can keep us away from one another forever and it scares me. I can’t face losing you again…not after what happened before…not after…”

“Russ, you aren’t going to lose me,” Avery replied tearfully reaching out to embrace him with shaky hands, “You are my the man of my dreams--the man that I want to share my life with. When I look at you I see everything right in this world and Erin is a proof of our love. What we have is so strong, so solid that not even death could take that from me. When I thought I lost you, I cried night after night praying to God that we could have another chance to be together--that this was all some bad dream and that you’d come back to me. Each night I cried myself to sleep wishing that your arms were around me keeping me safe and protected. I wanted nothing more than to be with you--to experience each and every moment of my pregnancy with you, but it all slipped away from us.”

“But we can get it back,” Russell paused watching her lower lip tremble with emotion, “Can’t we?”

“Russ that’s just it,” Avery brushed her fingers against his cheek tenderly, “We’ve never lost it and in my heart, you’ve always been my husband. You’ll always be the only love for me.”

“I’m so sorry about all of this,” Russell heard the music still pouring through the first level of the house, “This wasn’t what I wanted. I just felt threatened and…”

“You went into full on caveman mode like you always do,” she sighed heavily sliding her arms around his shoulders to pull him closer to her. “It’s the way you respond to a threat. You’ve been doing it ever since Tommy James asked me out in second grade and unfortunately I can see now it’s never going to change.”

“Avery, it’s just that I…that…” Russell struggled to find the words as he pulled her close to him, “When I look at you, I still see the most beautiful girl in the world. The one with the dark hair and pigtails that loved to give me a hard time. The girl that always kept me on my toes, yet had me completely captivated since day one. When I close my eyes at night its your face that fills my dreams and when I wake up in the morning it’s you I want in my arms. I want for us to have what we always dreamt about--a life full of love and happiness with Erin.”

“I want that too Russ,” she replied tenderly, her index finger tracing his lower lip gingerly, “and I promise you when Brant recovers…”

“Avery, what if he never recovers? What if this never comes to an end? What if he finds another reason to keep you here? Then what?” he sighed heavily feeling her release him. He watched her take a step back and he felt a moment of desperation sweep over him.

“Russ, I have to believe he’ll improve. I have to believe that he’ll return to us and when he does…” Avery bit down on her lower lip nervously all the while thinking about the man who was laying in the bed in the room across from them.

“Then what? What happens next? Are you going to tell him that you want a life with me or is this the beginning of the end for us?” he couldn’t help but ask his worries mounting. “Avery, are you going to be able to let go of him to share your life with me? Are you going to be able to step into our life together again without Brant holding you back?”

“Of course I will,” she decided with a firm nod, “Russ I promise you…”

“Avery, I want to believe you, but given the way things are--the way that Brant has been pushing all the right buttons lately,” he began worriedly, his voice shakier by the moment. He dropped his head a bit to look at the floor trying not to let his insecurities rule him. “If I lost you and Erin…”

“You won’t,” she promised knowing that there was lingering doubt in the air between them. Taking in a breath, she stood taller planting her feet firmly in the ground. She saw that he was uncertain, that he was far from feeling comfortable when everything was so up in the air between them. Knowing what she must do, she took a bold step forward grabbing the front of his shirt decidedly. “I think it’s long past time I set you straight Russ.”

“Avery, what in the…” his eyes widened as he felt her push him back into the wall. He saw the spark of determination behind her eyes, the fire burning beneath the surface as her fingers tangled into his dark hair and she pulled herself up on her toes to taste his lips with all the heat and passion that she’d been forced to bury inside of her since he’d disappeared from her life.

“I love you,” her words buzzed against his mouth as he dropped his arms down around her waist. Pulling her up off of her toes, he continued to kiss her tasting the fire and raw untamed emotion inside of her. His tongue darted within her parted lips feeling her match his movements in such a way that his every impulse cried out for more. He squeezed her close to him not giving a damn about the party beneath them. He didn’t care who saw what they were doing, how they were holding onto one another as this was the one moment he wanted to remember for a very long time in kissing the woman he thought he’d forever lost from his life.

However as wonderful as the moment seemed to Russ, there was another set of blue eyes fixed on the duo from across the room.

“Well, what’s going on?” Brant questioned in a muted voice watching Don close the door in front of him after a silence swept over the area, “Don?”

“Um Brant,” Don rubbed his palms together not really knowing what to say about what he just witnessed.

“What is it? What?” Brant frowned pushing his way past Don to peer out into the hallway just in time to see Russ and Avery break away from their kiss. He watched Avery sink into Russell’s chest burying her head in his muscled torso. Russell’s fingers smoothed through her hair and he seemed to whisper something to her that Brant was sure had just made her blush. She tipped her head up to gaze into his eyes again and their lips met in another passionate moment.

“Damn it,” Brant cursed under his breath turning around to face his best friend, “This shouldn’t be happening. She should be throwing him to the curb right about now!”

“She will,” Don gulped wondering how in the world this had all backfired, “Don’t worry Brant. We’ll get started on some major damage control.”

“We’d better,” Brant nodded fighting the urge to race out into the hallway and choke the life out of Russell Denton, “because I can’t lose her especially not to him. Not when she and I are the ones that are meant to be together.”

“It’s not going to happen man. Somehow we’ll pull this one off and he’ll bit the dust. You’ll see,” Don added quickly knowing that his friend must be in hell right now to see Russ and Avery lost in one another’s arms.

“We’d better pull this off because if we can’t do it Don, I could lose absolutely everything that matters most to me in this world,” Brant sighed heavily fearing that somehow when everything was said and done he would end up alone all over again, which was a fate that he feared more than anything!



...to be continued...