Episode 295

“Sarah?” Blake peaked her head around the corner to try and find her friend that just up and disappeared. “Great, I don’t feel like playing a game of hide and seek here.”

The noise of water running in the bathroom caught her attention as she turned around and headed back towards the bathroom. She heard a small groan come from the bathroom and she knew it was Sarah.

“Sarah,” Blake knocked on the door hearing the water turn off as she rested against the wall next to the bathroom. Sarah slowly walked out of the bathroom as Blake watched her carefully. “Is something wrong?”

“I felt like I was going to puke,” Sarah tried to explain things to Blake with a small frown, placing her hand over her stomach and letting out a deep breath. “I guess I just kind of feel a little sick.”

“It’s probably just the monkey poop from that one monkey that has been running around here somewhere,” Blake pointed out seeing Sarah’s shocked glance looking up at her as she shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t give me that look, there really is a monkey that is running around here. The poop got to me too. It really smells bad, I mean once you hit the kitchen--bring out the gas masks.”

“I think I may need one right now because I truthfully really don’t feel good at all,” Sarah replied taking in a sharp breath, running her hand in over her stomach slowly before letting out a small sigh. Blake’s blue eyes looked up at her worriedly before Sarah shook her head slowly. “I’m fine, I really am.”

“Fine or not, I am going to take you outside for some fresh air,” Blake decided grabbing Sarah’s arm tightly and leading her down the stairs slowly. “You really don’t look good at all.”

“Maybe what I told Kyle was right,” Sarah decided in a small breath seeing Blake look over at her with a questionable expression. “I mean, maybe I have a stomach cold or something like that.”

“I don’t know, but let’s get you out of here for a little bit,” Blake led Sarah out the back door and over to the swinging bench to take a seat. “What’s going on with you lately Sarah? It’s like you have had a complete and total switch around on me here.”

“I didn’t change at all,” Sarah blurted out giving Blake a small look before shaking her head slowly, “I am still me and I really haven’t changed at all.”

“If you say so,” Blake paused thinking about all the moments lately that had taken place with Sarah. It was like Sarah wasn’t really her best friend, it was like it was a completely different person that looked like Sarah, but had a different personality. “I just don’t get it. Kyle has been great to you and you pay him back by sleeping with Diego.”

“Don’t make me out to be the bad person in all of this Blake,” Sarah warned sharply seeing some of the people from the party stepping in towards the back door, but now walking out onto the deck. “Kyle did just as much in the wrong as I did, but enough about that. I don’t want to hear anything more about Kyle right now.”

“Okay, I just feel really weird these days,” Blake explained giving Sarah a small glance before shrugging her shoulders. “Don’t get me wrong I love my family, but they are all idiots. They aren’t being themselves lately.”

“That seems to be going around with everybody lately,” Sarah pointed out with a small nod seeing a dark shadow look out towards them before walking away. “Everyone seems to be really creepy lately.”

“Well, I think everyone just needs to take a step back and look at their lives,” Blake stated folding her arms out in front of her chest and tried to hint at Sarah she was speaking about her. “They need to get their lives all clear if you get what I mean.”


“See this wasn’t so bad,” Heather laughed lightly pushing the stroller along as she and Diego walked through the mall with one another. After things had gone pretty well with their photo session she’d opted to brave it on a shopping adventure. “Of course I have to admit I’m not really used to this whole mall thing considering that I like to get most of my wardrobe imported or custom made if you will…”

“Really?” Diego glanced over at Heather giving her a curious expression.

“What you don’t believe me?” Heather curled her lip in a pout stopping and placing her hand on her hip. “I’ll have you know that a lot of time and effort goes into what I wear. I mean sure I could toss myself together quickly, but all that would accomplish is making me look like I could care less about myself and my appearance. It would label me as careless and lazy and I certainly don’t need that kind of stigma over my head.”

“So let me get this straight,” Diego shook his head at her unable to repress the mild laugh that built up in the back of his throat, “You would much rather spend thousands of dollars on a wardrobe that more than likely will spend most of it’s shelf life in a closet rather than get something at a bargain price simply because you want to have some kind of status that really is irrelevant to who you are?”

“Diego, I’m not going to lie to you. Fashion is very important to me and who I am. I had to see what it was like not being able to have nice things growing up and I’m not about to stop enjoying them now that I can afford them,” she wrinkled her nose at him before glancing down at Charles, “Besides my son deserves nothing less than the best.”

“Yet you’re here at the mall,” he pointed out giving her a look.

“Well yes, but only because they have a new store in here that well, it’s very nice. It’s elite and,” Heather paused giving him a sideways glance, “Kellen’s friend is a designer and he specializes in children’s wear. He’s come up with this great collection for Charles to wear and…”

“Hey, to each his own or her own in this case,” Diego held his hands up in the air before shrugging. “I don’t see the logic behind it, but if you feel so strongly.”

“Hey, my child is not going to get known as being the boy whose mother wasn’t smart enough to know how to dress him,” Heather snubbed his comment. “He doesn’t need to grow up with that.”

“Heather you’re doing a fine job with Charles. I just don’t think that you have to spend a fortune to prove how wonderful you are as a mother,” Diego offered up in confession tilting his head to look at her more clearly.

“I realize that, but at the same time I think about how little my mother did for me other than torment me and I don’t want that for Charles. I don’t want him to be wondering when his next meal is around the corner--when someone is going to care about whether or not he finishes school or even have to worry about what the kids are saying about him and his family behind his back or even right in front of him. I want my son to never, ever have to experience those things so if giving him the best of the best can keep that from happening, then so be it.”

“Hey, I didn’t mean to start a debate,” Diego put his hands up in the air innocently, “I was just saying that…”

“I know what you were trying to say, but let’s drop it. Okay?” Heather suggested looking to the crowded hallway in front of her, “Besides this is one of the nicer malls in town I’ve been told so I think I can suffer to shop like regular people today.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Diego opened his mouth to say something more when a pinched tone broke through his thoughts.

“Well isn’t this convenient,” Cori sneered at the both of them, shaking her head full of disgust. “Not only does the man have the nerve to try to tell me that I couldn’t cut it for a girlfriend, but he decides to step out on me not once, but twice with the slut sisters.”

“Slut sisters?” Heather spun around to glare at Cori before rolling her eyes, “Oh I should’ve known it was you. You seem to always have trouble figuring out when it is that you’re not wanted. Though let me clue you in on something. Right about now is one of those times, so why don’t you do us all a favor and just go away?”

Cori’s eyes narrowed in watching Heather circle her finger around in the air dismissively, “I can’t go away as easily as he wishes and I’m not going to, so you’ll have to get used to it.”

“No we won’t,” Heather reached for Diego’s arm and pulled him along in the direction that they’d started off on earlier with one another before he or Cori could say another word.

“You’re a fool if you actually think that creep can make you happy. He’s a jerk and a loser and he is terrible in bed,” Cori shouted in a voice so loud that the other shoppers stopped to watch the commotion taking place. She stomped forward a newfound determination filling her up inside, “That’s right. He’s one of the worst that I have ever been with and…”

“Enough Cori,” Diego spun around to find her nose to nose with him.

“No, I don’t think it’s enough. Not until I get the opportunity to humiliate you like you humiliated me,” Cori spat back at him, her brown eyes full of vengeance and rage. “You owe me for what you did.”

“Cori, I know I hurt you and I’m sorry for that, but…” Diego began in a strained tone fully aware of the eyes that were on him.

“Oh you’re damn right you’re sorry, but you know what Diego? This time sorry doesn’t cut it,” Cori seethed clenching her fists at her side. “This time you’re going to pay for all the horrible, rotten things you did to me and the empty promises that you tossed out at me.”

“Cori, I didn’t mean to hurt you and I sincerely wish that I could take all of it back, but…” Diego began in a flustered tone.

“Don’t apologize to her,” Heather pushed her way between the two of them. She gave Cori a brief once over before scowling at her, “She’s obviously a demented psycho who can’t take rejection too well. It only proves how juvenile she truly is if she has to make a scene like this.”

“The only thing juvenile is Diego’s ability to please a woman in bed,” Cori huffed in response, her eyes shooting daggers at the both of them, “He’s a huge disappointment with all of his shortcomings and…”

“And if you were so disappointed, you wouldn’t be wasting your time bothering him here now would you?” Heather challenged seeing Cori’s irritation level rise with each passing second. “Face it Cori, what you had is over. Get over it and move on with your life. It’s for the best.”

“Yeah well I have news for you both anyways,” Cori cleared her throat straightening out the sleeve of her blouse, “I’ve found someone else--someone who makes you look like the loser you truly are.”

“That’s great news psycho and we’ll take that with us through the rest of our day,” Heather rolled her eyes waving her hand at Cori again, “So why don’t you find your boyfriend and leave us alone?”

“This isn’t over,” Cori warned glaring up at Diego, “I might’ve moved on, but you’re still going to regret messing with me.”

“Yeah okay, we’ll add that to the top of his worries there,” Heather muttered reaching for Diego’s arm again and setting off down the hallway doing her best to ignore Cori’s tantrum.

“Heather I…I’m sorry…” Diego began feeling himself at a loss as he glanced over his shoulder to see Cori starting to walk away clearly agitated that she had been blown off during her tantrum. “I didn’t mean for you to get stuck in the middle of that. It’s just…”

“She’s feeling bad because the man she thought was her dream guy turned out to be mine instead,” Heather replied squeezing his arm gently, “Hey, what else can she say about it? Of course she’s going to be jealous that you and I are together, but that’s her problem not ours.”

“Heather,” Diego slinked away from her hold on his arm, “about that whole together thing…”

“Oh come on,” Heather waved her hand at him playfully, “Just because you and I haven’t been together in every sense of the word yet, we both know it’s only a matter of time and when that moment happens well I’m pretty sure you’ll prove that you aren’t a disappointment like Cori wants the world to believe. In fact I’m positive that you’ll be very hot.”

“Heather, I um,” Diego felt Heather’s perfectly sculpted nails scratch lightly over the center of his chest. He looked over his shoulder to realize that Cori had disappeared, yet he felt uncomfortable with the eyes of the mall patrons on him. Clearing his throat uneasily, he reached for Heather’s wrist and pulled it away from his chest gently. “I think we’d better get back to shopping. You don’t want to leave Kellen’s friend waiting, right?”

“It might be worth it if you and I could spend a few minutes alone together,” she wiggled her brow suggestively, her gaze lingering to his lips.

“I really don’t think we should keep him waiting,” Diego decided moving away at the last second when he sensed her moving in for a kiss. He sidestepped over to Charles in his stroller and began to push him along the hallway, “Come on we don’t want to be late.”

“No I suppose we don’t,” Heather huffed folding her arms in front of her chest as she wondered what it was about her that had Diego constantly running in the opposite direction. The longer it went on the more she was starting to hate it in ever way imaginable.


“I think Brant has had enough company for today,” Don decided glaring over at Russell and Kyle, seeing the glance that Kyle gave him as if he was telling Don to just shut up. “I’m a doctor and I know what Brant needs, so if you would…”

“What you seem to be forgetting is that you are also his best friend which means you will do anything to lie for this loser,” Kyle blurted out feeling Russell pat him on the back gently before Kyle went on. “You might as well give it up now because once you losers stop making a joke out of everything, you will realize that you are only worthless people that walk this world.”

“Kyle,” Avery snapped standing up from Brant’s bedside, walking over towards Kyle and Russell that were standing next to each other like they were tag team partners. “I can’t believe the two of you, especially you Kyle. I don’t understand what is making you such a jerk lately.”

“Don’t blame Kyle for this because he is actually being the right one in this--standing up for his best friend in the proper way,” Russell shook his head slowly thinking about the way Don was trying to get rid of him and Kyle. Kyle nodded slowly as Russell placed his hand on Kyle’s shoulder when Avery looked at him with her dark eyes. “It’s not his fault, it’s not my fault and it sure isn’t your fault Avery. They are playing you and they have you wrapped around their fingers so tight.”

“That’s so far from the truth,” Don snapped walking over towards Russell slowly before seeing Kyle step in the way and glare down at Don. “You two need to stop being the idiots and realize that you are just making up stories. You two should just stop being the evil ones. Just because someone doesn’t give you the attention you two want doesn’t mean you have to make stories up in your mind to get Avery on your side.”

“Speaking of attention, I think you are just trying to find the attention of my fist aren’t you,” Kyle replied after seeing Don step in front of his face and stare up into Kyle’s mysterious hazel eyes. “I know you Leveski, you are a bad liar and I going to prove it.”

“Bite me Houston,” Don snapped pushing Kyle back, seeing Kyle stumble backwards before looking up at Don with his angered eyes. Kyle’s jaw tightened in anger as Don held his hands up in the air. “You are just so pathetic.”

“You need to back off,” Kyle pushed Don back only to feel Don push him back again. Kyle went to take another step forward, only to feel Russell hold him back. “Let go of me Russ--he can’t touch me like that and get away with it. That’s not how my game plays.”

“His ugly mug isn’t worth bruising your knuckles Kyle,” Russell pointed out seeing Kyle let out a small laugh before looking up at Don, wiggling his fingers in Don’s face.

“Screw you Kyle,” Don swiped Kyle’s hand away from him seeing Kyle try to get past Russ and it took a lot out of Russell just to hold him back. “Oh, look at that Hart--Russ is trying to contain his lover so he doesn’t get thrown out of the house.”

“Enough all of you,” Avery warned speaking up above the group in an angered tone. Avery turned towards Kyle and Russ with a small frown before speaking up once more. “You heard Don, Brant needs his rest and all you need to get out now.”

“Avery you have to let me stay…” Russell had began his sentence only seeing Avery snap her fingers and point towards the door again. “Fine, but we will be waiting in the hallway for you.”

“Looks like you two are going to be having a nice campout in the hallway for a while,” Don laughed looking back at Hart with a goofy grin before his look returned to Avery who was glaring over at him and pointed towards the door. “You can’t be serious, there is no way I am going leave my best friend alone here.”

“If we have to go, you have to go,” Kyle warned seeing Don look back at him with a frown before shrugging his shoulders. Don and Hart followed Kyle and Russ out of the room, but Kyle and Russ walked to the right. Kyle spotted Don and Hart talking at the end of the long hallway before letting out a small scowl. “I know they are lying Russ, I can just feel it.”

“I know,” Russell let out a long breath, looking over at Don who was staring at him with his blue eyes. Russell shook his head slowly, looking back to Kyle who was glaring over at Don. “Kyle, forget about him--he isn’t worth it. We are going to break this little lie they have going and we are going to show them for what they truly are.”

“Yeah, little pieces of shi…” Kyle was going to continue on with his sentence before a small smirk developed over his features when he thought about what he could do. “I can call Shannon and get some help from her. She can try and get Don to fess up for me since I helped her out with a lot of things in the past. If anyone could do it, I know she can.”

“If you think that will work,” Russ began taking in a sharp breath noticing the way that Don and Hart were staring over at them. “I guess there is no use in not trying.”


Hart glanced over his shoulder noticing the way that Kyle seemed to keep a close eye on him and Don. Curling his finger he motioned for Don to follow him around the corner of the hallway so that their every move wasn’t being scrutinized by anyone else.

“So do you think we’re going to have a problem with them?” Don couldn’t help but ask motioning to the direction that Russ and Kyle were still standing in.

“I’m sure of it,” Hart frowned thinking about the man who stood between Brant and his dreams. “I don’t trust either one of them as far as I can throw them.”

“Yeah well neither do I, though I’m pretty sure I could throw them a ways,” Don added catching the look that Hart gave him. “I’m just saying.”

“Yeah, well right now we need to find a way to keep them from ruining Brant’s plans for happiness with Avery because you and I both know that they are the biggest threats he’s going to have to face,” Hart continued to explain, “I know full well that Russ isn’t going to back down when he still believes he has a chance with Avery.”

“So we’ll just have to make him see that he doesn’t have one anymore,” Don decided with a determined expression, “Granted he and Avery might have Erin with one another, but that doesn’t qualify them to destroy Brant’s life like he’s trying to do.”

“No it doesn’t and I can promise you that I’ll pull together what I can on my end to make sure he doesn’t get that opportunity to do that to him, but Don we’re going to need you here on the medical front to back up whatever it is that Brant needs to pull this off.”

“Hart, you know I’m so there. I mean come on. I did pretty good this far even before you were in the game,” Don boasted a proud smile on his face.

“Okay, so maybe that’s true, but still. We can’t let Shannon help them find a way to expose any of this,” Hart added with a small warning look.

“Oh right,” Don shook his head at him, “Like I’m honestly going to let her know anything about this considering the blunder she put together last time.”

“Speaking of which, how are you two doing after that one? I know she was ready to murder you for our locking her in a supply closet,” Hart noted watching his friend’s expression closely.

“Oh well, you know. I did my best to tell her like it is and she knows the rules of the house now,” Don replied rubbing his palms together with a small grin, “I put my foot down and she has to listen.”

“In other words she kicked your butt and you’re just not being honest about everything,” Hart added with a knowing smirk.

“Okay, yeah so maybe it was something more like that, but still the further we keep Shannon from this, the better. The same goes for Jenna. She’d kill you if she knew you were involved in this one,” Don added quickly hating to think about their significant others finding out about this latest plot.

“You’re right on that,” Hart realized that while he hated the idea of not being up front and honest with Jenna about everything, in this particular scenario there was no way he could tell her about Brant. Given that she was Avery’s best friend, she would no doubt disapprove of this latest adventure and beyond that he was convinced she’d go straight to Avery. “This stays between the three of us. No one else.”

“Exactly,” Don nodded peering around the corner to see Kyle eyeing them suspiciously, “You know maybe we’d better finish talking about this later otherwise we might be in for some trouble with the big guy there.”

“I think you’re right,” Hart nodded in agreement clearing his throat before walking down the hallway away from Russ and Kyle in the hopes of finding a way to help his friend hold onto his marriage.


“So are you going to tell me what really happened or are you just going to leave me guessing Nate?” Shannon questioned seeing Nate grab the remote that was sitting on the couch next to him and he turned the television on. “Nate?”

“What Shannon?” Nate let out a small groan of irritation as he saw Shannon lean forward in her seat. He switched the channels quickly before stopping on the sports channel to check out what was happening recently. “I don’t really feel like talking to you right now because you are just mean.”

“I don’t care if I am mean, I need to know what happened for real,” Shannon pointed out grabbing Nate by the upper arm, feeling him flex it as she let go of him rolling her eyes. “Nate, you should just tell me before I beat the crap out of you.”

“Is it too unbelievable to say that some woman found it right to flash me while I was driving?” Nate muttered shaking his head slowly in disbelief. He let out a small laugh seeing the expression on her face and he shrugged his shoulders. “I am hot now sis if you haven’t realized.”

“Dumb girls would only think you are hot because your personality sucks,” she chuckled to herself as Nate shrugged his shoulders and rolled his eyes at her remark, giving his full attention back to the television. “What are you going to do about this Nate?”

“I don’t know,” he pondered her question setting the remote down on the couch and glancing over at her with a small smile. “I think I want to go to the mall. Come on sis, lets go to the mall like old times sake.”

“Yeah, right,” Shannon watched Nate get up off the couch and walk over towards the door before reaching for the door knob she called out to him quickly getting up off the couch. “Nate, get back over here now.”

“Come on sis,” Nate looked back over his shoulder seeing Shannon stepping in closer to him from behind, “you know you want to go to the mall. You know have fun and go wild.”

“Shannon?” Alicia’s voice entered the room as Nate turned around to see a woman walking in to the house as he shrugged his shoulder and held his hands up in the air.

“Great, more company,” Nate walked over towards the window taking a look outside the house before looking back over at Shannon. “Who is this?”

“Who are you?” Alicia questioned as Matt stepped in next to her and looked up at Shannon with his blue eyes. “Shannon?”

“Don’t worry, it’s just my idiot brother,” Shannon explained seeing the way that Nate glanced back at her with a small frown. “It’s not any random stranger.”

“Hi idiot brother,” Matt waved over at Nate seeing Nate let out a small laugh before waving back at him. “You want to go play some video games idiot brother?”

“Sure, anything to have a little fun,” Nate felt Matt grab his hand and lead him towards the back of the house. Nate turned back seeing Shannon looking at him as he stuck his tongue out at her. “Fun? Try and look it up Shannon you might just like it one day.”


“I hope you don’t mind my taking a side trip here given that I left something behind at the office,” Chris started reaching for the keys that were buried in his pants pocket.

“No, not at all,” Angela shook her head, her eyes fixed on the door in front of her, “I am after all a bit curious to learn more about the place that was crazy enough to hire you on as it’s editor in chief there.”

“Well, don’t get too excited,” Chris unlocked the door and put in the security code, “because today it’s just us. Everyone has the day off.”

“It must be nice,” she noted stepping into the newspaper offices and smiling, “Well this is a bit of a change for you, but you know I think I like it. It’s cozy and casual and…”

“A complete bore in comparison to the magazine I worked at in Los Angeles, but that’s another story altogether,” he curled his finger at her motioning for her to follow him into his office, “However, it serves it’s purpose.”

“Ah yes in your agenda to warp the minds of the citizens in this otherwise quiet small town,” she placed her hand up over the center of her chest, “Oh the horrors.”

“Hey, they just don’t know what they’ve been missing out on. They haven’t been even remotely close to living until I arrived,” he unlocked his office door before stepping aside to let her in.

“Heaven help them,” she chuckled before turning her attention to the wall in front of her. Her eyes widened in surprise before she took a step forward, “Wow.”

“You like it,” he paused knowing full well what had captured her attention even though he wasn’t looking in her direction.

“Boy do I ever,” she nodded looking to the artwork on the wall, “Chris I’m surprised that you still have it. I mean I would’ve thought that you would’ve thrown all of that out by now when…”

“When what?” he circled around his desk to stand behind her, “Angel don’t you know by now that was the best time of my life? When we were together like that?”

“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes spinning around to see him standing behind her, “Chris, we both know that your time with me was far from the best time in your life. You were someone who had a great many adventures. I was just merely a bump on the road to getting to where you needed to be.”

“No you were more than that,” he confessed reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “You’ve always been more than that Angel.”

“Chris,” she started to look away from him, her throat uneasy at the strange moment between them, “What did you want to show me?”

“Oh right,” he stepped back, “I was digging up more information on your mother and I compiled it all together on this disk for you.”

“Really?” her eyes lit up as she watched him pull a disk up off of his desk, “Find anything good?”

“Enough to keep you busy for a while,” he confessed holding it up in the air just out of her reach, “but it’s not something I want you to delve into just yet because I promised you a night of fun and entertainment.”

“Chris,” she shook her head at him, “Somehow I get the feeling this was all a ploy for you to get me to spend the night with you.”

“Well technically last night you already spent the night with me and the night before that and…” he rambled on and on the corners of his lips turning up in the beginnings of a smile.

“You know what I’m trying to say,” she turned suddenly serious her eyes fixed upon him, “Chris, I appreciate your helping me, but right now I’m not really in the point in my life where I’m looking for another messy romantic entanglement. I mean if that’s where you think this is leading…”

“No,” he shook his head at her, “that’s not what I’m trying to say here. I mean okay so maybe I’ve kind of conveyed that image a bit, but what I had in mind involves us going out and having some fun. We can take a night out on the town, kind of dance and live it up a bit like we used to and if by some small chance something should come up between us where we both wind up naked together and in bed or any other location that might be of interest to you, then you won’t hear me protest about it in the least, but I can honestly tell you that’s not where I was headed in inviting you out.”

“Well in that case, the pressure is off,” she let out a small breath of relief, “because for a minute there I was starting to wonder if…”

“If what? I was going to propose to you again?” he smiled down at her taking a small step forward, “I don’t do that twice in one week. You’ll have to wait a little while longer for another attempt at it. I mean sure I could give it another college try there, but it would seem so insincere and…well, desperate and right now I don’t think either one of us are ready to hit that all time low just yet.”

“Chris,” she laughed lightly shaking her head at him, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”

“Ravish me senseless perhaps,” he teased with a small wink, “but seriously how about we start with dinner?”

“I can do dinner,” she nodded extending her arm out to his, “but only if you’re buying.”

“I’ll be doing more than buying. I’ll be cooking for you,” he added with a glimmer behind his eyes. He accepted her arm and clicked off the lights to his office before leading her out into the newsroom, “and trust me it’ll be a feast you’ll never forget.”

“Chris, you’re going to make me as big as a house,” she shook her head at him laughter spilling from her lips before she spotted something out of the corner of her eye. She stopped turning around to look at a door in front of her. She was suddenly struck with an eerie feeling.

“Angel, hey what is it?” Chris touched the small of her back causing her to practically leap out of her skin at the contact.

“Nothing,” she replied before motioning to the door in front of her that had a black ribbon over the front of it, “What’s in there?”

“Oh that,” Chris frowned thinking about what that door meant to his future, “That was the office of the former editor in chief. His family thought he had passed on, but apparently he’s still around here somewhere.”

“I don’t understand,” she gave him a strange look before turning to face the door again, “You mean he’s dead, but alive.”

“Something like that,” Chris sighed shaking his head at the thought of Russ returning to action, “Look it’s a long story and in this small town, well hey everyone spins gossip around in circles or what not. I guess everyone thought he was dead, but he was in a coma or something somewhere and now he pulled out of it.”

“Lucky guy,” Angela tipped her head up to face him, “but something tells me you’re not exactly thrilled about the idea.”

“Hey as long as I can keep my job, then I’m more than happy about him still being alive. It’s when he decides to boot me out of here that I’ll have a big problem. I mean sure this might be a small town, but I have a contract that’s bringing me in the big bucks to do what I love. I would hate to have to give that up,” he admitted thinking about all he’d encountered since his arrival in Coral Valley.

“I’m sure you won’t have to,” she assured him giving the door one last look before tugging on his arm, “Come on. I’m hungry, so let’s get a jump start on dinner.”

“You’re on,” he agreed leading her out of the newspaper offices in the hopes of having a fun night with her all over again since it had been far too long for the both of them!


“Well that went better than I’d thought it would,” Ria let out a small breath of relief thinking about how Seth had responded to learning that she and Kevin were not only a couple, but were now engaged to one another.

“Did you really have any doubts about how that would go?” Kevin questioned walking in behind her to wrap his arms around her waist, “I mean he is my little cousin there and while I know he has moments where he might have a bit of a dramatic side to him, he’s usually sensible about the right things.”

“Even so,” Ria paused thinking about the way in which Seth had uncovered the truth about them, “it just threw me for a loop there.”

“I know, but it turned out for the best, much like everything that seems to happen when we’re together,” Kevin stepped in behind her wrapping his arms around her slender waist, “Somehow I knew this would work out for us Ria. Things are only going to get better.”

“I truly believe that,” she mouthed leaning back into his powerful chest. She tipped her head back into his chest feeling the warmth of his body behind her, “Kevin if anyone would’ve told me a few months ago that you and I were going to wind up being this happy, I would never have believed it, yet here we are ready to begin our lives together…”

“And I can’t wait,” Kevin spun her around to face him, his hand sliding down over her spin, a warm smile spreading over his handsome face as he leaned in to kiss her gently. The warmth of his breath pressed in over her lips, causing tiny tremors to race over her body. “Ria Merhan, I love you.”

“I love you Donna Nevik,” she teased with a tiny giggle catching the wrinkle in his brow at the comment.

“I’m not going to ever live that one down, am I?” he couldn’t help but ask watching her closely, “I mean you’re never going to let me forget about that one…”

“That you are the great romance enthusiast Donna Nevik,” she replied arching a curious brow before curling her arms around his shoulders possessively pulling him to her, “Or that you managed to push your way into the lives of a great many women over the years…”

“Well it wasn’t really me, but rather Donna,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders sheepishly, “If they had any idea it was really me…”

“Then I would have to be fighting them off with a stick because the way I see it, the only woman that I’m going to let be even remotely close to you is well, me,” she laughed lightly leaning up on the tips of her toes to steal another quick kiss from him, “Although I do have a particular critique of one of your novels that I have been meaning to discuss with you.”

“Oh?” Kevin raised a curious eyebrow, “What might that be?”

“Well for starters, there was this one love scene you did in one of your novels--I can’t remember which, but it started in a quiet setting somewhere in a kitchen and it involved strawberry syrup and…”

“I don’t quite recall that one, but I’m sure if you give me a play by play,” he replied pulling her up off of the ground and into his arms, “then I might be able to discuss it in further detail.”

“Why are you suggesting that I give you a hands on demonstration?” she asked feigning surprise as her finger fanned out over his muscled arms.

“I was kind of hoping that you would head in that direction,” he nodded leaning in to kiss her again with a hint of mischief in his approach.

“Well, if we’re going to go down that route, I say we should skip over the kitchen and head straight to the bedroom,” she suggested in a low, seductive slur feeling the raw force of his muscled body burning beside her.

“You know, come to think of it, I think I like that idea a whole heck of a lot better,” Kevin announced tossing her over his shoulder and carrying her into the kitchen, “but first, well we can’t forget this.”

Kevin reached for the refrigerator door and pulled out the strawberry syrup before turning towards the bedroom ready to give Ria a night that he was sure that neither one of them would ever forget!


“Oh, this is so not fair,” Nate chuckled hitting on the buttons roughly as he tried to beat Matt in the racing videogame they were playing together. “Are you cheating?”

“No, you just suck and that‘s true,” Matt replied with a small laugh crossing the finish line on the game, watching as Nate ran right off the road and into the water. “So, what is your real name?”

“My name Matty, is Nate and I am sadly your Shannon’s brother,” Nate replied reaching out to rub Matt’s head quickly, laughing when he saw Matt fix his hair. “So, do you know what it means now that Shannon is now your mommy? It means, I’m your big uncle.”

“Great,” Matt replied not knowing what to say before smiling widely and watching Nate fall back against the ground, looking up at the ceiling. “So, what are you here for Nate?”

“You saw how I just screwed up in the game, driving my car into the water?” Nate questioned seeing Matt nod slowly when he sat up straight on the floor. “Well, I kind of did that in real life, but I ran it right into a tree.”

“You really are a klutz, aren’t you?” Matt chuckled seeing Nate nod slowly before shrugging his shoulders and standing up slowly. “So, how many times have you gotten into an accident?”

“Honestly,” Nate chuckled walking over and sitting down on Matt’s bed as he shrugged his shoulders. “I guess about four other times.”

“How many times have you been in jail?” Matt questioned thinking of another question before letting Nate answer the first. “How many cars have you ruined? How many times have you broken the law and not gotten caught?”

“This is the first time, I’ve only hurt two cars and the last question is totally not good little guy,” Nate pointed out seeing Matt shrug his shoulders before letting out a small laugh. “Are you like an undercover cop that is after me right now? That was like a scary round of twenty questions.”

“No, I was just wondering,” Matt giggled seeing Nate stand up and grab Matt putting him over his shoulder. Matt let out another laugh before hitting Nate in the back gently. “Let me down.”

“I know what you want to be when you are older,” Nate rose Matt up in the air moving him around and making airplane noises, “You want to be a pilot right?”

“No,” Matt laughed feeling Nate put him back down before frowning at him. Matt stroke a few poses before letting out a small laugh, “I want to be a model.”

“Are you serious?” Nate tilted his head at Matt watching Matt stare out at him before Nate shrugged his shoulders. “Wow, that’s a little weird. I never knew a kid that wanted to be a model at that young.”

“I’m just playing with you--you dummy,” Matt let out a small laugh, grabbing something from his toy box before holding it up Nate. “Are you good at baseball?”

“Boy am I and I would love to play with you,” Nate replied with a small smile following Matt out into the hallway before noticing something that was on Don’s fridge. It was a golden pen and Nate took a long look at it before snatching it up and placing it in his pocket.

“Are you coming jaws?” Matt peeked his head back into the house and Nate quickly followed Matt out in the backyard, walking over towards the white fence. “You throw good right?”

“Of course I do,” Nate nodded slowly before playing around with the ball for a minute. “You are about to witness the best move in the world. It’s called the Natenator.”


“So what’s really troubling you Shannon,” Alicia questioned sensing that there was more going on behind her daughter-in-law’s eyes than she was letting on. “You’ve seemed a bit lost in thought lately.”

“Not really,” Shannon started to lie before seeing that Alicia was about to call her on her bluff, “Okay, so maybe I have had a lot on my mind lately. Don and I haven’t exactly been seeing eye to eye about a lot of things--specifically his level of involvement with his friends and it’s just something that seems to be escalating for us.”

“How so?” Alicia couldn’t help but ask, “What’s going on Shannon?”

“It’s just…” Shannon fought to find the right words to explain what was bothering her, “Well with Don, I mean is he always such a pushover where Brant is concerned?”

“Ah, it gets back to the troublesome trio,” Alicia nodded in complete understanding rubbing her hands together, “Let me guess Don is doing Brant yet another trademark favor and he and Hart are in over their heads with Brant, right?”

“Exactly,” Shannon nodded in response, “That’s exactly what’s happening with the three of them and Brant is pulling the strings…”

“It depends on the day which one of them is running the show,” Alicia let out a small laugh, “and it’s been that way ever since they were old enough to start plotting with one another.”

“And how old would that have been?” Shannon was almost afraid to ask.

“Around the age of seven,” Alicia laughed lightly thinking of her son’s troublesome adventures with his best pals, “but it’s part of who they are. You think they would learn, but they never really do. They kind of always settle into their roles and get themselves in way over their heads time and time again.”

“And doesn’t Don think that maybe just maybe that’s not a smart idea? That maybe his friends are only going to bring him down,” Shannon couldn’t help but ask with an exaggerated groan.

“Don and the boys are like a second family to one another. They have been each other’s support system through good times and bad and that won’t be changing anytime soon if ever,” Alicia continued to explain to her, “You see what those boys have between them, well it’s not something that will pass. They have a true friendship and a concern for one another that they all place very high in their lives.”

“Even if it only winds up bringing them all down,” Shannon wondered aloud remembering how far Don was willing to go for Brant.

“I can’t speak for all of them, but there was a point in time when Don wasn’t really happy about things. When he was younger he was picked on at times and Brant stood up for him. Hart and Brant took to him and really turned that around for him. Don’s days of hating school and wishing we could move out of the country soon changed after they joined forces and then after Stephanie died,” Alicia paused thinking about her late daughter-in-law, “Don took it hard. His whole world came crashing down around him and if it wasn’t for those two, well I can honestly tell you that I don’t know where my son would be today.”

“So you’re saying that in being with Don that his friends are kind of part of the package deal, huh?” Shannon frowned knowing her answer before she’d asked the question.

“They are here to stay and in loving Don that’s one thing that you will have to always know is out there. I know my son enough to know that he’s not going to give that up. I realize that love is about compromise and sacrifice, but Brant and Hart are like family and they always have been. I know full well how frustrating dealing with them at times can be, but…” Alicia started again.

“But it’s just part of what being married to Don entails huh,” Shannon sighed heavily, “which means it’s never going to go away.”

“Let me ask you something,” Alicia began watching her closely, “If Don asked you to give up something that was part of who you were--something special that was a constant in your life, would you do it? Would you be willing to let go of that for the sake of your marriage?”

Shannon looked up at her wishing that she could offer up the right answer--the one that she knew she should be saying, but instead she replied with brutal honesty, “I really don’t know. I mean everything with Don and I has been anything, but traditional.”

“Then why fight to pick apart the pieces of the outside when it hasn’t really hurt what you have,” Alicia suggested with a warm expression, “I mean the way that I see it you two seem happier than you’ve ever been and if I didn’t know better you have finally settled into the role of being happily married, yes?”

Shannon smiled thinking about the time she and Don had spent with one another when they were helping Brant with Ken--the time that they wouldn’t have shared had they not taken part in Brant’s plans. Remembering that only further proved Alicia’s point that not all Don’s friends did was bad. Sighing inwardly she glanced over at Alicia again.

“You’re right,” Shannon decided, “You’re absolutely right. Things have been pretty good and we can’t let our friends get in the way of that. I can’t let what Brant does upset the balance of our marriage.”

“See, there’s the spirit,” Alicia added encouragingly as Shannon heard the faint ringing of her cell phone in her pocket. Alicia gave her a knowing look before getting up to go check on Matt and Nate. “I’ll give you some privacy just in case it’s Don.”

“Thanks,” Shannon smiled back at her watching her mother-in-law leave before she answered the phone, “Hello.”

“Shannon hey I’m glad I caught you. It’s Kyle,” the voice explained into the phone.

“Kyle,” Shannon replied surprised to be hearing him, “hey what’s going on?”

“Actually I hate to bother you, but I kind of need a favor and I think right about now you’re the only person who can help me with it,” he continued to explain to her, “I know this might be a bad time, but…”

“No, it’s not a bad time at all,” Shannon rose to her feet making her way over to the window to look outside, “What is it you need?”

“Well, it’s a biggie and I will warn you now if you’re in, it may cause a rift for you and Don,” Kyle warned preparing to tell her the whole story about what was happening at the Ashford mansion.

“Now why doesn’t that surprise me,” Shannon groaned ready to listen to all the details of her husband’s latest hair-brained scheme that he was allowing himself to get sunk into all over again.


“Thanks for helping me with the bags,” Heather started looking to all of the bags that Diego had carried up to Kipp’s front porch. “I just know Kipp is going to love what we got Charles today.”

“I think there’s enough here for ten babies,” Diego noted thinking about all the time he and Heather had spent in the store Kellen had suggested they go to. He had no idea that shopping for children’s wear could be such a strenuous activity, but by the end of their shopping expedition he was more than ready to call it quits. “I think he’ll be set for a while here.”

“Until winter and then we have to get the whole new collection going,” Heather explained with a small laugh, “Though Sven is already working on something for him with that pending Charles doesn’t have strange sizes around that time--though even then I think he’ll do a fine job with design given how great these are.”

“Yeah Sven was quite a character,” Diego noted thinking about Kellen’s off the wall pal. It was a wonder that the two were pals, but then again given what little Diego knew about Kellen there was a chance that anything was possible for the man.

“I thought he was adorable. He and Kellen both have an eye for fashion and that makes Charles a very happy little man, isn’t that right?” Heather leaned in to kiss her son’s chubby cheek before hearing him let out a laugh.

“Oh I do think I heard my name called out here,” Kellen appeared at the door opening it eagerly. He spoke up with heavy enthusiasm as his arms stretched out to embrace both Heather and Charles, “Heather babes you’re back. I was wondering if I was going to have to hustle my bottom out there to join you because Sven can be exhausting your first time. Virgin shopping with him is always such a shore.”

“Virgin shopping,” Diego gave Kellen a strange look noting the pink colored outfit Kellen was wearing.

“Oh believe me there is nothing like your first time. It’s nothing short of memorable with Sven, but clearly you must know that by now,” Kellen giggled reaching for the bags Diego had been holding. “Just let me take these off of your hands.”

Diego more than willingly obliged as Kellen reached for another set of bags. He returned moments later with outstretched arms to reach for Charles.

“Come here you little prince. I cannot wait to see what yummy fashions Sven picked out for you,” Kellen wiggled Charles out of Heather’s arms before glancing over at Diego suggestively, “You two just enjoy your grown up time while we get settled.”

“Right,” Diego cleared his throat uneasily turning his attention to Heather as it suddenly dawned in on him that they were alone, “Well I should probably get going now.”

“So soon,” Heather half questioned disappointment flooding over her.

“It’s been a long day,” he nodded in response slipping his hands into his pockets and looking in the direction towards his car. “I did have a nice time though.”

“It doesn’t have to end this early you know. I could have Kipp and Kellen watch Charles for a little while and maybe you and I could catch dinner and…”

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea,” Diego shuffled his feet once again before looking up to find her leaning in for a kiss. At the last second he turned his head away and took a step back, “I’ll be seeing you Heather.”

“Yeah sure,” Heather frowned feeling his retreat lingering over the air. She watched him move towards his car, not even bothering to look back at her and an air of disappointment carried over her. She sighed heavily leaning into the house while Diego got into his car and drove off. Frowning she turned towards the front door and stepped inside Kipp’s place.

“What crawled up his butt and died?” Kellen questioned from where he stood at the window taking in everything had or rather hadn’t happened between Heather and Diego.

“I really don’t know,” Heather admitted with a small groan, “I mean one minute he seems hot and heavy and then the next…”

“He’s about as useless as a cold fish, though there is something to be said for sushi,” Kellen snapped his fingers in the air, “but no matter. When one turns out to be sour and icky you just toss it back into the ocean again and regroup with another one.”

“Enough with the fish talk,” Heather groaned inwardly, “Right now I don’t want to think about fish or sushi or anything else.”

“Oh come on Heather babes, it’s okay,” Kellen walked over to wrap his arm around her shoulders offering up a gentle squeeze, “So what if he’s not up to the challenge of spending time with the sexy thing that you are? There are plenty of other men who will more than take notice and pounce on you in a heartbeat.”

“Gee, thanks for the moral support Kellen,” Heather couldn’t help but roll her eyes wondering what was wrong with Diego. “I mean one moment he was fine and then the next, well it just doesn’t make sense. I can’t see how he would just go and lose interest like that.”

“Well you know maybe we just aren’t trying hard enough. Perhaps I can help you come up with something where you are absolutely unstoppable. I could give you a few tips and make sure that Diego can’t resist you,” Kellen wiggled his brow suggestively, “Unless your Latin would be lover is gay.”

“He’s not gay,” Heather insisted firmly glaring over at him, “I would know if he was and trust me that man’s not gay.”

“I’ll bet you said that about Kipp once upon a time too,” Kellen winked down at her.

“That’s entirely another story and besides I don’t know what’s going on with Diego, but giving up is not in my vocabulary,” she decided vowing to find out what was bothering Diego and find a way to make his sudden mood shift go away. If it was because of Cori bothering him, then she would have to make sure that stopped right away.

“Come on Heather babes,” Kellen suggested motioning to the kitchen where Charles was already in his high chair, “What do you say we have cocoa and cookies with Charles since Kipp is out with his mother? We could paint our nails or something when you put Charles down.”

“I guess,” Heather sighed her thoughts still lingering to Diego. However when she looked at her son and saw his smiling face she realized that right now was not the time to worry about it. Now was about making the most of the moment and enjoying the time she had with her son. That was what was really important.


“I know what you mean,” Sarah replied in a deep breath, seeing the way that Blake was looking at her. “What? Why are you looking at me like that? Did I say something wrong?”

“No, of course not,” Blake lied knowing that Sarah was totally wrong when it came to Kyle and what she was doing with him. Every time Blake had seen Kyle with Sarah, he was nothing but a good boyfriend to her and that was no way to pay him back when he needed someone the most. “Of course, if someone doesn’t realize what they are doing wrong themselves they can never change it themselves.”

“That’s really sad when that happens,” Sarah replied standing up from the bench and walking over towards the corner of the deck to look out into the backyard before her.

“Hey you two,” Seth’s voice echoed through Sarah’s ears, making her jump back from the site of Seth who walked around the back off the house and started walking up the steps of the deck. “Didn’t mean to scare you Sarah, sorry.”

“It’s no problem,” Sarah replied with a small shrug of her shoulders, watching Seth walk over towards the bench and take a seat next to Blake. Seth’s arm wrapped around her as she let out a small sigh and went to sit on one of the steps of the deck.

“So, how has the both of your days been?” Seth questioned holding onto Blake tightly and looking between the both of them. “Good I hope.”

“Well, I don’t know if I am speaking for Sarah here, but it has been a very strange day,” Blake explained in a long sigh, looking up into Seth’s dark eyes before shrugging her shoulders. “The worse part is that I have a monkey running around my house and I can’t find him.”

“A monkey?” Seth muttered looking down at Blake with a confused expression before hearing her speak up again.

“You should believe her, even though I thought the same thing at first,” Sarah spoke up nodding her head slowly, remembering the way she had acted earlier when Blake told her there was a monkey in the house. “It’s a very stinky monkey making this day very strange.”

“This day is very strange indeed,” Seth began taking in a deep breath as he looked down at Blake with his dark eyes. “You wouldn’t believe some of the things that happened today.”

Sarah watched Blake laugh at the way Seth was talking to her as Sarah looked down and away from Seth and Blake. Those two were so happy together now and nothing could break them apart.

“Great,” Sarah muttered low enough to herself thinking about what she had done to Kyle with Diego. There were so many ways she could have stopped what happened, but she just let it go on and happen.

There was no way that Kyle was going to forgive her after he found out about Diego, but she couldn’t let him hate her like that. She had to keep the news from him if it was the last thing she did because she didn’t want to lose him. Not now, not ever.

“Hey there,” Sarah felt someone touch her shoulder gently as she turned around to see Kyle standing before her. Kyle sat down on the step next to her before reaching out to her, pulling her in closer to him. “You okay?”

“I’m fine,” she nodded resting her back against his hard chest as he rested his chin on her shoulder gently, wrapping his arms around her waist. “I just don’t feel too good right now.”

“I’m sorry sweetheart,” Kyle frowned kissing her cheek gently, reaching his index finger out and running it under her chin to turn her to face him slowly. He leaned forward to kiss her lips slowly before pulling away and caressing the small of her back gently. “I hope you feel better soon.”

“Thanks,” Sarah smiled taking a look at Blake who was giving her a look like Sarah was doing something wrong. Sarah kissed Kyle once more, wrapping her arms around his shoulders tightly. She couldn’t lose the feeling of him holding her in his arms tightly, not anymore. “I love you Kyle.”


“As you can see every great meal begins with great ingredients,” Chris explained guiding Angela through the isles of the supermarket. “You see to truly appreciate the masterpiece that I have laid out before us, we’ll have to carefully select each and every ingredient and make sure that they meet the top quality for what I have in mind for us.”

“Microwave popcorn?” Angela repeated giving him a sideways glance, “Um, Chris remind me again how that ties into dinner.”

“Oh this,” he grinned sheepishly, “Well you know it’s for later tonight when we’re getting the munchies and…”

“And this,” Angela held up a half gallon of Rocky Road ice-cream.”

“Well that was for your chocolate fetish, but if you’d like we can put it back,” he reached across the cart to pull it away from her, but she pulled back in a haste.

“You even think about touching this one Foley and you’re a dead man,” she teased with a small laugh enjoying this little side trip they were taking.

While she’d only been in Coral Valley a few days, she found that she was enjoying this whole small town atmosphere around her. It was quite different than the seclusion of the island, but it was still private enough where you didn’t feel lost in the shuffle like you did in New York or Los Angeles. It was very homey and in that sense she could see herself spending a great deal of time in this kind of atmosphere.

“Calling all Angels,” Chris waved his hand in front of her face, “hey where did you go just now?”

“What?” she snapped back to the moment her hand coming up over her face, “Oh I’m sorry. I was just thinking about how good you have it Foley. You must’ve really found a way to pull the wool over someone’s eyes if they really believe that you would mesh well with the locals.”

“Hey, I’ll have you know I’ve been more than perfect since my arrival. I haven’t made friends or enemies with the police chief and I’ve stayed out of jail. That right there tells me that I’m doing something right,” Chris bragged stepping around the shopping cart to reach for the ice-cream, “Now about this particular ingredient you have in your hands.”

“It can stay,” she assured him setting it back down in the cart, “although I have to be honest with you I have been craving macaroni and cheese like you wouldn’t believe lately.”

“Wait a second,” he frowned giving her a strange sideways glance, “I have given you a first hand look at all of my culinary talents and yet even with the world as your oyster you want just macaroni and cheese?”

“We could get a gourmet one if it makes you feel better,” she grinned up at him unable to suppress the laugh that built up in the back of her throat at the sight of him, “Come on Chris. Live a little.”

“I try to live bold and brazen, but macaroni and cheese? Well that’s not exactly the top of the line there,” he added with a pointed expression.

“Top of the line or not it’s what I want,” she protested stubbornly, “so tell me do we go boxed or frozen?”

“Ugh, not boxed. Do you have any idea how unhealthy that powdered cheese stuff is for you,” he wrinkled his nose at her, “You may as well be eating cyanide and you as a doctor should know that.”

“In that case powdered it is,” she set off in search of the forbidden meal ready to make Chris eat his words quite literally when a voice from another aisle captured her full attention.

“Have I ever told you how much I missed you when you weren’t with me?” the voice questioned and Angela felt her heart doing flip flops. There was something about the sound, about the way that he said it that sent her back into another time and place.

“You turned my world around in so many ways and I don’t know what I’d do without you,” he continued to speak out as if he was calling to her after all this time.

“Brant,” she mouthed underneath her breath suddenly standing taller to get a clearer listen. She heard a small giggle before she thought she heard him again. Forgetting about the macaroni and cheese she raced to the end of the isle ready to see if her hearing him was real or just a hallucination, but when she rounded the corner all she saw before her was a petite dark haired woman with a long, purple coat on.

“Excuse me,” Angela couldn’t help but ask catching the woman’s curious look.

“Yes?” the woman asked as Angela stood before her, “Can I help you with something?”

“No, it’s just that…” Angela shook her head feeling suddenly foolish. “Never mind. I’m sorry I bothered you.”

“It’s okay,” the woman paused watching her closely, “are you sure that you’re alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Angela nodded hearing someone behind her. She spun around to see Chris standing behind her.

“I picked up two boxes of your poison and now that you’ve killed the mood, can we get out of here?” Chris groaned inwardly watching Angela for a second, “Hey, you okay Angel?”

“Sure, I’m fine,” she nodded quickly giving the woman one last look before taking off with Chris ready to take it easy for the night as it was clear that she was hallucinating all over again. Surely Brant wouldn’t be here--in this small out of the way town of all places. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part.


“Hey Wendy I found it,” Ken held up the container in his hand to proudly display it to her. Instead he found her standing in the middle of the store aisle looking a bit lost inside herself. “Wendy, hey is everything alright?”

“Oh sure,” she replied turning around to greet him with a smile, “I just thought I saw someone that looked a bit familiar. There was a woman here a minute ago and she looked like she was going to say something, but…”

“But what?” Ken searched her eyes.

“Nothing I guess,” Wendy shrugged in response, “She sort of looked like that girl you were friends with in college…you know the one whose father was always interested in having you around.”

“Avery,” Ken replied a bit uneasy at the mention of his brother’s wife.

“Yes that’s the one,” Wendy nodded with a small pause, “although didn’t you mention that she’d just had a baby and that she was the one who Brant was still married to?”

“Yes,” Ken nodded in response, “She is the one who is the source of all the confusion around town. I’m sure she’s still at the mansion with Brant.”

“Hmm, maybe you’re right. Maybe I just thought it was her since there’s been so much on the news lately,” she shrugged her shoulders, “but either way how about we get that and get on going?”

“It sounds good although I do have one last trip for us to make and that’s to the ice-cream,” Ken winked at her before taking her arm in his and leading her to the freezers completely unaware that Avery’s look-alike was only a few feet from where he and Wendy were.


“What’s going on behind those eyes of yours,” Avery thought aloud running her fingers through Brant’s dark hair. She gazed over his face, seeing the way his eyelids were closed as he lay asleep before her. Oh how she wished she had the key to unlocking whatever mystery it was burning inside of him.

“I’m so sorry that you’re hurting,” Avery whispered in a small voice thinking about all the wonderful things he had done for her over the months that they’d been married. Deep down she knew that he had a good heart and he deserved so much more than what life had given him. Even as she sat beside him, she thought of the good times they’d shared with one another during the course of their years knowing one another. Closing her eyes she thought back to one of their earlier meetings with one another when she first started working for BBK.

“So tell me Avery,” Brant had questioned over the lunch they’d shared in her office, “What is it going to take for me to get you to fall in love with me?”

“Brant, it’s never going to happen,” she had issued him the same warning that he’d been receiving since day one, “I’m your lawyer, not your lover.”

“Which is truly a pity,” Brant had continued in his quest, “The way I see it together not only would business be booming with us as a team, but think of what it would do for our personal lives. I mean if we were together in every sense of the word we’d be unstoppable.”

“We can make unstoppable business allies without having to take it any further,” she’d curtly reminded him, “now back to work.”

“Mark my words Avery. One day I will find the secret to making you fall head over heels in love with me and when it happens your life is never going to be the same--ever,” he had informed her with that same confident, sexy arrogance that had made working with him difficult for so very long.

Now as Avery looked down to where he lay before her, she realized in some ways Brant had been right. He’d found a way inside her heart and now that they were there together, well it only proved that life was far more complicated than she’d ever anticipated. Running her fingers through his dark hair, she let out a small sigh as she spotted her ring on her finger. Pulling her hand away from him, she touched the stone recalling the day they’d become husband and wife. Back then life had felt so bleak, so empty and…

“Brant I’m sorry,” Avery confessed in a tear-filled sniffle, “If I would have met you first--if my heart had been mine for the giving then maybe things would’ve been different, but Russ and I, well we have something that we’ve waited our whole lives to share with one another. We love one another and…”

She stopped herself knowing that it wouldn’t do any good to rehash this to him. Instead she leaned forward pressing a soft kiss on his forehead gently before whispering, “Please understand.”


Russ paced outside the bedroom knowing that he should give Avery space and time to be with Brant, but now after Erin was asleep, he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on behind the closed door in front of him. Yes he felt like a jealous fool and yes he hated that beyond belief, yet there was something about the idea of Brant and Avery being alone with one another that worried him. Granted he knew in his heart that Avery truly loved him and wanted to share a future with him, but did she also share those feelings for Brant?

Unable to hold back any longer Russ tiptoed over to the door and pushed it open ever so slightly to see Avery seated on the bed beside Brant. He’d watched her smoothing her fingers through Brant’s hair and as Russ carefully closed the door he feared that he was losing his reason for returning to Coral Valley. Could it be that fate had finally found a challenge for them that would ultimately be the key to their undoing?


“Oh how I love you,” Ria sighed snuggling into the warmth of Kevin’s chest after the flames of their love had cooled down just below a simmer.

He tapered his fingers off over her spine before inhaling a slow, drugging breath himself, “Not nearly as much as I love you.”

“Oh please,” she wrinkled her nose at him, “you know I love you more.”

“No, I love you more,” he replied with a small grin forming on the corners of his mouth.

“No really I love you more,” she insisted with a tiny tickle over his chest.

“Okay, you love me more,” he shrugged catching her by surprise as she pulled her head up to glare down at him.

“Excuse me?” she replied with wide eyes.

“Well you were the one who always said you hated when people did that and I’m sure had we kept going on with that you would’ve told me how gushy and pathetic it was, so I thought I’d throw in an unexpected twist,” Kevin laughed lightly loving the way her nose wrinkled when she was agitated.

She swatted at his chest, “Well it wasn’t a very nice twist there Kevin.”

“I didn’t plan for it to be,” he confessed squeezing her in his arms, “but it captured your full attention, didn’t it?”

“Yes, but for all the wrong reasons,” she pouted further feeling him roll her onto her back.

“Hmm, well then maybe I should remind you of all the right ones,” he suggested leaning down to kiss her, but he felt her press her palms in against his shoulders.

“Not so fast Adonis. It’ll take a lot more than sweet talk to get me to forgive you for that one,” she feigned insult catching the wounded expression on his face, “and puppy eyes won’t do it either.”

“Hmm, well then how about a sweet treat?” he wiggled his brow at her.

“You’re not going to get any of that until you find a crafty way to apologize,” she shook her head at him.

“Hmm, well I can come up with a few,” he leaned forward as if he was going to kiss her, but he pulled away from her with a small smirk, “and it starts with a trip to the kitchen.”

“Kitchen?” she repeated with a strange look, “What’s in the kitchen?”

“Food,” he replied with a smile sliding out from above her on the bed, “I’m starving.”

“But we just had something Kevin,” she watched him move around her room seeking out his jogging pants.

“Yes we did,” he winked at her in a completely sinful expression, “and that’s exactly why I need to refuel. Hungry?”

“Well I suppose I could go for a little something,” she pulled the blanket up over her chest, “What are you going to make me?”

“You wait right there and you’ll see when I get back,” he blew at kiss at her before walking out of the bedroom ready to whip up something quick for the two of them. He heard her humming in her bedroom and he promised to return with something she would enjoy immensely.

Rounding the corner into the kitchen, Kevin smiled as he thought of what he’d come up with to impress Ria. Reaching for the refrigerator door he looked inside pulling out a few various contents before using his hip to swing the door to a close. Noting the time he walked over to the small television set up in the corner of the room and turned it on to see if the latest scores for his favorite team were posted. However when he turned the television on there before his eyes was a picture of the one man he’d loathed more than anything on the island.

“Nick,” Kevin’s jaw clenched with anger as the news report went on to talk about his newfound identity as part of one of Coral Valley’s more prominent families. While the reporter was very enthusiastic about her tale, it was the image that kept flashing in front of Kevin that fully captured his interest. Squeezing his hands into fists he let out a tight groan knowing full well what he must do.

“Hey did you get lost,” Ria questioned from behind him seeing him standing in front of the television, “Don’t tell me you dumped me for a sitcom or sports.”

“No,” he shook his head reaching out to turn the television off, “I was just going to see what was cooking on Food Network.”

“Right,” she rolled her eyes before approaching him, “you know Kevin I was thinking maybe I could help you with say something light and quick.”

“Light and quick, hmm, well I suppose I can do that,” he decided depositing the things he’d picked out into the refrigerator again before Ria collected a few munchies and held them up for his inspection.

“How’s this?” she questioned with a small smile.

“It’s a great start,” he decided with a grin before stepping forward and carrying her out of the kitchen all the while thinking about what surprises would be in store for good old Nick or should he say Russell in the morning. Oh yes it would be time for a reunion indeed and this time Kevin was certain he wouldn’t stifle any of his feelings about the man who had managed to turn all of their lives around. Payback was most certainly right around the corner!


...to be continued...