Episode 307

“Kyle?” Sarah opened her eyes to see the sun slowly rising through the shades as she reached out to the side of the bed where she expected to see Kyle. The bed felt cool as she ran her hand over the spot slowly before hearing a tapping noise in the background. A small yawn escaped her lips as she turned over and saw Kyle sitting at the desk in the corner, looking something up on his laptop. “Honey?”

“Yeah?” Kyle glanced over his shoulder for a small second before turning his attention completely back to the computer. “Is something wrong Sarah?”

“Why aren’t you in bed?” she questioned sitting up slowly and resting her back against the headboard. Another yawn escaped her lips as she noticed that Kyle hadn’t taken his eyes off the screen for more than a second. “I thought that maybe we could talk about what I asked you about yesterday.”

“What was that again?” Kyle stretched out his shoulder muscles before letting out a small breath. He figured that Sarah would wake up sooner or later, but he really didn’t want to get into this topic right now at all. “You know, I’m kind of working on something so you can go back to bed honey.”

“How long have you been up?” Sarah pulled the blankets closer to her body seeing Kyle look over at the clock next to him on the desk and shrugging his shoulders. “Kyle?”

“I don’t know, maybe a couple of hours,” he answered giving his attention back to computer hoping that maybe Sarah would just let go of the topic. They had just gotten back together not long ago and it would seem a little weird now that he had--other things in mind. “I couldn’t sleep so I felt I needed to finish some things that I never got to look into.”

“Really?” Sarah tried staring out at his screen and realized that he was in the way of her vision. Shaking her head slowly, she swung her legs over the side of the bed before getting up and walking over to Kyle and gently caressed his shoulders. “What are you looking up that’s so important?”

“Nothing really,” Kyle lied turning off the screen before spinning his chair around so that he was facing her. He felt her hands slide into his as he offered up a small smile. “I told you Sarah, you really don’t have to get up. You have a few more hours to sleep before the party and I’m very much awake. You know me--once I’m up, I’m always up.”

“We should test out if that’s really the truth,” Sarah replied sliding in over his thighs and sitting down in his lap, running her hands down the front of his chest slowly. “So did you start thinking about what we talked about yesterday morning?”

“I did,” Kyle answered in a tight breath feeling her breath skim over the side of his neck before her lips pressed in against his skin, his hand running over the small of her back. “Sarah, I really don’t…”

“Sh…” Sarah hushed him leaning back and placing her finger over his lips gently. Kyle’s hazel eyes looked up into hers as a smile spread over her features. “Maybe I could still persuade you towards the right decision.”

“Sarah, I really don’t think that,” Kyle felt her lips press in against the center of his chest as her nails slowly scraped down his abdomen. “Sarah…”

“Kyle, be quiet,” she hushed him once more and gave him a dark glance seeing the way he leaned back in his chair once she stood up. She saw him roll his eyes as slid her fingers down his muscular abdomen before getting to her knees. “I think this will help you change your mind a bit.”

“Sarah,” Kyle tried to make another attempt to make her stop as she reached for his boxers and pulled them down to the bottom of his hips. He felt her hands slide in over his bare thighs as he let out a small frown feeling her press a small kiss in against his stomach. “Sarah, I don’t want to do this okay? Just stop.”

“Relax Kyle, most guys would want something like this you know,” Sarah tried to get his mind off things so she could start getting things on her side. She reached her hand out to start caressing his body slowly, looking up and seeing his hazel eyes narrow in at her as a muscle in his jaw tightened.

“Stop Sarah,” Kyle let out a small hiss as he stood up from the chair quickly, making her fall back onto the carpet and landing on her behind. He turned away from her before pulling up his boxers and shaking his head slowly. “I said no, okay. Would you stop, please?”

“What is wrong with you?” Sarah questioned standing up from the floor slowly and watching him carefully. “I mean really, you have never let me do that since the first time we were together. What is wrong with you Kyle?”

“It’s a long story and for some reason,” Kyle paused thinking things over for a minute before shaking his head at how much she had been trying to jump him lately. “I don’t really think you could handle me right now.”

“Kyle,” Sarah let out small laugh resting her hands on her hips as Kyle watched her closely, folding his arms out in front of his broad chest. “I think I can handle just about anything.”

“Somehow, I believe that,” Kyle scowled before walking over to the bathroom and going to turn the shower on. He pulled out a towel and laid it out as he thought about what he just said to her. So maybe that was a little inappropriate and something he shouldn’t have said to her. “Listen Sarah…”

Kyle walked out into the bedroom ready to apologize when he saw Sarah on his laptop and when she heard his voice she stood up from the chair, her eyes seeming to be filled with anger.

“You’re looking up Cameron?” Sarah questioned seeing Kyle look away from her before a small grin appeared over his features. He nodded slowly as she pushed the chair back roughly. “This is for Heather, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is,” Kyle quickly answered arching his eyebrow in curiosity at how angry she was getting at him for trying to protect her sister. “That scumbag she is going to the party with is not someone I am going to be trusting anytime soon.”

“So what,” Sarah blurted out reaching out to grab a book from the desk and looking out at Kyle. “Heather is a big girl that makes her own decisions and doesn’t need someone like you to help her. She made that very clear to us that day we had her in the mental hospital. Remember? She called you a loser and told you that you were a nothing. Remember that Kyle?”

“She was upset,” Kyle came right back at Sarah with before shrugging his shoulders and pointing out at her. “Anyways, I was against it all. I never wanted to put her in there, that was totally cruel to do to a person. We could have gotten her away from Cameron in a much better way. You and Diego were all for it, I knew the whole time it was a wrong thing to do.”

“Right Kyle, you think she appreciated that you care?” Sarah muttered seeing him give her a glance before shrugging his shoulders and seeing her shake her head slowly. “She doesn’t care about you Kyle, she never did. If she did care about you then it would be just to hurt me and you would probably have to buy some pills because unlike what you said earlier, you can‘t even get up.”

“That’s real great Sarah, maybe I just don’t want to do that with you,” Kyle chuckled to himself thinking about last night as he cleared his throat and shook his head slowly remembering the way it felt to have Heather’s nails scraping up against his skin, the way she was over him in the pool. He couldn’t get out of his head the way her green eyes stared into his…god, this was horrible. “Sarah, you don’t know anything about your sister and frankly, it doesn’t seem like you care. Heather and I would never happen.”

“You’re damn right Kyle because she never liked you in the first place,” Sarah snapped seeing him nod slowly and look over at the clock. “You’re not listening to me Kyle, she doesn’t like you. She likes them rich which hey, you might think you are rich, but she likes them where she could swim in a pool of money. Hell, you’re not a lot of girl’s dream boy if you look at yourself in the mirror. You’re lucky you have me here because at least I want to have you.”

“Sarah, you need to think about what you're saying right now,” Kyle paused for a moment, staring out at her with his hazel eyes as she watched him closely. “I have one thing that most men don’t and obviously you aren’t seeing it right now.”

“Yeah, you have something nice that won’t even work,” Sarah looked down towards Kyle’s groin before shrugging her shoulders and thinking about the things he had been saying to her. “It’s really a shame because when you have that thing working, it’s the only thing that’s really good about you.”

“Yeah, like you would know,” Kyle snapped watching her carefully before shaking his head slowly and watching her with his hazel eyes. He rested his hands against his hips before shaking his head slowly. “What? Did I like sleep with you what…twice?”

“Once, twice,” Sarah shrugged her shoulders watching him shake his head at her before she threw her hands up in the air. “It may have been twice, but at least I know that’s the one thing about you that people would like. The only thing probably too.”

“Right Sarah, you are perfectly right,” Kyle nodded slowly itching his chin as he continued on with what he was saying. “I mean, most people if they were like you wouldn’t realize that I am one of the nicest people you would ever meet. I care about my friends and my family. I have a heart you know and obviously that means nothing to you.”

“Hey, I’m sure it means something to someone,” Sarah pointed out with a small shrug thinking about Heather before coming up with the first thing on her mind. “She always told me how much she hated you when we were younger.”

“Really? When?” Kyle questioned with small laugh seeing Sarah think things over as he snapped his fingers at her. “Come on Sarah, think. Think long and hard.”

“When she was sixteen she told me all the time,” Sarah answered quickly seeing Kyle roll his eyes before offering up a confident grin. “You don’t believe me Kyle?”

“No, I don’t believe you one bit Sarah. You don’t know what you’re talking about Sarah because you are stuck in your own little world where all you care about is yourself and screwing me in one form or another,” Kyle pointed out with a small shake of his head, seeing the way her body tensed up with anger as she dropped the book. “Are you jealous that I am giving someone else attention or something?”

That comment got to her as she brought her hand across the side of his face, seeing him turn his head to the side before letting out small laugh.

“Kyle,” Sarah gasped realizing what she did as he turned to her laughing and wiping at the blood on his bottom lip with his thumb. He must have bit his lip when she hit him like that and by the way he was laughing she could tell he was angry. “I didn’t mean to do that, I’m so sorry.”

“Right,” Kyle walked into the bathroom knowing that she was following him close behind as he walked to the sink first cleaning the blood off his fingers before holding a wet cloth up against his bottom lip. “Nice Sarah, real nice.”

“Kyle, come on,” Sarah reached out to touch him feeling him pull away from her and pull the cloth away from his lips to see it stopped bleeding. “Kyle, I was just a little angry with how you were hanging out with Heather. That’s all.”

“Well get over it because I’m not going to stop,” Kyle informed her with an angered expression turning off the shower before walking back into the bedroom and pulling out some pants and a shirt. “You need to calm down before you start losing things you care about.”

“Kyle please, I’m sorry,” Sarah got on the bed behind him as he sat down on the edge of the bed. She touched his shoulders gently before pressing a small kiss against his skin. “Can you forgive me?”

“Sarah,” Kyle was about to fight with her further reaching up to move her hands only to feel the silver chain against his neck. He held onto it and thought about the history of it before nodding slowly realizing he would never get that happy moment back in his life. “Alright, I forgive you. I’m going to take a shower now.”


“What’s on your mind sweetheart?” Jenna sat down on the couch next to Hart after seeing the way he seemed to be in a deep thought. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders to pull her in closer to him and she rested her head against his chest. “I can tell something is wrong, so tell me what’s up.”

“You know me, always thinking about things I shouldn’t be,” Hart replied taking in a deep breath, knowing that the one thing that was on his mind right now was his friend. There were worries of what was going on through Brant’s head right now and if he was going to be okay. “Actually, I’m worried about Brant.”

“Why? He did the right thing Hart. You should know that,” Jenna pointed out glancing up at Hart to see his dark eyes looking down into hers. “Brant did the right thing and he should feel proud of himself. Sure, what he did at first was wrong, but at least he finally realized that.”

“It was only wrong if you were looking at it from one perspective,” Hart stated with a small shake of his head watching Jenna lean back to watch him carefully. The way she was looking at him made him shrug his shoulders as he had to think of his explanation. “If you were in love and the person you loved with everything that you were was falling from your grasp, would you do anything to hold onto them tighter?”

“Almost anything,” Jenna nodded as she thought about what happened with Brant and how he had lied to everyone. She knew in her mind that Brant couldn’t pull this off himself, so he had to have Don and Hart helping him out, but they were his friends. If Avery asked her to do something like that, she would have probably agreed to it right away, so she couldn’t exactly blame Hart for anything. “I just wouldn’t lie to everyone like Brant did.”

“He could have done it in a different way, so it didn’t look like he was really hurt,” he agreed taking in a deep breath, thinking about the recent situation between Brant and Avery. “I just don’t know how badly this is really hurting him right now Jenna. I mean, Avery was his everything.”

“But love isn’t love if both people don’t feel the same way,” she added seeing him shrug his shoulders and rest his head back against the couch. “I mean, you have to have to people in love to make it true love.”

“For a while, I did think Brant and Avery were true love,” Hart informed her with a half smile before shrugging his shoulders. “They were together and they seemed so happy. It was like she loved him and he loved her. I know Brant was willing to give up anything just for her.”

“That’s when everyone thought Russell was dead Hart,” Jenna reminded him, seeing the way he looked away from her as she hit him in the chest lightly. “You need to listen to me for a second Hart--Russ really isn’t that bad.”

“Good person or not, what he is making happen is tearing Brant’s heart out,” Hart remembered how much Brant wanted to keep this relationship going and how much he wanted to keep the two of them together. “He didn’t want to lose her and that was the thing he was the most scared of. I would hate to feel like that.”

“Yeah, but losing Russ wasn’t easy for Avery you know,” Jenna let him know seeing him watch her carefully showing her that he was listening to what she had to say. “If you would know about these two you would realize how much they belong together. They fought to be together forever and they are meant to be. No matter how much this world tears them apart, they are never going to lose each other. They are always going to come back to each other because being together makes them whole. Without each other, they are broke down versions of Avery and Russ. You are Brant’s friend and of course you are going to feel bad, I totally understand that and I’m okay with that. You just have to realize that sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Sometimes, it is for the best you know.”

“I know that,” Hart let out a deep sigh holding her closer to him, thinking about Jenna and how he never wanted to lose her. She was his everything and he wanted to try and do everything he could to make her stay with him. There was nothing that could ever take her away from him because he knew she loved him just like he loved her. “What do you think is going to happen between Brant and Avery?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Jenna shrugged thinking things over for a minute before realizing they were like a book without a title. “You can’t tell with those two, they are always taking a turn.”

“Most of the time for the worse,” Hart added thinking about the romance Brant had with Avery over the period of time of Russell Denton’s death. “I just hope one day that Brant can be able to move on. If there is one thing this relationship between the two of them showed me, it‘s that maybe being married isn’t a good thing at all.”

“Maybe you are right,” Jenna pondered the same thing realizing that every time someone had gotten married, there was always something getting in the way of their happiness. Marriage could be the kiss of death everyone talks about. All the relationships must go down after that.”


“This is just great,” Brant sighed to himself pushing the bowl of cereal he had before him away. He tapped his fingers along the table thinking about everything that had been taking place recently and if everything had gone his way, he would be eating breakfast with Avery today. He wouldn’t be sitting here alone without anyone, thinking about all the things that everyone else had told him was wrong. “I can’t do anything right can I?”

“I wouldn’t say that kiddo,” Augustus walked into the kitchen placing his hands on Brant’s shoulders feeling Brant jump at his touch. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Oh, hey gramps,” Brant offered up a small smile before turning his attention back to the table before him, thinking about all the moments he had shared with Avery in this kitchen. All the thoughts of how he was never going to share a moment with her like that again poured through his mind as he ran his hand through his hair slowly. “What are you doing up so early?”

“So early? I‘ve been getting up this early ever since you were a young boy,” Augustus chuckled taking a seat across from Brant, reaching for the bowl that Brant pushed away earlier and slid it back to Brant. “You’re going to eat that before I leave this table because you aren’t going to stop eating.”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” Brant let out a small laugh hearing the seriousness behind his grandfather’s voice as he took a small bite of his cereal and offering up a fake smile. “See, I ate some of it right in front of you.”

“Are you really that upset?” Augustus questioned seeing Brant nod before shrugging his shoulders. “Well, I just a got a yes and maybe. I’m not quite sure what to think about that so I will ask you again, what’s going on through your head?”

“I don’t know gramps,” Brant let out a deep sigh rubbing the back of his aching neck with both of his hands. He looked up to see Augustus hazel eyes watching him over carefully before offering up a small shrug. “I’m not really in the mood for a lecture right now if that’s what I am going to get. Maybe later, but right now I just don’t think I could put up with another person being mad at me and telling me what it is I have done wrong. I don’t think I can take much more of that.”

“I wasn’t going to lecture you,” Augustus informed Brant with small frown seeing the way that his grandson seemed to be so down right now. He reached out to place his hand over Brant’s before offering up a small smile. “You did the right thing son.”

“I did?” Brant looked up with a shocked expression over his features, his brown eyes narrowing in at his grandfather. “You are the second person to tell me that and the first being Don--which he really doesn’t know anything…”

“He’s knows a lot if you would open your eyes Brant,” Augustus insisted seeing Brant seem to still be searching for why he was doing the right thing. “I know you loved her son, but it was just time to let go. There is going to be something out there that is going to be better for you. I know that you are going to be happy because you did the right thing.”

“I’m glad you think so,” Brant took in a deep breath feeling Augustus give his hand a small squeeze. Somehow, even though his grandfather was telling him he did the right thing, he still felt something in his heart swelling making him feel like it was the wrong thing to do letting go of her just like that. “I still feel like I might have done the wrong thing.”

“That feeling will stay with you for a while kiddo, but it’s something that a lot of people feel these days,” Augustus informed Brant seeing him slouch down and rest his chin against the table. “Brant, sometimes people could love someone for years and never have it in return. Everyone eventually finds true love and I know you will. If not now, sooner than later. I know you, you’re a handsome young man that has a heart of gold. You just need to believe in yourself.”

“Augustus,” Brant laughed pulling away from his grandfather after feeling Augustus slide his fingers underneath his chin to try and lift his head up. Brant sat up straight before nodding slowly, thinking about what his grandfather said. “I know you said that it was a good thing, but I know I am going to get my ass kicked for lying in the first place.”

“No, you’re not going to get beat up,” Augustus frowned pushing at his grandson’s shoulder gently and offering up a small smile. “No one would be like that Brant.”

“Are you kidding me? Have you seen Russell’s best friend?” Brant chuckled to himself thinking about Kyle and how he almost took the screwdriver to him the that one day. “Man, all he has to do is flick me with his finger and kill me.”

“Houston?” Augustus mentioned Kyle’s name seeing Brant nod, his eyes getting wide as he shuddered at the thought of Kyle beating him to death. “Somehow, I have faith in that young man. I see a little bit of me in him in fact, so I know he wouldn’t hurt you. I talked to him and Russ--they wouldn’t hurt you.”

“I’m glad you think that,” Brant sighed thinking about Russell and everything he did put Russell through. “When they are putting me through the wall, I’ll be sure to tell you I told you so.”

“You sure do have a wild imagination,” Augustus laughed to himself before standing up and motioning Brant to follow him. “How about me and you have small talk in the backyard? Just to talk about everything I guess.”


Avery stood near the bedroom window thinking about the silence that surrounded her after Russ had taken Erin back with him to the nursery to get changed. He’d promised they’d be back to the bedroom shortly to begin packing up and going home to the place where they’d planned their dreams with one another. Last night things had been exhausting and by the time Brant had handed over the divorce papers it had been far to late to leave, so Russ had agreed to grudgingly spend one more night at the mansion.

“Just until morning,” she could hear his voice ringing through her head. She let out a long sigh before refocusing her attention to the envelope on top of the tall dresser beside the bed. Taking a step forward she reached out for it bringing it into her hands. Another sigh erupted from within as she closed her eyes thinking about what these would mean to the future for her and Russ.

“Hey babe, sorry I took so long,” Russell spoke up reclaiming her from her thoughts. She spun around to see him standing before her in a blue button down shirt and a sexy pair of jeans looking absolutely delicious except there was one very important thing missing from his arms--Erin.

“Where’s our daughter,” Avery couldn’t help but ask taking a step towards him.

“She’s with Annie,” Russell explained catching the worried expression on her face, “She wanted to see her before we left. Speaking of which, are you almost packed?”

“Russ, I’m not sure that…” she started shifting on her feet uneasily not quite sure why she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling inside of her that something was still so very wrong about the situation taking place around them.

“That what?” he asked taking a step towards her, his hands sliding out over her shoulders in a small, massaging movement before he pulled her into his arms more completely, “That you aren’t ready for us to get back home to a place where we’d planned on raising our daughter? I know it’s been a while, but I’m sure when we go there things will fall back into place for us.”

“I know, but…” she started again unclear on why she was so wound up over being able to have everything she’d been hoping for.

“But what?” he questioned touching the side of her face gently, “Avery, what’s going on? What’s bothering you?”

“It’s not that there’s anything in particular, but it’s just that there is so much that we have had happening around us. I mean first there was Bruce and then Erin coming into the world, but that wasn’t all. You found out that you’re Brant’s brother and…” Avery started to remind him with a heavy sigh.

“That’s something I really don’t want to get into right now,” he confessed with a small breath, “It’s actually the last thing I want to dwell on right now.”

“Even so, it doesn’t change that reality Russ,” she placed her hands over the center of his chest gently, feeling the warmth of his body burning beneath her touch, “I mean have you even talked with your parents about this? Anymore than you did at the hospital?”

“What can I say? Oh yeah by the way guys I know you did a great job raising me and I’m sure it was hell on you dad, but thanks for putting up with me and tolerating that I’m an Ashford all of these years,” Russell shuddered at the thought, “I mean you know how much my family hates the Ashfords and now I know why. It’s because every time my dad saw me he saw the fact that my mom slept with another man…”

“Russ, honey that’s not what he sees,” Avery ran her fingers over his chest gently, “That’s not it at all. Elliot loves you.”

“Yeah I know,” he sighed heavily dropping the sarcasm from his voice, “I just don’t understand how my mother could fall for Nicholas of all people. I mean what was she thinking? He’s a monster and…”

“And maybe she knew a different man than the one we know,” she suggested knowing that Russ would have a lot on his plate in dealing with the truth about his biological father.

“Right,” Russ began doubtful, “The man tried to murder me--to have your mother murder Erin and for what? For money that he’s never going to be able to touch?”

“Money makes people do a lot of horrible things unfortunately,” she thought aloud realizing just how far her mother had gone to help assist Nicholas in his plan to get his hands on the fortune that Augustus had kept from him.

“Yeah like murdering our children,” Russell shook his head firmly, “I don’t care what that man thinks he’s going to get from any of us, I won’t let him hurt you or Erin again. Brooke won’t get that chance either.”

“I think Brooke is paying for her sins Russ,” she shuddered remembering the moment she’d pushed her mother out of the BBK Offices window, “She won’t be able to get to us again.”

“Even so the sooner we get out of this place the better,” he decided giving her a quick kiss before turning to the closet, “How much do we have to pull out of here?”

“I actually um,” she paused uneasily knowing that he wasn’t going to be happy with the idea of her having to stay here a little longer, but she couldn’t lie to him, “I have to go talk to Brant.”

“What?” he spun around to face her with a frown on his face. “Why?”

“Because most of my things are in…” she hesitated with uneasiness, “his bedroom and for me to get them, well I would have to make sure that he’s out of there and…”

“I’ll go with you,” Russ announced firmly not liking the idea of her spending any alone time with Brant.

“Russ, you can’t follow me around all of the time,” she reached for him squeezing his hand in hers, “I think that I can handle packing my stuff.”

“Avery, you know how he is. He lied to us and…” he began with a heavy frown.

“He had the divorce papers drawn up Russ. I don’t think he’s going to be a problem for us any longer,” she squeezed his hand again, “You have to trust me on this.”

“You I trust, but with Brant, well let’s just say that I wouldn’t trust him with anything at this point even with giving you the divorce papers. I’m sure this is just another angle he’s working on us and hoping that we won’t figure it out.”

“I don’t believe that Russ,” she began thinking about all that Brant had done for her in the past. “He’s trying to give us a chance at being happy.”

“You keep trying to tell me that Avery, but I don’t buy that he’s going to just walk away from everything after what he tried to pull on us. You know that he tried to have paternity tests say Erin was his daughter when we both knew that wasn’t possible and then he lied about having a breakdown. He did that knowing full well that you wouldn’t walk away from him when he was hurting. He‘s been manipulating you since day one and for all we know he could‘ve been in on this with Nicholas. He could‘ve known all along…”

“He didn’t know Russ. He doesn’t know,” Avery objected with a frown, “and I wish you could trust me when I tell you that I’m positive he’s going to let us be happy together.”

“Yeah, well while you want to think he’s some kind of generous host, the fact remains that he was underhanded and did a lot of shady things to try to tear us apart. They all have and I can’t stay here any longer. I’m getting your things and Erin’s and we’re going home. We’re not staying here another night,” he explained with a huff walking out of the room ready to follow through on his promise.

“Oh Russ, I wish you wouldn’t be so stubborn. If only you could see things like I did--like I do,” she sighed sinking down onto the corner of the bed knowing full well that the problems that surrounded their lives weren’t going to just fade away once they were home and out of the mansion.


Grady walked off of the hospital elevators vowing that today he would find a way to change his luck. After his talk with Kyle the other day he’d gotten to thinking about things, gotten to really looking at his life and where it was headed not so long ago. He knew full well that it was time to change it and if Jade was watching him now he’d know she’s be proud of him for refusing to close himself off from the rest of the world. He’d been more than willing to do it before Avery walked into his life, but now that Russ was home again, he knew there was no turning back.

“You can do this,” he started to cheer himself on hoping to give himself enough of a pep talk to make things happen for him. His eyes surveyed the hospital hall hoping to seek out his target and within a matter of minutes he spotted the sassy blonde that managed to keep crossing paths with him at times when he’d thought he’d hit rock bottom.

Well today he was going to make a choice and he was going to follow through on it. If he wound up crashing and burning so be it, but today he was going to try to take a new approach. He took in a slow breath before making his way over to Deana. He stood behind her cracking a small grin before clearing his throat to capture her attention. Unfortunately however she hadn’t bothered to look up from the chart she’d been working on.

“What can I do for you,” she asked not even the slightest bit interested in spinning around to face him as it was clear she’d known who was behind her, “Grady?”

“Well I actually came over here today to…” Grady paused shifting on his feet uneasily before clearing his throat again, “to talk to you.”

“So talk,” she shrugged still jotting down notes on the chart in front of her clearly disinterested in whatever it was he had to tell her.

“Well, I was kind of hoping that you’d at least look at me when I gave you this,” he explained stepping in behind her and extending his arm out beside her to set a small bag down on the countertop. She finally looked up spotting the striped gift bag beside her charts. Turning around she faced him with a curious expression.

“Grady, what is that?” she waved her finger in the air over at the bag.

“That’s a peace offering,” Grady replied with a wide grin seeing that she had skepticism written all over her face. “Okay, so maybe that’s not really what it is, but it’s something I picked up for Zane.”

“For Zane?” she repeated giving him a strange look of astonishment as if he’d somehow asked her if he’d just asked her what her personal preferences in the bedroom were. Instead of the smile he’d hoped would fill her beautiful features, he was met by an icy glare, “Grady, why would you be buying something for my son?”

“Well, I know first hand how much it sucks to have an injury since I broke my leg when I wasn’t much older than him playing sports,” Grady continued reaching out to pull the bag off of the countertop to hold it out to her, “Go on. Open it. It’s nothing too vile.”

“I really don’t think that it’s a good idea,” she shook her head in polite refusal, but when he dropped the bag into her hand she couldn’t help but peer into it seeing a brand new DVD boxed set of Zane’s favorite cartoon in front of her. Immediately her eyes snapped up to his with a strange mixture of confusion and distrust and could it be perhaps a little bit of appreciation?

“Zane mentioned to me that was his favorite show when he was in the hospital. I thought that maybe if he didn’t have that already, he might enjoy it while he’s resting,” Grady continued to explain himself, “and I also thought that maybe it would keep him busy tonight when I take you out for a while.”

“Excuse me?” she blinked back at him surprised by his approach, “What do you mean take me out?”

“You heard me,” he smiled down at her laying out all the charm, “Tonight I’m going to take you out for a little grown up fun. There is a big party that Blake Ashford is hosting in order to raise money for the new community center that she’s putting up in town. Someone I loved very much cared about that particular project and I wouldn’t want to disappoint that person by not showing up. However, in most cases when it gets down to the whole suit and tie experience, people generally expect you to bring a date and…”

“And you figured that you’d kiss up to me for a while and maybe work your way into my heart through my son so that I’d give you a yes?” she arched a curious brow.

“I was hoping that Zane would enjoy that,” Grady motioned to the gift again, “And that maybe you’d say yes to going with me simply because you just wanted to. I mean what do you have to lose?”

“Grady, I already told you that I can’t just run out and do things when Zane…” she began backpedaling a bit as she tried to put off his question. “It’s not a good time in my life…”

“To go out and have a little fun?” he replied with a tiny laugh, “Believe me Deana this is probably the worst time in my life to be asking you out, but I figured what else do I have to lose? It’s just an invitation to a party. I promise you that I’m not going to try to pull out some kind of underhanded, ulterior motive on you there. It is what it is there and I’d like for you to join me tonight as a friend and maybe someone who could use a little brightening up in her life as well…”

She remained silent for a long period of time as if lost in silent contemplation before she finally spoke up again, “Grady, even if I wanted to, I can’t do it. I don’t have anyone to watch Zane and…”

“It’s already taken care of,” Grady waved his hand dismissively at her, “I knew that might come up so I talked to my parents and neither one of them is really up for the party spirit tonight, so they said they would be more than willing to step in and watch Zane for a couple of hours.”

“Grady, I don’t even know your parents. They don’t know me and…” she started up once more.

“My mom works at a veterinarian’s office and my father is retired and they are phenomenal with children, but if you still have some reservations, then feel free to call them,” Grady extracted a number from his pocket, “You’ll find that they are good people and I promise I won’t keep you out too late, but rather just long enough for you to have some play time with the rest of the grown up world for a while. What do you say?”

“I don’t know,” she paused biting on her lower lip for a moment, “I just don’t really think it’s a great idea. I mean you and I don’t really know one another that well and…”

“And I can talk to a friend of mine and hook you up with a taser gun if you think I’ll get out of line,” he winked down at her.

“I don’t know if I’d go that far in not trusting you,” she couldn’t help but smile.

“Just think about it. Most of the town will be there and it’s for a good cause. Look at it this way it’s a few hours to yourself outside of the hospital where you can just kick back and relax for a while. You have a free babysitter and pretty decent company considering that I do know how to have a good time every now and then if I do say so myself,” he brought his fingers to the center of his chest as if to display himself to her. “So what do you say Deana? I mean really what do you think you have to lose?”

“I just…” she began again stammering a bit.

“Trust me if you say yes you’re going to have a great time,” he continued in a determined tone, his green eyes reaching down into her with the same warmth that his smile radiated, “Who knows you might even find that you enjoy life for a while too. You may actually enjoy spending grown up time out every now and then.”

“I haven’t had that in a long time,” she sighed thinking about how her time had been divided between work and Zane leaving her next to no room to make friends in town or to explore a personal life since she’d arrived in Coral Valley.

“And this is a good excuse to make sure that you finally have some of that,” Grady stepped in closer to her, his eyes fixed on hers, “So what do you say Deana? Are you willing to take a chance on me and try to enjoy life outside of all work and no play for a while?”


“Wendy?” Ken looked in his bedroom hoping to find Wendy because she just disappeared on him a little while ago and he was hoping that nothing was wrong. He heard a noise in the bathroom as he quickly ran over to knock on the door to hear Wendy coughing. He knocked on the door rapidly hoping that she was okay as he continued to pound on the door in front of him. “Wendy, open up the door honey.”

“I’m okay,” Wendy assured him from inside the bathroom quickly wiping at her lips and quickly throwing the paper towel in the garbage before going to the door to let Ken in. “I’m okay, I really am.”

“You scared me,” Ken let out a sigh of relief wrapping his arms around her and holding her tight against him. He pressed a kiss in against her forehead, running his fingers through her long hair. “You can’t leave me like that, I got worried.”

“It’s bound to happen sometime,” she whispered thinking about how sick she was and the words Ken has just said to her. She looked up to see his confused brown eyes looking down at her as she shook her head and offered up a weak smile. “I mean, sometimes people have to go to the bathroom and stuff like that.”

“Honey, are you feeling okay?” Ken caressed the small of her back gently seeing her eyes look up into his as she nodded slowly, letting out a small smile. “Are you sure because you seem a little pale?”

“I’m fine Kenneth,” she assured him once more, not wanting him to worry about her right now knowing how many things he must have had on his mind at this moment in time. “You don’t have to worry about me, you know how I am. I’m a strong girl that can take care of herself.”

“I know you can,” Ken pressed a small kiss against her lips and grinned before kissing her cheek, holding her close to him. “Sometimes I just can’t help it when I want to be your white knight.”

“You have always been my white knight Ken,” she insisted seeing him give her a small wink and smiling widely. “There was never anything you did wrong with me. You were always perfect, in fact too perfect for me.”

“I’ve never been perfect,” Ken hushed her sliding his fingers in over her lips gently and smiling. “The closest thing I am to perfect is every time I am with you. Every single time I am with you Wendy, I’m meant to be a good person. You keep me wanting to be good and perfect because that’s the smallest thing you deserve. Nothing less than perfect and at the party tonight, everything is going to be perfect just for you. I promise.”

“I believe you,” she nodded and smiled resting her head against his chest. “I know you want everything to be perfect and I am going to do my best to make it that way Ken.”

As she listened to his heartbeat she realized that this was it. The one moment she had to hold onto because it was probably going to be one of the last ones she could hold onto. Even though Ken seemed to be happy with her here, she couldn’t help but think about all the things that were meant to happen in the future. Maybe it was wrong for her come back into Ken’s life again only to have her die on him and leave him lonely once more. There were so many things that could turn him back when she passed and it made her realize that maybe coming back wasn’t really the right thing to do for Ken.


“You are going to look so pretty in this,” Brittany assured Mindy watching Mindy pull the dress she had gotten for the party up her shoulders. Mindy turned her back to Brittany trying to pull her zipper up before Brittany offered up a small laugh. “Come over here, I’ll get it.”

“Thank you sweetheart,” Mindy smiled feeling Brittany pull the zipper up and finishing as Mindy turned around and looked at herself in the mirror. “What do you think? How do I look?”

“Beautiful, just like you always do,” Brittany assured Mindy with a wide smile seeing Mindy play with her dress a little bit in the mirror before adjusting her hair. “I think you look fine Mindy, you have to stop worrying.”

“I was just thinking about Hunt,” Mindy thought things over for a second before realizing what was going on as she let out a small sigh. Hunt went out on dates with her all the time and never before did he mind her appearance. This time was different though, she wanted this one night to be perfect just for him. “You think he would like it?”

“He’ll love it,” Brittany hushed Mindy before clapping her hands together to get Mindy’s attention. “He’s going to love it Mindy because he loves you and already thinks you are perfect.”

“She does look very beautiful tonight Brittany, you are absolutely right,” Gabe entered the bathroom seeing Mindy look over her shoulder towards him as he offered up a small smile and shrugged his shoulders. “I think you look great and that dress looks perfect on you. Tonight you won’t look anything less than perfect.”

“Thanks you two,” Mindy smiled widely seeing Gabe hold his hands up in the air for a group hug as Brittany and Gabe both hugged her tightly in their arms. She let out a small laugh before holding up her hands and looking at her hair in the mirror. “Careful with the hair.”

“Stop worrying honey, I’m perfect with hair and I can fix anything,” Gabe played with her hair for a moment and looking at her in the mirror, seeing the way her eyes shined today. “You look great and you have nothing to worry about.”

“Daddy knows what he is talking about, you look like a princess tonight,” Brittany informed Mindy with a small nod thinking about what her father had said to Mindy. “I want to look just like you when I am older. I want to be a princess and I want to be just as beautiful as you are.”

“You are a princess sweetheart,” Mindy picked Brittany up in her arms holding her tightly and feeling Gabe step in right next to her as he tapped his daughter’s nose gently. “To me and your daddy, you are the only princess we care about.”

“And you are the most beautiful little one in the world,” Gabe leaned forward pressing a small kiss against his daughter’s forehead seeing Brittany smile widely when Mindy set her down on the floor. “Why don’t you go get what I got you the other day so you can show Mindy.”

“Alright,” Brittany nodded happily running out of the bathroom as the two watched her.

“I’m glad she is at least happy,” Gabe let out a small sigh thinking about Guy and how much pain he hand been in lately. “I’m truthfully worried about Guy, it’s like noting will help him feel better. He has been taking so much…”

“And it’s really hard on him,” Mindy finished seeing him nod slowly as she thought about how much she agreed with him. There were always worries on her mind about Guy and if he was going to be pass this thing up and realize his life is better off. “I hope he is going to make it through.”

“I hope so too,” Gabe thought things over for a second before deciding to lighten the mood in the room. “What about Hunt tonight honey? He is going to think you look great.”


Guy typed on his keyboard staring blankly at the screen before him as he finished the work he had to continue to do at the company his mother owned. It was different with things like this because every time he came to work with his mother gone, he would just work at getting through it. Before he would have fun with his job and most of the time look forward to coming, but this was different now. Every time he was at work all he could think about was his mother and how much she betrayed him and his family. He was so wrong trusting her like that and if he trusted her like that, it showed how dumb and how blind he was to think she loved the family and wanted everyone to be happy.

“Knock, knock,” Richard stuck his head in to look into the office to check if Guy was in. He saw Guy over in the corner at his desk, now looking through a ton of papers before lifting his head up to give Richard a small glance. “How are you doing kiddo?”

“If you come back in about two hours I might not be busy,” Guy let out a small growl of frustration pounding his hand on the table as he saw Richard approaching him. “I might be able to give you an answer then, maybe.”

“I think you need to take a break,” Richard scooped up the papers, straightening them out for Guy before setting them on the opposite corner of the desk. “So tell me kiddo, how are you doing? I haven’t gotten to talk to you in a while and I was hoping to talk to you.”

“Well, I’m still living,” Guy let out a hesitant laugh before looking into his father’s serious eyes and he shrugged his shoulders, throwing his hands up in the air. “Actually, I’m not doing that great I keep blaming myself for some things and…”

“You shouldn’t be doing that Guy,” Richard frowned leaning forward in his seat and watching his son carefully. “What happened was nowhere near your fault.”

“Yeah, I know,” Guy took in a deep breath realizing that yeah, what his mother did was not his fault at all because she was the one that was evil not him, but he was the one that fell for it. He was the one that got tricked into believing that she was a good person. “Dad, I have to apologize.”

“No you don’t,” Richard cut off Guy once more hating to see the fact that his own son blamed himself for everything that had happened when in reality none of this was his fault. Brooke was just a bad person that had an effect on everybody. “Son, you did nothing wrong and you have to realize that. I know you feel bad about what your mother did, but it had nothing to do with you.”

“Not about that,” Guy hushed his father, throwing his hands up in the air and staring out at him. “I just want to apologize for being so stupid and not seeing past her. She was evil and I should have seen it and I’m sorry I was so mean. I hate how I was so loyal to her when all she was doing was trying to hurt Avery. One of the people that meant the most to me in my life.”

“Stand up son,” Richard stood up from his seat seeing Guy do the same as Richard held his hands up in the air. “What your mother did was very wrong, but a lot of people did nothing wrong and Avery is going to be okay. Give me a hug and tell me you think everything is going to be okay.”

“Everything is going to be okay,” Guy smiled reaching out to hug his father tightly realizing that his real family was present the whole time and that was his father and Avery. That’s all he needed to move on with his life.


“They can wait honey,” Kipp followed Kellen from behind letting out a small groan as Kellen walked to the door, Kipp’s arm wrapped around his waist and Kipp pressed a few small kisses in against Kellen’s neck. “Don’t you want some time to ourselves?”

“I do Kippy bear,” Kellen turned around for a second resting his arms on Kipp’s shoulders before leaning forward to kiss him gently. His fingers curled around the curve of Kipp’s neck before pulling back. “It just might be Heather and I can’t let her hair get wet or anything because I have to fix it up perfectly.”

“Of course,” Kipp let out a small sigh fixing his pajama pants, realizing that if it was Heather he had a lot of getting ready to do because he hadn’t even taken a shower yet and Heather was all ready to go. “Go ahead, get the door.”

“I’m working on it,” Kellen let out a small squeal feeling Kipp smack him on the behind before he quickly went to open the door with a wide smile over his features. His blue eyes lit up as he saw the person before him. “Zoë.”

“Mom,” Kipp cleared his throat and fixed his hair before Kellen let Zoë into the house and she reached out to hug him tightly. “What are you doing here?”

“I came here with presents,” Zoë informed him with a wide smile holding up a teddy bear that she had bought for Charles earlier in the week. “I hope he likes it, I got the soft kind that I heard a lot of babies like.”

“Can I feel it?” Kellen questioned with a wide smile as Zoë pulled it out of the bag and he snuggled it up against his face and let out a small laugh. “It is so soft, feel how soft it is honey.”

“Kellen,” Kipp let out a small laugh feeling the teddy bear tickle the side of his neck as he grabbed it and set it down on the couch, a small smile spreading out throughout his features. “I’ll give it to Charles when he wakes up, I know he will love it.”

“I hope so,” Zoë offered up a small smile before seeing Kipp motion her to take a seat on the couch and sit between him and Kellen. “So, how are the two of you doing tonight? I hope you are going to the party tonight.”

“Why?” Kipp questioned with a small laugh seeing Kellen playing with his mother’s hair and she seemed to be okay with it giving him a wide smile before shrugging her shoulders. “Is something going on?”

“I was actually hoping that you and Kellen over here could meet your brother,” Zoë informed Kipp with a wide smile seeing his eyes widen at the word brother. “His name is Daniel and he is sixteen, but I’m sure you will love him.”

“You have a little brother, that is so cute,” Kellen clapped his hands together seeing Kipp let out a small laugh as Kellen wrapped his arm around Zoë’s shoulders. “I think that is the coolest thing ever. I wish I had a younger brother, I had a really bad older brother. Used to beat me up and everything.”

“Really?” Zoë frowned looking back at Kellen seeing him nod, his blue eyes widening as he shrugged his shoulders. “What happened to him?”

“He died,” Kellen remembered what happened to his brother before shrugging his shoulders and thinking about all the things he knew. “A person killed him and he fell off a mountain. I guess he broke his neck and then got thrown into the ocean or something like that. I’m not quite sure on the details.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Zoë apologized seeing Kellen not get one bit upset by it as he held his hands up in the air. “It doesn’t bother you one bit?”

“He deserved it because he hurt a lot of people,” Kellen shrugged his shoulders before trying to get off the subject of his brother. He never understood how him and Cary could come from the same bloodline because Cary was a real jerk that couldn’t get past the power stage. Kellen understood why everything happened and he wouldn’t have wanted some of the things to change because Cary wasn’t a good person at all. “Anyways, off that topic--I was looking at some of your books and they are great. If you were interested, I have the great fitness deal and I have the best pointers.”

“With that body, I’m sure you do,” Zoë agreed letting out a small smile seeing Kellen stand up and showing her his abdomen before letting out a small smile. “I take it you two just woke up a little while ago.”

“That’s right,” Kipp answered before Kellen could pick up and tell her what was really going on. “And I could really go for some breakfast. How does that sound? You two could talk while I cook something up.”

“Sounds good honey,” Kellen winked wrapping his arm around Zoë’s shoulders once again before letting out a small smile, “I think I found one of my new best friends.”

“You are so cute,” Zoë’s let out a small laugh before patting Kellen on the back as they walked into the kitchen. “I would love to hear your ideas and maybe everything else you have in mind with some other things to publish.”


“Grady I…I don’t know,” Deana stalled thinking about his offer to take her with him to the party tonight. She knew full well that the party was the talk of the town especially since it was being publicized as one of the biggest things to hit Coral Valley in a while. People were looking for something to boost morale and Blake Ashford’s impromptu party was something that clearly was a step towards doing that. A community center was certainly a nice idea and something that really couldn’t be negative, yet when she thought of sharing an evening with Grady a feeling settled in the pit of her stomach that almost felt like…

“No, it couldn’t be,” she thought to herself unable to stop staring at Grady’s hypnotizing green eyes. She couldn’t be nervous about this. She couldn’t be worried and anticipating going out with him because she didn’t have time for that. She was new at the hospital and had plenty of work ahead of her. Zane was adjusting to a new environment and the last thing he needed was his mother going out on a date with a man like Grady Denton.

A date, she thought to herself thinking about the way he’d approached her on the subject. He’d said he wanted to go as just friends, but there was something sexy about the expression on his face that had her wishing that maybe he was looking for more. Heaven knows it had been a while for her since she’d been able to have a grown up night--especially one that had ended up in bed with a man. Of course it had been pathetic in how long it had been and even more pathetic when she realized that she hadn’t been in bed with one nearly half as sexy as Grady was. Of course he hadn’t had sex in mind and she wanted to curse herself for thinking it, yet the idea of having his beautifully naked body next to hers reminding her of all the perks of being a grown up was something that made her face grow hot with anticipation.

Zane’s father had proven again and again to be a huge disappointment, but given that she’d grown used to disappointment with men, she hadn’t expected to feel something so immediate and powerful towards someone like Grady. Sure, she’d heard stories about his reputation of how he ran hot and cold, about how the mystery of him was only intensified by his aloof side, yet there was something dark and dangerously sexy about him especially as he stood before her trying to tempt her with an invite to the party. Why if he had any idea how hard it was for her not to come onto him when they were alone together, she’d die of embarrassment on the spot. He’d be shocked and astonished to know that the very woman who had raked him through the coals time and time again was dreaming about raking her nails down his back, placing hot kisses over his chest and exploring all the mystery that he had to offer her with that alluring grin and mischievous green eyes.

Oh how she’d love to show him a thing or two about what he really did to her, yet when she thought back to Zane, she made a silent note about practicality. She couldn’t ignore that. She had to stay level headed. If only for her son’s sake. He couldn’t afford to have her screw up another relationship especially not now after she’d started a whole new life for him away from the mess they’d had back home.

“Grady, I don’t know if it’s such a good idea,” she found herself saying much to her own dismay, “I don’t think that now is a really good time and…”

“Of course it’s a good time,” Barbara intervened stepping up to the two of them and placing herself between Deana and Grady. “Deana would love to go with you tonight and I think that if you wanted to pick her up around seven, she’d be more than thrilled to go with you.”

“Barbara I…” Deana’s eyes widened in astonishment.

“Great,” Grady grinned victoriously, the expression on his face causing Deana’s heart to plummet up into her throat then back down into her chest with wild, frantic beats. “I’ll see you then.”

“Okay,” was all Deana managed to get out as she watched him walk away, his perfect behind looking oh so delicious in those jeans he was wearing. How she’d managed to let a perfect butt and stunning eyes get her in over her head was beyond her, but now as Barbara waved her hand in Deana’s face, Deana remembered fully how this had happened.

“See, now don’t you feel better,” Barbara smiled at her, “You’re already all dreamy-eyed no doubt imagining how the night will go.”

“I can’t believe you did that to me,” Deana snapped out of her daze a frown touched over the corners of her lips, “I know next to nothing about him and even less about his parents. To have them watch my son when…”

“Deana, girl would you relax?” Barbara shook her head at Deana, “You don’t ever have any fun and I think you and Grady would be good for one another. He’ll show you a good time and maybe if nothing else he’ll give you something else to smile about since I know how much you look forward to his little visits at the hospital.”

“I do not,” Deana objected giving her a small glare especially when she saw doubt register in Barbara’s eyes, “I don’t.”

“Sure,” Barbara laughed lightly, “and that’s why when he walked in here you were fantasizing about what it would be like to get him out of those sexy jeans of his and into yours.”

Deana’s jaw dropped in astonishment, “I can’t believe that you just said that.”

“Sure you can,” Barbara reached for one of the charts, “because I know you were thinking it and hey, girl half the women in this town have been thinking it for years, but you are one of the lucky ones who might get a shot at living it with him.”

“I’m not going to sleep with him,” Deana objected with a huff hating that Barbara had been able to see through to her thoughts. Had she been that obvious? Had she looked that desperate when Grady was around? White hot embarrassment flooded over her especially now that Barbara seemed to be more insistent upon proving her wrong, “I’m really not.”

“Well if you do, then I want details,” Barbara winked at her in silent encouragement before walking past Deana to get back to work, “Have fun tonight Deana. You could use a little more of it.”

“Yes, but…I don’t know if this was the right thing to do right now,” Deana sighed once she was alone again. She thought to the expression on Grady’s face when Barbara had found a way to accept the invitation for her and while Deana herself had wanted to say yes, there was a bit of relief from having the option taken from her to answer. Sure, maybe she would’ve said no for the sake of self-preservation, but now that Barbara had decided to give Deana the first opening to exploring what it was to get to know Grady better, Deana couldn’t help but wonder if she would be able to find the courage to give him the opportunity to do the same with her. Sure, she was interested, but would interested be enough to make something stable? Something that wouldn’t end up blowing up in her face down the road like it had with Zane’s father?

“It’s not a date,” Deana reminded herself reaching for her charts and making her way to a patient’s room as she kept wishing all the while that somehow her date that wasn’t a date would really become a date after all when everything was said and done. After all, it couldn’t hurt having a man around in her life again, could it?


“What are you doing now?” Sarah questioned walking into the guest room finding Kyle seated at the small table with a few things he’d had faxed over on Cameron in front of him. She reached for one of the papers inspecting it with a frown, “Kyle, why are you looking at these?”

“Because I don’t trust him,” he confessed tipping his head up to look at Sarah, “Call me crazy, but I think he’s up to something. I have this sinking thought that he’s got something up his sleeve and he’s going to hurt Heather again. Given that she’s worked so hard to overcome the past, that bothers me--a lot.”

“Heather is going to get what she deserves,” she set the paper down before reaching out to run her fingers over his shoulders in a tentative movement, “She’s a greedy little bitch who will get hers sooner or later. Cameron is just the kind of guy she’s always wanted. He’s rich, powerful and has no morals. He’ll fit in perfectly with her.”

Kyle frowned at her words tipping his head up to look at her. He felt her lean down as if to kiss him and he frowned again, “Don’t you ever cut her any slack? I mean honestly even with what’s happened between the two of you, she’s still your sister you know.”

“A fact that I wish I could ignore,” she pulled away from him a scowl touching over her lips, “I’m not the one who ran out on our family. She was. She’s the one who never looked back so I don’t really need the lecture.”

“Heather’s not the bag guy Sarah. She’s done a lot, but she’s also been through a lot,” he continued with a frown, “things happen and they change a person…”

“Don’t tell me she’s gotten to you too,” her lip curled in a frown. She stood silent for a moment before searching his eyes, “Oh God. She has, hasn’t she? I mean that’s really what that was all about last night, wasn’t it? She came over here to turn you against me so that you would side with her about things, didn’t she?”

“She came over looking for a friend and I gave her that,” Kyle replied with a huff, “You’d think you’d appreciate that.”

“What I would appreciate is her dropping off the planet and leaving my life alone for good,” Sarah pulled further away from Kyle folding her arms in front of her chest, “All Heather does is use people until she’s had her fill and then when no one wants to play her little games anymore then and only then will she come crawling back to those she discarded begging for another chance. She tried it with Diego and when he told her to piss off, she figures she’ll just cry on your shoulder instead since you love me and she knows that will irritate me.”

“You know Sarah I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ve got to tell you I’m not liking this whole new attitude change here,” Kyle announced with a frown his eyes fixed on the woman in front of him. “You’re not at all like I always knew you to be. You’re moody and agitated and you seem to really want to be out to stick it to Heather especially with Diego. I mean why do you think she’s so wrong for the guy? She’s trying.”

“And she’s not his type. He’s too good for her. I’ve known that since the first time I met him,” she explained stubbornly, “He needs someone nice and good and someone who isn’t afraid of responsibility. I mean what kind of wife and girlfriend would Heather make? She can’t even bother with her own son…”

“Now you know that’s not true,” Kyle rose up from where he stood and shook his head at her, “She’s a very good mother to Charles.”

“She’s only good to Charles because Kipp has a fortune and as long as Heather is nice to Charles, Kipp will keep spoiling her with gifts and money. She’s not at all interested in her son, but rather in what he can get for her out of his father. You should’ve seen that when he was born and she was in the hospital. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him…”

“Um, she was in an accident. Her face was burned and there were things going on with her that were upsetting--things that you wouldn’t understand,” Kyle continued watching her closely.

“Oh I understand Heather perfectly well and I know she was just bilking it like she is now,” Sarah snapped curling her fists at her side, “but I can’t believe that you’re falling for it especially now.”

“Look Sarah, she asked me not to talk about it, but she was going through some rough times then. When she was married to Cameron he forced himself on her and…” Kyle revealed Heather’s secret hoping that Sarah would somehow give her a break, but instead she let out a pinched laugh.

“Oh I get it now,” Sarah snapped her fingers together, “I see where she’s headed with this one. She’s playing the rape card to try to make you think that you two have something to bond over. She knows what a horrible ordeal it is that you’ve been through and she’s trying to exploit that for her own sick and twisted purposes no doubt. She’s good I’ll give her that, but Kyle I would hope that you’re smarter than that to believe her. If anything she was the one who took advantage of Cameron in more ways than either one of us could imagine. That man didn’t hurt her except maybe when he filed for a divorce and left her penniless.”

“Stop!” Kyle’s voice rumbled through the room as he raised his hand in the air to cut her off, “Just stop Sarah. I know you don’t mean that and if you do, well I’d like to pretend that I didn’t hear it. That’s going too far.”

“Not nearly far enough and whatever it is that she said to you last night,” Sarah stepped in closer to him bringing her fingers over the front of his chest, “I hope you didn’t buy any of it. She only came here to get me worked up and we both know it.”

Kyle couldn’t help but roll his eyes at her, “Oh get over yourself Sarah. Heather’s not trying to hurt you. She just needs a friend and whether you like it or not, I’m going to be one for her,” he reached for her fingers pulling them off of his chest before turning to the papers in front of him. “Hell if her own family can’t be there for her, it only proves how much more she needs me.”

“Oh right Kyle. Yeah, she needs you so very much,” she yelled at him hating the way he’d ignored her warning. “She needs you just like she needs everyone else--to take them down and screw them over again and again. She doesn’t give a damn about you. She’s just toying around with your kindness to get to me and clearly it’s working.”

“Look Sarah, I wasn’t going to say this before now, but since you brought it up, let’s get into a discussion about kindness and your lack there of it lately,” Kyle spun around to face her ready to tell her what was really on his mind when he noticed Russell in the doorway causing him to bringing an abrupt ending to the dispute he and Sarah were having.

“Um, is this a bad time,” Russ asked wearily looking to his friend with concerned eyes.

“No not at all. I think we were just finished in here. You came at the right time before Kyle put his foot in his mouth yet again,” Sarah scoffed before marching out of the room in an uproar.

“Um, okay what’s going on,” Russ blurted out once Sarah left the room, “Kyle, what’s going on with you two?”

“You don’t want to know,” Kyle waved his hands in the air in frustration, “I just don’t get her. Honestly she’s turned into this person I don’t even recognize anymore and I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s like ever since that thing happened with Susan, she’s been laying into me and blaming me somehow. She’s been so different and…”

“And what?” Russ watched his friend trail off a sadness creeping in over his features.

“I’m just not sure I’ll be able to get what we had back,” Kyle confessed poignantly thinking about all that had happened, “Sarah said some things when I was going through hell and I can’t forget them. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to take some of the things she’s been saying, yet…”

“What?” Russ prompted further.

“Nothing,” Kyle waved his hand dismissively, “So what’s up man? What can I do for you?”

“I just came in here to tell you that Avery and I are going to go home today,” Russell informed him quickly, “Since Brant handed over those divorce papers I think it’s time we start getting life back on track again.”

“That’ll be good for you. I just wish I could do the same,” Kyle thought aloud realizing that the days of life’s simple pleasures with the woman he loved seemed to be fading fast.

“Maybe it’s true what they say,” Russ offered up as if he could see where his friend’s mind was going, “Maybe you can’t go back again once things have changed in a relationship.”

“Do you really believe that?” Kyle questioned looking to Russ curiously.

“No,” Russ replied honestly thinking about all that had happened to keep him and Avery from one another over the years, “but with each new phase in a relationship there is a bit of an evolution and you have to roll with the punches. If you’re not careful and not willing to hold onto what you have, then there’s that chance that the relationship will move beyond you.”

“I’d hate to think that’s what is happening with Sarah and I,” Kyle paused giving Russ a long look, “but what about you and Avery? Do you think you’ve got some kind of evolution coming ahead of you?”

“I’m hoping that it won’t turn out to be something that goes bad, but there’s something there. She’s tense,” Russ sighed remembering his words with Avery, “and I’m worried about her. I know she’s been through a lot and…”

“She never stopped loving you man,” Kyle cut him off quickly refusing to let his friend fall into the same place he was in at the moment with the questioning and uneasiness, “Even when she thought you were gone, she still wanted only you. Brant was just means to an end in a bad situation. You’ve always been her first choice.”

“She’s always been mine and she always will be,” Russ sighed bringing his hand up through his hair, “but at the same time when I think about who I am now--about where I’ve come from…”

“Russ, you’re still the same guy I’ve always thought was pretty cool and more so you’re still the same man that Avery has loved through the years,” Kyle offered up supportively, “A last name or biology won’t change that. I mean hey look at Erin. She’s perfect and she represents everything you and Avery have fought for with one another over the years. When it gets down to it, you can’t find anything more perfect than that. She’s truly a miracle.”

“Yes she is,” Russell agreed with a thoughtful expression thinking about how much his daughter had brought into his life already. He just hoped that once things settled down that he’d find a way to ensure that Erin would have the happiness that he’d always wanted for her--that somehow he and Avery would be able to find a way to live out their happily ever afters without the dark clouds hanging over them all over again.


Avery walked through the hallway thinking about everything that lay ahead of her now that she and Russ could finally be together again. It was as if someone had taken great lengths to answer each and every one of her prayers, yet a new fear swept over her. Pausing outside the doors to Brant’s office area she thought about what her return to a life with Russ would mean to the relationship she and Brant had with one another. Now all the rules would change since she’d crossed that line of being his legal council to being his wife, then his lover and now his soon-to-be ex-wife. It would change all the dimensions of life as they knew it, yet…

The doors of his office opened and Brant stepped out coming face to face with her a surprised expression crossing over his features. Their eyes met for a moment before he tried to recover. He cleared his throat and stood up taller in an attempt to mask his reaction to seeing her in front of him.

“I would’ve thought you’d be gone by now,” Brant blurted out clearing his throat uneasily as he looked to her.

“I’m getting things ready to go right now,” she replied a tension thick in the air that surrounded them, “I’m finishing with my packing and…”

“Well that’s good,” Brant nodded cutting her off abruptly, “I think it would be a wonderful idea for you and Russ to get out of here as soon as possible.”

“It’s what’s for the best,” she agreed feeling her stomach tangled in knots, “I mean after everything…”

“You don’t have to remind me,” he held his hand up in the air to silence her, “I know what’s at stake here and I trust you’ll have those divorce papers ready to be processed as soon as possible. Then this can be over.”

“Brant, I just…” she watched him turn to walk away from her and something hit her hard in the stomach. She knew she couldn’t leave it like that. “Wait.”

“What?” he questioned turning around to see her eyes fixed upon his, sadness sweeping over him, “Haven’t I given you everything you’ve always wanted Avery? You have a chance at having the life you were hoping you could take with you when you thought that Russ was gone. He’s home and you’re a family now. I think it pretty much speaks for itself where your happy ending is concerned…”

“Brant, I don’t want things to be like this between us,” she stepped into his office knowing that she should be packing, that she should be angry as hell that he’d lied about being hurt, but instead she felt a horrible, nagging feeling inside of her, “I don’t want us to have this tension…”

“Avery, I don’t think that there’s any room for anything else right now,” he paused a flicker of something behind his eyes before he spoke up again, “In fact, I wasn’t going to bring this up now, but since you’re here and in the mood to talk, I’ve been thinking about the future--about what happens next.”

“Brant, I realize that we still have a lot to talk about and…” she started sensing his obvious hesitation, “I know that things are difficult now, but…”

“Avery, this isn’t ever going to be any less difficult which is why I’ve come to a conclusion,” he inhaled slowly before speaking up again, “I know that this is a bad time, but given all that we’ve been through with one another over the last few months, well I think that you and I are far too involved with one another to maintain a professional relationship with one another, which is why I hope you don’t take this too personally when I say that I’m hoping that you use this time to focus on your maternity leave and perhaps when you have the divorce papers signed, you’ll also bring your letter of resignation with them…”

“What?” her jaw dropped at what he was saying to her, “Brant, are you firing me?”

“Avery, I know that you weren’t expecting this, but quite frankly I can’t see it working out between us at the company. You and I both know full well how close that we’d have to be with one another and right now, well, I’ll be honest just the idea of spending any time with you makes me very uneasy. I don’t think that it’s a good idea and when it gets down to it, you’ll see that it’s not smart for us to take this into work with one another…” he explained in a cool and even tone.

“Now wait just one damn minute. I may be a lot of things Brant, but I have always been loyal to you and to the company. I’ve done a great many things for BBK and…” her lips curled in a scowl, anger starting to brew inside of her.

“I don’t refute that, but I’m not about to put myself into a position where I let my ex-wife drag me down into the mud. My company is all that I have left and I’ll be damned if I let that fall to hell too considering that you and I both know that we’re never going to be in the same room with one another again and not thinking about what we’ve shared together,” his gaze drifted to the sofa at the other end of the room as his mind replayed the last time he’d made love to her in that very spot. “Avery, I’ll be more than happy to set you up with another company. I know a few people who know a few people and I’m sure that I can have one of my associates hook you up with a new position where you’ll be better suited and you’ll have a salary equivalent to what I was paying you if not better…”

“No way,” she shook her head at him, her lips in a tight scowl, “You’re not firing me Brant!”

“It’s already done,” he broke the contact with her circling around to his desk and taking a seat behind it, “I’ve asked Hart to come in after the month is over and he’s agreed to take the position. He’s a great legal asset and while I know he’ll have big shoes to fill, he’ll be more than adequate at doing so. I’m sure that this will work out for the best for everyone. Who knows? You might even enjoy being a stay at home mom after you have taken some time off and you might even decide that this business really isn’t your scene after all.”

“Of all the condescending, disgusting things you’ve ever said this one tops the cake Brant Ashford and I refuse to let you fire me considering that I more than earned my position. I gave my life to you and to your company and I’m not about to let your issues with our relationship turn this into something ugly. I’ve been willing to ignore the fact that you lied about having a breakdown, that you tried to have my daughter’s paternity tests changed in your favor, yet you’re taking it upon yourself to punish me in all of this.”

“That’s right Avery,” he nodded stiffly, “I’m doing exactly what you’d expect of an Ashford. Russ is right. All you’re going to get is misery and disaster where I’m concerned. Believe me I’m doing you a favor in the long run by letting you out of this now rather than later.”

“I’m not letting you fire me,” she folded her arms in front of her chest, “and if you even try to break the contract we have with one another, then I’ll sue you.”

“So sue me then,” he leaned forward placing his hands on top of the desk as he rose from his seat, “and when you do rest assured that I will have Hart bury you in court and then it will get ugly--very ugly.”

“Why are you doing this?” she questioned feeling as if she had a stranger standing in front of her, “Why are you acting this way?”

“Because Avery,” Brant’s voice grew icy as his eyes narrowed down at her, “You served a purpose and I’m finished with you. Go ahead and ask Heather what happens when I’m finished with a woman. No on second thought, I take that back. Let me spell it out for you. I have no place for you in my personal life or within the walls of my company and if you even try to work your way back inside, then I can promise you nothing but misery to follow. Are we clear Ms. Morrison?”

Avery’s eyes flickered with anger and hurt at his words before she clenched her fists at her sides, more determined and agitated than ever, “This isn’t over Brant.”

“Yes Avery, it is,” he spoke sternly waving his hand at her dismissively, “and I think it’s best that you get going because if you’re not out of my house by tonight, then I’ll have no problems having security escort you out. Now, I have things I need to attend to and I really have no time or patience to be dealing with you Ms. Morrison, so please see your way out of my office.”

Avery watched him for a long moment attempting to come up with something to say before she shook her head. She turned around towards the door ready to exit, but at the last second she spun around to look at him one last time, “You’re making a big mistake Brant. I can promise you that.”

“Not this time,” Brant mouthed under his breath watching her stomp out of his study in an uproar. Once he’d heard her slip away down the hall he sank back into his chair, his eyes falling upon the wedding ring on his finger knowing full well he’d been more than harsh with Avery, but given her stubborn side it was the only way to make a clean break. It might cost him in the long run, but he was finally giving her the out she needed. He let out a long sigh before pulling the gold band off of his finger knowing full well that this would be nasty and brutal, but it would be for the best. As soon as Avery was free of him and any and all ties to his father beyond Russell she would be safe. She and Erin would be free and that was what was important.

“Nicholas doesn’t know about Russ yet, so you still have time,” Brant thought to himself knowing that it was going to kill him to push Avery away, but it was the right thing to do. It was the only thing. Opening the top desk drawer, Brant dropped his ring inside ready to close the page on that part of his past.

Getting up to leave Brant heard his phone ringing in his pocket. He pulled it out and answered with a heavy voice. “Hello.”

“Brant, it’s Michael. We’ve got a big problem,” his head researcher began ready to divulge the details of the next disaster in Brant’s life that was about to change things with his company forever!


“I can’t believe how perfect this is going to be,” Blake began with a small bounce in her step thinking about the party ahead of her, “I mean normally these things take months to put into motion, but most of it pretty much put itself together and just this last week have we really been able to get involved.”

“I’m sure it’s going to be a fantastic party,” Seth spoke to her encouragingly knowing full well that she’d been up late last night talking with everyone and getting things in order. Everyone was lined up for the event and it was something that already was getting media buzz around town. It truly did feel like everything was coming together beautifully.

“I know it is and then when the community center is up and running, well that’s when the real rewards will come in,” she boasted unable to repress the eagerness that filled inside of her, “I know this is going to be a perfect night Seth.”

“You know if you keep saying perfect I’m going to start believing you,” he couldn’t help but reach out to her pulling her into his arms more completely, “though I do have to admit that I missed you last night when I was in bed. It wasn’t the same having you up on the phone all night…”

“And here I thought that you’d be thankful for getting a break away from my trying to jump you,” she couldn’t help but tease sliding her arms around his shoulder, “You said you needed your rest.”

“I know what I said, but you know being without you last night, well it reminded me of what I needed,” he hoisted her up in his arms kissing her lightly, “and right now I need you.”

“Seth, we have so many things to do. We have to get over to the party before everyone else and double check that everything is running okay--that there aren’t any major disasters and…” she started feeling him cut her off with another tempting kiss.

“I’m sure we can afford to be fashionably late,” he murmured against her mouth cupping her bottom in his hands as they moved towards the bedroom with one another, “I mean we have time for breakfast still right?”

“Well yes, but I thought that I’d make something worthwhile and…” she confessed feeling his lips tease over hers in a more demanding fashion.

“How about we pick something up through a drive thru,” he suggested stealing another heated kiss from her again before pushing open the door to the bedroom.

“It’s a deal. In fact drive thru sounds incredible,” she finally decided throwing plans aside and caution to the wind for a while in order to take the time for the man she couldn’t help but long for again and again. Things were truly getting back on track again and life felt good!


“I take it everything is in order,” the man asked from where he stood in his hotel room looking out the window at the town of Coral Valley below his penthouse suite.

“Yes sir,” the voice explained on the other end of the line, “No one has any idea of what is in store for them, but I can promise you that at this party tonight they will receive the shock of their lives.”

“That they will,” the man replied with a tiny chuckle thinking about what was ahead for those who had crossed them. They might have felt that they were in the clear, but this was only the calm before the storm, “I trust you’ve found your way to the invitation I had sent out for you.”

“Yes, I received it and I can promise you that this time I won’t let anyone or anything get in my way. They might think they know where I’ve been coming from, but they were wrong,” the voice on the line explained, “Last time I wasn’t prepared for what I needed to do, but now…”

“Now you know there is no room for failure. After tonight I need them to see that I’m not someone who can be ignored any longer. After tonight all the rules change,” the man replied hanging up the phone on his associate knowing full well that Blake Ashford’s party would spark a change in Coral Valley--one that would most certainly send the whole town into an uproar. Chaos would follow and as he looked down at the unsuspecting town enjoying their morning of ignorance, he realized that life couldn’t get any better. This was the beginning of the end for a great many citizens in Coral Valley and the beautiful part was that none of them knew it yet. Of course that would soon all be changing. That much he was sure of!


...to be continued...