Episode 318

“We were in the neighborhood and we thought that we would drop off something we bought for Erin,” Elliot explained sensing the tension in the air after his son had let them into his home. “I know we probably should have called first, but…”

“No, it’s okay,” Russ glanced over at Avery who was now in the middle of the living room with Erin in her arms.

“Say hi to your grandparents Erin,” Avery picked up Erin’s tiny hand and moved it in an effort to wave to Elliot and Cheryl.

“My she’s growing up so fast,” Cheryl noted walking over to take a closer look at Erin, “She’s beautiful. Elliot look at her.”

“Of course she’s beautiful,” Elliot stepped over to place his arm around Cheryl’s shoulders, “She takes after her mother and her father.”

“In more ways than you can imagine,” Avery couldn’t help but tease looking over at Russ to see his mood had suddenly darkened, “She snores just like her daddy.”

“She wasn’t snoring,” Russ tried to argue with her moving in to look at his daughter more completely, “And I don’t either.”

“Yes you do,” Avery laughed lightly before meeting his eyes again, “but I’ve come to expect it from you. It’s almost like it’s part of the territory with you and it’s just become background noise to put me to sleep. I’m lost without it at this point.”

“He gets that from his father,” Cheryl confessed patting Elliot on the arm as Russ cleared his throat uneasily.

“You know I think I’m just going to get something out of the kitchen,” Russ blurted out in a tense tone walking past the group to get away before what Cheryl had said got to him. He was still hurting about learning the truth about Elliot and it was clear to all of them by his quick exit.

“How is he doing?” Elliot asked seeing by Avery’s expression that Russ still had a lot on his mind. “On second thought I think I’ll just go in there and help him with what he’s working on.”

“That sounds like it might be a good idea. I think he needs to talk with you,” Avery nodded in agreement feeling Elliot lean in to give her and Erin a quick kiss on the cheek before turning to Cheryl and doing the same.

“I’ll be right back,” Elliot promised squeezing his wife’s hand before moving into the room after his son.

“Why don’t you have a seat?” Avery suggested seeing the sadness behind Cheryl’s eyes. “You can hold your granddaughter.”

“I’d like that,” Cheryl forced a sad smile doing as Avery instructed before Avery walked over and placed Erin in her arms. “She’s so very beautiful. She reminds me of Russ when he was smaller. He was always such a good baby too and…”

“Erin’s wonderful. We’re so very blessed to have her,” Avery added moving in to sit beside Cheryl and Erin.

“He hates me now you know,” Cheryl tipped her head up to meet Avery’s gaze. “Even though I’ve tried to pretend that nothing has changed, I know he hates me.”

“He doesn’t hate you. He just hates the situations that we’ve all been put in,” Avery tried to offer up in the hopes of consoling Russell’s mother. “He experienced a lot that none of us will ever truly understand and that’s something that is going to stay with him for a long time.”

“The fact that I lied to him about everything didn’t help either,” Cheryl sighed heavily thinking about her decision to keep the truth from Russ, “I just never wanted him to have to face what I had done. I didn’t want him to live with the pain that I had caused everyone by doing what I’d done.”

“You made a mistake and it could happen to anyone,” Avery offered up seeing how upset Cheryl was. “The important thing is that you and Elliot worked it out and were together as a family all these years. All of Russ’s life Elliot has been the only father he’s ever known and even now after he knows about Nicholas, that hasn’t changed. I know he still loves the both of you ever much.”

“I just never meant to hurt him,” Cheryl explained fighting the tears that threatened, “It wasn’t like I had planned on what happened. It was when Elliot and I had been going through that rough period in our relationship--right after we lost our baby…”

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me,” Avery touched her arm gently, “I would never judge you especially considering that you’re the mother of the man that I love the most in this world. I honestly can say that I know why you did what you did to protect him. I would do anything to protect Erin as well and as a mother I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. What you did wasn’t something that you did to set out to destroy Russ. You are no where near like the mother that Brooke was to me and when the shock of the news blows over, I’m sure that Russ will find it in him to be okay with things.”

“I just hate breaking his heart,” Cheryl admitted painfully, “He’s always been our little boy and…”

“He still is. Nicholas doesn’t hold any power over him,” Avery piped in firmly thinking about the monster that had fathered Russ, “He’s not at all like Nicholas or the Ashfords and Russ and I have both decided that we’re not going to bring Erin up that way. We’re going to raise her as a Denton and that isn’t changing. Other than Augustus, well we’re keeping our distance from the Ashford family considering all that’s happened.”

“Augustus is a good man,” Cheryl nodded thinking about Russell’s grandfather, “He’s a very caring spirit and I can see how Russ could bond with him. In fact I’m glad that he has considering that Augustus is the one person who has been able to stop Nicholas in the past.”

“I don’t know if that’s possible now,” Avery felt a tiny shiver race over her at the thought of all Nicholas and Brooke had done to keep her and Russ apart. “Nicholas is an evil man and I know he’ll stop at nothing to have his way. He’s hurt his children so many times over that I can understand why you kept Russ a secret from him.”

“It was the best thing to do--at least I thought it was, but if he had known--if Nicholas could’ve seen that Russ was his son, then maybe he never would’ve taken him away--maybe he would’ve refrained from hurting him--from hurting the both of you…” Cheryl explained in a pained tone.

“No, it wouldn’t have made a difference,” Avery squeezed her shoulder gently, “You did the right thing in keeping Russ away from him. After being married to Brant, I saw first hand what Nicholas did to his children and I can honestly tell you it’s better that Russ was kept from that. Nicholas may have hurt Russ, but when I think about what he did to Ken and to Brant, I thank God each day that Russ had Elliot in his life and you.”

“I just wish that Russ could see it that way, but I know now that he believes I’m nothing more than a liar,” she let out an ironic sigh before glancing down at Erin, “Though he’s right. I am a liar and a horrible person and I deserve for him to hate me from here on out for what I’ve done. He should’ve been given better than what I’ve done. I hate that he had to find out about all of this because of what happened with Brant--because…”

“Hey,” Avery stopped her before she got lost even further inside of herself, “Cheryl now isn’t the time for looking back, only forward in trying to heal. We have to be thankful for what we have because heaven knows if we keep dwelling on our mistakes it’s only going to take us under all over again.”

“You’re right. I know you’re right,” Cheryl nodded in agreement wondering if her son would ever find it in him to forgive her again for what she’d done in lying to him all of the years he’d been alive.


“Brant, what are you doing here?” Angela couldn’t help but ask, her breath catching in her throat. She went from frustrated, to annoyed once her meeting fell through to confused in seeing Brant right in front of her. She’d expected to meet with a woman, but now that Brant was there, it threw her for a loop. “How did you get here?”

“I could ask you the same thing, but something tells me I don’t want to know,” he replied taking a small step forward, his dark eyes taking a long look at her, “How did you…”

“How did I what?” she asked taking a look at the bruising on his face. She thought about it for a long moment relieved that Kevin hadn’t hurt him more than what it seemed, yet in that moment of relief another thought carried over her. She stood up straighter irritation overtaking her, “What are you doing? Following me now?”

“I’m not even close to following you, though maybe I should since I found you here,” he frowned moving in closer to her, his eyes searching hers long and hard, “What are you doing here?”

“That’s none of your business,” she huffed impatiently tapping her foot on the carpet, “but now that you’re here I can assure you that I won’t be staying.”

“Why is that? Afraid you’re going to ravish me again and then like it too much before leaving?” Brant taunted arching a curious brow. He saw the flame of a fire spark behind her eyes and she let out a long, nervous laugh.

“I wouldn’t give you the honors of touching me again. I think last night spoke for itself,” she answered flatly, her dark eyes burning with mixed emotions, “I told you last night was the end of it for us.”

“You also told me last night that you were having my children which indicates to me that you and I are far from over,” he folded his arms in front of his chest. He took a step back pressing into the door again to bring it to a close behind him. “So…”

“What are you doing?” she asked her eyes widening as she watched him lock the door behind him.

“I’m making sure that you can’t run out on me this time,” he explained matter of fact taking a confident stride towards her, “I believe that you and I have a few things to discuss that go above and beyond your being here--things that I was going to tell you later at your hotel, but now I think it is more than appropriate for us to get into them.”

“I told you I was leaving Brant and I meant it,” she stated tipping her head up ever so slightly in a defiant motion, “I have nothing further to say to you. I would have thought that you’d catch the drift last night after Kevin asked you to leave the hotel.”

“Oh I caught the drift alright,” Brant nodded in response, his gaze sweeping over her curves greedily.

Even though he’d been ready to lash out at the person in front of him, in seeing her standing there in that short skirt and flirty blouse, he knew that lashing out about anything was going to be difficult. He could see the way her eyes widened, her lips parting as if she too was remembering everything about last night and for a second he could’ve sworn she’d thought about licking her lips. He saw the tip of her tongue dart out of her mouth before she stood taller clearing her throat.

“Then why are you here?” she questioned stubbornly, her voice demanding a response out of him.

Well since that was what she was hoping for he was going to give her one, he decided. He took another small step towards her, his gaze locked on hers letting her know silently that he wasn’t about to let her get away twice in two days. She was here. He was here. It wasn’t something that he’d planned on, but he’d have to applaud fate for giving him something to work with.

“What do you think?” he questioned taking a smooth step in front of her standing practically face to face with her. He saw her lips part, a breath fall from them, but he was in no mood for hesitation. He was going to lay it out on the line starting with something she’d never forget.

He tugged her into his arms in neither a gentle, nor rough movement, yet commanding enough to let her know what his intentions were. Her hand fell to the front of his chest, fingers trembling as his arm curled around her waist. With a squeeze, he lifted her up closer to him, to where their mouths almost met, but instead of kissing her, he kept a small distance between them.

“You know you keep telling me that you don’t want me and that you’re done with me, but I’m not feeling it from you Angela,” he spoke up in a small whisper daring her to deny the attraction between them.

“Your instincts are off Brant because you’re reading me all wrong,” she mouthed in a shivering exhale, her hand flattening out over his chest despite her words. Her gaze dropped down to his lips again before she let out a small breath.

“Oh I don’t think so,” he shook his head knowingly, squeezing her bottom in his large hand. He pressed her firmly against his straining body knowing full well that she wasn’t about to ignore the fact that his everything was readily accepting the idea of finding her in this empty building in this even more secluded office.

“I think they are Brant because I don’t think you have the first clue what it is that I want or need,” she challenged tipping her head up ever so slightly so that their mouths were a fraction of an inch away from one another.

“Oh I know exactly what you want,” he brushed his fingers against her face nudging her back into the desk behind her. His lips curled upward in a grin as he used his arm to pull her up onto the desk in one quick, determined sweep, “and I’m certain that I can give you all that you need.”

“You’d be wrong,” she mouthed unable to refrain from letting out a small whimper when he stepped in between her now parted legs, bringing his warm hands up over her trembling thighs. Their gazes locked again and she spotted the victorious grin that swelled over his handsome features.

“I don’t think so,” he eased the tips of his fingers underneath her skirt pushing it up over her thighs in a slow, painful movement before his fingers curled over her hips. His grin expanded causing her to let out another soft, stifled sound. Silently he nudged her soft curves, bringing her to the edge of the desk where their bodies met in one quick jolt of lightening. He moved in against her ever so slightly watching her eyes fill with desire, “I’m not wrong about something I’m so sure of.”

“So that’s what I am now?” she half questioned her fingers betraying her. She reached out to tease her finger tips over the lapels of his jacket, bringing them out over his shoulders, dragging the material off of his arms. The jacket fell to the floor in a whoosh and her hand returned to the center of his chest seconds later, “A sure thing?”

“The surest thing I’ve ever known,” he blurted out wrapping his hand around the back of her neck and claiming her lips in an explicit, ‘you’re all out of options other than to admit that you want me’ kind of kiss that left no mistaking about just how far from truthful she’d been being with him. In fact, the longer the kiss continued the easier it was for Brant to put his plans for them into motion now that he had her complete attention all over again.


“This is ridiculous,” Sarah rolled her eyes leaning into Kyle and feeling his arm wrap around her tightly. “I can’t believe she saying all these lies about him.”

“Just hold on a second honey,” Kyle hushed her listening to everything Cori was telling the officer. She could really get worked up easily, this girl must have a good time in drama club back in high school. “She isn’t telling the truth I know it.”

“How come someone isn’t doing something to try and help Diego?” Sarah questioned seeing Kyle shake his head as if he didn’t know the answer. “Everyone knows that he didn’t do this, he is a good guy and doesn’t deserve…”

“Calm down,” Kyle stepped forward placing his hands on her shoulders gently looking into her dark eyes, his hazel eyes not showing one bit of worry. “I know Diego didn’t do this and you have to trust me when I tell you I am going to get your friend out of this.”

“I know Kyle,” Sarah took in a deep breath reaching out to place her hand against his cheek as a small smirk appeared over his rough features. “If anyone could do this and help him--I know you could.”

“Exactly, because I’m that damn good,” Kyle pointed out with a small laugh before reaching out and pushing a small piece of hair back behind her ear. “Now, you will have to trust me if you want me to try and help him out. That’s the only way it will work is if you trust me.”

“I know Kyle and I do trust you. It’s just, there is no way this is real. What she is saying has to be a story because I know he wouldn’t do this,” Sarah spoke up seeing Kyle look down at her as she pulled away from his grasp and took a few steps back. “I think I should find out what has been really going on from Diego.”

“Are you going to go see him?” Kyle questioned seeing her nod slowly as he took in a deep breath and looked over towards Cori blurting a few things out again. “I’ll go in to talk to him later too, I’ll just see if I can find anything else out.”

“Okay,” Sarah looked back towards one of the officers, seeing Kyle fold his arms out in front of his chest eyeing the scene that was happening before him. “I’ll be back.”

“I know where I can find you,” Kyle didn’t even take a moment to watch Sarah leave as he watched Cori throw her hands up in the air once more.

There was no way that Diego could ever do the things Cori was claiming he was doing. Diego was a nice guy that would never want to hurt anyone, let alone beat someone. That was not something Kyle pictured Diego doing at all.

“Kyle,” Julian placed his hand on Kyle’s shoulder seeing Kyle look back at him slowly before turning to face him completely. “I take it you are here because of Diego.”

“Yeah, I am,” Kyle took in a deep breath looking back at Cori before shaking his head slowly. “What can you tell me about this? What is she saying happened?”

“That she came home and he was there pissed about his girlfriend leaving him for another man,” Julian tried to explain seeing Kyle’s eyebrows tense up at the mention of a girl friend. There were so many things Cori blurted out and Julian was just trying to make sense of it all. “He was angry with her so he hit her over and over again.”

“Diego doesn’t have a girlfriend,” Kyle chuckled to himself thinking about what Julian was telling him. Kyle took in all the details thinking back to some of the cases he had to do for some clients. “I’ve seen plenty of cases like this and the person is always lying. You can just tell she is lying by looking at her.”

“Really?” Julian stepped up next to Kyle after he turned around and watched Cori calmly answer the questions that the officer was asking her. “How can you do that?”

“It’s something I was taught from my father, he taught me how to trust someone when the time came,” Kyle noticed every movement Cori was making as he slipped his hands into his pockets. “She’s making up a story because her eyes are looking up to the right and she keeps moving her hands in a circle to bring her answers together. I don’t know why she is trying to hurt Diego like this, but I think I’m going to find out.”

“Hey, if there is something more you can get out of her,” Julian shook his head thinking about all the things he had asked her over the last hour, but never really got a straight answer. “Be my guest and try and find out because I have no clue what she is coming up with, so if you can put something together go ahead.”

“So, I do have permission to talk to her right now?” Kyle watched Julian nod slowly as Kyle took in a deep breath and thought the situation over carefully. Obviously Cori wasn’t going to be caving in anytime soon and it was going to take him a while to get her to say Diego didn’t do anything, but sooner or later--he would get her to. He knew it.


“Diego, what’s going on?” Sarah questioned unable to mask the worry that swept over her at seeing him locked up in jail. He looked tired and bruised as he sat across from her at the table. “What’s happening?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Diego replied dropping his head down to avoid her gaze, “I never touched her Sarah.”

“I know that,” she nodded reaching out to squeeze his hand in hers, “but why would she do this? I thought that she was over what you two had.”

“So did I, but maybe I was wrong,” his dark eyes met hers once again, “Maybe I’m getting exactly what I deserve for hurting her like I did.”

“Diego just because weren’t in love with her doesn’t mean that you should be locked up like this,” she shook her head at his acceptance of the situation, “Cori is lying to everyone and you shouldn’t be in jail because of it.”

“But I’m lying to everyone too Sarah. We both are,” Diego reminded her in a harsh whisper, “You know as well as I do that I was a horrible boyfriend to Cori. I slept with you when I was dating her and maybe this is her way of letting me have it for doing that.”

“You made love to me because it was what we both wanted--what we both needed,” she brushed her index finger over his hand tenderly.

“And what about now,” he asked his gaze drifting to the ring on her finger, “What does that bring for us now that you’re about to marry Kyle and I’m here?”

“You won’t be here for long and as for Kyle,” she paused finding herself at a loss. She pulled her hand away from his, “That’s not important right now. What’s important is finding a way to get you out of here because I know you never touched Cori.”

“I may not have hit her, but obviously I did something to her that would cause her to react like this,” Diego answered guiltily, “She was a normal, balanced, beautiful, fun-loving woman before I did this to her. I should’ve been honest with her, but instead I lead her on because I was too consumed with my thoughts of…”

“Of what?” she asked watching him turn away from her.

“Of you Sarah,” he blurted out in frustration, “and even now all I can think about is you--about what this has to be doing to you. I think about how I’ve upturned your life and how I’m the one who is making things difficult for you. You and Kyle had everything in order with one another before I got in the middle of that. I never should’ve let things get as far as they did with us and…”

“You weren’t the only one. Diego, I could have said no,” she watched him stand up from the chair and walk over to the far end of the room. She followed him without hesitance, “I could’ve told you that I didn’t want to be with you--that I didn’t need you…”

“But I should’ve known you were upset about Kyle. I should’ve thought about him and about Cori and…” he shook his head throwing his hands in the air, “Sarah, look at me. I’m turning into a complete disaster and I’m dragging down everyone who ever cared about me with it.”

“No you’re not,” she touched his shoulder gently, “Diego listen to me. This is not your fault and while you want to blame yourself for what’s happened, this is all Cori. She’s crazy and I think that soon everyone is going to realize that. You aren’t a bad guy. You’re a good man with a kind and loving heart…”

“Who has been so miserable so long that he’s hell-bent on destroying everyone else’s happiness,” he sighed heavily, “Face it Sarah. The best thing that you can do right now is just walk out of those doors and forget all about me.”

“I could do that, but I’d only end up hurting the both of us,” she replied squeezing his arm gently, “Diego, we will find a way to fix this situation. I’m not turning my back on you.”

“You’d be smart if you did,” he decided feeling her reach out to embrace him.

“Yeah, well if I did, I’d miss you too much,” she mouthed hugging him tightly hoping that somehow she could find a way to get him out of the situation that Cori had brought on. Even if it wound up getting her into trouble, she was going to clear Diego’s name one way or the other!


“Hey Barbara,” Don smiled widely walking into the hallway to see Barbara sitting down at the front desk looking either very shocked or worried. He couldn’t truthfully place the expression on her face rightly. “Is something wrong?”

“I’m just worried about Diego, that’s all,” Barbara whispered seeing the confused look spread out through Don’s features. His blue eyes searched hers and she knew he didn’t know what she was talking about. “Earlier he got arrested because some girl is claiming he hit her.”

“Diego?” Don chuckled at the thought of Diego actually hurting someone. “Please, all the flies would still be in his house to this day. Diego wouldn’t hurt anyone. Who said he did it?”

“Cori Warner. If you ask me that woman is a real nut,” Barbara informed Don with a small shake of her head before resting her elbows against the desk. “I’m just worried that he might actually be put in there for something he didn’t do.”

“Everyone knows Diego,” Don took in a deep breath reaching his hand out to place it over hers gently. Her light eyes looked up into his as he offered up an assuring smile. “It’s her word against everyone that knows Diego. We will all stand up for him when it gets down to it because we know he wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“That’s the thing though Don--we know he would never hurt anyone,” she felt his hand move away from hers as she traced her desk slowly with her fingertips. “In all honesty, not everyone is like you and they don’t care who gets put into jail. Diego could have done nothing wrong and he could still be put into jail.”

“You can’t think like that though,” Don frowned folding his arms out in front of his chest, trying to think of a way to make Barbara feel better. “In all honesty, if you have all these people saying Diego is harmless then there is no way they will think he could have done something like this.”

“Even so,” Barbara thought the situation over carefully before shaking her head slowly. There were so many worries she had right now, but all she could keep thinking about was how Diego felt. This was the worst possible thing that could happen to him right now, he didn’t need all of this. “Sometimes, one voice is stronger than a million.”

“I don’t think this is on of those cases Barbara,” Don offered up a small wink before folding his arms on in front of his chest. If it came down to it, he would step up for Diego too. He didn’t know him as well as most people, but every time he talked to the guy he seemed like a great person. There was no way that Diego would ever do something like what he was being accused of. “I can promise you that.”

Don saw Barbara nod agreeing with him as a blonde caught the corner of his eye. She was stepping off the elevator and he felt his chest tighten up right then seeing her face again.

“You have to be kidding me,” Don took in a quick breath his eyes following every move of Michelle Sprite. Michelle walked over towards one of the doctors as he leaned in closer trying to see what she was up to. “What in the world is she doing here?”

“Can I please see Dr. Zack Vaughn?” Michelle questioned as the doctor motioned her to wait and went into one of the rooms that soon Zack walked out of. “Hey you.”

“I knew there was a reason I didn’t like that stupid son of a…” Don cut himself off before he finish his words and learn to eat them later now that he was working. “What are they doing together?”

“That doesn’t look good at all,” Barbara stepped in next to Don seeing his blue eyes widen in anger as he stared out at the two before him. “What do you think is going on?”

“I have no idea,” Don cleared his throat uneasily clenching his fists at his sides before shaking his head slowly. There had to have been a reason Michelle was here and it had to have been big, but the question was what? And why was she here to see Zack? None of this made sense to him, but soon enough--it would. “But I am going to find out why she is here because she doesn’t belong here.”


“Hey,” Michelle greeted Zack with a bright smile once he’d pulled her into the lounge to speak with her, “How’s it going?”

“What are you doing here?” he frowned ever so slightly taking a look around the room to make sure they were alone.

“I thought I’d come by and ask you how your romantic surprise for Blake went,” she explained brightly, “Did she like the flowers?”

“Unfortunately she’s being stubborn,” Zack sighed thinking about how he and Michelle had worked together to cook up a romantic scenario for his former flame.

“In other words she shot you down, huh?” Michelle frowned snapping her fingers in the air, “What is it with that family? Why are they so stubborn?”

“I’m not sure, but I will get her back,” he paused eyeing her intently, “What about you? Make any progress yet with Ken?”

“Not exactly, but I did have an idea,” she divulged with a tiny grin, “and I was hoping you would have a few minutes free to help me iron out the details.”

Zack looked at his watch for a moment, “I was kind of busy, but I suppose I can take a quick break if it’s a good one.”

“Oh trust me it’ll be good,” Michelle tugged on his arm urging him to sit down as she laid out her plans for getting back when she wanted--what she felt was rightfully hers!


Blake walked through the doors of Heather’s offices not really sure what had prompted her to come on over, but the more she thought about Zack, the more she found herself wishing that she could see Seth. He always had a way of making everything okay for her and she was hoping that now wasn’t the exception to that rule. She just hoped he wasn’t too busy catering to Heather to give her five minutes which she so desperately needed.

“Well look at what we have here,” Kellen rubbed his hands together before rushing over to greet Blake, “Hey girl, what are you doing here?”

“Kellen,” Blake smiled embracing him readily, “hey how are you?”

“I’m doing good. You know doing the working hard thing here,” he waved his hand before watching a group of male models pass on by.

“Yeah I’ll bet,” Blake shook her head at him, “You would so be in trouble with Kipp if he could see you right now.”

“Oh honey I can look, but just not touch,” Kellen remarked with another wave before looking to her again, “but seriously what are you doing here?”

“I’m looking for Seth,” she explained with a heavy sigh, “I’ve had a long day and I just want to talk to him for a bit.”

“Is something wrong?” Kellen eyed her intently, “Scratch that. I know something’s wrong. What is it? What’s going on Blake?”

“Nothing,” she lied throwing her hands up into the air, “Oh hell I’m having a horrible day. I ran into this guy that I used to date…rather he tricked me into running into him and…”

“And you’re not too happy about it, huh?” Kellen watched her closely.

“I’m furious,” she revealed with a huff, “I mean can you believe the nerve of that creep. He just thinks that I’m going to come running back to him again after I moved on with my life. He set me up and put together this whole romantic scenario yet it failed to register in his mind that maybe just maybe I wasn’t interested.”

“So what happened?” Kellen couldn’t help but ask seeing how fired up she was.

“I told him to take a hike and then I left,” she explained simply with a shake of her head, “Zack just doesn’t know when to quit. I mean I thought that he got the point before especially when he and Johanna went off and got married, but…”

“Wait he’s a married guy and he’s chasing you around,” Kellen’s eyes widened, “I mean sure that’s common these days, but…”

“His wife left him and now I can see why,” Blake balled her fingers up into fists at her sides, “I can’t believe that I used to have a thing for him. I mean the more I think about it, the more I realize what an idiot I was. I never should have gotten involved with him in the first place.”

“Hey if the creep can’t take a hint, then I’d be more than happy to have a word with him,” Kellen suggested with a small smile, “I could beat him up for you if you’d like.”

“Right now I’d just prefer to find Seth and talk to him,” Blake admitted with a small sigh, “He always knows how to make a day better.”

“In that case, let me take you to him,” Kellen offered up his arm readily hoping that he could help his friend out, “but you know the offer is always out on the table if you need help with this Zack guy.”

“Thanks I may take you up on that one day,” Blake replied with a small smile wondering why in the world Zack had picked now to try to come back and make her life miserable. It just didn’t make sense at all.


“So, where are we going?” Zane questioned from the backseat of Grady’s car seeing Grady’s green eyes look back at him in mirror. “I hope we aren’t going out to eat because I’m still stuffed from that big breakfast.”

“I know, me too,” Deana replied placing her hand over her stomach and giving it a small rub. “That was a really great breakfast the two of you made. I especially loved the eggs, that was my favorite part.”

“Oh yeah, me too,” Grady spoke up knowing that it might boost up Zane to hear that his food turned out good even though it was the crunchiest eggs he had ever had. “That had to be my favorite part of the breakfast, whoever made them did a great job.”

“Really?” Zane questioned itching his head as he saw Deana and Grady quickly nod. “That’s funny because I thought they really sucked. I didn’t like them at all, my favorite part was the bacon. I took one bite of the eggs and they tasted horrible. I think I going to stick with my mom making the eggs because they taste horrible if she doesn’t make them.”

“Alright honey,” Deana offered up a small laugh looking back at her son who was playing his handheld game system in the backseat. “I can still make you your eggs, but you can always help me out if you would like to.”

“That sounds like a good idea mommy,” Zane looked up from his game for a minute before looking back down to the skateboard game he was playing. “I think I will let you do most of it though because cooking is really hard sometimes.”

“We’re here,” Grady announced hearing the sound of Zane’s game stop telling him that Zane had paused the game to look up. “I thought you two might like a nice trip to the zoo. I know it’s not much, but if you look around it really is.”

“Oh wow,” Zane pulled off his seatbelt right away and opened the backdoor quickly once they parked. “I love the zoo, I like the monkey place. Oh, and the polar bears. I don’t like the elephants though because their poop smells so bad. One time, I accidentally stepped in horse poop, that was so stinky.”

“Well kiddo,” Grady chuckled letting out a small laugh as he helped Deana out of the car and Zane closed the door letting out a small squeak. “I think we can stay away from the horses if you would like.”

“Before we go,” Zane took in a deep breath leaning forward and letting out another small squeal. Grady looked down at him and kneeled forward as Zane took in a tight breath. “Can I please get your help?”

“Sure little man,” Grady nodded reaching out to play with Zane’s hair seeing Zane struggle with his arms as Grady frowned. “What is it Zane? Is something wrong?”

“I think I shut my coat in the door and I’m stuck,” Zane tried to move as Grady’s eyes widened and he stood up and unlocked the car helping Zane get out of the trap he had gotten himself in. “Thanks Grady, I do that a lot. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay Zane,” Grady laughed picking Zane up and holding him in his arms tightly. “So, now that we are at the zoo, what animals do you want to go see first.”

“Uh, I think the monkeys or maybe the polar bears,” Zane pondered to himself looking over at Deana who was right next to Grady. “What about you mommy? What do you want to see?”

“Yeah mommy, what do you want to see first?” Grady wiggled his eyebrows up and down at her before offering up a wide smile. “The Zebras or the lions.”

“Sorry, not a big fan of those teeth on a lion,” Deana shook her head slowly before thinking about the question and nodding slowly. “How about the butterflies?”

“That sounds like a great idea mommy,” Zane exclaimed seeing Deana smile as he looked to Grady and smiled widely. “The butterflies are very pretty, I like them.”

“Alright then,” Grady let Zane down for a moment so he could pay for them to in it. “Then I guess the butterflies is what we will hit first then. That sounds great.”


“Russ we need to talk,” Elliot cleared his throat seeing the way his son was avoiding any and all eye contact with him while Russ continued to put together a plate of cookies and some tea for everyone in the other room. “Russ please.”

“Dad I’m just busy right now,” Russ kept his gaze focused on the task at hand, “but I’ll be out in a few minutes. Just let Avery know that the tea is on and…”

“Russ stop,” Elliot walked over to Russ placing his hand on his shoulder in a firm, yet comforting movement, “Please son just talk to me.”

“About what?” Russ spun around to face his father, his frustrations mounting behind his green eyes as he let out a long sigh, “what do you want me to say?”

“Be honest with me,” Elliot pleaded with his son sensing that there was a great deal weighing on Russell’s mind even though he’d fought to keep it inside.

“About what? About the fact that it kills me to know that you’re not my father? Or about how every time I look at mom I think about that monster--how I think about what he’s done to destroy Avery and I?” Russ questioned his voice cracked with emotion, “Or how I can’t find it in me to understand how she could willingly make love to that man knowing what a monster he is.”

“Russ,” Elliot spoke his name a pained expression crossing over his own face.

“See, we can’t do this,” Russ stepped away from his father to walk across the kitchen, “I don’t want to do this to you. You’ve already clearly been through enough pain over this and I don’t need to be bringing it up in your face again as a constant reminder of what she did.”

“Son, there were circumstances at the time and…” Elliot started with a pained expression, “We were both confused and…”

“And I’m sure each and every time you looked at me you saw him. All of those years that you were beside her bringing us up, I’m sure that you saw me as a reminder of what they had with one another. I was a constant symbol of how he’d hurt you and she betrayed your love. Admit it, that’s why we grew up hating them like we did. That’s why we loathed the Ashfords because each and every day you were forced to face one of them in me,” Russ blurted out shaking his head as he let out a long sigh. He ran his fingers through his dark hair before shaking his head again, “You saw me as one of them and it killed you.”

“No,” Elliot cut him off abruptly, his voice stern and commanding as he stepped forward, “I never saw you as one of them. You’ve always been my son. Biology was irrelevant to me.”

“You keep saying that, but I know better. I know how having me must’ve killed you all of these years,” Russ explained in an anguished tone.

“Would it have killed you if Avery would’ve had a child with Brant instead of you? If Erin was Brant’s would it have made you love Erin or Avery any less?” Elliot tossed out at him watching Russell’s reaction closely.

“That’s not the same. Avery and I are different,” Russ mouthed stubbornly reaching for a chair and taking a seat at the table.

“No it’s not. Would you have loved her any less if she would’ve had another man’s child?” Elliot repeated the question moving in to take a seat beside Russ.

“Dad, it’s different. You were married to mom and…” Russ tried to further argue with him.

“Just answer the question Russell. Would you have loved Erin any less had she been Brant’s and not yours?” Elliot cut him off abruptly seeing Russ shake his head.

“No of course not, but she isn’t Brant’s. She’s my daughter and Avery never slept with Brant when she thought I was alive. Mom willingly went into that man’s arms and broke her vows to you when…” Russ explained with a frustrated groan, “She betrayed your love and I’m the result of that.”

“Russell listen to me,” Elliot grabbed Russ by the wrist before he could get up and walk away. “Sit down and listen to me.”

“Dad…” Russ started to protest, but knew better by the expression on his father’s face.

“Your mother and I haven’t always had things easy for us in our relationship,” Elliot informed him honestly, a raw, pained tone carrying over in his voice. “You’ll find the longer you’re married, the more problems arise and whether or not you want to deal with them, they are there. Nothing worth having is ever going to be perfect.”

“I understand that,” Russ blurted out thinking about his own relationship with Avery.

“There are many ups and downs on the road to happiness and sometimes even when two people love one another things keep them from being together,” Elliot explained with a heavy sigh, “Your mother and I were very young when we were married. We weren’t together for long before we discovered she was having Grady. I was struggling at the time to get my business up and running off the ground and she was trying to go to school. Things were hard--there were bills and other stressors that neither you nor Grady have had to face in your lifetime--and I wouldn’t want you to have faced them. Still, when we were starting out we were living in this hole in the wall apartment above a bar in one of the most seedy parts of town barely making rent because it was all we could afford. Here we were two kids hoping to find a way to keep what we had going strong so that we could make a better life for our child and things weren’t going as we’d planned. There was no house around the corner--no way of being able to anticipate what would be next. Here I was trying to prove that we could make it in this world, yet I had nothing to offer my wife and child.”

“Dad, that’s not true,” Russ tried to argue with him thinking about all his father had gone through. “I mean really…”

“It’s true Russ. Here I was trying so hard to try to find a way to make ends meet--to put my business in the right direction where I could promise your mother the kind of life that I’d sworn to give to her, yet when it came down to it, I couldn’t make ends meet for us. Cheryl wanted to get a job, but I refused at first. Then I had no choice, but to cave in to the request,” Elliot admitted thinking back to all that had happened in the past, “It still wasn’t enough. As I was trying to push my company off of the ground and break out on my own while I was doing sales, your mother was working all day long at a diner trying to make something that would be enough for us to put food on the table. It still wasn’t cutting it and when the Ashfords offered her a job, she saw it as our way out of the situation we were in. I wanted to have so much for my family, yet there was nothing there.”

“Still, you never asked for her to run to him,” Russ mouthed stubbornly. “You never asked for her to bring this into your life.”

“Russ, you have no idea what having nothing will do to a marriage. Sure, you might say that you understand the ups and downs that people go through, but there we were barely old enough to experience life ourselves and we had our son to think about. We couldn’t just focus on what was best for us any longer. We needed to find a way to be able to provide for your brother, which was always what was important to us. We wanted to make sure that our family would never, ever have to endure the hardships that we experienced in our early years of marriage. At the time there was nothing to fall back on and I hated that. I never, ever wanted my family to feel that way or live through that…”

“I know dad which is why you taught us early on the value of a dollar--about saving and always being careful with investments,” Russ nodded in confession, “I’ve always respected that about you.”

“Even so there was a time when I wasn’t as thrifty as you knew me to be. When your mother took that job working at the Ashford company we were more in debt than I cared to admit and that put an incredible strain on our marriage. People will try to tell you that not having money is something you can pull through, but it became increasingly harder when I found myself reaching dead ends with work and after Grady was born things only got harder. We still weren’t making it and she started putting in more hours at the office. I wish I could say that it didn’t have it’s effect on us, but it did. Grady was our top priority and we were barely able to cover the costs of having no insurance and a baby in the house. It was beyond anything you could ever expect when you finally decide to get married. Here I thought that everything would fall into place when we said ’I do’, but it doesn’t work that way. Life never works that way.”

Russ opened his mouth to say something further, but stopped as his father continued to recount the past with him.

“Needless to say during the time when things were their hardest, your mother was doing all that she could to keep it together for us. She was trying her hardest to make the money that would put food on the table, while I was finding myself more distanced from her and resentful that I hadn’t been the one to be able to make ends meet. It was around that time that she found out that she was pregnant again and even though that’s something to be joyful about, it was only another source of tension between us considering that we could barely provide for Grady. One thing lead to another and by the time she had the miscarriage it seemed that our relationship had hit rock bottom,” Elliot sighed heavily, pain crossing over his features as his eyes told the story of days gone by, “Your mother needed me after we lost the baby, but I couldn’t be there for her. Shamefully I turned to drinking much like your brother did in the past when times were tough and I emotionally put up a barrier between us. I was isolating her from what we were experiencing in our marriage to the point that when we lost our baby she was alone and endured the pain of that without me at her side. I was drowning my own sorrows and feeling self pity in alcohol and she was carrying the weight of the burden and the loss on her shoulders alone. Grady was too young to remember it, but he was stuck in the middle of our endless fighting and our battles over money, my drinking and her career. Needless to say the more I pushed her the way, the closer Nicholas was to her. By my abandoning her at the time when she needed me the most, it opened her up to his attention and in turn I am to blame for what had happened. Had I been the husband that I promised to be to her, then she never would’ve felt so alone and…”

“You never told her to sleep with him,” Russ added stubbornly catching the look his father gave him.

“I may not have wanted it, but I sure as hell didn’t act like I gave a damn. Russ, I’ll be the first one to admit that if I had been your mother I would’ve taken Grady and left never looking back. I treated her horribly because I refused to let her in,” Elliot closed his eyes fighting to contain the demons of the past that haunted him, “When she told me about what had happened with her and Nicholas, I was furious, but more so with myself because I realized just how much I’d missed out on by pushing her away. Ultimately I took what we had and destroyed it because I was too busy focusing on what we didn’t have with one another. I kept harboring all of this anger inside of me that I lead her into his arms. I’m the one who hurt her and made her feel like she had no alternative.”

“So her sleeping with him was okay then because you made a few mistakes,” Russ shook his head firmly, “I don’t buy that.”

“Russ, listen to me,” Elliot warned him once again, “As I said before when you’re in love with someone nothing is ever black and white. I was far from being the easiest person to deal with at that point in my life. I was like Grady had been if not worse. I would do things to upset her--things to hurt her and then when she was with Nicholas--it was the hardest reality check I ever had to face, but it did something to me. I felt angry, betrayed and hurt, but most of all I felt like a failure as a husband. I promised her the world and in turn I gave her heartbreak and misery.”

“So for your punishment you were forced to live with having me around day in and day out to remind you of what you’d done in pulling away from her,” Russ half questioned seeing how much remembering the past was hurting his father.

“No,” Elliot blurted out firmly. He sat up straighter shaking his head again, “When your mother told me that she was pregnant with you, I wanted so hard to believe that you were mine. I wanted to have you in my life because you were our miracle child. You were what happened after everything had fallen apart. When we learned she was pregnant again I realized it was a sign that I needed to turn my life around. I needed to stop blaming the world around me for what I wasn’t doing in my professional life and I needed to forgive myself and your mother because we had this whole new life to bring into this world. We had everything ahead of us and with you and Grady we had something to hold onto--something to keep fighting for.”

“But you knew that she slept with him and that there was a possibility that I would be his and not yours,” Russ mouthed feeling a stiffness in his neck and shoulders.

“Your mother being pregnant with you saved my life son,” Elliot placed his hand on top of Russell’s and squeezed it gently, “I stopped drinking and started getting my priorities straight again. Business picked up and your mother was able to quit working for the company. We started working together and planning for you and Grady. We saved enough to move and start over and we owe that all to you. If you weren’t a part of our lives, then there is no telling whether or not we would’ve survived in our relationship with one another. While you might think that you were the thing that caused me pain over the years, you and Grady were my greatest joys and the best accomplishments of my life. If I hadn’t had you, I may have wound up in a very dark place, but Russ from the moment you made your way into this world I knew in my heart that I had finally found my purpose--that I had finally found my reason and that was as your father. I love you son and I don’t give a damn about what happened with your mother and that man. He never, ever could give me anymore grief than what I would’ve experienced had I never had the chance to have you in my life.”

“Dad I…” Russ felt a lump forming in his throat when he saw tears in his father’s eyes.

“I love you son and your mother loves you too. You and Grady are the greatest things that have ever happened to us, so don’t think for a second that I could ever look at you and see anything other than the son I am so very proud of--the son that I have always wanted and the son that I thank God each and every day that I have in my life. I love you Russ and nothing could ever change that for me,” Elliot confessed with a broken tone.

“I love you too dad,” Russ reached out to embrace his father knowing full well that regardless of what had happened, he would always in his heart be Elliot Denton’s son and only Elliot’s son. Nothing would ever change that.


Don watched Zack and Michelle talking to each other carefully as he tried to make out some of the words they were saying. It was no use though because whatever they were talking about, it was obvious that he wouldn’t be able to hear it from being so far away. Just the thought that Michelle might be planning something bothered him. There was no way he was going to let her do something to hurt someone he loved again. An idea passed through his mind, but then he remembered where he was and realized what he thought would have worked really wouldn’t considering that he was supposed to be civilized.

Without wanting to worry about what Michelle was talking about anymore Don walked over to Zack and Michelle, pulling Michelle away from Zack and to the other side of the hallway. The look on Zack’s face said everything as Michelle pulled away from Don’s grasp, but Don didn’t let her other wrist go.

“Let go of me you big idiot,” Michelle’s teeth gritted together as she tried to get out of Don’s grasp seeing his blue eyes staring into hers. “What do you want?”

“What do you think you are doing here Michelle?” Don questioned seeing her eye him over carefully and she stopped trying to get out of his grasp. “I told you…”

“I don’t care what you said Don,” Michelle bit down on her bottom lip stepping in closer to Don, seeing him staring down at her. “You think I’m scared of you?”

“If I were you, I would be scared of me,” Don replied with a strong stare feeling her hit him roughly in the shoulder as he let out a small laugh. “That didn’t hurt Michelle, but nice try.”

“You think your funny don’t you?” she questioned seeing him wiggle his eyebrows up and down before a smile pulled at the corners of his lips. “You are just as weak as anyone else Don, you can’t scare me with you steroid enhanced muscles.”

“Steroid enhanced?” Don laughed looking down for a moment before going silent for a minute. He looked into Michelle’s eyes seeing her confused expression as he let out a small laugh. “Oh, I’m sorry, I must have got lost thinking about your plastic surgery. So, how much did these things cost you?”

“You’re funny,” Michelle rolled her eyes seeing Don look down as she pushed him back against the wall seeing him let out a small laugh. “Actually, my ex-husband paid for these. You like them?”

“No, I was just about to say whoever did it did a really bad job,” Don replied seeing her eyes fill up with anger as he let go of her wrist knowing he had her attention. “Obviously your husband liked you a lot too. I mean, he felt that bad to give you something so small. I mean they could have at least picked two sizes up.”

“I just got his wallet, he didn’t have a say in what I did,” Michelle flipped her hair back thinking about Kevin and how many times Kevin didn’t even care what she did as long as she left him alone. “He made the money and I spent it.”

“That doesn’t sound anything like you,” Don rolled his eyes fixing his white jacket before clearing his throat uneasily. “So why are you really here? Out to ruin someone’s life again?”

“Maybe yours,” Michelle pointed out digging her heel into his foot hearing him let out a small hiss. “I bet that didn’t hurt you either, right Don?”

“Nope, that didn’t hurt,” Don bit down on his bottom lip feeling the heat from her dig going all the way up his leg. “Actually, okay--that hurt a little bit. What kind of heels do you have, spike? You might want to be careful you might fall on one of them one day and poke a hole right through your head. That might almost be horrible.”

“You know what,” Michelle clenched her fists at her sides before biting down on her bottom lip to try and control her anger. “I’m done with this, I’m done with you.”

“You better leave town now that you are done with me,” Don pointed out seeing her eyes narrow out at him as he nodded slowly and moved his leg to try and get it to feel better. “Me and Brant warned you that if you come anywhere near town, you would win up in jail.”

“Go ahead Don, try and get your wife Shannon to arrest me,” Michelle folded her arms out in front of her before letting out a wide smile. “If you do that, I will have no problems telling the FBI that Shannon abused her power.”

“I should just try,” Don whispered stepping in closer to her before letting out a small laugh. “Who are they going to believe? A stripped like you or me and my wife. Let me think this over, I think you already know the answer Michelle and you better be careful with what you say.”


“Now that we’ve cleared up that little conflict between us,” Brant murmured falling in over Angela now that she lay over the top of the desk he’d just had his way with her on, “I think maybe it’s time we started talking about things here.”

“I don’t want to talk,” she mouthed closing her eyes and feeling his head settle in over her body, pressing warmly against her chest.

She ran her fingers lazily through his dark hair, feeling the dampness over the strands brought on by their earlier lovemaking. She kept her legs around him having taken him down with her on the desk top knowing full well that she’d once again given into her more primal urges with him. Feeling him over her, inside of her was too much and now, well now the last thing she wanted to do was dwell on the negative which included what was inevitable once they started talking to one another again.

“Baby, you’re not listening to me,” Brant chastised laying a small, teasing nip over the swell of her breast while his hand traced lazy circles over her upper thigh. “I said I want to talk to you about things. We need to talk.”

“No, we don’t,” she argued biting down on her lower lip in feeling his hand curl over her inner thigh brushing over her heated flesh once again.

“Angela I can go all day with you like this if you’d prefer, but sooner or later I’m going to wear you down enough to get you to talk to me,” his words were muffled by his lips pressed in over her breastbone. His tongue curled over her soft curves and she arched up into his body once again.

“Brant,” she gasped his name, feeling his fingers trace over the soft warmth of her femininity reminding her all over again about how much he knew about her body already.

“I can give you a lot to think about in a great many ways,” he whispered his words buzzing over her body, his touch bringing her up to the melting point all over again, tension sweeping over her. He raised his head to meet her eyes with a renewed hunger, “but I’d prefer we do this like rational adults here.”

“There’s nothing rational or appropriate about what you’re doing right now,” she dropped her hand down to prevent him from clouding her mind any further, but instead of stilling his touch, she found herself guiding him on further.

“I don’t think appropriate is what you’re looking for today,” he smiled proudly seeing her coming undone all over again at his touch, “but then again that’s not really anything that worked for me either.”

“So then we’re in agreement that neither one of us is rational or appropriate right now,” she ran her heel over the smoothness of his spine nudging him in closer to her in a longing movement.

“It would seem that way,” he nodded sliding up to claim her lips again with a hungry intensity. He brought his free hand up to touch her cheek gently, feeling the soft cries of her body’s response to him falling from her swollen lips again and again.

“Brant, oh God, the things you do to me,” she cried out curling her legs around him, not wanting to let go of the sensations that were roaring over her.

“You make me so hot baby,” he assured her nibbling on her bottom lip again and again seeing her face grow flushed with the desire that rocked over her in tiny tremors. She arched her head back crying out in release. He settled in over her hips, bringing his hand up over her waist before he eased himself just barely into her. He caught the way that her lips parted, the sound that came from them just by that one small movement between them, yet there was something more he wanted--something he needed.

“Don’t stop,” she pleaded, in a needy, aching voice, her brown eyes drowning in desire.

“I’m not going to stop,” he assured her moving in over her a bit more completely. He sank into her a bit further before his eyes fixed upon hers commanding what he was searching for, “Under one condition.”

“Anything,” she blurted out thoughtlessly, her breaths more urgent as she hugged his body over hers, thighs pressing him closer towards completion.

“Once I have my way with you, I want to spend time with you beyond this. I want us to sit down and talk about what’s happening here--about each other and then,” he paused fighting to keep his thoughts even when her body was threatening to tear apart what little control he had left. Still he had to stay focused, “Then I want you to see that we do have something together--that we have a chance at making this work…”

She seemed to stiffen at the comment, her eyes suddenly wrapped up in confusion, “Brant, what are you saying?”

“I want to be more than your lover,” he dropped down into her a bit further, “I want to be more than this. I want for us to be together…”

“I think that is already a mission accomplished,” she arched up against him, writhing beneath his weight above her.

“No, you’re not getting it sweetheart,” he brushed his finger over her bottom lip gingerly, “I want to go beyond having phenomenal sex with you. I want another chance at the boyfriend thing.”

“The boyfriend thing,” she repeated in a pinched squeal knowing full well that the last thing she wanted to be doing was talking about the labels of their relationship when he was driving her crazy wanting more from their union. “Brant, I think it’s a little too late for the boyfriend thing.”

“It’s never too late to make an investment in the future, and right now I’d like to take the opportunity to do just that for the both of us,” he whispered over her lips dropping a gentle kiss over them, “for our children.”

“Brant, I just don’t know if we can really make something out of…” she started to object finding everything about him to be a distraction until she felt him break the connection between them. Her eyes widened in protest, “Brant…”

“Promise me you’ll give me that,” he searched her eyes again knowing that he had her almost where he wanted her, “Promise me that you’ll give me that much.”

“Brant I,” she bit down on her lower lip feeling him so very close to her, yet so far away. She closed her eyes once more and nodded, “I promise. I’ll give you a chance. I’ll listen to whatever it is you have to say.”

“That‘s my Angela,” he whispered dropping down to kiss her heatedly as all of his control slipped out of the window. He gave himself completely into the reality of making love to her in ways he’d only dreamt about before they were reunited again at the party. Now that they were together again, he promised himself that there was no way he was going to let her go. Not now and not ever because despite all his misconceptions about where his life would have been, there was nothing he was more sure of than the woman in his arms. She was it for him and that was something he wasn’t about to let slip away from him. Never again!


“So have you been keeping Seth busy today?” Blake couldn’t help but ask as she and Kellen walked through the corridor with one another to the studio where Seth had been working.

“Surprisingly I think Heather had really gotten him into something good,” Kellen added with a bright smile, “I wasn’t sure what she had on her mind earlier, but…”

“Oh I’m sure I can guess what she had on her mind,” Blake frowned thinking about the way her rival thought. “Heather’s trouble Kellen and I still can’t figure out why you bother with her.”

“Well for starters she and I have a certain history,” Kellen added weaving his words mysteriously, “and beyond that she’s Charles’s mother. Since Kipp and I are together now…”

“I feel sorry for you,” Blake interrupted with a simple shake of her head, “I mean Heather’s something alright. When she was engaged to my brother, she was playing him like she played Kipp. Did you know she actually slept with some movie producer in our home on the night Brant was throwing a big party downstairs? Talk about cheap.”

“Heather’s not perfect,” Kellen added with a simple shrug of his shoulders, “but then again none of us really are. Besides, she’s changed.”

“Women like Heather never change,” Blake added stubbornly with a small frown.

“And women like you never know when to quit, do they Blake?” Heather’s voice sounded out from the room in front of them. She had her arms folded in front of her chest and her green eyes narrowed down at Blake, “Still trying to convert the world to seeing things your way, are you?”

“I’m just trying to get the men around you to open up their eyes before you wind up taking them for a ride,” Blake snapped back at her icily.

“Yeah, well from what I recall your brother happened to more than enjoy the ride I gave him when we were together,” Heather answered in a snide voice not about to let Blake one up her.

“Oh please, the only thing he truly enjoyed giving you was the one way trip to the curb he gave you after he saw what a lying slut you truly are,” Blake stepped forward a bitterness in her voice.

“Oh yes, that’s one little thing I never did get to thank you for there Blake. By the way, did you ever end up telling Brant that you orchestrated that whole little scenario?” Heather arched a curious brow, “I mean I’m sure he’d be more than curious to know how his little sister set me up to ensure that he couldn’t be happy with me.”

“He never was happy with you. You’re beneath him,” Blake wrinkled her nose at Heather.

“Come to think of it, I believe he was very happy with me beneath him time and time again,” Heather scratched her chin lightly, “And with me over him as well.”

“You are such a slut,” Blake snarled up at her in disgust.

“And you’re such a pathetic little girl who doesn’t have anything real to cling to in her own life that she’d much rather intrude upon her brother’s love life for kicks,” Heather answered flatly with a shake of her head, “It’s a wonder Seth hasn’t found his way to being bored with you yet, though maybe if he works here a little while longer that might change. Maybe I’ll show him a thing or two about what it was your brother enjoyed the most with me.”

“Why you!” Blake lunged forward ready to attack Heather when Kellen jumped between the two of them keeping them separated before they tore each other apart.

“That’s enough!” Kellen snapped at both women. He glared at the both of them finding himself less than thrilled with their callous behavior, “I think it’s time to stop this. Blake, Heather is not the enemy and Heather, calm down.”

“Calm down!” Heather repeated with a huff, “This little tart started it. Come to think of it, how did she get in here? I don’t recall having her on the list of people who were allowed to get into the studio area.”

“I brought her in here,” Kellen tossed out a warning look at Heather before facing Blake, “and you, well you’re my guest and I expect you to treat Heather with respect and courtesy here.”

“As if,” Blake rolled her eyes, “I don’t respect anything about that little…”

“Ah!” Kellen cut her off holding his finger up in the air, “We will have none of this. Girls you do realize when you call one another nasty names, it only lets the rest of the world think that they can treat you both like far less than what you’re worth. You two are both divas in my mind and divas should unite instead of being catty with one another. So put the claws away and let’s call it a day, shall we?”

“Not until she apologizes,” Heather remarked sourly, folding her arms in front of her chest, “She has no right coming into my business and starting trouble when she wasn’t even invited in the first place.”

“I’m here to see Seth and not you, so why don’t you just go do whatever it is or whoever it is you do in order to stay in charge here?” Blake suggested snidely standing taller in an attempt to show Heather she wasn’t about to be railroaded by her.

“Seth is working and the last time working hours weren’t the place for personal time,” Heather challenged daring Blake to take another step forward into the studios.

“You can’t keep me from my fiancée,” Blake took a small step forward only to watch Heather move in front of her.

“I can do whatever I want to when it’s on company time,” Heather reminded her sharply, “So why don’t you take a hint and get lost?”

“I’m not leaving until I see Seth and there’s nothing you can do to stop me,” Blake replied reaching out to shove Heather aside.

“Sure I can. I’ll just call security and…” Heather started reaching out to tug on Blake’s arm only to feel Kellen’s arms crushing in around her.

“Group hug!” Kellen announced squeezing both women together until they were face to face. Both tried to bounce out of the embrace, but Kellen kept his strong arms around the both of them keeping them firmly in place.

“Kellen let me go!” Heather huffed.

“Kellen, stop it!” Blake added with a groan trying to wiggle out of his hold again.

“Now listen you two. I’m not going to bring this group hug to an end until you both stop acting like PMS bitches and you start behaving like proper ladies. You are both bright, beautiful women who have a lot going for you and you’d accomplish so much more as friends than snide little enemies. It’s a trend that is so last year and this time around I think we need to break the habit. We need to empower ourselves by letting go of the negative thinking and dwelling on the positive.”

“I’m positive I’m about two seconds away from kneeing you in the balls Kellen,” Heather warned in a pinched voice trying to ignore the fact that Blake Ashford was a mere few inches from her face.

“Heather’s right. If you don’t let go of me right now, I’m going to have to seriously hurt you,” Blake added with a huff.

“See and now this is what I was looking for,” Kellen beamed with a wide grin, his blue eyes sparkling at the both of them. “Two minutes ago you were bitter rivals, snarky enemies with the need to tear one another down, but together you’re working to accomplish a goal and look at this…”

He took a step back and held his hands up in the air. “You succeeded in your mission easily in joining forces.”

Both women took a quick step back and glared at Kellen for a long minute.

“Hey, you two can hate on me for wanting to help, but the fact to the matter is that you would make great pals and we’re going to keep working on making that happen.”

“You’re crazy Kellen,” Blake shook her head at him spotting Seth out of the corner of her eye before marching off towards the photo lab. Once she left Heather glared at Kellen like she could easily murder him on the spot.

“I can’t believe you did that,” Heather scoffed shaking her head at Kellen, “You had no right to…”

“Heather, honey while I know that you’re not exactly on Blake’s top ten list and she’s not on yours, the fact to the matter is that you two would make wonderful friends. You could both help one another to evolve and I think that’s important,” Kellen walked over to Heather and put his arm around her, “If for no other reason, you need to mend fences with her for Charles. She is Kipp’s cousin you know.”

“So,” Heather frowned at him, “That means nothing.”

“Maybe not to you, but it will to Charles,” Kellen pointed out with a heavy sigh, “and besides, what did I tell you about changing your life around?”

“I’m not going to take crap from those who thrive on making me miserable Kellen,” Heather pointed out with a frown.

“Maybe not, but at the same time you need to really think about who your real enemies are. Blake is harmless in the grand scheme of things and given that Seth is probably one of the most talented photographers that we know, well it wouldn’t hurt to be polite to the woman he loves.”

“She’s a bitch Kellen. She’s a spoiled brat plain and simple,” Heather huffed still keeping her arms folded around her chest while her eyes darted towards where Blake and Seth were with one another.

“Even so, you’re working on trying to be less of a one, so take a tip from me sweetheart and let go of the old feud you two have going. If you think about it, she did you a favor,” Kellen added encouragingly, “Sure it might’ve sucked when things ended with Brant, but look on the bright side, it freed you up to be with Kyle and we can work on making that one happen together.”

“Kellen, you’re insane,” Heather shook her head at him letting out a long sigh before groaning, “Please don’t start on this one again.”

“Face it Heather. You two are destiny and as soon as you admit it, then we’ll be able to find a way to get him to stop pretending with Sarah so he can be with you,” Kellen added rubbing his hands together excitedly.

Heather just gave him a look and then groaned walking away before she started taking what he was saying seriously. There was no way that she was going to cause a rift in Kyle’s happiness. Sure, she might have a reputation for being a bitch, but she wasn’t about to destroy someone who had always been good to her. Kyle deserved happiness and if he had it with Sarah, then so be it.


“Honey, you have to calm down,” Rob hushed Cori running his hand through her hair soothingly feeling her cry against his chest as his heart broke just seeing her like this. There was no way he could stand someone like his daughter being hurt in such a way. Diego had to pay for what he did to Cori, there was no way Diego could get away with this. “You are going to give yourself a heart attack if you don’t stop Cori.”

“I just…I don’t know what to do Rob,” Cori stuttered trying to find the right words to say as she looked up into Rob’s light blue eyes. Dave caught the corner of her eye as she quickly got up from the seat and ran over to her brother wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “Oh my god Dave, I’m so glad you’re here.”

“I know honey,” Dave hushed her quietly giving her a small squeeze feeling her tears against his shirt. He pulled back gently caressing her shoulder gently. “Honey, you have to do something for me right now.”

“Sure, Davey,” Cori nodded wiping away her tears before letting out a deep sigh. She felt Dave’s thumb brush away one of her tears as he shook his head slowly. “I’ll do anything.”

“Honey, can you go get Mr. Leveski a bottle of water because I have a few questions to ask him,” Dave pleaded with her feeling her slip out from his grasp as she nodded slowly. “Do you think you are going to be okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” Cori assured him taking in a deep breath and walking over towards the soda machine.

“Come with me Mr. Leveski,” Dave urged Rob into his office as Rob took a seat and Dave took a seat at his desk. “I just need to ask you about Diego. What happened?”

“Your sister told me what he did to her,” Rob took in a deep breath wrapping his fingers around the arm of his chair before taking in a deep breath. “I couldn’t believe a man could hurt a woman like that. She is like a daughter to me Dave and you know that.”

“I know Rob,” Dave took in a deep breath thinking about everything Cori had done in her life including her basketball life that Rob helped her out with. “I just need to know--did you really hit Diego?”

“Yeah, I hit Diego,” Rob nodded not caring if he did or not because Diego deserved everything. In fact, Diego deserved more than what he got because he wasn’t a nice guy at all and he didn’t deserve any kind of sympathy. “But I don’t care about it Dave because he hurt your sister and I did the right thing.”

“He did do the right thing Dave,” Cori spoke up taking a step into her brother’s office and handing Dave over a water and one to Rob. “Diego hurt me, you can’t get Rob in trouble for something he did right.”

“I just need to ask these questions Cori,” Dave took in a deep breath eyeing his sister over slowly and then Rob. It was obvious that Rob believed everything she was saying, but Dave wasn’t so sure about Cori. There were a few pieces of the puzzle missing and he was trying to fit them together perfectly.”


Kyle spotted Cori walking out of Dave’s office in the corner of his eye and a frown overtook him. Unable to quell the urge inside of him brought on by his instincts in this particular situation that was happening with Diego, he decided it was time to have a talk with Ms. Warner up front. Sure, she may have been lying to the police and giving them reason to believe that Diego had attacked her, but Kyle wasn’t buying it.

“Cori,” Kyle called her name seeing the surprise register in her dark eyes when he walked up to her, “we need to talk.”

“I don’t have anything to say to you,” she snubbed her nose at him in an attempt to walk away from him. “I’m not going to stand here and be lectured by you after what that monster did to me. I don’t care if he’s your friend, he’s going down.”

“Cori, you’re lying,” Kyle blurted out seeing the shock behind her dark eyes before she recovered.

“I am not. You don’t know what happened. You weren’t there,” she argued with him her voice a shrill hiss. “You didn’t see what he did to me.”

“Yeah, well neither did you because it didn’t happen. Diego wouldn’t hurt you. He’s not that type of guy,” Kyle argued further with her, “and if you’d stop lying about this, you’d find that this will go a lot easier on all of us.”

“Easier,” Cori huffed in response shaking her head at him, “You don‘t know the half of what he put me through.”

“Cori, I know that you’re upset with him and I don’t blame you for the way things ended, but lying about a man and putting him in jail is a serious offense,” Kyle warned her sharply seeing in her eyes that this was all a hoax. Sure, she was denying it, but he could sense that she was in this for altogether different reasons than she was letting people believe. “Cori, Diego was your friend for a long time. Why would you do this to him?”

“Oh that’s right,” she let out an ironic laugh shaking her head at him. “I’m surprised that you of all people would be defending him considering all that he’s done to you.”

“Diego’s done nothing but be a good friend to myself and Sarah,” Kyle shook his head at her, “and he’s been a good friend to you. Sure, maybe you two broke up, but that’s no reason to do this.”

“Funny you should mention Sarah,” Cori spotted Sarah walking out into the lobby area. She saw panic register in Sarah’s eyes as she moved forward to see what was going on with Cori and Diego. “She’s just about the last person I’d be listening to right now if I were you especially where Diego is concerned.”

“Look Cori, I realize that you’re upset, but…” Sarah started her eyes narrowing at Cori with firm warning.

“Upset? Oh Sarah you don’t know the half of it,” Cori screeched at her before her brown eyes fixed directly on Kyle, “but I think that Kyle should. Kyle, did you know that your oh so moral friend Diego has not only hurt me, but that he’s been sleeping with Sarah right under your nose? Now how’s that for friendship?”


...to be continued...