Episode 321

“I can’t believe this,” Trisha gasped seeing the gazes of everyone staring at her after the bottle shattered out across the floor. Trisha felt Ria’s hand rest in against her shoulder as Trisha pulled away from her sharply. “Please tell me that’s not Chase, please tell me I’m seeing things and this isn’t real.”

“I wish I could,” Ria whispered seeing the way that Chase’s eyes watched them and he looked like he was about to pass out himself seeing Trisha and Ria there. “Honey, it’s going to be okay. Take it easy, everything is alright.”

“Of course everything is going to be alright for you,” Trisha spat seeing Chase take a step forward and jump off the stage walking over towards her as she threw her hands up in the air angrily. “You’re boyfriend isn’t an stripper.”

“Trisha,” Chase took a step in closer to Trisha reaching out to touch her as she pulled away from him like his touch would burn her. “Honey, I wanted to tell you about this--you have to understand that. I was going to tell you…”

“But you didn’t want to,” Trisha laughed seeing the people that backed away from her and Chase, including Ria and Mindy. “So with a job like this, I’m guessing I’m not your only girlfriend. Isn’t that right Chase? I’m just a little side dish, aren’t I?”

“No Trisha, that’s far from the truth,” Chase shook his head quickly not quite knowing what to say as he reached for her hands holding them in his tightly. “You have to understand that this is just a job, that’s all this is. What have with you, that’s my real life. You are what’s real this whole thing you see me doing is fake.”

“All this time I thought you were great,” Trisha pulled away from Chase giving him a glance over, seeing the small costume that left nothing to imagination with his body. She wanted to be the only one to see Chase like this, but now she knew the truth. Trisha shook her head slowly before bringing her hand against the side of his face hearing the gasps from the people around her. “You are just like every loser I have dated in the past.”

“Trisha,” Chase called out to Trisha seeing her run out the front doors as there was a few boos coming from the crowd around him. Frustrated, Chase threw his hands up in the air before catching Ria at the corner of his eye. “What am I supposed to do?”

“Hey, it’s not my life,” Ria pointed out seeing Chase step in closer to her as she looked over her sister’s boyfriend. “What do you want to do?”

“I can’t let her run out like that without my explanation,” Chase answered running his hands through his blonde hair as he felt the burning sensation begin in his cheeks from the hard hit Trisha had given him. “I love her too much.”

“You love her?” Ria’s eyes widened as she saw the sincere look behind Chase’s eyes as he nodded. Ria shook her head slowly before pointing over towards the door. “Then if you love her, why are you still in here?”

“You know what?” Chase took in a deep breath looking around the room before him, looking over towards the door hoping that he wasn’t too late. “You’re right.”

“Hey Chase,” Mindy called out grabbing his pants up from the ground after he had reached the door. She saw him turn around as she threw the pants to him making sure he didn’t run out in public with just that little costume on. “You might want those.”

“Thanks,” Chase whispered placing the pants in front of his groin before running out the door to go find Trisha and tell her about everything.

“The show is over everyone,” Mindy informed everyone moving her hands in the other direction to motion everyone away from the area where the scene just took place. As everyone pooled back around the stage Mindy leaned in closer to Ria so Ria could hear her. “Do you think they are going to work things out okay?”

“My sister and Chase?” Ria questioned seeing Mindy nod slowly as Ria bit down on her bottom lip before nodding slowly. “If Chase says the right words and she is in a good mood--then totally. They will be back together in less than an hour.”

“That’s a good thing,” Mindy stated with a small nod taking in the words that Ria said before shrugging her shoulders. “At least I think it is.”

“If Trisha gets what she wants,” Ria began taking in a deep breath while thinking about her little sister and all the things Trisha had done in the past. “Then it will certainly be a good thing for Chase.”


“Kyle,” Heather gasped his name suddenly very surprised to see the man that had been on her mind all day standing before her looking like someone who hadn’t eaten a decent meal in weeks and he was famished eyeing her like she was the first savory morsel that had crossed his path in a long time. She’d known that look long ago when they’d fooled around with one another, but now as obvious tension raced over him it was plain as day. She felt a heat rise over her body, up into her face as she fought to find the words to say anything that was even remotely comprehendible. Finally they came. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m uh, well I…” Kyle’s gaze dropped involuntarily over her exposed skin which revealed to him the breasts that she’d been complaining about to him only a few short days ago.

At the time she’d felt a bit nervous about her figure, but judging by the expression on his face, she had clearly made a bad judgment call about whether or not she had enough to excite a man. Okay, so maybe she’d never been uneasy about her sexuality before, but it wasn’t everyday that she found herself standing in front of Kyle Houston in a state of undress with him watching her as if she was…

“You what?” she asked wishing like hell that she hadn’t tossed her dress across the room. Then again maybe if Kyle got rid of his clothes she’d feel a whole hell of a lot more comfortable about the situation. Oh God, what was she saying? Kyle was going to marry her sister and she was the furthest thing from his mind. He was just looking because she was giving him an eyeful. After all, what man could resist breasts regardless of their size or variation? With that thought Heather brought her arms up over her chest in a weak attempt to cover herself.

“I came here today because I wanted you…” Kyle blurted out his face growing red at the admission before he forced his eyes away from her. “I mean I wanted you to know that I didn’t forget about you. I know I made a commitment to the job you asked me to do for you and I wasn’t about to cause you anymore issues than I already have.”

“Issues,” she repeated with a strange expression.

“Yeah, I mean with the security stuff,” he nodded finding himself glancing over at her again in spite of himself.

“Oh yeah, well about that. It was really no big deal,” she shrugged her shoulders trying to will her legs to move far enough for her to bend down and retrieve that damned dress.

“Kellen told me about the confusion,” Kyle admitted clearing his throat again, “and I’m really sorry about everything. I was just busy helping a friend out with something that it slipped my mind and…”

“It’s okay. It really is,” Heather forced an uneasy smile, “I mean hey I’m a big girl. I can hold my own when push comes to shove. You know me ruthless as ever.”

“I’d hardly consider you to be ruthless,” Kyle mouthed in response, the beginnings of a smile touching over the corners of his lips before he nodded, “especially looking like that.”

“Oh really?” she replied taking a hint by the teasing in his tone, “So you’re saying that I’m not at all intimidating right now?”

“Not in the least,” he shook his head obviously lying through his teeth to avoid hitting just how uncomfortable they both were in the situation.

“Oh so you’re saying that the fact that I’m practically naked in front of you isn’t at all intimidating, eh?” she challenged drawing in a small breath before making a bold move and dropping her arms down to her sides to see who would win this sudden game of chicken they were playing with one another.

“Not at all,” he shook his head fighting to repress the gulp building in the back of his throat. He smiled again before trying to lighten the mood between them, “Though I have to tell you, you look pretty damned good like that.”

“Really?” she took a small step forward feeling a bit of the strength returning to her legs.

He nodded again, “Sure, I mean looking like that, well hey you could easily work a room and get their attention…”

“But I wouldn’t be intimidating,” she noted his earlier words moving in closer to him still. “Somehow I think you have me pegged for a vulnerable flower of sorts at this point in time given my state of undress.”

“I never said that,” Kyle corrected clearing his throat as he found himself taking a small step towards her. “I merely stated that I personally don’t find you intimidating like that.”

“Oh Kyle, you have no idea how wrong you’d be,” she reached out to touch his face once they’d grown closer to standing near one another, “especially now that your face is beet red.”

“My face isn’t the only one,” he extended his arm out, tension spiraling over his muscled body as his fingers sought out the first breath of a touch over her bare arm. It was enough to almost damn near do him in, but he wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of knowing that it made him hotter than hell to see her naked again after all these years.

“Hmm, well maybe I’m just flushed because I’m getting a rush out of getting a rise out of you,” her eyes gave him a very thorough once over before her gaze settled in over the center of his slacks before she issued him a very satisfied smirk. She licked her lips before speaking up again, “And what a rise it is.”

“You like that,” Kyle replied in a proud, confident tone knowing full well it was too late to mask what was already evident to his companion. “You know there’s a whole hell of a lot more of this that you’re not seeing.”

“Oh I remember,” Heather licked her lips once again, this time getting even closer to him in spite of herself. The warning bells were dinging in the back of her mind and she knew damned well that she should stop, but she wasn’t about to be the wimp in the situation. If Kyle wanted to play the flirting game with her, she’d just toss it back at him all in good fun, right?

“Do you,” a grin expanded over his ever-so-kissable lips causing her stomach to be tied in knots.

“Oh yeah,” her smile burst into a wide display of acknowledgement letting him know that of all the things she’d been less aware of over the years, being near his body wasn’t one of those moments she would be likely to forget in this lifetime--if ever.

“And judging by the expression on your face, I’d say it’s safe to say that even after all these years, you’re still pleased with what you saw,” Kyle teased a bit further feeling hot under the collar at the way her eyes caressed every part of him making him want to rip her out of what little she had on still and take her then and there in the middle of the room on the floor right next to that dress she’d discarded.

“And looking at yours, I’d have to say that you’re still very excited by what you see,” Heather mouthed leaning into his touch a bit further, her eyes daring him to back down from the game they’d started, but when he didn’t budge, she felt her own boldness starting to taper off. She fought to hold onto it, but he shot her down with his words.

“I’m not denying that you’re sexier than ever and if you don’t cover yourself up soon, I’m going to say something I shouldn’t,” Kyle confessed his face growing redder than it had been seconds ago.

That was enough to bring Heather to the reality of the moment, yet she really didn’t want to grasp the reality in the moment. He was caving and it was her time to claim victory. She smiled brightly shaking her head at him.

“I think you already said more than you should have,” she mouthed leaning in closer to him, spreading her fingers out over his chest in a brazen moment of madness. “The question is, will you be willing to put your money where your mouth is Houston?”

“I can tell you where I’d like to put my mouth right now,” Kyle reached out to her, bringing his arm around her waist to draw him nearer to him.

She gasped as he pulled her flush against his hard, muscled contours, her heart hammering in her chest as he held her against him. She felt as if she as about to burst anticipation licking up over her body in a hot, white flame that proved to her that while she’d intended to be playing, there was no fooling herself with Kyle. He was hotter than hell and right here, right now she wanted nothing more than to prove to him that she could match his bluff and give him something to remember--something that neither one of them would ever forget. Her gaze dropped down to his lips and she felt a breath of a whisper that could’ve gone without saying fall from her lips.

“Where?” she asked almost regretting letting the word fall from her now parted lips as Kyle tipped his head down towards hers, the sparks of electricity their flirting had generated between them becoming almost overwhelming with his hand pressed in over the small of her back, finger tips tracing over the top of the barely there thong that she’d been sporting before he’d walked in.

“How about I just show you?” he mouthed, his lips hovering over hers, a fraction of an inch away from doing what they both were goading each other towards before a sound crashed from behind the both of them alerting them that they were no longer alone.

Heather leapt back with a gasp as Kyle did the same, both of them spinning around to see Kellen standing in the doorway with an armload of clothes and wide eyes.

“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” he asked arching a curious brow that brought Kyle and Heather crashing to reality that their game had almost gotten completely out of hand. However, as Kellen looked between the both of them, he silently cursed himself realizing that if he would’ve just waited a few minutes longer and made that call to Kipp like he’d been planning on doing, then maybe just maybe Kyle and Heather wouldn’t be standing before him looking so damned guilty about what had almost happened. Hell if he’d waited a few more seconds, judging by the expressions on their faces he was pretty sure that something good would’ve happened…something that would’ve proved his theory all over again that they were meant to be together. He was sure of it.


Sarah stepped into the police station covering her eyes with the dark sunglasses as she looked around the room and hoped that her disguise would make people not be able to notice her. She had gone home earlier, but she couldn’t just stay at home and do nothing.

Kyle was in the room with Diego really long and the thoughts of what Kyle and Diego had talked about started to swarm through her mind. What did Kyle talk to Diego about? Even worse, what did Diego tell Kyle?

“I have to make sure Kyle doesn’t know,” Sarah looked at herself in the glass doors wrapping her long coat around her tightly and making sure that there was no errors in the dark haired wig she was wearing to make sure it looked real. “I can’t lose him now.”

Deciding to take everything a step further Sarah turned around to face the front desk seeing two officers sitting in their seats and both were on the phone. In the back she saw Dave working on a few things and she couldn’t help, but worry. The officer on the right and Dave had seen her here earlier, they might get a little bit suspicious seeing her again. There was no other choice than to go to the younger cop on the left.

“Excuse me sir,” Sarah cleared her voice uneasily trying to make over her real voice, making her voice a bit more high pitched. Dave had taken a look back over his shoulder, but it wasn’t long enough for him to notice her because he went back to looking at the papers before him. “I said excuse me.”

“Just a moment ma’am,” the young officer motioned her to wait a moment as she let the top of her jacket fall open a bit, making sure that he caught what she wanted him to see. The officer pushed the button to put the person he was talking to on hold as he stared up at her with his green eyes. “Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m here to see Diego Hernandez,” she spoke up watching Dave walk into the back making it even better for her now that she didn’t really have anyone there who knew her. “I’m a very close friend of his and I would like to talk to him.”

“I don’t think you can right now, let me check with Warner and…” the officer was about to say more until he felt Sarah place her hand over his gently. He pulled his hand away from her and pushed back his dark hair before offering up a wide smile.

“How old are you officer Kennedy?” Sarah couldn’t help but try and flirt her way into this because she couldn’t risk seeing Dave right now. This move usually worked every other time she wanted something, why not now? “Did you know that you have the prettiest green eyes I have ever seen?”

“Really? Well, I‘m twenty-seven ma‘am,” the officer smiled widely seeing Sarah nod as he rested his hands on his waist before shrugging his shoulders. “Well, I get that a lot--kind of. My name is Keith, what’s your name?”

“Keith Kennedy, sounds like an interesting name,” Sarah eyed the guy over slowly before offering up a small wiggle of her eyebrows. “My name is Barbara and I would really appreciate it if you would let me in to see my friend Diego. I really must talk to him.”

“Alright, I’ll do it real quick,” the officer replied pulling out his keys and looking through them before motioning her to follow him into the back. “Just try and make it quick just in case I might get in trouble.”

“Thanks Kennedy,” Sarah winked at him seeing the officer’s green eyes staring into hers as he ran into the wall and let out a small laugh. “I really appreciate this.”

“Anything for a pretty woman,” he whispered opening the door for her and motioned her to take a seat as he pointed back towards Diego’s cell. “I’ll be right back with Mr. Hernandez--just sit tight.”


“I agree with you wholeheartedly about Avery being the most qualified for the job Russ,” Grady finally decided glancing over at Avery after he’d taken a few minutes to contemplate what working with Avery would mean to his future. Could he be able to resist the temptation that had once been alive between them? Oh hell, who was he kidding? He’d moved on with Deana and was honestly really happy about it and Russ was still alive. What more of a reality check did he need. This would be the ultimate sign that he‘d moved on. Smiling he offered up a small nod, “Avery I would love to have you working with me if you think that you would like to. Of course it‘ll mean that you‘ll have to tolerate me for a while and you know how brutal that can be.”

“Well gee, since you put it that way I think I can deal with the whole brutal thing--at least for the time being,” Avery winked over at him, “but I’m not quite sure you can afford me.”

“If you’re as good as Russ believes you are, then I’m sure you’ll be making more than you ever thought possible in no time,” Grady smiled at the thought, “and then business will really be booming.”

“It’s not all about the money, but it’ll be nice,” Avery heard Erin crying in the next room. She turned to Russ and patted him on his shoulder, “I think it’s time for her to add her input.”

“I eagerly welcome it,” Russ smiled over at her, watching Avery get up to retrieve Erin. Once she left the room Russ focused on Grady once again, “You know I really appreciate this Grady. Brant doing what he did to her really put her in a slump and it has me really worried.”

“Brant’s a jackass and he lives to make people miserable,” Grady frowned thinking about the man who had manipulated Avery since Russ had vanished. “You have my word that she’ll have much better than that working with me.”

“I know, which is why I can honestly say I know she’s in good hands with you. It really means a lot to her and to me,” Russ added with a bright smile, “You’re the best brother a man could ask for.”

“Far from it, but thanks for the thought,” Grady felt a moment of guilt tug over him at the memory of what he and Avery had done with one another. “I just want you to be happy Russ.”

“Having Erin and Avery in my life is everything to me. They are my world and even though everything is kind of up in the air, I know with them beside me I have everything I could ask for. My dreams are finally on track again and becoming a reality. It’s all because of them,” Russ added brightly thinking about the women in his life.

“I know Russ and I don’t ever want to see anything ever happen like before to take that dream away,” Grady added as his thoughts lingered to the secret he held about Avery. As Grady saw how happy Russ was with Avery and the new life they had with one another, Grady vowed to never, ever let Russ in on the truth about the night Grady and Avery shared with one another because he wouldn’t ever crush his brother all over again. He loved his brother far too much to see him ever hurt by the past again!


Angela paced around her hotel room taking another look at the time noting that it was one minute to seven. While she tried not to get nervous about the night ahead of her, she had so many thoughts and questions in her mind. She had agreed to meet up with Brant at seven and promised him a night that they wouldn’t forget in being able to talk about things with one another. Of course he had no idea what a challenge this would truly be for them considering that before now they had just been playing around with one another.

Okay, so maybe they had a certain level of seriousness between them, Angela reminded herself with a small breath, but this was somehow more important--more of a challenge for them. This wasn’t all about sex, which surprisingly came very easy for the both of them. This would be about communicating and bonding in a way that they hadn’t done in quite a long time, if well--ever. That was something that truly scared the hell out of her. If all went well, then it should go fine, but if things went bad, well she would find herself off in worse shape than she started in. She was sure of it.

“Calm down,” she instructed to herself taking another look at the clock.

“Seven,” she mouthed wondering if Brant would be late--if he would decide that maybe tonight was too big for the both of them and he would back out.

Glancing at her reflection in the mirror, she took a long look at the flirty red dress she’d picked up in the shop across from the hotel right after he left. It wasn’t too dressy, yet it had a sexy flair to it with the golden material weaved through the red fabric. It came down just over her thighs, low enough to be considered decent, yet it was short enough for Brant to certainly notice her legs, which by the way were one thing she prided herself on. She had killer legs and if Brant was going to notice anything, then they would be at the top of the list. Of course the rest of the dress wasn’t so bad either, she thought to herself noting the tempting neckline and the thin straps that hung over her shoulder. Oh yeah Brant would notice and then he’d get to thinking about…

“Sex,” she blurted out with a small frown realizing that no matter how much she’d sworn she’d avoid it, the simple truth was that it was easy to fall into that position with Brant. What woman in her right mind wouldn’t want to be in that position with him especially after discovering just how very talented he was at that particular act? It was almost crazy not to want to get up close and personal with him in that particular way, yet when she thought about Kevin’s warnings urging her to think like a mature, responsible adult, she knew she had to at least try.

“It won’t be so bad,” she mouthed realizing it was now seven oh one and she found herself fearing that Brant had backed out on her. If he decided she wasn’t worth taking this chance on and he found something better to do, then…

Her thoughts came to an abrupt ending when she heard the first sounds of tapping on her hotel room door. She practically leapt out of her skin at the sound. Placing her hand over her abdomen, she breathed in slowly hoping to still the butterflies that were going to war inside of her.

“We can do this,” she mouthed thinking about what was really important beyond the here and now. Glancing down to her hand over her abdomen she tried to think about the future--about the children that would be a reality soon enough.

“I can do this,” Angela announced hoping to build up her own confidence, but she found herself worrying still. She could fake it though, she decided making a step towards the door. She hesitated momentarily before opening up the door to find…nothing.

“Brant?” she questioned tipping her head to the side, confusion sweeping over her upon discovering that the hallway was empty.

She took a small step forward wondering if he’d decided to turn around and leave. Fear swept down over her crashing like a thundercloud overhead, but before her worries could consume her, she spotted the single red rose that seemed to hover in the air in front of her. Her gaze dropped down to see the hand that was attached and soon her dark eyes followed the arm leading to the man that had been on her mind since they’d reencountered one another less than twenty four hours ago.

“Brant,” she smiled seeing that he had scrapped his casual clothing in the name of dressing up like he had been at the party the night before. Of course unlike the tuxedo he’d been in, this time he was in a dark colored suit that looked as if it was made for him and him alone. It seemed to make him look all the more sexier, like he’d stepped out of her dreams and into the hotel hallway.

“For you,” Brant explained holding the rose out to her once more. His smile expanded and Angela felt her heart melt despite the fact that she was trying to play tonight cool and even.

“Thank you,” she smiled in response accepting the flower from him, “It’s beautiful.”

“You’re what’s beautiful,” Brant mouthed noting her dress. He gave her a very complete once over before adding, “You get even more beautiful every time I see you.”

“Stop,” she waved her hand at him dismissively though secretly loving the genuine praise that seemed to fall from his lips.

“Is that really what you want me to do?” he challenged meeting her dark eyes once again, causing shivers to pour out over her body.

She shook her head in confession, “No, I don’t because if you did, then I’d be afraid of what would happen next. You’re very good with your words and that mouth of yours.”

“Well this mouth of mine has something else for you,” he confessed boldly taking a small step towards her. His arm curled around her waist, drawing her in nearer to him. Their lips collided in a yearning kiss. Despite the fact that it had only been a short time since they’d seen one another, the longing was growing ever more obvious by the second. Finally breathless Brant opted to step away from the kiss.

“We’d better put that on hold for a little while,” he mouthed in a small whisper, his fingers pressed in against the side of her face savoring the warmth of her skin against his touch. “I know I’m already late and I apologize for that. I had a little trouble with my ride at first…”

She caught the strange expression on his face and couldn’t help but ask, “Having problems with your car?”

“Not exactly,” he shook his head cryptically, “but we’ll get to that later. Ready to go?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be. Just let me get my purse,” she held her finger up in the air before spinning around to go back into her hotel room. She took one last look at her reflection, seeing the color that had poured over her face after that kiss he’d laid on her. She smiled before exiting her hotel room to see Brant leaning up against the wall in a casual, yet deliciously sexy stance. She stepped in closer to him loving the way his smile grew at the sight of her.

“Ready?” he held his arm out to her watching her nod.

“I’m all yours,” she explained excitedly hoping to mute her obvious enthusiasm.

“Just the way I like it,” he teased seeing the color spill out over her face even more as they stepped into the elevators. He watched her take a small step backwards leaning into the elevator walls a bit. “I have a surprise for you tonight.”

“I like surprises,” Angela confessed glancing around the close quarters of the elevator thinking about how easy it would be to push the stop button and ravish Brant right then and there. Hell, it would be one of the most incredible things she could think of right now to just pin him against the wall and…

“Later,” Brant reached for her hand as if he had found a way to read her thoughts. He raised her hand to his lips kissing it gently before winking at her, “We’ll have plenty of time for fantasies in the future.”

“Who said I was having any kind of fantasy?” she covered catching the disbelieving look on his face. “What? I was just thinking about my laundry I left upstairs. I have a lot of it and…”

“And thinking about laundry causes you to get that glazed over expression and you lick your lips at that kind of image?” he replied arching a doubtful brow.

“You’d be surprised how fun doing laundry is,” she lied knowing that he’d caught her in a moment of naughty contemplation.

“I’m sure,” he replied doubtful shaking his head at her, “I’ve never known laundry to be anything worth dreaming about.”

“That’s because you haven’t done it with me yet,” she winked at him flirting back in such a way that she noticed the color overtaking him. She took a small step towards him noticing the way his eyes carried over her as if trying to conjure up some kind of X-rated scenario for her doing laundry. Moving in closer she stood up on her toes to whisper warmly in his ear, “Oh yeah it’s as good as you’re imaging it could be.”

Before he could respond to her words the elevator doors opened and Angela took a step back. He watched her walk out of the elevators before shaking his head at her. Oh yeah she was trouble, he laughed lightly following her out into the lobby.

“You ready?” he offered her his arm once again.

“I thought we already covered this one,” Angela gave him a pointed look curling her arm in his, “but if you need me to clarify.”

“Right now all I need is for you to enjoy the night I have ahead of us,” Brant mouthed holding her closer to him, knowing full well that the eyes of those in the lobby were on them, but right now he simply didn’t care. All that mattered was what he had in store for the beautiful woman beside him.

“You keep saying that and I must admit I’m more than curious to find out what that entails,” she replied with a bright grin of her own. “So what’s up next Brant?”

“Why don’t you find out for yourself,” he suggested opening the door to the lobby for her and leading her out into the evening.

“What do you mean?” she asked looking to the horse drawn carriage before her. Her eyes widened as she noticed the coachman standing beside it. “Oh my. Who would do something like this?”

“Why don’t you go ask him?” he suggested detangling her arm in his.

“No, of course I’m not going to,” she shook her head at him, “Are you kidding?”

“Oh come on. It might be fun,” Brant teased as the man spotted the both of them.

“Ms. Meloni,” the man nodded opening the door to the carriage for her, “your ride awaits you.”

“My ride?” she repeated with a strange look before turning to Brant, “You didn’t!”

“I hope you don’t mind horses,” Brant replied with a small grin seeing the surprise that registered behind her eyes.

“Do I mind?” she repeated with a small laugh. She shook her head at him, “I am so far from minding considering that this is something that I always thought would be so romantic, yet never in a million years would happen.”

“Well I guess you’re wrong then,” Brant replied confidently taking her arm again, “Shall we?”

“Sure, why not,” she teased stepping up towards the carriage to let the man help her inside.

“Allow me,” Brant decided taking her hand and helping her into it before he took his place beside her hoping that tonight would be a night of many firsts between them.


Kevin looked at the isle in front of him pondering what sounded good on a night like tonight. He scanned over the junk food in front of him knowing full well that there was always time for junk food when you had nothing better to do. Okay so maybe he was in a moment of a slump wondering how Angela’s date with Brant was going while thinking about Ria and wishing like she was around. Tonight he had been hoping to spend some time with her, but now he needed to find something to keep himself busy. Visiting Seth was part of the plan, but right now he needed a good distraction.

Reaching for the bag of cheese puffs in front of him, Kevin thought that he’d made a good choice, but then remembering the one day that he and Ria were eating them with one another. They had a contest to see who could stuff more into their mouth and shamefully Ria had kicked his butt on that one.

“Ha, I told you I could do it Kevin,” he could hear her muffled, orange colored teeth chattering at him upon her impending victory. Even now he couldn’t help but laugh at the memory of her. She’d amused the hell out of him and now he’d give anything to find out where that bachelorette party was so that she could crash it and claim her for his next challenge.

“Which brings me to later,” Kevin mouthed to himself discarding the cheese puffs and opting to take another trip down a the aisle to the left.

There he spotted exactly what he was looking for. A bottle of strawberry syrup. He picked up one bottle, noticed they were on sale and opted to pick up five more thinking about how much he was going to enjoy tracking Ria down later to figure out where she was. Once he located her, he was certain he’d sweep her away from the party and to a more private party of their own.

“Oh yeah,” Kevin grinned widely, “I can’t forget these.”

Of course in getting this much syrup, Kevin knew full well that there was one more item on his shopping list that needed to be picked up. He carefully curled his arm around the bottles and made his way back towards the pharmacy ready to pick up another box of condoms and split, but before he was able to get what he needed he heard a voice reach out to him bringing all of his thoughts of a quick exit to a halt.

“Are we having a shortage of strawberry syrup in town,” Chris asked with a mild chuckle noting the protective hold Kevin had on the bottles in his arm. He motioned over to the box of condoms in Kevin’s hand, “I sure as hell hope you’re not buying all that for Angel because you’ll be highly disappointed if that’s what you’re hoping for from her.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but…” Kevin stopped himself thinking about the situation in front of him. He turned to look at Chris with a small glare before grumbling back at him, “On second thought it’s not any of your business, so I don’t even know why we’re having this conversation.”

Kevin started to walk off when Chris beckoned him once again with his words, “Because I know you’re still in love with her. In knowing that I’m sure that you will at least hear what I have to say. She’s in trouble.”

Kevin sighed heavily really not wanting to bother with talking to Chris, yet he felt compelled to hear what it was that Chris was ready to dish out. “What kind of trouble Chris?”

“The kind that involves her screwing up the rest of her life if we don’t find a way to stop that from happening,” Chris took a small step forward, a determined expression sweeping over his face. “I trust that you’ve heard the story about the man from the island and how he seduced her…”

“Get to the point Chris,” Kevin frowned with a heavy sigh, “I don’t have all night.”

“In saving your best friend I would hope that you’d have more than tonight to listen,” Chris shook his head at Kevin. “Angel is getting in over her head and she has no idea what kind of monster she’s getting herself wrapped up with.”

“And let me guess. You do, right?” Kevin eyed him suspiciously.

“As a matter of fact I do. Have you ever heard of,” Chris paused with heavy emphasis, “Brant Ashford?”

“Brant Ashford,” Kevin repeated giving Chris a long look, “Yeah as a matter of fact I have. He’s having a nice night with Angie as we speak.”

“What?” Chris’s jaw practically dropped. “Kevin, we can’t let that be happening. Do you have any idea what kind of creep he is? If we don’t find them right now and stop this date from happening, then…”

“Look Chris, I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s really none of your business. Hell it’s none of our business what’s going on and if Angie is happy, then why don’t you just leave it alone,” Kevin suggested turning away from him again.

“Leave it alone,” Chris balked back at him. “Kevin, do you have any idea what kind of jerk Brant is? He’s only going to use Angel up and hurt her just like he’s done with every other woman in his life. Do you know that he’s only using her? He was married to a woman who could’ve passed for her clone and…”

“I know Chris,” Kevin cut him off abruptly. “I know all about Brant and his history.”

“Then why aren’t you stopping this madness from taking place? Why aren’t you doing your job and protecting her from that loser?” Chris snapped further agitation weighing over him.

“So what? You can run in to try to bust a move on her again?” Kevin gave him a very complete once over before shaking his head. “I think I’ll take my chances on Brant there.”

“You’re a fool if you do. That man only has his self interest in mind and if he has the opportunity he is going to destroy her. I’ve known him a long time and he’s no good. He’s manipulative, vindictive, calculating and…”

“It sounds like her taste hasn’t improved over the years if that’s the case because that’s always what everyone said about you,” Kevin countered with a small frown. “Look Chris if you want my advice on this one, just back off. She’s happy and right now she doesn’t need you, me or anyone else giving her any slack about this.”

“What she needs is for the both of us to march to where they are and talk some sense into her. She’s going to ruin her life with Brant and…” Chris continued urgently.

“Look man in case you don’t get it, let me spell it out for you. She’s not in love with you. She never was and she’s not coming back. Regardless of what you thought was happening, Angie is her own person. She does what she wants when she wants and I’m sure that while the lines of friendship might’ve been blurred with the both of you, the fact to the matter is that she isn’t interested. She likes you as a friend, which is something I never could quite understand, but anything beyond that just isn’t happening. It‘s time to move on.”

“This isn’t about my moving on. It’s about one of my dearest friends making a mistake with her life. In fact if I didn’t know better, I would say that you’re the one who isn’t doing a good job at protecting her. If you were a real friend to her, then you’d see that Brant’s every bit as horrible as Cary was if not worse. He’s going to give her a chance to be happy when he worms his way into her life. He’s going to take her down and…” Chris continued in a rant.

“Look Chris, Angie has finally found someone who makes her happy--someone who can give her what it is she thinks she needs. If he’s what she wants, then I’m not about to take that away from her. I’ve spoken with Brant and I know where he stands on the issue. He’s not what you’re saying he is, but if you’d like to continue to spout off, well that’s your problem. I will warn you however if you even think about hurting Angie by trying to destroy what happiness she’s managed to find in her life, then you won’t have to worry about my going after Brant because I’ll be the one coming after you.,” Kevin warned him sharply, clutching his strawberry syrup in his arms, “Now do what’s best for all of us and leave it alone Chris.”

“I don’t believe this,” Chris threw his hands up in the air watching Kevin go over to the checkout counter. Clearly Kevin was blinded by Angel’s newfound love interest, but Chris wasn’t. In fact, he would find a way to put an end to things with or without Kevin’s help.

“If you’re not man enough to get things set straight again, then I guess it’s up to me,” Chris blurted out vowing that he’d see to it that Brant was out of Angela’s life even if it was the last thing he did.


“Hart can you get that?” Jenna questioned from the kitchen looking through a couple of the drawers for the ice-cream scoop that had seemingly gone missing. She shuffled around with the various things before speaking up again, “Hart?”

“Jen, I’m on the phone. The office called,” Hart explained after a slight hesitation.

“Fine,” she groaned pushing the drawer to a close before moving over to the front door and answering only to discover Douglas standing there with an oversized teddy bear in his arms. She tipped her head to the side finding herself slightly puzzled as he grinned down at her.

“I hope you still have time for your dear old dad,” Douglas held the bear out to her with another smile, “For you.”

“What are you doing here?” she frowned making no attempt to move from where she stood to take what he was offering. He lowered the bear and their eyes met.

“I heard about the baby,” Douglas confessed after a moment. “I know that you’re pregnant.”

“How?” she questioned wearily eyeing him with heavy scrutiny.

“Let’s just say that word gets around in this town,” Douglas offered up seeing her still refusing to offer him any opportunity to redeem himself. “I would’ve come over sooner, but I’m in the middle of production on a film that is way over budget and I’ve been out in Los Angeles the last few weeks on and off and…”

“And what? You thought you would pop in, bribe me with an expensive toy and I would just welcome you with open arms?” Jenna arched a speculative brow. “I can’t be bought Doug.”

“I understand that and that’s not what I’m trying to do,” he sighed a tiredness behind his eyes, “Jenna I know I messed up before…”

“Messing up would be forgetting a birthday or not remembering to write when you said you would. What you’ve been doing lately goes above and beyond that,” she folded her arms in front of her chest.

“I know and I’m sorry. I treated you poorly about the whole Thea thing and…” he started to apologize, a look of remorse pressing over him.

“I’m not just talking about Thea. I’m talking about everything. I mean here you are acting like you care and that you give a damn, but I’ve seen how far that extends to your children. I’ve seen JT and I know how you’ve tried to hurt Kipp, so for me to say that I would readily welcome you into my life knowing full well how you hurt people, well that would be completely out of character for me,” she explained with a tight scowl.

“And so would your shutting me out of your life,” he set the bear down on the floor in front of him, “Look Jenna I don’t expect for us to be best friends or for you to think I’m a great guy because we both know that simply isn’t the case. I know that I can’t just make up for all the years that we’ve been apart and while it wasn’t completely my fault, most of everything that’s happened recently is. I am well aware of the fact that you have every right in the world not to trust me and I can respect that, but I wish for your sake and mine that you would reconsider.”

“Why so that you can try to hurt this grandchild like you tried to do with Charles? Or how about when you stole Kipp from his mother when you were using him to manipulate everyone around you?” she tossed back at him with a stiff tone.

“I was just doing what I thought was best and when Kipp returned, well he’s done what he’s needed to do. I don’t know if your brother will ever truly be able to get over things that have happened and if he doesn’t, then I have to accept that as well. That was a complicated situation, but I will say that with you and I, I have truly always wanted to do what was right for you. I always wanted to find a way to help you have the best in this world. I mean that sincerely,” Douglas confessed with a heavy sigh, “but I know our relationship won’t come about over night and I respect that. I’ll give you time, but just think about the possibility of giving me a second chance before you completely write me out of your life. I do love you Jenna.”

“I know you think you do, but it’s your capabilities of love that I doubt,” she sighed heavily before motioning to the bear, “Thank you for the gift. I appreciate it.”

“I’m glad,” he cleared his throat before standing taller, “and I can see that maybe now isn’t a good time, but if you change your mind.”

“Doug I…” she started watching him reach into his pocket and extract a business card.

“My number in Los Angeles is on there as is my cell phone number and my office. Should you need anything--anything at all, you’ll know where to reach me,” he explained placing the card into her hand before she could refuse. “Please just think about what I said today.”

She opened her mouth in protest before finally nodding, “Okay. I’ll think about it.”

“I appreciate that,” Douglas nodded taking a step back. He gave her one last look before speaking up again, “I really do love you Jenna.”

“Good night Douglas,” Jenna replied closing the door behind him. She reached for the bear he’d left for her unborn child and wondered if it was at all possible for her to ever trust a man who had been a liar to most everyone in his life. Father or not there were so many questions she still had about him.

“Who was at the door honey?” Hart questioned walking out into the living room to see her holding the bear in her arms, “What’s that?”

“It’s nothing,” she sighed closing her eyes and pondering if it was at all possible for her to ever have a real relationship with her father. Knowing full well how she was pushing Hart to make amends with his father, she wondered if she could find it in her to do the same!


Trisha threw her hands up in the air angrily after sitting down on the curb realizing that she couldn’t just walk home right now and the limo wouldn’t be back for at least another half hour. This was truly turning out to be one of the worst nights of all time.

“Trisha,” she felt someone place their hand on her shoulder and she turned around to see Chase standing behind her with his pants now back on. “I’m glad your still here.”

“I wouldn’t be here if I had the choice,” she stood up pulling away from him after seeing him reach out for her again as she took a step forward pushing her hands into his bare chest. “I don’t want to talk to you Chase, just go back into that place with those other girls that all want a piece of you.”

“Trisha, you are kind of acting like a pain right now,” Chase let out a small sigh seeing her roll her eyes in response before walking over towards the wooded area to the right of them. “Trisha come on, don’t be stupid.”

“Don’t be stupid? You’re telling me not to be stupid?” Trisha threw her hands up in the air angrily before letting out an sharp breath. “You are telling me this when you were just in there stripping. Showing other women what I thought I was the only one that was seeing it.”

“Trisha, I can explain everything,” Chase fought with his words seeing her dark eyes staring into his as she flipped her hair back trying to take the time to listen. Sure, there were many ways that he could alter the story to make her less mad, but the only thing he knew he had to do was tell her the truth. “I came into town with nothing, my job had gone to shit when I came back to this town. I came here and got this job because the DJ job isn’t enough. I work that maybe like one night out of the week and this just gets me enough.”

“You use your body to earn money?” Trisha laughed seeing Chase eyeing her over carefully before nodding slowly. “So, how long have you been doing this? You’ve been with other women too I am assuming.”

“No,” Chase answered quickly not wanting her to think something of him that was never really true. He pushed back his blonde hair before shaking his head slowly. “I don’t know how to make you believe me Trisha. I did this before I met you and when I met you, you’re the one thing I like the most in this world. Don’t take the best thing that ever happened to me away.”

“If it goes away, it’s because you made it go away Chase,” she blurted out seeing Chase’s blue eyes staring into hers before she shook her head slowly. “I just can’t believe you. It’s like no matter what you did--I trusted you. You could have told me and I would have understood. I just can’t believe you didn’t tell me, that’s what hurts the most.”

“I know and I’m sorry. I made a mistake Trisha, but please don’t punish me for it,” Chase begged reaching out to grab her hands in his, his eyes trying to read hers. “Trisha, I don’t want to lose you.”

“I can’t do this right now Chase,” Trisha pulled away from him going to say something more before she was cut off by the own dryness in her throat. “I’m sorry.”

“Trisha,” Chase called out seeing her walking the lawn over towards the trees in the back. There he stood thinking about everything he had risked in just doing this job and he realized that no matter what kind of money this got him--it wasn’t worth it. Quickly he ran off after her grabbing her by the arm and turning her around to face him. “Trisha, I love you.”

“Chase,” she paused for a moment thinking about his words before feeling his hand press in over her cheek as he leaned down and pressed his lips in against hers, wrapping his arm around her waist gently and pulling her in closer to him. “What did you just say?”

“I said I loved you,” he answered truthfully speaking up in a small whisper as he saw her dark eyes staring out into his. Her hand slid in over his chest gently as he grabbed her hand in his. “I am willing to give everything up just for you. The reasoning of that is because I love you. I love you more than anyone I have ever loved and I can’t lose you.”

“Do you really love me?” she questioned almost in a stutter seeing him nod slowly and it made her pause not really knowing what to say. The words he said to her had her caught up in so much that she really couldn’t think of what to say next. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Just let me know what I can do to prove it to you Trisha,” Chase whispered reaching his index finger in underneath her chin, forcing her to look up at him. “Just say the words and I will do anything to prove to you that I love you.”


“I’ll be back in a half hour,” the officer stated opening the door for Diego before shutting it and then locking it up. The officer tapped on the window and motioned Diego to move in closer. “If you touch her or hurt in any way--you’re a dead man.”

“That’s great,” Diego let out a small sigh rolling his eyes at the officer’s comment before shaking his head slowly and hearing some movement behind him. “Barbara, what are you doing here now? It’s late and…”

“Diego,” Sarah smiled pulling off the dark haired wig as Diego turned around to face her letting out a small gasp. “I’m sorry, I really needed to talk to you and this was the only way.”

“Wait, what? You aren’t Barbara,” Diego pointed out with a small laugh reaching out to pick up the dark wig that Sarah had worn to get into the jail. “Why are you wearing this and what are you doing here?”

“I had to come talk to you,” Sarah told him in a small whisper before looking around and shrugging her shoulders. “I couldn’t come back looking like myself. Then someone would definitely notice who I was.”

“Why can’t you walk in like yourself?” Diego questioned setting the wig back down on the table before meeting Sarah’s dark gaze. “What do you want? You shouldn’t even be here without your soon to be husband anyways.”

“That’s why I am here,” Sarah took in a small breath knowing that the reason she had come here today was because she came to find out what Diego had told Kyle earlier. That was running through her mind all day and she needed to know. “I want to know what you told Kyle--did you tell him anything about us?”

“Of course that’s why you came here,” he groaned walking over towards one of the chairs, taking a seat and holding his hands up in the air. He held his arms up high before shaking his head slowly. “Nope, I didn’t tell good old Kyle Houston the truth about me and you. Are you happy about that now Sarah? Since you told the both of us you loved us, it makes things really confusing you know.”

“I never loved you,” Sarah blurted out seeing Diego look up at her with a hurt expression before shaking his head slowly and looking down towards the ground. “I was hurting because Kyle was pushing me away and that’s all you were. You were a break away Diego, that’s all you were.”

“It was more than that,” Diego whispered tightly feeling a muscle in his jaw tighten up before he cleared his throat and let out a small sigh. “You could be having his baby right now, but you could just as well be having mine. That itself shows that it was more than what you claiming it is.”

“Diego, get over it,” Sarah yelled seeing Diego stand up from his seat and stare out at her angrily. “I’m going to be with Kyle and I want to be with Kyle. Just get that through your brain, I don’t want you.”

“You know what, I don’t get you,” Diego replied back to her in a yell stepping in closer to her and cornering her into the corner. “You make me believe that Kyle is the worst guy in the world. You make me believe he abused you and that he was so horrible to you. I don’t believe that anymore Sarah, after what he did for me today--I could see in his eyes that he is nothing but a good guy looking out for the best in people. If what we did gets out then you ruined a good man’s life. He was in love with you and because of you, because of me--he is going to get his heart broken. Why are you doing this to the both of us? You like to play games don’t you? Games are just everything to you…”

“Diego,” Sarah whimpered her eyes filling up with tears seeing him yelling at her like this as she lowered her head hearing him let out a small sigh. His arms wrapped around her as he kissed her forehead gently. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get you mad. I am just a big jerk and I am sorry for everything I have done to you. I know you would have never hurt Cori or anyone else.”

“You don’t have to apologize,” Diego hushed resting his chin on the top of her head as he held her in his arms tightly. “I love you so much Sarah and I could never be mad at you.”

“I will help you get out of here Diego because I care about you too,” Sarah whispered tipping up on her toes and pressing a small kiss against Diego’s lips. Diego’s hand slid in over the small of her back as she leaned up to kiss him against, leaning him back and pushing him down against the top of the table. “I care about you so much.”

“What about Kyle?” Diego whispered feeling her get in over him as he reached up to push her hair back gently. “He’s your fiancé Sarah, I can’t do this.”

“What Kyle doesn’t know,” Sarah leaned forward nibbling at Diego’s bottom lip gently before running her hands through his thick dark hair, “won’t hurt him.”


“Um we were just…” Heather gulped feeling as if her face was about to explode from the heat that had just consumed her. She hadn’t been serious when she was playing around with Kyle or had she? She knew that they liked to play games with one another yet…”

“Just what?” Kellen questioned eyeing the both of them with an introspective eye.

“Talking about security,” Kyle broke out finding his voice now that Kellen had walked in and probably saved him from doing something that he and Heather would probably wish they hadn’t done with each other. Okay, so maybe he wouldn’t have gone that far with her, but with their flirting, he knew damned well he’d wanted to. He glanced over at her wondering if she wanted to do the same. He’d thought so, but now, well she’d rushed behind the curtain so fast he couldn’t tell.

“Security huh?” Kellen eyed Kyle with even more scrutiny, “Hmm, well I hope you brought plenty of protection with your arrival Kyle because I’m sure a guy like you is going to need it in being around here all the time. You and Heather should know safety first. It makes things run much more smoothly, more fluid and exciting I say.”

“And I say give me that shirt Kellen or you’re out of here,” Heather spat out trying to keep her voice calm now that her heart was hammering in her chest. She’d tried to convince herself she was playing a game, but now all she could think about was how she could’ve sworn Kyle was going to kiss her. How it felt for him to put his arm around her and…

“How about I let Kyle take it over to you,” Kellen suggested tossing the shirt over to Kyle before depositing the rest of the clothing on a small sofa on the other side of the room. “I’ll give you two a few minutes alone because I forgot to tell Kipp something. I’ll be back.”

“Kellen,” both Kyle and Heather squealed out hearing his retreat.

Kyle looked down to the shirt in his hand wondering if he could find the strength to face Heather now that he’d made a complete ass of himself. Oh well, he thought to himself. It’s best to get this done and over with now rather than later. Drawing in a long, slow breath in an attempt to calm his still racing pulse Kyle held the shirt up and walked over to the area where Heather was.

“Here you are,” he held his arm out, not bothering to take a look at her from behind the curtain for fear of what might come of the simple action, which was proving to be anything, but simple at this point.

“Thank you,” Heather replied quickly her hand snatching it from his in one, swift movement, “So what were you saying before?”

“You mean just now,” Kyle couldn’t help but ask thinking about how he’d almost crossed a very dangerous line with her--one that would compromise everything they had between them and with the rest of the world.

“You mentioned that you had something going on with a friend,” she started in an attempt to be casual for the moment. “What’s going on?”

“It’s Diego,” Kyle found the distraction that she’d opened the floor with and he was about to hold onto it. “He’s in jail.”

“What?” Heather popped her head out from behind the curtain, surprise in her green eyes, “Why?”

“Cori was all banged up and she claims Diego knocked her around,” Kyle sighed thinking about the thing that had monopolized his day. He let out a breath feeling the sexual tension that had been eating away at him moments earlier transcend into his worries for his friend. “She went to Rob Leveski, who in turn kicked the crap out of Diego and now he’s in jail because Cori is pressing charges against him.”

“Well she’s lying,” Heather decided popping out from behind the curtain this time dressed in the white, button down shirt Kellen had provided her with. “Diego wouldn’t hurt someone like that. It’s not in his nature.”

“I know that and you know that, but since she’s the police chief’s sister, he’s in a bit of a bind,” Kyle explained trying to ignore the way she still effected him even with the shirt on. He couldn’t help but admit she was still very sexy, but rather than dwell on it, he took a step back and thought about Diego’s situation. “Grady’s working on getting him out of there, but he won’t be up for bail until at least the morning and…”

“Poor Diego,” Heather sighed shaking her head at the thought, “I knew Cori was trouble, but man, who would have thought she’d do something like this? I mean Diego may be a lot of things, but he’s not violent. If anything, he’s the extreme opposite.”

“Yeah well Cori isn’t changing her story so for now he’s in a bit of a bind, but we’re working on it, which was why I was late getting here,” Kyle began with another apology beginning.

“Kyle, it’s okay. I completely understand,” Heather waved her hand at him dismissively, “You can take all the time you need to help him and if you need anything, anything at all I’ll be more than happy to help if I can.”

“I didn’t expect anything less than that from you,” he smiled down at her thinking about how far from what everyone thought Heather was she actually could be. Sure, she had her moments, but when it came down to it she had a lot of heart.

“Well, Diego’s been a good friend to me and I would be more than happy to help out if I can,” Heather added with a half smile looking up at him before turning her eyes away for a moment fearing that she would reveal too much about how what they’d just played around with had truly effected her.

“Yeah, I mean I know how you feel about him,” Kyle noted remembering Heather’s feelings for Diego. Immediately a surge of jealousy poured over him--jealousy that he knew he had no right to have, but suddenly he realized that despite the fact that Diego was his pal, he was someone that Kyle didn’t want near Heather not when he wanted Heather for… “No.”

“No?” Heather repeated giving him a strange look. “No what?”

“Huh?” Kyle questioned realizing his thoughts had slipped from his mouth. “I mean…I don’t know. I guess I was just thinking about what Cori is doing and how you’ve been there for Diego and…”

“He’s my friend,” Heather paused wondering how much she should say to Kyle, “but that’s all. I mean yeah I was kind of hoping for something more, but I guess I was just fooling myself to think that it would actually happen. Diego and I aren’t…”

“Yeah,” Kyle nodded fighting to hide his relief over the situation, “you kind of mentioned that last night.”

“Yeah, um about last night,” Heather cleared her throat uneasily, “I guess we kind of well, rather I kind of made an ass of myself there and I should apologize. I was a bit drunk and feeling a little under the weather and…”

“I promised I would take you home,” Kyle frowned thinking about how he’d left her at the party, “I’m sorry that I didn’t…”

“Kellen took care of me,” she piped in quickly offering him an easy out. “He reminded me that Charles was feeling a bit under the weather and I guess it just hit me too with all of my drinking and…well, never mind, but regardless I just wanted to say I was sorry. You know…for making an ass of myself there.”

“Don’t be,” Kyle shook his head dismissing her words before she could finish saying them, “because I’m not.”

“What?” she asked blankly her green eyes filling with a sudden curiosity at what he’d said to her.

“I’m not sorry about any of it Heather. Even now I’m not sorry about any of what went on before,” Kyle continued causing her heart to hammer in her chest. He took a small step towards her only adding fuel to the fire that was threatening to engulf her. She watched him hold his hand out as if he was going to touch her again, but instead he dropped his hand into his pocket and smiled. “I mean hey we do stuff like that all the time. It was just a little teasing between friends, right?”

“Yeah friends,” she nodded feeling as if someone had kicked her in the stomach upon that admission.

After all how often did she want to tear all of her friend’s clothes off and ravish him then and there? How many times had she found herself wanting to have hot, wild sex with a friend again and again? It just didn’t seem to fit into the definition, yet Kyle was about to marry her sister, whom she had to remind herself was always his first and only choice. Therefore, why had she thought that he would ever want to leap out of the friend zone with her and into the wild and reckless side of being lovers.

Okay, so maybe they’d come really damned close to making love in the past…so close that a lot of what had happened between them was still haunting her, but when it got down to it, Kyle wanted Sarah. Sarah was the girl he’d waited forever for and if Heather wasn’t so hard up for attention, she would see that she too was only testing the waters on something that was going nowhere. If Kellen hadn’t kept drilling it into her head that Kyle was some kind of something special that she was destined for, then maybe she wouldn’t have practically pounced on him before. She would have just left him be and…

“Hey Heather,” Kyle waved his hand out in front of her face clearly trying to get her attention after her thoughts had gotten the best of her.

“Sorry,” Heather blinked back at him trying to focus. “Look, Kellen and I are about to meet with a photographer in the photo lab area. I have this shoot planned and…well if you’d like to come along, I’m sure I can grab Sonny--the man who is putting in the security system and you two can talk.”

“Sure,” Kyle nodded quickly, “That sounds fine. I can tell him what we need around here then.”

“Okay that sounds good,” she reached out for a robe she had hanging on one of the racks and slid it around her shoulders feeling more vulnerable now than when she was naked in front of him. She tied it in front of her waist before curling her finger at him in the hopes of having him follow. “It’s just this way.”

“Right,” Kyle nodded holding his arm out to wave for her to go first, “After you.”

“Okay,” she nodded stepping out of the room with him right behind her at her heels.

Once they were halfway down the hallway, Kellen popped out from where he’d been hiding listening to the whole exchange with thoughts racing through his mind. He’d heard what they said, but more so he saw what they didn’t convey to one another in their conversation.

“Friends my butt,” Kellen blurted out seeing Kyle and Heather walk over to the elevators. Sure, they might be trying to fool themselves now, but Kellen couldn’t and wouldn’t be fooled. He knew full well that they were two people in front of him that clearly were meant to find something with one another even if they were too stubborn to see it. While they were writing one another off as an impossibility, he knew full well they were entirely possible and now Kellen was about to make it his personal mission to prove it to them one way or another!


Avery stepped out into the living room half expecting to find Grady and Russ chatting away in another one of their less than meaningful conversations about sports that the both of them thrived on having with one another. However, as Avery looked around, she realized that the room wasn’t filled with the same voices that had always grown so animated, but rather she was surrounded by darkness.

Well not entirely given that she caught the first glimpse of faint, flickering candlelight from the corner of her eye. She turned towards the source seeing another flame go up to reveal Russ standing behind it with a pack of matches eyeing her with a warmth that caused her to grow weak in the knees. Straining to keep her composure she issued him a small, casual smile despite the fact that her insides were melting at the sexiness of the moment now that he stood before her in his half opened button down shirt.

“Where’s Grady,” she couldn’t help but ask making a small move towards him.

“He decided he had other more important places to be at,” Russell confided mimicking her movement and making his way towards her. “I didn’t think that you would mind our spending a little time alone with one another after he left.”

“Of course I wouldn’t, but…” she stopped herself realizing just how long it had been since she and Russ had truly been able to share a night alone with one another--one that wasn’t bogged down by chaos or distractions. She continued to ease her way towards him, “Erin’s asleep. I think she got worn out in all of the excitement.”

“I can’t say I blame her,” Russ noted with a small smile, “We’ve had a very busy day.”

She nodded in agreement, “There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of those lately, now does there?”

“Not at all,” he replied reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “Although I can think of something that we’ve had far too little of.”

“Oh yeah,” her dark eyes sparkled up at him with a bit of curiosity, a bit of understanding as well, “What’s that?”

“This,” he mouthed dipping down to cup her face in his hands. His lips glided in over hers readily, taking the time to savor the familiar sweetness of her now that they finally had a quiet moment with one another. His palm pressed in over her hip, cupping it gently before drawing her in nearer to him.

“Hmm, it has been too long,” her words buzzed in against his lips. She tipped her head up to gaze into his sensational green eyes thinking about how many nights she’d believed that they would never have the opportunity to be with one another again. She thought back to how she’d feared that she would never be able to do this again--to never be near him. “Russ, I’ve missed you so much.”

“I’ve missed you too,” he admitted thinking about the plans he’d had for her. He squeezed her in his arms before smiling down at her. “Which is why I thought that tonight was the perfect time for us to start making up for lost time--say with dinner.”

“Dinner,” her eyes perked up at the thought. “You want us to go make dinner?”

“It’s already done,” he explained proudly stepping aside and motioning to the various cartons of Chinese food that was set up on the center of the coffee table. “I hope that you’re feeling up to Chinese.”

“I’m always feeling up to Chinese when you’re around,” she confessed thinking about the last time they’d shared the meal with one another. Remembering the passion that they’d experienced on that particular night she felt her face grow hot with anticipation.

“I’m glad to hear it,” he stepped aside taking her hand in his. He lead her over to the table area before motioning for her to take a seat on the sofa. “Let me just grab a couple of things and then we can…”

“Wait,” she held onto his hand longer than she’d intended, yet she couldn’t resist the urge to touch him. “Before we have dinner, there’s something else that I want to do.”

“What’s that?” he questioned turning to face her with a small smile.

“I want you to dance with me,” she decided motioning over to the radio, “I think that last time we truly did that, not counting last night of course was at our wedding. I was kind of hoping that maybe we could do that again tonight.”

“Right now?” he arched a curious brow seeing her nod.

“Right here,” she explained curling her arms around his muscled torso, “Russ, I just want to feel you beside me, against me, holding me tight.”

“Then how can I refuse,” he questioned keeping her in his arms as they danced with one another hoping to savor some quiet time that had been far and few for them over the last couple of weeks. It would seem that now life was back on track again and well on the road to being perfect. Hopefully.


Deana walked out into her living room thinking about finally putting the day to rest. Her morning had certainly been filled with ups and downs, but now all she could think about was warming up a mug of hot tea and winding down. Maybe there would be a good program on television or one of those trashy telenovels that she’d found herself wrapped up in on more than one occasion. She reached for the television remote and flipped through the channels opting to check out the previously mentioned telenovels in the hopes that something entertaining would be on.

“Oh Philip,” she heard the woman on the television gasp with a heaving breath throwing herself into the ‘muscle bound bronzed had to have stepped out of a magazine’ man before her. Without another word the two were wrapped up in a sinfully delicious embrace no doubt giving way to the passion that was yearning to explode between them. Deana watched Philip seize the woman in front of him, pulling her up in an earth-shattering motion before carrying her to the winding staircase. All the while hearing the woman in his arms continued to pant his name in between heaving breaths.

“She’s going to give herself a heart attack before she gets into bed,” Deana laughed realizing how pathetic it was to get wound up in watching one of these tacky shows issued up for entertainment. It was truly sickening to watch on some levels, but at the same time it just reminded her that someone out there was getting more action than she was, which now sounded truly pathetic.

With a groan she reached for the remote again and opted to watch the home shopping network. They were selling some kitchen cutlery set and while it was of little to no interest to her, she realized that maybe just maybe it would be the key to boring her just enough to knock her out for a good night’s sleep. She shook her head thinking about how boring she’d become at such a young age if the home shopping channel was her entertainment of choice, but at this time of night in being a single parent it would seem her options were limited.

“But your taste buds aren’t,” she mouthed to herself getting up to retrieve that mug of tea she’d been thinking about earlier, but before she could get to the kitchen she heard a knock on her apartment door.

Stopping mid-movement, she wondered if she’d paid Jackie for watching Zane earlier. She’d been so scatterbrained that she couldn’t remember, but considering that she hadn’t been expecting any other company, she was convinced that she’d no doubt find Jackie on the other side of the door. She walked over to open it surprised to see Grady standing before her.

“You’re not Jackie,” she said to him with a curious expression, giving him a long once over.

“Thank heaven for that one, eh?” Grady winked at her, catching her off guard with a warm grin. “Because if I was Jackie, then I wouldn’t be able to do this.”

“Do what?” she questioned feeling him pull her into his arms and kiss her like he had no intention of ever stopping.

Feeling a bit winded, she sank into his arms latching her arms around his powerful shoulders. She could feel the muscled contours of his body burning beneath her touch. His lips tasted like fire and she found herself desperate to burn from his touch--to be as cheesy as the woman on the television screen crying out in exquisite agony for her beloved Philip to just take her then and there. It was all too perfect--that is until he pulled away tentatively.

“Hey,” he smiled at her, his voice coming out in a ragged breath, “Can I come inside?”

“You can come anywhere you want to,” she replied knowing that she’d invite him in anywhere as long as he kept kissing her like that. However, when she noticed the expression on his face, she quickly corrected herself. “I mean sure. Come on in.”

“Look I know it’s kind of late,” he began walking into her living room and watching her close the door behind his arrival. “I know I should have called first, but…”

“It’s okay,” she leaned back against the door trying to still the furious pounding of her heart. Oh how she longed for him to kiss her like that again. If he would only take the initiative and… “I was just watching some television.”

“I see,” he glanced over to the television where they were now trying to sell some kind of vacuum cleaner that cut hair and also helped you do the dishes. He turned his attention back to Deana, “Looks interesting.”

“Yeah well it beats Sponge Bob,” she mouthed stepping towards the kitchen. “I was just going to get myself some tea. You interested?”

“Of course I am,” Grady followed, his gaze sweeping in over her curves appreciatively. He stood still for a moment, his eyes fixed on her thinking about why he’d come over in the first place. Now that she stood in the middle of her kitchen in an oversized button down shirt and jogging pants with her hair tied loosely in a scrunchy he couldn’t help but think about how sexy she was even when she was dressed down. Clearing his throat he spoke up again, “So is Zane sleeping?”

She nodded glancing over her shoulder at him, “Yeah, he was coloring and then before I knew it, he was out. I tried to wake him up to take him to bed, but he wouldn’t budge. I wound up carrying him into his bedroom.”

“Sounds like he had a busy day,” Grady noted watching her pull the tea out of one of the cabinets.

“What would you like? Green tea? Peppermint?” she started to ask moving to turn around and face him again when she felt the firm grip of his hands on her hips. His lips moved in over the back of her neck causing her to cry out in a desperate groan. She arched into him pushing into his solid strength and feeling his eager form against hers.

“How about you?” he questioned spinning her in his arms much to her delight.

Their mouths met in a hungry unison, the obvious longing pouring out over them. She threw her arms around him feeling him push her up onto the countertop in a moment of sheer lust. She wrapped her legs around his waist pulling him in closer to her, needing to feel him beside her.

“Oh yes, it has been far too long,” Deana thought to herself peeling away at his sweater. She curled her fingers underneath the bottom of it, wrenching it up over his muscled torso, over his shoulders with an urgency that made no mistaking that she was definitely interested in what he’d laid out on the table for them. Or was it the counter? Either way his shirt hit the floor with an unmatched force.

“I know this is fast, but…” Grady muttered in between kisses his fingers fumbling with the buttons on her shirt, struggling to get them open while his lips deposited kisses over her creamy soft skin.

“There’s something to be said about fast,” she confessed with a soft groan, her nails raking over his shoulders before her fingers tangled into his hair. She urged his eyes back to hers again before moving in towards his mouth greedily, “I like it fast sometimes.”

“Works for me,” he shrugged squeezing his arms around her possessively, feeling her wrap her legs around him tightly. He groaned inwardly, “though something tells me I’m going to want to take all the time in the world with you tonight.”

“We’ll work on that later, but right now we have to get in what we can,” she explained in a muted voice, her fingers quickly plucking open his belt, moving to the zipper on his pants ready to see just what had come up between them when a soft sound rose from the other side of the room.

“Mom,” Zane questioned in a sleepy state rubbing his eyes with one hand while holding his best friend Bart the teddy bear in another.

“Zane,” she gasped immediately letting go of Grady. Panic swept over her as she pushed Grady aside and leapt off of the counter to go speak with her son. She rushed over to him, “Honey, what’s wrong?”

“I’m thirsty,” Zane yawned his eyes still heavy and exhausted. “I wanted some water.”

“Of course,” Deana nodded knowing that she would have a lot of explaining to do about Grady being over and being half dressed at that. However, her son seemed anything, but bothered by it as he walked further into the kitchen.

“Hi Grady,” he waved with a small yawn.

“Hey buddy,” Grady smiled down at the small boy reaching down to scoop him into his arms as if Zane hadn’t just walked in on a very grown up moment. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing much. I was just sleeping, but it was too boring,” Zane explained his dark eyes on Grady. “I wanted a drink.”

“Hmm, well I’m sure we can arrange that one,” Grady glanced over at Deana who was now over at the faucet filling a cup of water for her son.

“Here you are,” Deana handed her son the cup which he promptly gulped down. He wiped at his lips before holding it out to her.

“Again,” he pleaded with a small sigh. “I’m still thirsty.”

“Sure,” Deana nodded returning to the sink again, “but not too much more.”

“Fine,” Zane sighed heavily looking over to Grady. “So what are you doing here? Are you having a sleep over with my mom?”

“Well we um…” Grady felt himself at a loss. He glanced over at Deana, who also appeared to be a bit uncomfortable about them being caught by her son. “I just thought I’d see how she was doing. She looked like she could use some company.”

“Yeah she could,” Zane nodded again, “My mom never has anyone sleep over. She should be able to have slumber parties like I do.”

“Mommy doesn’t have time for slumber parties,” Deana added handing her son his drink, “Just like you don’t have time to stay up all night.”

“Oh come on mom. Why not?” Zane wrinkled his nose at her. “Grady doesn’t come over all the time and now that he’s here, I want to hang out with him. Can’t I just stay up a little longer?”

“Yeah mom, can’t he stay up a little longer,” Grady added playing into the situation with Zane.

“What is this?” Deana shook her head at the both of them. “Are you double teaming on me?”

“Just this once. Besides, I think it’ll be good for us having Zane around,” Grady added taking in a small breath. “It’ll keep things in perspective.”

“Right,” she nodded realizing that if Zane hadn’t awakened she would’ve done something with Grady that she wasn’t entirely sure they were ready for. Okay, so maybe she’d been ready for something like this for months, but there were so many things that happened after sex that she wasn’t sure she was ready to face. Maybe Zane waking up was a blessing in disguise for them. “Okay, you can stay up a little while, but not too long.”

“Great,” Zane cheered eyeing Grady excitedly, “I have the coolest new toy I want to show you.”

“Then lead the way little man,” Grady set Zane back down feeling Zane tug on his arm to follow. Grady looked to Deana one last time before leaving the room as they both began to wonder if they had been doing the right thing in giving in to the moment earlier. However, now that Zane was awake it wasn’t worth dwelling on…at least not yet.


“I can’t believe you pulled all of this together,” Angela confessed snuggling in closer to Brant in the back of the carriage while they rode through town with one another. She tipped her head up to see his dark eyes fixed on hers and she couldn’t help but question him further. “How did you pull this one off?”

“I have my ways,” he admitted with a small smile of his own. He reached out to tease his finger over a tiny, dark curl at the side of her face, “I can make things happen when the mood strikes.”

“Is that right?” she replied curiously, “So you’d say you’re a bit of a mover and a shaker here in town, huh?”

“I have a little bit of influence,” he nodded in confession, “but regardless of that influence I like to think of myself as an average kind of guy.”

“I’d hardly consider you average,” she replied honestly sitting up a bit straighter to look at him fully, “You’re about as far from average as a man can get.”

“Well thank you,” he couldn’t help but keep his gaze fixed on her, “I happen to think you’re quite extraordinary yourself.”

“All this flattery,” she laughed lightly tipping her head back ever so slightly, “and here I thought that we were supposed to engage in real conversations with one another.”

“I thought this was a real conversation,” Brant noted with a curious expression, “Besides how many times can you say that a first date started off in the back of one of these.”

“Hmm, well counting this particular experience, I would have to say, well…” she paused with extra emphasis before speaking up, “Only one other time.”

“One other time?” he arched a curious brow, “And here I thought that I would be your first.”

“Well it depends on what your definition of first is,” she leaned in closer to him unable to resist the urge to steal a small kiss from him. “I mean if you are thinking first in terms of actually being here myself in a situation like this, well then this more than qualifies, but there was one other time when I felt like a princess in a carriage. Of course I was six at the time and my date was my buddy bear and my father was the one pulling us along. Actually it was really more of a wagon, but still it felt like a horse drawn carriage to me at the time. I really felt like a princess that day.”

“It sounds like a beautiful memory,” he reached out to touch the side of her face gently. “And for the record you still are a princess in my eyes.”

“I thought I was a sex goddess,” she flirted tipping her head into his touch.

“Well in that case, if you want to be technical I’d have to say I’m a bit of a sex god myself here,” he winked down at her feeling her palm flatten out over the center of his chest beneath the lapel of his jacket. “But we’ll get back to that later.”

“We can get back to that now if you like,” she suggested with a sparkle behind her eyes and a hint of mischief in her voice.

“Oh I’d like to, but…” he felt the ride come to an end, “We’re here.”

“Already,” she curled her lip in a pout hating to have the moment ending between them. She sat up straighter taking a look out at the night beyond where they were seated with one another. To the left of her all she saw was water and the stars. Curiously she eyed Brant once again. “Where are we?”

“You’ll soon find out,” he replied cryptically once the door to the carriage opened. He stepped out into the night leaving her with a great many questions until his hand reached inside for her once more.

“Right this way to your answers,” he promised helping her out of the carriage to reveal the night before them. Just beyond where they stood she could see a faint flickering light on the center of the beach. She descended from the last step feeling Brant pull her into his arms, over against the strength of his warm chest.

“Of course I don’t think we’ll be needing these,” he motioned to the high heeled shoes she was wearing. Lifting her into his arms, he carried her over to one of the empty chairs near the sidewalk. He set her down before moving to his knees and taking her shoes off of her one by one.

She closed her eyes feeling the softness of his touch over the heel of her foot before a chill swept over her. She reopened her eyes to see him seated on a chair across from her removing his own shoes. He carefully pulled them off and rose to his feet to offer her his hand.

“Thank you,” she readily accepted feeling him ease her up off of the chair. She took another look around turning towards the water, “This place is beautiful. I love the water.”

“I kind of figured considering that we kind of met on the water there,” he whispered warmly in the back of her ear, wrapping his arms around her waist to hold her in against him.

“We did, didn’t we,” she couldn’t help but smile thinking back to their first meeting. “Of course things also ended badly for us near the water as well.”

“How about we work on bringing a remedy for that tonight,” he suggested guiding her over to the sanded area. “I warn you now you might get a little bit dirty in the journey.”

“Hmm, now that’s a concept,” she murmured a wicked tone in her words, “Getting dirty with you. I don‘t know. It might prove to be fun.”

“I’m always fun honey,” he promised with a small laugh of his own leading her over to the small gazebo area over by the yacht club. While it was usually ignored this time of year, right about now it was lit up with soft white and blue lights adding to the air of romance he’d worked hard to create. He could hear the soft music of the violinist playing for them just beyond the gazebo and as he felt Angela melt into the embrace he had over her, he could see that she was pleasantly surprised.

Guiding her up over the steps he revealed the rest of his surprise to her by giving her a glimpse of the candlelit table for two that was waiting for them. He felt a breeze pass over him, but it paled in comparison to the warmth of her in his arms. She stopped moving long enough to take in the scene before her.

“I can’t believe that you did all of this,” she mouthed tipping her head back to look at him.

“I told you that tonight would be unforgettable,” he confessed in a small whisper leaning down to kiss her chastely before stepping aside. “I hope you’re hungry.”

“Actually I am,” she revealed watching him pull a chair out for her. She nodded and moved over to take a seat.

Once he helped her in, she watched him circle around the table to join her. His dark eyes seemed to sparkle as the warmth of the candlelight filled his face with a soft shadowy glow. If she’d ever believed Brant to be sexy before, it was nothing like what she saw before her in this particular moment. He’d put a lot of effort into making tonight special and it was showing.

The music softened a bit as she watched him, or was that just the way that he seemed to carry over the moment making her want to know more about the mystery he presented. He reached across the table taking her hand in his. It was a simple gesture, yet it had her burning with anticipation, thinking about all the other ways in which he could be touching her--in which she could be touching him. That was all it took to begin the downward spiral for her. She had to face the facts. She was an addict in need of a fix and with her object of obsession right in front of her eyes teasing her unintentionally she realized just how bad she had it.

“Hungry?” he asked innocently enough, his brown eyes flickering with the soft glow of the moonlight overhead.

She nodded readily her thoughts far from the meal in front of her, “I’m famished.”

“Well in that case, perhaps I should get to the main course,” he pulled his hand away from hers giving her a moment of yearning at the distance between them. She watched him reach for the lid on one of the trays in front of her and much to her surprise she saw the meal before her.

“Cheeseburgers?” she replied with wide eyes seeing the double stacked, loaded burgers complete with American fries in front of her. Her gaze shot back to Brant curiously.

“You said that this was what you were craving earlier and I figured if you wanted it that bad, well who was I to keep that from happening?” he winked at her, seeing the way the thought behind his gesture seemed to touch her.

“I…I don’t know what to say,” she blinked back, her gaze returning to the cheeseburger once again. “I mean I know that’s what I said I wanted, but…”

“Was I wrong to do this?” he frowned worry creasing his brow. “Because if you were really expecting an Italian meal, I can make a phone call and…”

“No,” she cut him off shaking her head abruptly. Unable to help herself she brought her hand up over her chest feeling a lump forming in the back of her throat. Before she knew it, her eyes were fighting off tears she hadn’t been aware were lurking.

“Angela, did I do something wrong?” he questioned worry weighing in over him. “I mean if this isn’t what you want I can easily remedy this. I just thought that since you asked for this and it was your first request, that maybe you were still wanting it. I didn’t want to settle for what you thought you had to have to fit the mood we were going for.”

He stood up bringing the lid over the tray once again shaking his head at the foolishness behind his idea. He reached for the tray apologetically, “I’m sorry. This was a mistake.”

“No,” she blurted out bringing her hand over his. She moved to her feet stepping in closer to him. “Brant it’s not a mistake at all. In fact, it’s everything that I do want. You knew what I needed and…”

“And I’ve upset you,” he felt her fingers over his causing a warmth to radiate between them.

“No, that’s just it,” she brought her free hand up to her face trying to push away the sudden emotions that carried over her, “I love it. I love what you’re trying to do for me.”

“But…” he started unable to resist the urge to reach out to her. His thumb pressed in against her face, wiping at a tear that slipped past her eye. “I mean you’re crying and…”

“I’m touched,” she cut him off knowing how ridiculous she had to look right about now standing before him sobbing like an idiot. “I mean here you are trying to do something wonderful for me--something based on what I told you I wanted. You gave me exactly what I’d asked for and…”

“And it upset you,” he noted feeling her reach out to him, bringing her hand over his arm gently.

“Only because it makes me realize that you’re already so in tune with me, yet I have so much to learn about you,” she replied bringing her fingers up over the left side of his face, “Like what it is that keeps the fire burning behind those beautiful brown eyes. What it is that you think about when you go to sleep at night or when you wake up in the morning ready to start a new day. I want to know what it is that you love, what frightens you and where it is you see yourself in the future.”

“That’s easy,” he stepped in closer to her, a sudden tenderness in his tone, “When I go to bed at night, I find myself eagerly anticipating the thought of having a dream of you. When I wake up, I wonder why that dream couldn’t have lasted longer than it did for me. I honestly don’t have the first clue where I’ll be in the future and I’ll admit that scares me. Every time I think I have an idea on how it’s going to go, life throws me a curve ball. As for my fears…”

He paused searching her eyes, dropping his hands down to cup her face in his hands, “I’m afraid that I’m going to wake up and this is all going to go away--that somehow I’ve just created this all in my mind and I’ll lose you all over again.”

“Brant…” she spoke his name, her word falling from her lips with a shivering exhale.

“And even though I know it’s probably too soon in the game to be saying this, the fact to the matter is that the one thing I love--the thing that I’m sure I need more in this world is this moment with you,” he mouthed raw emotion evident in his voice. “I’ll be the first one to tell you that most of the time I can be damn near impossible to get along with. I’m stubborn, reckless and I make impulsive moves, but when it gets down to it, my family means everything to me. I’ve spent my life trying to hide from that fact, but when I love, I don’t take that lightly.”

“Neither do I,” she replied feeling a moment of honest overtake her. “Though I’ll have to be honest and tell you that while I love being in love I suck at it. I’m a horrible girlfriend and it’s not because I don’t try. No I take that back. I don’t try hard enough. I have these wonderful amazing people who come into my life, but I just can’t let them get close to me. After my father died I got worse in doing that. I just stopped giving anyone a chance. I thought it was easier to close my heart off and not let anyone in. Hell, it was what I thought I could spend the rest of my life doing, but then…”

“Then?” he replied searching her eyes for a long moment.

“Then I met you,” she blurted out with a heavy sigh. “I wasn’t looking for anything. Hell, I wanted to be miserable. I wanted to spend Christmas beating myself up for all of the things that had happened in my life. I stopped believing that I was someone capable of love and I started thinking that if someone loved me--really, really loved me that they would only wind up miserable and hurt. It’s been that way all of my life from my mother to my daughter…”

“Daughter,” Brant repeated with a curious expression.

She nodded once more, “When I was younger, much younger I was pregnant. Things in my life were chaotic and I got caught up in the moment--in the whirlwind that my life became and that’s when I lost her. She died on Christmas…”

“Oh Angela,” Brant’s face shifted with concern, his fingers sliding into her hair gently, “I’m so sorry.”

“So am I,” she sniffled tipping her head up to see the way he was watching her. “At the time I just convinced myself that it was something that wasn’t meant to be--that there was a reason I lost her. I figured it was because I was a horrible person--that I didn’t deserve that kind of happiness and now, well now I’m so afraid that I’m going to lose that all over again. I’m afraid that I won’t be enough for our children and…”

“Hey,” Brant spoke up reassuringly, “you’re more than enough.”

“My mother died having me,” she informed him point blank, “and after I lost my daughter…”

“That’s not going to happen with our children,” Brant pulled her into his arms comforting her. “We’re going to be with one another through this and I promise you that nothing bad is going to happen.”

“I wish I could believe that. I want to believe that, but with so many things up in the air,” she blurted out burying her head in his chest, “I’m just so afraid. Hell, that’s why I came to town in the first place--to find out what was wrong with my mother so that I could stop it from happening to me.”

“Hey, you’re not going to have to go through that alone,” he promised curling his finger underneath her chin and tipping her head up to have her meet his gaze. “You have to trust me on that.”

“Right now I don’t know if I can trust anything. I mean do you have any idea how it feels knowing that everyone you love just seems to slip out of your reach? That you’re some kind of jinx,” she blurted out tearfully.

He nodded taking a long moment before speaking up, “Yeah I do. I’ve single-handedly watched my family fall apart right before my eyes. My mother died when I was very young. She missed so much with us and then with my father, he found more ways than you can imagine to ruin all of our lives. My brother reached a breaking point and fell into madness, then I almost turned into the monster he was. I did so many stupid things wanting to hold onto something that was never really there…”

“We’ve had this talk before,” Angela realized remembering their time with one another on the island. “And I’ll say it again before you get to that point. You’re not a monster Brant. You are so far from being a monster.”

“And you’re far from being a jinx,” he tried to assure her keeping her close to him, “I remember what you said about finding your father--about how it ruined Christmas for you and now knowing about your daughter…”

“I realize it’s not an appropriate time to bring it up,” she felt guilt wrap over her at spoiling what should’ve been a romantic moment for them.

“No, it’s the right time. There is nothing wrong with you wanting to open up to me,” Brant continued trying to keep her from shutting down in front of him. “Believe me it means a lot to me that you are able to tell me about this. The fact that you feel that you can share something so personal and private about your life with me only reaffirms my belief that we have something to keep building on here…”

“Yeah you’re with a certifiable nut and it’s only going to give you grief,” she blurted out with a small huff.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I happen to be king of the craziness here,” Brant urged her to meet his eyes once again, “And for the record losing a child is never an easy thing. I realize that I’ll never know the pain that you’ve gone through, but I’ve been in a situation myself…a situation that made me question what kind of father I’d be if the opportunity ever arose again…”

“Again?” Angela replied searching his dark eyes.

He nodded, “There was a point in time when I thought I was going to be a father. I thought I was in love only I thought wrong. The woman I was with, well she wasn’t interested in me--she was interested in money--any money she could get her hands on. I, like an idiot, figured that I’d found the real thing--that there was someone worth giving a damn about, but in the end she wound up taking a nice payoff check from my father and split town, but not before letting me know that we were over in every sense of the word--including the piece of information that she’d taken the liberty of ending the pregnancy without my knowledge.”

“Oh Brant,” Angela gasped seeing a distance behind his eyes.

“So yeah, I know what it’s like to be young and feeling your world falling to pieces. I mean when I think about it now, sure I know it wouldn’t have worked out with her given the type of woman she was,” Brant choked up on his own emotions, a distance behind his dark eyes.

He shook his head before meeting her gaze again, “But I have to tell you I would’ve given anything to know what it was like to be a father--to have that child in my life. I would’ve given anything for the chance to see that baby come into this world so that I could be his or her father. Hell, I’ve never stopped thinking about that. Even when my best friend Don became a father I saw him with his son Matthew and always wondered what my life would’ve been like if I would have been as lucky as Don was. Sure, I tried to act like it didn’t bother me--that I didn’t spend my time thinking about what if, but when you lose that piece of yourself, you can’t help but wonder about how life would’ve been.”

“I know,” she nodded with a tiny sniffle. “It just eats away at you each and every day.”

“Which is why I’m telling you now that this time I’ll do anything to make it work,” Brant explained in an urgent tone, his arm curling around her waist to draw her in nearer to him. “I know I screwed up in the past in deceiving you by not being completely honest on the island, but Angela I’m telling you the truth now when I say that you and the children we’ve created mean the world to me. All I’m asking for is a chance to show you how good we can be together.”

“Brant, do you have any idea how that sounds? I mean we’re practically strangers and yet…” she trailed off feeling his hand drop down to her abdomen, pressing in against the material of her dress gently.

“We have everything in the world right in front of us that is saying we have to make this work,” he finished feeling her hand rest on top of his.

“But are we doing this for them,” she hesitated not really sure how to say what was on her mind, “or for us?”

“I’d be lying if I told you that for me it was anything other than a little bit of both,” he revealed in a low, determined tone. “When you threw my ass out of the beach house, you never left my mind. Sure I tried to pretend that I’d gotten past it. Hell, I even married the wrong woman in the hopes of forgetting what we had, but I never did and I know now that I never will. I know now that even if you tell me that you never want to see me again, that I’m never going to stop wanting you--never going to stop wanting to be near you…”

“Brant I…” she felt him place his index finger over the center of her lips to silence her.

“I love you Angela,” he confessed with a heartfelt plea. “I know it sounds crazy to hear me saying it. Hell I think I’ve lost my mind for even uttering it, but it’s true. I know that we have a lot to learn about one another, but when we’re together the connection is there. You call it sex, but I know it’s more. I think we’ve both been in situations before where we’ve confused sex with love, but this isn’t one of them. This is something more--something real and maybe I’m out of my mind for believing that I feel it…”

“You’re not alone,” she cut him off quickly, “I feel it too. I don’t deny that I can’t seem to keep my hands off of you when we’re together, but if this wasn’t love, then I don’t think that I would be drawn to you like I am. I mean I wouldn’t have dreamt about you or spent my time wishing that you would somehow find me again and we could be together. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I had it in my head that you would reappear on the island and tell me the things that you’re saying now.”

“I am so far from being perfect that I can’t promise you that you won’t be disappointed when you know all of me,” Brant admitted honestly keeping her in his arms.

“I’m a living, breathing train wreck,” she countered with a tearful laugh. “Ask anyone.”

“I don’t need to ask anyone to know what I do just by looking into your eyes,” he brushed his fingers over her soft skin. “And even if it takes forever, I want to find a way to learn all there is to know about you.”

“I want that too,” she inched in closer to him, her hand curling over his shoulder as his arm dropped around her waist. “Brant I want to know all there is about the man you are--about the way you make me feel and I want to show you what it is I’ve denied so many people in my life about who I am.”

“There’s nothing I could want more than to learn all there is to know about you,” he whispered dipping down to bring his lips over hers, yet he kept a distance between them. He closed his eyes feeling the warmth of her breath collide and mesh with his. “I think I’m falling in love with you Angela Meloni.”

“And I think that I am falling in love with you too Brant,” she paused, a puzzled expression crossing over her features as she pulled away from him ever so slightly. “Brant, what’s your last name?”

“What?” he replied blankly seeing the confusion settle in behind her eyes. “You mean you don’t know.”

She shook her head, “It wasn’t part of the thrill ride when we first met. I told you mine, but you never told me yours. I guess it never came up before now. Though I have to tell you I really want to know…”

“In that case,” he eased his fingers into her dark hair opening up a more intimate embrace between them, “It’s Ashford.”

“Ashford huh,” she pondered the thought for a moment. “I think I like the sound of that.”

“See, we’re already learning so much about each other and so far so good,” he winked down at her in an attempt to lighten the mood a bit between them.

“I’d have to say it’s better than good,” she murmured reaching for him again, “In fact I think it’s pretty safe to say that I do believe I may be falling in love with you too Brant Ashford.”

“I’m glad to hear it Angela Meloni,” he whispered bridging the distance between them in a soft, tender kiss while he held her in his arms thankful for this newfound closeness between them. Sure, they still had a long way to go with one another before they knew everything, but from where Brant stood this moment was as close to perfect as he could’ve asked for with the woman of his dreams wrapped up in his arms.


A tight coil of anger bubbled up in Cameron’s abdomen as he set the binoculars down. He’s seen more than enough to confirm what Chris Foley had told him about Angela. After all this time he hadn’t picked up on the clues--hadn’t thought that it could at all be possible, but now that he’d seen his sister in his worst enemy’s arms, he knew full well that he had to put a stop to it as soon as possible.

“You can’t take her Ashford,” Cameron seethed under his breath wanting to run out and shoot Brant Ashford then and there to ensure that Brant would never be able to touch Angela again. However, as Cameron reached for the gun he’d brought with him, he realized murdering Brant especially on a night like tonight wouldn’t give him any ground with Angel. She would never understand why Cameron had to do what he must do to destroy Ashford.

“But soon, very soon she will,” he mouthed under his breath pushing his gun back into the glove compartment as he made a vow to finally expose Brant for the true monster he was. Too much time had passed since Cameron had decided to enter Coral Valley and finish what had been started years ago, but now that Brant had his hands on Cameron’s sister, Cameron knew there would be no turning back. This was a full fledged war and now that the games were over Brant Ashford was going to burn for each and every one of his sins starting now!


...to be continued...