Episode 322

“So I take it you kind of misrepresented yourself just a bit when you told me that you worked in sales for the family business, huh?” Angela questioned giving Brant a long look now that the carriage ride had ended in the circular drive in front of his grand estate. Her eyes cast over the massive estate in front of her and she couldn’t help but be reminded of the times she’d lived in a palace similar to this one. Turning her dark eyes towards him half anticipating him telling her that this wasn’t really his place, she found a sudden seriousness behind his eyes.

“I didn’t lie,” he explained taking her hand in his and lifting it to his lips. “I do work in sales for the family business. I just kind of failed to mention that I was the head of sales…”

“I see,” she nodded eyeing him curiously feeling a tiny shiver race over her at the feel of his lips pressed against her soft skin. She felt a shiver coil up over her before their eyes met again.

“This isn’t a problem, is it,” he questioned a bit of worry sweeping over him at the thought of her being uncomfortable about his having money.

“No, it’s not,” she shook her head again offering up a small smile, “You’re just full of surprises here, aren’t you Brant?”

“Were you expecting me to have lived the bohemian lifestyle in a little shack near the water,” he questioned with a twinkle behind his eye, teasing in his tone.

“No, not exactly,” she coiled her arms around his shoulders sliding in closer to him as they stood outside the carriage with one another. “I guess I just wasn’t entirely prepared for all of this.”

“You haven’t been inside yet,” Brant paused an uneasiness sweeping in over him, “but just for the record I’m not trying to impress you with all of this. I just promised you a chance to know all of me and this, well it’s a part of who I am…”

“Then I guess it’s my turn to be honest with you here,” she sighed drawing in a slow, nervous breath. “Despite the surprise I have about your living in a place like this, I’ll admit that I’m not stranger to this kind of lifestyle myself. My father was a very rich and powerful man. He had a great many personal palaces around the world.”

“So then I take it you’re doing quite well in the publishing world, huh?” he noted seeing something flicker behind her eyes. She frowned slightly pulling back from him just a bit.

“Yeah, about that,” she wiggled her fingers nervously, her gaze settling on the house in front of her once again. “While you met George on the island, I kind of well, sort of exaggerated a little bit about the whole publisher thing. He and I were kind of in talks about my publishing some research that I’ve been working on. You see, I’m not really this romantic novelist type by any means if that’s what you thought I was into…”

“I guess I’d just assumed that you were an author considering that,” Brant began unable to resist the urge to wrap his arms around her now that they stood beside one another underneath the moonlight.

“Well you assumed wrong,” she mouthed tipping up on her toes to give him a quick kiss. “I’m a doctor and a pretty damn good one too when it gets down to it. I studied overseas for a very long time before finally settling into my practice in paradise. Sure, it’s not exactly what my family had in mind for me after medical school, but my little clinic gives me the freedom to explore my other interests away from any kind of distraction other than the water and the warmth that the tropical atmosphere tends to offer.”

“I see,” Brant noted, his gaze sweeping over her curiously, “So you live on a tropical paradise island practicing medicine?”

She nodded, “Pretty much.”

“Hmm,” he murmured the sound buzzing from his lips, “I should have known that you were involved in something that was very hands on given your many…talents.”

“You’ve only seen a fraction of them,” she promised reaching out to draw him nearer to her once again. Her arms squeezed his shoulders, lips beckoning his for another tempting hint of things to come between them.

“Maybe we should get inside,” Brant suggested as their mouths parted. “We wouldn’t want to put on a show for the neighbors here.”

“What neighbors,” she laughed lightly taking note of the vast property that surrounded them.

“Good point,” he replied with a small wink, “but still I’d like to say that I at least got you inside the house before I had my way with you.”

“Well as long as you promise to still have your way with me, then I’m all yours,” she reached out to him lacing her fingers with his and allowing him to take her inside his personal palace.

Stepping just out of his reach Angela felt her breath catch in the back of her throat. If she had been surprised before, it paled in comparison to what she was seeing right in front of her. Her eyes took in the antique tapestry before her, the elegant decorations and the essence of style and beauty the foyer had to offer. It opened up a whole new side of the man she’d spend the evening with and if this was any indication to who Brant was, there were still a great many layers that she would have to work through with him to truly discover who he was. She felt him step in behind her, curling his arm around her waist.

“You’re not saying anything,” he noted whispering warmly in the back of her ear, his lips dangerously close to tempting her with their soft invitation. “You hate it, don’t you?”

“No not at all. I just…” she paused searching for the right words. Tipping her head back, she met his curious eyes. “This is so different--so unlike the frazzled man I met on the beach.”

“That’s because on the beach you met the real me,” he eased her closer to him turning her in his arms until their eyes met. “You saw me as I was, not as what the world expected me to be. This place--everything about it represents the past, but you…you represent everything I want to be--everything I’ve always longed for. Besides I can‘t take credit for this. I was the one who didn‘t get much say with the decorator considering that I would‘ve just taken a few paint ball guns and went for that whole artist motif around here to give it some color.”

She laughed lightly at his attempt at humor.

“I’m serious,” he continued on motioning to the walls. “I think a little splash of blue here, maybe little green there would just add a whole new world of fun and excitement to it.”

“Brant come on,” she shook her head at him. “I’m not saying I hate it because I don’t at all. I think it’s beautiful and very elegant, but…”

“But you’re wondering how this fits into the rest of me, right?” Brant reached for her hand once again guiding her further into the house. “Maybe I should show you what about this place is truly me. You see there is one spot in all of this that I view as my safe haven. I’ve always felt at home here and I’m sure once you see it, you’ll know why.”

Angela followed him down a long hallway, taking in her surroundings and wondering all about the man she was with. Sure, she’d had certain expectations, certain thoughts about him, but to know that he was someone of power and influence--someone who clearly had as much as she’d known if not more, well that made her see that perhaps there were a few surprises in store for her. Unlike her first attempt at being with someone she’d hardly known like with Nick and Cary, who both seemingly had nothing, Brant had enough to hold his own. Money wouldn’t be an issue between them as it had been with Cary since they both were clearly well taken care of, yet…

“Here we are,” Brant stopped just outside two oversized double doors. He turned around to face her, mischief bubbling over in his eyes, “but I warn you once you step inside, there’s no turning back.”

“Is that a threat or a promise,” she couldn’t help but ask laughter filling her voice.

“I’m just telling you that up until now you haven’t seen the real me, but this room reveals it all in it’s raw, purest form,” he warned once again feeling her poke him in the ribs gently.

“Would you just open the door?” she muttered nudging him aside just enough to turn the door handle. She pressed the door open watching it push into the room in front of her. Darkness spilled out into the hallway and she glanced over her shoulder at Brant once again.

“You’ve been warned,” he teased with a wink watching her step inside before he followed. He reached for the door behind him, pulling it to a close. “Tell me, are you still curious to know the real me?”

“If you don’t turn the lights on soon, I’m going to have to reconsider that a bit…” her voice drifted off before a small laugh followed, “Unless this is part of your master plan to ravish me here and now.”

“We’ll get to that soon,” Brant promised following the sound of her voice. He reached out to the wall feeling the light switch beneath his touch. Flicking it on, he felt the room brighten up with the overhead lights and he braced himself for her reaction.

“Brant,” she gasped his name, her gaze wandering off over the collection of games and arcade fun in front of her. It was as if she’d stepped out of the museum of a mansion and into a childhood memory all over again. Glancing over her shoulder she caught his amused grin.

“I’ll bet you thought I was leading you into some kind of dungeon with whips and chains, weren’t you?” he winked at her taking a step forward. His hand curved over her hip tentatively as she leaned into him.

“Now that will come later for us,” she traced her nails over his chest teasingly, a wicked intent burning behind their chocolate depths.

“Don’t tease me,” he flirted back, his voice playful and spirited as he dropped his large hand down over her pert bottom.

“Who said anything about teasing,” she scratched her nails over his chest lightly before taking a small look around. “So tell me Brant, what’s the best you’ve got?”

“Do you really even have to ask after this morning?” he mouthed amused with the expression on her face when she looked to him once again.

“I mean in the video games,” she shook her head at him knowing full well that there had been a double meaning in her question. “I can see you’ve got a lot of impressive state of the art things here, but is it all about flashy and new or are you a bit of an old school sort of guy?”

“That all depends on your definition of old school,” he moved in closer to her.

“Well, I mean there are a great many games out there--games that I’m sure just about anyone could enjoy. Judging by your collection here, well I can see you’ve got a great many of them, but do you have the mother of all games?” she questioned wiggling her brow at him.

“And what might that be?” he replied giving her a long look.

“If you have to ask, then obviously you’re not nearly as cultured as I took you for,” she waved her hand dismissively looking over the arcade once again.

“Hmm, well let’s see. If we’re talking old school, then there are the classics like Pacman and Ms. Pacman, but for you, well I’m sure you’re into something a bit more dangerous--something that let’s you get from where you are to where you want to be,” Brant breezed past her making his way further into the rows of arcade games before him.

Angela followed watching him intently.

“In fact I would say that given your appreciation for the finer things in life and maybe the color green,” Brant stopped in front of one of the larger machines in front of him. “I would have to say that you’re a Frogger girl. Am I right?”

Angela’s eyes widened as he stepped aside to reveal the vintage game system behind him. She rushed over to him looking it over with a laugh. “Oh you are good.”

“Did you have any doubts?” he leaned in against the side of the machine, “So care to check it out? Maybe play with my joystick for a while?”

“I don’t mind if I do,” she grinned up at him before moving to take a closer look at the game. She felt him move in behind her bringing his arms around her waist to hold her as the game started up. She tipped her head back to look over her shoulder at him curiously. “What are you doing?”

“Oh you know giving you a few pointers here and there,” he mouthed with a small laugh, “because you’re going to need them to beat my high score on this baby.”

“In your dreams Brant. Tonight I’m going to break your record without even breaking a sweat,” she vowed sliding in front of the machine ready to enjoy a night of fun and entertainment with Brant now that they’d reached a new level of comfort with one another.


“Come on in,” Seth greeted his cousin with a smile opening the door to the apartment wider in invitation. He stepped aside motioning for Kevin to come in into the living room area, “I’m glad you called. I was wondering how you were doing since everything has been so up in the air lately.”

“Yeah things were certainly busy at the party Blake was throwing,” Kevin replied thinking about his dealings with Brant and Angela. “I’m sorry I cut out without saying good-bye to you or Blake there.”

“It’s okay,” Seth nodded hearing a clanging sound from the kitchen. He glanced over his shoulder, worry creasing over his brow before he motioned for Kevin to follow him inside further. “Blake’s been a bit…um, busy lately.”

“I can see that,” Kevin noted hearing the noises continue from inside Seth’s small kitchen. “I take it she’s getting reacquainted with the kitchen since you’ve been staying near the mansion lately.”

“Not exactly,” a crashing sound followed Seth’s words and a moment later Blake popped her head out to throw an apologetic look their way.

“Sorry about that,” she began her blue eyes fixed on Kevin. Almost immediately she perked up, a smile spreading over her face. She waved at him haphazardly sending the oven mitt that was on her hand across kitchen. She held her hand up in the air motioning she’d be right there.

“It’s more than okay,” Kevin started seeing her disappear behind the doorway again.

“She’s a bit high strung today,” Seth explained in a warning tone, “I just thought I’d prepare you for that.”

“Hey Kevin,” Blake approached him with a bright grin, a tray of muffins in hand. She held it out to him, her blue eyes sparkling with enthusiasm and cheerfulness despite her earlier awkwardness, “Would you like a muffin?”

“Hmm, I really shouldn’t,” Kevin shook his head before eyeing them intently, “but they smell really good.”

“Have one,” Blake suggested again, “I made blueberry and strawberry.”

“In that case, I don’t mind if I do,” Kevin popped one up off of the tray and deposited it into his mouth readily. “Oh man, these are good.”

“I thought you might like them. Have a few more,” Blake suggested setting the tray down when she heard a timer go off in the kitchen.

“Thanks,” Kevin watched her walk away before turning to Seth, “I don’t see what the problem is Seth. She seems like she’s having a good time baking.”

“Take a look around Kev,” Seth motioned to the containers that surrounded the both of them. “Blake’s been baking since she got back here and she won’t stop. She’s got all this nervous energy and…”

“I hope you’re hungry,” Blake popped her head out to see Kevin again before returning to the kitchen.

“And she’s going to bake herself to death,” Seth finished with a shake of his head. “She’s upset because this loser she used to date is back in town and…”

“Is he giving her grief?” Kevin frowned slightly.

“Unfortunately the guy doesn’t take a hint,” Seth shook his head thinking about Zack’s return to town. “I mean first he leaves and we figure he’s out of our lives, but then his wife left him, taking his son with her and now…”

“Now he’s a royal pain in the ass,” Blake blurted out taking a small step out of the kitchen and towards the both of them. “Do you believe that he actually arranged for a little romantic getaway between us in the hopes that maybe just maybe I would give him the time of day? As if. I swear I wanted to strangle him so badly when I walked into the upcoming community center building to find him in the gym thinking he could find a way to seduce me.”

“It sounds like he’s trouble,” Kevin nodded with a small scowl, “and if you like I could very easily have a few words with him.”

“Hopefully he got the point earlier,” Blake sighed heavily holding her tray up once again, “Have another muffin.”

“Tell me something Blake,” Kevin offered up considering what they were telling him, “Have you explained to this guy that you’re not interested?”

“I told him where he could stick it, so yes,” Blake nodded, her gaze lingering over to Seth once again. “He knew that Seth and I were happy with one another before he left town, so I don’t see why…”

“Because unfortunately some guys never get a hint,” Seth sighed shaking his head at the thought of his old rival. “Zack was someone who always enjoyed creating drama between us Blake and…”

“And it’s not going to happen. Even if he stays in town, he’s not going to get in the way of us,” Blake promised holding out another plate of muffins. “Another one?”

“I think I’m fine,” Kevin shook his head before rethinking it. “on second thought. Sure.”

“So Kevin, what’s new with you?” Blake decided to shift the conversation again opting to forget about the man who was stressing her out beyond belief. “How have you been doing?”

“Well I’ve been pretty okay. I’d like to say it’s been a slow week, but that’s simply not the case. Ria and I had this situation since my best friend is in town and…” Kevin began with a soft groan.

“You mean the woman you’ve been working for all this time?” Seth arched a curious brow.

“Yeah,” Kevin nodded, “Angie’s in town and Ria’s not happy about it.”

“So in other words she’s beautiful and somewhat of a threat to Ria, right?” Blake piped in listening to Kevin’s words.

“Yeah, she’s beautiful,” Kevin admitted without hesitation, “but right now she’s not at all a threat. I mean sure we were an item once, but…”

“That’s all it takes with us. We women get worried about old flames and how they will effect the future,” Blake paused noticing the expression on Seth’s face. “Well it’s true. I mean you’re worried about Zack, yet you know full well I have absolutely no interest in him. I’m sure Ria’s just feeling a bit insecure about the fact that someone Kevin once loved is around and still close to him considering that…”

“Actually it’s really not that bad,” Kevin interjected with a small pause, “Angie is kind of already off the market. Hell she’s dating your brother.”

“My brother?” Blake’s eyes widened in surprise, “Wait your best friend is dating my brother? Which one?”

“Brant,” Kevin mouthed thinking about the fact that Brant and Angie were out on their date with one another. “Turns out they met a while ago and have some history between them.”

“Really?” Blake’s eyes widened with obvious curiosity, “Well then I need to know. What is she like? Hopefully nothing like Avery considering how horrible she was to him and…”

“Actually,” Kevin started ready to explain things to Blake when his cell phone started to ring. He pulled it out of his pocket recognizing Ria’s number. “Give me one second.”

“Sure,” Blake nodded holding out the tray of muffins to Seth before watching Kevin once again.

“Hey baby, what’s up?” Kevin couldn’t help but smile into the phone upon hearing Ria’s voice. “How’s the party going?”

“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. Things are far from what I thought they’d be. I’ve been bored out of my mind,” she confessed causing Kevin’s grin to widen.

“You’ve missed me, huh?” Kevin replied confidently, “Well I knew that you couldn’t live without me.”

“Actually it was pretty boring for a while until we got to the strip club,” she hesitated hearing him go silent. “Kevin?”

“You’re at a strip club,” he frowned slightly.

“Well it is a bachelorette party, but to make a long story short, it’s winding down. What do you say I come on over and give you all the details say back at my apartment?”

“Yeah, I’m at Seth’s right now, but I’m sure that we can work on arranging that,” Kevin glanced over at Blake and Seth, “Hell I’m sure I can even bring dessert if you’d like.”

“Just bring that beautiful body of yours and I’m sure we’ll have a good time,” Ria ordered in a ravenous voice.

“That I can do,” Kevin smiled saying his good-byes to Ria before hanging up with the anticipation of the night ahead of him fresh on his mind. “It looks like Ria’s party is ending early.”

“Which means that she’s wanting to see you,” Seth caught the expression on Kevin’s face.

“Something like that, but I can stick around for a little while longer,” Kevin looked to his watch. “She said it’ll take a little bit longer.”

“Well since you don’t have to rush out, why don’t you tell me a bit about your best friend? Or better yet, how about I pack up some muffins for you?” Blake suggested tugging on Kevin’s arm in the hopes of learning more about her brother’s new girlfriend.


“Hey mommy,” Don sat down on his mother’s couch after showing up with Shannon at his parent’s house to come check in how they were doing. Alicia sat down next to Don as he wrapped his arm around his mother’s shoulders. “How are you doing today?”

“Better now that I have seen my son,” Alicia answered kissing Don’s cheek gently before seeing Shannon standing over in the corner seeming to be a bit uncomfortable. “Shannon honey, you can come sit over here too. We won’t bite you.”

“You mean you won’t bite her,” Don joked before offering up a small smile seeing his mother’s dark eyes stare over at him. “I might though, that’s why she is staying away.”

“You are so weird sometimes,” Alicia whispered rolling her eyes and hitting her son in the chest with the back of her hand gently. Moving away from her son, she patted the couch and motioned for Shannon to sit next to her. “I swear he gets it from his father. Not me.”

“I never would have thought you would be like him Mrs. Leveski,” Shannon sat down on the couch as Alicia frowned and looked back at Don who stuck his tongue out at her. “You could never be so ridiculous at times. I would guess the romantic side of him does come from you though.”

“Of course it does,” Alicia joked wrapping her arm around her son and giving him a small squeeze. “He has all my good qualities, everything else comes from his father.”

“Dad isn’t that bad,” Don laughed feeling his mother give him another squeeze and Don looked out at Shannon with his blue eyes. “My father really isn’t as bad as me, I just have it because of the movies. I swear my parents are great.”

“He’s right,” Alicia pointed out pulling her arm back before resting her hand on Shannon’s knee offering up a wide smile. “His father is actually a really good guy, but I think he got this way because of his friends. Television isn’t that bad…”

“Tell me about it,” Shannon chuckled seeing Don’s blue eyes widen and he bit into his bottom lip feigning being hurt as he placed his hand over his chest. “So what friend is it?”

“Neither one,” Don blew off the questioned before folding his arms out in front of him and looking over at his mother with his light blue eyes. “So, speaking of dad--where is the old man? Is he here and still sleeping or something?”

“Actually,” Alicia took in a deep breath hearing a car pull up in the driveway and she let out a small sigh. A smile appeared over her lips as stood up from the couch leaving Don and Shannon by themselves. “I think that’s your father right now.”

“Hey dad,” Don waved seeing Rob walk into the room with an upset expression over his features. Rob’s face looked pale like he was sick as he reached out to hug Alicia who walked over to him. “What’s going on? You look sick or something.”

“About that,” Rob cleared his throat uneasily as there was another car door that shut and Don rose from the couch seeing his father’s blue eyes look over at him. “I need to tell you something.”

“Cori?” Don questioned seeing Cori walk into the house behind Rob carrying a bag over her shoulder as Alicia’s eyes widened. “What in the world is she doing here dad?”

“I was going to say,” Rob took in a deep breath looking down at Alicia and caressing her arm gently with his thumb. Rob took a look back at Cori seeing her brown eyes looking into his as he offered up a half smile. “Cori is coming to live with us for a while because of what happened with Diego.”

“What?” Alicia blurted out pulling away from Rob seeing his blue eyes beg with her as she stepped back feeling Don’s hand rest in against her shoulder and he wrapped his arms around her. “You have to be kidding me.”

“She’s scared Alicia,” Rob tried to explain seeing his wife shake her head slowly and Don frowned out at him. By the reactions of his son and his wife he knew that this wouldn’t be a good idea. “Someone needs to take care of her.”


“Who would’ve thought that everything would be falling into place like this?” Avery questioned in a whisper snuggling into Russ as they lay in the center of their bed watching Erin sleeping on her father’s chest. “It’s perfect.”

Russ had his arm wrapped around Erin protectively while his other arm was secured around Avery’s shoulders. Tipping his head to the side, he couldn’t help but smile at Avery. She was completely right about it being perfect as it was his dream come true to have this kind of wonderful in his life. Turning his head to the side he spotted Rusty curled up in the corner of the room sleeping in his oversized pillow bed looking just as carried away in his slumber as Erin was.

“It is perfect,” he whispered in response leaning in to kiss Avery’s forehead gently, “Things are only going to be looking up for us from here on out.”

“I know that,” Avery nodded in agreement a sigh spilling over her lips, “I mean I can’t believe I went from thinking I lost everything to finally having absolutely everything I ever dreamt of.”

“It kind of does feel nice, doesn’t it?” Russ glanced down at his daughter once again, “Almost makes you feel like everyone else will be envious.”

“Kind of, but I think we’ve earned it,” Avery confessed thinking about all they had endured over the last year of their lives and beyond. “I don’t think half the world has experienced what we have.”

“And I hope they never do, well okay, maybe they might want to feel some of the joys that we’ve had, but I wouldn’t wish the sorrows on anyone,” Russ added reflecting on how horrible it had been when they’d been kept from one another.

“No one is going to get in the way of what we have again. My mother is locked up and they aren’t going to let her get out to hurt us,” Avery felt a tiny shiver race over her, her dark eyes drifting to Erin, “When I think about how she tried to hurt Erin--tried to take away another one of our children all because she was so hung up on money…”

“Avery,” Russ started hoping to keep her from getting upset.

“It just kills me to think that everything she wanted to push me to was right with me all along. She spent so much time hating you, yet you were exactly what she wanted for me only she didn’t see it. She didn’t see that you made me happy and that you loved me,” Avery continued to think about her mother’s actions.

“Or that I was an Ashford,” Russ replied feeling his body stiffen. Erin shifted over him and he paused hoping that he hadn’t awakened her.

“Russ, it doesn’t matter about that,” Avery placed her hand over the center of his chest, “You are still the same honest, loving, wonderful man that you’ve always been. You’ve always believed in us and even when I was confused and couldn’t see my way to where we should be, you always held true to us. You never let anyone keep you from your dreams of us together. You were the one who held out hope time and time again against the odds that we would one day be here with one another.”

“Avery, I…” Russ felt a moment of guilt press in upon him as his mind drifted back to when he’d spent time with Angela on the island. A few of the memories hit him again as he thought of what it had been like living another life--believing he was someone else and attempting to love another woman. He tipped his head to the side and offered up a small smile, “whatever has happened it doesn’t change the fact that we’re meant to be together. You believe that, don’t you?”

“How could I not?” Avery replied with a soft smile, “You’re the only person in this world who has never let me down and I know that now that we have Erin everything is finally going to be like we’ve always wanted it to be.”

“She’s everything,” Russ added seeing Erin opening up her big eyes and yawning, “Well hello little girl, did we wake you?”

Erin wiggled in her father’s arm, her tiny fingers pressing in against his bare chest. She let out another yawn and shivered for a moment before cuddling right back into him and closing her eyes again.

“I think she’s completely content,” Avery laughed lightly seeing how attached to Russ their daughter was, “but what woman wouldn’t be in your arms?”

“There’s plenty more room for another one here,” Russ squeezed Avery closer to him just taking the time to appreciate all the good things that life had finally brought into his life. He just prayed that the past wouldn’t find a way to tear all of his happiness away from him especially now that it seemed the world was finally right on track again!


“So this is what it looks like inside a photo studio?” Kyle took a long look around trying to quell the nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach after how he’d just let things get out of hand with Heather. While he’d wanted to pretend that he was just joking, his body’s still very rigid response to her wasn’t letting him off that easily.

His gaze swept over her long legs and immediately he felt a warmth shoot down to his groin reminding him all over again how dangerous it was to get wrapped up in Heather’s business. Sure, he’d promised to help her out as a friend, but never in the definition of a friend did it include him wanting to rip her out of that barely there shirt she was wearing. It didn’t give him the right to want to pin her up against a wall and show her all the things that they’d missed out on with one another over the years. Hell even thinking it now only proved that he was losing his mind. Here he was with Sarah--someone he’d wanted practically his whole life, yet he was fantasizing about Heather. It was ridiculous.

“Yeah,” Heather answered his question despite the fact that he really wasn’t paying much more attention to anything other than how warm it had suddenly gotten in the studio. “It’s not as if it’s anything really high tech yet, but I’m working on getting a few more things in here and…”

“It looks pretty high tech to me,” Kyle noted hoping to sound cohesive while his thoughts lingered to what it would feel like to continue the battle of wits he and Heather had started with one another earlier.

“Oh come on,” she waved her hand at him dismissively, while walking around the room in what had to be the sexiest stride he’d ever seen even though she wasn’t trying to make any kind of impact on him, or was she? “You can’t tell me that you haven’t been in a studio before. I know you well enough to know that you’ve been working behind the scenes as a private investigator for years. Surely you’ve been in places like these.”

“I’ve been in a great many dark rooms, but never the studio type setting. Mostly I’ve been in my car scarfing down stale donuts, lukewarm coffee and whatever else I could get my hands on during those late hours that people found their way to trouble,” he explained taking a small step towards her. “I sort of just skipped over the generic studio and shot straight to the dark room.”

“Hmm, somehow the idea of you in a dark room seems to have it’s merits,” Heather teased with a small wink, causing a small warmth to circulate in the air between them.

“Believe me if you were alone with me in any dark room I can promise you that I’d be more than willing to show you all of my,” he paused his face taking on a more sinister, yet mischievous expression as his words grew more flirty, “merits.”

“I bet you would,” she licked her lips again knowing full well that their ‘friendly flirting’ was still going to be something she would have to try not to get hot and bothered about, but with Kyle standing in front of her looking oh so delicious, she knew it was going to be hard not to think of him in any other way than a man that she’d like to ravish.

“You’d be pleasantly surprised,” he commented taking a small step closer to her.

“You’d be surprised to see that I wouldn’t be all that surprised,” she replied with a haughty laugh, “as I can imagine full well what your merits might be. From experience in what I’ve seen so far, they would be very worthwhile.”

“They are more than worthwhile,” Kyle promised unable to resist the urge to get closer to her, “They are pretty damn stellar if I do say so myself. There’s just something about the idea of being locked in a small room, in close quarters surrounded by darkness to get you going. You know the warmth of two bodies colliding with one another in an innocent brush, yet there’s that need for further contact and…”

“One thing leads to another,” she added moving towards him, “and before you know it, it’s far too hot for clothing.”

“Yeah like that shirt you’re wearing,” Kyle motioned to the shirt he’d handed her earlier. Right about now he’d wished he’d kept it to himself so that he could get a good, long look at her all over again. Even now the memory of what they’d experienced with one another made him hot all over and…

“Let’s get the party started!” Kellen cheered excitedly walking into the room and catching the thick tension in the air between Kyle and Heather. Almost immediately he wanted to kick himself for walking into the studio when he did.

“Party,” Heather’s gaze shifted away from Kyle as if nothing had been happening, yet the color that spilled over her face clearly stated that there were fireworks taking place.

“That’s right,” Kellen nodded back at her, “We’re going to have a fiesta tonight when this shoot gets started. I mean we’ve got a really talented photographer on hand--the setting all together and the air for sensuality ready to go.”

“Sensuality,” Kyle’s brow perked up. He glanced over at Heather eyeing the way the shirt came down just over the top of her thighs. “I take it you’re modeling then, eh?”

“That’s right,” Heather nodded glancing over at Kyle with a breathless moment. She tipped her head to the side, her green eyes fixed on him before she nodded again. “They have this feature that Fashion Extreme wants to do on me--kind of this retrospective from my modeling days till now. I was thinking about taking a more conservative approach, but Kellen insisted on this and now, well now it’s something that’s kind of spun out on it’s own, which is why we’re doing this now and not earlier with everyone around.”

“And why not?” Kyle couldn’t help but ask spotting the photographer walking into the room.

“Because it’s just, well it’s part of where I’ve been before I go into an evolution,” Heather explained with a small smile. “Not that I mind modeling, but I think this will be the last shoot for a while since I want to concentrate on getting things going in the corporate world.”

“Yes, but nothing sells better than sex appeal and believe me you have it,” Kellen encouraged her further before motioning to the photographer. “I’ll just give him the 411.”

“Wait a second,” Heather watched Kellen start to walk away. “You’re not dressed yet. You said you were going to stand in on this one for me. I needed someone else for the shoot and…”

“And Tripsy decided that it would be better to use me as a chew toy today. I don’t know what got into her, but she killed my flawless complexion there,” Kellen held his hand up in the air to show her the bandage on his hand. “We were playing and she got too rough there. She scratched me all up and…”

“And you promised Kellen. You know as well as I do that I’m not going to be able to do this shoot alone. They can just photo shop your hand after the fact,” Heather pouted with a small frown.

“Forget about it. It’s not going to work,” Kellen shook his head adamantly, “but what about Kyle? He could take my place. I mean he‘s hot enough.”

“What? Oh no,” Kyle shook his head at Kellen’s suggestion, “I’m not a model. I’m not stepping into any shoot here. No way.”

“Come on Kyle. Heather went through all the trouble of getting one of the best photographers out here tonight. The least you can do is agree to step in and help after you botched up the whole security issue earlier,” Kellen glared over at Kyle.

“Kellen stop,” Heather snapped at him, “That wasn’t Kyle’s fault.”

“Sure it was and the way I see it, he owes this to you. He should model for you. You took a lot of time out of your day--time and money you put together and…” Kellen continued his rant.

“Forget it Kellen. If you’re not available, then the shoot is off. I’ll go tell Lance,” Heather motioned to the photographer that was setting up. She stepped forward and Kellen glared over at Kyle.

“Don’t be a jerk,” Kellen mouthed under his breath, his blue eyes throwing daggers at Kyle.

“Heather wait,” Kyle finally stepped forward with a heavy sigh, “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” she asked spinning around to face him only to discover him standing right in front of her.

“Don’t cancel the shoot,” Kyle reached for one of her hands taking it in his. He held it for a brief moment before drawing out a small breath. “Don’t tell him to call it off because Kellen’s right. This is the least I can do for you. I can’t promise that I’ll look at GQ as Kellen might have there, but whatever you need, I’m in.”

“Seriously?” she searched his eyes for a long moment, “Because Kyle you don’t have to if you don’t want to be…”

“I want to,” Kyle offered up a small smile, “Really, whatever you need it’s yours.”

“In that case,” Heather glanced over her shoulder at the photographer then back to Kyle’s hold on her hand. She offered up a small, relieved smile, “Thank you Kyle.”

“You might want to hold that off until after you see how these photos turn out,” Kyle teased back with a wink knowing full well he was about as far from being a model as Kellen was from being interested in women, but for the sake of helping Heather out, Kyle vowed to give it a try and hopefully he wouldn’t look like an idiot in the process.


“So what is this suppose to mean?” Diego asked Sarah as he saw her button her blouse back up slowly and he stepped in closer to her, brushing his thumb in against her cheek. “Does this mean you want to be with me? If it doesn’t, then I must be feeling things I shouldn’t be feeling.”

“Diego,” Sarah took in a deep breath not quite knowing how to say things to him as she shook her head slowly. Moving away from him she walked over towards the corner of the room thinking about what she had done. “I don’t know what to say about all of this right now. I just can’t think straight and…”

“Sarah, it’s easy,” Diego whispered walking in over towards her reaching out to push her blonde hair behind her ear as she looked up at him with her dark eyes. “Just think about it, who do you really love?”

“Diego, I…,” Sarah went to say something else before being cut off by her own tears feeling a lump in her throat grow as he cupped her face in his hands gently, pressing a small kiss in against her lips. Sarah pulled away quickly letting out a long breath before thinking about everything. “I love Kyle, I love him.”

“Kyle,” he took a step back running his hand through his dark hair before stumbling back towards the table and falling against the edge of the table. “So, where does that leave me? What am I supposed to be to you?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah fought for words to say before shaking her head slowly and walking forward to touch him as he pulled away from her like she would burn him. “I feel things for you Diego that I don’t feel for Kyle.”

“Like what?” Diego questioned stepping away from her and throwing his hands up in the air. “When he gets you pissed you come over and screw me just to make yourself feel better. Is that it Sarah? Is that all I am to you?”

“No, you are far from that,” she tried to assure him seeing his dark eyes narrowing in over at her as she let out a long breath. “Diego, I don’t know what it is that I am supposed to feel for you. I have to love Kyle, I need to. I’ve known him for so long and…”

“How do you know he even needs you?” Diego blurted out seeing her dark eyes widen as she let out a small laugh. “What? You think that it couldn’t happen to have a person love someone more than you. Maybe he is only engaged to you because you are pregnant. You can mean absolutely nothing to him, just like you are turning out to be for me.”

“So, that’s all I am to you?” Sarah bit down on her bottom lip before letting out a harsh breath and covering her mouth with her hand as she felt the tears sliding down the side of her face. “I’m glad that’s all I am to you and maybe you are right. The man I do love might not love me, but I highly doubt it. At least he has never called me a nothing…”

“Sarah, wait,” Diego begged reaching out to grab her hand and pull her back to him as he shook his head slowly. “Please don’t leave like this, I need you here with me. I’m sorry, I’m just confused and I don’t know what to say. Don’t be upset with me, please.”

“Do you mean all of that?” she whispered seeing him nod slowly and reach out touch the side of her face as she leaned in closer to his warm touch. Kyle hadn’t been like this with her for a while and it was something she wanted from him badly. Diego was making up for everything Kyle didn’t give, but at least she was getting in from someone. “I care about you Diego, a lot. I really want to get you out of here and…”

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll get out of here,” Diego hushed her pressing a small kiss up against her forehead before shaking his head slowly. “I just think that you should know that no matter what happens between us. I will always be here to love you and my baby.”

“You don’t know if it’s yours Diego,” Sarah looked up at him with her dark eyes feeling him push away her tears gently as he shook his head slowly. “It could just as well be Kyle’s and you know that.”

“Are you one hundred percent sure that the baby belongs to Kyle?” Diego’s hand slid in over Sarah’s abdomen as a small smile appeared over the corners of his lips. “Because I have a feeling that you alone have more of a connection with me than Kyle will ever have with you.”


“So what do you think?” Zane questioned holding up two very different story books in hand holding them out for Grady to inspect. “Should we go for the Mega Force Fighters or the Aladdin story?”

“I don’t know. It’s a tough choice,” Grady glanced over his shoulder at Deana who was watching the both of them very closely, “What do you think mom? What’s your idea of a good time?”

“I’m all for Aladdin myself,” Deana explained with a small smile.

“Yeah of course you are because you’re a girl,” Zane shook his head at his mother’s request, “but I like Mega Force better myself.”

“That’s because I told you that I didn’t want you buying that book, so you talked Jackie into getting it for you,” Deana shook her head at her son’s enthusiasm.

“Yeah, but she’s cool mom. Jackie knows what guys like and Mega Force is it. Right Grady?” Zane’s big eyes turned towards Grady for a little assistance in pleading his case.

“Well, they both have their merits, but yeah I’m partial to Mega Force too,” Grady replied catching a scathing look from Deana. He leaned in closer to Zane, “Though maybe tonight we should read Aladdin since your mom likes it and save Mega Force for another day.”

“So we have to?” Zane’s lip curled in a frown.

“Well we don’t really have to, but if we do, maybe I can talk her into letting you stay up late tomorrow with us for a while,” Grady suggested seeing excitement bubble over Zane.

“Okay,” Zane deposit the book into Grady’s hands, “it’s a deal. Aladdin it is.”

“Really?” Deana eyed her son curiously seeing her son warm up to her newfound companion.

While she hated to admit it, she couldn’t help but see that Grady was certainly making an impression on her son as well. That surprised her, although she was sure it shouldn’t given that Grady had a certain something about him that made it easy for someone to want to get to know him better. Of course Deana had been focusing primarily on the fact that she’d been attracted to Grady and not looking at him as anything more than a little bit of fun before grown up life took over again, yet there was something in watching him with her son that made her question everything. Sure, she could see that he and Zane had a certain chemistry with one another--a certain friendship that caused her to melt a bit, but what would that mean in the future? What would happen should she and Grady find their way into something with one another? Would they have something that fizzled and left not only her disappointed, but her son as well now that he’d taken an active interest in Grady? Could this be something that would benefit everyone or would it be like it was with Zane’s father?

Unable to take all the questions going through her mind, Deana rose up from where she’d been seated on the chair in the living room. She saw Grady stop reading long enough to pop his head up to look at her, green eyes filled with worry. She mumbled some small excuse about needing to go to the bathroom, but really what she needed was to get away from her inner thoughts. Making her way to the bathroom, she closed the door behind her trying to stay focused.

Tonight when Grady had come to her apartment she’d wanted to delve into a more carnal side of things with him. She’d realized she was long overdue for some attention of that sort, yet in seeing him with Zane it painted a whole new picture of Grady. Okay, so maybe she was jumping the gun because they’d only officially been out on one major date, but still this felt like something she could enjoy--something that most women would like having around. Still, there was Zane. If something went bad--if she leapt into a relationship and this wound up painful for her, it would hurt Zane and that was something she couldn’t face. She couldn’t let her son be disappointed all over again.

“You need to get a grip,” she told herself as her dark eyes fixed on her own reflection. Right now she wasn’t even officially dating Grady, so to think that far ahead was just plain ridiculous.

Calming her thoughts, she placed her hand on her abdomen and found the courage to return to the living room just in time to see Grady finishing up the book. He closed the cover and she opened her mouth to speak, but found herself met by Grady placing his own finger over his lips. A second later he pointed to her now sleeping son at his side.

“I guess I wasn’t all that exciting in reading,” Grady explained as Zane started to snore at his side.

“Now you know the real reason why he’s not big on Aladdin,” she fought to repress her amusement knowing full well that her son had loved every second of Grady’s storytelling.

“And here I thought I was going to make it interesting,” Grady mused with a tiny laugh seeing Deana move into pick up Zane.

“I need to get him in to bed,” she explained in a low whisper.

“Let me help,” Grady suggested getting up off of his place on the sofa carrying Zane in his arms now that sleep had overtaken him. In that moment Deana couldn’t help but watch Grady as she found herself realizing that she was falling for him harder than she’d anticipated. To want him not only as a boyfriend, but to be someone in Zane’s life was surely jumping the gun and no doubt bound to be big trouble for her in the long run. The question was would she be able to walk away from it before she could open herself up for disaster? More so would she want to?


“Ha eat that!” Angela cheered doing a little dance around the game room once she’d finished beating the game in front of her. She spun around to stick her tongue out at Brant while continuing her victory dance. “I won! I beat your score by a long shot bucko even with you trying to cheat.”

“I so did not try to cheat,” Brant laughed lightly thinking about the little competition he and Angela had put out on the table once she’d started getting into playing Frogger. They’d long since moved on to various games in the room and now hours later it felt as if he’d finally met his match. He saw the gleam behind her dark eyes, the smirk that added a brightness to her face and it was the first time in years that he found himself not too tore up about losing.

“Yes you did,” she wiggled her finger in his face. “You kept poking me and…”

“It was just to keep you focused,” he teased raising his hands in the air and seeing her shake her head at him.

“You’re just evil. Really that’s what you are. You’re evil,” she wiggled her finger in his face before breaking into laughter. “You’re one of the most competitive, arrogant, determined person I have ever met and…”

“And you love every second of it in being with me,” he scooped her into his arms, feeling her press in against him. Their eyes met and all of the laughter seemed to die down, the lightness faded and was now replaced with something else--something altogether different than the mood they’d tried to work on from the moment they’d arrived at the mansion.

“Yeah,” Angela finally revealed drawing in a slow breath, her gaze dropping down to his lips, “sadly I do.”

“What do you mean sadly?” he teased ticking at her sides with his finger tips and watching her writhe in his arms.

“Brant stop it or I‘ll find a way to make you stop it,” she tried to fend off his attack swinging her own arms in the air before settling in at his abdomen to counterstrike his attack on her.

“Oh no, I’m not going to stop especially not when you’re being such a tease,” he continued to taunt her with his fingertips. He watched laughter spill over her until her eyes met his. Before he could say anything she tipped up on her toes to steal a surprising kiss from him. As she pulled away he realized that everything around them seemed to stand still in that moment.

“I told you that I would find a way to make you stop,” Angela mouthed, her lips now parted and aching for more of a connection between them.

Her words came out in a barely there whisper and Brant couldn’t help but ease his finger tips over the thin strap of the dress she was wearing. She’d discarded her shoes a short while ago leaving him to get used to the height difference between them. She wasn’t too tall, yet not too short and in so many ways just right. Their eyes were saying so many things about the moment, about what they were hoping to accomplish with one another, yet he realized there was still so much left unsaid between them.

“Angela I…”

“Brant I…”

They both stopped realizing their words had come out in unison. Both offered up a nervous laugh before falling to silence again. Finally Angela spoke up.

“I had a really nice time tonight,” she revealed feeling a warmth fill her from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. She smiled up at him, keeping her arms around his waist, “Tonight wasn’t at all what I expected it to be.”

“It was more than I ever could have hoped for,” Brant replied touching her face lightly, knowing that he could very easily spend forever lost in the brown eyes before him. There was just something about being with Angela that put him at ease--made him want to find a way to turn himself around and yet…

“I’m sorry for the waterworks earlier,” Angela felt a blush rise over her, “I mean I loved what you were trying to do on the beach.”

“I’m sorry if it upset you,” he thought back to their earlier part of the date, “I just wanted to give you what you wanted.”

“You already have in so many ways,” she couldn’t help but smile at him, “Although I have to tell you I have a lot of questions for you.”

“And I for you,” he nodded in agreement thinking about all they still had to discover about one another.

“Tell me something,” she searched his dark eyes contemplating what answers she would seek out from him, “What would you say was the single best moment in your life thus far?”

“Well, I’d have to say that tonight is a chart topper,” Brant replied readily keeping the connection between them. His fingers fanned out into her short, dark hair, feeling her lean into his touch.

“Funny, I was thinking the same thing,” she mouthed a smile teasing over her lips. “Of course I really have to wonder about how I could spend my life with someone who has issues with me being better than him at video games. I mean okay, so maybe it’s okay to pout a little bit, but Brant you are truly…”

“Willing to lose to you as long as you don’t spread the word around after tonight,” Brant interrupted feigning seriousness, “because I have to tell you I’ve prided myself on being the best in this room here.”

“Well, unfortunately your ego took a big blow tonight,” Angela reached out to tug at the tie he was wearing. She quickly discarded it before moving her fingers to the buttons on his shirt, “but maybe if you’re lucky it won’t end with your ego tonight.”

“Why Angela, whatever do you have in mind,” he arched a curious brow feeling her unbutton his shirt just enough to slide her fingers in over his chest. She began to massage his body gently before he saw a mischievous grin spread over her beautifully kissable lips.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she teased with a hint of darkness in her tone. “Although rather than my telling you, I’d just prefer to show you--say maybe over there by the pool table since that’s really the only game that we haven’t gotten around to just yet…”

“The pool table,” Brant’s dark eyes perked up at the notion before he quickly declined. “I’m afraid not.”

“No?” she tipped her head to the side watching him with a curious expression.

“No,” he repeated with a shake of his head, “I’m afraid that the pool table is completely out of the question.”

“Why?” she couldn’t help but ask wondering how he could turn down such an innovative way of rediscovering one another.

“Because I’ve already made up my mind,” he brushed his thumb over her bottom lip gingerly, “If you’re staying the night tonight, then I’m taking you upstairs to bed--to the one place that we haven’t been able to make it to with one another yet.”

“We’ve made love in bed before,” she pointed out with a small frown. “Don’t you remember back on the island when we…?”

“That was a waterbed,” he corrected with a small shake of his head, “and besides back then we weren’t exactly making love. We were just…”

“Having a good time with one another,” she finished for him giving him an impatient look.

“Good time or not, I have to tell you that tonight I want to try a whole new approach,” Brant moved in to kiss her gently, his fingers sliding further into her hair and urging her to open herself up to the kiss. She responded tasting him with the same soft, subtle intent. She felt him pressed in against her, yet so very far away leaving her longing for more when he pulled back.

“Maybe I should just take you back to the hotel,” he spoke up in a low, raspy tone, his gaze fixed on her lips once again. “I promised you a memorable first date and maybe if we don‘t push it too soon…”

“I don’t want to go back to the hotel,” Angela curled her lip in a small pout, “at least not tonight.”

“There’s still so much that we need to talk about--things that we need to work through with one another,” Brant continued only to feel her press her index finger over the center of his lips.

“Brant Ashford if you don’t do the right thing and take me to your bedroom right now, then I’m not going to leave you any choice about the pool table,” Angela warned him a sudden seriousness behind her eyes. “I don’t think I need to be any clearer than that, do I?”

“You’re not one for subtlety are you Angela Meloni?” he couldn’t help but ask feeling his hunger for her growing exponentially at the way her eyes were penetrating him. “You just go for the gusto, don’t you?”

“I don’t see any point in wasting time when what I want is right in front of me,” her palm flattened out over his chest again, “Right now what I want--what I need is right here, right now and I don’t see any point in denying either one of us that opportunity we’ve been longing for all night.”

“I’ll admit there is something to be said about cutting to the point, but before we go there,” Brant paused his finger tips dropping in underneath the thin strap of her dress, toying with it for a moment or two. “I want to know something--something that can give us something to work with in the morning.”

“Fair enough,” she nodded pulling apart the material of his shirt and sliding it down over his shoulders in a casual fashion.

“You’re not going to make this easy for me are you,” he shook his head at her, unable to refrain from reaching out to unzip the back of her dress.

“I’m actually planning on making this very, very hard for you,” she replied taking a small step and shimmying out of her dress before he could respond to that comment. It pooled to her feet on the floor until she kicked it aside, her dark eyes meeting his in a challenge.

“Oh it’s hard for me right now,” he replied his eyes perusing her with hunger weighing in over him.

“I’ll bet,” she licked her lips stepping forward to peel his shirt off of him completely. Her hands dropped down to his belt, moving in to unhook it when she felt his hands over hers.

“Tell me something. Do you want us to have boys or girls or one of each,” Brant asked causing her to cease any and all movement in trying to rip him out of his clothing.

“What?” she asked blinking up at him. She felt his hand press in over her abdomen causing her to stiffen ever so slightly at the sentiment behind it.

“Because I’ve got to tell you I’ve been thinking about it and where I’m at right now, I’d kind of like one of each,” Brant confessed dropping down to his knees to place a kiss over her abdomen. He ran his fingers gently over her stomach, caressing the warmth of her skin before tipping his head up to meet her dark gaze. “I mean sure there’s something to be said about identical twins and given that I have one…”

“I guess I…I never really thought about it…” Angela paused feeling a newfound weight over her shoulders.

“It really doesn’t matter,” Brant turned his attention back to her abdomen, placing another tender kiss upon it. “The way I see it, I’m going to love these two no matter what--just like I love their mother.”

“Brant, I thought that we…” she felt a nervousness press in over her. “I know we both agreed that we were starting to fall into love, but…”

“But what?” he questioned watching her closely. She took a small step back bringing her arms up over her chest to cover herself.

“Love isn’t easy for me,” she explained her lower lip trembling. She started to shiver as Brant stood up again making a move to pick up his jacket. He held it out for her hoping to keep her warm now that it appeared that the momentum in their conversation had shifted again.

“Thank you,” she finally replied sliding into his jacket and wrapping it around herself. “Brant, I’m not going to lie to you. This all scares the hell out of me. I mean even with my mother. I told you how she died when I was born and I was trying to find out what happened to her so that I could keep that from happening to me…”

“Angela, I’m sure whatever happened, it wasn’t something that will effect things now,” his gaze traveled to her abdomen once again. “I think that we’ve got something working on our side here given that we found one another again when the odds of that happening were pretty damn impossible.”

“Everything in my life is impossible Brant,” she replied with an exaggerated sight. She brought her hand up through her hair before forcing herself to meet his gaze again, “Can’t you see that if I give myself into this completely…if we find our way to something more--to something real that it’s only going to hurt us?”

“Angela in case you haven’t noticed we’re about to have two children. I don’t think it gets anymore real than that,” he frowned down at her knowing that they were going to have a difficult road ahead of them. “That in itself should show you that I’m not playing games here. Sure, sex is nice, but I’m not looking for a quick fix. I want something for the long haul.”

“Loving me has caused so many people so much pain. I’m a jinx Brant and if I let you love me…” she trailed off, her gaze dropping to the floor again.

“Would it be so bad? Would your opening your heart up to me be such a horrible thing? I mean yeah okay so I’m not anywhere near being a saint, but I’m a pretty decent guy. I have my finer points,” he began to explain to her in the hopes of showing her who he was.

“I know that. God, you have no idea how much I want to let you in, but Brant,” she paused searching for the right words, “I’m afraid. I’m really truly afraid of letting you have that because when it gets down to it, I don’t want to lose you.”

“Keeping me at arm’s length isn’t going to make this any less painful for us,” he stepped in closer to her sensing her uneasiness, but still he wasn’t about to back down from their conversation. He wrapped his arms around her and urged her to meet his gaze again, “Angela I want to love you--to show you that we can make so much out of being together--so much more than we’ve been willing to admit to.”

“You know most men usually think it’s great when a woman offers them sex with no strings,” Angela tried to make light of the situation taking place.

“Honey, I think we’ve got a whole bunch of strings tied in knots right about now,” Brant replied with a small smile, his chocolate eyes lost in hers. “It’s something that we’re going to need to work on.”

“And somehow you think tonight is the night to make it happen, right?” she couldn’t help but ask shaking her head at him. “You are a very stubborn man, aren’t you Brant?”

“No more stubborn than you are,” he couldn’t help but let out a laugh, “which is why we mesh so well with one another.”

“I was kind of hoping we’d be meshing later,” she teased her finger in over his chest, savoring the warmth of him against her touch.

“We’ll get to that,” he promised with a warm smile, “but right now, how about we feed into a hunger with one another? One I’m sure that the children might appreciate.”

“What’s that?” she couldn’t help but ask curiosity brewing over her.

“Ice-cream. What do you say I make you the biggest, best hot fudge sundae you’ve ever had?” he wiggled his brow at her suggestively, “And who knows maybe if you ask nicely I’ll even let you eat it upstairs in my room.”

“With an offer like that, how can a girl refuse,” she replied with a small laugh realizing that despite the fact she was fighting Brant in her own way when it came to letting him in, he was stubborn and just as much of a pain in the butt as she was. He’d already called her game and he wasn’t about to let her use it to keep them from getting closer. That infuriated her beyond belief, yet at the same time as she realized just how much effort he was putting into their time with one another, she found that more than anything she was suddenly intrigued. Perhaps Brant was going to prove to teach her something new about the world around her after all. Maybe just maybe he could break down all of those walls that she’d kept herself caged within. Maybe he would find a way to get to the one part of her that she’d closed off years ago--her heart.


“See you later cuz,” Kevin waved goodbye to Seth before quickly running down the stairs of the apartment, deciding not to want to take the elevator today. Holding onto the bag that Blake had gave him of strawberry muffins, Kevin pulled out the keys to his SUV and walked over to his car opening it up. “I am going to get so fat later.”

Kevin had gotten in the car and pulled out another muffin taking a big bite of it before shaking his head slowly and turning on the car. Everything that had happened today had been pretty good, but there was still one thing on his mind that stuck out and that was Chris.

“I wonder what that loser is up to,” Kevin cleared his throat uneasily before finishing off his muffin and realizing that no matter what, Chris couldn’t bring down Angie. There was no way that was going to happen now that she was happy. “On to a next subject.”

There was still Ria he had to worry about and there had to be a good thing he could to get her happy tonight. Maybe flowers, that might work. Or maybe a stuffed animal, that might work even better. Flowers always died, a stuffed animal lasted longer than flowers he could stop by the closest mall to get her something.

“I’ll find something,” Kevin turned on the radio getting sick and tired of the silence as he waited on the road with the traffic around him. “Come on…”

Kevin was eager to get home to Ria and get her something special, but everything around him was trying to stop him. His mind was filled with those thoughts until a song came on the radio that made him take in a sharp breath remembering the song like the back of his hand. It was the moment when he had done something for Angela back in the day and still to this day he could remember how happy she was when he did it all for her.

“Where are you?” he could still hear her voice calling out to him in front of his old house on the island. Angela threw her hands up in the air confused because he told her that he would wait for her out in the front. A sudden strength pulled her back and she felt her eyes get covered with large hands as she placed her hands over the hands knowing they were Kevin’s. “Where have you been?”

“Waiting for you,” Kevin whispered against her ear pressing a small kiss in over the side of her neck as she leaned back against him, feeling him laugh in her ear. “You look beautiful tonight.”

“That was going to be my next question,” Angela whispered still feeling his hands covering her eyes as she took in a deep breath. “What is all of this? Why did I have to get dressed up?”

“You’ll see soon enough,” Kevin promised in a small hush before moving forward and making her move with him, but made sure to be careful so she didn’t trip while he made sure she couldn’t see anything. “Now, no trying to look Angie. It’s a big surprise.”

“A big surprise?” Angela smiled biting down on her bottom lip as he motioned her stop and he moved away from her uncovering her eyes as she let out a small gasp. “What is all of this?”

“Well, I remember you wanted a prom so here it is,” Kevin replied walking over to push the tape in and turn on music before walking over and grabbing two glasses of the grape juice he had poured earlier. “I know you always wanted one and I decided that you deserved it.”

“Kevin,” Angela mouthed his name looking around the area around them seeing the way he had set up the dance floor on his deck and how all the flowers were spread out everywhere. Feeling the heat of his body behind her she turned around to face him seeing him dressed in a dress shirt and a suit jacket as she smiled widely. “Look at you, you look great.”

“Thanks,” Kevin flashed her a wide smile before handing her a wine glass seeing her take a sip of it, wrinkling her nose after she tasted it. “Oh come on, it’s not that bad. It’s grape juice, you have to remember you are still underage little woman.”

“I’ll little woman you,” she set her drink down on the edge of table by his deck before moving forward to grab his drink and set it down too. His deep laugh filled her ears as she pulled him forward by his suit jacket. “I can’t believe you did all of this just for me.”

“You’re worth it,” his lips pressed in against her earlobe as she wrapped her arms around his big shoulders feeling him hold onto her hips loosely. “Dance with me Angie.”

“What?” Angela pulled back from him seeing his brown eyes look into hers as she saw him smile widely. His right hand slid up to hers before enclosing his fingers with hers tightly. “You can’t be serious.”

“Please,” Kevin begged giving her a small pout feeling her hit him in the chest and pull him over towards the center of the deck before he pulled her in close to him. The song echoed through their ears as Kevin leaned forward a bit whispering the lyrics in her ear. “Sometimes I wonder how I ever made it through. Through this world without having you, I just wouldn’t have a clue.”

“What are you doing?” she saw him lean back and grab her hand in his placing it over his chest as he watched her carefully. “You know the song?”

“Cause sometimes it seems like this world’s closing in on me. And there is no way of breaking free and then I see you reach for me,” Kevin sang carefully seeing her dark eyes staring out at him as a smile spread out over his handsome features. “Sometimes I want to give up, I want to give in, I want to quit the fight. And then I see you baby and everything’s alright, everything’s alright.”

Angela placed her hand over his chest feeling his heartbeat against her hand as she felt tears start to develop behind her eyes. Kevin was trying to so hard to sing to her and show her how much he loved her and it was really getting to her.

“When I see you smile, I can face the world. You know I can do anything, when I see you smile,” Kevin saw her crying as he leaned in closer to her brushing his thumb in against her cheek. He hated seeing her crying and he couldn’t help but lean forward and kiss her passionately feeling her fingers slide into his thick hair. “Don’t cry Angie, I love you.”

“I’m crying for a good reason Kevin,” she whispered pressing another kiss against his lips feeling his hand press in over the small of her back. “I love you so much, I don’t ever want this to leave.”

“It’s never going to leave because I’m always going to be here for you,” Kevin promised feeling her fingers push back the top of his jacket, sliding it down his arms and letting it fall to the deck. “I’m never going away unless you push me away.”

“I’m never going to do that,” she hushed plucking open the buttons of his navy blue dress shirt slowly, pulling the tucked shirt out of his pants and sliding that down his strong arms as well. “This isn’t you, I like you for you.”

“I wanted this to be perfect for you, that‘s why I dressed like this,” Kevin whispered in a small breath feeling her lips center in over his chest making him take in a deep breath. “Angie, not tonight--I can’t let you do this now. This is supposed to be your night and it needs to be exactly what you wanted.”

“You’re all I want tonight Kevin,” her fingers slid in over his belt opening it slowly before tugging his pants down seeing them fall to his ankles. Taking in his naked form before her she took in a deep breath looking up to see his dark eyes looking into hers. Taking his hands in hers she led him over towards the hammock, pulling him in over her as she laid down on it. “I never want to let you go.”

“I’m never going to let you let me go,” Kevin whispered meeting her in a kiss as he gently nibbled at her bottom lip, feeling her nails run up and over his shoulders gently. “I’m always here for you.”

“I trust you more than anything Kevin,” Angela whispered feeling his finger center in over the back of her dress pulling down the zipper carefully. “I’ll never stop loving you, you’re the only one I want to be with.”

“That’s it,” Kevin reached out turning on a different music channel before letting out a long breath rubbing at his cheek slowly feeling himself grow tense just at the thought. “She’s not my Angie anymore, she’s Angela--I don’t even know who she is anymore.”

Kevin listened to the other song on the radio realizing that after seeing her and Brant together today he couldn’t help but remember all the times she had broken his heart in the past and he couldn’t take it anymore.

“She’s all his,” Kevin whispered to himself pulling into the parking lot at the mall before thinking about everything he saw. Brant holding Angela in the ways he used to do. “I love Ria and there is no way Angela can even compare to her.”

Kevin got out of the car and slammed the door shut behind him before putting his keys back into his pocket. A stuffed animal wouldn’t even work tonight, he had to get her something good.

“This is what I need,” Kevin walked into the jewelry store looking around before spotting a bracelet that Ria might like. Kevin saw the woman staring out at him as he motioned her to walk in closer to him. “Can you pack this up for me?”

“This?” the woman nearly snubbed Kevin as he let out a small laugh seeing her pick it up and he nodded slowly. “Sir, this is pure diamond--I don’t think…”

“Think what?” Kevin pulled out his wallet opening it up and pulling out all the money he had in it. Looking up at her and letting out a sarcastic sigh before itching his chin. “You don’t think this is enough?”

“I’d say you better go pack that up for him right away,” a man stepped in beside Kevin pushing back his blonde hair before offering up a small shake of his head. “Did you think just because of the form of this man that he doesn’t have money? Now miss you are looking at one of the top boxers the world has ever seen.”

“I’m sorry,” the woman flipped her dark hair back before closing the box to the bracelet Kevin had picked out. “I just assumed…”

“Don’t assume anymore,” the man cut her off before shaking his head slowly and reaching out to tap his hand on the glass before motioning the girl to go ahead with her work. “You should get going before you get your own ass fired.”

“Well, you know me,” Kevin cleared his throat looking out at the man before him before offering up a small smile and reaching out to shake the man’s hand slowly. “Who are you?”

“I’m Zack Vaughn,” Zack smiled widely feeling Kevin’s hand grasp onto his tightly as Zack winced and let out a small breath. “I take it your cousin already took the time to tell you about me.”

“You guessed right,” Kevin answered feeling Zack pull his hand away quickly before holding onto it like Kevin hurt him. “I heard that you are a real asshole.”

“Is that so?” Zack chuckled seeing the way that Kevin’s brown eyes stared into his as Zack shrugged his shoulders. “Your ex-wife said the same thing about you the other night.”

“That’s funny, good old Michelle,” Kevin smirked seeing the woman return with the bag as he walked over to the register to pay her and finish up what he had to do. “You know, you two should get together. I know you would do great with ruining other people’s lives. Now if you will excuse me, the woman I love is waiting for me at home.”


“What are you thinking?” Alicia pulled Rob into the next room letting Don and Shannon stay with Cori in the other room. Alicia shut the door behind her seeing the worried look that developed over Rob’s features. “Why is she here Rob?”

“I told you honey,” Rob whispered leaning back against the dresser before shaking his head slowly and thinking about the case with Cori. “She had been hurt by Diego and she needs to be at a place where someone will always be. I figured you wouldn't mind and…”

“Well I do mind,” Alicia spat out seeing Rob’s blue eyes widen in surprise at how she was yelling at him. Alicia grabbed the clothes she had folded earlier and started packing them back away. “You should have at least asked me first.”

“Oh no, I’m in trouble,” Rob let out a tight breath seeing her dark eyes watching him carefully as stepped forward and grabbed the clothes out of her hands. “Whenever you start cleaning like this--it means you are really mad. Honey, I told you Cori is like a daughter to me and…”

“Rob, if you look at the way she looks at you,” Alicia clenched her fists at her sides just about ready to blow up at her husband, but took a moment to calm down. “It would be disgusting if girls looked at their father like that.”

“Now I think that’s hardly the truth,” he began seeing her eyes narrow in at him as he threw his hands up in the air. “Okay, so maybe she is a little friendly, but what am I supposed to do? Just throw her out on the street?”

“I don’t know Rob, but she doesn’t belong here,” she stated grabbing the clothes back from Rob’s hands and putting them away properly. “She is here because of this whole case with Diego Hernandez, but I don’t believe a word of it Rob. I don’t trust Cori Rob, I thought you would have known that by now.”

“Honey, she wouldn’t lie to me,” Rob hushed Alicia reaching out to pull her in against him as he let out a small breath. “Everything is going to be okay because I know she wouldn’t lie to me.”

“If you knew so much then how come I hear the difference behind your voice and I see it behind your eyes?” she questioned seeing his blue eyes walk away from her as he gave her another big squeeze. Alicia reached up to touch the side of his face to make him look at her as he let out a long breath. “Rob?”

“I don’t know honey,” Rob rested his chin against her shoulder and took in a deep breath thinking about everything Cori told him. “I’m just trying to be a nice guy--that’s all.”


“You know, while you are here I would love to talk to you about what happened,” Shannon patted the couch next to her seeing Don walk over towards his parent’s bedroom and press his ear up against the door. “I think I might need to know a little more details.”

“I already told the cops everything they need to know,” Cori groaned seeing the look behind Shannon’s dark eyes as she shrugged her shoulders and moved forward sitting down on the couch next to Shannon. “I guess one more time might not kill me.”

“I’ll listen good,” Shannon promised seeing Cori think everything over as Shannon took in all of her movements, trying to read her eyes as Cori thought things over. “Go ahead, I’m listening.”

“Well, I came home after the party,” Cori took in a deep breath looking over at Shannon, pulling her bag in closer to her before thinking about everything. “He was upset because the woman he likes turned him down for Kyle Houston.”

“Sarah Marx?” Shannon questioned seeing the way that Cori nodded as Shannon felt a new twist to the situation at the name of one of her really good friends. “Just go ahead.”

“There isn’t much left,” Cori held her hands up in the air and shook her head slowly. Setting her bag back down on the floor she took in a deep breath looking over at Don. “He just kept hitting me and hitting me.”

“I can see that,” Shannon eyed over the bruises on Cori’s face trying to figure out if she was lying or not. There was something not right about the way Cori was talking about what happened. “I never imagined Diego to be that type of person.”

“Don?” Alicia walked out of her room seeing Don fall back over the coffee table and land on the floor in front of Cori and Shannon. A small groan escaped his lips as he got up slowly placing his hand over his back. “Were you listening to me and your father?”

“No, I was just trying to…” Don tried to think of a lie before blowing it off and walking over towards the chair to sit down. “Just never mind.”

“You know what Mr. Leveski?” Shannon stood up grabbing Cori’s duffle bag and offering up a wide smile. “Since I am an FBI agent, I think it might be a good idea that Cori comes with me and Don tonight to stay with us. We have an extra room.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” Don offered up after listening to his parents fight over this situation as he heard Cori let out a small noise. “In fact, I think right now is a great time to move you in.”

“That’s a great idea son,” Rob agreed walking over and placing his hand on Don’s shoulder giving him a small pat. “I will put your bag in his car Cori.”

“But,” Cori was about to say more but saw Don and Rob pick up her two bags as she followed them towards the doors. “I guess I can do that if you want me to.”

“Shannon,” Alicia called out seeing Shannon turn around to face her with a small smirk. Alicia reached out to wrap her arms around Shannon and give her a small hug. “Thank you, I know you did that just for me and I am very grateful for that.”


Kyle stepped out from behind the curtain suddenly wanting to kick himself for agreeing to play along as a stand in for Kellen. When Kellen had mentioned the words photo shoot and Heather there was no thought in Kyle’s mind that it would wind up being what it was. Okay, so maybe Kyle had figured that there would be an element of embarrassment involved, but never in a million years did he think that he would wind up being the one who was wearing a pair of black silk boxer shorts with pink trim underneath the terrycloth robe he’d snagged in the hopes of walking out without getting too much notice. Even now he was still hoping to have an immediate wardrobe change. However, before he could issue a complaint or walk in the other direction out of the studio Kellen spotted him.

“There you are!” Kellen waved his hand wildly motioning for Kyle to join them. “I was wondering if I was going to have to go in there and drag you out.”

“Kellen,” Kyle spoke his name behind gritted teeth. “Can I have a word with you for a second?”

“Well you could, but um we’re about to get started and…” Kellen pointed over to where Lance was setting things up.

“Now!” Kyle ordered in a gruff tone his eyes narrowing at Kellen.

“Fine,” Kellen frowned moving in over to speak with Kyle, “What’s wrong?”

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong?” Kyle spoke up in an angry whisper, “I’m in something that I can promise you I would never, ever wear in public.”

“That’s okay,” Kellen waved his hand dismissively, “It’s just a photo shoot so no one really expects you to wear that in public although I’m guessing it would look pretty hot on you.”

“Kellen, I really don’t want to be…” Kyle’s words came to a halt when he spotted Heather stepping out in front of the camera. Immediately all thoughts of protest came to an end upon seeing her. He couldn’t help but move in for a closer look.

“Is this where you want me,” Heather asked Lance, a small smile building over her soft pink lips. Her hair curled around her face, framing it perfectly and giving off a mixture of innocence and seduction with the way she looked. Kyle couldn’t help but find himself drawn to her despite the fact that he knew full well he should be furious with Kellen especially about the wardrobe he was in.

“There is great Heather,” Lance nodded before spotting Kyle, “and I see your model has arrived.”

“So he has,” Heather waved at him in such a way that it made her simple button down shirt look like a piece of sexy lingerie.

“Hey,” Kyle stepped up to her his eyes casting over Heather once again, “It looks like this shoot is a bit skewed here. You’re wearing more than I am at this point…”

“Actually not for much longer,” Kellen clapped his hands together excitedly. He stepped in towards the two of them and motioned to Kyle. “Honey as much as you’ve got that homey feel going with this, lose the robe. It’s seriously breaking this shoot down.”

“Kellen,” Kyle scowled again ready to choke Kellen for making him take over this particular photo shoot, but rather than fighting it Kyle glanced over at Heather. “I’m warning you now I’m no where near being the pretty boy he is.”

“I think you’ll do just fine,” Heather offered up a supportive smile seeing Kyle’s nervous fingers move in over the robe tie. When he unknotted it and let her see what was underneath she just about lost it then and there. Her pulse was racing, heart slamming into overdrive and suddenly it felt as if someone was sucking the oxygen out of the room. He looked that damn good.

“Ready to toss me out of the shoot now?” Kyle questioned shoving the robe in Kellen’s face before flexing his chest a bit. He watched her eyes cascade over him and he felt a moment of satisfaction spread throughout his body. “I told you I’ve been working out lately.”

“And what a fine job you have been doing with it,” Heather couldn’t help but blurt out, her face turning a pale shade of crimson upon admitting it.

“You so aren’t kidding about that,” Kellen added appreciatively catching an angry glare from Kyle. “I’m just saying.”

“You two ready,” Lance questioned bringing everyone to reality once again.

“Of course,” Heather nodded bringing her hands up over the front of her shirt and unbuttoning it.

Seeing her movement Kyle gulped. “Heather, what are you doing?”

“Didn’t Kellen tell you,” she questioned giving him a strange, sideways glance. She continued to unbutton her shirt before revealing that same tiny pink thong that Kyle had been ogling her in earlier. “We’re a matching set.”

“A matching set,” Kyle repeated when it suddenly dawned in on him. The tiny pink trim that was lined with glittery hearts over his boxers was the same one that had graced the spot just over the thin patch of cloth that Kyle couldn’t help but noticed earlier. Here he was complaining about being in boxers and Heather was practically naked.

“That’s right,” she nodded shrugging out of her shirt to leave him something else to fantasize about once again. “I’m kind of incorporating a shoot for this lingerie company that I promised to help build. It’s an old friend of Kellen’s who is trying to establish himself…”

“And I figured what better time than the present,” Kellen piped in cheerfully watching the way that Kyle was practically salivating at the sight of a nearly naked Heather. Sure, he was pretending not to be looking, but there was no denying that Kyle’s gaze had slipped away from Heather’s eyes seconds earlier when she stood before him naked from the waist up. However, Kellen wasn’t about to give Kyle reason or opportunity to back away. He clapped his hands again, “Time to get ourselves on the mark.”

“Huh?” Kyle replied blinking over to Kellen only to watch Kellen pull Heather away from him.

Kellen positioned Heather near a piece of tape that was set out on the floor before motioning for Kyle to join them. Kyle reluctantly stepped forward fearing that this particular photo shoot would only wind up in disaster, but still he was going to grin and bear it.

“Where do you want me?” Kyle asked with a hesitation watching the way Kellen’s eyes lit up.

“Oh now that’s a delicious proposal there and one I’d like to give you so many answers for,” Kellen bubbled up with a giggle before reaching for Kyle’s hand.

“Watch it Kellen,” Kyle warned ready to pull his hand away when he felt Kellen tug him in closer to Heather. Before Kyle could say anything, he felt Kellen drop his hand over Heather’s bare breast.

“Now if you can just put your other hand over the other one, we’ll be good to go,” Kellen reached for Kyle’s hand once again this time getting that resistance he hadn’t before.

“Wait a second,” Kyle practically gulped now acutely aware of the fact that he was holding Heather, touching her in ways he hadn’t since they were teenagers. “What are you doing?”

“I need you to cover me,” she replied tipping her head back to see Kyle’s discomfort. “Look I’m sorry, but this wasn’t my idea. Kellen pitched the idea to his friend and…”

“Let me guess. They loved it,” Kyle grumbled feeling Kellen place Kyle’s other hand over Heather’s exposed breast.

“Yeah they did and Kellen was supposed to be my model but…” Heather trailed off trying to focus on the bandage on Kellen’s hand instead of Kyle’s touch over her.

“Right,” Kyle gritted his teeth trying to think about anything other than the warmth of Heather in his hold. He cleared his throat uneasily watching Lance move in behind the camera.

“You might want to move your hand a little to the left Kyle,” Lance circled his finger in the air as if he was asking Kyle to recite his ABC’s--not grope Heather for the camera.

“Like this,” Heather moved her own hand up over his sliding his fingers over her a bit more completely.

“Right,” Kyle gulped feeling tiny jolts of electricity spring him to life in a great many places he’d hoped to ignore right around now. Clearing his throat again, he felt Heather stiffen against him.

“You okay,” she couldn’t help but ask, her own face flushed by the moment.

“Yeah, I was just…” Kyle fought for the right words to come off as suave and collected, but instead he felt like a bumbling idiot who had just embarked upon a fantasy only to freeze up. “I mean I was just worried that my hands might be too cold on you given that I didn’t have any warning…”

“No, they aren’t cold at all,” Heather shook her head at him before letting out a nervous laugh. “They feel pretty damn good actually.”

“Funny,” Kyle let out an ironic laugh realizing that Heather had given him an out to the level of discomfort. “I was thinking the very same thing about you.”

“Is that right?” she tipped her head back ever so slightly, smiling for the camera now that Lance was snapping away.

“That’s right,” Kyle tipped his head down just a bit in order to lower his voice a bit. “I mean from where I stand, you don’t have a thing to worry about.”

“You mean in terms of the photos or my breasts,” she asked bluntly puffing her chest out ever so slightly to give him a greater grasp on her.

“Maybe both,” Kyle mused with a harsh, pinched voice, “Though I’m seriously hoping that these photos don’t work on one of those objects appear larger on film than real life here…”

“You mean like the camera adds fifteen pounds to you?” she asked tipping her head to look at him ever so slightly.

“Not exactly,” Kyle inched in closer to her, brushing in against the back of her thighs to give her a good indication on where his thoughts were headed. “I just don’t want this shoot to be obscene.”

“In that case I’ll refrain from ripping you out of those boxer shorts,” Heather mouthed in an attempt to be funny, but instead the words sent them both into a moment of a tizzy.

“Well if you did that, I might have to move my hands to pick them up and well you’d be exposed to the camera,” Kyle glanced over at Lance, hearing his words and suddenly he found himself wanting more than anything to keep Heather covered if for no other reason than to keep Lance or anyone else from seeing her naked.

“Then I might have to hurt you,” Heather laughed lightly turning just a bit into him upon Lance’s instruction.

“You wouldn’t do that,” Kyle called her bluff feeling her meld into his touch. Despite the fact that he really didn’t want to be doing any kind of photo shoot let alone one like this, he had to admit that holding Heather felt nice in it’s own way. Here he was just doing his job, not doing anything wrong, yet able to openly enjoy it.

“Don’t tempt me,” she replied glancing over at him, “I can be ruthless.”

“Right,” he added with a doubtful expression, “Though I have to warn you we’d better not get into this one. Remember what happened before?”

Heather’s lips parted and she grew very silent. She could hear Kellen saying something across the room, but right now all the she could focus on was the rapid pounding of her heart. Kyle was trying to torture her--trying to make this even more difficult than it had been when Kellen stepped out of the shoot. Oh how she wanted to kill Kellen for doing that, but worse she wanted to follow through on her words to take those silk boxers off of Kyle and…

“Remember what I said before?” Kyle whispered in the back of her ear catching her off guard.

“What?” she tried to focus again.

“What I said earlier,” he mouthed dropping his lips dangerously close to the back of her ear in an attempt to catch her off guard, “you know about what I had in mind for us. This is close to what I was talking about, but it wouldn’t be my hands here. It would be something else.”

That did it. Heather felt her heart hammer into her chest, spring up into her throat and leave her wishing like crazy that she wasn’t where she was. Kyle had done it. He’d gotten her all hot and bothered and even though he was claiming to be her friend, he was enjoying torturing her.

“Well two can play this game,” Heather thought to herself clearing her throat before casting a casual glance over her shoulder at him, “Kyle if this was truly what you had in mind earlier, then you’d be naked and I can promise you that I’d find a great many usages for your hands and mine--ones that you’d be sure to never forget.”

Kyle opened his mouth to say something--to think up some fun and witty comeback, but as Lance continued to bark out orders, he realized that maybe just maybe he’d finally been one upped at his own game. Things went from fun, to flirty to outright dangerous. As his mind reflected on the way his life had changed over the last few weeks, he suddenly realized that he was in over his head--way over his head!


“Kennedy, where were you?” Dave questioned seeing one of his desk officers come back as the officer held his hands up in the air. “You don’t know where you are? You just developed some type of amnesia that won’t let you know where you were?”

“I was in the visiting cells sir,” the officer defended himself seeing Dave’s dark eyes narrow in at him as pointed down the hallways. “Hernandez has a visitor named Barbara. I was just letting her see him, they are friends or something.”

“Alright then,” Dave pointed over at the seat the officer was to sit in as he shook his head slowly. “Now don’t ever let me see you leave that seat unless I give you permission.”

“Yes sir,” the officer whispered as Dave set some of the papers down on the desk and walked over towards the visiting cells wondering what Barbara was doing here so late.

Dave took a quick peak in to see Diego hugging someone in his arms and he went to walk off before thinking twice and turning around to see the face of the woman.

“Sarah?” Dave whispered seeing Diego lean down to kiss Sarah passionately running his fingers through Sarah’s blonde hair slowly as Dave dropped the pen he had in his hand onto the floor. “What’s going on here?”

Sarah had came into the jail and pretended to be Barbara to see him and now that he saw Sarah kissing Diego like this Dave couldn’t help but think about his friend that was supposed to be marrying Sarah soon.

“Where is Kyle?” Dave asked himself seeing Sarah wrap her arms around Diego’s shoulders tightly as he leaned down to pick up his pen. Dave had known something was going on with Diego and Sarah, but what he just saw was probably never supposed to happen. “Does Kyle know?”

Hopefully Sarah was either really friendly or Kyle already knew about this and that’s why she was here. Either way, Dave knew something big was going to happen.


“I can see I have his vote for story time reader,” Grady teased once Deana closed the door to her son’s bedroom.

After they’d settled him into bed, she had motioned for Grady to meet her in the hallway. Now that they stood with one another she tipped her dark eyes up to meet his seeing the amusement burning beneath them.

“You have my vote,” she teased with a small whisper. “I haven’t been able to get him to go to bed that easily since well, never. He was a really fussy baby and now I think he’s just one who loves the night life.”

“A man after my own heart,” Grady chuckled shaking his head at the thought, “I happen to be a big night man.”

“Ah, so you keep late hours huh?” she gave him a very complete once over, “Part of that wild man inside of you?”

“On the contrary,” he shook his head following her out further into the hallway, “It’s more the workaholic in me.”

“Well in that respect I always kind of keep the candle burning at both ends myself,” Deana noted thinking about her hectic work schedule.

“But not enough to have sleepovers, right?” Grady noted following her into the kitchen. He watched her tense up as she stood over by the sink ready to get back to that tea they’d talked about hours earlier. Slowly, she spun around to face him just enough to show him the color that spilled over her cheeks.

“Yeah, um about that,” Deana felt her blush grow hotter by the second. “He just knows I work all the time and…”

“You don’t have to explain,” Grady held his hand up in the air giving her an easy out in their conversation. His green eyes swept over her briefly, before his lips curved upward in a sexy grin.

“I wasn’t going to,” she stood up straighter returning her focus to the tea kettle in her hands. She closed her eyes for a moment hoping that he couldn’t see how she was trembling at the thought of being near him.

“So about his father…” Grady paused not really sure how to bring up the subject with her, “Is he…I mean is he involved with Zane?”

“No,” she shook her head thinking of the jolt of reality their conversation had brought back to her. No more thoughts of lust or sex, but rather a reminder of what could happen if she let the situation spin out of control. She cleared her throat and faced him again this time with a newfound seriousness. “He hasn’t been involved with Zane from the moment he learned Zane was coming into the world. Hell, if it wasn’t for the thirty seconds that it took for conception he hasn’t been involved at all and even then, well there wasn’t much effort put into the situation.”

“Ah, so he’s one of those guys, huh?” Grady frowned shaking his head at the thought. “You know it’s men like that who put the rest of us in a bad light.”

“Look Grady, I don’t really want to talk about my ex especially considering that…” Deana started feeling an uneasiness sweep over her. She opened her mouth to continue only to feel Grady reach out to touch her cheek lightly.

“That’s a good thing because I don’t want to talk about your ex either,” Grady admitted in a low whisper dipping down to steal a kiss from her now parted lips.

She felt the warmth of him press in over her and her arms instinctively pulled him towards her. She fanned her fingers out over his shoulders, down across his arms and then circled around his back as his tongue slid between her lips reminding her all over again about just how erotic kissing him could be. Hell, he was reminding her all over again just how good a kiss could be in general even if she was a little rusty in experiencing one.

“Grady,” she finally pulled away not allowing herself to enjoy the situation anymore than she already had. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” he questioned confused by her reaction. He watched her move over to the stove ready to put on the tea kettle.

“For all of this,” she waved her hand in the air in front of her. “For making you think that there’s something happening here with us.”

“There is something happening here with us,” he took a tentative step towards her. “You can’t tell me that you don’t think so because I’m pretty sure that you do especially after that kiss.”

“Grady, I’ll be honest with you and say that I find you attractive,” her eyes perused him very thoroughly, “Very attractive in fact, but right now I can’t think about those things. I can’t live life with my repressed libido guiding me around. I have a son who needs a mother who is responsible and smart and…”

“I’m pretty sure Zane would want you to enjoy life a little bit,” he continued refusing to allow the wall she was building between them take away from the moment. He approached her in a cautious, yet confident stride. Finally when he stood in front of her, he reached out to her again, “Deana just because you’ve been burned in the past doesn’t mean that it could happen again.”

“Grady we both know it could happen again to any of us,” she noted with a small frown, “You of all people should see that.”

“Yeah, okay so I’ll admit it my track record hasn’t exactly been excellent, but hey I’m willing to overlook that long enough to see what we can have between us,” Grady mouthed his green eyes sparkling down at her.

“But I’m not. Grady if I end up giving this a try and we wind up realizing it was a mistake, I’m not only getting my hopes up to have them come crashing down, but I’ll be doing that to Zane as well. I’ve seen my son disappointed time and time again and I can’t do that to him again,” she protested worry evident in her brow.

“Deana, you can’t just stop living either. You can’t ignore the fact that you need a life too. You can’t just pretend that you don’t have feelings or emotions, wants or needs,” his voice took on a low, husky tone. He cupped her face in his hands, moving in towards her, his determined green eyes burning into her.

“My needs and wants have to take a backseat to Zane,” she pleaded with him, a longing filling up inside of her at the nearness of him. Her gaze fell upon his lips and she found herself wanting nothing more than to get lost in his kisses, to learn what it felt like to have those lips over her in other places--to know what it would be like to touch him and have him touch her. “He’s my top priority.”

“I realize that and it’s one of the things I admire about you,” Grady continued adamantly. “I mean you’re stubborn as hell, but you are one of the most responsible, goal driven, priority oriented women I have ever met. You have this way about you that just amazes me time and time again.”

“Now you’re just trying to butter me up into seeing things the way you want them to be,” she shook her head at him.

“No, I’m saying this because it’s the truth,” he added with a soft, sexy tone, “I mean sure I know there are risks involved, but I think we’re worth taking a chance on. I like Zane. I think he’s a great kid and…”

“And when you decide that this thing with us has run it’s course, then what are you going to tell him?” Deana questioned worry washing over her and killing all the desire that had coiled through her.

“I’m going to say to him that I think his mother is a wonderful woman and I wish that she hadn’t dumped me,” Grady replied with a sexy smirk, “because it would be a pity for her to let go of me when there’s still so much potential between us.”

“Grady, I’m serious…” she frowned up at him.

“So am I,” he curled his arm around her waist drawing her in against his powerful chest, “I’m seriously longing for an opportunity to get you where I want you.”

“And where might that be,” she couldn’t help but ask her lower lip trembling with a mixture of emotions.

“Something a bit like,” he inched in towards her once again, “this.”

Before she could say anything further, she felt his lips collide with hers. This time there was a yearning behind them--an urgent sensation that bounced between them. Unable to contain her own desires, she reached out to him placing her hands at the bottom of his sweater remembering what had happened the last time they’d started this with one another. She hesitated breaking away from the kiss.

“Admit it,” he spoke up in a thick, masculine voice, “you want me just as bad as I want you right now.”

“I’m so going to regret this in the morning,” she mouthed tearing his sweater up over his body in one lightening quick tug. This time she wasn’t hindered by the dynamics of the material. It fell to the floor in one quick, clean movement leaving her to explore the warm, muscled contours of his chest. Only unlike before Zane wasn’t standing in the doorway bringing the situation to a halt. Instinctively she leaned forward placing small kisses over his bronzed skin. Her tongue darted over the moist heat of his flesh, knowing that she was moving into dangerous territory with him, but suddenly she didn‘t care about the risk.

“Oh no you don’t,” Grady shook his head, his hands sliding up over her curves. He pulled back ever so slightly to see her eyes scorching with desire. He brushed his thumb over her lower lip gently before speaking up again, “I’m the one who set out to seduce you, so we’re not about to spin this situation around just yet.”

“Grady, I just…” Deana’s words were silenced by his kiss once more. She felt him peel away at her shirt before sweeping her up into his arms and carrying her out of the kitchen and into the hallway.

“Wait,” Deana mouthed in a small whisper feeling his strong hold on her.

“What?” Grady questioned confused by the sudden worry behind her dark eyes.

“We have to be quiet,” Deana motioned to Zane’s room. “This apartment isn’t exactly as insulated as you might think…”

“We won’t wake him up,” Grady promised looking to the doors in front of him. “Which one is your bedroom?”

She nodded in the direction, “Over there, but be quiet.”

“For now,” he mouthed tipping down to kiss her again, “but once we get into your bedroom there are no promises.”

“Grady,” her eyes shot a disapproving glare up at him.

“I’m just saying,” he shrugged his shoulders moving towards her room. He reached for the doorknob before pausing, “One question. You do have a lock on the door, right?”

“Of course I do,” she nodded feeling him push the door open and step into the bedroom.

“Good,” he mouthed claiming her lips again before carrying her haphazardly over to the bed. Her arms curled around him, nails grazing his skin before he tore himself away from her.

“Hold that thought,” he held his finger up in the air, carefully setting her down on the bed. He rushed over to the bedroom door, locked it and then looked back to see her laid out over the center of the bed clad only in her bra and sweatpants.

“Not exactly the picture perfect idea of lust, right?” she tried to make light of the situation knowing that she had to look completely horrible right about now.

“Actually, I was just thinking I’ve never seen anyone look more beautiful than you do right now,” he smiled at her, moving in over her to kiss her once again.

As their caresses grew more needy, kisses full of longing and anticipation, she felt Grady work to get her out of her sweatpants. She more than returned the favor in getting him out of his jeans until she thought she heard a noise. She paused popping her head up to listen.

“Do you hear something?” Grady questioned his lips dropping tiny kisses over her neck.

“I don’t know,” she paused squeezing him over her. She stayed still before shaking her head, “No, it’s nothing.”

“Good,” Grady eased his lips back to hers again, “Now where were we?”

“Right about here,” she squeezed him in over her, another moment of pause emerging between them. “Grady…wait I have to ask you something.”

“What?” he asked, his breath coming out in a small labored gasp.

“Well I just…I mean I know I’m one that works in the hospital, but as Zane said before, I’m not exactly big on ‘sleepovers’ and,” she felt a blush rise over her face at the thought of how to bring up what was on her mind. “It’s just I never planned on trying to get into something like this--with you or anyone for that matter since I have Zane around and in terms of protection…”

“I’ve got it covered,” Grady promised pulling a condom out of his discarded pants pocket. He held it up to show her and she bit down on her lip in anticipation.

“Good, I just figured I’d check since I’m all about safety first,” she mouthed feeling him hover over her.

“Yeah, me too,” Grady replied bending down to kiss her again, vowing to take his time with her and show her a night that neither one of them would ever forget. Sure, maybe they were delving into territory that was anything, but safe, but it was something that he was certain neither one of them would forget now that fate was giving them both a second chance at enjoying life all over again.



...to be continued...