Episode 323

“You are going to find it nice being with us for a while Cori,” Don informed Cori from the driver’s seat in his car with a bright smile. A laugh escaped his lips as he turned on the radio seeing the look in Cori’s eyes. “Trust me, it’s a really great place. Everyone will be nice to you, I promise.”

“I’m sure I will love it,” Cori took in a deep breath before leaning her head back against the seat, there was no way that she would enjoy going to Don’s house when she wanted to be at Rob’s, but eventually she would get what she wanted. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” Don smiled proudly before looking over at Shannon and offering up a small wink, reaching his hand over to hers and give it a small squeeze. “You are going to be safe with me and Shannon.”

“My brother is there too,” Shannon informed Cori looking back to see Cori hardly listening to them as she stared out the window at something. “He’s just right across the hallway from you and I’m sure you will feel safe with him around. He’s kind of a tough kid and you have Matt there. Matt knows everything…”

“I’m sure I will be fine,” Cori sighed deeply sounding like a child that wasn’t getting what she wanted. Cori looked up towards the ceiling before shaking her head slowly. “So I’ll have a room all to myself?”

“Yep,” Don nodded tapping his fingers on the steering wheel before smiling widely and looking back at Cori in the mirror. “If you want to keep your privacy you can lock your doors too. Just make yourself at home when you get to my home. My home is your home.”

“Gee, thanks,” Cori bit down on her bottom lip as Don pulled into the driveway and Cori took a look out the window, a frown pouring out over her lips. “This is it, right?”

“Right,” Don nodded stepping out of the car and opening Cori’s door for her before grabbing her bag from the trunk, throwing it over his shoulder. “Just step forward and I will show you to your room. You don’t mind opening the door do you Shannon?”

“Of course not,” Shannon chuckled seeing the not so pleased look spread out over Cori’s features as she reached for her smaller bag and followed Don towards the front door. “Trust me Cori, you won’t have much trouble here. Everyone tends to stay to themselves here. No one will bother you.”

“That’s great to hear,” Coir muttered following Don and Shannon into the house seeing Don point straight ahead to show her where the kitchen was. “I guess this will be okay.”

“Of course it will kiddo,” Don wrapped his arm around Cori’s shoulders feeling her tense up underneath him and a wide smile spread out over his features. “You are going to love it here kid, nothing can go wrong at Don Leveski’s house.”

“That’s nice,” Cori pulled out from under his arm before looking down the hallway, shrugging her shoulders as she spoke up slowly. “So, where is this room I am staying in?”

“Oh yeah,” Don snapped his fingers motioning her to follow him as he went to the first room on the left and moved the door open for her to look in. “It’s a pretty decent sized room. The bathroom is the room right next to you and her brother is across the hallway. Feel free to get yourself anything in the kitchen too.”

“Thanks Don,” Cori watched him set the bag down on the bed before nodding slowly and walking towards the door. “If your dad calls tell him that this will be just fine and I will be alright.”

“Will do,” Don winked closing her door behind him and he let out a long breath, his blue eyes widening as he met Shannon in the living room. “I don’t know why I let that nut stay in my place.”

“Maybe it was because you wanted to save your parents and grief about her,” Shannon pointed out seeing Don nod before falling back onto his couch and looking up at her with his blue eyes. “We both know that if she would have stayed your parents would have gone insane.”

“You’re right,” Don nodded slowly before looking around the room and shaking his head slowly. “I just hope Matt is going to be okay with all of this.”

“I’m sure it will be okay with him,” Shannon laughed getting over Don carefully, sliding her fingers through his thick short hair slowly. “Let’s not think about Cori right now, let’s think about something else.”

“Sounds great to me,” Don stood up from the couch and picked her up in his arms leading her over towards the bedroom, kicking the door shut as soon as he got in. “We’ll just check in on her later, she’s the least of my worries right now.”


“What were you thinking?” Alicia questioned resting her hands on her hips as Rob walked into the kitchen and took a seat at the kitchen table. “I honestly don’t know what has gotten into you lately Rob, something has changed about you.”

“Nothing has changed about me Alicia,” Rob looked up at her with his blue eyes begging her not to get mad at him as he folded his arms out in front of him. “I’m not trying to do anything wrong, I am just trying to be a good guy.”

“To her?” she muttered seeing him nod slowly as she shook her head thinking about everything she had heard on the news with her and Diego. “The girl sounds like major liar Rob, I don’t know why you even believe her in all of this. Diego sounds as innocent as they come and still you believed her.”

“I think of her like a daughter Alicia,” he stated in a small breath thinking about all the things he had told Cori and how he had taken care of her back in the day when she was on the basketball team he coached. “I love her like she is my own and when she told me that…”

“You went and attacked someone?” Alicia finished off seeing his blue eyes look into hers before shaking his head slowly and looking away from her. “That’s not like you at all Rob. You usually think situations over first and…”

“I guess I was just thinking about our own daughter,” Rob offered up what he thought seeing Alicia’s dark eyes widen as he shrugged his shoulders. “I got to thinking, what if this happened to my real daughter? I didn’t like guys like that and I didn’t want him to be out there to hurt my little one.”

“That’s the only thing Rob, she isn’t your little one,” Alicia blurted out seeing him rest his head against the table before letting out a long sigh. “Rob, don’t you understand what she is doing to you? You should know that this is all wrong, I don’t trust her.”

“I’m trying to,” he whispered looking up into his wife’s eyes seeing the way she seemed to be so angered with everything he had done. Truthfully he was just trying to be a good father figure because Cori obviously needed someone to give her a helping hand, but didn’t that led him no where. “I just wanted to be something she never had.”

“Well the something I think she wants you to be, she really can’t have,” she snapped thinking about all the looks she saw Cori give him and all the ways she would talk to Rob. At first Alicia had thought it was just in her mind, but when Dorothy saw it too she knew something was wrong. “Rob, she looks at you like I look at you every day of my life. That scares me Rob, I don’t know what she is trying with you.”

“Honey, even if she does look at me like you do,” Rob stood up from the kitchen table walking over towards her and wrapping his arms around her tightly. A small breath escaped her lips as he pressed a small kiss against her forehead gently. “It wouldn’t work out for her because I only have eyes for one woman and that’s you. Alicia I love you and if you don’t know that, I don’t know what I have been doing since I was eighteen. You’re everything to me and no one is going to take the feelings I have for you away. You are perfect for me, you make me who I am.”

“Then why do I get the worst feeling every time she is around you?” she asked him quietly looking up to his blue eyes, reaching her hand up and touching the side of his face carefully. “Why do I feel threatened by her?”

“I don’t know honey,” Rob hushed her placing his index finger in over her lips carefully before leaning forward and pressing a small kiss up against her lips. “All I know is that nothing is going to take me away from you. If you want me to stay away from her, I will try to do that just for you.”

“If you need to help her, I can’t stop you,” Alicia pointed out giving him another small kiss before frowning feeling his arm wrap around her waist loosely. “All I am asking you to do is be careful. That’s all.”


“This is just great,” Cori pulled her pillow closer to her body before looking around the room before her. It was nice of Don to offer up his home for her to stay in, but truthfully this was the last place she wanted to be. The room she was staying was amazingly beautiful and it was pretty big, but that didn’t mean she didn’t feel uncomfortable. A sudden noise blasted through her ears as she let out a small groan. “So much for the house being quiet.”

Cori looked around the room trying to distract herself from the music filling her ears coming from the bathroom as she let out a small scowl. Thinking quickly she grabbed her pillow and placed it over her head trying to block out the noise before kicking her feet on the bed.

“This is crazy,” she whispered to herself reaching down to her small bag to pull out a magazine looking over the pictures slowly. There had to be something that could block the music out of her ears, but nothing seemed to. “Either that music is really loud or I have super good hearing tonight.”

Deciding that she couldn’t handle it anymore Cori got out off of her bed and walked out of her room quickly looking around the hallway seeing it empty telling her that obviously it wasn’t bothering anyone else with the music.

“Hello?” Cori knocked on the bathroom door over and over again hearing the shower on behind the music as she turned the handle to the door taking a look inside. Stepping into the bathroom she saw the CD player sitting on the sink and she reached to turn it down a bit while the steam filled her lungs.

“Shannon, I’m almost done and that’s my favorite song,” a man’s voice erupted through her ears as she paused right in her tracks hearing the shower turn off and she saw the shower curtain open showing her the face of the man she had ran into at the party. Seeing Cori stand before him Nate jumped back hearing her scream and he let out a small scream of his own. “What the hell are you doing in my bathroom?”

“Your bathroom?” Cori wrinkled her nose seeing the way Nate’s green eyes stared into hers as she looked down slowly feeling a breath catch her throat at seeing him standing naked before her. Nate noticed the way she was looking at him as he covered himself with his hands and turned to the side a bit. “Don said this was his house.”

“It is his house,” Nate answered truthfully seeing her brown eyes finally meet his again as he cleared his throat and nodded over towards the sink where a white towel was sitting on top of it. “Can you hand me that please.”

“Sure,” Cori quickly grabbed the towel seeing him turn and face the wall wrapping the small towel around his hips before letting out a small sigh. Out of the corner of her eye Cori saw Don show up at the door clad only in a sheet as a frown appeared over his features. “Don, hey.”

“Is something wrong, I heard screams and…,” Don went to finish his sentence before seeing Nate step out of the shower with the small towel around him and Don rolled his eyes. “I should have known, I would scream too if I saw him.”

“Blow me,” Nate stuck his tongue out at Don before holding his hand up in the air seeing Cori watch his every movement. “Oh wait, why don’t you let my sister do that for you.”

“Cori, meet Shannon’s brother--Nate,” Don frowned before holding his right hand up in the air slowly, pointing back towards his bedroom. “You know where to find me if you need me.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Nate bit down on his bottom lip turning to face Cori again as he pushed back his wet medium length hair. “So, you want to tell me just what you are doing at my brother-in-law’s house? Further the point, you want to tell me why you came in here to spy on me in the shower?”


Dave stood at the door to the room that Sarah and Diego had been in for a while as he watched them hug again through the small window. There were so many things running through his mind as he watched Diego touch her in ways that he knew only someone in love would do. Panic swept over him as he saw Sarah look back towards the door and he bent down to pick up the pen he dropped slowly sliding over to the middle of the hallway before standing up.

“I’ll talk to you later, I promise,” Dave heard Sarah’s voice as he saw her shut the door and leave Diego alone in the room as she turned to leave and he cleared his throat so she could hear him. Sarah slowly turned around to face him as she let out a small gasp. “Dave, what are you doing?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” Dave pointed out with a small nod seeing her take a few small steps in closer to him as he stood up straight, “but somehow I don’t think I would get the truth from you in any way at all.”

“What do you mean by that?” Sarah questioned not knowing how to take that statement as Dave moved forward and eyed her over carefully before grabbing the wig she had been wearing when she first came in. “I guess you are probably wondering why I snuck in here like this, right?”

“That is one of the questions that is lingering in my mind, yes,” Dave nodded seeing her dark eyes widen as he itched his chin slowly amused with the way she was thinking of something to say. “I don’t want a bull story either, I want the truth Sarah. Why did you lie about who you were just so you could go in and see Diego?”

“I know it seems weird,” Sarah began to speak seeing Dave nod slowly before leaning in against the wall, his full attention was on her as she spoke. It would have been surprising if he didn’t worry her, but right now she was stuck on her words not knowing what to say to him. “I’m just worried about him and I wanted to make sure he is okay. We had gotten into a fight earlier and I didn’t know if he would want to see me.”

“Right, well I can tell you one thing--I’m pretty sure he will be okay,” Dave smiled widely folding his arms out in front of his chest and resting his head back against the wall. Sarah was about to walk away before he laughed and called out to her once more. “Hey Sarah, where is Kyle?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah gulped down turning around to face Dave seeing the look behind his dark eyes as she placed her hand over her abdomen. “Last time I heard from him, I thought he said he was going to work.”

“I see,” he pondered her words seeing the way that she slowly stepped away from him. Dave reached out to grab her shoulder giving it a small squeeze before shaking his head slowly. “Congratulations on the baby by the way. Kyle must be having a blast knowing the woman he loves is having his child.”

“Of course he is,” Sarah smiled widely before pointing back towards the doors to leave. “Listen, I would love to talk, but I really have to get going right now. In fact, Kyle might be home waiting for me. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bye,” Dave got out watching her run towards the doors and quickly walk out making Dave even more tempted to find out what was going on. Slowly Dave turned on his heels walking into the room that Sarah left Diego in, seeing Diego’s eyes look up into his. “What have you gotten yourself into my friend?”

“What?” Diego muttered seeing the way that Dave was staring out at him as Diego shrugged his shoulders not quite knowing what to say as Dave leaned back against the door. “If this is about your sister man, I swear I never did anything to hurt her.”

“Right,” Dave nodded slowly watching the way Diego’s confused dark eyes looked into his as Dave motioned him to stand up, that way he could take Diego to his room for the night. After accomplishing his goal, Dave gave Diego a glance over. “Bye Diego, sleep tight.”


“Okay take five,” Lance explained stepping away from the camera now that he’d finished off a roll of film. “I just have to change this and I’ll be right back.”

“Sure, no problem,” Heather forced a smile hoping to convey an air of being cool and collected, but as she felt Kyle’s hands on her, she knew that she was anything but collected. She tipped her head back seeing the smirk on his face and she couldn’t help but feel a jolt of electricity pour out over her keeping her on her toes in a matter of speaking.

“And here I was just warming up,” Kyle teased with a small wink, “Too bad he ran out of film because you would’ve loved what I had planned next.”

“And just what might that be?” she questioned turning in his arms to face him. She felt his gaze drop down to her breasts involuntarily despite the fact she was certain he’d tried to be polite about the matter. Then again this was Kyle she was dealing with. He hadn’t been polite about things since they day they’d almost kissed in that fountain with one another, so why should she expect it now?

“Well for starters,” Kyle’s arm slipped around her waist pulling her in flush against him, “I think I should keep you close to me because you’re becoming a distraction all over again.”

“Am I?” she arched a curious brow noting the desire behind his eyes.

“You know full well you are, but I’m guessing that’s a role you rather enjoy,” Kyle’s gaze swept over hers hungrily, “Being a distraction that is.”

“Don’t play so innocent Kyle,” Heather shook her head at him, teasing her index finger down over the center of his bare chest brazenly, “You enjoy my distracting you.”

“More than I probably should,” Kyle revealed with a laugh that was supposed to come off cool and collected, but instead had a nervous feel to it.

“Who says?” she challenged meeting his eyes, a moment of silence falling over them. She cleared her throat again and looked to over where Lance was working on reloading the camera. “By the way if I didn’t say it earlier, thank you for helping out with this.”

Kyle couldn’t help but laugh at her words, “Do you really think that you need to be thanking me for what I’m doing here? I mean really what man wouldn’t pay to have the job I’ve had all this time?”

“Oh come on,’” she swatted at his chest lightly, “You know you’ve been squirming behind me even if you’re pretending that you’re okay with all of this.”

“Squirming,” he repeated with a small laugh, “Heather I can assure you that I’ve been doing anything, but squirming here. I’ve been pretty hot and bothered to be honest with you.”

“Right,” she mouthed with an air of disbelief, “Friends very seldom do that for one another.”

“Not many people are friends like we are,” Kyle squeezed her in closer to him, his tone taking in a darker, more intimate timbre, “Face it Heather you and I have a really unique kind of connection.”

“One that leads to frustration at the end of the flirting,” she pointed out thinking about how he was in fact engaged to her sister.

“It didn’t always lead to frustration if memory serves me right,” he wiggled his brow at her, thoughts returning to their younger years, “We used to have some pretty good times with one another back in the day.”

“You’re only saying that because I’m just the first girl to play with your…” her words trailed off, gaze dropping down to the silk boxer shorts he was wearing.

“If I had my way back then, you would have been the only girl that had played with it,” Kyle explained in a sudden seriousness, his eyes taking on an altogether different expression in the moment. “We had a lot of fun together Heather and most of it involved keeping our clothes on. You know that.”

“How could I forget?” she smiled at him gently. “You were probably one of the only people who were nice to me before I made a name for myself.”

“I was nice to you because you deserved nothing less than that,” he confessed reaching out to touch her face tenderly, “You’re an amazing woman Heather. You’ve always been nothing short of incredible.”

“But still too short of being Sarah for you to notice,” she added feeling an uneasiness at the way he was holding her. She stepped back out of his arms not giving him the opportunity to keep the contact between them. She reached out from over his shoulder grabbing her shirt before she would do or say anything to make the situation worse.

“Heather…” Kyle watched her retreat feeling like he’d suddenly done something very wrong, something that had no doubt hurt her in ways he hadn’t intended to.

“I’m going to just get a water,” she explained in a rushed tone, her green eyes pleading with him to just leave well enough alone.

She buttoned up her shirt, gave him one last look and walked away wondering if she would be able to keep pretending that all of their flirting wasn’t effecting her. She glanced back at him seeing the way he was watching her, the way his eyes seemed to reach out and embrace her in all the ways that she’d wished every other part of him would. In that moment she realized that she would have given anything to have him doing just that with her. Of course the punch line in this cruel joke was that it didn’t matter what she wished for considering that he’d already given his heart and his love to the one woman in the world she’d never been able to compete with--her sister.


“Do you mean what you said?” Trisha muttered seeing Chase nod slowly and wrap his arms tighter around her as she leaned forward and rested her head against his chest. “I’ve never had someone tell me that they loved me. Well, other than my parents and Ria, but they are my family and that’s it.”

“Well now you want might change the list,” Chase whispered reaching his index finger underneath her chin to get her to look up at him with her dark eyes as he shook his head slowly. “I’m someone who really loves you Trisha, you have to believe that. Until I met you, I didn’t even know what the word love meant.”

“How am I supposed to believe you?” Trisha eyed him over carefully pulling herself out of his arms so she could look into his blue eyes in the moonlight. “How do I know you aren’t saying this just so I won’t break up with you?”

“If you must know,” he began thinking of all the reasons he loved Trisha, but nothing could equal up in words to what she was to him. “Let’s just put it this way, I have never told someone I loved them. I never let someone get close enough to me because I have seen so many people get hurt, but I never loved someone until I met you. When I look into your eyes I see the future and I see you still with me. Loving me and I know in that, its meant to be with you and me. I can’t think of anything else when I am by myself. When I sleep I dream of you, hell--even when I am at the DJ job, I play songs that remind me of you.”

“Chase come on,” Trisha chuckled seeing the way that he frowned when she cut him off. She folded her arms out in front of her chest before thinking about everything he had said. “I have never meant that much to someone.”

“Well you mean that much to me,” he reached out to grab her in his arms, making her look up at the sky with him as he held her tightly. “If you look up at the sky you can see all those stars shining bright. It’s almost like a nightlight for a child that is afraid of the dark.”

“What’s your point Chase?” Trisha looked up at the stars feeling his arms tighten around her and she looked back down into his blue eyes seeing the way he was staring out at her. “I don’t want to play games.”

“I don’t want to play games with you Trisha because the fact is--you are my nightlight. I’m that child that needs you to feel complete,” Chase stated seeing the way the confused expression filled out through her features. “Honey, I love you. I’m like that boy that is afraid of the dark, afraid to take a step forward into the darkness not knowing where I am going to end up next. The things is, my life has been like that forever. I’m a boy that walks down the dark hallways not knowing what is going to pull me aside or what is going to meet me along the way. I lived life by questions and thoughts of what could happen instead of what I wanted to happen. When I have you, I think of all the things I can see. You’re that light I have that when it’s on, I know where I am going. I can see the hallway in front of me and I’m not afraid to take a step forward. When I look at you, my dark sky fills up and shows me the right way to go. I can’t lose you Trisha, I don’t want to walk the dark hallways again because I love. Without your beautiful light in my world I’m the boy that’s lost and scared again. Please don’t take my light away Trisha because I love you. I need your light to be there for me.”

“Chase,” Trisha bit down on her bottom lip placing her hand over her chest before taking in a deep breath and thinking about his words. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything,” Chase hushed her his jaw flexing with worry as he reached out to push a piece of hair behind her ear. “Just tell me you feel the same. Tell me you love me just like I love you and that’s all I need to hear from you. If that’s not how you feel, I guess I have to leave knowing someone else is going to be lucky enough to have my light I should have been more careful with. Just please tell me you love me like I love you.”

“Chase, I’m sorry,” Trisha saw him step back and let her out of his grasp as he stumbled back and nodded slowly. He turned around as she place her hand over her lips. “I’m sorry that I got so mad at you because I love you too.”

“What?” Chase looked over his shoulder at her at first thinking she was telling him that she didn’t want to be with him anymore, but she just gave him the words he wanted to hear. “You’re serious? You love me too?”

“Of course I do,” she nodded feeling him grab her in his arms and hold her tightly, kissing her again and again like he would never stop. “Chase, can I ask you to do one thing for me though?”

“Sure, anything,” Chase nodded leaning forward to kiss her again quickly before smiling widely and giving her a tight squeeze. “Anything you want--anything at all.”

“Can you give me a ride home?” Trisha chuckled to herself before pushing her hair back and looking into his eyes. “I think my sister and my friend bailed out on me.”

“Sure sweetheart,” Chase whispered pressing another kiss against Trisha’s forehead taking in a deep breath. “I’ll do anything for you. Anything at all.”


“Hey sexy,” Ria opened up the door to her apartment greeting Kevin with a bright smile. She moved forward to embrace him when she spotted the various bags and containers in his arms. Puzzled she stepped back to take it all in. “What’s this?”

“Well, they had a sale at the grocery store,” Kevin started to explain nodding towards one of the bags, then to the plastic containers. “And these were from Blake. She’s been baking all day and insisted that I bring back some of her muffins to you. They’re pretty good so I’m sure we’ll eat them…”

“Let me give you a hand,” Ria reached out to take one of the containers.

“I’ve got it,” Kevin tried to offer up, but he felt her take one from him instead.

“It’s okay,” she mouthed with a small smile, “You should save your strength for later.”

“I like the sound of that,” Kevin grinned using his foot to kick the door closed behind him. He looked around the apartment before following her into the kitchen. “So tell me, you really did miss me that much that you had to leave early, eh?”

“Well I could tell you that was entirely the case,” she glanced over her shoulder at him while setting down the container on the countertop, “but I’d be lying. My calling you and leaving the party wasn’t entirely about my missing you.”

“Hmm, and here I was starting to feel special,” he set the rest of what he was carrying down on her kitchen table.

“You are special,” Ria reminded him stepping in to slide her arms around his waist. “I’m just saying that tonight in my returning someone else had a hand in all of this.”

“Whomever they are I must thank them,” he pulled her into a deeper embrace dipping her in his arms, “because I missed you.”

“I’m sure you did,” she laughed lightly feeling his lips brush against hers for a small kiss.

“So tell me who do I have to thank for bringing you back to me?” he mused standing up straighter with her in his arms.

“Chase actually,” Ria couldn’t help but laugh thinking about how the night had played out. She released Kevin and brought her hand up to the side of her face. “It’s not funny really…”

“What’s not funny?” he asked searching her dark eyes.

“What happened tonight,” Ria explained with a shake of her head, “I mean you think you know people, but then they throw you for a loop there. Take Chase for example. He seems like a pretty laid back, mild mannered guy, right?”

“I suppose,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders, “I never really thought about it. I mean from what you’ve told me he’s gone out of his way to capture Trisha’s attention and from what I’ve seen he seems okay.”

“Yeah well not everything is as it seems,” she explained with a cryptic tone.

“Okay I’ll bite,” Kevin reached out to her picking her up in his arms and carrying her out into the living room. He set her down on the couch before moving in beside her, “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Oh it’s a lot,” Ria shook her head laughter bubbling over her, “but more so it stems from what Chase hasn’t been telling Trisha.”

“Which would be?” Kevin arched a curious brow noticing the amusement that carried over Ria.

“Let’s just say that our buddy Chase has been getting quite a workout lately,” Ria wiggled her brow fighting to suppress the laugh that bubbled in the back of her throat.

“Once again I’m not following,” Kevin admitted curiously. “What’s up?”

“Oh that’s one way of putting it,” she chuckled again before pulling herself together again, “it’s really not funny.”

“Okay, then why are you laughing and why aren’t you sharing this ‘really not funny’ moment with me?” he couldn’t help but ask surprised at her reaction to whatever secret she was holding onto.

“Well, we were at a bar, then we went to a strip club,” she paused dramatically, “and just when we took our seats the act came out and before we knew it a few of the girls were whistling and hollering at the guy on stage until…”

Kevin saw the truth behind her eyes, “Don’t say it. I mean you’ve got to be kidding me on this one, right?”

“Afraid not,” she shook her head, “Chase was up there on center stage doing a dance in a little g-string and…”

“Okay stop right there,” Kevin brought his hands up over his ears, “I so don’t want to hear this one. You can leave it at Chase was the stripper. I don’t need a play by play about another man being mostly naked there.”

“Why not?” she wiggled her brow at him, “It was kind of an interesting moment.”

“Maybe for you, but if you expect me to ever spend any time with that man around I’m going to not want to be thinking about how you said he looked in a g-string,” he wrinkled his nose at her. “Unless of course we won’t be seeing him around. In which case you still don’t have to give me details.”

“Well that’s the funny thing,” Ria continued to inform her. “Trisha was furious and with good reason. I mean it’s not everyday you find out that your oh so perfect boyfriend is a stripper, but still…”

“So what happened?” Kevin questioned curiously.

“She left and he went after her. I think they talked or whatever because they seemed to be on speaking terms when I left,” she shrugged her shoulders and let out a sigh. “Trisha seemed to be handling everything on her own, so I didn’t butt in. I think that was what she was hoping for, so I let her do her own thing and I…”

“Came home to do yours, right?” Kevin wrapped her up in his arms again.

“Something like that,” she nodded teasing her finger over the center of his chest.

“And what about Trisha?” he questioned lazily teasing his palms over her back.

“I think she can hold her own on this one and I’m thinking about holding my own,” she reached down to squeeze his bottom firmly. “Of course I must admit in all of the drama tonight I realized something…”

“What’s that?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“You see Trisha got her man on stage doing a strip dance for her. Granted it was in front of a room full of strangers, but still…” she trailed off teasing her fingers over the front of his shirt.

“Still what?” he searched her dark eyes, “Oh come on. Don’t tell me you want me to get up on stage and…”

“Well not exactly,” she shook her head a smile turning up over the corners of her lips, “but maybe if you and I had a private one on one showing with you doing a dance for me…”

“So this all came to you after your sister’s turmoil,” Kevin shook his head at her. “Shame on you Ria for being so very insensitive.”

“What?” she replied innocently, “Come on. You know that Trisha and Chase are probably kissing and making up right now.”

“Still to use your sister’s personal tragedy to think of ways to improve your already fabulous sex life,” he shook his head at her, a frown creasing over his lips, “You truly should be ashamed of yourself. Why if I had it in me right now I’d take you over my knee and spank you considering that…”

“Now hold that thought,” Ria reached out to grab the front of his shirt tugging him towards her. Their lips were a fraction of an inch from one another when their eyes met once again, “That’s another fantasy for another time, but right now you owe me a striptease and I’m not taking no for an answer Kevin.”

“Ria you’re so demanding and bossy right now,” Kevin replied cracking the first hints of a smile, “but somehow I have to say I really like it.”

“Good, then about that dance…” she lowered her voice to a sultry tone.

“Consider yourself in for the thrill ride of your life,” Kevin promised vowing to make the most of this time he and Ria had with one another away from the rest of the world. Yes, life was truly looking up for the both of them.


“Right this way to paradise,” Brant explained lacing his fingers with Angela’s before bringing her into the oversized kitchen. He stepped aside motioning for her to follow him over to one of the barstools. “I can promise you something you’re never going to forget tonight.”

“That’s kind of what I was hoping for,” she mouthed in a low, seductive purr sliding her arms around his waist. She stepped forward moving up on her toes and leaning her chin on his shoulder to get closer to him.

“All in good time my dear,” he promised turning ever so slightly to steal a quick kiss from her before motioning to the refrigerator in front of them. “Of course the real question of the hour is which flavor will we indulge in tonight? I know I promised you a hot fudge sundae, but I was thinking a banana split sounded nice.”

“A banana split huh,” she watched him move over to the freezer to pull it open. Leaning up against the counter she winked over at him, “Now that you mention it I’m sure that we can certainly work on something along those lines upstairs…”

“Tell me something,” Brant popped his head out from the freezer to give her one long look of desire. Despite the fact he’d been trying to play it cool and easy, there was nothing about this situation that put him at ease. Just looking at those never ending legs of hers had him thinking about all the things that she was suggesting with her teasing hints of flirting. Sure, he knew how easy it could be to ravish her again and again and now that she stood before him in his shirt alone he couldn’t help but want to fall back into that tempting habit of theirs. Still, he knew full well tonight was supposed to be about new beginnings for them even if it killed him. Letting out a small sigh he finished, “Is sex the only thing you ever think about?”

“Only when I’m with you,” she countered her lips curling in such a way that he wanted to reach out to her, grab her right then and there and have his way with her. However after a moment’s contemplation he watched her lips curl in a downward motion, “Hey, isn’t that supposed to be my line here with you?”

“Honey I’m not the one who keeps spouting off about all the things I’d like to do to you,” Brant confessed carrying over a couple of containers of ice-cream he’d pulled out for them.

“Who knows?” she shrugged her shoulders watching him intently, “You might be enjoying yourself much more if you did.”

“You never quit, do you?” he spun around to face her, sliding his arms out over the sides of the countertop. His hands pressed on each side of her pinning her in against the marble counter. His gaze dropped down to her eyes seeing the specks of danger burning behind her beautiful chocolate warmth.

“Would you rather I did?” she couldn’t help but ask tipping her head up ever so slightly. Their mouths were so very close to meeting, yet so far away when she inched back slowly. “Would you rather I be coy about the situation like I was when we first met on the beach?”

“That’s not necessarily what I’m asking for,” he leaned in closer to her, his breath skimming down over her face, “but I was hoping for a little conversation to take place between us before we…”

“If you haven’t noticed,” she reached forward teasing her nails over his bare chest, “we’ve been conversing all night and I think we should reward ourselves on a job well done.”

“Hmm, well maybe you’re right,” Brant shrugged his shoulders caging her further in his arms by sliding his hands in towards her sides. “Maybe I could use a little reward right now.”

“Now that’s what I like to hear,” she arched her head up ready to bring them closer to one another. She could see him anticipating a kiss and with a wicked laugh, she ducked down and out of the kiss sliding out of his hold on her. “On second thought maybe ice-cream sounds like a better idea right now.”

“Oh you are such a tease,” Brant shook his head at her reaching for her arm and drawing her in close to him again, “Not so fast. You‘re not leaving that quickly especially after the way you‘ve been torturing me.”

“I’ve been torturing you?” she brought her hand up over her chest feigning innocence. “Hardly. You were the one who was torturing yourself and now, well now it’s time for us to get to what it is we se t out to do with one another in here.”

“Well if you insist,” Brant sighed heavily playing along with her little game and releasing her. He walked over to the refrigerator and pulled out a can of whipped cream and some cherries.

Carrying it over to the counter, he could feel her eyes on him, but he was going to give her the satisfaction of knowing just how much he wanted to stop with the games altogether and just take her upstairs. Still knowing how much was riding on this night being perfect, he wasn’t going to let his momentary flirting keep him from reaching his goal. He had to stay focused.

“Now about this banana split, what kind of ice-cream do you want,” Brant paused a thought coming to him in seeing her standing there.

“I’m not sure. Chocolate looks good, but…” she paused bringing her hand up to her face, “So does strawberry and…”

“And I think we should go for another opinion here,” Brant reached out to her urging her closer to him before he dropped down to his knees. He pressed his ear to her abdomen sitting still for a long moment before looking up at her. “I think we’re having a problem here.”

“A problem?” she frowned turning her attention to him, all of the flirting going out the window once worry crossed her brow. “What do you mean we have a problem?”

“Well it seems that our little ones are having their first fight,” Brant explained rubbing his hand over her abdomen. He paused for a moment dropping his head down to listen again. “Yep, there is certainly a brawl going on here.”

“A brawl,” Angela threw out a skeptic look.

“That’s right,” he nodded tipping his head up to look at her, “One of our babies said that strawberry sounds good, but the other one thinks that chocolate and maybe a little cookies and cream will do the trick. Wait…”

Angela watched him place his head up against her once again, his breath skimming over her abdomen. His arm curled around her waist and she couldn’t help but reach out to him sliding her fingers through his dark hair. She touched the side of his face gently before urging him to look up at her, “What are they saying now?”

“They are saying that they’ll compromise if we get cookies and cream, Neapolitan and for some reason they both seem to be fixated on something that sounds a whole heck of a lot like peanut butter cup ice-cream.”

“You don’t say,” Angela gave him a skeptical look.

“Uh huh,” he nodded further, “That’s what they are telling me Angela and you know our children couldn’t possibly be wrong.”

“No?” she arched a curious brow. “What if I told you I was allergic to peanut butter cups?”

“Are you,” he couldn’t help but ask worriedly.

She broke into a small fit of laughter, “No of course not. It’s actually one of my favorites, but I just figured since you were being presumptuous.”

“I’m not being presumptuous,” he argued with a small pout, “Far from it actually considering that I’m telling you that I’m listening to our children. They have a lot to say to me and I want to give them what they are longing for.”

“What about what their mother is longing for,” Angela’s eyes swept over to the countertop. Suddenly an idea sparked in her head, “Tell me something Brant. Are you allergic to whipped cream?”

“Allergic to whipped cream?” he repeated glancing up at her once again, “No, why do you…?”

Before he could finish his question, he spotted her reaching for the can of whipped cream out of the corner of his eye. He moved his hand up to stop her from doing something she would regret, but it was too late. He felt a spray of whipped cream come shooting out of the canister and onto the top of his head with a quick squirt.

Angela broke into laughter seeing the whipped cream all over his face. She placed her hand over her abdomen as laughter continued to pour over her, “Oh you do look delicious Brant.”

“I’ll show you delicious,” Brant rose up from his knees reaching for one of the half gallons of ice-cream. He popped the top off of it before dipping into the package to pull out a handful of chocolate ice-cream. He held it up in the air tauntingly before stepping towards her, “Hey honey, how about some of that chocolate?”

“Don’t you dare!” Angela squealed pointing the can of whipped cream at him in warning, “If you even think about it, then I’ll…”

“Take a good look at me,” he held his arms out in the air, “What else do I have to lose at this point? You on the other hand, well you just look too clean for the moment.”

“Brant, I’m in your shirt,” she motioned to what she was wearing, “You don’t really want to mess up this…”

Before she could say anything else, he launched the melting ice-cream in his hand at her seeing it smack over near her shoulder. It started to run down the front of his shirt in beneath the buttons. She let out a pinched yelp when the cold hit her skin.

“Oh you are so dead,” she sprayed whipped cream at him again feeling him toss more ice-cream towards her. Quickly she rushed over to the counter spraying him all the while. She grabbed the strawberry ice-cream, threw off the top and dipped her hand in to grab a thick, pile of cold ice-cream. She tossed it at him readily, watching it smack him right in the center of his face. She let out a victory squeal laughing wildly until he marched towards her reaching for the can of whipped cream in her hands.

“Give me that!” Brant insisted trying to wrench it away from her.

“No, it’s mine!” she argued wiggling in his arms once he held her beside him. They continued to fight over the canister, both trying to get the other one until the canister rolled out of their hands, flying up in the air and sending a thick, white spray into the air.

“Now look what you’ve done,” Angela blurted out with roaring laughter unable to contain herself as she looked to the mess around the kitchen. Both she and Brant were covered in ice-cream and the moment seemed completely disastrous except for the fact that they were in one another’s arms. However, before Brant could respond another voice caught both of their attention.

“Yes, look what you’ve done,” Augustus piped in wiping at his face after he’d been shot with the runaway can of whipped cream.

“Grandfather…” Brant blurted out realizing what had just happened and now to see Augie standing before him looking a bit agitated, he found himself at a loss. He wasn’t sure how to respond, about what to say, but in that moment all he could do was follow his instincts in what came to mind.

“Brant,” Augie replied giving him a strange look, his eyes shifting between Brant and Angela.

“Hey,” Brant waved at his grandfather before motioning to Angela hoping that this situation didn’t wind up being a lot worse than it felt right about now, “meet Angela.”


“There you are,” Avery’s words pulled Russ out of the creative spell he’d come into a short while earlier. He looked up from his computer to see her standing in the doorway wearing her robe. Her hair was a bit mussed and she looked rather tired standing before him. Walking into the room she smiled at him, “I thought that we were supposed to savor the time that we had sleeping before Erin woke up since that kind of down time is far and few these days.”

“I had some nervous energy,” Russ explained reaching out to her and pulling her into his lap. “An idea hit me and I couldn’t repress it any longer.”

“Back to the book again, huh?” she eyed the screen in front of her curiously.

“I guess spending all that time away got me back on track,” he nodded turning to look at the screen only to discover a picture of him from the island before him. Frowning he reached for the mouse wondering how it had popped up where his text document had been.

“Wait,” she placed her hand on top of his giving it a long look, “Russ, what is this?”

“Avery, it’s…” he stammered knowing full well that he should find the courage to just be honest with her. He glanced over at the screen worriedly seeing a slide show of sorts replace the image in front of them with another, more revealing one of him and Angela with one another.

“Oh my God,” Avery gasped a horrified expression sweeping over her pale features, “Russ, what is this? What in the world…”

“I’ll tell you what it is,” Kevin mouthed stepping into the room with a snarl, “It’s what your husband does when he’s not home with you and your daughter. It’s what he’s been doing on the island without you.”

“You mean he…” Avery’s horrified expression broke his heart as he watched her step away. “Oh god….”

“Avery, I can explain,” Russell rose to his feet reaching out to touch her only to feel her pull away from him.

“Stay away from me you bastard!” Avery shouted at him, her voice squealing with the hurt that seeing him and Angela together had spun out in her. “How could you do this to me? How could you lie about everything and destroy what we had like this?”

“I didn’t know,” Russell tried to defend himself. “I didn’t know who I was and when I met her, I thought that she was you. That she and I were…”

“Did you really lose our connection that much that you had to be with another woman? That you gave yourself to someone else when I was back here in Coral Valley missing you like crazy? When I thought you were dead and my world fell apart? There you were sleeping with some woman--some woman that looks like me and…”

“I swear I didn’t know. I thought she was you. I guess I thought that…” he realized how foolish he sounded.

“You really did lose touch with us, didn’t you? You and I aren’t connected with one another anymore. For you to do this,” Avery held her hand up in the air to keep him away from her. “Russ I don’t know who you are anymore.”

“Oh he’s Nick,” Kevin chuckled amused with what was taking place, “He’s a real ladies man and he’s getting what he deserves for stepping in and ruining my life. He stole Angela from me and now it’s time for you to know just how low he’ll go.”

“Stop it! That’s not what happened. That’s not how it went down. I can explain!” Russell pleaded reaching for Avery again, “Avery please just hear me out.”

“Brant was right about you. Everyone was right. I never should’ve left what I had with Brant behind for a two-timing lowlife like you,” Avery’s tear-filled eyes burned with hurt and animosity.

“That’s okay Avery,” Brant’s voice boomed into the room as he moved forward stepping in beside her. He placed his arm around her shoulders hugging her closer to him, “I’m going to take care of you. He’s not going to hurt you again. I promise you Avery.”

“Oh Brant,” she sobbed into his chest.

“Avery no,” Russ stepped forward horrified by what he was seeing. He reached for her again only to discover her and Brant walking out of the room, “Avery please. Don’t leave me. Avery.”

“She and Erin are in a better place away from a jerk like you,” Kevin laughed wickedly shoving his palm into Russell’s chest and sending him flying back into the chair by the computer desk. “Now you know what it feels like to have the only woman you’ve ever loved stolen from you by someone who had no business being a part of your life in the first place.”

“I didn’t know about you and Angela. I thought that she was Avery and…” Russell pleaded with him, trying to look out the doorway to find Avery.

“And nothing. Payback is a bitch Russ and you’re getting everything you deserve,” Kevin’s words rumbled through Russell’s head as the sound of his laughter filled the room surrounding Russell.

“No!” Russell shouted sitting upright in his bed to find himself alone. He reached out for Avery--to where he expected her to be only to discover the bed was empty. Perspiration clung to his chest, his breath was coming out in low, shallow pants and as the panic that carried over from his dream swept over him, he knew that he couldn’t keep the truth from Avery any longer. He had to be honest with her--had to tell her about Angela and his life on the island before he wound up losing everything that mattered to him.

“Russ,” Avery’s voice carried over his worries and he looked up to see her in the doorway with Erin in her arms. She was smiling at him, but her smile soon faded upon seeing him in such a frazzled state. She moved forward walking over to the bed, “Russ, what is it?”

“I was worried. When you were gone,” he began seeing her take a seat beside him bringing Erin close to him.

“She was hungry,” Avery explained in a calm and soothing voice, “You looked so tired that I didn’t want to wake you. If I would have known you‘d get this upset…”

“You didn’t upset me,” Russ replied taking in a long, slow breath while his eyes moved from Avery’s worried face to Erin’s big eyes gazing up at him, “I just had a nightmare. That’s all.”

“What kind of nightmare,” Avery questioned gently, a crease in her brow at seeing him so upset.

“One that I don’t want to talk about right now. All I want to do is spend the rest of the night here with my girls,” he scooted over on the bed to pull her and Erin in closer to him. “I want to just hold you both and let you know how much I love you.”

“We love you too Russ,” Avery mouthed handing Erin over to him. She watched him hold their daughter before she reached for his free arm and wrapped it around her own shoulders. Avery lay her head on his chest watching the way that Erin looked up at the both of them, “If you don’t know that by now, then we must be doing something wrong here.”

“No I know it,” Russ kissed the top of Avery’s head gently, “I just don’t want to lose this now that we’ve come this far.”

“We won’t lose this Russ. Not now, not ever,” she tried to assure him bringing her fingers in against his bare chest while Russ said a silent prayer that would truly be the case once Avery learned the truth about where he’d been and what he’d been doing in his absence.


“So, what do you think this means?” Deana questioned sliding her fingers in over Grady’s muscular chest, looking up into his green eyes as a sigh escaped her lips. “Does this mean that you think we should be together and start a relationship or…”

“I would like to think I can be considered your boyfriend now,” Grady chuckled teasing his fingertips in over the smooth skin of her back, seeing the way her dark eyes stared into his. “I care about you Deana and you need to know that.”

“I think I believe you,” Deana pointed out pressing a small kiss in over Grady’s chest feeling his fingers push back her hair carefully as they laid in her bed together. “It’s kind of funny, at first I really thought you were kind of a pain in the ass, but now…”

“Hey, you thought I was a what?” Grady placed his left hand over his chest feigning being hurt as she hit him in the center of the abdomen and he let out a small laugh. “I think you fell for me from the beginning. You know you loved me, you can’t deny it.”

“Um, actually,” Deana let out a small breath before shaking her head slowly and feeling a bit guilty as she drew small circles in over his bare chest. “I kind of liked your friend better than you at first. The day we stitched you up, I’m sorry. It’s just you were a loud mouth and he…”

“Let me guess,” he cleared his throat and rolled his eyes before thinking things over and deciding to joke with her a bit. “You thought he was so polite and he just had the cutest little dimples. Am I right?”

“Pretty much,” she chuckled seeing him roll his eyes again as she leaned up and pressed a small kiss against his lips feeling his hand center in over her back. “You are the one that I am with right now, so I don’t see why it would matter.”

“I don’t know, maybe because every girl I have been with other than one has always liked Kyle at some point in time,” Grady informed her with a small shake of his head before pushing back his short hair. “You should have seen it back in college. All I ever got was the ones that he already had and,” Grady stopped himself once he looked down and saw the glare she was giving him as he shrugged his shoulders. “You’ll have to give me a moment, I was just blurting stuff out. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she laughed pressing another small kiss up against his lips before running her fingers through his thick hair. “Though, I really don’t think it was that bad. What does Kyle have that you don’t?”

“No comment?” he laughed seeing her dark eyes look into his as he shook his head slowly and thought about his best friend. “I won’t even get into it right now. Kyle indeed is a great man and now that you are my girlfriend, you will have all the time in the world to get to know him. I plan on letting you meet everyone…”

“What makes you think I want to get to know everyone?” Deana questioned playfully batting her eyelashes up at him before blowing him a playful kiss. “I don’t know if that is something I would want to do.”

“Sorry honey, if you are accepting the role of my girlfriend that’s one of the things you have to get used to,” Grady teased pressing a small kiss against her forehead. “Maybe it’s time we went over all the rules together. We have all night together to do it anyways.”


“I was not watching you in the shower,” Cori blurted out seeing the look on Nate’s face, showing her that he didn’t believe a word she was saying. “Don let me stay over here because I had nowhere else to go. I heard your music and I got annoyed so I came in to turn it down a bit.”

“Right,” Nate nodded slowly before letting out a small laugh seeing the way she was trying to avoid all eye contact with him. “Next thing you are going to tell me is that you were not checking me out when I got out of the shower.”

“I wasn’t check you out,” she stated firmly before looking around the room and deciding that she didn’t have to put up with this anymore. “The music is down, so I don’t have to worry anymore. I’m going back to my room.”

“Hey,” Nate called out following her into the hallway and she slammed her door shut in his face, locking it right behind her. Rolling his eyes Nate reached up to the top of the door grabbing the keys and opening up to door. Once he stepped in he saw the shocked look on her face as he showed her the keys. “You can’t hide from me in this house you know.”

“Great,” Cori rolled her eyes before sitting down on her bed and looking up at Nate. “If I would have known you were her brother, I would have never came here.”

“Of course you don’t really want to be here in the first place, do you?” Nate pondered her answer seeing her roll her eyes once he sat down on the bed with her. “I mean really, you are here because your so called boyfriend beat you. Am I right?”

“Yeah,” Cori simply answered seeing his green eyes stare out at her as he reached out to touch her bruised cheek carefully, seeing the way her brown eyes look worried. “What are you doing?”

“It’s okay that you are lying,” Nate replied seeing the way she frowned and pulled away from him as he shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t care that you are lying, hell--I like bitchy women.”

“Go to hell,” Cori threw her pillow at him seeing the way he fell back on the bed letting out a long laugh. “That wasn’t meant to be funny. I’m serious.”

“Oh baby, I am so totally there,” Nate smiled brightly reaching out to push a small piece of hair behind her ear feeling her push his hand away. It’s hot in here with you around already.”

“You are disgusting,” Cori stood up pulling her stuffed butterfly with her hearing Nate let out a small yelp as he held onto her stuffed animal firmly. “Let go of my stuffed animal Nate.”

“You let go of it! The Velcro is stuck on my towel,” Nate tugged back feeling her pull roughly and she got the stuffed animal along with his towel as he stood up quickly. “Can I please have my towel back? Now? I know you want to see me naked Cori, but I really don’t want to be right now.”

“I don’t want to see you naked,” Cori tried ripping the towel away from her stuffed animal as Nate stepped forward and tried helping her out a bit. “Nate, just let go. I’m serious, just let go of the stupid towel. I have it.”

“Obviously, you don’t,” Nate answered tugging on the towel back only to feel her elbow him in the chest sending him flying back onto her bed while he held onto the stuffed animal, bringing her in over him. “If you wanted to get me on the bed you could have just told me.”

“You know what?” Cori snapped looking down between them before looking back up seeing the confident smile over Nate’s features. “You know, you are right. Why don’t you get up Nate?”

“What?” Nate watched her carefully seeing the way that she pulled him up from the bed and pressed him into one of the corners of the room. “You know, I just might want my towel back and then I will leave you alone.”

“What? You don’t want me anymore Nate?” Cori whispered running her finger in over the center of his chest as he let out a small breath and she smiled widely. “You want, don’t you?”

“Well,” Nate went to say something before he felt a firm shove to his chest making him fall back out her window and fall out onto the grass behind him as he let out a small groan. Cori quickly locked her window as Nate looked around the dark area behind him. “Cori, open up. Come on Cori, please don’t leave me out there like this. Can I at least have my towel or something?”

There was no answer from the other end as Nate quickly tiptoed around the house to Don’s bathroom, slowly opening the window and taking a look inside. Nate quickly got in the bathroom before letting out a small breath closing the window behind him.

“This looks good enough,” Nate picked up a vase holding it in front of himself before listening to see if Shannon and Don were asleep yet. Reaching for the door he hoped they were as he slowly stepped into the room. Deep breaths filled the air as Nate stopped in his tracks and it sounded like Shannon was hurt. “Are you okay Shannon?”

“Nate,” Shannon gasped as Nate turned on the light and saw her and Don together making him drop the vase to the ground. “Get out of here Nate!”

“I think I’m going to puke,” Nate blocked his eyes and let out a few small gags before running out of the room and down the hallway stopping at Cori’s door. “You may have won the battle little girl, but you will not win the war. Mark my words, I will get you back.”


Brant felt his heart thudding in his chest, his worries mounting as the thick silence fell over the room. He saw the way that his grandfather was scrutinizing Angela, the way that it was clear that Augustus had more than noticed that she looked almost exactly like Avery. The fact that Augustus hadn’t said anything thus far only further worried Brant now that he held Angela in his arms. This situation could be explosive if his grandfather chose to say the wrong thing.

“Angela,” Augustus finally spoke up after wiping the rest of the whipped cream off of his face with a towel. He held his hand out towards her, offering up a warm smile, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Augustus Ashford--Brant’s grandfather, but I’m sure you already guessed that.”

“Hi,” Angela reached for his hand accepting it. She watched him lift her hand to his lips and offer a gentlemanly kiss before releasing her fingers. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Augustus replied glancing over at Brant briefly, “though I have to tell you the fact that you’re spending time with my grandson here makes me wonder just what he did to coax you over.”

“Hey now,” Brant frowned over at Augustus, “You’re implying bad things about me.”

“Anything I should know?” Angela questioned looking between both men.

“Other than he’s clearly a slob,” Augustus looked around the kitchen taking in the mess the two of them had made.

“We were just having fun,” Brant added quickly keeping his arms around Angela, “Besides, I wasn’t just making a mess without purpose.”

“Really? I wasn’t aware that there was any other kind of mess than one without purpose,” Augustus arched a curious brow taking note of the state of undress that both Brant and Angela were in.

“In this particular instance, it was for a very good cause,” Brant continued still worried about what his grandfather might say, but he needed to make the situation clear. He placed his hands on Angela’s abdomen before nodding towards it, “You see I was doing all of this to make sure that my children had something suitable to eat.”

“I hardly think ice-cream is suitable,” Angela wrinkled her nose at Brant throwing a wicked smirk at him.

“It’s more than suitable,” Brant insisted leaning forward to kiss the side of her face quickly.

“Children?” Augustus repeated arching a curious brow now clearly a bit more interested in what was happening in front of him.

“That’s right,” Brant nodded firmly, his fingers fanning out over Angela’s abdomen. “I’d like you to meet my twins.”

“Our twins,” Angela corrected seeing the surprise flash over Augie’s face.

“Twins,” Augustus’s eyes widened, “You mean that you two are…”

“Doing things a little bit backwards,” Brant nodded speaking up before his grandfather could say anything. “Angela and I met a while ago when I was at the house on the island and we kind of lost touch with one another for the last few months.”

“But regardless Brant made a lasting impression on me,” Angela added with a small smile of her own, lacing her fingers with his.

“I guess you could say that everything found a way to work itself out,” Brant explained further praying that his grandfather wouldn’t say anything to cause Angela to walk away from him after he’d fought to get her back into his life again.

“I see,” Augustus nodded, “well then congratulations are in order.”

“Thank you,” Brant let out a breath of relief.

“So really….twins huh?” Augustus motioned to Angela once again, “And you’re sure you want to be around this slob, huh?”

“More than anything,” she nodded casting a longing look over at Brant.

“Well in that case,” Augustus opened his arms and stepped forward to embrace her, “Welcome to the family so to speak Angela.”

“Thank you,” she paused hugging him back, “Augustus.”

“Just make sure that he cleans all of this up when you’re done in here,” Augustus teased with a wink before stepping back. “I think I’m going to call it a night. Brant, we’ll talk in the morning.”

“Of course,” Brant nodded watching his grandfather slip out of the kitchen almost as soon as he’d arrived.

“Okay that was,” Angela paused searching for the right words, “different. Don‘t get me wrong, he seems so very nice, but I mean to have me shoot him in the eye with whipped cream…”

“He’s not used to finding me in the kitchen doing what we were doing,” Brant began uneasily thinking about how the situation could have gone if Augustus had brought up Avery.

“Then that’s a good thing,” Angela reached out to embrace him, “since it means you aren’t bringing other women home to do all this.”

“There isn’t another woman like you Angela,” Brant mouthed realizing that while she and Avery had originally seemed so very much alike, they were like night and day. In holding her he felt so many different things happening all at once between them.

“Flattery will get you everywhere tonight,” she teased nibbling on his bottom lip gingerly.

“Hmm, well with that kind of talk, how about we do what you suggested earlier and go upstairs for a while,” Brant whispered hoping to keep the connection between them that he’d worked so very hard to create.

“So now you’re seeing it my way?” she arched a curious brow. “What about your grandfather? Wouldn’t he be wondering what’s going on?”

“He’s on the other side of the house in a completely different wing,” Brant assured her with a small smirk, “I think it’s safe to say we’ll have our part of the house to ourselves for that banana split we talked about and…”

“And you’re going to try to seduce me now that you’ve got approval from your family, huh?” she teased with a playful expression.

“The truth to the matter is that I was going to seduce you anyways from the start,” Brant assured her moving in for another kiss.

“Well in that case, I suppose I’ll let you honor my request, but under one condition,” she teased her fingers down over his ice-cream covered chest.

“What’s that?” he questioned lazily keeping her in against him.

“That after we finish with our banana split that we make our way to your shower,” her gaze lingered to his lips again, “purely for old time’s sake.”

“Old time’s sake huh,” Brant smiled widely, “I’m sure I can arrange that one.”

“Somehow I knew you would be able to,” Angela pulled him in for another kiss, both of them determined to make the most of the night with one another.

“Well, how did I do?” Kevin questioned feeling Ria lay over him, her head resting gently on his chest. He felt her nails teasing over his heated flesh reminding him all over again just how well his mock strip tease had gone now that they were with one another in her bed.

“I’d have to say that you completely blew away that competition,” Ria mouthed with a small smile thinking about how her uneventful evening had gone from boring to thrilling after she’d come home to Kevin. She tipped her head up to see the proud smirk that washed over his face and she slapped at his chest lightly, “Don’t let it get to your head there Kevin. I don’t need you getting an even bigger ego than you already have.”

“What?” Kevin shrugged his shoulders after a moment, “Can’t I just be happy that you’re happy?”

“Oh come on,” she shook her head at him, “right now I know you’re making a mental note of just how great you were.”

“So what if I was,” he shrugged again, “Is that such a bad thing?”

“Only when we discover that there is no room in this bed for you, me and your ego,” she rolled her eyes at his comment before snuggling in beside him.

“Oh come on sweetheart,” he tickled at her sides, “Don’t you know by now there is always plenty of room for the three of us in here?”

“Kevin I’m being serious,” she swatted at his chest watching his brown eyes dance with amusement.

“So am I,” he replied with a wide grin before leaning in to kiss her gently, “I love you Ria.”

“I love you too,” she touched the side of his face, feeling a warmth fill her up inside that had nothing to do with the fact that she was in bed with this handsome man at her side basking in the afterglow of their love making, but rather that she had his heart. It was that thought alone that had her floating on a cloud.

“What are you thinking about?” he questioned catching the goofy grin on her face.

“Truthfully,” she paused catching the way he was looking at her, “I was thinking about when you first came back to town. I remember what it was like when I found you with Trisha and…”

“And I told you back then and I’ll say it now, you were the only one I was interested in,” he bent down to kiss her gently, “Ria, I knew a long time ago that you were the one for me. The only problem was that I was too stupid to do something about it back then. I guess in my own way I had to find it inside myself to grow a backbone before I could be honest about that.”

“Do you really mean that?” she searched his eyes for a long moment.

He nodded, “Yeah I do. I mean before I went away I knew you were something special, but then I got into the wrong scene, spent all my time with the wrong crowd and married the most wrong woman I could find.”

“And yet you’re willing to take a chance on me and get married again even after your first marriage went to hell,” she noted thinking about what he’d told her about his ex-wife.

“Michelle was in love with my wallet and the money she thought she could get out of me,” Kevin explained with a heavy sigh. “I was just trying to escape something else in my life and I guess at the time she seemed like a good option.”

“And now?” she couldn’t help but ask. “Is our getting married going to be about an escape for you?”

“Ria, you know that’s not what I’m trying to say,” he frowned down at her.

“I know, but I also realize that there’s a part of you that’s always going to wonder about that life you would’ve had with Angela,” she added trying to get everything out in the open. “I mean I’ll be honest with you Kevin. I’m a realist and I tend to overanalyze things when it gets down to it. I try to work each and every angle and…”

“And I thought we had that covered back at the hotel,” Kevin placed his index finger over the center of her lips to silence her. “Ria, I love you and I want to marry you--only you.”

“But what if Angela decides that she wants you back? That she’s realized things won’t work out with Brant and she comes around wanting you back again,” she started in an uneasy tone.

“Then I’m going to tell her that I’m sorry things didn’t turn out like she hoped, but I’m not going to walk away from my future just because hers didn’t play out like she hoped for,” Kevin explained touching the side of her face, “She’s the last thing on my mind especially right now when I’m with you.”

“Really?” she searched his dark eyes.

“Yes really,” he nodded leaning in to kiss her. “In fact all that I can think about is you and kissing your lips.”

“Funny I was just thinking that about you,” she murmured against his mouth. “What else were you thinking?”

“I was also thinking about tracing my fingertips down your spine, maybe tapering off over your hip,” his hands followed his words causing tiny sensations to rush over her.

“And then?” her eyes widened in anticipation.

“And then I’d like to…” Kevin started only to be stopped by the sound of his phone ringing. He frowned catching her look of discontent. Shaking his head he spoke up again, “I don’t need to answer it.”

“What if it’s important?” she asked with a sigh.

“Nothing could be more important than you are right now,” he leaned in to kiss her again. “I thought I told you that.”

“Even so, maybe I should answer and tell the caller that you’re otherwise engaged,” she glanced over at his phone.

“Fine, if you want to, go for it,” he reached for his phone handing it to her.

She laughed lightly before answering.

“Kevin Adonis’s line here. Kevin’s unavailable, but if you leave a message I might give it to him,” she laughed lightly into the phone listening to the caller before growing suddenly serious. She frowned slightly before handing the phone over. “It’s for you.”

“I thought that we were going to put them off,” he whispered before taking the phone, “Hello?”

“Kevin where the hell have you been? I’ve been trying to reach you for hours,” Cameron’s voice snapped into the phone, “I told that woman you were with that it was urgent work related things we needed to discuss and…”

“And I’m a bit busy now,” Kevin glanced over at Ria, “I think it’s going to wait.”

“This can’t wait. We need to meet up right now. I don’t care what you are doing or who you are with. We need to talk and…” Cameron continued to rant into the phone.

“I said it could wait. Good night Cameron,” Kevin mouthed hanging up the phone and turning it off. He tossed it onto the floor before looking to Ria, “Now where were we?”

“Right about here,” Ria smiled pulling him into an embrace as the two vowed to enjoy their evening with one another without any further distractions between them.


Kyle stood at the far corner of the room watching Heather fixate on the water bottle in her hand like it was the most interesting thing in the room. Lance had informed them a few minutes ago that he’d left the extra film down in his car and Kellen was off doing who knew what right about now. He and Heather had half listened to the both of them when they left, but now as Kyle kept watching Heather he knew he had to do or say something to explain himself to her. Thinking about how she seemed so hurt and upset, he knew he had to make things right. Taking in a small breath he moved over towards her finally.

“Heather, we need to talk,” Kyle blurted out catching the way her green eyes moved up to meet his heavy gaze.

“Kyle, this is almost over and then you can go home and,” she started setting her water bottle down and moving to walk past him. He caught her arm mid-movement.

“Heather wait,” Kyle urged her to stop. She stood still before turning around to face him again, “I really want to talk to you.”

“About what?” she questioned her eyes full of hurt and upset over something that he wasn’t quite ready to put words to, but suddenly he felt it too. Hell, he’d felt it for years, but time and circumstance had given them both an out with one another--until recently.

“Look about what we were talking about before,” he began clearing his throat uneasily.

“Forget about it,” she waved her hand in an attempt to be casual. “There’s nothing to say.”

“That’s just it. I don’t want to forget about it. There is still plenty to say,” Kyle tried again to vocalize what was happening inside of him, but it felt stuck. It was locked away in a place that he feared if he opened it up to her, he may never be able to close it off again. Knowing where he was with Sarah, he was well aware that he shouldn’t open that door, but looking at Heather he found himself wanting to increasingly.

“Kyle, look I really don’t think that…” Heather’s words were interrupted by Kellen and Lance returning to the room.

“I have it,” Lance held up the film he’d gone to retrieve. He moved over to the camera with Kellen at his side.

“Ready to continue kids?” Kellen clapped his hands together excitedly.

“Sure,” Heather looked away from Kyle. She marched over to the mark, not bothering to look back at Kyle fearing what might happen if she did.

Kyle just glared at Kellen briefly before following. He stepped in behind Heather doing as he’d been instructed before. He curled his arms around her, sliding his hands up over her sides until she stiffened.

“You know I think we should do this a little different this time,” Heather announced eyeing Lance intently. “I mean I’m sure we can do a different approach for some of these.”

“You know you’re right,” Kellen decided walking over to the two of them. “I think we should do something a bit more intimate, but nothing less sexy.”

“Kellen, I was thinking more along the lines of,” Heather felt her friend place his hand on her shoulder. He tugged at her arm and Kyle’s at the same time shifting them so that they were both facing one another.

“This is what I’m talking about,” Kellen explained noting the tension between the two of them. “Kyle you put your arm around her waist, maybe let your fingers glide over the small of her back and Heather you place your hand here. Right here on his shoulder.”

Heather shot Kellen a glare before doing as instructed.

“Closer to his neck,” Kellen frowned guiding her hand in over the solid contours of Kyle’s body. “Yes perfect. Now look at each other.”

“Um Kellen if you want me to get this shot done today you’re going to have to get out of it,” Lance warned him simply.

“Oh right,” Kellen rushed out of the area leaving Heather and Kyle alone with one another, both trying desperately not to focus on one another.

“Heather like I was saying,” Kyle started deciding to be the one to break the ice yet again. He heard the sound of the camera clicking away, but still he didn’t really care that he and Heather had an audience.

“I told you not to worry about it,” she explained her gaze moving up and over his shoulder, “We were just talking that’s all.”

“But it hurt you,” Kyle pointed out feeling her tense up underneath his touch. “I said something and it upset you.”

“No, it didn’t,” Heather’s gaze flickered back to his briefly, as it was clear she was fighting to keep cool about the situation. “People like me don’t get hurt Kyle, remember? I’m a cold-hearted bitch.”

“Yeah and I’m the Easter Bunny,” he frowned down at her sensing her discomfort over the situation, “Heather you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not.”

“I’m not pretending,” she frowned up at him, “I’m exactly what everyone expects of me, so don’t think that by your saying anything about how I was when I was younger is going to hurt me. I’m not that same girl anymore.”

“No, I suppose you’re not,” he replied dropping his gaze for a moment.

“Come on you two. What is happening here?” Kellen frowned over at them. “You two had energy and spirit before, but now you look like someone kicked you both in the head.”

“We’re doing the best we can Kellen,” Heather snapped at him looking over at her friend, “It’s getting late.”

“Late or not you promised me you’d give me something good. Give me something with passion and enthusiasm,” Kellen begged waving his arms around in the air.

“Heather,” Kyle spoke her name causing her to look up at him once again.

“I’m sorry, I guess I’m just distracted and,” she started to apologize feeling a sigh fall from her lips. “I just don’t think I’m up for this and…”

“Yes you are,” Kyle reached out to touch her cheek. He coaxed her to meet his heavy gaze once again. “I know that you’re trying to pretend that what we were talking about before didn’t effect you, but I know you well enough to know that it did. Hell, I know myself enough to know that it effected me as well. Heather, I’m not going to deny what it is that happens every time we’re around each other.”

“The only thing that happens is we start talking dirty and flirting,” she shrugged her shoulders, “No big deal.”

“No big deal,” he replied a tiny laugh bubbling over him, “Darling, I’ll have you know that you’ve got me thinking things I most certainly shouldn’t be thinking about. You’ve got me wanting to do things that I’m sure that I never should want to be doing.”

“Shh,” she raised her index finger to his lips, “Don’t say something that we’re both going to regret later.”

Kyle closed his eyes for a moment feeling the warmth of her finger tip over his mouth. Instinctively he pressed a kiss over the pad of her finger feeling her shiver at the contact until they both took a breath and inched away from one another. Opening his eyes he saw the confusion he felt push out and wrap over her.

“Don’t you get it Heather? I have no regrets,” Kyle whispered, his words coming out in a low, tight whisper, “other than not being able to stop you from leaving for Los Angeles.”

“There was nothing you could do about it,” she explained trying not to reflect on the decision she’d made that had turned her life around in ways she’d never anticipated. “I was young and stupid.”

“No, you were never stupid,” he shook his head arguing the point with her. “In all honesty if you think about it, I was the stupid one Heather.”

“Come on people this is a photo shoot for lingerie here not a funeral. You two need to seem like two people in love--in passion with one another,” Kellen called out to the both of them, “Like two people who can’t wait to get their hands all over each other and out of those clothes.”

“Pushy little bugger isn’t he,” Kyle winked down at Heather watching a smile crack over her lips.

“He’s very elated more often than not,” Heather teased back trying to follow Kyle’s attempt to lighten the mood, “I’m trying to get him to switch to decaf, but it’s just not happening.”

“Old habits die hard I guess,” Kyle thought to himself more than anything, “but he does have a point. We are supposed to have a mood going for us and right now we’re falling flat.”

“I don’t think it’s us,” she caught his expression, “at least not intentionally.”

“Well maybe we should delve into that old habits break hard situation,” Kyle suggested with a wicked smirk.

“Why, what did you have in mind?” she questioned curiously feeling his hand slide down her spine in such a way that she felt her heart leaping up into her throat. Her gaze fixed on his again and she found herself wanting to leap back into those thoughts of ravishing Kyle all over again.

“For starters I think we should give this a little heat,” Kyle motioned to her hand on him. “How about you forget the shoulder and go somewhere else.”

“Somewhere else?” she repeated with a curious expression.

“Yeah, why don’t you put that beautiful hand of yours wherever you feel like holding something,” he suggested with a hint of mischief behind his eyes.

“If I did that Kyle, it might wind up being an x-rated photo shoot and I’m pretty sure that’s not what Kellen has in mind,” she laughed lightly trying to curb the nervousness burning inside of her.

“Hmm, well if you can’t do what you want to do, then maybe I should just follow my instincts and do what I’ve been thinking about since the party the other night,” Kyle thought aloud squeezing her closer to him, his eyes memorizing every line of her face.

“And just what might that b…” Heather began more curious than ever to hear what Kyle had in mind. Instead she felt him bring his hand up over the side of her face, fingers stroking her skin gently before his lips collided with hers in an explicit, no holds barred kiss.

At first, she was caught off guard, but when she felt the urgency taper off, she was pleasantly rewarded by the soft touch of his lips against hers, the sweet taste of chocolate carrying over her from him to her indicating that he’d been nibbling on the snacks she’d had out near the side of the room he was standing at earlier. His fingers gently squeezed her hip, bringing her in for another teasing pull enough to let her know that he was most certainly thinking of her. His tongue dipped between her lips, seeking out her response.

She eagerly rewarded him with the same slow, subtle movement letting him know that she was enjoying every, single second of his impromptu kiss. A sigh fell from her full, throbbing lips knowing that he had her exactly where she wanted to be. His tongue swept inside of her with yet another seductive invasion and she found herself longing to feel other parts of him work that very same magic over her. Her fingertips danced over his spine, while the other hand moved up through his blonde hair feeling the softness of it. It was something that had her thinking about anything other than the photo shoot--anything beyond the reality that was happening around them, but before she could truly enjoy it for all it was worth, Kyle pulled back.

“Heather,” he spoke her name, his face flushed and in that second he seemed suddenly flustered. His eyes swept over her and he cleared his throat uneasily.

“Kyle,” she replied wondering what he was thinking, what he was feeling now that he had brought an end to their kiss.

“Heather I’m…” Kyle stammered his face growing hot upon realizing what he’d just done. “I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.”

“But…” she watched him step back. He didn’t say anything else, but rather he reached for his things and headed towards the door making a hasty retreat.

“Whoa that was some kiss,” Kellen noted his blue eyes wide with surprise at what he’d just witnessed taking place between Kyle and Heather. “When I said I wanted passion, I had no idea that it would be that off the charts, top of the world, hotter than hell chemistry that I just witnessed here. That was wild and untamed and…”

“Shut up Kellen,” Heather glared at him reaching for her robe and slipping into it before leaving the room as well.

“Hey,” Kellen frowned watching her retreat. He looked over to Lance and shrugged, “I don’t know what just happened to them.”

“I’ll tell you what happened to them Kellen,” Lance noted with a small laugh shaking his head at the situation, “There you have two people who are obviously in love with each other, but fighting it with every fiber of their being.”

“You think?” Kellen glanced over at the door once again wondering if that was in fact what was happening. Sure, he’d been pulling for Heather and Kyle to be together, but he’d hoped it would be a happy, fun time for them. Somehow watching them both leave after that kiss that dreams were made had him worried that his plan for romance would go terrible sour if it wasn’t treated with special care.


...to be continued...