Episode 324

“Do you think they will be here soon?” Diane questioned leaning her head back against the side of the couch before letting out a small yawn. “I hope it’s a couple of hours from now.”

“Why is that?” Ben chuckled walking into the living room to see her eyes closed and she was cuddling with a pillow. “You’re the one who said you wanted to see them this early. If you wanted to sleep you should have picked a later time.”

“Why do you always have to be right?” Diane muttered opening her eyes back up seeing him cleaning up a few things before looking back at her with a small smile. “I don’t like that about you sometimes.”

“Gee, thanks sweetheart,” Ben smirked throwing another pillow at her gently before reaching for his coffee from the corner table to take a drink. “But sometimes it’s the one thing that keeps you going is when I’m right. If I wasn’t right sometimes, that would make you a know it all and I don’t think you would like that.”

“You’re right,” she smiled scooting over on the couch giving him some room to sit next to her, feeling his arm wrap around her as he sat down. Quickly, she stole his cup of coffee taking a big gulp of it knowing that she would have to wake up if they were planning on hanging out with Deidra and Dean all day. “I need to really talk to Deidra about something too anyways.”

“Is that so?” Ben arched his eyebrow in response seeing her nod slowly before taking another sip of his coffee. Not wanting her to drink it so fast Ben grabbed the cup from her and took a small sip before setting it back down on the corner table. “What about?”

“Girl stuff, that’s it,” she answered hearing the doorbell ring as they both got up from the couch. She quickly straightened out her clothes before looking Ben over carefully. “Do you think I look okay?”

“I’m sure you look find sweetheart,” he gave her a small wink before motioning over towards the door, walking together to open the door and greet the other two at the door. “Welcome to our new house.”

“Oh hey guys,” Deidra smiled widely walking into the house and wrapping her arms around her little sister looking around the room as she did. “This place looks great on the outside and on the inside. I’m so glad you guys invited us over here today.”

“It’s no problem,” Ben offered up with a small smile shaking Dean’s hand firmly before reaching out to give Deidra a small hug. “It’s great having you guys here. We love to have guest sometimes rather than always being alone and lucky for you--you’re two of our favorites.”

“Gee, I feel so lucky,” Dean chuckled walking around Deidra and reaching out to give Diane a small hug. “Morning kiddo, thanks for having us over.”

“No problem,” Diane whispered staring out toward Deidra before realizing the main reason she tried to get Deidra and Dean out here early. “Listen Dee, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“You want to see the house?” Ben questioned not hearing Diane in the background as he pointed over towards Dean seeing him nod slowly before turning towards Deidra. “What about you Deidra?”

“Sure, I would love to,” Deidra smiled widely following Ben up the stairs leaving Diane by herself making her realize that yes, she could take her time, but hopefully she got it out sooner than later. “You coming Diane?”

“Yep,” Diane nodded quickly taking a small look behind her knowing that her sister needed to know about Andy before it was too late. “I have to tell you something later sis.”


“This is ridiculous,” Kyle mouthed to himself turning in the bed and letting out a long sigh as another thought of Heather popped into his head making him think about last night and everything he had done to her. They way he put her in a situation she didn’t want made him feel bad and he wanted to apologize to her, but he didn’t know where to start. “I hope she is okay.”

There were so many things he wanted to say last night, but his own fears got in the way of what it was he wanted and it obviously hurt Heather in a way too.

“Kyle,” he heard Sarah yawn his name as she rested her head on his bare chest before closing her eyes and going back to bed.

“What am I going to do?” Kyle asked himself pushing back a piece of Sarah’s hair and staring down at her, but still he couldn’t help imagining Heather laying there with him. Damning himself Kyle looked up towards the ceiling letting out a small growl. “Sarah’s having my baby and I’m getting married to Sarah. I have to let it go, I have to let Heather go.”

Even with his own words he couldn’t help but realize that what he was telling himself was going to be a hard goal to accomplish. It still hurt him inside that no matter how much he wanted her to be with him back in the day, she still left him.

“I could really use your help right now,” Kyle looked up towards the ceiling and took in a deep breath before closing his eyes tightly thinking about his parents. “You always knew how to help me along, I need you now more than ever now.”

A small laugh escaped his lips as he thought about the time his father had found out about him and Heather. It really was kind of embarrassing, but the shocking part was at the end when his father was obviously not really bothered by it.

“Kyle, you know your parents might be home soon,” Heather reminded Kyle feeling his lips press in over her neck and she ran her hands in over his muscular back before motioning him up to meet her in a small kiss. “We shouldn’t be making out like this when they could be home soon. I don’t want them to know…”

“Heather you know as much as I do they never come home super early,” Kyle whispered feeling her push him back against the wall as he let out a small hiss. She moved in front of him placing her hands over his chest before leaning up on her toes to nibble at his bottom lip gently, his arms wrapping around her waist and bringing her in closer to him. “I take it you believe me now?”

“Knowing my luck, I might be wrong and so could you,” she whispered feeling his hand move in over the small of her back before reaching down to the bottom of her shirt. Tugging it up her abdomen slowly Kyle smiled seeing her green eyes were looking into his before she raised her arms just enough for him to pull the shirt over her head. “You are a naughty little boy I hope you know.”

“We both know I’m not a boy and I’m nowhere near being small,” Kyle teased moving forward to kiss her again feeling her fingers pulling apart his belt and pushing his pants down to his ankles before he grabbed her in his arms tightly. Carefully he turned her around and lifted her up pressing her up against the wall, feeling her legs wrapping around his body tightly. “The naughty part I won’t disagree with you though. I’ll let you punish me anytime you want.”

“Is that so?” Heather smiled her nails scratching in over his back as he smiled and moved in closer to kiss her. A noise caught Heather’s attention as she felt Kyle’s lips in over her neck. “Kyle, I think you should see something…”

“Honey, let’s just take this slow--I‘ll see it sooner or later,” Kyle whispered feeling her nails digging into his shoulders as he took in a sharp breath before looking up at her. “What is it?”

“Wrong thing to see,” Heather cleared her throat uneasily and nodded over towards the door and Kyle’s eyes widened at the sight of his father standing in the doorway before them. Quickly he put Heather down and pulled his pants back up quickly seeing Heather reaching for her things.

“Dad,” Kyle gasped seeing his father Shaun standing in the doorway. Kyle buckled his belt up quickly before hiding Heather behind him and letting out a hesitant laugh. “I can explain everything. You see Heather was left home alone and she came over here. We were just…”

“Kyle,” Shaun whispered in a tight breath looking his son over before shaking his head slowly. “I think I can guess what you two were just doing. I’m not blind and I am your father.”

“I think I should go,” Heather went to turn towards the window as Kyle grabbed her wrist and shot her a pleading look. “I really don’t think I should be here right now.”

“No, it’s alright,” Shaun assured her from behind Kyle seeing the way Kyle looked back at him as he opened the door a bit more. “Why don’t you go down with his mother right now, I’m sure she would love to have your help. She’s baking some brownies, me and Kyle will be down in a little bit. I need to have a chat with him.”

“Alright,” Heather nodded looking into Kyle’s worried hazel eyes before walking out of the room and leaving the two boys alone.

“Dad,” Kyle watched his father close the door slowly as he folded his arms out in front of his chest before taking in a long breath. “We weren’t going to really do anything. Well, I mean we were doing something, but we weren’t going to have…”

“Don’t try and explain yourself kiddo because you’re not doing such a good job,” Shaun whispered pulling off his glasses and sliding them into his pocket. The worry was evident behind Kyle’s eyes as Shaun sat down on the bed and patted it motioning Kyle to sit down next to him. “You know kiddo, I don’t understand what’s going on here so why don’t you try and help me out a little bit.”

“I don’t understand,” Kyle frowned looking out at his father as he straightened out his back seeing the way his father’s green eyes stared into his. “I was just…we were just…”

“No, that’s not what I’m talking about son,” Shaun whispered seeing Kyle’s hazel eyes look up into his as he shook his head slowly. “Kyle, not even a month ago you were saying you really liked Sarah and now you like her younger sister?”

“I love Heather dad,” Kyle whispered looking away and towards the window before taking in a sharp breath. “I know she is younger than me by a year, but I’m not going to do anything bad with her. Nothing that she doesn’t want and even at that, I think we’re at too early of an age to actually be doing that.”

“That’s respectful Kyle, but you said you loved Sarah not too long ago either,” Shaun reminded Kyle seeing the way Kyle looked up towards the ceiling and shook his head slowly. “The tears have yet to dry from your cheeks, the pain from Sarah not liking you should be in there somewhere.”

“It’s different with Heather dad, she loves me back. That’s something I would have never been able to get from Sarah,” Kyle informed his father letting out a small sigh before pushing his short blonde hair back slowly. “I can be who I want and…I don’t know.”

“You know Kyle, me and your mother were never able to have children and when we had the chance to adopt you Kyle it was the most important day of my life. You’re the one thing that means the most to me,” Shaun wrapped his arm around Kyle’s shoulders seeing the way Kyle looked over at him uneasily. “You’re my son, Kyle Lee Houston. I want you to know that I’m here for you no matter what because I love you. You need to know that.”

“I know,” Kyle thought everything over carefully before realizing what his father said was true. There was nothing he shouldn’t have been able to tell his father. “You see with Heather I feel something I know I will never be able to feel again dad. I love her so much and I want to marry her when she becomes the legal age. I want her to be my wife.”

“Is that what you feel is right?” his father questioned seeing Kyle nod slowly as Shaun shrugged his shoulders and patted his son on the shoulder gently. “Then I am going to be here for you no matter what to make sure that happens. Don’t give up on what you want kiddo, no matter what happens. Just remember I’m always here for you.”

“I guess I got myself into trouble,” Kyle bit down on his bottom lip before taking in a deep breath. Kyle closed his eyes imagining his father before shaking his head slowly. “I gave up on her and I know you never would have. Now I’m more confused than ever.”

Kyle got up from the bed slowly before walking out onto the balcony to stare out at the morning before him. There were so many times he wished he could have his mother and father back, but now he knew he was by himself.

“What am I supposed to do?” Kyle questioned hearing his phone go off as he let out a long sigh reaching to pull his phone out of his pocket, but accidentally pulled out his wallet too and it fell to the ground. Kyle bent down to pick it up but paused when he saw the picture it fell open too. It was the picture of him with Heather and Charles when Kellen was playing with the camera the last time he was at Kipp’s house. Confused, Kyle looked to his cell phone after it stopped ringing seeing that it was a private call. “Okay, that’s a little weird.”

“What’s weird?” Sarah’s voice echoed through his ears as he picked his wallet back up and put his phone back into his pocket. Sarah reached out to wrap her arms around Kyle’s torso before letting out a long breath. “How is my future husband doing?”

“Not bad,” Kyle sighed wrapping his arms around her before staring out at him seeing the reflection of themselves in the glass door. “Just thinking about the future and how I want things to be.”

“What do you think the gender of our baby will be?” Sarah asked seeing Kyle look down at her before shrugging his shoulders and thinking things over. “In all honesty, I think it might be a girl.”

“Who knows,” Kyle whispered hearing a car door slam shut as Kyle looked back to see Grady walking up the sidewalk. Feeling as if he was saved Kyle let out a small smile before pulling away from Sarah. “It’s Grady. I’ll be right back honey, I need to talk to him.”


Angela snuggled into the warmth beside her feeling the strong arm draped around her midsection. She lay beneath the sheet bringing her hand up over the arm that comforted her--around the touch that had kept her safe and warm all night long after she and Brant had been spent by their passion. Now with the first hints of morning sweeping over them, she couldn’t help but find herself savoring the quiet moments they spent with one another. She opened her eyes for a moment smiling as she ran her fingers over his arm.

“I take it you’re not sleeping anymore,” Brant mouthed from behind her, his words buzzing over the back of her neck. She felt his lips press in over her skin and she couldn’t help but smile.

“If I am still sleeping, I’d really rather not wake up since this is the best dream I’ve had in a long time,” she confessed tipping her head back just enough to see the way his eyes were watching her looking at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

“I can‘t argue that,” Brant confessed easing his hand down over her hip to turn her in towards him. Once their eyes met she watched him smile as he reached out to touch the side of her face. “I love waking up with you like this.”

“I’m pretty sure I love it too,” she mouthed moving in to kiss him tenderly loving the feel of his lips to hers, of the way it felt for them to be with one another now after everything that had happened over the last few months.

“Pretty sure huh,” he murmured, his words buzzing over her lips, “That doesn’t sound as confident as I would think it should be after last night.”

“After last night you’re lucky that I’m awake right now,” she teased batting her eyelashes at him, “I figured with what we did I’d be exhausted for a week.”

“Did I wear you out,” he frowned bringing his hand to her face again, “because if it was too much…”

“Oh please,” she broke into a tiny laugh, “Brant it could never be too much between us. Surely that was something I thought we were in agreement on. I’m just not used to having such an early morning.”

“It’s not as early as you think it is,” he motioned to the clock alerting her of the time. “Though you know if you’re still tired, I’d be more than happy to spend the rest of the day here with you in my arms just like this.”

“See now I think that won’t work for us,” Angela confessed sliding her arms around his shoulders, “Because if you think I can just lay next to you feeling you beside me all naked and welcoming then you’re in serious denial about the both of us.”

“You don’t think you can control yourself?” he wiggled a brow at her.

“Oh like you can,” she swatted at his shoulder, “Face it Brant, you’re just as addicted to me as I am to you.”

“Maybe I am,” he inched in closer to her kissing her tenderly.

“What’s this maybe line about,” she teased throwing his earlier words at him, “If you have to say maybe then I’m obviously not doing a good enough job of convincing you of just how much you need me.”

“I’m very convinced about us,” he promised stealing kiss after lingering kiss.

“Prove it,” she dared her dark eyes challenging him to come up with something wild and wonderful.

“Okay,” he mouthed nibbling on her lower lip gingerly, “How about if I make you breakfast?”

“And risk our getting out of bed,” she shook her head at him, “No not right now. I mean sure I think it sounds like a wonderful idea and all considering I remember what a cook you were, but…”

“But?” he arched a curious brow.

“But right now I have you exactly where I want you and I’m not about to lose sight of that just yet,” she explained pushing her hand decidedly into the center of his chest before moving in over him. She settled in over his warm body, her eyes filled with a renewed hunger for him. She smiled before leaning forward to command a kiss from him. She pulled back ever so slightly and gave him a ravenous look. “Forget breakfast for a little while. I’d much rather skip to dessert right now.”

“In that case,” he grinned up at her, placing his hands on her hips, “who am I to argue the point then? Dessert it is.”

“I knew you’d see it my way,” she replied triumphantly knowing that this morning was off to a very good start between them. A very good start indeed.


Russ weaved his way through the kitchen glancing over at the scrambled eggs he was working on at the stove. Carefully moving around, he opened the door to the refrigerator pulling out the orange juice from within. He used his hip to close the door while his other hand was carefully rested on the back of Erin’s small head now that she sat quietly in the baby carrier he had attached to his chest.

“This is mommy’s favorite,” Russ explained with a small smile kissing the top of his daughter’s head gently, “We’re just going to surprise her with the best breakfast in bed. What do you say to that?”

Erin’s big eyes just blinked up at him before her mouth moved in such a way that it almost looked like she was smiling.

“Yes, I think it’s a good idea too,” Russ nodded stepping over to check on his eggs. He turned Erin away from the pan before reaching out to stir them up just a bit. “These look like they are almost done.”

Erin made a small sound and Russ couldn’t help but laugh.

“Yes, you’re right mommy does like this quite a bit, but daddy’s favorite is over there,” he motioned to the microwave where he’d had the bacon cooking on a tray. “You see normally I would make that like I am doing with mommy’s eggs right now, but when you make bacon there is grease that flies everywhere and I wasn’t about to risk you getting burned because that would be a very bad thing. Daddy would be very, very upset if that happened.”

Erin’s eyes stayed fixed on him still, her gaze over his lips.

“I wouldn’t want anything to happen to my little girl because one day you’re going to be big enough to help daddy with all of this,” he worked on the eggs once again. “That’s why I’m showing you now so that we can keep surprising your mommy.”

Russ turned off the heat on the stove and heard a small sound coming from the entrance to the kitchen. He glanced over his shoulder to see Avery standing there watching him with a warm smile holding Rusty in her hands. Their kitten seemed to be at perfect ease, watching what was going on with the same curiosity that Erin had during the entire cooking experience.

“I think I like these kind of surprises,” Avery explained with a soft yawn. “It smells incredible.”

“We weren’t exactly done just yet, were we Erin?” Russ motioned to his daughter seeing her head tip in a new direction upon hearing Avery’s voice. “I was hoping that you’d rest a little while.”

“I was resting, but then Rusty told me you were up to trouble in here,” she rubbed behind Rusty’s ear before setting him down on the ground. She smiled at Russ again seeing Erin start to fidget in his arms.

“Hey now,” Russ touched her small hand gently, “you don’t want mom to think that I’ve been upsetting you in here.”

“That’s not what she’s trying to tell me,” Avery approached the two of them reaching out to take Erin out of the pack that Russ had been carrying her in. “She’s just telling you dad that while you’re working on our breakfast I’m awake and she’s hoping for hers.”

“I gave her a bottle a little while ago before we started this,” Russ motioned to the empty bottle over by the sink, “She should be fine.”

“Then maybe she just missed me like I missed her,” Avery smiled snuggling her daughter closer to her. “Hey princess.”

Russ watched them for a moment before returning his attention to breakfast again. “This should be done in a few minutes if you want to sit down.”

“I’ll get there,” Avery replied giving him a long look, “Tell me how are you feeling this morning?”

“I’m fine,” Russ shrugged his shoulders turning around to face her again, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Last night you just seemed a bit,” she searched for the right word, “wired. That’s all.”

“I told you it was just a bad dream,” he replied knowing that there was a half truth in his words, yet he didn’t want to ruin this breakfast he and Erin had put together for Avery.

“I’m sorry about that,” Avery frowned catching the darkness that swept over him, “Want to talk about it?”

“Not really. At least not now,” Russ shook his head decidedly putting the eggs into a plate before moving over to check on the bacon. “What about you? How did you sleep last night?”

“Honestly I had my own dreams,” she sighed finally taking a seat in her chair. She focused on Erin seeing how happy and carefree Erin appeared to be in her arms. “I mean I guess they were nothing, but…”

“But what?” Russ questioned pulling the bacon out of the microwave and placing it onto a plate.

“I guess I started thinking about everything that’s happened. You know about how one minute we were so close to this, then Nicholas and Brooke tried to take this from us,” she paused her throat growing tight with apprehension.

“But they didn’t,” Russ moved in over to the table to take a seat beside her. “You, Erin and I are really happy right now.”

“I know,” Avery nodded tearfully squeezing Erin in her arms, “but when I think about how close they came to hurting you and hurting Erin… Russ you should’ve seen Brooke when she attacked me. She was a woman possessed and when I think about what she did all for money…”

“Avery don’t,” Russ tried to keep her from getting upset, but it was too late for that.

“Russ, I can’t help it,” Avery sniffled the tears falling from her eyes, “When I think about Erin and about how much I love her, just the idea of someone hurting her tears me to pieces. Now that I am her mother I can’t imagine ever wanting to bring her any harm, yet when I think about what Brooke did to me…”

“Brooke is clearly imbalanced. She never should’ve hurt you like she did, but you’re safe now,” he spoke up in an attempt to comfort her. He reached out to touch her arm gently, “I won’t let that happen.”

“Yes, but think of all she’s done. Russ, she murdered our baby,” Avery broke into full blown tears, her eyes fixed on Erin. “She killed our son or daughter and she tried to kill Erin too. When I think about that…”

“Hey, come here,” Russ moved out of his chair. Kneeling beside her, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders hugging her and Erin to him. “Avery, she’s not going to get another chance to do that.”

“But Russ…can’t you see how much we’ve lost?” she cried harder than before, her tears causing Erin to get fussy. Erin watched her for a moment before bursting into her own sobs.

“Hey, it’s okay princess,” Russell reached for Erin pulling her out of Avery’s arms. He eased her back into the baby pack before looking to Avery, who now had her hands over her face, the tears falling more freely than before.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry about this,” Avery sobbed harder, “I know I shouldn’t be thinking about all of that, but I just can’t understand how a mother could be so cruel to their daughter. When I think about all the times she tried to ruin my life…”

“Avery, honey…” Russ felt his heart ache watching her fall to pieces in front of him.

“Russ, she killed our baby. She tried to kill our dreams for a family together and now, I know I should be happy. I know that I shouldn’t be crying over this because we have Erin and we’re together, but it just kills me. Russ when I think about our other child, I feel this emptiness inside of me. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of me and our family will never be okay,” Avery continued her hands shaking as she fought to wipe at her tears.

“Avery sweetheart I know it hurts,” Russ reached out to her urging her to come up and out of her chair. “It hurts me too, but we have to think about what we have. We have to hold onto Erin and remember what’s important.”

“I know,” she nodded with a sniffle. “I realize that Russ. In so many ways I know that, but when I think about Brooke and what she did. Russ, what if I end up being like her? What if something snaps inside of me too and I become a horrible person?”

“You said it yourself you could never imagine treating Erin that way,” Russ explained curling his arm around her. “I know you and I know your heart. You are full of so much love that we both know that’s never going to happen.”

“Yes, but what if something changes? What if I change and…” she continued her breath coming out in short, urgent gasps. “What if one day I wake up and I’m this horrible monster? I mean it happened to Brooke. She must have loved me once, right? Or maybe she never loved me. Is that it? Was I such a terrible daughter that my own mother couldn’t care enough to want what was best for me?”

“Avery honey, you are a warm and wonderful woman. Your mother is sick in the head. There’s no other way to put that,” Russ tried to soothe her tears. “She is a very self-oriented person and what she’s done isn’t about how she feels for you. I don’t think she can even love herself.”

“Yes, but Russ isn’t a mother supposed to do everything in her power to protect her children?” Avery questioned painfully, “I would give my life for Erin if it came to that, but with my mother…”

“She cheated herself out of a happy life with you and Guy. She could’ve had the world, but she chose to throw it away. It was her mistake Avery, not yours,” he whispered holding her closer to him. “She’s the one who screwed up and hurt herself.”

“Then why does it hurt me so much?” Avery sobbed into his shoulder, her tears soaking through his shirt. “Why can’t I just get past it and move on? Why can’t I just let go of the idea of her?”

“Because in spite of everything she’s still your mother and that’s something that neither one of us can change no matter how much we want it to,” Russ explained hating to see her so upset over everything. He kept Erin supported in one arm while the other was wrapped securely around Avery.

“You’re right Russ. You’re absolutely right,” she nodded wiping at her face, “It’s just all been so hard for me. This year has been like an endless nightmare and if it wasn’t for you and Erin, I don’t know where I would be. If I ever lost the two of you again…”

“You’re not going to lose us,” Russ promised her gently. “I’m never going away again.”

“Good because if I ever had to face that again, it would be the end of me. I’m sure of it,” she whispered clinging to him.

Russ hugged her tightly thinking about all that had happened over the last few years of their lives. They had been cheated out of time with one another--cheated out of a family with Erin and their other child and now that they had finally found a way to one another again, he vowed not to let that happen again. A brief thought about the confession he’d planned for later about his time on the island flashed through his mind. He had wanted to be honest, had wanted to tell her what it was that had happened during his time away, but when he reflected on the situation, he knew that it wasn’t the right time. Hearing her in so much pain only reaffirmed that he couldn’t break her heart all over again. It was too cruel.


“Remind me again why we woke up this early,” Kevin yawned trying to pay attention to the road before him as drove his SUV, seeing Ria turn up the radio. “I can hardly even keep my eyes open right now sweetheart.”

“Um, maybe it was because Chase and Trisha mentioned pancakes at a pancake house,” Ria reminded him with a small chuckle seeing him try and keep his eyes open before letting out a long breath. “That might be it, but I’m really not sure.”

“Even so, I know why I did it, but I’m still so tired,” Kevin took in a small breath before yawning again, reaching for the radio to turn some more upbeat music on. “Maybe I should get a coffee or something at breakfast.”

“Coffee?” Ria chuckled seeing the way Kevin’s chocolate brown eyes looked over at her. A small smile pulled at the corners of his lips as their was confusion behind his eyes. “I can wake you up better than coffee can.”

“Really? You think so?” Kevin whispered seeing her nod slowly as a small laugh escaped his lips. Tapping his fingers on the steering wheel before him ready to shoot a challenge out at her. “What are you going to do? Scare the tiredness out of me?”

“I could do that, but it would be too much effort,” Ria answered settling her hand in against his thigh seeing him look down towards her hand before looking back towards the road. “You see, I know you. It will be easy.”

“Is that so?” Kevin chuckled seeing Ria lean in close to him before her lips pressed in over the side of his neck making him take in a sharp breath. Feeling her nibbling at his neck he wrapped his fingers around the steering wheel tighter. “Ria, what are you doing?”

“Waking you up,” she whispered bringing her fingers underneath his black t-tank, running her fingers in over the smooth ripple of muscle in his abdomen. “Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Uh, Ria,” Kevin cleared his throat feeling her lips still doing their works on the heated skin of his neck as her right hand slipped from underneath his shirt to the front of his black slacks. A small growl escaped his lips as he felt her start to caress him through his pants. “Ria, you may be trying to wake me up, but the only thing you are accomplishing right now is making it a better chance at us getting in an accident.”

“Well, then pay attention and wake up,” she whispered feeling his body grow more rigid underneath her touch as he bit down on his bottom lip roughly. Kevin pulled into the restaurant parking lot as a small smile appeared over her lips. “Good job Kev.”

“You are evil,” he saw her pull away from him as he grabbed her pulling her back to him. His lips met hers hungrily as her hand touched his cheek gently, feeling his tongue dip between her parted lips. Kevin felt her pull away from him as he frowned seeing her open the car door. “What are you doing?”

“We have breakfast to attend to and we can’t be late,” she explained seeing a muscle in Kevin’s jaw tighten as he pulled his leather jacket up from the backseat. After getting out of the car Kevin put his leather jacket in front of him as if he was holding it before walking to Ria where she was waiting for him on the sidewalk. “What’s the jacket for.”

“I think you know what the jacket is for,” he pointed out with a small shake of his head before reaching for the door and letting her go in first. They followed the waitress to Chase and Trisha once they were in before sitting down with the other couple. “Hey kids.”

“Hey Kev,” Trisha smiled widely leaning in closer to Chase as he wrapped his arm around her tightly. “We ordered for the both of you already because I think I know what the both of you like.”

“Gee, I wonder how she knows,” Kevin smirked getting more comfortable in the booth they were seated at before resting his arm against the back of it. “So, I heard some pretty good things about you Chase. I hear you really like to dance, a lot.”

“I’m not bad at it,” Chase answered feeling a blush rise up in his cheeks making him feel a bit uncomfortable as he saw the way Kevin’s smile grew, his dimples showing it was obvious he found it hilarious. “Though, a lot of people are okay at it.”

“Right, though--with me I prefer to have my boxers on at least or nothing if you get my point. I don’t think I could handle being in a…” Kevin felt Ria elbow him in the ribs as he let out a small laugh and shook his head slowly. “Being in a big crowd is what I was going to say.”

“I’m sure,” Chase whispered looking down at Trisha who shot Kevin a small glare making him laugh out at her expression. “You know, it happens right? I mean, not a lot of people do it, but there are some out there.”

“Speaking of that,” Kevin leaned forward resting his elbows on the table as he looked into Chase’s blue eyes. There was an obvious worry that was spreading out through Chase’s eyes because he didn’t know what Kevin’s next comment was going to be. “With this whole thing that is going on--have you been able to do any dances for Trisha yet?”

“Kevin,” Trisha gasped hearing Ria and Kevin both laugh at her response when her cheeks grew flushed. A small breath escaped her lips as she tried to look away from Kevin and not give him eye contact. “Don’t even go there.”

“Yep, I know you,” Kevin took in a deep breath shaking his head slowly before tapping his hands against the table. “You horny little girl. I know you like that.”

“What makes you think I like that?” Trisha questioned quickly seeing Kevin and Ria’s eyes staring out at her as Trisha shrugged her shoulders. Kevin nodded over towards Chase and he was looking at Trisha the same way. “Okay, so what if I liked it? It’s not like you two wouldn’t like that.”

“I don’t know horny beast,” Kevin chuckled seeing the waitress step to the table and set down their plates as Kevin sat up more straight in his seat. The waitress set down a bottle of strawberry syrup and regular syrup before leaving. Kevin reached out to grab the strawberry syrup before smiling widely. “But I can tell you what I’d really like right now.”

“You know, strawberry syrup might start flowing off that plate,” Trisha pointed out seeing how much syrup Kevin was putting on his pancakes before he shrugged his shoulders and smiled widely. “You are such a dork.”

“Well at least I’m a dork that has someone that loves them,” Kevin offered up a small wink at Ria before taking a small bite of his pancakes. Ria rested her hand on his thigh as Kevin set his fork down and cleared his throat uneasily. “Honey, you don’t want to do that while I’m eating pancakes. Also to add what you did to me in the car, it won’t make it any better.”

“Do I want to know?” Trisha eyed her sister over as Ria placed both her hands on the table and let out a small laugh. “You know what, I’ll just let that go. I don’t want to know.”


“Hey beautiful,” JT greeted Evie with a smile sliding into the opposite side of the booth at the table she was seated at. “Good morning.”

“Good morning to you too,” she waved at him brightly, “How are you feeling?”

“Truthfully not like I’m ready to tackle a day of shopping considering that’s not at all my scene,” JT pointed out with a slight frown, “but since you promised to buy breakfast I thought it was the perfect excuse to avoid Valerie and the nightmare she creates for me.”

“I take it she hasn’t moved out yet, huh?” Evie frowned over at him. “When is she going to learn that you don’t want her around?”

“Probably never,” he confessed with an exaggerated groan, “I don’t know how I wound up having to be stuck with her, but she simply won’t leave.”

“You could always call the police and have her removed,” she suggested sipping her coffee that she’d ordered while she was waiting for him.

“I could, but given my history with the cops I thought I’d just skip over that drama,” he cringed slightly, “They aren’t all that big on listening to an ex-drug addict.”

“Who happened to turn his life around,” she added throwing out a pointed look. “JT you’re a good guy. I mean you would have to be in order to take a chance on me.”

“I’d have to be crazy to take a chance on you,” he leaned back further into the seat, focusing on the warmth of her dark eyes from across the table. He couldn’t help but smile, “Though I think that you’re worth the risk.”

“I like a man who knows how to gamble,” she winked at him in a flirty fashion reaching out across the table to touch his hand.

“Yeah well you know I do try to make it a policy not to get too involved with those I work with,” he couldn’t help but squeeze her hand in his. “That’s something I swore to myself I wouldn’t do.”

“Yeah well I think it’s a little late for that since I heard the rumors,” she pointed out with a look of sudden seriousness. “Besides you already said that I was worth taking a chance on. Would it really be so bad for you to fall for me?”

“Given that I’m trying to help you, well yes,” he nodded unable to resist admiring her beauty before him.

“Hey, look at it as a situation where we are both benefiting. You’re here today to help me find something to wear to work that you think is suitable and I’m hoping that by the end of the day you’ll see that maybe we should continue to explore the obvious chemistry between us,” she finished in a low, throaty tone. “You know that you can’t even deny it’s there.”

“I’m not going to deny that it was fun doing what we were doing, but that’s not what I was shooting for when I hired you at the restaurant,” he corrected with a small frown. “I already told you about how I am with relationships.”

“And I’m telling you that I’m so darned irresistible that you’re not going to be able to help, but fall in love with me. I’m sure of it,” she batted her eyelashes at him throwing out another sultry look that he was certain would be his undoing.

Clearing his throat uneasily he pulled his hand away from hers and reached for a menu. “So what’s good here?”

“I honestly don’t know,” she shrugged her shoulders. “I’ve never been here before. I just saw it one day and figured I’d find a good time to try it out.”

“Hmm, well in that case, I guess we’re both going to have a new experience,” he smiled at her briefly before returning his attention to the menu. “So what are you in the mood for?”

“Always something good like,” she paused, a low hum falling from her lips, “Oh yes. I think I found it.”

“What’s that?” he popped his head up from underneath the menu.

“Strawberry waffles,” she replied excitedly, “I haven’t had those in a long time and they sound like heaven.”

“Strawberries can be dangerous around you,” JT added thinking about the time he’d taken her to dinner at the Mexican restaurant. Things had gotten out of hand that night and now to bring it up again, he felt a bit hot under the collar. Clearing his throat uneasily, he tried to change the subject, “You know I called you.”

“You did?” her brown eyes grew wide with worry. “When?”

“After you left,” JT explained quickly, “I tried the number that you gave me, but it said it was disconnected.”

“Oh well that was my cell phone,” she informed him with an emphatic sigh, “I’ve had some major issues with the company. They turn me off every time that I get even a little behind on the payment. Last time they shut me off for owing twenty-eight dollars more than I paid. I mean can you believe that? Twenty-eight whole dollars? It’s just plain ridiculous.”

“Yeah cell phones can be strange like that,” JT nodded seeing the discomfort settle behind her eyes. “So what do you think you’re going to buy today?”

“Anything that you think I look good in, so it’s all up to you,” she informed him with a wicked smirk, “and anything that happens after, well that’s up to you as well JT since I’m all yours for the taking.”

“You know that’s a very dangerous offer Evie. I don’t think you really want to go around laying that on the table,” JT warned her with a raised brow.

“Yeah well I’m not just issuing the offer to anyone,” she reached out across the table to take his hand once again. “It’s for you and only you.”

“I’m flattered,” JT shifted on his seat nervously thinking about how willing to take her up on her words he may have been a few years ago, but now that he was trying to turn over a new leaf he knew he had to be strong and avoid her advance. He smiled at her politely before finally finding the courage to speak up again, “But how about we just concentrate on breakfast first?”

“For now, but don’t think I’m giving up on you JT because one way or another I will have you see it my way,” she promised with a confident grin ready to order now that their waitress arrived.

JT watched her for a long moment knowing full well just how determined she was. She was beautiful, confident and clearly interested in him. Those were all the things and more that it would take for him to get interested in a woman in the past, but now, well now he had the feeling that when Evie finally found a way to get what she wanted out of him, he’d be in trouble. Big trouble!


“What’s on your mind daddy?” Kayla questioned looking up at her father from where she sat on his lap on the couch. They had been watching television for a while, but by the look on his face she could tell that there was something wrong. “You look upset or something daddy.”

“I’m just thinking about your Aunt Cori sweetheart,” Dave whispered being truthful with his daughter, seeing Carly shoot him a small look before standing up from the chair in the corner and coming over to sit with him and Kayla. “That’s all baby.”

“Hey Kayla,” Carly caught her daughter’s attention before offering up a small smile. Winking at her daughter she pushed back her long hair and nodded towards the hallway. “Why don’t you go get Mr. Bunny and show daddy what we put on him for clothes the other day.”

“Sounds great,” Kayla got off Dave’s lap before running towards the hallways, but turned around before leaving the room. “I promise I will be right back guys.”

“Alright honey,” Carly nodded watching Kayla run down the hallway and into the bedroom before Carly gave her attention back to Dave. “What’s really on your mind with Cori?”

“If she’s telling the truth or not,” he informed Carly before thinking about all the reasons he felt that Cori could possibly lying. “I mean there are so many obvious reasons why she would lie about Diego, but I don’t understand why she would lie about something so serious. Especially to me, I’m her big brother. She is supposed to tell me everything, but somehow I think she is lying to me.”

“Cori’s just hurt, that’s all,” Carly assured her placing her hand over his before giving it a small squeeze, seeing his brown eyes looking into hers. “I don’t know if she is lying or if she is telling the truth, but there has to be some kind of reasoning behind it all. In all honesty, she wouldn’t do something just to do it. Something had to have gone wrong for her to do this.”

“I don’t know Carly, I think the past is coming back to her again,” Dave informed his wife thinking about his sister’s past before shaking his head slowly. “What her mental health history is returning all over again?”

“Don’t worry Dave, I don’t think that’s going to happen again,” Carly assured him seeing the way he looked over at her showing her that he wasn’t so sure about what she telling him. “I mean in all honesty, she can’t get that bad again.”

“I don’t know what she is capable of anymore Carly,” Dave pondered his sister’s life from the time she was very young to now, knowing she wasn’t a book he could read easily. “I don’t know her like I should and that’s what worries me the most.”


“Good Morning sleeping beauty,” Nate smiled widely as Cori walked into the kitchen giving her a small scowl when she looked over at him eating Captain Crunch at the kitchen table. “You want some of this for breakfast? It’s really good.”

“Depends,” Cori answered seeing a bowl already set out for her and she walked to the table pulling the chair out before sitting down. “Did you poison it or something?”

“What makes you think I would do that?” Nate whispered seeing Cori take a bite of the cereal before he took a bite of his own. “I mean, you did throw me out of the window naked last night declaring war with me…”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Cori dropped her spoon looking down at the bowl of cereal seeing the laughter behind his green eyes. “You did do something to it, didn’t you?”

“No, I didn’t do anything to the food,” Nate laughed seeing her dark eyes glare over at him before she took another bite of the food before her. “I mean in all honesty, why would I waste such good food over something so stupid?”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged her shoulders taking another bite of her cereal before smiling widely and looking over at Nate. “Anyways, how did you get back in the house last night.”

“I crawled through Don’s window and thanks to you I saw him and my sister in a position I never wanted to see them in ever,” he shook his head in disgust hearing her let out a small laugh as he finished his bowl of cereal. Reaching out to the orange juice he saw her glare at him before he shrugged his shoulders taking a small sip. “But I must say, you really showed me last night I was right. You are a great actress and you are really good at lying.”

“What are you trying to imply?” Cori questioned angrily seeing Shannon enter the kitchen out of the corner of her eye and Nate leaned back more into the kitchen chair. “Nate?”

“Oh, I think you know,” Nate pointed out seeing her dark eyes staring into his as he leaned forward and placed his hand over hers before whispering lightly. “It’s who you are--a liar.”

“Well you want to know what I think of you?” she stood up from the table grabbing the milk seeing Nate’s green eyes stare up at her. Angrily she turned the milk over and poured it over the top of his head making him jump up from the seat, but by the time he got up he was already drenched. “You are a complete jerk.”

“Oh wow. What a waste of good milk,” Shannon heard the front door slam shut as Nate grabbed the hand towel from the sink and wiped the milk away from his eyes slowly. There was milk dripping from his nose as Shannon shook her head slowly. “I don’t trust that girl you know.”

“I don’t think I blame you sis,” Nate wiped at his face slowly before pulling off his drenched shirt and ringing it out in the sink. “In all honesty, she is a real bitch. It’s just, I can’t help but be completely in love with her.”

“Oh god Nate,” Shannon hit her brother in the shoulder hearing him laugh out before moving away from her carefully. “I don’t think she is telling the truth about Diego hurting her.”

“Don’t worry sis,” Nate reached out wrapping his arm around her shoulders and giving her a small squeeze. “Little brother is on the job, I’ll keep an eye on her at work and if I get any clues I’ll let you know.”

“Don’t screw it up bro,” Shannon hit her brother in the stomach hearing him let out a small gasp before wrapping his arm around his stomach. “I know you like her and…”

“It would be my pleasure to get the truth out,” Nate stood up straight folding his arms out in front of his chest before shaking his head slowly. “That seems to be the name of the game.”


“Honey,” Rob walked into the living room seeing Alicia sitting down on the couch flipping through the channels on the television as he sat down on the couch next to her. “How are you doing this morning honey?”

“I’m fine,” she tried to assure him as he wrapped his arm around her carefully, looking down at her with his worried blue eyes. “Why are you looking at me like that? You only look at me like that when you think something is wrong.”

“I’m looking at you like this because I know something is wrong,” Rob pointed out squeezing his arm around her tighter before shaking his head slowly. “Usually the last thing you want to do is sit down on the couch and watch television, so what’s really wrong.”

“I was just thinking about you helping Cori,” Alicia answered truthfully seeing the frown that was spread out over his features and she knew what was going to happen. “Before you explain her, I just have to say this. What she is saying about Diego seems completely unrealistic I hope you know. You have a man that has been good to everyone and never had a bad incident in his whole career, but all of a sudden he changes towards her? That doesn’t seem right to me. Now she is singling out on you Rob, I’m worried she might try and do something to you. That’s what scares me the most.”

“You shouldn’t be scared about anything honey,” Rob whispered pressing a small kiss against her forehead before shaking his head slowly. “What you need to know is that I can protect myself almost better than anyone else can protect themselves. I just need to find out if ever this is going to be okay with Cori. Even if she is lying, there is something about her that needs help. I just want to be there to help her. That’s all I want to do. I would never ever cheat on you and I would never let myself get hurt because I love you and want to be with you for quite a while.”

“I know honey,” Alicia leaned into his hold before taking in a deep breath thinking about Cori and all the games she had been playing recently. “I just don’t want to have you hurt.”

“I’m not going to be honey,” Rob gave her small kiss before holding her tighter in his arms trying to find a way to make her believe him. “I’m just going to help her and that’s all. I promise, I’m done with her after everything is settled and over with. I’m not going to let anything happen to me or us.”

“Good,” Alicia held onto her husband tighter turning the television off before looking up into Rob’s blue eyes. “I don’t think I could ever deal with losing you Rob.”

“Good,” Rob whispered pushing back her blonde hair gently before smiling widely. “Because I would never, ever let someone take me away from you. Never.”


“Feeling any better?” Russ questioned walking out into the living room to find Avery seated right where he’d left her once he had gone to set Erin down for her nap.

Avery had been too upset to finish her breakfast and it seemed that nothing he could say would make the situation any better for her. She’d even suggested that he be the one to take care of Erin given that she felt she wasn’t making any sense to herself let alone their daughter. Fearing that she was frightening Erin, she’d retreated to the couch to wrap herself up in a throw blanket that she still had wrapped securely around her shoulders.

She nodded upon hearing him, “A little bit. Russ about before I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I just felt all messed up and…”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Russ moved in to take a seat beside her on the couch. He reached out to touch her leg supportively, his green eyes fixed on hers. “You’ve had a lot to deal with over the last few weeks and I don’t expect you to pretend that it hasn’t effected you.”

“It’s just when I think about my life--about the state of things around me,” she spoke up in a raspy tone, offering an apologetic smile, “I guess I just never imagined I’d get to this point in my life and have my mother try to kill me, have been married to you, then not married to you when I wound up with someone else. Then to think about how I hurt you and lost my career by making that stupid decision…”

“Hey, you did what you thought was best at the time,” he tried to soothe the worry that was evident behind her eyes. “You were trying to protect yourself and Erin…”

“Yes, but I never thought that in marrying Brant that I would wind up losing everything,” she stopped herself a pained, apologetic expression on her face, “You know what I mean.”

He nodded, “Of course I do and I still think that Brant was a complete ass about the situation. You’re the best thing that ever happened to that stupid company of his and if it runs into the ground, then it serves him right. Firing you was a very stupid move on his part.”

“Even so it doesn’t make me feel better that the only job I could get now is a sympathy hire from Grady since my reputation has been ripped to hell and back,” she sighed heavily closing her eyes and thinking things over. “I’m starting to feel like a failure Russ. First with you, then with my mother and my career and now with Erin…”

“Now hold on a minute,” he frowned seeing her lost in a sea of self-loathing. “Avery you aren’t even remotely close to being a failure.”

“Yes I am,” she opened her eyes to look at him once again, “I mean think about it Russ. I can’t even keep it together long enough for me to enjoy a breakfast with you and our daughter. Here all of my dreams have been coming true and all I can do is focus on the things that I can’t change. I can’t help but dwell on what my mother’s done, on my career assassination, on the fact that everyone thinks I’m going to make mistakes with Erin, on the fact that I’m fat and completely unattractive and everything else that’s been going wrong…”

“Avery come here,” he pulled her into his arms hugging her gently. “I know that this might not sound right, but maybe you’re being a little too hard on yourself. You’re not any of those things. You’re a wonderful mother. Erin loves you and she knows how much you would do for her. You’re going to start a wonderful new job with Grady and I’m sure that Brant is going to be regretting the day he ever let you go. I know I sure would if I was in his shoes. Hell, I told you I’d hire you in a heartbeat.”

“You couldn’t afford me Russ,” Avery couldn’t help but crack a smile at him, “And besides, I’d be of absolutely no help at the newspaper. It was really your father who kept it afloat when you were gone. I just signed a few papers. That’s all.”

“Either way from what I’ve heard sales have more than doubled since I’ve been gone, which makes me wonder just what a good job I was doing there come to think of it,” he teased seeing that the dark cloud was still hanging over her head. “But seriously Avery, maybe you should stop being so hard on yourself. You’re an amazingly beautiful, caring, wonderful woman and I feel like the luckiest man alive to have you in my life.”

“Russ,” she spoke his name a small smile growing over her lips, “You’re just saying that because you love me.”

“So what if I am,” he shrugged his shoulders, “Does it make it any less the truth because I love you with all of my heart?”

She opened her mouth to speak struggling to say something, anything that would make up for what she’d been putting him through all morning long, but instead she broke into tears once again. Leaning forward she buried her head in his chest, “I don’t know why you even bother staying with me. You and Erin would be so much better off without someone like me in your life. I’m a horrible mother and an even more horrible wife considering that I couldn’t feel that you were still alive.”

“Avery stop,” Russ began firmly feeling guilt eat away at him at the way she was attacking herself. He touched the top of her head gently before curling his finger underneath her chin to get her to meet his worried gaze, “You know did it ever occur to you that maybe this isn’t something that’s wrong with you necessarily? I mean you did just endure a lot and given that things weren’t exactly like we hoped when Erin was born…”

“Are you saying that maybe I’m feeling all of this because of what Bruce did to me?” she couldn’t help but ask her brown eyes full of worry and upset.

“Maybe, but then again you do have to realize that your hormones are working a number on you right now,” he continued in a soft, soothing voice, “After giving birth you are more likely to feel a lot of things that maybe you wouldn’t have felt before. From what I’ve read it’s a very traumatic experience and given that you were hospitalized there…”

“You think I’m a nutcase, don’t you?” she couldn’t help but ask, tears pouring out over her.

“No baby that’s not what I’m saying at all,” he shook his head wanting to kick himself for making her think that he doubted her sanity. “All I’m saying is that I’ve heard it’s not uncommon for a great many women to go through feeling some of the things that you’re feeling right now. And in knowing that I’m also well aware that most women who just had a child don’t have to deal with a mother like Brooke, a tyrant like Brant or even someone like Bruce. Avery you’ve been through a whole truckload of situations lately and if you’re feeling the aftershocks of it, then that’s perfectly normal.”

“If it’s so normal, then why do I feel like a complete and total disaster?” she questioned biting on her lower lip to fight the tears that carried over her.

“Because you’re not seeing yourself like I see you,” he wiped at the tears on her cheek, using his thumb to push the dampness from her soft skin. “In my eyes you’re always a beautiful, caring, compassionate, brilliant woman that deserves nothing less than the best from the world around her.”

“You’re the one who deserves the best Russ. I don’t know how you can even bear to look at me after the things that I’ve done to betray you,” she sighed heavily bringing her fingers through her dark hair. She pulled away from him, her gaze fixed on the floor in front of her. “I know how much you hated Brant, yet I married him anyways and now…”

“Now things are well on their way to being right again,” Russ interrupted refusing to let her beat herself up for what had happened. “I understand why you did what you did and I don’t blame you for any of it.”

“You don’t have to blame me. I blame myself. I should have felt that you were still alive. Hell, I did feel it, but everyone convinced me that I was crazy and I believed them,” she explained in a tortured voice, “I let them tell me I was out of my mind when I should have been out there searching for you--trying to save you from the nightmare that my mother put upon you.”

“Avery, it’s in the past,” Russ squeezed her hand gently, “I’m not going to hold any of that against you. I love you and I don’t care about what happened while I was gone. It was what you felt you needed to do and I’m not going to condemn you for it. I love you.”

“I love you too,” she leaned into him, placing her head on his chest, “Russ I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t here. Erin needs you so much and with my being such a wreck I feel like I’m not giving her what she needs.”

“Sure you are,” he kissed the top of her head, “Although maybe you should do something that she and I would both want you to do and take care of yourself. That’s really what’s important to us.”

“What do you mean?” she questioned tipping her head up to look at him.

“I mean maybe you should talk to someone,” he suggested in a supportive tone, “Maybe look into what you’re feeling and see if there is maybe somewhere you can go to talk to others who might be feeling like you do right now.”

“You mean like seeing a therapist?” she frowned at the suggestion. She backed away seeing the way he was looking at her and suddenly she felt as if he was being condescending and accusatory, “You do think I’m losing my mind, don’t you?”

“Avery I never said that,” he frowned, “I was just saying that maybe you should find other women you could talk to about what’s going on and…”

“Oh that’s right because my problems are just too much for you to handle,” she threw her hands up in the air before pushing herself up off of the couch. “You can’t deal with the fact that I’m not the same perfect person I was before I thought you died. I’m full of problems and issues that weren’t there before, so naturally you think I’m a nut case. You believe that I’ve lost my mind and I’m being delusional and…”

“No Avery, that’s not what I’m saying,” Russ shook his head at her. He sighed watching her pull away from him. Her eyes were wide with anger as she clenched the blanket around her shoulders and he fought for the right words, “I was just trying to tell you that…”

“That I should seek some kind of therapy or support group like I’m some alcoholic or drug addict. You think that I can’t take care of myself or my daughter and that makes me crazy. Admit it that’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it?” she shouted at him, her words growing more heated by the moment.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all Avery,” he attempted to keep his voice calm and supportive. “I just want you to see if maybe there is something that we can do together to make this easier on you.”

“Together?” she huffed at him, “Russ you have no idea what it is that I’m going through. You don’t know what it’s like to be fat and unattractive and to see your whole life falling to pieces right in front of you. Here you are returning to life the way you left it, but I’m living in the situation that I’ve been in since you’ve been gone. I’ve had a lot to deal with, yet you come back and make it look so easy. You just hold Erin and she’s ready to melt into your arms, but when she’s with me, she knows I’m not doing things right. She knows that I’m a failure and she is as disappointed in me as you are.”

“Avery, the only person that is disappointed in you is you,” he pointed out with a small frown rising up to reach out to her. “I just want to help you considering that I read this isn’t uncommon for someone to experience after…”

“So what?” she threw her hands in the air her anger boiling over her, “You read one damned magazine article and that makes you an expert now?”

“I’m not saying that,” he frowned again, “All I’m trying to say is…”

“That I’m too much for you to deal with. Admit it Russ. You don’t want to be married to me. You want to be married to the girl you thought you married on the island. You want the perfect wife, the perfect mother to Erin and I’m not that. I’m so far from being that it’s not funny,” she blurted out, her words more frantic and furious, “Hell, we’re not even married to one another which is just another one on the list of failures in my life.”

“Avery stop!” Russ commanded firmly.

“No I’m not going to stop,” she snapped in response, her dark eyes narrowing at him, “Face it Russ if you’re smart you’ll just run out and never look back. Take Erin with you and start your life over again without someone like me to weigh you down.”

“You and I both know that’s not going to happen,” Russ reached out to her knowing full well she was in the midst of a fit, but he wasn’t going to back away from her.

“I mean it Russ!” she shouted throwing her fists out in the air wildly, “Just go!”

“Avery come on,” he felt her swing at him. It only kept him moving in closer to her.

“Just go!” she repeated again and again, her fists flying wildly into the center of his chest until her tears overtook her. She collapsed into his arms, broken by her tears and trembling against him.

“Hey,” he whispered in her ear, “It’s okay. It’ll be okay.”

“What is wrong with me Russ?” she finally questioned her words shaky and jumbled.

“Nothing’s wrong with you honey. We just need to work through this together,” he rubbed his hand over her back holding her to him, “We’ll find out what’s going on to make you feel this way and we’ll fix it.”

“What if I can’t be fixed?” she questioned an air of hopelessness carrying over her.

“It’s going to be okay,” he promised keeping her close to him and wishing like hell that he could take her pain and worries away from her. He opened his mouth to speak when he heard the sound of the doorbell ringing. Frowning he kept his arms around Avery as she popped her head up.

“Someone’s here,” she mouthed wiping at her eyes.

“It’s okay,” he decided still holding onto her. “We’ll just wait for them to leave.”

The doorbell rang again.

“Erin will wake up if you don’t answer,” she wiggled her way out of his arms. She took a step back and wiped at her face. “Russ, just see who it is and get rid of them.”

“Avery, are you sure,” he searched her eyes.

She nodded, “Yeah I’m just going to get cleaned up.”

“Okay,” he replied watching her walk down the hallway.

Taking in a long breath he turned towards the door ready to usher their unexpected company on away from the house. Opening the door he was surprised to see Richard and Judy standing in front of him on the porch with an oversized teddy bear in hands.

“Russ, hey son, I brought this for my beautiful granddaughter,” Richard offered the bear over to Russ before stepping past him into the house. “Speaking of which, where is she?”

“Um, she’s sleeping right now and…” Russ paused not sure what to say to Richard.

“That’s okay we can wait considering that we have some news that we want to share with you and Avery,” Richard explained wrapping his arm around Judy’s waist. “Where is she?”

“Actually she’s just…” Russ stammered not really clear on what to tell Avery’s father.

“I’m right here,” Avery blurted out walking into the room and joining the group. She forced a smile as Richard turned to her seeing her face was red from crying.

“Avery, what’s wrong?” Richard questioned immediately walking over to his daughter. “Honey what is it?”

“I’m just having a rough morning,” she confessed embracing her father. “I just got to thinking about Brooke and…”

“Oh darling,” Richard squeezed her tighter, “Why would you go and do something like that?”

“I can’t help it,” Avery fought the tears that she’d finally rid herself of.

“Yes, well I came over here today to tell you that she won’t be a problem for you any longer. I’ve filed for a divorce and warned her to stay away from you,” Richard informed Avery touching the side of her face gently. “She’s not going to get a chance to ruin any of our lives ever again.”

“You really told her you’re getting a divorce?” Avery’s eyes widened with surprise.

“That’s right princess,” he nodded firmly, “I couldn’t bear to be attached to her in any way, shape or form after I learned what she did to you and to Russ. I’m not going to let her get away with any of what she tried to do.”

“So you ended things because of me?” Avery asked with a worried expression.

“No honey, I ended things because it was the right thing to do. Besides Judy and I were going to find a way to see an end to it anyways,” Richard glanced over at Judy briefly. “We came here to tell you some news, but we can wait if…”

“No please,” Avery cut him off abruptly, “if it’s good news we could use it right about now. Right Russ?”

“That’s right,” Russ nodded noting the way Avery seemed more at ease with her father around.

“Well Judy and I have decided that we’re going to get married,” Richard explained proudly looking over to Judy.

“Really?” Avery’s eyes widened as she looked between the both of them. “You mean you’re really going to get married to each other now?”

“That’s what we’re trying to shoot for,” Judy nodded back at her. “Of course we wanted to make sure that you and Guy were okay with it before we jumped the gun there. We know how important you both are in all of this and we were hoping that you’d approve.”

“Are you kidding?” Avery smiled back at her, “This is incredible news, isn’t it Russ?”

“Of course it is,” he nodded joining the group.

“This calls for a celebration,” Avery blurted out rubbing her hands together, “I think I’m going to put on some tea and you can give me all of the details.”

“Excellent,” Richard watched her retreat into the kitchen before his eyes returned to Russ again. His smile faded and he cleared his throat uneasily, “Okay, what’s really going on with my daughter?”

“I don’t know,” Russ admitted placing his hands into his pockets, “She seems to be on this emotional roller coaster and…”

“And I’m guessing that’s what we walked into, isn’t it?” Judy frowned slightly sensing the tension in the air.

“One minute she was fine, then the next she was talking about what failure she thinks she is. She was discussing Brooke, then her being fired and the next she was telling me to take Erin and leave. She refused to go near Erin telling me that she was only going to upset her. She was in here crying for the longest time and…I just didn‘t know what to do,” Russ blurted out knowing full well he shouldn’t say anything, but worry was carrying over him.

“How long has this been going on?” Richard inquired with a crease in his brow.

“It wasn’t anything like what happened until this morning,” Russ admitted with a sigh, “I know she’s been under a lot of stress, but this kind of came out of nowhere.”

“You know it sounds like maybe Avery might be suffering from a bit of a breakdown there,” Judy explained catching a look from both Richard and Russell. “Look, before you both tell me I’m jumping the gun on this one, let me tell you that I’m saying this because I’ve been there myself. When I had Deidra I had a difficult pregnancy and when she was born I would break into crying fits and go into hysterics. I started spouting off about the world around me and lashing out at anyone who tried to care because I‘d kept the stress all inside for so very long. Eventually I saw that I was exploding because I‘d held it all in and I knew I had to try to get myself together there before it ate me alive. Of course back then they couldn’t do much for it. Now they have options and treatments and…”

“I tried to get Avery to talk to someone, but then she accused me of thinking she was crazy. Maybe I was jumping the gun,” Russ shrugged his shoulders thinking about what had taken place. “Maybe she’s just having a bad day and I’m acting like an idiot in not supporting her enough.”

“Russ, look I know it’s none of my business, but maybe I could have Deidra come over to see her,” Judy suggested after a moment, “Avery has been through a lot over the last couple of months and it couldn’t hurt for her to have someone to talk to. Hey I’d even be more than willing to do it if you’d like. She seems to trust me.”

“I don’t know,” Russ hesitated worry creasing over his brow. “I don’t want her thinking that I’m turning anyone against her or talking about the things that happen with us.”

“You’re not betraying Avery for caring about her,” Richard finally broke his long silence, “And if she needs us to be there for her, then we’re going to do it. I don’t want my daughter feeling down about her life especially when she has so much of it ahead of her.”

“That’s where I’m at Richard. I love her so much that it kills me to see her hurting like this,” Russ explained thinking about the pain that Avery was obviously putting upon herself, but what felt worse was that Russ felt as if he couldn’t do a thing to change what was happening. “She could just be having an off day.”

“It could be a possibility, but for what it’s worth, I’ll talk to her,” Judy decided catching the look of protest behind Russell’s green eyes. “Not right now, but soon.”

“Okay,” Russ nodded hearing Avery return to the room with a tray in hands.

“Now where were we,” Avery looked around the room, “I thought we had a celebration going on here.”

“Of course we do princess,” Richard piped in in an attempt to keep the mood light and cheerful despite the fact that they were all now worried about Avery and her inner turmoil.


“Deidra, can I talk with you for a moment,” Diane questioned motioning for her sister to follow her back into the kitchen. She curled her finger again seeing Deidra follow and she cleared her throat once they were alone with one another.

“Is something wrong?” Deidra questioned hearing Ben and Dean laughing with one another in the other room. “Are you feeling bad or something?”

“No not exactly,” Diane began to fidget with her fingers unsure how to bring up such a touchy subject with her sister. Still Deidra had a right to know what was going on in town right behind her back before something happened and Deidra learned the hard way. “There really isn’t any easy way to say this to you, but there’s something I think you should know. Something that is really important.”

“Alright,” Deidra nodded awaiting Diane’s words. She realized that Diane was hesitating and a frown touched over her lips, “Diane is something happening that you’re not telling me about? Something with JT?”

“No,” Diane shook her head firmly, “this isn’t about JT at all. This is about someone else--someone that has been a thorn in our side for far too long already.”

“Diane you’re not making any sense,” Deidra frowned over at her sister wondering what it was that had Diane so on edge. She opened her mouth to say something more when the sound of the doorbell ringing caught her attention. Standing up straighter Deidra looked out into the room they’d just exited before turning to her sister. “Were you expecting more company?”

Diane shook her head, “No it was just supposed to be you and Dean tonight unless mom decided to stop by.”

“That would be nice if she did considering we both should catch up with her,” Deidra noted seeing Ben get up to answer the door. “Though it’s too bad that she’s missed some of the fun here.”

“I’m sure that there is still plenty of fun for us all tonight,” Diane replied glancing over her sister’s shoulder to see Ben opening the door to the last person in the world that she’d hoped to see again. Instinctively Diane reached out for her sister’s arm hoping to distract her long enough to break the news about Andy’s return, but as Ben spoke up in a confused voice Deidra spun around to find Andy standing in the foyer just beyond the kitchen.

“Deidra,” Andy greeted her with a smile, holding a bottle of wine in his hand.

“What the hell are you doing here Andy?” Deidra mouthed marching forward in a fury ready to take out the man who made her life so very miserable over the last few years now that she‘d been delivered the shock of the night in finding him in her sister‘s home.


“So what’s going on Grady?” Kyle questioned trying to ignore Sarah’s shuffling in the kitchen area. He cleared his throat a bit and lowered his voice to talk to his friend. “You know before you answer that, how about we go outside and talk?”

“Okay,” Grady nodded watching with a curious eye the way that Kyle lead him out of the house. Once the door was closed behind them, Grady spoke up again, “How about we start with what’s going on with you? What was that all about?”

“What was what?” Kyle shrugged his shoulders trying to play down the situation that was taking place between him and Sarah.

“Don’t give me that,” Grady frowned back at his pal, “I can see that something isn’t right here, so what gives?”

“Let me ask you a question,” Kyle glanced back at the house again before speaking up. “What if you realized that you’d made a huge mistake with something? I mean what if it was so big that you found yourself wishing like hell you could take it back?”

“I think we already covered that one on my end,” Grady tossed out a pointed look at his pal, “Avery ring a bell.”

“I mean other than that,” Kyle groaned inwardly not wanting to go down that road again and discuss Avery. “I mean what if your instincts were telling you one thing, but you had it in your head that you had to think another?”

“I think you need to be more specific Kyle,” Grady replied with a strange expression.

“Okay, I was thinking about what happened the day we were at the police station,” Kyle admitted with a frown.

“What about it?” Grady couldn’t help but ask. “I mean is it anything in specific?”

Kyle nodded, “I’ve actually been thinking about Cori--about that outburst she had with Sarah.”

“You mean the one where she pretty much accused Sarah of sleeping with Diego?” Grady arched a curious brow.

“Exactly,” Kyle nodded, “What do you make of that one?”

“Um, at the time I thought it seemed like a pretty strange accusation, yet…” Grady stopped himself from finishing, “What does it matter?”

“What matters is that I’m starting to wonder if Cori wasn’t as off base as everyone thinks she was,” Kyle revealed after a long moment of hesitation. “I mean you know things with Sarah and I haven’t been right for a long time, yet…”

“What? You think she and Diego got together when you were apart?” Grady couldn’t help but ask seeing Kyle nod. “Man that sounds crazy considering how much she cares about you.”

“If it sounds so crazy, then why did you look like you were ready to crawl out of your skin when I asked you for your opinion,” Kyle challenged with an arched brow.

“Because I don’t think it’s really my place to decide whether or not Cori was telling the truth. She seems a little unbalanced and…” Grady paused giving Kyle a long look, “Is that what this is really about?”

“I don’t know,” Kyle admitted hesitantly. “I mean there was a time when I trusted Sarah--when I believed that she and I had a love that could outlast all of the challenges that came our way, but now…”

“You’re having second thoughts about that?” Grady finished for him.

Kyle nodded, “It sounds crazy, but it’s true. I just can’t get over what she said to me when she thought Susan was having my baby.”

“Kyle we all said a lot of horrible things during that time. I’m one of the biggest offenders there,” Grady continued to remind him.

“Even so, it wasn’t what she said about Susan, but more so what she said about not accepting a child of mine had a child come out of that situation,” Kyle replied feeling a pain at the mention of Sarah’s betrayal. “You have no idea how much that hurt to hear her say that.”

“She knew that Susan hurt you. In her mind I think she was trying to make you feel better about things,” Grady offered up in an attempt to grasp where Sarah was coming from.

“I don’t think that was it. I mean how could it make me feel better to listen to her telling me that she couldn’t accept my own flesh and blood and furthermore,” Kyle hesitated a great tension hanging over him, “Grady I have to be honest with you. That day when she said all that everything that I felt for Sarah kind of faded away.”

“What do you mean?” Grady’s green eyes grew wide. “Kyle are you trying to tell me that…?”

“I don’t think I’m in love with her anymore,” Kyle blurted out for the first time since the thought had entered his mind. “I don’t think that we ever really had anything there to begin with once I saw her for what she truly was.”

“Wait a second. You two are having a baby together. Surely there has to be some love there between you,” Grady tried to reason with him watching Kyle pace around the front. “Kyle, that has to say something.”

“It says that I’m in a situation that I’m not sure I’m ready for. I mean don’t get me wrong I want to be there for my baby. I’ll always be there for my son or daughter, but with Sarah,” Kyle spun around to face his friend, the truth of his feelings pouring out over him, “How can I be there for her when I know when it matters she’s always going to bail on me? I mean I spent my life thinking that she was the one--that she was the woman that I could share all of my hopes and dreams with. That she would be someone I could reveal my darkest secrets to and work through my fears with, but when that moment of truth came in, she kicked me while I was down.”

“I’m sure she was shell-shocked. That night when everything happened like it did, I think we were all…” Grady started again hoping to soothe his friend’s worries.

“No she said it because that’s how she felt. She was never, ever going to accept that part of me and I realized that,” Kyle shook his head in frustration. “I knew it even when she and I got back together, but after everything we went through with Russ and Avery with Erin, I guess I was just thinking about holding onto life--about making sure that I kept those things that were important to me close beside me…”

“Which included Sarah,” Grady added seeing the pained expression on Kyle’s face.

“I thought it did, but then something happened. The night that I found out she was pregnant I was going to end things with her,” Kyle confessed remembering the details of the party he’d been at. “I realized that I’m not in love with her--that I’m not even close to feeling what I should feel for the person I want to share the rest of my life with. It took me one moment with…”

“With what?” Grady saw Kyle walk away further out into the yard. “Kyle, what’s going on here? Talk to me.”

Kyle stayed quiet for a long time not knowing what to say or how to put what was happening inside of him. After he’d left that photo shoot he hadn’t been able to get Heather out of his mind and now, well now it only added to the doubts he’d been having.

“Kyle, what’s going on?” Grady asked again.

“Grady, I’m not sure if my instincts about Sarah sleeping with Diego are dead on. Part of me believes that Cori is telling the truth and that Sarah does have something with Diego. He was acting strange that day I went to see him and I could see that something was up,” Kyle continued to reveal to his friend. “There was something behind his eyes that made me wonder…”

“The man is in jail because Cori lied about him,” Grady stated the obvious, “That would make anyone uncomfortable.”

“That’s not it. He seemed like he was afraid of me--like he was fearing what I would do to him with no one else around,” Kyle informed him point blank. “He looked like a man guilty of something that he was hoping I couldn’t call him on.”

“He was probably afraid you’d believe Cori and…” Grady began.

“Perhaps, but I don’t believe that he beat up Cori. However,” Kyle faced his friend again, “I’m convinced that something happened with him and Sarah.”

“Well if you’re so sure about it, why don’t you ask her?” Grady suggested to him, “It might be something worth talking about.”

“Like she’s going to tell me the truth about it,” Kyle rolled his eyes and groaned, “She hasn’t told me the truth in a long time and maybe I deserve that because I haven’t been exactly honest with her either.”

“You mean about not being in love with her anymore?” Grady noted seeing something else behind his friend’s eyes.

“Which makes me wonder if I’m hoping that she and Diego have something simply because I’ve realized I’m in love with someone else,” Kyle confessed stunned to hear the words falling from his lips. “I can’t believe I just said that.”

“I can’t believe I just heard that,” Grady blinked back at him, “Kyle, do you have any idea how that sounds? Does that mean that you’re…?”

“No, I’m not,” Kyle shook his head and frowned, “At least not yet, but every time I’m with her Grady, it reminds me all over again what kind of mistake I’m making with Sarah. Each day I keep seeing more and more that I’m living a lie because when it gets down to it, the only dream that has mattered to me is the one I let walk away when I decided to go after Sarah.”

“Kyle, you’ve waited a long time to be with Sarah and now that she’s having your baby…,” Grady shook his head trying to make sense of what Kyle was saying. “This is what you’ve been hoping for all these years and now…”

“Now I know if I go through with this I’ll be making a mistake,” Kyle finished decidedly knowing full well that he’d been in denial about everything for far too long already.

“A mistake about what?” Sarah’s voice rose up from behind them causing both Grady and Kyle to jump back in surprise wondering just how much of their conversation she’d heard.


“So what are you in the mood for?” Brant questioned setting Angela down on the counter top in the kitchen.

“Anything you want to give me,” Angela grinned at him, reaching out to give him one last kiss before leaning back on the counter.

“Hmm, my dear that is a very loaded request,” he winked at her moving over to the refrigerator.

“Take it as you want it,” she added unable to resist watching every step he made with an admiring eye.

Even though she and Brant had decided to stay in a bed a bit longer enjoying one another, eventually they had opted to get back on track with the whole breakfast idea. Of course it hadn’t really taken away from her plans for having a day of private time with him, but rather it put a different spin on things.

“Seriously, what are you in the mood for? You name it and it’s yours,” Brant assured her popping his head out from behind the open door of the refrigerator.

“How about you make me what you did that morning on the island? If you can remember that is,” she suggested seeing him reach for a few various things to put together.

“Believe it or not that is something I could never forget much like everything else I’ve learned about you,” he informed her putting things together for their meal. “So tell me something--anything that you haven’t told me before now.”

“You mean like twenty questions?” she raised a curious brow catching the way he looked at her.

“Something like that,” he replied with a small nod. “That shouldn’t be hard, should it?”

“No not really,” she decided swinging her legs over the edge of the counter in a rocking motion, “So what would you like to know?”

“Occupation,” Brant tossed out at her randomly, “You mentioned that you were a doctor.”

“I am,” she nodded in response, “and a pretty damn good one at that.”

“So what is your specialty?” he questioned mixing together the contents of their breakfast.

“I’m specialized in neurology for a while, but most recently I’ve done work in genetics,” she explained unable to keep from admiring his perfect backside. “I’ve been pretty much stuck in my lab for the last few years working on a big project.”

“And how’s that going along?” he asked moving in towards her to reach for something in one of the cabinets behind her.

“Better than anticipated,” she divulged curling her toes out to tickle at his side when he stepped away. “Though we did hit a bit of a brick wall for the longest time with one of the projects I was working on. It felt like it was never going to open itself up to me.”

“I can understand that frustration,” Brant offered up tossing some salt and pepper into his concoction. “I’ve been running a few projects of my own and I have to tell you I’m practically at my wit’s end with this one.”

“What’s the project?” she replied curiously.

“Something that I started years ago,” Brant continued to explain, “You see my father opened up this company around the time my sister Blake was born and…”

“Blake,” Angela repeated recognizing the name, “She’s the sister who is going to marry Kevin’s cousin right?”

“That’s right,” Brant nodded, “and I can’t wait for you to meet her. I’m sure she’s going to warm up to you right away just like I did.”

“You really think so?” Angela hopped down from the counter top. “I mean last night was a little bit strange with your grandfather and…”

“It was just strange because he wasn’t expecting you,” Brant reached out to her in an attempt to pull her closer to him. “It’s like when we first met. Neither one of us was expecting to find one another…”

“Yet we did,” she eagerly welcomed his arms around her.

“That’s right,” Brant kissed her gently, “and look at all of the great things that came out of it.”

“I can think of a few,” Angela giggled poking at his ribs teasingly.

“I’ll give you a few,” he hugged her in closer to him before motioning to the stove. “You know I have an idea. Since you liked what I made so much, how about I show you my chef’s secret?”

“Seriously,” she replied her brown eyes widening with a sudden interest.

“Sure, but I must warn you once I show you what my secret is, you are bound to secrecy yourself. You cannot reveal my key ingredient to anyone,” he explained with a sudden seriousness.

“What about our children? Can I tell them when they ask about it?” she replied with a small grin.

“Well, I suppose you can tell them about it, but if and only if we can keep them to keep our secrets between just us,” he dipped down to place a kiss on her lips before turning her in his arms.

“I’ll think about it,” Angela melted back into his chest, savoring the way his arms stayed around her. They faced the stove and he reached for one of the bottles of spices handing it to her.

“Here try this,” he suggested watching her dump some into the pan.

“How’s that?” she asked tipping her head back.

“It’s good,” Brant pointed to another bottle, “Now try a little bit of that.”

“How much would you define a little bit precisely?” she questioned reaching for the bottle.

“Just do it until I tell you to stop,” Brant decided watching her pour some of the spice into the pan when a thought occurred to him. “Hey, you mentioned that you’ve been doing some work with genetics lately, right?”

“Right,” she nodded casting a quick glance over at him while pouring some spices in, “but what does that have to do with your secret recipe?”

“Nothing,” Brant shook his head, “That’s enough with the spice. Actually I was thinking about that project I have going at work. I had a researcher working for me that decided to move on from the company and since you mentioned you had a focus on genetics, I’m in the process of marketing this thing that will…”

“Good morning,” Ken’s voice cut through Brant’s idea before he could get it out. “I thought I heard voices in the kitchen and something smells good. What trouble are you getting into Brant?”

“Ken,” Brant mouthed turning to look at his twin brother. Angela’s gaze followed and she let out a surprised gasp.

“Ken?” she repeated giving him a strange look before turning to Brant again with curious eyes.

“Yeah um,” Brant cleared his throat seeing the way that Ken was looking at Angela. It didn’t take a genius to realize what was about to happen next if he didn’t think fast, “This is my brother Ken. Ken this is…”

“Unbelievable,” Ken finished for him, unable to take his eyes off of the woman that was still in Brant’s arms. Something strange was certainly going on and Ken wanted to get to the bottom of it.


“I’ll be right back,” JT announced getting up from the table he’d been seated at with Evie. “You sure you got the bill?”

“Yeah I have it covered. Go on so that we can go shopping. I‘ll just pay the bill and meet you out front,” Evie waved at him watching his retreat. She looked to the bill in her hand noticing that they’d gone over what she’d anticipated price wise for the morning with their order.

“No matter,” she thought to herself. “You had to find a way to get a jump start on shopping anyways. The question is where do you start?”

Evie scanned the room for a long moment and spotted an oversized guy with tattoos by the counter waiting to pay his own bill. Smiling to herself she realized he looked dumb enough not to catch onto her game. She slid out of the booth and marched over to him ready to work her magic before JT came back from the men’s room.

“Excuse me,” she started apologetically bumping into the man after he’d just put his wallet back into his pants pocket.

“What?” he questioned spinning around to face her, “Oh I’m sorry it’s my fault.”

“No, it’s all mine,” Evie smiled up at him seeing the way that he looked at her. There was something about his eyes that caught her off guard, but she still had to play it cool. “I should have been paying more attention.”

“Actually I should have been…” he paused giving her a long look. “Hey, have we…?”

“Kevin, I gave you the wrong change,” the woman behind the counter called out to him giving Evie just enough to reach into his pocket and pull out the wallet before making a quick exit. She was almost out the door ready to make her big escape when she felt a thick, oversized hand on her arm.

“Just where the hell do you think you’re going with my wallet?” Kevin questioned as Evie realized that she’d been caught in her own game. Now as his fingers curled around her arm, and she saw the irritation behind his dark eyes, she had the feeling she was about to be in some big trouble!


...to be continued...