Episode 326

“Brant, why are we doing this?” Angela questioned feeling his fingers laced in hers after he’d guided her out onto the back patio at the Ashford mansion. “I think what Wendy said speaks for the state of our relationship.”

“No, it doesn’t even cover it,” Brant shook his head adamantly. “I swore to you that I would prove to you that we belonged together. I said that I would explain and I will.”

“Brant please. Don’t make this anymore difficult than it already is,” she begged of him feeling her anger shifting more so towards disappointment for once again believing in the fairy tale romance that wasn’t at all possible between strangers.

“Angela if for no other reason, we need to see we belong together because of these two,” his hand dropped down over her abdomen touching it protectively, “Our children are a very important reason for us to work this out.”

“Brant,” she dropped her hand down over his, a sigh spilling from her lips, “they’re just a technicality in the grand scheme of things. They were the last thing you wanted when you met me…”

“And everything I need now that I’m with you again,” Brant corrected his brown eyes pleading with her, “Angela, look I’m not going to lie to you about anything. I know that I should’ve been up front with you from the start, but I was a coward. I was afraid that you’d walk out once I told you everything about Avery. I thought if I gave you as little as possible about her that it would just somehow make everything okay.”

“How could your having a wife that looks like me be okay Brant? How could ignoring that make the situation any easier?” she shook her head at the thought, “My God I’ll bet your grandfather was thinking I was an idiot last night. They all were, weren’t they?”

“No,” Brant explained adamantly, “They didn’t think you were the idiot, but rather I’m the idiot. I’m the one who held out hope for something that was never there to begin with.”

“With Avery you mean,” she searched his eyes for a long moment suddenly remembering the passion that they’d shared with one another earlier in the morning. “She’s what you were hoping for and I’m just sloppy seconds, right?”

“No,” Brant explained firmly taking a bold step towards her. “Yes, the truth to the matter is that I met Avery first, but that doesn’t mean that she was what I want in my life. At the time we first crossed paths I thought she was something special and I really believed that she was the one…”

“And now that you’re getting divorced?” she folded her arms in front of her chest eyeing him expectantly. “What now? You find someone you can meld into what you hoped for with the notion of filling her shoes?”

“No,” Brant shook his head letting out a long sigh before speaking up once again, “Tell me something. If you had met my brother first--if you and he had crossed paths and shared something with one another, then you met me. Would that have changed what we have?”

“That’s a ridiculous question,” she rolled her eyes at the notion. “I didn’t meet your brother. I met you.”

“Even so you might have been attracted to Ken when you first met him. If it was a physical connection that first drew us in,” he searched her features once again. “I mean that’s what had us both interested in the first place, yes?”

“No,” she shook her head at him, tipping her chin up so that her dark eyes met his, “It wasn’t what you looked like that had me interested. It was what you said to me when you found me on the beach. It was the way you held me when we danced that night at the club…”

“Yes, but when we first met, we were just in the starting phase. You and I knew next to nothing about one another and yes while I thought you looked like Avery, that isn’t what kept me with you that weekend,” Brant watched her pull away from him and he in turn took a step back as well. Looking out onto the gardens he brought his hand up over the back of his neck and sighed. “The truth is I wasn’t always the guy I am today. I had a reputation for being the kind of person to have fun with, but never the kind of man to settle down with if you catch my drift…”

“What does that have to do with your wife Brant?” she couldn’t help but ask. “I don’t see where this comes in.”

“My soon-to-be-ex-wife,” he corrected glancing over at her once again, “was the first clue to me that something was missing. When I met her, I was attracted to her so much so that I started to put together this picture in my mind about how perfect life would be if I could get a woman like her to give me a chance. She was beautiful, brilliant, sarcastic and a fighter. She was so unlike the women I spent my time with in the past that I believed if I could find a way to make her fall in love with me, it would make me become the man that I always longed to be.”

“Well this is wonderful, but I really don’t need to…” she started to interrupt feeling less than comfortable about talking to him about his wife.

“Yes you do,” he insisted turning to face her fully, “For months I did so many stupid things in the hopes of getting Avery’s attention. I kept trying to prove my worth to her--to get her be what I wanted to be, but when it came down to it, she didn’t love me. It’s not that I didn’t try, but she couldn’t love me…”

“So you sought out the next best thing, right?” Angela huffed in response.

“No, it wasn’t like that,” he argued with a small groan, “Angela when I met you, I knew I had absolutely no chance of being with Avery. She married someone else and she didn’t even think of giving me an after thought. Here I had proposed to her--I was trying to be there for her when the man she loved had broken her heart, but she shot me down without so much as letting me know that she‘d married this other man. She disappeared and I was in a slump. As pitiful as it sounds all I wanted to do the day I met you was drown myself in my sorrows and throw in the towel. I didn’t care about the world around me or myself for the matter, but just when I was at my lowest point, there you were…”

“Ah yes your replacement walks into the picture,” she rolled her eyes, “How quaint.”

“I had no idea that you looked like her when I approached you and yes, at first I was surprised and curious,” Brant admitted honestly. “I wanted to know more about you because the resemblance was uncanny, but then…when we were at the club, I could see there was something very different about you--there was something that I couldn’t explain…”

“Yeah it was your way of having your cake and eating it too,” she huffed shaking her head at their conversation. “Brant, I won’t be your replacement for a woman who broke your heart.”

“No, don’t you see. Yes, I was upset over her, but when I made love to you--when I took you back to that beach house,” he spoke up in frustration, “She was the last thing on my mind. I wasn’t thinking about being with her--about wanting her or the disappointment that had lead me to where I was. All I could focus on was the beautiful woman in my arms and I found myself wondering what I could do to make time stand still so that I could stay with you.”

“Brant stop. This isn’t helping,” she bit down on her lower lip trying not to dwell on their time with one another.

“It’s not supposed to help. I mean yes it would be nice if it did, but more so I promised you honesty,” Brant approached her seeing her tense up, but still he kept moving forward. “Angela, after I first touched you I knew that there was no comparison between you and Avery. I knew it then and I know it now. Even if I had stayed with Avery, she never would have come close to where you are in my heart. I thought I loved her yes, but when it came down to it in all the time I was with her what I wanted more than anything--what I needed was to find a way to reach out to the one thing that I truly wanted--to the only woman I ever needed and that was you.”

“Brant,” she felt him reach out to touch her face gently. Instinctively she leaned into his touch, “I want to believe that, but you have to understand where I’m at with this one. She was your wife and…”

“And even after I married her, I still never stopped looking for you,” he inched in towards her, sliding an arm around her waist, “I never stopped dreaming about you and thinking about what we had together during our brief time on the island.”

“It was something that probably never should have happened Brant. We both were making a mistake and taking a huge risk on one another,” she mouthed, her gaze dropping down to his lips and remembering how good it felt to be tasting his kisses again and again.

“And the gamble paid off. Fate had other plans in mind for us once we parted ways. Yes, we both had to see that being apart was no where near as wonderful as being together is,” he nudged her in closer to him, his words pressing in over her skin with a soft warmth. “We had to see just how much we needed one another before this could be as rewarding as it is right now. Your being pregnant is just more validation to what I’m trying to say to you considering that neither one of us were planning on this happening.”

“And if I wasn’t pregnant,” she couldn’t help but ask, “If I was standing here before you now not having your children, would you feel this strong about things?”

“You bet I would,” Brant cracked a small smile his mouth dipping down towards her once more, “because whether or not either one of us wants to admit it we’re under each other’s skin.”

“You really think so huh?” she questioned in a low breath.

He nodded, “I know so. We’re like two forces of nature that can’t be ignored. We both know what we want and are determined to get it no matter what kind of risk may be involved.”

“Even so,” she focused on his lips for a long moment before turning her attention to his dark, soulful eyes, “What about your wife? Where does she fit into all of this?”

“Hopefully once the paperwork is done, she won’t fit into anything more than a reminder of the mistake I made before my dream girl walked into my life,” Brant offered up with a small sigh, “I mean we’ve both made mistakes, right?”

“My former husband didn’t look just like you did Brant,” Angela gave him a pointed look. “He was nothing like you. No other man in my life has ever been like you.”

“And no other woman in mine has ever been like you--not even Avery,” he touched her cheek again, sliding his fingers into her dark hair, “Sure she might have some physical similarities, but when it gets down to it you both are like night and day.”

“Perhaps, but knowing that you two were together before we were, I’d assume that you’ll have a lot of explaining to do,” she searched his eyes, “You’ll have a lot to tell the world around you given that they probably won’t take to our being together considering that…”

“In all honesty I don’t give a damn what the rest of the world thinks,” Brant revealed with a determined expression, urging her in closer to him, “because the only person in the world who matters to me right now is you. Angela I love you and I know you love me too.”

“I love being with you,” she divulged not sure what to say about what she was thinking. She leaned further into his touch, “I love the way that you make me feel when we’re together. I love to have you beside me, your arms around me…”

“But you love more than that, don’t you?” he searched her eyes. “I mean yes what we have is intense, it’s out of control in some ways, but I’d like to think that…”

“That what? That you have my heart?” she arched a curious brow seeing the need for affirmation behind his eyes. “That perhaps I would be willing to overlook that your ex looks like me long enough for us to share something with one another?”

“I was hoping that we could work through this together,” he nodded in response, “That maybe you could try to believe in me…”

“Brant, what I believe is in this world people will always find a way to let you down. Disappointment is always lingering and if a person opens their heart, they are bound to get hurt,” she explained with a heavy sigh, “Trusting in another person and loving them is always something that spells disaster. You learn that the one you’ve been hoping for isn’t nearly what you imagined them to be--you see things that you didn’t want to believe were there and…”

“I know I’m not perfect, but…” he interrupted desperate to keep her from leaving.

“I’m not finished,” she frowned over at him, placing her index finger over his lips to silence him, “Brant, right now I realize that you and I are so far from being where we both want this to be with one another. We know next to nothing about one another other than sex is phenomenal and something that neither one of us can do without when we’re together. We have passion and fire and my God we have something that I know I’ll spend the rest of my life dreaming about, but beyond that…”

He tried to speak feeling her finger against his lips still.

“Brant, the fact to the matter is that I’ve spent a lot of my life being disappointed and taking chances on all the wrong people. I’ve opened myself up to misery more times than I care to admit and yes, I’ve made so many mistakes--mistakes that even I cringe at, but the one mistake I won’t make from here on out is one where my children pay for my actions. I can’t afford to make the wrong choice with them which is why…”

“Angela,” his word came out in a muffled plea, “just think about this. Give me a chance to…”

“Why I can’t let my upset over Avery and what she looked like stop me from following my heart,” Angela continued seeing the surprise behind his eyes. Slowly she removed her finger from his lips, “Brant I know you’re not perfect. Hell, I’m far from it myself, but if we’re really going to have something with one another--something that goes beyond sex together, then we’re both going to have to find a way to deal with our flaws and come to terms with them. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it doesn’t make me uncomfortable to know you loved someone who looked like me before, yet…”

“You’re going to give me a chance to prove to you that she wasn’t the one and that all this time you were and always will be?” he couldn’t help but finish hope burning behind his eyes.

“Oh you’d better more than take a chance at doing so especially if you’re going to continue making me fall more in love with you,” she finally cracked a smile that she’d been holding onto. Sliding her arms around his shoulders, she initiated a more intimate union between them, “And beyond that we’re going to have to set your family straight on a few things. I am by no means Avery.”

“Anyone who spends a few minutes with you can see that,” he replied leaning in closer to her longing for a confirmation that things would be okay.

“And beyond that if you even think about breaking my heart, then so help me…” she started to warn him only to feel his lips come crashing down upon hers. Unable to refrain from what she was feeling any longer, she squeezed him tightly giving herself to the kiss knowing full well that regardless of how strange the situation had felt earlier, she had no intentions of ever letting go of Brant. As they parted, she met his eyes once again and smiled gently, “I do love you Brant and I look forward to learning all that there is about you--flaws and all so that I can love you even more.”

“And I love you Angela Meloni more with each moment because I admire your strength--I love that you‘re willing to take a chance on me…,” he teased his fingers through her dark hair.

“Yeah well I guess you can chalk it up to my being a bit hormonal since our children like being pampered by you with ice-cream,” she teased with a wink before pulling him into another kiss deciding that the past was just that especially now that the one thing that truly mattered was the future.


“Could anyone please explain to me why those in charge felt the need to bring a jackass like Zack Vaughn back to the hospital?” Ria questioned slamming her charts down on the countertop. “I mean really he was a substandard doctor who thought he was the best thing to hit Coral Valley, but he’s always been far from it. I tried to ignore him the last time he was here, but now, well now that his wife got smart and dumped him, he’s an even bigger pain in the…”

“I take it you’re enjoying the new hire just as much as the rest of the staff is,” Don popped his head up from the papers he was thumbing through.

“What? Did you not hear a word I just said?” Ria shook her head with a heavy groan, “I hate the guy!”

“Ria, relax,” Don pushed the paper aside with a frown, “I caught exactly everything that you said before. Haven’t you heard of a thing called sarcasm?”

“I’ll tell you about sarcasm,” she curled her fists at her sides before letting out a pinched squeal. “If I have to listen to one more sarcastic quip or sexist comment I’m going to puke.”

“Ah obviously you’ve been having run ins with Dr. Vaughn,” Barbara joined the duo with a frown of her own. “I was down with him in the ER earlier and I’m not kidding about this one. He pinched my rear like four times while I was stitching someone up. I mean what nerve!”

“I honestly don’t know why anyone thought to bring him back in here,” Ria shook her head with heavy agitation. “The man is a menace to this hospital and I swear if he even thinks about touching me like that, he’s going to have a first class meeting with my scalpel and…”

“Okay slow down,” Don waved his hand in the air to silence Ria, “while I can’t stand the guy either from what I’ve heard he’s got a pretty decent track record with patients. Given that we’re always understaffed around here, I’m sure that’s why he was brought in. We might not like him, but he gets the job done.”

“If that means trying to get himself a blow job, then yeah he’s well working on succeeding, but when it comes to patient care, Don you haven’t seen him,” Ria frowned back at him with a shake of her head, “He’s arrogant and thinks he’s above doing what he’s paid to do. I know that there’s a lot going on with this whole Chief of Staff race, but if he’s going to be in the running…”

Don couldn’t help but laugh, “Ria, he can try to be in the running, but it’s not going to happen. I’ve already pretty much been assured the position once Dr. Reynolds retires and I’m sure we can put all your worries to rest when that happens.”

“Obviously you haven’t been listening to the rumor mill,” Barbara couldn’t help but add clearing her throat, “Don there’s been talk about Zack and Dr. Reynolds being really buddy, buddy lately.”

“I’m not worried about it,” Don waved his hand again though his words weren’t as confident as they had been earlier.

“Yeah, well in case you didn’t notice, you should be,” Ria tossed out a pointed look. “Let’s just say your little incident in trying to help Brant alter the results of a paternity test aren’t going to fare well for your promotion around here.”

“That’s pure speculation,” Don replied quickly trying to put on a poker face, “There’s nothing to indicate that I was involved in any such action and besides, the paternity tests weren’t tampered with.”

“Only because Shannon walked in and caught you red handed Don,” Barbara pointed out giving him a look. “She saved your career.”

“And rumors might kill my reputation simply because there is no truth in them,” Don added catching the way the women were looking at him. “It’s the truth. Face it while I might be a bit unconventional people like me and I get the job done. I am here because Dr. Reynolds personally asked me to return to the hospital and take over his position. I was quite content where I was before, but…”

“But before you weren’t up against Zack Vaughn,” Ria added quickly, “Even though he’s a jerk, he has a way of kissing up that seems to land him in the good graces of those who count.”

“Yeah well he can count on this,” Don mouthed ready to make a vulgar gesture when he spotted Zack and Dr. Reynolds with one another talking in the hallway. Immediately he sat up straighter in an attempt to look busy now that his boss was watching. “So as I was saying you two can get right on that for me and I’ll check with you later…”

“What?” Barbara tipped her head to the side seeing Dr. Reynolds before her, “Oh of course Dr. Leveski. I’ll get right on it.”

Barbara scooted off rushing to the ‘task’ that Don had assigned her before Ria glanced at Don and suppressed a smile.

“Smooth one,” she mouthed under her breath shaking her head at him as he began to collect his charts.

“What can I say? I know the routine,” Don explained seeing Zack step away from Dr. Reynolds. “Now if you’ll excuse me I have a little ass kissing of my own to do.”

“Good luck Don,” Ria watched him walk off and greet Dr. Reynolds with a bright smile. She had to hand it to Don considering that Dr. Reynolds seemed to perk up immediately at being approached by his old friend. Shaking her head she looked to her papers again, “Damn you’re good Don.”

“But not good enough,” Zack’s voice cut in causing her to flinch. She tried to keep her eyes on her work, but she could feel Zack’s eyes penetrating her from behind. “You know Ria it wouldn’t hurt for you to try to make nice with me now that I’m back here to stay.”

“Gee, where would there be any fun in that?” she questioned not bothering to look back at him. It only caused him to stand in closer to her at her left side. She fought the urge to snap at him even though she wanted to choke the life out of him with the smugness in his tone.

“You know,” he hovered in closer to her, “you could be talking to the next chief of staff here Ria and it wouldn’t hurt for you to be nice to me. In fact the way I see it, it could only help your situation.”

Ria felt his finger press in against her arm and that did it. She popped her head up to toss him an icy glare, “Don’t touch me.”

“What?” Zack shrugged his shoulders innocently all the while keeping his finger on her arm.

“I’m warning you now if you don’t remover your hand from my arm, I’ll be serving you your testicles on my scalpel,” she snarled at him watching him wisely take a step back.

“You know you really need to work on this hostility thing Ria,” Zack shook his head at her with a frown. “That attitude could cost you your job if you’re not careful.”

“Hmm, well since I’m already in over my head, how about we just leave it with you can just go to hell,” Ria suggested collecting her things and marching off in the other direction in the hopes of avoiding Zack Vaughn and all of his annoying mannerisms that she was convinced would be the end of her perfectly good career. If she had to put up with him much longer she was sure she was going to lose it!


Diego entered the visitor’s room fully expecting to see Grady seated at the table waiting to speak with him, but instead he spotted Shannon near the corner of the room looking into the mirror in front of her. He heard the guard close the door behind him and he approached Shannon with a curious expression.

“I’ll bet you’re surprised to see me here,” Shannon noted catching his expression in the mirror.

“To say that would be an understatement,” he nodded in response making his way over to the table, “but I’m guessing that this isn’t just a social call, is it?”

“Diego I just have to know,” Shannon spun around to face him, “Why is Cori doing this?”

“I honestly don’t know,” he replied sinking down into one of the chairs, “and what makes this worse is that I can’t get out of here until the bail hearing is set. For some reason there’s been delay after delay.”

“Yeah, I heard,” she nodded moving in to take a seat at the table across from him, “but since we’re stuck here, how about you tell me what’s going on with you and Cori?”

“Nothing’s going on with us,” Diego revealed with a heavy sigh, “She and I split up a while ago and I haven’t really seen her since.”

“Then why lie like this? Why say that you attacked her if that’s not the case?” Shannon eyed him expectantly, “That is the case, right?”

“Of course it is Shannon,” he frowned back at her, “I wouldn’t hurt her or anyone. You should know that.”

“Diego, look I know that you and I haven’t exactly seen eye to eye on everything especially when you were trying to convince me not to keep fighting myself where my marriage was concerned,” she paused thinking about how he’d been a friend to her when she was less than cordial to Don. “What I’m trying to say is that while I know you and I have history, you can talk to me…you can tell me anything. You do realize that, don’t you?”

“Shannon it’s just,” he paused feeling his frustrations mounting, “I honestly don’t know why Cori would say what she did. I don’t know what happened to her and I wish that someone would figure that out. I didn’t go anywhere near Cori that night.”

“Then why make all of this up? What happened with you two? Did it end on a bad note?” she couldn’t help but ask.

He nodded, “And that is probably my fault, but still…”

“Just because you dumped her doesn’t mean that you should spend your life behind bars since she wasn’t happy with the outcome of the situation,” Shannon pointed out with a frown.

“Honestly, I’m starting to think it’s what I deserve. Like maybe this is karma coming back to bite me in the butt for the way I broke up with her,” he sighed heavily slumping forward over the table. “She really was a good girlfriend and I treated her like dirt.”

“Diego, you just said…” Shannon gave him a strange look.

“What I meant to say is that I gave her no indication that there was any problem in our relationship,” he stood up from the chair and began to pace around the room. “She and I seemed to be fine, but then…”

“Then what?” Shannon couldn’t help but ask.

“Then I started thinking about someone else. Here I had a good thing going with Cori, but it wasn’t enough for me,” he brought his fingers up through his dark hair. “I tried to fight it, but somehow one thing lead to another and then…”

“Then what? Diego, what are you trying to say here?” Shannon searched his face as he turned towards her.

“What I’m saying is that I ended things with Cori because I was with someone else. I slept with someone else while I was dating her and before I knew it I found myself falling in love with someone else--with someone that I never, ever should’ve been with in the first place. Now, well now maybe this is fate trying to pay me back for doing what I did. I should’ve given Cori more respect than that and…”

“And now that she knows that you’re sleeping with Sarah she’s not happy about it and she wants to make you suffer, right?” Shannon noted with an arched brow.

“I’m sure that’s what’s going on. Just the way that she…” Diego paused realizing what Shannon had just said to him. “You said Sarah…”

“That’s right,” she nodded, “because it’s her isn’t it? I mean when it gets down to it, you’re sleeping with Sarah, aren’t you?”


“You know, I don’t find this as being fair at all,” Nate grumbled seeing Kyle shrug his shoulders before folding his massive arms out in front of him. “You can’t do this--I know you don’t have the power to do anything like this Kyle.”

“I can do anything I want,” Kyle offered up in a small grumble his hazel eyes glaring straight into Nate’s green eyes as he reached for his cell phone. “You know, I could always bring Shannon into this if you would like. I mean, she is one of my very good friends and I’m sure if I asked her over here she wouldn’t mind coming.”

“That’s not fair,” Nate reached out to close Kyle’s phone by closing Kyle’s fingers in over it. Kyle’s eyebrow arched up in curiosity as Nate nodded slowly. “You know if she comes into this, I will get my ass kicked. That’s not fair man, didn’t you have siblings?”

“Actually, I really don’t know if I have siblings because I was adopted,” Kyle began in a small whisper seeing Nate’s green eyes widen as Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “All I can tell you is that I was adopted into a family where my parents only had me and taught me the values in life. Like saving an innocent man.”

“Give me a break,” Nate rolled his eyes thinking about the subject with Diego, knowing that he promised his sister that he would keep an eye on Cori, but there was no way he was going to have someone threaten him over this whole thing. “How about we make a deal? If you throw in a couple hundred and the early probation, then I’m in.”

“How about I just break your neck instead?” Kyle cracked his knuckles seeing Nate take a step back as he stepped forward. “So, what do you say Nate? You up for the challenge?”

“You know what? Since you are talking about challenges,” Nate cleared his throat nodding over towards the back seeing Kyle eye him over slowly. “How about me and you in a boxing match. Whoever wins, gets what they want.”

“You’re being serious?” Kyle chuckled seeing Nate not slowly and Kyle rolled his eyes shrugging his shoulders before nodding. “What the heck, why not?”

“Take these,” Nate slammed a pair of gloves into Kyle’s massive chest seeing the way that Kyle glared out at him before following Nate into the back. Nate got into the ring watching as Kyle pulled his black t-shirt off and then put on his gloves. “You might want some head gear.”

“Trust me,” Kyle replied rejecting the head gear seeing Nate move in towards the middle of the ring and Kyle did the same. “I won’t need it, but you need to keep it on.”

“One, two, three,” Nate counted moving quickly in front of Kyle getting ready for the match as he saw Kyle stand there before him. Nate made an attempt to make Kyle jump only to feel Kyle’s fist slam into his face, making him fall to the ground. Kyle threw off the gloves and got down on one knee, pressing Nate’s face against the ring. “This isn’t fair Kyle.”

“You wanted to play like this,” Kyle reminded him with a small shake of his head before snapping his fingers and motioning Nate to get up. “I believe I won which means you owe me and you have to do what I tell you.”

“You didn’t win yet,” Nate sneered getting up and running in Kyle’s direction only to feel Kyle grab him and throw him into the turnbuckles of the ring making him let out a small hiss. Kyle locked his arm behind his back as Nate groaned out in pain. “Okay, okay--you won.”

“That’s what I thought,” Kyle chuckled going to walk away only to feel Nate jump onto his back, wrapping his arms around his neck and his legs around his back. “What are you doing now?”

“Go to sleep big bear, go to sleep,” Nate tightened his grip around Kyle’s neck feeling Kyle place his hands over his arms and Nate felt himself falling back when Kyle moved backwards. Nate felt the turnbuckles slam into his back as he let out a long groan and loosened up his grip before Kyle flipped Nate over onto his back. “Okay, give me a second. I know I can do this.”

“Are you done beating me up yet?” Kyle shook his head slowly and rubbed his chin bothered by the games that Nate was playing. Kyle felt Nate pull him forward and tugged on his pants as Kyle let out a small laugh. “Are you trying to pull my pants down because kid, I have a belt on. It’s not going to happen.”

“I’m sick of this,” Nate went to do something else before Kyle bent down and picked him up by his neck making Nate squeal out before he was thrown into the corner again. “Hey now, I was just kidding with all of that.”

“Were you really?” Kyle kept his hands loosely around Nate’s throat before tightening them a small amount. “I’m not kidding kid, you are starting to piss me off Nate and I’m not liking it.”

“So,” Nate wrapped his fingers around Kyle’s wrists seeing Kyle back off slowly. Nate pushed back his blonde hair before offering up a wide smile. “Can I have your cell number, just in case anything comes up.”

“Good idea,” Kyle grinned getting out of the ring and grabbing his shirt, watching as Nate got out of the ring. Pulling on his shirt quickly, he felt Nate smack him in the back as Kyle shot Nate a glare. “I think you should get me some paper.”

“Good idea,” Nate agreed walking towards one of the offices in the corner and having Kyle follow him. Grabbing some paper, Nate let out a long sigh before shaking his head slowly. “Even though I really don’t find this fair, I’ll still do this for you.”

“Kid, life isn’t fair sometimes,” Kyle pointed out taking in a deep breath, his hazel eyes narrowing in over at Nate before shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve learned to deal with it since I was a teenager, you better start.”


“Knock, knock,” Sarah tapped on the wall seeing Blake turn to face her from the computer she was sitting at before pushing away from the computer and standing up. “What were you doing on there? Anything good?”

“Nothing really,” Blake shook her head slowly turning off the screen, not even bothering with telling Sarah what she was looking up because it didn’t matter anyways. “I was just looking things over, that’s all. What’s up?”

“I don’t know, I had some things on my mind,” Sarah informed Blake taking in a deep breath before walking over towards the leather couch and plopping down. “I was thinking you were really the only one I could talk to about all this so I came to find you.”

“Alright, well you found me,” Blake shrugged her shoulders walking around the desk and sitting down on the edge of it. Blake saw the way that Sarah was trying to avoid eye contact making her wonder if something was really going on that Sarah wasn’t truly hard up on talking about. “Now what’s up? I can tell you have something on your mind.”

“I don’t know, I was just thinking about Diego,” Sarah muttered looking up to see Blake’s blue eyes fill up with anger at the very name Blake had told her to forget. Not wanting to get into a fight with all of this again, Sarah threw her hands up in the air and shook her head slowly. “I mean about this whole getting arrested thing and being in jail. I just can’t believe he is really in there for doing something I know he didn’t do.”

“But you don’t have to try and help him out,” Blake added seeing Sarah’s dark eyes glare over in her direction and Blake knew that Sarah didn’t like that answer. “You have other things to worry about right now--like your fiancé, your wedding, and your baby. If Diego didn’t do all the things he is in jail for, then he will get out.”

“It’s not that easy, it’s more complicated than you are making it sound,” Sarah stood up from the couch seeing Blake watch her every move before she walked over towards the window to look outside before her. “If you really think about it hard, this girl is really pulling this off great. I personally believed she couldn’t pull all this off, but I think she is going to. I think she is going to put him away forever and that scares me.”

“You may be scared about Diego,” Blake took in a long breath shaking her head slowly at her friend’s words showing her that indeed her friend’s worries were where she predicted they were, “but what about you and Kyle?”

“What about me and Kyle?” Sarah questioned turning to face Blake again, seeing that look of disappointment behind her best friend’s eyes and she knew that Blake wasn’t happy. “I haven’t done anything wrong with him.”

“You haven’t?” Blake nodded almost unsure of Sarah’s answer as she folded her arms out in front of her chest taking in the expressions on Sarah’s face. “So how are you and Kyle doing? You working okay as a couple?”

“Well yeah, well at least I think we are,” Sarah bit down on her bottom lip pushing back her long blonde hair and walking back over towards the window again. “I mean we haven’t had sex in a long time, but…”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Blake arched a curious eyebrow up in Sarah’s direction seeing Sarah shrug her shoulders before moving in over towards the couch again. “You know, sex doesn’t make up a relationship.”

“No, but it sure does help it out sometimes,” Sarah pointed out falling down to the couch before shaking her head slowly. “I don’t understand him anymore. He used to be so interested in me and I…”

“Would have never cheated on him,” Blake finished watching Sarah look away from her as Blake stood up from where she was sitting. Rubbing her hands together, she watched Sarah’s dark brown eyes meet hers. “You know, I just think you need to be careful and not get too wrapped over Diego. You should know that by now. I think you are failing to see the importance of that and it’s making yours and Kyle’s relationship on hot coals. You need to be careful.”


“Great work Alexander,” Heather smiled stepping into the studio just in time to see Seth finishing up with the shoot of the morning she’d had him scheduled to work on. “I knew hiring you was the smartest move I’d made in a long time.”

“You’re just saying that because as of this moment you only have one other photographer on staff,” Seth teased with a small smile motioning to the model that he was finished with the shoot.

“So,” she shrugged her shoulders, “what can I say? I’m the kind of girl that knows a good thing when she sees it and I try to hold onto it. The question is, can the same be said for Blake?”

“Yeah about Blake,” Seth frowned turning his attention to Heather, “with what happened the other day…”

“Don’t worry I won’t hold that against you,” Heather waved her hand dismissively at him, “I realize she’s the one who has a lot of growing up to do…”

“Actually Heather I realize that you and Blake don’t get along and I can respect that, but I’d really appreciate it if you’d lay off of her a bit,” Seth stated bluntly knowing full well he could be getting into hot water with his new employer, but not really caring. “I’m here to do a job for you and I can promise you that I’ll do it effectively and to the point, but with my personal life, I’d really appreciate if you don’t like my girlfriend to leave it at that and let it go while we’re at work.”

“Hey, as long as she doesn’t get in the way of these great photos you’re putting out, then I’m not going to let it bother me in the least,” Heather shrugged her shoulders, a curious expression crossing over her features. “You know Seth you really do have a talent.”

“And it would be a pity to let it go unnoticed,” Cameron added stepping into the studio with a smirk, “I’m glad that you followed my advice and kept with the best Heather. It would be a pity to let some other company snag Seth here when he’s clearly a plethora of talent.”

“I don’t have any plans of letting this one go,” Heather bragged with a bright grin.

“In that case, I would have to say you’re making a smart business move considering that a man with Seth’s eye for the perfect shot goes unmatched on a great many levels,” Cameron added keeping his eye on an obviously uncomfortable Seth.

“You know I think I’m going to go take these rolls of film down to the lab,” Seth cleared his throat uneasily before moving past Cameron and Heather into the hallway without waiting for a response.

“That was strange,” Heather frowned slightly watching Seth walk off out of her line of vision.

“Well, I think it’s safe to say that our young photographer still isn’t rather fond of me,” Cameron noted with a mild shrug, “but fortunately for the both of us I find myself not being at all interested in that considering that you are why I am here today.”

“I am?” Heather arched a curious brow. “Really?”

“That’s right,” Cameron nodded flashing her a small smile, “I must admit I was less than thrilled about the outcome of our date the other night. I know I promised you a good time, but when you’d taken off with Kellen…”

“I’m sorry about that,” Heather started to apologize, “I was feeling a bit under the weather…

“No explanations,” Cameron held his hand up to silence her, “I’m sure that we both had good reasons not to go home with one another, but I was hoping that we could set something up where that will all change for us. Say perhaps you and I having dinner with one another at my place? What do you say Heather? For old time’s sake?”


“I can’t believe that jerk,” Ria fell back against the counter pushing back her long hair, thinking about all the things that Zack had done to set her off. “After all the time he has been gone, he comes back and thinks he can treat me like that?”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Deana hushed stepping in closer to Ria, placing her hand on Ria’s shoulder seeing Ria’s dark eyes look up in hers. “Zack is obviously an asshole and you really shouldn’t let him bother you. I have had to deal with a great many assholes in my life and I know it sucks. You have to trust me though, things get better eventually.”

“I’m not worried about that,” Ria replied moving away from Deana for a moment reaching out to grab her water bottle from the table. “It’s just sometimes I can’t believe the ways he treats me. It’s like I just want to rip his neck off.”

“While you hate Zack,” Deana chuckled watching Ria squeeze and the neck of her water bottle tightly, hearing the plastic making a crinkling noise. “I don’t think your water bottle needs to suffer. It wasn’t really the one that pissed you off, it’s trying to help you out.”

“I’m sorry,” Ria let out a small laugh setting her water bottle back down on the table before shrugging her shoulders and taking a seat at the table. “It’s just--you don’t know how much he upset me today.”

“I think I have quite an idea,” Deana added seeing Ria rest her arms against the table and lean forward. Deana was trying to brighten the topic as she picked up the water bottle and shrugged her shoulders. “I think the water bottle forgives you by the way. You didn’t kill it completely.”

“Gee, that makes everything better,” Ria let out an exaggerated sigh as Deana sat down in the seat next to her and Ria rested her head down against her arms. “Everything was going perfectly today so far and then he had to ruin it.”

“Is this you and your boyfriend?” Deana questioned as Ria lifted her head to see Deana playing with Ria’s phone that she had sat out on the table in a hurry. Deana turned the phone to show a picture of Kevin with Ria, cheek to cheek. “Is that you and your boy toy?”

“Yeah, that’s Kevin,” Ria nodded slowly letting out a small laugh thinking about the picture and how Kevin had been wearing a hat that day. Every time he had a hat on she hated it because she loved his dark hair, it was one of his best qualities. “That’s kind of an older picture though.”

“You two are cute together,” Deana added pressing the next button to see the next picture where Kevin was shirtless and flexing for the picture. “Oh wow, I can see why you picked him. He’s very cute.”

“Who is very cute?” Deana heard someone behind her as she felt someone grab the phone from her hands and lift it up. Deana looked up to see Grady behind her with a wide grin spread out over his features as he looked at the picture. “Hey, it’s Kevin. I bet this is her favorite picture.”

“Give me that back,” Ria reached for her phone seeing Grady pull it away before pushing the next button a few times. Ria reached to grab his arm, feeling him holding her back as he looked at the pictures. “Deana would you get your boyfriend to give that back?”

“You have pictures that are all him,” Grady chuckled feeling Ria snatch it away from him quickly and put it back her pocket. “Oh wow Ria, what is this? Do you have like a bad picture in there or something? Is that what?”

“Actually, yes, I do,” Ria declared patting her phone through her pocket carefully, seeing Grady reach his hand out to her motioning her to give him something. “What do you want?”

“I want to see the picture, show me it,” Grady demanded hearing both women let out a small laugh as Deana tugged at his arm gently. “What?”

“Honey, you’re a man and you want to see a bad picture of another man?” Deana pondered the thought before letting go of Grady, seeing his green eyes narrowing in panic. “That’s kind of weird if you ask me.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Grady pulled his back noticing the way Deana’s dark eyes were looking into his. “You know I didn’t mean it like that. Kevin would have probably done the same thing to you if he had the chance. To tease you with pictures and…”

“Somehow, I don’t think Kevin would want to see a picture of you naked though,” Ria added seeing Grady’s green eyes widen as he took a step back and held his hands up in the air. “Deana, I think your boyfriend has some problems.”

“How do you know I’m her boyfriend?” Grady questioned stepping in next to Deana, wrapping his arm around her gently and smiling widely. “Is it really that obvious that we fit perfectly together?”

“I just see it when you walk into the room, her face lights up,” Ria answered truthfully sitting back down before shrugging her shoulders. “It’s the same face I put on every time Kevin is around. It’s just something that girls do, you wouldn’t understand.”


“I can’t believe this is happening,” Dave paced around the living room thinking about the accusations that Cori was throwing out at Diego, “I mean it’s bad enough we’ve been down a road like this once before, but to have to endure this again…”

“Dave you need to relax,” Carly stated plainly seeing her husband working himself to a frustration. She crossed the room hoping to get him to stand still long enough to try to relax a bit now that his worries mounted over his sister. She could see the reflection of his concerns pooling in his dark eyes and tentatively she reached out to brush her finger tips against his arm gently, “Dave you need to stop fretting over this one. I’m sure everything will be okay.”

“Carly, I’m just not sure. I know how Cori is. She gets obsessive and has this need for attention that,” he paused trying to grasp the right words for what was bothering him. “It’s just…”

“Just what?” she questioned eyeing him intently, “Dave, what is it? Are you still thinking that she could be making this up?”

“I honestly don’t know. Cori has never taken rejection well,” Dave admitted thinking to his sister’s troubled past, “She finds someone to fixate on and then once she does she wraps her whole world around that person. She builds the relationship up to a point that she has no other place to fall other than coming crashing down with a haste. It’s something that is very hard on me as a brother to watch, but even harder for her to experience. I’ve seen her do it again and again and it gets worse each time.”

“So you believe that because Diego broke up with her, this is her way of lashing out at him?” she questioned seeing something flash behind his eyes, “Dave, why would she do that though? I mean we both saw that she was bruised up…”

“I know,” he paused wondering just what had happened to his sister, “but I know she’s also desperate for attention. I want to believe in her, but it’s so hard to when I know how she can be. She can’t just let go of something when it doesn’t turn out in her favor. She has to hold onto it so tight that when the time comes for her to move on, she refuses to do so digging her heels in with every step she’s forced to make. I’m just afraid that when it gets down to it she’s going to wind up making a mess of things around her and that worries me.”

“I guess then all you can do is hope that she makes the right decisions somehow,” Carly offered up with a small voice hating to see her husband so wound up over what was happening with Cori.

“I seriously hope so because I don’t know if this family can take her going off the deep end all over again,” he confessed in a low voice thinking about all his sister had put them through in the past. He opened his mouth to say something more hen he heard the sound of someone at the door. The bell rang and he looked over at Carly.

“Were we expecting company?” he couldn’t help but ask seeing her open her mouth to say something. However rather than waiting for an answer he rushed over to the door thinking that perhaps Cori had changed her mind about going home with someone else and opted to stay with him instead. He opened the door ready to greet his sister, but instead he found himself face to face with one of the last men he wanted to see.

“Andy,” Dave scowled seeing his old friend standing before him with a smug expression on his face, “what are you doing here?”

“I was hoping to see Carly since I have a divorce to get working on,” Andy replied with a quick nod, “You don’t happen to have a problem with that partner, do you?”

“As a matter of fact I do,” Dave replied his eyes narrowing in on Andy as it was clear that this was the last thing he’d needed on a night like tonight especially now after things had gone to pure insanity with his sister!


“Why would you say that Shannon?” Diego tried to cover fearing that he’d given himself away in more ways than he’d wanted to. However judging by the expression on Shannon’s face he could try to deny the truth, but she was already well aware of it.

“Anyone with eyes knows you have the hots for her,” Shannon continued to explain to him. “It doesn’t take much for someone to figure out that you two have something going on. The question is, does Kyle know?”

“No,” Diego shook his head poignantly, “at least I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t. It wasn’t like we planned it…”

“But you slept with her regardless?” Shannon arched a speculative brow.

“Like I said we didn’t plan on it happening,” Diego tried to explain himself with a frustrated breath. “She and Kyle had broken up and I convinced myself that we were just friends--that I could be there for her, but one thing lead to another…”

“And Cori got the boot because Sarah took her place so to speak?” Shannon finished for him watching him closely.

“I didn’t intend to fall for Sarah, but it just sort of happened out of nowhere. I mean one minute I was trying to convince myself that I could stay away from Heather--that I could deny what I was feeling for Heather and then the next I see everything that I ever wanted in Sarah. She was so much like Heather, yet…”

“Everything that Heather couldn’t be, right?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Something like that,” Diego nodded again, “You must think I’m a horrible person for doing this.”

“That all depends,” she shrugged her shoulders leaning back in her chair to watch him closely, “Is it still going on with Sarah?”

“Shannon I…” Diego stammered a bit.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” she frowned back at him, “So you’re sleeping with Sarah while she’s engaged to Kyle and Cori is spinning a tale for revenge, yes?”

“Look I’m sure that sooner or later everything will fix itself. If not maybe being in here is what I deserve,” he blurted out painfully. “I mean it’s probably the best thing that could happen for Sarah and Kyle considering that when I’m with her I can’t stop myself. When we’re alone together I’m not thinking about Kyle, but rather about what it feels like for me to be happy. I’m stealing another man’s future and for that maybe I deserve this.”

“Or maybe it’s a sign that his future wasn’t something he was meant for in the first place,” Shannon couldn’t help but add thinking it over, “If Sarah is with you, then she doesn’t have any business being with Kyle.”

“She loves him,” Diego reminded her bluntly, bringing his hands up through his hair once again, “and if I’d stop being so damned selfish then I’d just let her go and be happy with him.”

“If she wanted that, then she wouldn’t keep coming back for more,” Shannon stated the obvious knowing that this news would destroy Kyle when he found out. “You want my honest advice?”

“Do I have a choice?” Diego couldn’t help but ask with a weak grin.

“I think that you need to stop thinking about Sarah and start worrying about how to get Cori to fess up that she lied. If she thinks that you’re going to run off and find happily ever after with someone else, she sure isn’t going to blurt out that she’s lying about you. No one likes to see their ex move on and be happy even if they don’t want them anymore.”

“So what are you saying? That I should just pretend that I’m not with Sarah and tell Cori that I love her?” Diego questioned in confusion wondering where Shannon was heading with her suggestion.

“No, it’s more like I’m trying to tell you that Sarah is going to land you in trouble right now. Kyle’s been trying to help you and the last thing you want is to piss him off too,” Shannon added with a frown.

“Don’t you think I realize that? Hell, don’t you think I see how much of a jerk I am? Kyle is a great guy and he’s always ready to help anyone who needs it, so how do I repay him for all he’s done? I sleep with his fiancée time and time again. Every time she’s around I know I should stop things, but…”

“But instead you choose to get more in over your head,” she frowned again, “Diego, did it ever occur to you that maybe just maybe Sarah’s to blame for this too?”

“She didn’t mean for any of this to happen,” Diego sighed heavily.

“Maybe not, but the moment she promised Kyle that she would marry him was the moment she made her choice. She shouldn’t keep running back to you when times are tough with Kyle,” she pondered that thought for a moment. “Sarah’s pregnant and… Oh my God…”

“Shannon, I know that look,” Diego began worriedly seeing something cross over her face.

“That baby could be yours, couldn’t it?” her eyes widened over at him. “You said that you two were together when she split up with Kyle and…”

“And I don’t want you telling him any of this. If he had any idea, then…” Diego started in a panic.

“Diego, how can he not? How fair is it for him to believe that child could be his when you could very well be the father?” she shook her head at him, “Diego, can’t you see that Sarah is playing the both of you? She promised Kyle she would marry him, but when he’s turning the other cheek she’s rushing off to your arms. She’s a manipulative, vindictive slut and…”

“Sarah’s not a slut,” Diego defended the woman he loved. “She’s just confused.”

“And you’re an idiot,” Shannon shook her head at him finding it hard to believe that someone so smart could be so blatantly stupid, “She’s using you Diego and you’re eating it up. She knows that you care about her and every time she wants someone to pamper her she rushes to the man who is willing to give her that. If Kyle isn’t providing her with what she wants, she’ll just hop over to you because you can’t say no, right?”

“Shannon, I really don’t want to talk about this,” he started uneasily his gaze shifting to the far corner of the room. “Right now I need to think about these charges and…”

“Right now you have to stop thinking about Sarah like someone who is kind and generous and you need to start seeing her as the user she truly is. If she’s playing both you and Kyle, then that should tell you something right there. She has to know that you could be that baby’s father and for her to lie…”

“She was afraid. She didn’t know what to do and…” Diego began in a desperate plea, “Shannon you have to let this go.”

“I can’t do that Diego. Kyle is my friend and I can’t let him believe that the woman he is going to marry is going to be faithful to him when she’s not. Nor can I sit back and watch you destroy yourself and be taken through the ringer because Sarah likes to play games,” she decided with a tight scowl. “In fact the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe it’s time that Sarah and I have a chat.”

“Shannon you can’t say anything. You have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone what you know,” Diego begged of her, his worries mounting.

“I’m not going to make any promises Diego because I don’t have any loyalty to Sarah. You and Kyle are both my friends and I don’t like to see anyone hurting either one of you,” she explained matter of fact, “and as for Cori, I’ll have a talk with her and see if I can smooth things over. Maybe if I get her to open up she’ll see that she’s making a mistake.”

“Shannon, I can’t afford to let you talk to Sarah or Cori at this point. I think I should just let the chips fall as they will and…” Diego tried to reason with her.

“Diego right now you need to start using that brain that God gave you and let go of Sarah. You need to stop thinking about how much you care about her and start realizing that she’s gotten you in over your head in a situation you don’t want to be in. You need to start thinking like a rational adult and maybe just maybe when you do you’ll see that the only real solution to all of this is to be honest. Kyle deserves the truth and you deserve a shot at finding out if that’s your child she’s having. If it is, then what you do at that point is your problem, but right now you need to stop trying to protect Sarah and start thinking about yourself. If being with her got you into this situation with Cori, then you’d better make damned sure that someone can find a way to get Cori to come around.”

“Shannon none of that is really relevant to what’s happening here. I mean yes Cori might suspect that Sarah and I are…” Diego offered up with a small worry in his brow.

“Trust me on this one Diego. If something doesn’t happen soon, then Cori’s going to be the one to spill the beans on you and Sarah to Kyle. When people see that you lied about that and that she’s telling the truth, then it’s going to only be a matter of time before they think that she’s telling the truth about your beating her up. You’ll already look like a liar and by then it might be too late to help yourself. Is keeping Sarah safe really worth your life?”

“If she’s happy then so be it,” Diego finally replied with a small nod. “I won’t let this hurt her.”

“Then you’re an even bigger fool than I realized Diego Hernandez,” Shannon sighed wondering what in the world Sarah had done to take her perfectly logical, sane pal and turn him into a lovesick idiot. It was sickening to watch it happen, but as Diego argued with her about why he needed to protect Sarah, Shannon vowed to find a way to smooth over the waters with Cori and put Sarah in her place all in the same breath.


“What do you think your problem is?” Don questioned seeing Ria run off after Zack tried pushing himself around on her. “You don’t own this hospital and you sure as hell can’t tell one of the best doctors this hospital has to go do what you want. She’s one hell of a doctor and I would never let her listen to an ass like you.”

“Donny boy,” Zack smiled reaching out to smack the side of Don’s face gently feeling Don grab his wrist tightly. Zack winced before pulling back his wrist and shaking his head slowly. “Donny, this is the kind of thing that is going to make you look bad.”

“What’s going to make me look bad you loser?” Don snapped seeing Zack’s eyes staring out into his and it made Don shudder. There were so many people out there that didn’t understand what it meant to be a good person and the people usually never saw great talent when it was right before him. “I don’t care what you have to say Zack. All I’m telling you is that you don’t go around telling one of our top doctors what to do. She is one hell of a woman and I wouldn’t be a man if I didn’t tell you to back off.”

“See, that’s exactly what your problem is,” Zack edged Don to be more angry as Don stepped in closer to him. If Zack could get Don to blow up in front of everyone in the middle of the hospital, he was sure that it would put Don out of the running and make him get that job. “You are too much of a friend. If you want to be the Chief of Staff you have to have a set of--grapefruits on you. You can’t always be Mr. Nice Guy because if you are, you’re going to make people think you can’t handle something. Obviously, I’m right when I look at you and think you are just a ball of friendliness. You have to be able to yell at someone to get the job done and even if it is your friend--you have to do it.”

“I don’t have to do anything you tell me to do,” Don’s blue eyes narrowed in at Zack knowing that Zack was just trying to accomplish the one thing Don would never give him the pleasure of having. “I know what you are trying to do and it isn’t going to work. Why don’t you just go and do whatever it is you do best. Just leave Ria alone because she doesn’t need someone like you pushing her around in her life. You have no right to talk to her like that and in fact--you have no right to talk to me like you are either.”

“Don, I can say whatever I want to and hell--I can even do what I want,” Zack gloated seeing Don clench his fists at his sides as Zack tapped Don on the chest roughly. “Big man, no one is going to believe you over me. I can say and do whatever I want because you are worthless and I’m not. You’re here because you were lucky, I mean look at yourself. You’re not doctor material, you should have just gone into the bodybuilding business because there you don’t need brains. You would fit in perfectly.”

“You know what? You can say what you want, but that’s not going to change the truth,” Don stepped back angrily shrugging his shoulders as he spoke. “I know I’m a better man than you and I know I’m smarter than you. Sooner or later people are going to see you for what you are.”


“So I guess that this means that we’re okay now,” Brant half questioned, his voice hopeful and urgent as he held Angela in his arms now that they’d talked with one another.

“I think it means that we’re on the right track,” she squeezed her arms around his shoulders diving in for another kiss between them. “Though I’m sure that we still have a long way to go before we iron out all the kinks in the relationship there.”

“I thought you liked the kinks,” he teased with a small wink feeling her press in against him.

“Not nearly as much as you do,” she dropped her hands down to his abdomen grazing her nails lightly over his skin. “Tell me something Brant how do you feel about our going back inside and grabbing what’s left of breakfast and taking it back to bed?”

“If I didn’t know better I’d think that you were trying to get into my pants again Ms. Meloni,” Brant teased back nibbling on her lower lip for a moment before inching away.

“Would that be such a bad thing,” she questioned dangling the tie on his pajama pants between her fingers. A small smirk lit up her face as her brown eyes snapped back to his, “Of course there is something to be said about exploring the morning outdoors.”

“Outdoors,” Brant repeated his grin growing wider, “My you have gotten bolder since I first met you.”

“Maybe I just had a good teacher,” she embraced him once again tipping up on her toes to kiss him. “I learned quite a few tricks from you that day on the beach.”

“It’s a bit different than the garden would be,” Brant couldn’t help but play along, dropping his hands down to her ample bottom and squeezing it lightly. “I just hope that you could handle what’s in store for you.”

“Believe me whatever you’ve got up your sleeve I can handle it and more,” she promised in a low, sultry tone moving in to ravish him with another kiss when a groan sounded from over by the doorway.

“Okay if you two start going at it right now, I’m going to puke,” Kevin announced from where he stood with what looked like the breakfast they’d been making in his hands. He took another hearty bite of the food on the plate and grinned. “You know this stuff is good. You should really try some.”

“We were making that for breakfast before we got interrupted,” Brant frowned watching Kevin take another bite of the food.

“Yeah well I can guess why you got interrupted there,” Kevin moved over to the patio table and took a seat. His brown eyes shifted between Brant and Angela before he took another forkful of the omelet. “I take it your date went well last night since you didn’t return to the hotel and you’re in his clothes there huh Angie?”

“Things went fine,” Angela felt color rise over her cheeks at Kevin’s words, “although they’d be better if you gave me back my breakfast. I’m kind of hungry.”

“Yeah I guess I can do that,” Kevin watched her walk over to steal the plate from him. He handed her the fork before leaning back in his chair, “I’m not really all that hungry considering that I just had breakfast myself. Of course I was completely dressed in doing so, but still.”

“Thank you for the play by play Kevin,” Brant grumbled watching Angela take a seat at the table across from where Kevin was. She dug the fork into the food and took a hearty bite.

“Oh God, this is as good as I remembered it being when you made it for me on the island,” Angela hummed unable to resist taking another taste. “It’s almost orgasmic in itself.”

“Ah, yes I should’ve known the great Brant had made it given how much I know everything you have to offer Angie is more than willing to go for,” Kevin mouthed giving Brant a very complete once over. He couldn’t help but crack a grin at meeting Brant’s eyes again, “And judging by what you look like, you clearly have no problems keeping up, do you?”

“Was there any doubt?” Brant shrugged simply before taking a seat beside Angela. “So tell me Kevin, how did you get in here?”

“I just told the butler I was a friend of the family,” Kevin explained with a proud smirk, “and it seemed to do the trick. You know this is a nice place you have here. It’s not as nice as the one Angie had back home when she was younger, but it’ll do.”

“Really,” Brant’s eyes perked up with interest, “What was that place like?”

“It wasn’t worth getting into right now,” Angela held out the fork to offer Brant a taste of their breakfast. “Here try some.”

“Thank you,” Brant mouthed accepting the bite before turning to Kevin. “So what brings you to the neighborhood?”

“Actually I was hoping to get a chance to talk to the both of you,” Kevin explained growing suddenly serious. He sat up straighter and cleared his throat, “You see there’s something important that I think all three of us should talk about before it gets out of hand and that’s why I’m here.”


“Dave, honey hold on a second,” Carly stepped forward placing her hand on her husband’s shoulder gently, “maybe you should go check in on Kayla. I know it’s been a long night and…”

“And his being here only makes it longer,” Dave frowned thinking about how much he hated having Andy around. He glared over at his former friend before his gaze traveled back to his wife again. With a heavy sigh he realized that maybe he’d had more than his fair share of chaos for the day and he stepped back. “Maybe I will go check in on Kayla after all.”

“I won’t be long,” she promised reaching for his hand and offering up a light squeeze. She leaned forward to place a kiss on his cheek before smiling at him, “I’ll find you when we’re finished.”

“Okay,” he nodded in response glaring over at Andy before grudgingly walking out of the room to leave Carly to speak with Andy about his case.

“He really hates me now, doesn’t he?” Andy frowned glancing over at the direction Dave had walked off in. “I mean it’s hard to believe that we used to be best friends once upon a time.”

“He’s had a lot going on lately,” Carly offered up in response hoping to keep Dave’s hatred for Andy from getting in the way of her work. “It’s taking it’s toll on him.”

“Obviously, but I’m sure that he hates that you’re helping me with my divorce case,” Andy refocused on her, his blue eyes searching her face again, “It must be trying on your marriage.”

Carly couldn’t help but offer a small laugh at the mere suggestion, “You would be surprised what a good marriage can endure. This is nothing in the grand scheme of what could be going wrong.”

“I suppose it’s not,” Andy nodded in response giving her a quick once over, “I mean I’m the one who is going through the messy divorce here.”

“It doesn’t have to be messy. You can make this quick and painless for the both of you since you both want out of it,” Carly suggested attempting to shift gears towards work again.

“Tell me something if you and Dave split would you do that for him?” he questioned stepping in closer to her.

“Do what?” she blinked back at him, her dark eyes raising to meet his.

“Make it quick and painless or would you want something more from it? Would you want him to suffer? To feel the agony you went through when you realized that everything you had and everything you thought you wanted fell to pieces?” he couldn’t help but ask making a small movement towards her, “Would you really just walk away or would you seek some kind of retribution?”

“What kind of retribution are you talking about?” she couldn’t help but ask seeing something flicker behind his eyes, “Andy, is there something that you aren’t telling me about what you’re hoping for with the divorce?”

“Other than my freedom,” he shook his head firmly, “then no there isn’t another thing I want from Deidra. She’s already dragged me down enough already, though with her on the market again you had better keep an eye out on Dave. He’s weak when it comes to her.”

“He’s happy now Andy,” Carly added motioning for him to follow her into her study to take a look at the beginnings of the papers she’d drawn up so that they had all their bases covered. While Andy was obviously in the midst of a bitter divorce, Carly knew full well that Deidra being on the free market again wouldn’t put a thorn in her marriage, or would it? As the thought hung over her, she felt a tiny moment of a shiver creep over her spine, but she soon dismissed it knowing that even if she was working with divorce around her, she and Dave would not become another statistic. What they had was far too strong for that.


“What do you mean be careful,” Sarah blurted out quickly getting up from the couch and throwing her hands up in the air not caring how Blake had felt about this whole situation. “There is absolutely nothing going on between me and Diego.”

“You know Sarah, I would love to believe you,” Blake pointed out shaking her head slowly and watching Sarah do everything she could do to keep eye contact away. “But somehow, I just can’t find myself believing you. I need to know that you love Kyle because right now you sure as hell aren’t acting like it.”

“Blake, I have loved Kyle forever. Ever since I was a teenager I have wanted nothing but Kyle,” Sarah stated clearly turning to face Blake while all the while she was trying to convince herself of the same thing. “I would never want to hurt him and I would never have done something to hurt him in the past. Diego is just a pure past moment that I never want to remember again.”

“Are you sure that’s all?” Blake muttered seeing Sarah nod slowly before Blake stood up and held her hands out in the air not knowing if she could truly trust her best friend at all. “It seems like something else may have gone on. You and Diego only happened one time?”

“Of course,” Sarah lied through her teeth seeing the way that Blake nodded slowly before walking away. “I only want to be with Kyle and Diego isn’t anything compared to Kyle, but…”

“But still you can’t help but find yourself dreaming about him,” Blake added seeing Sarah’s dark eyes meet hers as Blake nodded slowly. “I’ve seen soap operas before Sarah, you are just like every girl in them. You aren’t getting what you want from the man who wants to marry you, so you move on to another guy while all the time you think you can keep them both. It’s not going to happen, one of them isn’t going to like this.”

“Don’t you dare say that, I’ve never cheated on Kyle. It was just that one time Blake. Just that one time,” Sarah repeated again seeing Blake calm down before gripping onto the edge of the desk looking away from Sarah’s dark eyes. “Soon I’m going to be Mrs. Kyle Lee Houston and no one is going to get in my way of that. Do you understand me?”

“Yeah, I understand,” Blake took in a deep breath looking over towards the window before moving forward reaching for her jacket and her purse. “You know, I think we both could use something to distract us. I think we should go see Seth at work for a while or something.”

“Yeah,” Sarah nodded slowly reaching out to grab her jacket before shrugging her shoulders. “I need something to get my mind off things. You’re right.”


“Dinner?” Heather repeated with a small gulp noting the way that Cameron was looking at her. While she hadn’t intended to give him the wrong impression about their spending time with one another the other night, she could see the interest behind his eyes and that made her a slight bit nervous. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea considering that we’re sort of business partners now.”

“It wasn’t a problem for us the other night when we went to that party with one another,” Cameron reminded her boldly, “and while I must admit that I behaved poorly, that doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in making it up to you.”

“I understand that, but…” she stammered not really quite sure on what to say to him as they stood alone in the studio with one another.

“Think about it Heather. I know we had our share of ups and downs, but together we have made an unstoppable force. Besides, it’s only dinner. It’s not like I’m propositioning you for anything more,” he paused eyeing her curiously, “unless of course you have something along those lines on your mind.”

“I try not to mix business with pleasure,” she informed him with a polite yet dismissive smile, “It tends to muck things up and that’s something I’m not really ready for now that I’m working to establish a name for myself.”

“I see,” Cameron gave her a very complete once over, “So dating the boss who also happens to be your ex-husband is out of the question, yet getting involved with our head of security is completely acceptable.”

“I’m not involved with the head of security,” Heather corrected feeling her face grow hot at the mention of Kyle. Immediately her pulse started racing, memories of his lips over hers flooded upon her and she knew she had to look like an idiot thinking about Kyle at this time of all times. It was highly inappropriate.

“Right,” Cameron noted with a look of disbelief, “That’s why he decked me the other night in front of everyone, right?”

“Kyle decked you?” Heather questioned unable to repress the surprise that carried over her voice. “When?”

“When you were,” Cameron paused searching for the right word, “Out of sorts. Needless to say I will concede to the fact that I was very preoccupied that night, so I could see how it would be easily construed that I was a less than satisfactory date to you…”

“I really don’t think that was…” Heather stammered a bit trying to recall the moment in time when Kyle could have hit Cameron. Had she been that drunk she’d missed it?

“I’ve been worried about my sister you see and…” Cameron continued despite her interruption.

“Sister?” Heather repeated suddenly snapping out of her daze. “I didn’t know you had a sister.”

“Well I do,” Cameron replied with a small sigh, “and she is certainly a piece of work. She keeps me on my toes and right now she’s getting into more trouble than I’d thought possible. I’ve been trying to reach out to her, but with each move forward of progress I make, she takes ten steps back, which admittedly was part of the reason I was hoping you’d join me for dinner.”

“Because of your sister?” she couldn’t help but issue him a strange glance. “You want me over to help you with your sister?”

“Yes and no,” Cameron revealed to her, “You see she has a new life that she’s working on with someone that I feel is completely wrong for her. She’s involved with a very dangerous man and…”

“I really don’t think that you’re one to give the lecture considering,” Heather tossed back at him without thinking. She immediately recovered, “I mean…well what I meant to say was…”

“You’re right,” Cameron waved his hand dismissively, “I am a very dangerous man Heather in a lot of ways, but this man in particular that my sister is seeing, well he’s worse than I am.”

“I see,” Heather fought to contain her thoughts.

“I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how someone like myself could pass judgment on a man that my sister decides to spend her time with, but if you knew more about the situation, then…” he offered up with a concerned look.

“Be able to help somehow?” she arched a curious brow. “In all honesty Cameron I don’t see how my coming to dinner tonight could help you with your sister and this man in her life. It doesn’t seem to me that this is really an area of my expertise given that…”

“Trust me Heather,” Cameron reached for her hand taking it in his pleadingly, “You are the only person in this world that I’m confident can help me with this problem. I realize that this seems like a strange request, but if you have dinner with me tonight, I can assure you that I will make it painfully clear to you what is really going on with my sister.”

“Cameron, I’d like to help, but I don’t know,” Heather pondered the thought for a moment feeling him brush his index finger over the palm of her hand.

“Heather, I know we’ve had our share of ups and downs, but I can assure you that tonight when we have dinner with one another, you’ll see a whole new side of me--a side that I’ve been too afraid to show anyone until now,” Cameron divulged a sudden seriousness in his tone, “There are things that I couldn’t explain to you when we were married, but I can share them with you now. If you have dinner with me tonight, then I promise you an evening that will surprise the both of us. It will be a night you’ll never forget.”

“The hell it will,” Kyle’s voice rumbled as he marched into the studio seeing the way Cameron was holding Heather’s hand.

“Kyle,” Heather gasped seeing him standing there looking ready to tear Cameron apart limb for limb.

“Ah, I see we have company,” Cameron mused with a sudden smirk seeing Kyle’s displeasure in finding him with Heather.

“And just in the knick of time it would seem,” Kyle stepped forward making his large presence known over Cameron. “Because the way I see it, Heather’s not doing anything with you let alone being baited into some shady dinner you have planned for her. So with that thought in mind, let me save you the trouble of begging her to join you because the answer is no! Plain and simple.”


...to be continued...