Episode 332

“Come on in,” Kipp answered the door brightly before stepping aside to let his sister into the room behind him. He held Charles in his arms before waving around to look at the papers that surrounded them, “Sorry about the mess, but I’ve been really busy lately.”

“I can see that,” Jenna noted giving the room a second glance, “Something tells me you’re right back to your eyeballs in work again.”

“What gave you that idea?” Kipp laughed lightly squeezing his son in his arms, “Charles, I think your Aunt Jenna is onto us here. She knows that I’m a secret workaholic.”

Charles laughed lightly before reaching out for Kipp’s lip. His fingers curled in an attempt to reach out to his father before Kipp blew against Charles’s fingers making a buzzing sound that had Charles squealing with delight.

Jenna couldn’t help but laugh, “I can see you’re doing very well in being a workaholic with your little helper.”

“He’s the best little helper in the whole wide world,” Kipp boasted proudly repositioning his son in his arms. “In fact I wouldn’t be able to get anything done without him. He’s my inspiration.”

“I can see why,” Jenna smiled in response offering up a nod towards her brother, “I can see he makes you very happy.”

“There’s nothing like being a parent,” Kipp confessed with a proud smirk, “I mean I’ll be honest with you Jenna when I tell you that my life was nothing but chaos before Charles. Now that I have him I’m able to kick back and actually take the time to enjoy life.”

“I can see that,” Jenna nodded in response, “Parenthood suits you well Kipp.”

“I’d like to think so,” Kipp agreed with a small laugh finding himself completely entertained by his son. “There really is nothing like it, but you’ll figure that out soon yourself given that you’re about to enter into that too.”

“It seems like it’s happening pretty fast,” Jenna admitted with a tiny laugh thinking about her pregnancy. “We weren’t really planning on having any children right away, but…”

“Hey sometimes the best little things happen from unplanned pregnancies. Just look at this handsome boy here,” Kipp kissed the top of Charles’s head before hearing his son laugh. “I wasn’t expecting him, but he’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“I know and I’m just glad that you’re actually here to enjoy this time in his life with him,” Jenna noted following Kipp over to one of the chairs. She took a seat and looked to him, “So how is it working out with you and Heather now that things have simmered down a bit?”

“Better than I ever thought possible,” Kipp revealed thinking about Heather. “Granted we had a few kinks to iron out at first, but things have turned out to be pretty good. She’s a great mom and our situation ended up working out for the better with the way things are now.”

“And Kellen?” Jenna arched a curious brow.

“As energetic as ever,” Kipp couldn’t help but smile thinking about his lover, “I’m starting to feel old because I can’t keep up with him. He’s always on the go.”

“But something tells me that you’re inspired by that,” Jenna noted watching Charles reach out for one of his toys that were on the couch cushion next to where he and Kipp were.

“What can I say? I found a keeper,” Kipp confessed brightly before looking to Jenna, “which I’m sure you feel the same way.”

“I do,” she nodded, “Hart is amazing.”

“So when is the wedding then?” Kipp cut straight to the point seeing her dark eyes grow wide at the question.

“There isn’t going to be a wedding,” Jenna informed him in a smooth and even tone.

“Why not?” he frowned slightly.

“Why should I be able to do it when it’s not legal for you and Kellen to do it?” she tossed back at him hoping to deflect the question off of herself and onto him. “Where would the fairness be in that?”

“For starters Kellen and I are happy with the way things are and we don’t need to have the whole marriage label to say that we’re together and committed to our relationship. Sure, I mean it would be nice to think that the rest of the world recognizes what we have with one another, but in all likelihood it’ll be a while before we see the kind of changes that lead to what you’re talking about,” Kipp paused searching her eyes for a long moment, “but this isn’t about Kellen and I. This is about you and Hart. What gives?”

“Let’s just say I’m not sure I’m marriage material,” she finally blurted out honestly, “I mean I really don’t see the point in it. It feels like everyone who is doing it is miserable and I would just as soon skip over the misery of it altogether.”

“Ah so in other words the curse of Douglas Mahoney strikes again,” Kipp shook his head and offered up a small laugh. “Why doesn’t that surprise me?”

“What curse?” she couldn’t help but ask him.

“The one where we think it would be a hell of a lot easier to be alone than to be with someone else in wedded bliss. I mean I watched Douglas marry a few people and cheat with a few dozen others, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t work out for you Jenna,” Kipp tried to encourage her, “You weren’t raised by him so there is a fighting chance there.”

“My mother never married Preston and they are very happy. If they can do it, I don’t see why I should have to. It’s just a personal choice,” she continued to defend her position to him.

“Fair enough,” Kipp nodded in response as his phone began to ring. Reaching for it, he answered quickly before telling the person on the other end of the line to hold on. Placing his hand over the receiver he looked to her with a pleading expression., “So tell me how would you feel about holding your nephew while I take this call?”

“I would love to,” Jenna replied reaching for Charles while Kipp rushed over to the paperwork he’d been doing earlier. As he continued his call, Jenna looked to Charles thinking about how Charles was turning out just fine without his parents being together. Sure, she wasn’t planning on leaving Hart at any time, but at the same glance she didn’t feel she needed a ring on her finger to reaffirm the strength of their relationship. She could find a way to make things work without having to get sucked into the whole marriage scam and she was fine with that. Better than fine!


“Lindsay wait,” Rob called out to his daughter seeing her rush from his office in a frenzy. Remembering the pained expression on her face, he found himself overcome with a feeling of guilt and upset. Turning to Cori he couldn’t help but lash out at her, “What were you thinking?”

“Rob I’m sorry I…” Cori started to apologize reaching out to him again, “I just wanted to say thank you and…”

“Cori, I don’t know what you think I was trying to say here, but I was certainly not trying to encourage you to do what you did,” Rob explained taking in a breath in the hopes of keeping from saying something that he didn’t mean. “Whatever mixed signals you were getting, I just want to clear it up for you now that I’m a happily married man and my family comes first.”

“I know and I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. It’s just that you’ve been so nice to me lately and…” she offered up apologetically, “Rob, I never, ever would’ve done that except, well I’ve been confused lately and…”

“Cori, as much as I want to talk about this with you, I have to find my daughter,” Rob explained with a heavy sigh realizing that Lindsay would no doubt be extremely upset. “I have to find her.”

“I’ll help you,” Cori suggested taking a small step forward. “I can explain that it was an accident and…”

“No I think it’s best if I do this on my own,” Rob replied reaching for his jacket in the hopes that he could catch up with his daughter before she took off thinking that something was happening that clearly wasn’t. He didn’t bother to look back into his office when he ran out hoping more than anything that he could clear up the situation with his daughter if for no other reason than to do something to erase the hurt that he saw in her face. Remembering that was enough to kill him and he just hoped and prayed that he could find a way to get through to her about what was really taking place when she walked in. He just hoped that she would understand.


Russ paced around his office thinking about the headline that had gone out yesterday. While he’d tried to take care of the problem head on with Chris Foley and his big mouth yesterday, things had taken an unexpected turn. Glancing over to the wedding photo on his desk, Russ couldn’t help but find himself thinking about just what that turn was. Reaching for it, he pulled it in for a closer look. Unable to keep from remembering that magical day Russ offered up a small smile.

“It was perfect for us, wasn’t it,” Avery questioned alerting him to her presence in the room. He turned around to see her standing there with a small smile on her face.

“It truly was,” he nodded in agreement, setting the photo down and hearing her sigh.

“Too bad it wasn’t real,” she lowered her gaze to the floor thinking about the cruel joke fate had played on them after he’d ‘died’.

“It was always real to me,” he informed her solemnly reaching out to embrace her. “And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

“Even knowing how things would wind up?” she questioned tipping her eyes up to see his sexy green eyes reaching out to her embracing her without as much as a word. His finger curled underneath her chin urging her lips up towards his.

“Do you really even have to ask?” he questioned gently pressing his lips to hers tenderly before they parted a fraction of an inch, “You’re the one thing in this world that I’ve always been sure of. You and Erin are everything to me Avery. Being with you is everything and if I had to go through all of the hell again to ensure that we’d be together at the end, then so be it.”

“I wish we didn’t have to face that,” Avery curved her palm around his arm, feeling the strength of his body warming to her touch. She slid her hand up over his arm, over his shoulder until her fingers teased into his dark hair gingerly.

Inhaling slowly, she took in the sexy, spicy scent of his cologne knowing how much she’d missed it when he was gone before. There was just something about it--about the enticing combination of it and him that had her longing for him and only him. Her brown eyes sought out his again, feeling the hints of their kiss still hanging over her. Holding him in front of her wasn’t enough. It would never be enough when she wanted more--when she needed him with everything inside of her.

“It’s in the past,” he promised her in a soft, soothing tone, easing his arm around her waist to draw her in against him. Tipping his head to the side, his nose nuzzled the side of her neck causing tiny shivers to race up and over her. Her fingers squeezed into his muscled shoulder a bit more firmly than earlier, yet it was contained--under wraps in comparison to what it was happening inside of her at this point in time. The warmth of his mouth excited her skin, caused sensations that had been buried for a long time to resurface inside of her and as his lips returned to hers again, she felt weak in the knees.

“Russ,” she murmured his name, the sound falling from her lips in a soft rumble of a whisper.

She kneaded his shoulder before fanning her fingers out over his back, inching down over his spine ever so slightly. She felt his arm wrap around her waist protectively, hugging her in against him. The solid heat of his muscled form sent her head swimming with memories of being near him--of making love to him again and again even when they’d known it was a risk. She arched into him feeling an ache growing inside of her. She let out a small moan grinding her hips against his in a determined circular motion, all the while feeling his body respond to hers, his fingers curving over her hip and pressing her in against him. It was enough to do her in--to have her overtaken by the promise of passion, yet while she was falling to pieces in front of him, he seemed too calm and collected--so very able to function as she let out a small whimper of longing.

“Maybe we should slow this down,” Russ suggested in a damn near impossible tone, making Avery want to pounce on him all the more until he too was overtaken with lust.

“I thought we were taking this slow,” she mouthed in a low, sultry slur batting her eyelashes at him while her hand made it’s way to his oh so perfect behind. She offered up a small squeeze and was pleasantly rewarded with the forward movement of his body to hers. Yes, he may seem cool and collected, but there was no denying that obvious reaction she’d stirred up inside of him. Oh yes, Russ was feeling that same electricity between them that was driving her to the brink of insanity.

“Funny that’s not exactly what I had in mind by slow,” Russ mouthed, his hand sliding up underneath the back of her nightshirt and feeling her smooth, inviting skin.

“I can teach you a whole new definition of slow if you’d like,” Avery mouthed her tongue teasing past his lips, while her hand eased in beneath the drawstring of his navy colored sweatpants to make the first intimate contact with his masculinity. He sprang to life even more upon feeling her enticing caress.

“Avery,” he sighed her name, finding himself tugging at her nightshirt and pulling it up over her body. He pooled the material just beneath her breasts pausing for a moment to search her dark eyes, “I just don’t want to hurt you…we both know that…”

“There was a time when you couldn’t resist me,” she leaned forward tracing his lower lip with her tongue. She sighed against his mouth tangling her fingers through his hair, “I want that again. I want you to look at me like I’m the only woman in the world that’s ever made you mad with desire.”

“That’s not a problem,” Russ growled in a low, urgent tone peeling her shirt up over her body before collecting her in his arms again.

His lips came crashing to hers again with a strong force burning behind them. The fact that they hadn’t been able to be together in so very long was enough to get him hot and bothered over what it felt like to have her in his arms. He reached out beneath her, scooping her up into his arms and carried her over to the futon he had set up in the office. Carefully setting her down, he moved in over her, careful not to press too much weight on her. Their eyes met again, hearts pounding in unison as her nails scratched down his back, beckoning him to get closer to her.

“Russ please,” she mouthed urgently placing tiny bites over his shoulder, her nails scratching at his spine, leg curling around his waist. It was sheer madness, yet everything that they’d both been fixating about with one another since his return. Her toes tapered off into the back of his sweatpants sliding them down in a haphazard movement until they rested just below his hips.

“Avery, I love you,” he finally spoke up meeting her hungry eyes. He touched the side of her face feeling her wrapped around him, her hips pressing up into him, “I love you so much, but…”

“But what?” she questioned again in an urgent gasp.

“I just don’t know if you’re ready for this…if you’re ready for…” he found himself fighting with rationality over the situation.

“For you to make love to me?” she finished for him with a hearty nod, “Yes I’m ready. More than ready Russ. I’ve missed you so much.”

“I’ve missed you too, but I just…” he stopped himself seeing the urgency behind her eyes. “I just want to be certain that you’re okay…that we can…”

“Russ don’t be so damned rational,” Avery pleaded with him, reaching for his hand and guiding it between them to the edge of the soft fabric of her underwear that served as the only barrier between them. “I need you.”

“I need you too Avery,” he whispered kissing her again tenderly sensing her desire to be close to him. Carefully he dipped his finger in beneath the soft blue fabric and found her eager warmth against his touch. Their lips met momentarily and he watched a soft rumble of pleasure rise out through her now parted lips.

“Russ,” she arched her head back, bringing her body closer to his longing for his skilled caress. She closed her eyes and let out a small whimper feeling him turn onto his side to move in next to her on the futon. She opened her eyes again seeing that he’d eased away from her, “Where are you going?”

“When we make love again, we’re not going to do it like this,” he explained touching her face gently, his green eyes reaching out to her confused face. “I was kind of hoping we’d do something romantic and…”

“But…” she curled her lip in protest feeling his palm press in over her hip. Before she could say another word she felt his finger curl underneath the material of her panties easing them down over her long legs until she kicked them off the rest of the way. She opened her mouth to say something, confused by what he was saying and what he was doing at that point in time. His hand guided her leg over his hip, resting it gently over him.

“We’re not going to make love in the traditional sense of the word yet. Not until I‘m positive you‘re ready,” he explained in a broken voice circling his finger over her hip again watching the way that she responded to his caress.

“I don’t understand,” she replied feeling tiny shivers race over her at the warmth he was creating inside of her. She closed her eyes savoring his soft exploration of her skin. His thumb brushed in over her inner thigh and she trembled again.

“I want you to touch me Avery,” Russ spoke up in a firm, determined tone, his voice no where near as desperate as hers sounded seconds earlier, yet it was laced with obvious strain. He reached for her wrist dropping it down between them, over his desire for her. “I want you to keep touching me like I’m going to touch you.”

“But…” her eyelashes fluttered open feeling his most intimate caress once again.

“We’ll play it safe for a little while,” he flashed her a sexy smile feeling her reach out and touch him again. He leaned forward to kiss her forehead gently, his lips tapering off over her eyelids, down over her cheeks, onto the tip of her nose before collecting another kiss from her.

“You mean like we used to when we were younger,” she couldn’t help but ask breathlessly feeling him arch into her explorations.

He nodded leaning forward to kiss her tenderly, “Back when we were going to keep you from losing your virtue.”

“You mean back when you thought that my dad was going to murder you,” she hinted with a tiny laugh finding a bit of humor in their situation beside the longing that surrounded them.

“Yeah,” he couldn’t help but respond with a small laugh taking his time to explore her passion in a slow, subtle contact. He eased his finger tips over her hip, tracing lazy circles over her silken skin while she let out a soft sigh, “though we were fooling ourselves to think he’d ever be okay with any of this either.”

“Oh I don’t know,” Avery caressed him a bit more urgent than before, “I think there’s something to be said about the trouble we got into with one another. Besides, it served a great purpose for us for releasing the tension between us.”

“That’s right it did,” he leaned in to kiss her longing to savor every second of her beside him. His left hand pressed in over her breast shaping it gently, “Just like it is right now.”

“This doesn’t change anything Russ,” Avery inched in closer to him, keeping her dark gaze upon him. “I still want to make love with you completely.”

“We’ll have plenty of time to make love,” he assured her reaching out to touch the side of her face gently, “Besides, maybe I’m just testing the waters to see how hot I can make you before we find ourselves lost in passion again. Though if you don‘t really think you‘re up to this challenge I‘ve issued us…”

“I’m more than up for the challenge,” her gaze dropped down between them, “and clearly so are you.”

“And Erin,” he couldn’t help but ask thinking about their daughter, “she’s…”

“Sleeping,” Avery informed him with a hint of a smirk, “She had her latest meal and is ready to get some of that sleep she wasn’t interested in last night.”

“And the baby monitor? You brought it in here, right?” he couldn’t help but ask leaning in to kiss her again.

“On the desk,” she nodded motioning over to it. “I think we have all the bases covered Russ.”

“Not all of them, but we’ll work on it,” he decided moving in to kiss her again determined to make the most of these few moments they shared with one another after what felt like forever apart.


“This is crazy,” Diego spoke to himself falling down into the chair at the side of the table as he waited for the visitor to come in. Right now his life was all about questions and how he was going to play the best to get his way out of here. He didn’t belong here and everyone should have noticed that by now, it was killing him just being stuck somewhere when people thought you were actually a bad guy. “When are they going to get here?”

A loud gasp escaped his lips as he felt a strong tug on the back of his shirt as his chair tipped over and slid out onto the floor. Closing his eyes, Diego let out a long groan placing his hand behind his head feeling a bit dizzy as the room started to spin around him.

“Hey,” Diego felt a small tap against the side of his face as he tried to open his eyes and see the person that attacked him from behind. “Look at me you loser.”

“Kyle?” Diego blinked slowly seeing his vision start becoming clearer as he saw the wide smile that spread out over Kyle’s features before feeling Kyle grab him by the collar of his shirt, pulling him up roughly. Before Diego could say another word he was roughly slammed up against the wall, his head hitting the hard wall as he let out a long groan. “Kyle, wait.”

“Kyle wait?” Kyle’s words buzzed through his head as Diego rested his hands against Kyle’s wrists as they held tightly onto his collar. Kyle let go with his right hand, hitting Diego right in the center of his jaw before slamming him harder against the wall. “You want me to wait? After what you did to me?”

“I’m sorry,” Diego whispered feeling a sharp pain throughout his whole face as he tried to explain himself, seeing the rage behind Kyle’s eyes. “It wasn’t my fault.”

“You’re telling me that you didn’t do this? What did you do?” Kyle let out a small laugh biting down on his bottom lip seeing Diego struggle to get out of his grasp. “Were you walking around the room naked in the dark and you just happened to fall on her? Is that what happened?”

“Kyle, I love her,” Diego tried to explain seeing the anger grow more behind Kyle’s hazel eyes and Diego took in a deep breath. “I swear, I didn’t mean to hurt you--it just happened.”

“Well, what did you think? I didn’t love her and that’s why I wasn’t seeing her? I was upset and I didn’t want her to see me like that. She cheated on me with you and I have to tell you something Diego,” Kyle began in a tight breath sliding his fingers in over the sides of Diego’s neck, pressing his thumbs in over the center of his throat. “You said you didn’t mean to hurt me, but trust me--I’m going to mean to hurt you. You don’t know what I’m capable of Diego and now I think you are going to find out.”

“Kyle,” Diego felt Kyle’s fingers crunching around his neck, his feet dangling in the air as Kyle lifted him from the ground. Feeling his air supply starting to cut off Diego tried pushing Kyle off, but it was getting too hard for him. Losing the strength in his body, Diego could feel his face growing hot and his eyes turning red feeling Kyle giving all the pressure he could. “Please…,”

“Hey,” Kyle's voice woke Diego up out of his slumber as Diego lifted his head up seeing Kyle touching his shoulder and he let out a small gasp falling out of his chair. “I didn’t mean to scare you, I just saw you looked like you were having a bad dream. Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” Diego nodded seeing Kyle reach his hand out towards his and Diego accepted it feeling Kyle pull him up gently. “Sorry about that, it’s just that…,”

“I know, I understand,” Kyle took in a deep breath motioning Diego back over towards the table and he took a seat on the edge of the table, seeing Diego walk in over towards him. “I mean look at this place, I would be having nightmares too.”

“It’s easy to,” Diego pointed out seeing Kyle nod slowly as Diego looked Kyle over with his dark eyes. Kyle looked up towards the ceiling for a moment as Diego cleared his throat, interested as to why Kyle was here. “So, what are you doing here?”

“I was just coming to talk to you,” Kyle paused for a moment meeting Diego’s gaze before letting out a small laugh. “You know, I have been thinking about it for a while and Cori really has me laughing about the one thing she said. About you and Sarah being an item there and sleeping together.”

“Right,” Diego let out a hesitant laugh before rubbing the back of his neck gently seeing Kyle eye him over carefully and he shrugged his shoulders not quite knowing what to say. “She comes up with some pretty good stories.”

“I can tell,” Kyle whispered realizing that with the hesitant laugh it was obvious that everything he had been suspecting was right. Diego and Sarah had been sleeping together and it was more obvious now than it had ever been before. “I just came to check how you were doing.”

“I’m doing okay,” Diego spoke up seeing Kyle stand up and walk over towards the door seeing him looking out into the hallway from the window. “What about you Kyle? How are you?”

“I’m doing great,” Kyle began with a wide and bright smile, turning to face Diego before sliding his hands into his pockets. Offering up a small shrug he moved in closer to Diego, his eyes meeting Diego’s and he could almost see the fear behind Diego’s brown eyes. “Actually, I wanted you to know that me and Sarah decided we are going to be getting married this Sunday.”

“You’re what?” Diego blurted out seeing Kyle nod slowly and smile brightly before turning away from Diego pacing slowly in the middle of the room. “I mean, congratulations. That’s great for you, it really is.”

“Yeah, well--I hope I can get you of here in time to be at the wedding,” Kyle offered up a small wink going over towards the door and opening it up to leave. “Trust me, it will be an event that I promise no one should miss. See you later Diego.”


Ria walked over to the nurse’s station after having been paged there. Once she’d gotten over to see what was up, the girl behind the desk informed her she’d gotten a phone call. Curious Ria walked over to the phone and answered only to discover Seth on the other end of the line.

“Hey Ria,” Seth’s voice broke into the phone with a long laugh, “You are so never going to believe what I’m about to witness.”

“Well hello to you too,” Ria couldn’t help but smile hearing her best friend’s voice, “What’s going on that’s got you calling sounding like that?”

“Oh nothing much except for the fact that your fiancé is about to make his modeling debut over here,” Seth informed her with a tiny laugh, “I thought you might be interested to know that.”

“Modeling debut,” Ria repeated after a small pause, “Seth, what are you talking about?”

“Let’s just say we needed a new model for the shoot I’m scheduled for today and somehow Kevin’s arm got twisted into being the new man of the month for Christian David’s Adonis line.”

“The Adonis line?” Ria repeated with a curious expression. “You have to be kidding me, right?”

Seth laughed harder than before, “I only wish I was kidding you, but Kellen’s been going on and on about how perfect it is to be having Kevin Adonis as the model for the Adonis line. He’s waxing poetic on this one big time and it sounds like Heather’s eating up the idea given that Kevin, well he’s not the typical model.”

“No he’s not, which is why it sounds strange he’s modeling,” Ria paused pondering the thought for a moment, “Though I have to ask, what’s the Adonis line exactly and what’s is Christian David?”

“Only one of the top underwear companies out there today according to Kellen, who has been gushing all morning. It’s a really hot selling company from what Heather’s been saying and it just so happens that Kevin volunteered to be the model in this one,” Seth informed her with a small laugh. “He looked like he was going to die on the spot when he said yes, but still he said yes.”

“Oh my God. Are you serious?” Ria envisioned her lover in such a photo shoot and suddenly laughter was replaced by a visual and mental sense of longing. Her voice grew a bit huskier, “Really? Kevin’s going to be doing that?”

“I thought maybe you’d like to come over and check it out if you had a break coming up,” Seth explained further a wicked giggle on his end of the line, “Of course he’d kill me for calling you like this but…”

“Say no more. I’m due out of here shortly. I’ll be there,” Ria assured him with a small laugh, “Don’t let him finish before I get there because this is something I have to see.”

“I figured it might be,” Seth laughed again, “and given how Kevin is I’m sure he’ll need you around for moral support.”

“I’m sure I can handle that,” Ria blurted out imagining what her Adonis would look like in the Adonis line underwear. Of course once she left the hospital she wouldn’t be wondering any longer. “I’ll be getting out of here in a few. Try to stall for me.”

“I’ll do my best,” Seth promised saying his good-byes and hanging up the phone.

“What’s so funny?” Deana questioned seeing the way that Ria broke into laughter.

“My honey is going to be a supermodel,” Ria explained with a small giggle seeing the curiosity brewing behind Deana’s eyes. “He volunteered himself to be a model for some advertisement and that was his cousin calling to tell me he might need moral support.”

“Really?” Deana’s eyes perked up. “What’s he modeling for?”

“Let’s just say it’s a sexy something that only a certain kind of man looks good in,” Ria circled her finger around in front of her motioning to her pants. She caught a glimpse of Zack out of the corner of her eye and frowned, “And he’s not one of them.”

“In that case, I’m assuming that you’re talking about an underwear ad huh?” Deana noted with a wrinkled expression.

“You took him as being less than impressive in that department too, huh?” Ria couldn’t help but laugh again in a muted tone.

“If the rumors are true there isn’t a doubt in my mind. Though you know they say that certain men need to find a way to compensate in some way or another there and with his ego,” Deana’s brown eyes met Ria’s again, “he’s more than compensating for what he’s lacking.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Ria noted with a shake of her head. She looked to the time and circled around the desk area, “Well I’m off. I was cutting out a little early tonight anyways since it’s a slow night. Good luck.”

“Thanks,” Deana watched her leave before hearing footsteps approaching her from behind.

“Just where the hell does she think she’s going?” Zack grumbled watching Ria make her way to the elevators.

“Dr. Reynolds let her go early since it’s been a slow day,” Deana mouthed realizing that Zack was talking to her.

“I didn’t approve it,” Zack snarled seeing the elevator doors close.

“I’m quite sure that she doesn’t need your approval,” Deana wrinkled her nose at Zack, turning around to face him. “Last time I checked Dr. Reynolds was the Chief of Staff, not you.”

“And the last time I checked you were a nurse, which means precisely nothing in my book,” Zack narrowed his eyes at her, a wicked expression sweeping over him. “Your job is to do as I tell you and not talk back to me.”

“I was just saying,” Deana replied flatly.

“Yeah well I didn’t ask for your opinion on a personal or professional level, so unless I want something from you, you’d be best suited to steer clear of starting problems with me,” he warned taking a small step towards her. He opened his mouth to speak again before stopping himself. His eyes gave her a long perusal and his face shifted expressions. “Although I’m sure we can remedy this tension between us somehow. I realize that we got off on the wrong foot and it’s Ria I’m upset with, not you…”

“Is that an apology?” she questioned giving him a strange look.

“It could be if you play your cards right,” he moved in closer to her, his hand pressing out over her arm, finger teasing over her shoulder, “If you play nice with me, then I’m sure we can find a way to get along much better around here.”

“Are you hitting on me?” she couldn’t help but ask when the answer was blatantly obvious.

“Let’s just say if you do me a few favors, I’ll be more than willing to ignore the fact that you have a mouth on you that’s bound to get you in hot water,” his gaze dropped down to her lips, “Of course I can think of a few better uses for that pretty little mouth of yours.”

“And I can think of a few different ways to slap a sexual harassment suit on you if you don’t back off,” Deana swiped his hand away from her, her anger mounting by the moment.

“Now now why do you have to go and ruin a perfectly nice moment between us,” he frowned down at her, “Surely you would much rather me appreciating you rather than destroying you.”

“I don’t know what your game is Dr. Vaughn, but I’m warning you,” she stood taller not about to let him intimidate her into kissing up to him, “You just do your job and I’ll do mine. Other than that there isn’t anything on a personal or professional level that I want from you--especially not any of your so called favors.”

“That’s too bad because I’m sure I could do a lot for your career given that you’re young and relatively new,” he shrugged his shoulders taking a small step back, “You could have great things Deana if you make the right friends.”

“I think I’ll take my chances on my own with my abilities as a nurse,” she glared at him before stomping off ready to put the nightmare of an exchange behind her and focus on the one thing that was important at the hospital--her work.


“Sorry about that,” Kipp apologized moving into the kitchen to find Jenna seated in front of Charles at his high chair. She was feeding him some of the food that Kipp had set out for his meal. Now as he looked to the time he realized he’d been on the phone longer than expected. “I didn’t mean to leave you hanging like that for so long. It was just that it was business and then…”

“You don’t have to explain,” Jenna shook her head and smiled over at him. She dipped the spoon in her hand into the bowl of baby food again before offering Charles another bite of his bananas. “Charles is just giving me practice for things to come.”

“I see,” Kipp couldn’t help but grin over at his son, “He hasn’t been doing any raspberries on you yet, has he?”

“No, not at all,” Jenna paused tipping her head to the side to look up at him, “Why he does that?”

Kipp nodded before laughing, “It’s one of the bad habits that Kellen taught him. Now Charles thinks it’s funny to have one of us wear his food rather than eat it most of the time. He’s probably just on his best behavior since it isn’t every day his Aunt Jenna is over pampering him.”

“I’ll have to change that then,” Jenna noted thinking about how much time she had to make up for with her brother. “I’ve been busy, but that’s no excuse for not coming around. You’re family and I want to be a part of your lives.”

“You are a part of our lives and we’re glad to have you,” Kipp added reaching for one of the chairs and moving to take a seat at the table beside Jenna and Charles. “I’ve never had a sister before so it’s a nice change.”

“It’s nice having another new brother,” Jenna replied with a thoughtful expression, “Or should I say two new brothers since there’s also JT out there.”

“JT,” Kipp shook his head and laughed, “Yeah there’s him too, but he’s well, he’s JT.”

“Yeah that’s kind of what I got out of the one visit that I had with him,” Jenna nodded in response thinking about her encounter with JT, “Though I have to tell you I feel kind of bad about not taking the time to see him again. He looked like he was going through some hard times when I stopped by his apartment.”

“JT’s life is a hard time, but that’s because he brings it on himself,” Kipp shook his head and sighed, “I mean yeah growing up with Douglas was never fun or easy, but rather than just doing what he had to in order to get out of it, he had to be difficult.”

“How so?” Jenna couldn’t help but ask.

“By the time he was fourteen he had run away so many times that Douglas stopped sending people looking,” Kipp frowned thinking about his brother’s younger years. “I mean I’m not saying what Douglas did was right, but JT wouldn’t just try to live by the rules. He had to have things his way and do it under his terms, which is why they always clashed. It was as if Douglas viewed JT more so as competition rather than a son. He got into a lot of things--lived out on the streets for months at a time and we only saw him again when the cops picked him up for being stoned and breaking and entering. It was a real nightmare.”

“It sounds like it,” Jenna nodded imagining what it would’ve been like for JT growing up.

“Of course Nicole worshipped the ground that JT walked on,” Kipp sighed thinking about his step-mother. “No matter how many times JT would get into trouble, she would always beg Douglas to bail him out. I cannot even tell you how many times Douglas put him into rehab only to have him run away again. It felt like the only time we saw him was when he came crawling back home for a meal or cash once he’d hit rock bottom.”

“So Douglas tried to take care of him then?” Jenna couldn’t help but ask thinking about their father’s lack of concern for his children for the most part.

“I think he did what he could to pacify Nicole. She was his trophy wife for a long time and the fact that he’d stolen her from Cyrus Stone made her someone that he was more than willing to keep on his arm,” Kipp continued to recount thinking about his step-mother. “She was very unfriendly, but there was just something about her that Douglas loved. I think it had more to do with tearing Cyrus’s heart out, but who knows? It was pure chaos in our home. Of course once JT’s mother finally passed, I think Douglas had his fill with JT and he disowned him--refusing to even bother acknowledging that JT was his son.”

“How awful,” Jenna gasped thinking about JT’s life growing up.

“I tried to be nice to him, but when he stole from me during one of his stoner days, I realized that there was no point inviting him into my life when trouble followed,” Kipp explained in a dry, hollow tone. “I know it sounds cruel, but the only thing that surrounds JT is trouble and I would just as soon stay away from it. You might want to consider that yourself since he’s not exactly family material.”

“So that’s it? You just wrote him off like Douglas did?” Jenna couldn’t help but frown over at him.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying,” Kipp sighed heavily thinking about his relationship with his brother. “It’s just that it’s hard to spend time around some cocky, arrogant son of a bitch who thrives on making you miserable. I went through that long enough with Douglas so I didn’t want to recreate the cycle with JT. Until he grows up, I really have no need for him in my life. It’s just how it is.”

“I see,” she nodded back growing quiet at his declaration.

“He’s trouble Jen. I’m not saying that because of some unspoken rivalry, but because I know our brother. One day he’s going to get in over his head and no one is going to be able to save him from himself,” Kipp continued pointedly, “In fact I wouldn’t doubt that right now he’s doing something that is going to get him in a world of trouble and when it happens I’m sure he’ll probably come around sniffing you out in the hopes that he can bilk off of you like he has the rest of us. Besides, right now I have to think about what’s best for Charles. Douglas has always been a problem on some level. Case in point look what he did with my mother. I mean when I think about the way he lied to me all of those years…”

“At least you have a second chance now,” Jenna noted, “Zoë seems nice enough.”

“Yeah she’s great and so is Daniel,” Kipp agreed seeing Charles finishing up with his meal. “I’m glad that they found me because it opens up a lot of doors to things I didn’t think were around before now.”

“Maybe if JT had a few doors open to him he would change his life as well,” Jenna offered up with a sense of hopefulness in her tone.

“I don’t know Jen. You might be asking for a miracle with that,” Kipp noted watching Charles turn to look at him before blowing his food out directly at Kipp.

“Looks like Charles thought you needed a bath,” Jenna couldn’t help but laugh watching Charles clap his hands together excitedly.

“I’m not the only one,” Kipp offered up seeing Charles spit the remainder of his food out at Jenna before the trio shared a laugh with one another.

“That’s what I get for saying he was on his best behavior,” Jenna teased lightly enjoying the time she was spending with her brother. Even though they had come from different backgrounds and different places it seemed like they had fallen into place with one another with great ease. She wondered if one day she would be able to do the same with JT as it seemed the rest of the family was ready to give up on him completely.


Rob walked in the front door of his home hoping to find Lindsay there. He tried to explain things at the gym, but she was no where to be found. He’d called her cell phone, but hadn’t been able to get a hold of her. Now that he stepped into his living room he hoped and prayed that he would find her in time to explain himself. However instead of finding Lindsay he saw Alicia entering the room from over by the kitchen.

“Rob, what are you doing here?” she questioned seeing the worried expression on her husband’s face. “Rob, what is it?”

“Have you seen Lindsay?” Rob asked worriedly hoping to clear things up with his daughter.

“Last time I saw her she was on the way to see you at work so that you could sign a permission slip for her. I was on my way out myself with Matt when I last saw her,” she paused giving him a long look, “I just got in. Rob, what is it? Did she make it over there to see you?”

Rob nodded, “She did, but something happened--something I need to clear up with her as soon as possible.”

“What is it?” Alicia couldn’t help but ask. “Rob talk to me.”

“Alicia she…” he stopped himself not knowing how to tell his wife what had happened in his office. “She walked in on a situation that I think she believes is something that it wasn’t.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she frowned at her husband, “Rob, what aren’t you telling me?”

“When Lindsay walked into my office she saw Cori kissing me,” he revealed honestly watching his wife’s face transform from worry to enrage.

“What?” her eyes widened. “Why the hell would she be seeing that? Why would Cori be kissing you?”

“I have no idea,” Rob admitted honestly worry creasing over his brow. “One minute we were talking about work and then the next…”

“I told you that she was looking for something from you. I saw the way she was behaving and…” Alicia started in an uproar.

“Alicia I’m not interested in Cori like that. I see her as a daughter, not as a potential lover. She isn’t at all what I want or need in my life,” he stepped in closer to her fearing that she’d grow angry with him, “You are my world and I would never, ever jeopardize that. Don’t you see that you’re everything to me Alicia?”

“Then why was Cori kissing you?” she folded her arms in front of her chest still doubtful.

“I don’t know, but when I went to push her away that’s when Lindsay walked in and saw everything. She was upset and ran out before I could explain the situation to her,” he turned to his wife desperation behind his blue eyes, “Alicia you have to believe me on this. You have to trust that I’m telling you the truth.”

“Rob I,” she started finding herself at a loss before she finally nodded, “right now I think the most important thing is that we go and find Lindsay. Who knows what she must be thinking right about now?”

“I never intended for any of this to happen. I was just trying to help Cori and…” Rob began apologetically.

“She’s a very troubled young woman and I can see how she’d easily believe that you had something more going on with your intentions,” Alicia explained glancing over at him once again while reaching for her jacket, “but for what it’s worth I know deep down that you would never step out on me. Our marriage has been solid for more years than I care to admit and you’ve never given up on us or our family.”

“And you’ve never given up on me,” he reached out to her pulling her into his arms. “I love you Alicia.”

“And I love you,” she replied embracing him momentarily before taking a step back, “Now let’s go find our daughter before she ends up doing something foolish because her emotions are in an uproar.”


“What wrong Lindsay? You have me worried,” Jackie pointed out as she looked over at her friend when they came to a red light. “You stormed out of there like something happened and you haven’t talked to me yet.”

“You know,” Lindsay spoke up in a tight breath not even wanting to get started with what she was thinking about. All these years she thought her father and mother were under good terms, but she had to be wrong. Rob was always the one she looked up to the most, but seeing him like that with her friend was totally horrible. “How could my father do that?”

“What did he do?” Jackie tried to get her friend to open up a bit more, but there was no use. She wasn’t going to be able to talk about anything because that was obvious from the moment she got in the car. “You don’t have to tell me anything, but you know I will be here if you need me, right?”

“I appreciate that,” Lindsay replied with a small smile as they pulled into the parking lot at the mall. Getting out of the car she saw Jackie follow her as they walked up towards the front doors. “I’m not mad at you by the way, I just kind of don’t want to talk about it. Just don’t think I am mad about you.”

“Don’t worry about it kiddo,” Jackie hushed wrapping her arm around her friend’s shoulders before motioning her over towards one of the tables at the food court as they walked into the building. “How about you have a seat and I will go get us some smoothies or something. My treat.”

“Sounds good,” Lindsay nodded taking a seat where Jackie had told her to and she rested her elbows against the table top. Something had to have happened, why would her father do that? Right now, the only thing she wished would have happened was her not walking into the room because now it was going to bother her all day long. She didn’t want to see something like that, but the worse part was that she would have never thought her father would have done something like that.

“Hey there,” a voice caught her attention as she looked forward to see Daniel before her and she straightened up seeing him take a seat at the other side of the table. “You alright?”

“I’m fine,” she took in a deep breath seeing him frown before nodding slowly and she tried to change the subject. “What are you doing here?”

“I was just at the mall obviously,” he let out a hesitant laugh before nodding over towards the fountain that was behind her and he shrugged his shoulders. “I saw you over here and you looked upset, I figured you might need a friend to talk to.”

“I appreciate that,” Lindsay spoke up in a small whisper seeing his worried brown eyes looking her over carefully as she placed her hands out in front of her on the table. “I really do.”

“You want to talk about something?” Daniel questioned seeing her shrug her shoulders as he scooted in closer to her before offering up a wide smile. “I’ll let you in on a little secret I have.”

“Okay, what’s that?” Lindsay eyed him over carefully seeing him lean forward closer to her with a small smile. “What’s your secret Daniel?”

“Well, my friends say I’m an awesome listener,” Daniel spoke up in a small voice before nodding slowly and pointing over towards the fountain. “How about we go over there and talk about it. I have a feeling it might make you feel better.”


“Feeling better?” Russ questioned keeping his arm around Avery as she snuggled in his arms on the futon. He closed his eyes for a moment thinking about how much he loved the woman in his arms. Even though things had taken an unexpected turn for the morning, he couldn’t help but find himself pleased with the intimacy opening up between them once again.

“Much,” she smiled tilting her head up to look at him before settling in over his chest again. Running lazy circles over his skin, she let out a long sigh, “I’ve missed you so much Russ.”

“I’ve missed you too,” he confessed squeezing her in closer to him, “Though I will say even when I wasn’t myself you always haunted my dreams. Deep down I was sure that one day I would find my way back to you.”

“And you have,” she snuggled in closer to him, “We have everything we’ve always wanted now. We have each other and Erin.”

“She’s amazing. She’s so very incredible and I know I owe that all to you,” he massaged her spine gently feeling her melt into his embrace, “You fought like hell to bring our little angel into the world and I’m so proud of you Avery.”

“You make it sound like I did something amazing there Russ,” she glanced up at him again. “I just did what I had to.”

“No you did much more than that. You were so very strong for her--for all of us at a time when I couldn’t be here,” he mouthed kissing the top of her head gently, “You brought Erin into this world with your strength and it’s because of you that we have our daughter today Avery. I love you so very much for that.”

“Knowing that I still had a part of you with me was what kept me going even during my darkest moments,” she repositioned herself over his chest, “That’s what she is Russ--the best of us both.”

“I realize that,” Russ reached out to ease his fingers through her long, dark hair pushing it back over her shoulders, “which is why I don’t want you to be too hard on yourself. You’re an incredible mother Avery.”

“I just have so many doubts,” she offered up with a small sigh, “I mean what if I do something wrong and…”

“You won’t do something wrong,” Russ shook his head at her, “Erin loves you so very much and hey, we’re supposed to be making mistakes. I mean how else would we learn if we had everything right the first time around.”

“The first time is always the most challenging,” Avery nodded in response giving him a long look, “Although I have to ask, are you trying to say that you’d like to have more firsts?”

“You mean as in our having a brother or sister for Erin?” he arched a curious brow before nodding, “Absolutely. I think that the more children we have, the better.”

“Yes, but as it stands I’m still technically out of work,” she pointed out with a frown, “I know Grady said that he’d hire me, but…”

“Grady’s not going to go back on that. You said it yourself that you thought it could work out,” Russ pointed out seeing the same worries pressing in over her.

“Yes, but it’s not going to be like it was when I worked at BBK. I’ll be taking a huge salary cut considering and…” she stopped herself before forcing a nervous smile, “I sound stupid, don’t I?”

“No, I think finance is a very valid concern especially since I may find myself in a bit of a legal bind now due to that idiot at the paper,” Russ frowned as well this thoughts turning to the article that Chris had printed. “I’m sure that Brant is going to be screaming lawsuit and…”

“I’m sorry about that,” Avery apologized thinking about how she and Elliot had readily brought Chris into the job at the paper. “He had all the right qualifications and from everything I’ve seen he is one hell of a great journalist. He has the talent and the skill…”

“Yet lacks the capacity to keep himself out of hot water,” Russ felt his jaw clench with tension, “While I’m sure that he’s great at what he does, he let his own personal issues get in the way of his career and I can’t sit back and take that. You have no idea how much trouble that one article alone is going to get The Courier into.”

“I admit it was a bit abrasive, but maybe Brant won’t react to it,” she caught the doubting look he gave her from where he lay. “Okay, so he’ll probably want to have someone’s head, but still it wasn’t your fault.”

“We both know that Brant hates me even more so now that you and I are together,” Russ paused thinking about what Kevin had revealed to him about Brant. “The man is a loose cannon and it’s clear that Chris is as well. I can’t run the risk of having something like this happen again even if Brant doesn’t take action. Maybe this time he’ll overlook it, but next time, well I simply can’t afford to have a next time. There’s only one thing I can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“What’s that?” she questioned seeing the wheels turning behind his head.

“Well you hired Chris when you believed I was dead, but now that I’m home I can take my job back,” Russ informed her point blank, a sigh carrying over his lips, “Granted I wanted to spend some time with you and Erin right now, but I’m sure that I can also get into the swing of things again. It’s been my baby for so very long that I know I can get things back on track with a little effort. I can clean up the mess Chris made and…”

“Russ you can’t just step in and take over again,” she saw the way his green eyes fixed upon her once again, “I mean yes okay in theory you could and you have a very valid reason for doing so, but…”

“But what?” he couldn’t help but ask seeing a small hint of fear behind her eyes.

“I guess I just kind of thought we’d spend time with one another before we got back into that…” she tore her eyes away from him focusing on the floor as if it was the most interesting thing in the room. “Before we let our careers and the world keep us away from one another. I was a workaholic and now that I don’t have really any kind of concrete job for the moment…”

“Hey,” he touched her arm gently, “I’m not walking out on you or on us. It’s just that something has to give. I know I own the paper and while I’d like to go back maybe full time isn’t a great idea. I could always fire Chris and hire in a new active Editor in Chief who can run things while I’m here with you and Erin.”

“Russ you can’t do that,” she shook her head at his suggestion.

“Why not?” he frowned back at her, “I don’t see why I can’t do it. I own the paper, so therefore…”

“Chris signed a contract,” Avery informed him point blank, “When we brought him in your father and I sat down with him and worked out all the details of him coming in and taking charge. He’s got an ironclad contract and you can’t just fire him.”

“For putting my paper in jeopardy,” Russ blinked up at her, “Avery I think that’s plenty of reason to get rid of him.”

“He’ll just chalk it up as freedom of the press. Trust me on this one. You can’t fire him,” Avery informed him thinking about the deal they’d set up for Chris, “It’s not going to be easy to get out of the contract there and even if you tried it would cost more money than the paper could afford to lose. Right now that’s not an option.”

“There has to be an option,” Russ frowned again, “I mean look at what Brant did with you. You were under contract if I do recall…”

“And Brant’s paying me a settlement for terminating my employment early,” Avery explained thinking about the tense situation with Brant, “While I’d really like to tell him to go to hell, he has to pay for letting me go. He can afford it and he can still run business as usual, but with Chris and the paper…”

“Well, if I can’t fire him, then maybe I’ll have to find another way of dealing with him,” Russ thought it over for a long moment. “I simply can’t have him running my paper into the ground. If he keeps up with his vendetta against Brant it’ll be the end of my paper. Granted I’m not exactly thrilled with Brant, but the fact that Chris dragged us into this as well that isn’t something that sits well with me. The last thing I wanted was the world to hear all about how my father really isn’t my father. I don’t need anyone going on about this Ashford situation…”

“Russ, you couldn’t hide it forever especially not in how Shannon let everyone know the truth,” Avery tried to reason with him knowing that she’d touched a sore spot. “It doesn’t change who you are now that you’re an Ashford.”

“I’m not an Ashford,” he remarked sourly shaking his head at the insinuation. “Yes I’ve accepted Augustus into our lives, but other than him I don’t want anything to do with that family. He can see Erin and be a part of her life, but beyond him that’s it. I’m not going to walk around calling Nicholas my father nor am I going to be inviting Brant over to a family reunion anytime soon.”

“I never expected you to, yet…” Avery sighed shaking her head at him, “Russ, I just don’t want to see this get even more out of hand by your acting out in anger over what Chris did. Maybe if you talk to him, you can try to reason with him and…”

“I’ll deal with Chris,” he decided hugging her to him again not wanting to kill the moment between them by discussing the situation that was bogging him down at work. “I’ll find a way to make this right without dragging us into court or costing me a fortune. I’m sure I can fix this.”

“Why do I get the feeling that fixing it will only be yet another problem?” she couldn’t help but ask ready to question what was on his mind when she heard Erin over the baby monitor.

“It sounds like our daughter is ready to make an appearance again,” Russ squeezed her one more time before kissing the top of her head, “I can go and get her if you’d like.”

“No,” Avery shook her head at him sliding up off of him. She placed her feet on the floor and reached for her nightshirt. “I’ll go and get her. I’m sure she’s just about ready for a changing and a feeding, but you’re more than welcome to join us if you’d like.”

“I’d love to,” he sat up reaching out to pull her into a kiss before watching her leave. Once she left the room he listened to her walking into the nursery to be with Erin. He smiled hearing Erin get all excited to be near Avery and as he got dressed he made a vow to himself to find a way to fix the situation at work so that he could find peace and harmony in every aspect of his life. Reaching for the ties on his pants he had a thought occur to him and suddenly he knew exactly what he was going to do in dealing with Chris Foley!


“Oh god,” Kevin let out a deep breath looking at himself in the mirror and shaking his head slowly. Sure, he was trying to be nice with doing this for Heather, but in all honesty--he didn’t know if he was really comfortable with what he was wearing. Letting out a tight breath he pulled at the waist band of the boxers Kellen had set out for the shoot, realizing that there was no way he was going to be comfortable with this. “I can’t do this.”

“How is it working out?” Kellen opened up the dressing room door seeing Kevin jump and cover himself with his hands as Kellen let out a small laugh. “What are you doing? Been there seen that back in the day a couple million times around Angela, you have nothing to worry about.”

“Kellen, I thought you said these were boxers,” Kevin began in a tight breath moving his hands and adjusting the waistband that hung low at his hips. “These are kind of tight if you get what I am saying.”

“They are boxer briefs, but I must say that they show off your butt perfectly,” Kellen pointed out seeing Kevin glare back at him over his shoulder before shaking his head slowly. Kellen stepped in behind Kevin grabbing Kevin’s button down shirt and pulling it off his arms before Kevin moved back towards the corner of the room. “You have to really get ready for this Kevin.”

“Kellen, come on I can’t do this,” Kevin took in a deep breath looking at the black and red boxer briefs they had him in as he shrugged his shoulders and looked around the room. “I seriously doubt that anyone would find me sexy like this. I’m kind of a big guy that…,”

“Has exactly what it takes to be a model,” Kellen stepped in front of Kevin cornering him to sit down on the seat as he grabbed the hair gel that was placed out on the table. “You have pretty brown eyes, the muscles honey are sexy as hell and you have a really hot butt. Like seriously Kevin, you should just take a look at it and…,”

“Kellen,” Kevin glared up at Kellen seeing Kellen hold his hands up in the air before getting some hair gel in his hands and moving his fingers through Kevin’s hair. “What is wrong with my hair that I can’t have it the way I like it?”

“Well, this will just make you look hotter,” Kellen promised finishing up and moving back for Kevin to stand up again. Kellen looked him over proudly before nodding slowly. The pair he picked out for Kevin fit him perfectly, showing off the indents on Kevin’s hips leading Kellen’s thoughts to go else where. “Girls will adore you in this Kevy, trust me. Actually, some guys probably will too, but still…,”

“How is everything going?” Heather walked into the room seeing Kevin quickly reach for his pants and place them over his groin and she let out a small laugh. “Well, the upper half looks really good. Kev, your abs are really a very nice set.”

“Thank you,” Kevin half smiled feeling her fingers move in over his stomach to outline the ripple of muscle in his stomach, hearing Kellen shuffling with something in the corner and he held his pants tighter to his body. “I appreciate that.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Heather saw him uneasily take a step back trying to get out of the center of attention when she walked over toward some of the cabinets. “You can’t be camera shy Kevin, you have to be able to go through with this.”

“Trust me,” Kellen grabbed Kevin’s pants trying to pull it away from him seeing Kevin glare over at him with his light brown eyes as Kellen tugged at the pants harder. Finally Kevin’s grip broke free and Kellen threw Kevin’s pants into the corner seeing Kevin rest his hands on his hips. “Kevin has been like this in front of a lot of people, this time won’t be different.”

“Alright then, we have to do something before we go out though,” Heather grabbed what she needed out of the drawer as she looked back at Kevin over her shoulder. “I’m sorry for having to do this, but it’s kind of like a rule. You’re doing an underwear modeling thing, so we have to stuff you and…,”

Heather turned around looking down towards the center of Kevin’s boxers seeing Kevin do the same thing along with Kellen. Heather shrugged her shoulders before looking over at Kellen once more.

“I guess you already got him to do it,” Heather replied in a small nod seeing Kellen look up at her and smile before shaking his head slowly. “We have nothing to worry about then, I guess you already know the procedure.”

“Heather honey,” Kellen bit down on his bottom lip, his blue eyes narrowing down at Kevin again before taking in a deep breath and resting his hands on his hips. “I never once stuffed Kevin and I don’t even think he knew anything about the procedure if you get my point.”

“Oh, I see,” Heather took in a deep breath looking down once more before looking up and meeting Kevin’s gaze seeing the look of panic behind his eyes as they both looked down again. “I don’t think he needs to know about the procedure Kellen.”

“Would all of you stop staring at my…,” Kevin quickly covered himself with his hands seeing Heather and Kellen still looking down before looking up once he began to speak again. “You know, just stop talking about my thing. It’s kind of making me uncomfortable.”

“Uncomfortable? That you don’t have to be stuffed Kevin?” Kellen chuckled shaking his head slowly before letting out a small laugh. “You should be proud of yourself because you have something bigger than the most.”

“Hey, he’s right,” Heather tried to lighten the subject seeing the look of worry behind Kevin’s eyes as she reached out to touch his chest lightly. “We have to stuff about ninety percent of all the people here and you are under that ten percent that doesn’t.”

“She’s right,” Kellen saw Kevin look over at him as Kellen took in a deep breath holding his hands up in the air before shaking his head slowly. “I mean only like three guys haven’t really done that yet and you are the third so you should feel proud.”

“Don’t even name off the people that are with me,” Kevin grumbled seeing Kellen shrug his shoulders before setting something aside and grabbing Kevin by the arm along with Heather. “Guys, seriously. Do you really think I should be doing something like this?”

“Come on Kevin, you are going to be great,” Kellen tried to assure him taking Kevin out the door and into the chilly hallway. Kevin let out a small gasp when he almost tripped over the carpet barefooted, but they caught him before he could fall. “Just act like you used to do around all those ladies. I know you can do it.”

“It’s a little different now,” Kevin tried to explain as they pulled him up to the set and motioned him to stand still for a moment. Seeing Heather grab the spray bottle and Kevin stepped forward only to feel her start spraying is chest with something. “What in the world are you doing?”

“It looks hotter, trust me,” Kellen patted Kevin on the shoulder seeing the way Kevin gulped down and took in a deep breath looking around the room before him. Reaching down Kellen pulled Kevin’s hands away from covering himself as Kevin frowned. “You can’t do that Kevin, it’s going to be okay.”

“Come with me,” Heather took Kevin’s hands in hers and led him over towards the spot he was supposed to be standing by. Grabbing his hands in hers she looked into his worried eyes, making him look at only her. “Listen to me, you are going to be absolutely fine. This is something you should do more often Kevin. You’re sexy and I’m lucky to have you in this shoot.”

“Okay, I have the film ready and…,” Seth stepped forward into the room taking a look at Kevin as he paused in his spot and let out a small laugh. “What in the world are you wearing right now? Okay, this is so much more than I really want to see of you Kevin.”

“You’re the camera man,” Kellen pointed out behind gritted teeth seeing Seth eyes meet his and Kellen shook his head slowly motioning Seth to stop before he even started. “You don’t have to look very much, just take the pictures and take them right.”

“Right,” Seth nodded setting up a few things noticing the color from Kevin’s face draining as Heather tried giving him a pep talk about everything that was going on. “Everything is going to be okay Kevin, you’ll do great--trust me.”

“Sure,” Kevin gulped down looking down towards Heather before taking in a deep breath looking around the room before him, feeling her hand slide in over his shoulder to get him to look at her again. “So, who am I modeling with?”

“This is Jamie,” Kellen informed Kevin as a woman stepped towards him, wearing nothing but a skimpy looking pair of lingerie. Kellen approached the two of them seeing Kevin’s nose wrinkle at the look of the woman he was supposed to do the shoot with. Her dark hair fell at her shoulders and the way she was looking at Kevin made Kellen realize that this wouldn’t be anything but worse for Kevin. “She’s going to be working with you.”

“Great,” Kevin took in a deep breath seeing Heather and Kellen walk away from him for a moment as Kevin took in a deep breath feeling the woman approach him and he placed his hand on her hip after Heather instructed him what to do. Feeling her hand settle in over his chest he looked up towards the ceiling before feeling a small pinch at his nipple making him arch his back in pain. “Ouch.”

“Oh wow, you’re hot,” Jamie whispered to Kevin seeing his brown eyes look down at her and Kevin let out a small breath. She placed her hands in over the center of his chest before offering up a wide smile. “So, you have plans after this shoot?”

“You know, it may have been better for him if we didn’t have such a whore for the girl model,” Kellen whispered feeling Heather hit him in the chest and it was obviously loud enough for Seth to hear. “Well look at him, he looks like he is going to die on the spot.”

“I don’t know if he can do the fun and flirty side,” Heather watched Kevin interact with the woman in front of him and she shook her head slowly. “Hopefully this works out because I’m kind of worried about this whole thing.”


JT looked around his apartment thankful for the quiet that surrounded him now that Valerie was out and about doing heaven knew what. At this point it wasn’t really relevant considering that he wanted to have time to himself. Still even in the silence he couldn’t find any peace. His mind kept returning to what he’d witnessed Evie doing in stealing Kevin’s wallet. He couldn’t get it out of his head and as much as he knew he shouldn’t let it bother him, he couldn’t help but get worked up over it. Did she learn nothing? Was she really willing to risk the second chance that life had given her to go and do something stupid?

“You can’t keep thinking about this,” JT warned himself with a harsh groan knowing full well that it was counterproductive for him to sit there and keep thinking about Evie and her bad decisions. She wasn’t his problem. Yeah, so maybe he’d felt a bit charitable around her, but that didn’t change anything. She wasn’t his problem and the more he fixated on her, the worse off he’d be.

“You just need to forget about her,” he warned himself thinking about how she’d found a way to get him to enjoy life again. Yes, after Diane lost their child he’d thought it was over for him, but then he’d met Evie. She was stubborn, impossible and clearly trouble. She was far too young for him and he wasn’t nearly wound up enough to take care of her and all her issues, yet there was something about her.

Letting out a long sigh he walked over to the coat rack and yanked at his coat again ready to get out of his apartment. He needed to break away--to get some fresh air and clarity and… Before he could walk out of the apartment, he opened the door to discover Evie standing in front of him.

“JT, please can we talk,” she questioned her brown eyes pleading with him.

“Why? So you can lie to me again? Or better yet, are you here to tell me you’ll change when we both know it’s never going to happen?” he questioned harshly shaking his head at her. “Honestly I don’t see the point in your being here especially considering we both know it’ll get us nowhere.”

“Look JT I’m sorry,” she started seeing the anger in his face.

“Are you?” he searched her dark eyes, “Or is that just your way of trying to get me to invite you inside to manipulate me again?”

“I never manipulated you,” she argued seeing the doubt behind his eyes, “At least not after that night you called me on my game. Yes I’ll admit that I had an agenda when I first met you but I’m trying to change.”

“Obviously not hard enough,” he folded his arms in front of his chest, “So really why are you here?”

“Because I don’t want you to hate me,” she admitted with tears behind her dark eyes, “because deep down I know that you feel something for me like I feel for you. I know I disappointed you and that you have every right to walk away from me JT, but I’m asking, no begging you to give me a second chance. I promise I can make it up to you if you’ll just let me JT.”

“I can’t keep standing back and watching you destroy yourself,” his frown softened a bit and he let out a long sigh opening up the door a bit wider, “Besides what kind of relationship would we have with you in jail?”

“So you’re saying that you want to have a relationship with me?” her eyes widened with anticipation and hope.”

“I’m saying that I won’t be able to even talk to you much with you behind bars,” he offered up stepping aside to allow her inside his apartment and out of the cold air that surrounded her. “I don’t know what you were thinking especially in trying to rob Kevin.”

“I guess I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry. I just wanted for us to have a special day with one another and…” she watched him walk across his apartment.

“Special for me isn’t being in jail,” JT explained with a grumble, “I’ve been there, done that and it’s not pretty. I don’t welcome the thought of returning to that place anytime soon even if you seem to get off on the idea.”

“JT I don’t…” she let out a frustrated groan, “Look I’m sorry. I’m just not used to doing things the right way. I’m not as good at behaving as you are.”

“It’s not about being as good as me. It’s about using your head,” he turned around to look at her once again seeing how frustrated and worried she appeared to be with her hands in her pockets of her jeans.

“JT, I was just trying to show us a good time. I didn’t think that…” she started again.

“I would have paid for breakfast if you would’ve asked me and hell I would’ve tried to get you a cash advance for you if you needed one. All you had to do was ask,” he explained with a heavy sigh.

“I never knew to ask. Hell, I never had anyone to ask before,” she informed him with a raw tone, her lower lip trembling, “JT I’m not good at letting people in. All my life I have kept things to myself. I’ve had to fight for what I needed to survive. My father taught me to lie, cheat and steal to get what I wanted. I grew up with manipulations all around me…”

“And now it’s time to break the cycle,” he interrupted pointedly, “Look I know it’s not easy. I’ve been in your shoes, but you can’t let your past keep you from having a real future. It doesn’t work that way Evie. If you go down that road it’ll only end up causing you a lot of pain and loneliness.”

“That’s what I thought I was destined for,” she paused wiping at the tears that fell from her eyes, “until I met you. You changed everything for me JT and if you shut me out now…”

“I can’t watch you crash and burn,” his voice softened as he took a step towards her. Instinctively he reached out to touch the side of her face, his thumb brushing over her damp cheek. “I just can’t bear to see you destroy yourself.”

“As long as I have you I know that’s not going to happen,” she pleaded with him leaning into his touch, “I know I can change. You can help me be the person I have always wanted to be.”

“You can’t change unless it’s something that you want for yourself. You can’t force something unless…” JT started to explain to her watching as she inched in towards him placing her hand on his shoulder.

“I want you--more than anything you are the one thing that I keep hoping for--the one person I need,” she explained curling her fingers over his shoulder and squeezing gently, “JT I know it sounds crazy, but when I’m with you, I find myself thinking about things that never mattered before. I’m feeling emotions that I’m sure that I never would’ve even come close to before we crossed paths. When I’m with you, I want to find ways to stay with you even longer.”

“Evie, I…” he felt her place her finger over his lips to silence him.

“JT I want you in every sense of the word. When I’m near you it’s not enough. It could never be enough until I feel your arms around me and have you holding me,” she insisted an impassioned tone carrying over her. Her eyes were filled with a newfound desire as she arched her head up towards his, “Please don’t let me go.”

“Evie,” he reached for her wrist, easing her hand away from his lips.

“Please hold me and never let go,” she begged of him fearing he would turn her away, but instead she felt his arms wrap around her holding her against his chest securely.

“Just don’t make me regret any of this,” he whispered hoarsely in her ear hugging her tighter than before. “Don’t make a fool of me in all of this.”

“I swear to you I would never make a fool of you JT. Never, ever,” she assured him lifting her head up to meet his lips half way for a slow and tender kiss.

She felt his arms wrap around her waist pulling her up off of the floor and into his arms completely. She curled her arms around his shoulders as JT wondered if he was truly making a mistake in inviting trouble back into his life. As they parted he saw the longing behind her dark eyes.

“Does this mean all is forgiven?” she questioned in a faint whisper of a voice.

“For now,” he confessed giving her a quick kiss before placing her back on the floor again, “but right now you’re going to have to earn forgiveness.”

“What do you mean?” she asked blankly confusion settling in over her. “I thought that…”

“That what? That it would be that easy,” he shook his head at her, “Oh no. Right now you are going to have to make up for it in another way.”

“How so?” she asked a bit uneasy curious to what he was thinking.

“You’ll see,” JT reached for her hand pulling her out of his living room and into the air that surrounded the outside of his apartment.

“Where are we going?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Somewhere that I promise you’ll never forget,” he assured her hoping that he could find a way to help her let go of the demons of her past once and for all.


“I hope that we got everything to make dinner special tonight,” Avery noted watching Russ put Erin back into the car seat after they’d finished shopping for groceries for tonight’s dinner with Kevin and Ria. “I know nothing about cooking, so…”

“That’s why I’ll be the one doing all the work,” Russ confessed popping his head up to look at her after Erin was securely tucked into the car seat. She reached for one of the toys that they’d bought at the grocery store, a stuffed bumble bee that made a lot of noise when she shook it. She now waved it around again in her hand and squealed with delight at the sound. “That’s right Erin. We’re all going to have lots of fun with dinner tonight. Tell mommy that I’ve been teaching you how to cook and if you can do it, then there is still hope for her too.”

“Very funny,” Avery shook her head at Russ watching him slide into the driver’s side of her car and turning it on.

“You know I miss my car,” Russ confessed with a small sigh turning to look at Avery once again, “Don’t get me wrong this is okay, but there was just something about my Camry…”

“I crashed it into a wall when Bruce was trying to get Erin and I,” Avery reached out to touch her daughter’s hand only to see Erin shake the toy a bit more enthusiastically than before. She smiled.

“It’s okay,” Russ watched the two of them interacting with one another, “maybe it’s just time for us all to make some changes. A new car would be a good thing. Maybe I should go for the gusto and get us an SUV where we’ll have enough room for big family trips when Erin gets a little bigger.”

“An SUV?” Avery glanced over at him curiously.

“Is there something wrong with that,” he asked pulling the car out of park.

“Well no, but there is only the three of us. We really don’t have to go all out just yet and buy something like that considering that it’s a fortune and,” she offered up with a worried expression.

“I’m sure that I can foot the bill,” Russ promised her with a small growing grin, “I am after all a major shareholder in the family business you know.”

“You mean BBK?” she couldn’t help but ask watching him nod.

“I am,” he nodded again looking in his rearview mirror at his daughter, “and besides while I said I wasn’t going to touch any of that money that Augustus gave us, I think that maybe we should put some of it to a good use there.”

“Are you sure about that,” she questioned remembering how adamant he was about not acknowledging his Ashford roots. “Russ I know how upset you are about everything and…”

“And I’m willing to give it a try at putting it to good use if it helps you and Erin,” Russ explained matter of fact thinking about all that had happened to Avery in his absence. “You two deserve nothing less than the best and I want that for you.”

“I realize that, but I don’t know if we should be making large purchases like that right now considering that my divorce isn’t finalized and I’m not working yet and…” Avery felt his hand press over hers gently.

“Trust me. Everything is going to be just fine,” he assured her, his green eyes casting a soft glance in her general direction. “I wouldn’t put us in a position where I wasn’t sure of that especially now.”

“I know that,” she squeezed his hand gently before offering up a small smile of her own. “I guess I just worry too easily now a days.”

“I understand where that worry is coming from, but you can rest assured that I’m always going to be here for you and Erin. Nothing could keep that from happening for us,” he explained turning down the street to the left away from the path towards their home.

“Russ, where are you going?” Avery couldn’t help but ask giving him a strange look. “You were supposed to go straight here. We had all those groceries to get back and…”

“And I thought we’d take a detour,” he replied cryptically moving away from the mainstream traffic in Coral Valley, up through the more wooded, private areas of town.

Here the roads were lined with trees and houses were a bit more separate from one another. Granted it wasn’t as secluded as the area where the Ashford mansion had been, but it was no less beautiful. Avery spotted a few children playing in one of the parks to her left, another child and his father flying a kite in the same area and a little girl playing in a sandbox with another little girl around the same size. Still Russ kept on driving until he made a left turn and another left that lead them to a long, winding road ahead of them. At first Avery thought that it was a private road, but she soon realized it was a driveway.

“Russ, where are we going?” she couldn’t help again hearing Erin let out a giggle from the backseat.

“That’s right Erin,” Russ smiled at his daughter, “Mommy sure does ask a lot of questions, doesn’t she?”

“Does she know what we’re doing here?” she couldn’t help but ask giving him a strange look. “Russ, we’re on someone’s property here and we should probably turn back.”

“We’re never turning back,” Russ shook his head adamantly pulling forward up through the trees to reveal the large white brick house before him. It stood proudly among the serene atmosphere with a welcoming air surrounding it. There was a fountain in the middle of the circular drive that sprayed into the air in enthusiastic invitation urging them to come in closer and check things out.

Avery spotted a blue SUV much like the one that Russ had spoken about getting for them near the front of the house with a big, red ribbon tied over the hood. It was sparkling and new and beyond where they were in the driveway, she noticed a real estate sign in the lawn alerting to them that this house had been something that was for sale. Scratch that, she thought to herself seeing the big, bold lettered sold sign splashed across the sign. Worriedly she turned to Russ.

“We’re at someone’s house,” she informed him urgently watching him put the car into park right behind the SUV in the drive, “Russ we can’t be here unless you know the people who live here.”

“I do know them,” he nodded with a wide grin, “very well in fact. You have to come out with me and see the swing set in the backyard. There’s even a pool, and a playhouse back there, but rest assured that the pool is fenced off so that there aren’t any accidents.”

“I don’t understand,” Avery gave him a long look.

“You will very soon,” he informed her pulling the keys out of the ignition and getting out of the car. He opened up the back door and carefully hoisted Erin out of her car seat making sure that he kept her bumble bee toy with her. Finally he circled around the car and opened Avery’s door for her. He held one hand out to her while keeping Erin close to him.

“Come on and check it out,” he urged seeing her reluctance to look around. Finally he reached into his pocket and withdrew a new set of keys depositing them in her hand, “Maybe this will help.”

“What are these?” she couldn’t help but ask her gaze dropping down to what he’d just given her.

“Well the black one right there is to the SUV,” Russ explained matter of fact watching realization register over her features, “and that one that you have in your hand right there is the key to the front door, which by the way could come into great use right now since Erin wants to show you her new bedroom.”

“Her new…” Avery trailed off her eyes growing wide with surprise, “Russ are you saying that you…”

“I’m saying that we live here now Avery,” he reached for hand feeling her offer it to him while she stepped out of the car. Her brown eyes were filled with a sudden curiosity and interest before she looked to him again, her lips parting to say something more, “Now before you say anything about our not being able to afford it, just hear me out. I had some money saved up before the accident and this sale had been pending before I disappeared. I was afraid that when I got back the house would be sold, but the man who had been wanting to sell hadn’t found another buyer yet, which meant that…”

“That you went and bought this for us,” Avery gasped watching him closely, “Russ do you have any idea what this means?”

“That we’re about to have our new beginning in our new home where Erin can grow up without the past interfering with our lives,” he motioned the grand doorway in front of them, “Unless of course you don’t like what you see in which case we can sell it and start all over again.”

“Are you kidding,” she shook her head at him, “Russ it’s beautiful. It’s beyond beautiful. I just can’t believe that you…”

“That I what,” he questioned with a lazy smile, “That I can still weave miracles every now and then?”

“You and Erin are my miracle,” she confessed reaching out to embrace the both of them excitedly hoping that this was the start of something good between them.

“Just wait until you see what’s inside,” Russ promised with a small laugh kissing her gently before tilting his head to kiss his daughter as well, who let out another laugh, “Erin’s already called dibs on her nursery and she’s twisted my arm into getting the major decorating done already--with a little help from my parents, who have been over here when we’ve been busy…”

“You mean your mom and dad have been in on this too?” Avery’s eyes widened curiously.

“And your father and Judy,” he nodded proudly, “I’m getting good at this whole surprising you thing, aren’t I?”

“I just…I mean I can’t believe that you had time to…” she found herself at a loss before hugging him once again, “Russ I love it. I just can’t believe you were able to pull all of this off without my realizing it.”

“Hey what can I say? The sky is the limit when it comes to my girls,” Russ shrugged his shoulders modestly, “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for the both of you.”

“I love you Russ,” she sighed a warmth spreading out over her at the thought of what this house would mean for them, “I love you and Erin so much.”

“We love you too which is why we want you to go open that front door and see what our future has in store for us,” he wiggled his brow suggestively watching Avery rush over to the front porch to put the key in the lock. Tipping down to whisper to his daughter, Russ spoke up again, “I think mommy is going to love this just like we planned on.”

Erin giggled wiggling her bumble bee around again in her hand as Russ carried her up over to the porch to join Avery now that they’d found a place to erase the nightmares that the past held for them. This house was the first step in a new beginning and Russ was sure that it was just what they needed to get life back on track again after everything that had threatened to tear their happiness from them. Nothing would stop them now.


Deana stood at the desk thinking about the day that she’d had behind her. She already put in a full shift, yet with everything Zack had been tossing at her, she was starting to wonder if she was really cut out to keep the job here at the hospital. Granted, she loved her work, but with someone like Zack busting her at every step of the way she was starting to question whether or not she’d come to the right place. She’d all the assurances in the world from Don when she’d started working there, yet when Zack Vaughn started to inflict his terror upon the other doctors and nurses, she was starting to wonder if the hospital would ever be normal again.

“Mommy!” Zane’s voice cheered pulling her out of the slump she’d been in. She turned her head to see her son and Grady approaching her. Immediately her sour mood disappeared and Deana perked up moving out to embrace her son.

“Hey baby, how are you?” Deana hugged him excitedly.

“I’m great. Grady took me to the video store with him and we got you a great movie,” Zane confessed tipping his head up to wink at Grady before he looked to his mother again, “and I got one for me that is good too. It’s even one you won’t get too mad about too.”

“Is that right?” Deana glanced over at Grady.

Grady nodded, “This time we behaved and followed your video rental guidelines.”

“Yeah and I met Grady’s friend Kyle and he’s huge,” Zane informed her point blank, “He looks like a wrestler or a superhero, but he’s really nice. I think you should meet him too.”

“I have,” Deana explained to her son, “and you’re right he is a very nice guy.”

“He got videos too and he thought you might like the one I picked up for you too. He thought it was a good idea,” Zane continued excitedly, “So now we can go home and watch them, right?”

“About that,” Deana’s smile faded a bit as she looked to Grady, “just let me talk to Grady for one second.”

“Okay,” Zane nodded looking around the hospital, “Do you still have my coloring book that Ria gave me here?”

“Yes, it’s right behind the desk,” Deana nodded circling around to retrieve Zane’s coloring book for him. She handed it to him with two crayons before circling her finger for Grady to have a private talk with her.

“What’s wrong?” Grady questioned immediately seeing the tension spreading over her features.

“I can’t leave now,” she informed him in a small whisper, “I have to work overtime and…”

“But I thought you said that things were slow and that everything was covered here,” Grady frowned slightly seeing Deana tense up when Zack walked out into the corridor and eyed them closely.

“Things changed. I just can’t go right now because…” she started to explain to him as Zack approached the two of them.

“What the hell is this? Are we paying you to stand around and socialize Nurse Sherman?” Zack snapped at her, his eyes narrowing down at her. He motioned over to Grady then to Zane, “This isn’t a dating ground or a nursery, so I would strongly suggest you get back to the patient in four sixteen who needs you before I have to write you up. We aren‘t paying you to socialize and if you weren‘t as incompetent or ignorant as you clearly are, then you‘d realize that.”

“I was just in four sixteen and everything is fine,” Deana argued with him catching the icy glare that Zack gave her.

“Then I’m sure there is somewhere else you should be instead of having social hour. See to it that you get back to work soon or else,” Zack warned walking off to go speak with one of the other single nurses who took the time to flirt with him.

“I take it that’s what happened,” Grady frowned seeing the way that Zack started joking with the other nurse.

“He’s a bit high strung and…” Deana started with a worried expression, “It’s only a few more hours and…”

“You let him talk to you that way?” Grady’s green eyes widened with surprise, “Deana the guy is a jerk. He has no right to speak with you like that.”

“Look I can deal with him, but what I can’t deal with is getting in trouble. If you could just take Zane home and then I can meet you later at my place or yours and…” she started with a small sigh.

“No, he’s not going to get away with that,” Grady declared marching over towards Zack without hesitation. He heard Zack propositioning the young nurse in front of him, but that was irrelevant. He reached out to tap Zack on the shoulder causing him to turn around with an agitated look.

“What?” Zack huffed at Grady.

“We need to talk,” Grady ordered in a firm, commanding tone.

“As you can see I’m busy right now and don’t have time to,” Zack started feeling Grady reach out to pull on his arm.

“Make the time,” Grady shoved Zack aside before getting up in his face, “Look I don’t know what your deal is, but I don’t believe it’s proper work ethic to belittle your coworkers. You were way out of line with Deana and I think you owe her an apology.”

“I don’t have to apologize for her incompetence. She has a job to do and I expect her to do it. If you have a problem with my keeping her in line, then that’s your problem, not mine,” Zack attempted to walk away from him only to feel Grady pull him back.

“No Zack it’s your problem if she’s unhappy,” Grady snarled at him with warning, “Maybe I’m not making myself clear here, but if you don’t lay off of her, you’re going to find yourself slapped with harassment charges. I happen to have friends on the board at the hospital here and if you even think about harassing her any further, then you’re going to find yourself out of a job. You’ll be the one who is rendered incompetent, not Deana.”

“All this coming from a certifiable drunk,” Zack laughed in his face, “Do you really think that someone as pathetic as you frightens me? If you do, then you’re sorely mistaken because I’m well aware of just what kind of joke you are Grady. Everyone in town knows it.”

“Listen you,” Grady raised his hand as if he was going to punch Zack, but Deana rushed over to him stopping him before things could get ugly.

“Grady don’t,” she grabbed his arm urgently, “please…”

“You’re right,” Grady took in a small breath, “He’s not worth it. However I am warning you Vaughn, if you’re not careful you’re going to be the one who is looking at losing your oh so promising career.”

“Because of someone as insignificant as the both of you,” Zack let out a thunderous laugh, “Oh that’s rich and it’s never going to happen, but Deana on the other hand isn’t going to be smiling after today when I report this to the higher ups. She’ll be lucky if she finds herself changing bedpans after this.”

“If you even think about doing anything--about threatening her in any way,” Grady warned sharply glaring at him, “You don’t want to push me Zack.”

“And you don’t want to start something that you can’t finish,” Zack warned him with a snarl before looking over at Deana, “I’ll be willing to forget this incident today, but a word of advice here. You don’t want this man fighting your battles and protecting you because the last woman who put that much faith in him wound up dead.”

“You son of a…” Grady lunged forward ready to strangle him.

“Grady no,” Deana held him back watching as Zack stepped away resuming in his flirting with the other nurse. The two of them walked away and Deana finally released Grady, “What were you thinking?”

“That he’s more than got it coming to him,” Grady snapped thinking about the low blow Zack had delivered him, “You don’t have to tolerate him and what he’s doing.”

“You’re right,” she nodded urgently, “You’re absolutely right, but your decking him isn’t going to help my situation. He’s only going to make things more miserable around here if we’re not careful.”

“So let’s make things miserable for him. You said he’s one to favor those who offer him special favors,” Grady thought about what Deana had told him about Zack’s behavior.

“Yeah and he tried to get me to give him one of those earlier,” she rolled her eyes thinking about the way Zack propositioned her. “I told him to go to hell, but…”

“But nothing,” Grady shook his head at the thought, “If you told him to get lost and then he slapped more hours on you because you weren’t willing to service him that’s sexual harassment.”

“He’s like that with a lot of us,” Deana informed him with a heavy sigh, “It’s just part of the creep that he is…”

“Yeah well maybe it’s bout time we start putting that ‘creep’ in his place. If he’s doing this with you and anyone else that’s sexual harassment and maybe it’s time it be dealt with in the proper channels,” Grady decided ready to do what was necessary to get Zack Vaughn in line after the obvious abuse he’d put on the hospital staff. Maybe with a little work he could find a way to get Zack in line after all and make the hospital environment a much better one for all involved.


“Like this?” Kevin tried to do what Heather and Kellen were instructing him to do as he wrapped his arms around the models waist feeling her bottom rub in against as he let out a small hiss. “Is this what you want?”

“That’s it,” Kellen nodded slowly behind gritted teeth before seeing Kevin gulp down and try to focus on what they were telling him to do. “I think little miss there is trying to get a little too touchy with Kevin, Heather.”

“I realized that,” Heather touched Seth’s wrist motioning him to stop before taking anymore pictures and Seth nodded slowly moving away from his set up and looking over at Kevin who looked like he was about to pass out. “What are we going to do?”

“Jamie, I think we have had enough for today,” Kellen called out seeing her nod slowly and step away from Kevin and Kellen stepped in closer looking her over. “Which means you can go.”

“Right,” Jamie nodded slowly reaching out to touch Kevin’s arm lightly before nodding slowly and pointing back towards her changing room. “I’ll see you later.”

“Right,” Kevin offered up a small smile before watching her walk out of the room and he shrugged his shoulders taking in a deep breath. “I wouldn’t touch that, she reminds me of what Michelle used to be like.”

“Diseased?” Kellen let out a small laugh seeing Kevin ponder his answer before nodding slowly and Kellen pointed over towards Seth. “Give me the film right now Seth, I need to see that.”

“Okay, but be careful,” Seth agreed handing Kellen the film before seeing Kellen take a hold of it before starting to tear it apart and Seth let out a small gasp. “Kellen, what are you doing?”

“Heather, take off your clothes,” Kellen ordered snapping his fingers at Heather seeing her green eyes widen and Kellen shrugged his shoulders slowly. “You are going to be the model, you are a professional and I know you could help him out a bit with this whole thing.”

“Alright,” Heather shrugged her shoulders handing her papers over to Kellen seeing him smile widely and she started to unbutton her shirt pulling it off slowly. Looking up she saw Kevin watching her carefully and she slid off her shoes before sliding down her skirt, handing it to Kellen to make sure it didn’t get wrinkled. “You ready for this?”

“You are just ready for anything aren’t you?” Kevin let out a small laugh seeing her approach him as she nodded slowly and stepped to the position they needed to be standing in. “I like that about you.”

“Thank you,” she smiled reaching out for his hands pulling him in closer to her and motioning him to wrap his arms around her waist. Before going any further she wrapped her arms around his neck and looked up into his light brown eyes. “What I want you to do is look at the camera and give the sexiest look you can do.”

“Alright,” Kevin laughed tightening his grip on her as he looked over towards Seth with the camera seeing Seth smile before starting to take some shots. Letting out a small laugh he looked down at Heather and pressed his forehead against hers trying to make the photos come out good. “This good?”

“Very,” she nodded slowly letting go of him for a moment before motioning Kellen to hand her the stool that she placed behind Kevin. She stepped up on it seeing him eye her over his shoulder as she smiled widely. “Flex your bicep for the camera.”

“Okay,” Kevin chuckled feeling her hands slide in over the front of his chest as he flexed his bicep with a wide smile feeling her hands move in over his abdomen. “What about this?”

“Kevin,” Heather gasped feeling him reach for her legs to prop her up on his back as she wrapped her arms around his neck tightly. “Be careful with me.”

“I won’t drop you,” he promised seeing her smile while they posed for the camera before letting her down carefully, pulling her in closer to him as she took in a deep breath. He reached his finger in underneath her chin before motioning her to look up at him. “See, I can work good with the right people.”

“That’s good,” she laughed seeing him wink down at her, his smile big enough to see his dimples. Taking in a deep breath she placed her hand in over the center of his chest motioning him to take a step back. “I think we should get some single shots of you.”

“Of me? Just me?” Kevin questioned seeing her nod slowly before stepping away and he nodded not quite sure what she wanted him to do. “What do you want me to do?”

“Here,” Kellen stepped in closer to Heather putting his thumb in the waistband of his jeans seeing Kevin look over at him. “Put your thumb right here and pull down a little bit. Not too far to let the girls see too much, but just a little bit. Smile and then give the best bad boy look you could give.”

“A little like this?” Kevin questioned taking a step back and doing what Kellen told him to do seeing Kellen’s blue eyes widen before nodding slowly. Kevin smiled before looking down at his chest running his left hand in over his abdomen and up his chest, trying to play sexy off the best he could. “Good?”

“Just pull it forward a bit like you are teasing the girls,” Kellen instructed seeing Kevin do as he was told pulling the waistband forward and Kellen nodded slowly seeing Kevin look down before looking towards the camera. “Now act like you are going to pull them down, but stop before anything bad happens.”

“You mean before anything bad shows,” Kevin chuckled moving both of his thumbs in over the sides of boxers, slightly tugging them down his hips before looking up at the camera and arching his eyebrows up. “I think I got this.”

“Now turn around and do the same thing,” Kellen gulped down seeing Kevin do as he was told as he looked over his shoulder at the camera. Kellen felt someone smack the center of his chest as he let out a small gasp looking down at Heather and rubbing his chest where she had hit him. “Ouch, what was that for? That hurt you know.”

“We are trying to do this for the shoot,” Heather pointed out seeing Kellen’s blue eyes look back over at Kevin who was laughing for some reason and Kellen shrugged his shoulders. “Granted, that is really hot what you are making him do, but you don’t need to fill your fantasies.

“Believe me, as my fantasies are getting filled there are about a million more woman that would be getting theirs filled too,” Kellen took in a deep breath looking out at Kevin seeing him looking down at his chest before moving his hands up and over his abdomen. “Heather, I’m sorry, but just damn.”

“What now?” Kevin saw Kellen shrug as he placed his right arm behind his head, flexing off his abdomen muscles before sliding the tips of his fingers into the waistband of his boxers. “You know, I actually think I want my partner back.”

“Wait, what?” Heather noticed Kevin was staring out at her as she shrugged her shoulders slowly before nodding and stepping forward. “Okay, no problem.”

“Come here,” Kevin pulled her towards the set gently feeling her move in behind him as he turned around. He felt her right arm wrap around his abdomen and her left hand settle in against the outside of his left thigh. “This is actually kind of fun.”

“I’m glad you like it,” she smiled feeling him turn around and lean down to press a small kiss against her cheek, hearing Kellen clap in the background. “You really are a big flirt aren’t you?”

“I’m more than that,” Kevin teased picking her up in his arms and lifting her up off the ground, tickling her with his free hand feeling her squirm underneath his touch. Hearing her laugh made him let out a small laugh as he lifted her higher from the ground. “Now, what do you say?”

“Kevin come on,” Heather laughed feeling his fingers tickling at her right side and she tried to get out of his grasp. “Please, let me down. Kevin, please.”

“Tell me how great I am,” Kevin chuckled, his nose wrinkling as he heard her let out another small laugh. Kevin looked over to Kellen who was smiling while Seth took some more pictures and he realized that this actually wasn‘t that bad. It was kind of like playing around with some of his good friends and there was really nothing to worry about. “Tell me I’m amazing Heather.”

“Nope, not going to happen,” Heather shook her head firmly seeing him shrug his shoulders before raising her higher above his head with a firm grip on her. “Oh my god Kevin, put me down--you’re going to drop me.”

“You need to say the magic words,” Kevin replied with a small laugh looking up at Heather with a wide smile seeing her trying to get out of his grasp. “That’s the only way you are going to get out of this.”

“I‘ll give you the magic words,” Kyle whispered to himself from the corner of the room folding his arms out in front of his chest seeing the woman he loved in the arms of another man. “This is quite the lovely picture.”


...to be continued...