Episode 335

“Sarah isn’t here,” Kyle took another look into the kitchen making sure that Sarah wasn’t anywhere in the house and he took in a deep breath before shrugging his shoulders. “That’s the best news I've heard all week, being home alone. Just what I need right now.”

Walking back into the living room Kyle dropped down to the couch putting his legs up on the arm of the chair and resting his head on the other arm of the couch. Reaching out for the remote on the coffee table, Kyle folded his left arm behind his head before trying to relax.

“What can we watch?” Kyle turned on the television to the channel it had been left on and he looked over the score of a baseball game before shaking his head slowly. “I don’t feel like sports today.”

“Oh Paul,” a woman cried in the arms of the man before her as the channel he put on changed to a soap opera. “I don’t know what I would do without you. I lost you once, I don’t want to lose you again.”

“You are never going to lose me Ari,” the guy promised moving his hand in over the women’s cheek as Kyle watched the screen carefully seeing the two kiss romantically before Paul had pulled back on the screen. “You are going to have me forever and always, you’ll never lose me again.”

“Okay, done with that channel,” Kyle turned the channel thinking back to Heather for a moment and he couldn’t help, but feel a pain in his chest just thinking about her and how she left him the other night. “I can’t deal with seeing something like that right now.”

“I only want you Hunter and you only,” the women before him on the movie spoke up eagerly, seeing the guy stop before reaching the door to listen to her. Moving in closer to the man she placed her hand over his shoulder, his brown eyes gazing back at her. “I was confused before, but now I know what is right, I know where I belong and who I should be with. That’s you Hunter, only you.”

“Nicole, it’s obvious I’m not the man for you,” Hunter informed her with a deep sigh seeing her reach out to him and he pulled away from her walking away toward the other side of the room. “I’m sure that who you are really meant to be with is out there somewhere. I know I am not that man though.”

“How could you know who the man for me is when you are trying to walk away,” the woman on television questioned reaching out and slipping her hand in his. “I’ve wanted you my whole life and sure there were a lot things in our way, but you are here now and that’s all that matters. I don’t care about the others that tried to get in our way. I don’t care what it takes to get with you, but all I know is that it’s you I want to be with.”

“I don’t know if I could believe you Nicole,” the man took in a sharp breath pulling his hand away from her carefully walking over towards the door. Feeling her fingers wrap around his wrist again the man turned around to face her, pushing back his thick dark hair. “Nicole, I love you and I only want to be with you. I had to pretend for so many years and I don’t want to pretend anymore. I can’t stand doing that because I only want to be with you and you only.”

“I feel exactly the same way Hunter, you need to understand that,” she pressed her hand in over his chest as Kyle sat up in the center of the couch watching the movie before him. Seeing the way the man reached for the woman before him pulling her again him and moving forward to kiss her.

Not being able to stand it anymore Kyle turned off the television and threw the remote to the side, watching as it landed on the edge of the chair and fell off the side. Running his hands in over his neck, Kyle took in a deep breath and looked over towards the side to where a book was resting on the table.

“Lets see what we have here,” Kyle took a look at the cover of the book noticing that it was the book that Heather had given him when he was in the hospital. “Lets see if you have what it’s got Donna Nevik to make me interested in your work.”

Kyle opened up the book flipping through a few pages before stopping toward the middle of the book. Taking a look over the pages, he flipped back to look over toward the cover. Looking over the photo he noticed that it only had a guy on the cover that was wearing an open shirt, staring out at the night beach past the window.

“I can already tell I am going to love this book,” Kyle let out a long breath before leaning back on the couch and placing his feet up on the coffee table. Looking over the words before him he took in a sharp breath before reading over the words. “It’s unbelievable that you are back here…,”

Stopping speaking out he read over the novel slowly, his eyebrows arching up as he leaned more back against the couch flipping page through page as he read the novel.

“Kyle, I brought bagels,” Kellen’s voice erupted through the room as the front door opened catching Kyle off guard as he stood up quickly, losing his foot balance and tripping over the coffee table. “I guess I should have brought some coffee too.”

“Kellen, what in the world are you doing?” Kyle questioned looking up as Kellen stepped in over him and Kyle let out a tight breath slowly sitting up. “You do know that if a door isn’t locked, that doesn’t give you the right to just walk in.”

“I didn’t think you’d mind,” Kellen replied setting the bag he was holding down on the table before moving forward to grab the book that Kyle had been reading. Picking it up Kellen’s eyebrow arched up as he walked over toward the couch to sit down, folding his leg over the other after seeing Kyle stand up slowly. “Why Kyle, I didn’t know you were a fan of romance novels. That just doesn’t seem like your--character.”

“It’s not my character,” Kyle tried to explain seeing Kellen’s blue eyes look up toward him for a moment before looking back toward the book. “You see that book was just there and nothing was on the television so…,”

“You just started to read a romance novel by Donna Nevik,” Kellen whispered opening up to the page that was bent showing that it was the place that Kyle had been reading. “You just so happen to be reading the love scene between Craig and Gracie. Wow Kyle, I didn’t know you had an interest for things like this.”

“I told you, I don’t have an interest for things like this,” Kyle tried to explain once more seeing Kellen bite down on his bottom lip, the look in Kellen’s eyes showing Kyle that Kellen was reading the story. “I do have to say to you though--I was really big on journalism and literature back in college and that woman has some talent.”

“Women, right,” Kellen spoke up clearing his throat uneasily before moving forward and reading over the story once more before closing the book and looking over the picture on the front. “You see, this is one of my favorites. You have Craig who is supposed to be this very sexy part Greek man, but they put a blonde as the main guy. I mean, maybe he would have fit for Christian in Donna’s other story, but this one--it would have never worked for. The soulful brown eyes, the sexy body form, the amazing smile--you can’t go wrong with a romance novel.”

“You can’t go wrong?” Kyle watched Kellen carefully folding his arms out in front of his bare chest and thinking about Kellen’s words trying to place his life in something like a romance novel. “And why is that?”

“In a romance novel, there is no pain. There is a past pain and there is a worried pain, but it’s a fictional life that you wish you could put yourself in,” Kellen explained seeing Kyle’s hazel eyes watching him carefully. “You will never understand how much a person will want to be in a romance novel with reading these things. Kind of like Heather--kind of like she wants you to be her Craig. Speaking of Heather, I suppose when you were supposed to tell her what you were doing--didn’t turn out too well.”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” Kyle motioned Kellen to get up and follow him toward the bedroom as Kellen quickly got up meeting Kyle in his room in the walk in closest. “Believe me Kel, I really tried to tell her--I did. It was just something inside me took too long and before I knew it there were things that were going on that was something I shouldn’t have done. Then the assistant called reminding me of my wedding plans. I guess that was at the perfect moment, right?”

“Oh, that girl is so fired,” Kellen moved forward seeing Kyle walk out of the closest only to feel Kyle push him back onto the bed before rolling his eyes. “What was that for?”

“You aren’t going to fire her, it wasn’t her fault,” Kyle snapped seeing Kellen slowly rise up to his elbows and Kyle set his shirt down on the bed. “This is all my fault for waiting too long Kellen. Everything has been my fault. If I would have been able to tell her, she would be with me now Kellen. It’s my fault that I had to wait this long to try and tell her--now she’ll never know Kel.”

“She’ll know Kyle,” Kellen frowned not believing what Kyle was saying as Kyle walked into the bathroom, closing the door slightly before walking back out buckling up the belt to his jeans. “You just have to keep trying.”

“Something tells me that she doesn’t want to even try with me Kellen. It’s shocking that she was still able to say she loved me because I made a mistake that I know was wrong. I shouldn’t have waited that long,” Kyle pointed out grabbing his shirt and holding it for a moment before pulling it on quickly. “I guess it’s just kind of like, when you love someone--you just lose the words to really truthfully tell them how you feel. It’s hard to explain.”

“You have to get her back Kyle and let her know the truth,” Kellen stated standing up from the bed to reach out and place his hand on Kyle’s shoulder before Kyle moved away from him reaching for his cell phone and putting it in his pocket. “I know you two love each other and you are meant to be together.”

“Well, I’m glad you think that,” Kyle motioned for Kellen to follow him toward the front door, taking in a deep breath before walking out the front door catching the look on Kellen’s face. “I don’t know what I am going to do Kellen, but I have to go somewhere. Do something, I just can’t sit at home. I’ll catch you later.”

“Alright,” Kellen nodded walking down the steps as Kyle locked the door and followed Kellen down the steps until reaching his car. “Call me Kyle, I think we should have a talk later. Just to make sure everything is okay. I don’t want anything to happen to the person by best friend loves the most in this world.”


“You were such a good boy today,” Heather gushed leaning over the stroller she had her son in now that they were waiting for Kipp at the mall.

She thought back to Charles’s check up and felt a breath of relief in learning that he was doing great in his growth. While he’d been born early, his pediatrician had informed her that he was right on schedule with everything and he wasn’t much smaller than most children his age, which was a surprise given how he was premature. However, knowing that Charles was going to be okay was all the reassurances Heather needed especially now that she gazed down at her son’s smiling face. Reaching out to touch his chubby cheek lightly, she smiled down at him.

“I know you weren’t too happy about going today and I can’t blame you because that’s never my favorite place to be either, but you did very, very good,” Heather spoke in a small voice encouraging her son further, “I’m so very proud of you sweetheart.”

Charles grinned up at her and let out a small laugh while leaning into her touch. She could see so much happiness behind his eyes and knowing that the healthy glow around him wasn’t just her imagination it put her mind at ease. He was absolutely perfect in every way.

“Too bad he can’t say the same about you,” a voice interrupted the moment Heather was having with Charles. She looked up to see Sarah standing in front of her with a disapproving glare. “Of course he doesn’t really know the truth about just how awful you are just yet, but in time he’ll see it.”

“What is your problem?” Heather frowned up at her older sister. She watched Sarah step forward in an attempt to continue the conversation and she frowned, “Don’t you have better things to do than pick fights with your family?”

“I’m not picking a fight with you,” Sarah glared down at Heather once again, “I just couldn’t sit there and watch you spooning it out to Charles when we both know just what a disappointment of a mother you’ve been thus far. You might have Kipp wrapped around your finger, but sooner or later you’re going to do something to screw this up just like everything else in your life.”

“As if you have room to talk,” Heather frowned up at her sister before pulling Charles’s stroller in closer to her in a protective movement. “Just because you helped take care of my son when I was in a coma doesn’t mean that you’re an expert on motherhood--far from it Sarah.”

“I did more than take care of your son,” Sarah glared down at her with an emphatic shake of her head, “If it wasn’t for me Charles would’ve been completely alone because as always you were too wound up in only you to even consider your son’s needs.”

“I was in an explosion,” Heather huffed in response, her eyes narrowing up at her sister, “I went into a coma and then…”

“Ah yes, here it comes again,” Sarah rolled her eyes in response and waving her hands around in the air, “Heather’s pity party begins and the rest of us are just supposed to sit back and take it. Well, I’ve got news for you Heather, no one is buying into the innocent victim act lately especially not from you.”

“That’s your style these days Sarah, not mine,” Heather shot back at her icily, “You seem to be the one who keeps finding excuses to be the center of very misguided attention there. I mean really what is this about? Are you here to annoy me for sheer sport or is it a case of you’re jealous of what I have since you’re clearly lacking?”

“Lacking,” Sarah balked back with a tight laugh, “Oh please Heather don’t disillusion yourself. You don’t have anything that I could possibly want in my life. The way I see it, you’re a single mother who is living off the sympathies of the men around you, who by the way are only catering to you because you are Charles’s mother there. No one really cares for you and that’s reflected in the fact that not even Diego would give you the time of day--as did any of the other men in this town.”

“I beg to differ on that one considering that,” Heather stopped herself before she could say anything she would regret. She closed her eyes for a brief second and flashed back to what it had been like back in Kyle’s office with the two of them together. They’d been so close to making love and yet…

“Considering what?” Sarah dared her taking a small step forward, “Go on give it your best shot Heather. Let’s see what you have to say for yourself.”

“You know you’re pathetic,” Heather wrinkled her nose at Sarah before standing up from the bench she’d been seated on. She grabbed the handle on Charles’s stroller and started to walk away dismissively, “I don’t have time for this.”

“Yeah, well I think that you should make time,” Sarah reached out to grab Heather’s arm preventing her from leaving, “I think there’s something you and I need to get out in the open before Sunday.”

“Yeah, what’s that?” Heather cast a disinterested glance over in Sarah’s direction.

“I just want to make it explicitly clear that I don’t want you anywhere near the church on Sunday when Kyle and I get married,” Sarah warned in a sharp, menacing tone. “The way I see it wherever you are trouble follows and I don’t need that on the happiest day of my life.”

“From the looks of things you bring on your own trouble Sarah,” Heather mouthed sourly, giving her sister a long once over, “Then again you always did thrive on that. You issue all these insults in my general direction calling me all sorts of names, but if you remember correctly you’ve always been the one to sabotage your happiness, not me.”

“Once again trying to play innocent,” Sarah’s grip on her arm tightened, “Look I know you hired Kyle to work for you simply to cause problems for him and I so let me tell you now once Kyle and I get back from our honeymoon he won’t be working for you anymore.”

“You can’t tell me what to do with my business,” Heather pushed Sarah’s hand off of her arm. Her grip on the stroller tightened and Heather stood taller facing down Sarah, “He’s a big boy who is more than capable of making his own decisions about where he wants to be.”

“You’re right,” Sarah nodded placing her hand over her abdomen for extra emphasis, “and he’s made his decision. He wants to be with me and our child, not with you Heather.”

Heather found herself momentarily blindsided by the reminder of Sarah and Kyle’s romance. She took in a long, calming breath vowing to be the better person even though she found herself wanting to rip her sister to shreds right then and there. Seeing the condescending expression on Sarah’s face however was making it far more difficult than she’d anticipated however.

“Feeling threatened by me yet again?” Heather arched a curious brow seeing anger flicker behind Sarah’s dark eyes. “Afraid that Kyle might realize what a mistake he’s making in being involved with you. You know Sarah I hate to state the obvious in this scenario, but Kyle realized that years ago. He’s just far too polite to tell you where he thinks you should really go.”

“Why you,” Sarah lunged forward reaching out to yank on Heather’s hair with a decided pull. She pushed Heather back and away from the stroller with one swift shove.

Heather fell back onto the bench she’d been seated in earlier and as Sarah moved in over her, Heather let out an angry groan. Before Sarah could strike again, Heather popped up off of the bench and shoved Sarah back sending her tumbling down into the fountain that was in the center of the courtyard area of the mall where Heather had been waiting with Charles. Watching Sarah fall right underneath the spray of the fountain and squeal caused Heather to break into laughter.

“That’s right Charles,” Heather mused moving in beside her son once again. She knelt beside her son‘s stroller, “Aunt Sarah needs to cool off and I think I just helped her with that.”

“What the hell are you doing?” A voice snapped as Heather looked up to see Blake staring down at her with a disapproving glare. Blake took a step forward watching Sarah try to pull herself out of the fountain only to fall flat on her butt once again. “I can’t believe you did that.”

“Hey, she needed to cool down,” Heather shrugged her shoulders watching her sister try to get up and out of the spraying water fountain.

“Get me out of here!” Sarah squealed with a pinched wail.

“I’m working on it,” Blake mouthed shaking her head at Heather before moving forward to help Sarah only to wind up down in the fountain with Sarah when Sarah once again lost her footing.

“Well look at that Charles, it’s not every day that you see two self absorbed twits down like that, but I must say it’s quite amusing to watch,” Heather chuckled watching Blake and Sarah with a muted laugh realizing that maybe things were looking up a bit after all.


“Where do you think she is Rob?” Alicia worriedly questioned leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees as Rob took a seat next to her on the couch, placing his hand on her shoulder. “Lindsay has never done anything like this, there has never been a day she hasn’t stayed out without calling us.”

“I don’t know honey, but this is all my fault,” Rob replied moving away from Alicia and moving his hands through his dark hair, thinking about what happened last night with Cori. “She probably thinks that it was me that did all of this and I don’t blame her. If I was that age and walked in one of my parents doing that with another person I would probably want to be away from that certain parent.”

“And now that you are here she probably saw your car in the driveway,” she nodded slowly not knowing how to respond to what her husband had been telling her. “I don’t understand what is going on here though, Lindsay has always been one to think logically, not act out and do something like this.”

“Well, nothing like this has happened to her before honey, I don’t understand what is going on either, but I know she must be hurting,” Rob pointed out thinking abut all the things that had been happening with his family and how Cori tried to put herself between it. “I’m just worried as to what is going to happen because I’m worried with where she went.”

“The first place she would usually go would be here,” Alicia took in a deep breath thinking about the ways her daughter had always done things in the last fifteen years. “If not here, where else would she go Rob? I’m at a loss?”

“Don,” Rob answered after thinking for a minute and getting up from the couch to grab the cordless phone, walking back to his wife and sitting down next to her. “She had to have gone to Don’s place, that’s the only other place I could think of her going.”

“You have to be right,” she agreed scooting in closer to Rob and taking in a deep breath to see him dial the numbers slowly. “She loves her big brother and I know that he is one she trusts a lot. She has to be there.”

“Let’s hope so,” Rob took in a deep breath hearing the rings of the phone and they seemed to be lasting longer than usual with the worries behind his body. Hearing the phone answer, Rob didn’t even give Don the time to answer before he spoke up. “Don, is your sister there?”

“Wait, what?” Don questioned quickly after hearing his father speak up so quickly. Moving out of the living room and into the kitchen Don took in a deep breath. “I’m sorry I didn’t catch that, what’s up dad?”

“Don, is your sister there?” Rob took in a deep breath standing up from the couch and taking one last look at Alicia before walking back and forth slowly. “She saw something that upset her last night and she didn’t come home. I have no idea where she is.”

“Lindsay is missing?” Don took in a deep breath feeling a pool of worry spreading throughout his body as he looked down at his watch and shook his head slowly. “No dad, she isn’t here. Do you think she is okay?”

“I don’t know, but I will tell you as soon as I get something,” Rob took in a deep breath looking over toward Alicia seeing the look of hope behind her eyes as he shook his head slowly. “We’ll call you if anything happens.”

Hanging up the phone with Don Rob looked over toward Alicia and shook his head slowly before hearing the front door open and seeing Lindsay walk through the front door.

“Lindsay,” Alicia gasped standing up from the couch and taking in a deep breath as she wrapped her arms around her daughter. “I didn’t know where you were and I am so glad you’re here with me.”


“Oh my god,” Don took in a deep breath as he hung up the phone feeling a rush of a panic fill throughout his body when he set the phone back down on the counter. “You can’t be serious. Where would she be? She’s never done something like this.”

“Who is she Don?” Shannon walked into the room seeing Don to face her, his light blue eyes filled with worry as he moved his hand in through his short hair trying to come up with something to say. “Don, seriously. Who is she?”

“She is my sister Shannon. Lindsay is missing,” Don snapped seeing Shannon staring out at him as he shook his head slowly not believing what he was hearing from her. Knowing that once he got off the phone the other day when she asked him if it was his girlfriend he was on the phone with, he knew that she probably figured it was the same thing. “Why don’t you try and learn something before you start accusing me of everything like you always do.”

“Like I always do?” Shannon snapped seeing the way that Don stared out at her and she shook her head slowly, moving forward seeing his eyes narrowing in at her. “I always do it because I don’t trust you Don.”

“You don’t trust anyone Shannon,” he replied thinking of something to say before throwing his hands up in the air angrily making him realize that there was no use in trying to talk to Shannon. “I don’t know what is wrong with you Shannon. You say don’t trust me when I have done nothing wrong to you and nor will I ever doing anything wrong to you. I love you and you treat me like this acting like a stupid little…,”

“A stupid little what Don?” Shannon moved forward poking him in the center of the chest seeing his eyes fill up with anger as he watched her carefully. “What were you going to call me Don. Come on Don, what were you going to say?”

“A pain in the ass,” Nate answered from the entrance of the kitchen, getting both Don and Shannon’s attention as he ran his fingers through his messy hair stepping into the kitchen with only his Spiderman boxers. “Seriously, you are a pain in the ass. Don is usually a quiet guy, but he is a pain in the ass right now too.”

“This is none of your business Nate, get out of here,” Shannon ordered seeing Nate’s green eyes narrow down at her as he shook his head slowly and she moved forward pushing at the center of his bare chest. “I mean it Nate, get out of here.”

“He doesn’t have to get out of here,” Don grabbed a hold of Shannon’s wrist seeing the way her dark eyes stared into his and he shook his head slowly. “You don’t understand this Shannon, this house is mine and Nate lives here too. Which means he can go wherever the hell he wants to.”

“Yeah,” Nate replied proudly seeing the way that Don’s blue eyes looked him over carefully and Nate held his hands up in the air before shaking his head slowly. “Be nice to Don he is a nice guy and he wouldn’t do anything. Other than the fact you two woke me up only after an hour of sleep. Do you know what I did to the last person that woke me up after an hour of sleep?”

“I don’t know, did you happen to annoy them like you are doing with us?” Shannon questioned seeing her brother frown in her general direction and Shannon looked over at Don before shaking her head slowly. “I can’t believe the two of you.”

“I don’t want to even deal with you right now Shannon because you aren’t what’s important, my little sister is,” Don answered truthfully before grabbing his keys from the counter and glaring Shannon right in the eyes. “I can’t stand you right now Shannon and I know you want to fight, but my sister is out there and I have to find her.”


“Good morning sweetheart,” Brant spoke up walking out into the bedroom only to discover the bed he’d left Angela in earlier in the morning empty.

Frowning he set the tray down on the nightstand beside the bed to take a look around. He reached for one of the tangled sheets wondering if she’d slipped out when he wasn’t paying attention, but when he heard the sound of the shower from the master bathroom he let out a breath of relief. Reaching for the freshly cut red rose from the garden that he’d placed into the small vase on the tray, he turned directions making his way to the half opened door of the bathroom. Knocking he waited for a moment before pressing the flower inside for her.

“A token of my appreciation,” Brant explained with a hint of a smile hearing her move to the other side of the door. Seconds later it opened and she threw her arms around his neck pulling him in close to her for a smoldering kiss.

“A token of mine,” she explained tipping up on her toes to kiss him again. She curled her arms tighter around his shoulders, feeling his arm slide around her waist to create a closer connection between them. Nuzzling her nose against the side of his neck after their mouths parted, she spoke up again in a low whisper, “Now how about you get undressed and join me for a shower and I’ll show you just how truly appreciative I can be to you?”

“Oh that sounds tempting…” Brant sighed sliding his finger tips over the small of her back, reaching down to squeeze her bottom in a decided movement. “But I brought breakfast up for you. It’ll get cold if…”

“I like cold breakfast,” Angela explained reaching out to peel away at the shirt he was wearing, “Hot or cold it doesn’t matter to me with food, but there is something else I’d like right now that’s very, very hot and simply cannot wait.”

“You know you’re going to be the death of me,” Brant helped her push his shirt off of his shoulders, down his arms until it fell to the floor in a small heap. He felt her hand press in over the front of his pants before he placed his fingers over hers again, “I did make your favorite though.”

“Well, since you put it that way,” she hesitated her brown eyes tipping up towards his before a grin swept over her, “I guess I’ll try something new in having it cold.”

Brant couldn’t help but laugh, “Now why doesn’t that surprise me in the least?”

“Because you know me too well,” she giggled placing her index finger over the center of his muscled chest. She dragged her nail downward in an achingly slow movement before pressing her lips in against his shoulder. She fingered the waistband of his pants before pushing her palm inside to rouse him to what she had in mind. Placing another series of kisses over his chest, she spoke up again in a low, throaty whisper, “Did you get a hold of Don earlier?”

“No,” Brant shook his head with a small frown thinking about the fireworks that took place last night between Don and Shannon, “but I should probably call him and see if he needs a place to crash for a while given how mad she was.”

“I don’t really understand why,” Angela confessed tipping her head up to meet Brant’s worried gaze. “I mean really it was a simple misunderstanding and…”

“I know that and you know that, but Shannon,” Brant sighed heavily, “well, that woman is the epitome of irrationality. She doesn’t think things through. She just reacts to whatever inspires her for the moment and she’s never wrong. I don’t know why Don puts up with it.”

“Honestly as much as I’d want to argue that point, she was a bit harsh there,” Angela stopped groping Brant long enough to think about the way Shannon had humiliated Don in front of everyone. “What makes it worse was that Matt was right there witnessing all of that.”

“She never should’ve done that,” Brant agreed with another sigh, “That is the last thing Matt needs in his life or Don for that matter.”

“Shannon and Don seem so opposite of one another. How did they end up together in the first place?” she couldn’t help but ask thinking about how the evening had played out.

“Believe it or not it was a case of too much to drink leading to waking up the next morning in bed together,” he revealed pondering how close to home that hit in his situation with Angela. She must’ve sensed his thoughts because she spoke up as well.

“That sounds familiar,” Angela noted sliding her hands around to cup his perfect bottom, “but I’d say that we might’ve been better off in getting married like they did.”

“It would’ve saved us both a lot of grief,” he agreed tipping down to kiss her tenderly, “but we can still work on that if you’d like.”

“In time,” she winked up at him, “but with Don…you say he and Shannon kind of got plastered and hitched all in one night, eh?”

“Pretty much,” Brant frowned his thoughts returning to his best friend again, “Don’s an old fashioned romantic--perverted as hell yes, but a romantic at heart when it gets down to it. He really lost it when Stephanie died. She was Matt’s mom…”

“I figured,” Angela nodded listening to his tale.

“For the longest time he stayed away from dating even though Hart and I tried to get him out there again,” he recalled thinking about his pal, “All he was focused on was Matt and I didn’t think he’d ever find someone again, yet he wound up finding Shannon.”

“Which leads us to the here and now,” she replied catching his disapproving look.

“Yeah well let’s just say I’m not Shannon’s biggest fan there, so I’m a bit biased in all of this. What happened last night is typical of Shannon. She thrives off of drama. She likes to fight and then she loves to…” Brant stopped himself feeling as if the conversation had turned suddenly very inappropriate given where he was and who he was with.

“She likes to what?” Angela questioned searching his dark eyes for an answer. “Brant, what it is?”

“Let’s just say that Shannon and I have known one another for a while,” Brant answered in an uncomfortable tone. He shifted on his feet and looked away from Angela clearing his throat again.

“Wait a second,” Angela’s jaw practically dropped, “are you saying that you and she…?”

“It was a lifetime ago,” Brant focused on her once again, finding the strength to admit to his mistakes in the past. “I was a different man then and she was…well, she was sort of the same, but at the time I guess I was into it, much like Don is now.”

“So you two slept together and then Don married her?” Angela’s eyes widened and she couldn’t help but let out a small laugh, “That’s certainly different.”

“Hey it’s not like I planned on that happening. I mean I wasn’t with her long enough for Don to have known about she and I. Shannon was just fun for the moment and then…” Brant took a step back feeling anything but in the mood for passion now that he’d brought up Shannon. “Never mind. We’re not having this conversation.”

“Why not?” Angela questioned seeing the uneasiness that carried over him. She caught him focusing on the floor again before she let out a laugh, “Brant it’s not like I’m unaware of the fact that you’ve slept with other people. I’ve had sex with other people as well.”

“Even so, it’s not something you want to bring up at a time like this,” Brant informed her with an uneasiness in his tone.

“Oh come on. It’s not like I thought you were a virgin and I’m certain you didn’t expect that out of me either,” she couldn’t help but continue to be amused with his uneasiness. “I guess Shannon was just a surprise considering that she was…”

“Hey I said it was a long time ago,” he tried to defend himself surprised at the amusement she was getting out of the conversation.

“Hey it’s okay,” Angela threw her hands up in the air, “Really it is. I’m not upset about that or threatened. I mean if anyone would have any reason to get worked up it’s Don considering that she’s his wife, but hey if he’s cool with it, then so am I. Really it‘s no big deal…”

“Okay, then how about we change the subject?” Brant suggested reaching out for her again, “The last thing that gets me hot is thinking about Shannon.”

“Well, what would get you hot then?” Angela teased with a playful smirk dropping her hands down to his hips, “Maybe if I did something like this?”

“That would certainly…” Brant bit down on his lip feeling her push the material from his body, “get a rise out of me…”

Angela stepped back to look down at him appreciatively, admiring every inch of his masculinity. She licked her lips before reaching out to him once again, “I’ll say.”

“You know Angela, I really think that…” he felt her cup him in her hands, her fingers teasing him with wicked intent.

“I think that maybe we should stop talking for a while and I should concentrate on that rise,” she suggested pressing her palms firmly into his chest. She urged him back towards the waiting shower and giggled, “What do you say?”

“I said it before and I’ll say it again,” Brant couldn’t help but laugh feeling her gently nudge him into the steaming shower, “you’re going to be the death of me.”

“And you’re going to love every single second of me killing you,” she promised moving in beside him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and grinned with anticipation, “Now how about we get any thought of any other lover out of your mind by us having one of the most passionate, most promising, mind blowing sexual experiences of our life? What do you say?”

“I’m all yours,” Brant laughed lightly collecting her in his arms and taking the time to enjoy the beautiful woman that had walked into his life again when it seemed that everything was falling to pieces. With Angela in his arms, he was now convinced that all of his dreams were truly becoming a reality at long last.


Kevin stood on the front porch of the Denton home with a bag of bagels in hand. He waited for a moment before hearing someone moving behind the door. Painting on a bright smile, Kevin prepared to tease Russ about their working with one another when he found himself face to face with Avery instead.

“Kevin, I almost didn‘t hear the knock on the door,” Avery’s surprised voice reached up to him from where she stood in the doorway. She tipped her head to the side and gave him a long once over, “What are you doing here? Did you forget something last night?”

“No,” Kevin explained with a warm smile motioning to the bag in his arms, “Russ invited me over this morning for breakfast and I figured I may as well take him up on the offer. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh of course not,” Avery shook her head opening the door further to invite him inside, “Please come on in. I’m sorry about seeming so rude, but…”

“You weren’t rude,” Kevin offered up motioning to the bag in his arms again, “I just figured I’d knock instead of ring the bell just in case Erin was sleeping.”

“Oh she’s already awake and with her daddy,” Avery informed him with a small laugh, “Russ and I were giving her a bath or rather she was giving Russ a bath. He’s getting dressed right now with Erin since he was soaked when he was finished.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Kevin couldn’t help but laugh himself. “Russ is partial to the water, isn’t he?”

“More like Erin decided having a bath was going to be a family affair,” Avery further explained, “but it was too adorable seeing them together like that. I had to grab the camera and get pictures. They were just so cute and…”

“And I can see where Erin gets her happy side from,” Kevin noted recognizing the glow that filled up Avery’s face, “Just the way you smile when you think about her it just…”

“Just what?” Avery questioned seeing something behind his dark eyes. It was as if one second he was standing there with her, then the next he was suddenly so far away. A darkness seemed to hang over him. “Kevin?”

“Huh?” Kevin snapped out of his daze.

“What were you saying?” Avery questioned curiously seeing something register over him.

“Nothing,” he shook his head before clearing his throat. Motioning to the bag in his hand he spoke up again, “So how do you feel about bagels?”

“If you’ve got a cheese one in there, you’ll be my new best friend,” Avery replied quickly leaning forward to try to look in the bag.

“You’re in luck because cheese happens to be my absolutely favorite aside from strawberry,” Kevin informed her reaching into the bag and pulling out a bagel. He held it out to her and grinned while waving it around in the air, “Tempted?”

“When you dangle that in front of me, oh yeah,” she nodded reaching for it only to hear Russ entering the room with Erin in his arms.

“Oh no, now you’ll never be able to get rid of her,” Russ teased seeing Avery swipe the bagel from Kevin. “Those are her favorite.”

“So I heard,” Kevin noted turning to look over at Russ and Erin. Immediately Erin’s eyes grew wide and she sounded out over towards Kevin in instant recognition of the man before her.

“I think Erin’s found her latest place to dump her breakfast,” Russ teased watching Kevin reach out to Erin.

“May I?” Kevin questioned holding his arms out closer to Erin.

“Only if you promise to behave,” Avery teased watching Kevin pick Erin up and pull her into his arms. Her daughter seemed to melt almost immediately into Kevin. “You just have the magic touch.”

“So it would seem,” Kevin confessed with a proud smile looking over at Russ and Avery before his focus turned to Erin again, “Though I have to tell you every time I look at her, I can’t help but think about how incredible she is. You both are so lucky to have someone as special as Erin in your lives. I know I feel blessed to have just met her.”

“Oh Kevin, that’s so sweet,” Avery replied reaching out to wrap her arm around Russell’s waist, “Erin’s glad she met you too. She just bubbles up with enthusiasm when you’re around.”

“Thus giving him that magic touch you spoke of,” Russ noted seeing his daughter reach for Kevin’s finger and pulling it in closer to her. “Though I have to tell you she’s probably thinking your finger looks like a good breakfast right about now.”

“As much as I’d like to let her have it, I don’t think it’s going to be as good as what her mommy has for her,” Kevin noted glancing over at Avery with a small smile.

“I’ll go get a bottle ready,” Avery decided reaching for the discarded bag of bagels with her into the kitchen. “When you two are ready you can just bring her in here with you.”

“Yes dear,” Russ mouthed turning to look at Kevin again, “ready for your big day?”

“Honestly I’m a bit nervous,” Kevin laughed lightly, “as strange as that sounds.”

“Not at all,” Russ confessed motioning for Kevin to follow him into the kitchen, “Each day in the newsroom is a new experience and I know each and every morning I find myself excited at the prospect of what is ahead of me when I get to work. If you didn’t have a little bit of nervousness, then I would have to seriously wonder if I made the right decision in hiring you. The nerves are good because it makes you want to do a good job.”

“At what?” Avery questioned seeing the two men in the kitchen with Erin. She held up a bottle in her hand and walked over to Kevin. “Time for breakfast.”

“Thanks, but I think I’ll stick to the bagel,” Kevin teased with a small wink, “but seriously I can feed her if you’d like.”

“Kevin, if you keep offering to do everything for me, I’m going to start feeling spoiled,” Avery noted seeing the genuine enthusiasm he had for helping out.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to help out, so why not indulge me,” he held his hand out for the bottle again.

“Fine, but you may change your mind when it’s time to burp her,” Avery warned him simply handing over the bottle.

“I seriously doubt that one,” he smiled taking a seat at the kitchen table with Erin, “Besides I could use a few pointers from her about staying in her father’s good graces now that he’s going to be my boss.”

“Your boss?” Avery turned to look at Russ.

“Didn’t I tell you I hired Kevin to be my acting Editor in Chief while I’m here with you and Erin,” Russ explained with a cryptic expression, “He’s more than qualified for the job and…”

“And I can keep Chris Foley in line,” Kevin piped in eagerly, “We go back. Way back.”

“Why does that sound like something that Chris isn’t going to be exactly enthused about?” Avery glanced between the two men, “What don’t I know here?”

“All you need to know is that I found someone who can help me keep the paper afloat while you and I work on getting things back to normal around here,” Russ informed her with a smile before leaning in to kiss her, “I was going to go in with Kevin today and show him around--maybe help him adjust to things around the office.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” she noted placing her hand on Russell’s chest, “but you know Chris isn’t going to like this.”

“And I didn’t like what he printed in my paper. It could’ve cost me big time in lawsuits and it still might,” Russ noted before pulling her into his arms, “You’ll be okay while we’re doing that, won’t you?”

“I’ll be fine,” she nodded in confession, “I was hoping to get a few things done around here. Maybe I’ll go over and see Grady since he did offer me a job working for him.”

“Really?” Kevin’s interest perked.

“That’s right,” Avery nodded to further explain. She placed her hand on the counter reaching for another bagel, “I think he feels pity upon me, so he hired me to help around so that I’d feel needed.”

“He hired you because you’re a damn good lawyer,” Russ reached out to pull her into his arms. He plucked her up off of the ground in one clean sweep before grinning, “You’re the best and he knows that. He’d be a fool not to hire you.”

“And you’re a fool for thinking so highly of me,” she mouthed down at him before smiling herself. She leaned forward brushing her lips against his in a tender sweep, “But I love you all the more for it.”

“See that Erin,” Kevin spoke up in a small, teasing tone, “this is exactly what your parents are going to try to keep you away from when you’re older.”

“Hey now,” Russ frowned in response still keeping Avery in his arms, “There’s nothing wrong with Erin seeing that her parents love one another.”

“I didn’t say that,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders, “but knowing how the genetics are you’re going to want to keep her under lock and key.”

“What do you mean?” Avery questioned giving Kevin a strange look.

“I just mean that,” Kevin stopped himself making a mental note that it was Avery he was speaking with and not Angie, “well they grow up too fast and before you know it you’re going to have guys chasing her around wanting to get closer to this beautiful little girl.”

“They’d better not,” Russ warned with mock fear, “but if they get out of line I have an old shotgun around here somewhere.”

“Oh Russ,” Avery swatted at his chest, “We aren’t going to have to worry about that for a long time. She’s just a baby.”

“Hey you never know,” Russ pointed out turning to look at her, “I remember what I was like at four years old.”

“That’s a completely different story,” Avery shook her head with a thoughtful expression before casting a glance over at Kevin, “What about you?”

“What about me?” Kevin questioned his dark eyes lifting up to meet Avery’s once again.

“You’re so great with Erin that I have to wonder when you’re going to find yourself a father as well,” Avery wiggled her brow at him before motioning to the way he held her daughter. “You’re going to make a great father.”

“I hope so,” Kevin sighed looking down at Erin again and thinking about the daughter he’d lost long ago, “Ria’s an amazing woman and she’ll make a great mom. We’ve talked about children, but so far we’re both just trying to stabilize our careers before we go head first into having a family.”

“Take it from me time waits for no one,” Russ piped in thinking about his long road to happiness with Avery, “You have to seize the moment because you never know what will happen tomorrow.”

“Good point,” Kevin noted wondering if it would be possible to finally have all those dreams he gave up on long ago. Would he be as lucky as Russ was to have the woman he loved and his child or would his quest for happiness end in another heartbreak just around the corner now that the past continued to haunt him?


Guy sat in his office looking at the phone calls to return, the numbers to glance over and all the work that had flooded in over him once his mother had been taken into custody. While he knew that she had to be held accountable for her actions, he wasn’t about to let his career and future fall to pieces because of his mother’s mistakes. However, a great many of the investors were already calling ready to go elsewhere now that Brooke’s legal troubles fell upon their lap in the midst of Beholder’s biggest campaign of the decade.

The advertising agency had left a message this morning that they’d pulled out of their arrangement with Brooke claiming that she violated the contract with her actions. Now it was up to Guy to try to get them back in on what could potentially be the biggest thing to ever happen to the company on a financial and public level yet. The premiere party for the line had been put off time and time again and now Guy was convinced that a party would be the thing to get the company back on track again--that was if he could charm the ad agency into reconsidering their position on Beholder.

“I’m going to need you to get back with Mr. Calm before lunch,” Guy informed his secretary pushing a button to capture her attention from his desk.

“I’ll be right on it Mr. Morrison, but I think you should know that you have some company,” she explained a bit nervously her voice sounding more jumpy than usual.

“Who’s here?” Guy couldn’t help but ask feeling as if he was up to his eyeballs in chaos this morning already.

“You’ll have to see it to believe it. He says he’s a close, personal friend of yours,” she replied with obvious hesitation.

“Fine, then send him in,” Guy decided releasing the button he’d held to speak with her.

He turned his attention to the financial report in front of him until he heard his office door open. Looking up he found himself surprised to see Kellen standing before him dressed in a pair of white, slim cut slacks topped off with a pink and white striped t-shirt with a matching pink vest. He had a scarf around his neck that appeared to have tiny feathers in a boa-like fashion around the fringe of the fabric.

“Thank you,” Kellen flashed an agitated smile over at Guy’s secretary before wrinkling his nose at her. He watched the woman leave before he let out a long groan, “Is she always that rude?”

“She’s not used to um,” Guy paused trying to think of a word that would describe what most people would think of what Kellen was wearing.

“Gay in the office?” Kellen questioned placing his hand on his hip impatiently. He noted Guy’s pressed suit and gave him a long once over, “This is quiet a stretch from what you were in the last time I saw you.”

“Well, what can I say,” Guy shrugged his shoulders leaning back in his chair with obvious amusement, “I try to keep my nightlife just that.”

“Oh me too,” Kellen waved his hand before sashaying over to Guy’s desk, “which is why I went for classic chic today instead of full on glam.”

“I don’t know,” Guy gave him a very complete once over, “I think there is something to be said about you and full on glam.”

“I am so glad you said that darling,” Kellen grinned widely, batting his eyelashes at Guy before taking a seat on the edge of Guy’s overcrowded desk, “because have I got the fashion news of the year for you.”

“Is that right?” Guy’s eyebrow perked up watching Kellen cross his legs and lean forward just a bit with obvious excitement.

“Oh sweetheart, you have no idea,” Kellen informed him with a bright smile, “because I have been reading all of the papers and I heard all about how the company is doing now that your mum got herself into a teeny-tiny bit of trouble…”

“Please don’t tell me you came all the way over here to talk about my mother,” Guy groaned inwardly leaning back in his chair, “because quite frankly that’s not of interest to me when I’m trying to run my business.”

“Well I could say that I came over to ask you out for a drink--maybe to see if you and your significant other, who by the way I happened to get a look at in one of the social magazines the other day,” Kellen mouthed his lips curved in an approving whisper, “and I must say that I highly approve. There’s just something dreamy about the blonde hair and…”

“I’d like to think he’s someone special,” Guy noted seeing the way Kellen’s blue eyes were filled with a sudden determination, “but I’m assuming you didn’t come over here to tell me that either now did you?”

“No actually as much as I was hoping to gossip with you,” Kellen waved his hand in the air at him, “I have something even bigger and better to present to you. You see my honey-bunny is a lawyer and he’s working for an up and coming company that is going to be the ‘it’ thing in the fashion and cosmetics world soon enough. It’s hot, hip and has a fresh look at making companies like yours look good. I recently heard about that nasty little situation you were having with your advertisers and well, I couldn’t help but rush over here to save the day.”

“How did you know about that?” Guy questioned confused that Kellen would know about his problem when Guy only learned of it an hour earlier.

“Let’s just say a little birdie told me all about it,” Kellen whispered leaning in across the desk, “but rest assured my Heather-babes is going to save the day for you. Her company is hot and everything that you could’ve asked for. We’re willing to take your new campaign to the top. Just tell me what you want and we’ll make miracles happen. We’ll make any product you’re selling be a must have for the upcoming season. All you have to do is say the word and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about being the best of the best. We can make that happen for you and by the time we’re finished running ads for you, you’ll have taken this company from social suicide to success.”

“And just what is this company that you’re a cheerleader for?” Guy arched a curious brow. “Does it have a name?”

“We’re still working on that one since we’re a new company,” Kellen noticed the immediate refusal about to spill from Guy’s lips and he added quickly, “and we’re willing to take on what you had going with that other loser advertising agency for half of what you were paying them.”

“Come again?” Guy blinked back at him with wide eyes.

“Oh not now. I’ve already been there today, but seriously,” Kellen waved at him once again, “Guy I’m telling you now that if we don’t follow through on what I’m promising you, you will get every last penny back that you paid us and we’ll even let you keep everything we came up with at our expense.”

“I don’t understand,” Guy gave him a strange sideways look, “That sounds like it’s too good to be true Kellen. You and I both know that business doesn’t work that way…”

“Well yes, but then again it’s not everyday that the CEO of Beholder decides to get herself in trouble with the law either,” Kellen tossed back at him pointedly, a sudden seriousness overtaking him. “Your mum made a huge mistake, but it shouldn’t cost you everything that you’re still holding onto. I’m giving you a chance to change your image and come out on top of this situation a winner. My employer is just looking to do the same and I think if we put Beholder and her talents together, you’re going to find a winning solution for everyone. It’s a win/win situation.”

“You know I don’t usually consider even thinking about listening to on the fly proposals about advertising,” Guy started again with a small frown, “but given the day I’ve had.”

“You know you want to take me to brunch, maybe get a drink and chat for a while,” Kellen tried to tempt him further. He glanced over at Guy’s suit again before adding, “You can get out of that stuffy outfit, maybe put on something more comfortable and I’ll take you over to meet my friend if you like.”

“Tell me something,” Guy finally decided after a moment of consideration.

“Anything,” Kellen replied eagerly.

“Is your friend half as enthusiastic about this idea as you are?” Guy couldn’t help but ask seeing that Kellen was ready to put on the whole song and dance show if need be to get Guy to listen.

“Even more than I am. Plus with my handsome man being a lawyer I’m sure he can work out an arrangement that essentially puts you in the clear,” Kellen stood up for a moment before leaning over the top of the desk to press his palms on it. “So what do you say Guy? Are you willing to take a chance on someone who was able to help you out of a bind before?”

“Since you put it that way,” Guy shook his head and let out a small laugh, “This is crazy.”

“Crazy would be saying no,” Kellen wiggled his brow again, “Come on. What do you say? We go to brunch---maybe iron out the details. You’ve got nothing to lose really other than maybe a couple of hours at best.”

“I really shouldn’t,” Guy finally reached for that dreaded button that connected him to his secretary, “Could you cancel my appointments for the morning? I have something that I need to take care of.”

“Yes sir,” his secretary replied as Guy looked up to Kellen again.

“You’d better be right about this,” Guy finally blurted out getting up from his chair and going over to the closet to grab his coat.

“I’m totally right about this and deep down you know that,” Kellen informed him taking a long moment to appreciate the finer points in Guy’s physique. “You know you’d look really hot in a pair of pants like the ones I’m in today.”

“I already have two pairs like them,” Guy revealed with a small grin before shaking his head, “Though I’ve never been brazen enough to wear them out in public during the day.”

“Honey stick with me and I’ll give you and your company a whole, new, refreshing definition of brazen,” Kellen wrapped his arm around Guy’s shoulders as they exited his office with one another, “One you’re absolutely going to love.”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Guy warned him suddenly feeling like maybe there was light at the end of the tunnel after the social disaster Brooke had put upon the company. Maybe what Kellen was offering would prove to be Guy’s savior after all.


“You bitch!” Sarah shouted at Heather seeing the sheer amusement Heather was getting out of seeing her in the middle of the water fountain. There was a group of people surrounding them now and Sarah’s blood was boiling at the grin on Heather’s face.

“Hey, you started this, not me,” Heather shrugged her shoulders innocently, a laugh bubbling up in the back of her throat, “You fell into that. That was all you.”

“I’m going to show you what’s all me!” Sarah snarled popping up and out of the water with Blake on her heels.

“Sarah don’t!” Blake warned attempting to hold her friend back, “She’s not worth it!”

“She’s never been worth it!” Sarah shouted, her voice echoing through the mall. “Absolutely everything she has done in her life has been completely worthless just like her.”

“I’m not worthless Sarah,” Heather couldn’t help but snap back at her.

“Oh right,” Sarah rolled her eyes standing up and squeezing the excess water out of her shirt, “That’s why no one has ever wanted you around. Brant couldn’t stand to be with a slut like you, so he dumped you. Kipp is gay now Heather. He’s gay which speaks volumes about what you did to him and Diego, oh don’t get me started on how much you disgust him.”

“That’s it! I’m done with this!” Heather threw her hands up in the air, “You have a nice life Sarah. You just go on and be miserable and do whatever it is you do.”

“And Kyle can’t stand you either,” Sarah called out watching Heather stop from walking away.

“Just because you’re engaged to Kyle doesn’t mean that you can speak for him,” Heather spun around to face her sister once again. “You know nothing about the man that he is--about who he really is.”

“I know enough to know that he was smart enough not to waste his life running away after a little slut like you who sold her body in the hopes that someone would give a damn about her,” Sarah shot back icily causing Heather to finally snap. Heather’s face went blank and Sarah let out a small laugh, “What you didn’t think we couldn’t figure out where you went Heather? It’s more like we didn’t care.”

“You stupid…” Heather stepped towards Sarah ready to beat the life out of her when she felt a pair of arms around her waist.

“Just ignore her,” Kipp instructed pulling Heather in against him tightly. He felt her writhing against his hold on her and he fought to keep her with him.

“You’re a bitch! A stupid, jealous bitch who has no idea how horrible she truly is!” Heather shouted at her sister attempting to break free of Kipp once again.

“No matter how low I may sink, nothing is lower than you Heather. You pretty much proved how worthless you were when you gave yourself away for the all mighty dollar all those years ago,” Sarah snubbed at her watching the pain that flashed over Heather’s face.

“Back off!” Kipp warned glaring over at Sarah, “You have no business harassing her.”

“She was harassing me,” Sarah argued glaring over at Heather, “I was minding my own business and she started to get on me about my wedding and…”

“Enough!” Kipp shouted catching the way that security in the mall was gathering around them. “Just leave Heather alone.”

“Oh look, Heather has her gay ex-lover to defend her now,” Sarah brought her hand up over her chest in a mocking movement, “How precious is that?”

“Knock it off Sarah,” Blake broke her long silence as she stared at her friend in a state of disbelief.

“Blake you saw what she did to me,” Sarah curled her lip in a pout turning to see her friend’s heavy disapproval.

“You did more than enough. Let’s go,” Blake reached for Sarah’s arm feeling her reluctant to leave. “Sarah please don’t make this any worse than it already is.”

“Fine,” Sarah sighed before turning to look at Heather again, “but remember what I said about Sunday. Stay away.”

“Fine, I will and while I’m at it I’ll make sure that Kyle stays away too!” Heather shouted watching Sarah walk away. She struggled against Kipp’s hold on her until she realized it was no use. Sinking back into his arms she let out a long sigh. “How the hell can Kyle even think about marrying her?”

“As much as I hate to say it Heather, she is having his baby,” Kipp frowned wondering the same thing himself. He felt Heather relax a bit and he urged her to turn around in his arms. “Right now I don’t want you to think about that. I want you to tell me how things went with Charles.”

“Things went fine with Charles today, but with her,” Heather glanced over in the direction that Sarah went off in, “I just can’t believe that Kyle would be willing to throw everything away for that.”

“Neither can I,” Kipp admitted seeing the tears threatening behind Heather’s eyes, “but right now let’s get out of here. Come on I’ll take you and Charles to somewhere else. We’ll have brunch or something in private…”

“Kipp it doesn’t matter,” Heather confessed in a strained voice, “because nothing we do or say is going to change the fact that my miserable witch of a sister is going to marry the one man I’ve ever truly loved in my life…”

“Hey,” Kipp touched her cheek gently urging her to meet his dark eyes, “you know you’re not alone in this right?”

“Kipp it’s just…” Heather stopped herself a frown creasing over her lips again, “I didn’t mean what I just said. I mean you know that you and I are…”

Kipp leaned forward to press a quick kiss on her lips to silence her. It was no more than a friendly peck, but it was enough for her to see that he wasn’t planning on letting her stay upset. When he pulled back he brought his hand up to touch her cheek gently.

“Hey, it’s okay. We’ll figure something out,” Kipp promised in a reassuring tone, “Sarah’s an ugly person with a horrible dark side. Sooner or later Kyle’s going to realize that.”

“But once he marries her it’s a whole new ballgame,” Heather replied looking over at Charles where he sat in his stroller beside them. “Kipp, I can’t let him marry her--not when I know how evil she truly is.”

“Heather, I personally don’t see how he can marry her either, but not because of how she is,” Kipp explained seeing Heather’s gaze over Charles, “but rather because I know the man is head over heels in love with you.”

“But she’s got his ring on her finger,” Heather reminded him bluntly, “That says something about what he’s feeling about me Kipp.”

“Yeah it’s saying he made a mistake,” Kipp nodded in agreement, “The question is what are you going to do about fixing it before he makes an even bigger one in his life with her?”

“Kipp, there’s nothing I can do. He’s made up his mind,” Heather blurted out remembering how she and Kyle had been the last time they’d seen one another. “He’s going to marry her.”

“Only if you don’t try to do something to stop it Heather. Maybe you should be thinking less about how much of a witch Sarah is and more about what’s right for you and Kyle. Maybe then you’ll figure things out and maybe just maybe you can spare the both of you a little pain along the way since it’s clear to almost everyone that the two of you belong together,” Kipp pointed out seeing the strained expression on Heather’s face. “Why are you fighting this so hard?”

“Because if Kyle really wanted me, he could’ve had me a long time ago. Sarah was right,” Heather admitted realizing what she’d fought to ignore for years, “We had a chance to be together--to be happy with one another, but he didn’t want it. He didn’t need me like I needed him. When I left…”

“Hey,” Kipp pulled her into his arms again seeing how upset she was, “Heather it’s okay.”

“No Kipp, it’s not okay and truth be told I don’t know if it’s ever going to be okay again. Sarah was right about me. I’ve done so many horrible things--things I’m so ashamed of like she said,” she started to feel her nerves in an uproar.

“Heather, everything you’ve done is what made you the woman you are today and it’s that woman that Kyle loves,” Kipp informed her point blank keeping his eyes on her. He cupped her face in his hands, “Nothing in your past can take away from who you are--absolutely nothing.”

“Kipp, you don’t know everything. You don’t know what I did when I was young and…” she started to argue feeling his finger press in against her lips to silence her.

“Trust me Heather I have a pretty good idea after some of the things my father said, but I can promise you that it never changed my opinion of you,” Kipp explained point blank, “We all make mistakes and when we learn from them, then that’s where the real growth happens. I see how you are with our son and with everything else. You’ve grown up so much since the first time I met you. I can say with full confidence that you’re the kind of woman that our son can be proud of. You’re an incredible mother and a beautiful woman inside and out. It’s part of what I love about you and part of what I know Kyle loves about you.”

“But he’s marrying her Kipp. Nothing is going to change that…” Heather trailed off thinking about the upcoming wedding between Sarah and Kyle.

“It won’t change unless you find a way to follow your heart and make the change happen,” Kipp suggested motioning over to their son, “How about we go get something to eat and talk it over? This place it getting to me since I’m not the mall rat like Kellen is.”

“Me neither,” Heather wrinkled her nose at him, “I try to do the boutique thing instead. It’s much more private…”

“And doesn’t nearly have as many vile things floating around in the fountains,” Kipp added seeing Heather crack a small smile.

“You’re right,” she offered up in an attempt to cheer herself up, but the harder she tried, the more her thoughts lingered back to the man that she feared would get away forever. Once Kyle married Sarah it would the final door closed on any hope for happiness in Heather’s life all over again and she feared that was a price she wouldn’t be willing to pay with her future. The question was did Kyle feel the same?


Shannon knocked on Dean’s front door wondering if he was up already. After a few minutes contemplation she realized that she didn’t care if he was awake or not. She was going to find her way inside even if it meant doing what was necessary to pull him out of bed. She started to pound on the door again only to find herself face to face with Deidra.

“Now why doesn’t this surprise me?” Deidra mouthed with a yawn shaking her head at Shannon’s arrival. “Let me guess you’re fighting with Don yet again.”

“That’s none of your business,” Shannon quipped in response glaring over at Deidra before standing up straighter. “Is Dean around?”

“That all depends. Are you going to spend your time driving him crazy by telling him all the ways in which you’re frustrated with Don?” Deidra arched a speculative brow watching Shannon closely.

“Just let me in Deidra,” Shannon frowned pushing the door open and entering the apartment without an invitation from Deidra. “Dean are you around? Dean?”

“He’s in the shower Shannon,” Deidra mouthed with a small glare seeing Shannon spin around to face her again. It was then that Shannon realized that Deidra’s hair was wet. “It’s where I would be too if you weren’t so damned persistent.”

“Look I just want to talk to Dean,” Shannon huffed in response her eyes traveling down the hallway as she heard the sound of the water running in the bathroom.

“Don’t you even think about going down there and interrupting him,” Deidra warned sharply, her eyes narrowing over at Shannon.

“Hey, it’s not like it’s anything I haven’t seen before,” Shannon shrugged her shoulders after a moment. “Besides you can’t tell me what to do.”

“I can when you keep coming over here and bothering my boyfriend,” Deidra pointed out with a tight scowl.

“He might be your boyfriend, but he’s my friend and I need to talk to him,” Shannon took a step forward ready to walk down the hallway anyways when Deidra moved in front of her.

“Oh no you don’t. You’re going to give him five minutes to get ready this morning,” Deidra explained matter of fact. Her eyes narrowed in at Shannon before she spoke up again in a smooth and even tone, “Now you can do one of two things. Either you can leave or you can talk with me while you wait. The choice is yours.”

“I’d rather talk to Dean,” Shannon argued further before taking a small step back. She started to pace around the room each step causing her to be more apprehensive until she looked to Deidra again and groaned. “I just don’t get it with men. I mean what is their damage these days? Take my husband for example. He plays it off like he’s the perfect husband, but he’s so not. He always is quick to blame me for things, yet I’m not wrong here. I’m so far from being wrong that it’s not funny.”

“Wrong about what?” Deidra almost hated to ask.

“Everything,” Shannon threw her hands up in the air. “I mean is it my fault that my brother is a pain in the ass? Or that life hasn’t been exactly perfect lately? I mean really what does he expect me to do? Does he think that I can just ignore my family when I know if I do it’ll only end up costing me in the end?”

“So you’re fighting about your brother?” Deidra tried to decipher what Shannon was telling her.

“No we’re fighting because he’s a liar and a shameless flirt. I mean to see that woman with her hands all over him,” Shannon seethed bitterness sweeping through her.

“Wait, what woman?” Deidra’s eyes widened in astonishment.

“That little skank that Brant has been spending his time with. She was all over him last night and…” Shannon started to fume remembering what she’d witnessed with Don and Angela.

“Now Shannon, while I know I wasn’t there, I highly doubt Don would be all over anyone. I’ve known him all of my life and when he’s in love, he’s the most faithful guy around and…” Deidra tried to explain to her.

“You weren’t there. You don’t know what I saw,” Shannon snapped in response glaring over at Deidra. “You didn’t see that little harlot up on him.”

“No I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty damn sure that you probably read the situation wrong. Don loves you very much for reasons I have yet to figure out,” Deidra scoffed in response rolling her eyes at Shannon, “so I would highly doubt that he would throw away what you have simply for someone else--especially someone that Brant is dating. That’s not like Don at all.”

“How the hell would you know?” Shannon placed her hands on her hips and snarled over at Deidra.

“Well for starters Brant is his best friend and he would rather lay down and die than hurt Brant. He would never, ever do anything to betray that friendship,” Deidra noted thinking about Don and his best friend.

“Oh of course not,” Shannon waved her hands around wildly at the remark, “because no one should ever cross Saint Brant who can do no wrong.”

“Wow you really did wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning,” Deidra mouthed in response wondering where Shannon was coming from.

“You know what…” Shannon pointed her finger at Deidra taking a step forward. “You don’t know the half of it.”

“No and it doesn’t sound like I’m going to either with your skewed observations of your husband. Do you think that maybe just maybe you might be wrong about this? That maybe you’re just a tad bit off base about Don? I mean really the odds of Don cheating on you with someone Brant is dating is like slim to none. Hell they are even less than that and if you really knew Don then you wouldn’t even think twice about that,” Deidra stated plainly hearing the bathroom door open.

“About what?” Dean looked up to see Shannon in the middle of the living room. He ran his fingers through his damp hair before smiling, “So this is why Deidra didn’t return to the shower.”

“I couldn’t help it,” Shannon rushed forward to speak with her friend while ignoring Deidra’s comment. “I needed your advice.”

“Sure, no problem,” Dean nodded accordingly looking between Deidra and Shannon. “What’s going on?”

“It’s Don. He’s driving me crazy and I don’t know what to do about it,” Shannon started with a heavy sigh causing Deidra to roll her eyes.

“You know what I’m going to get dressed,” Deidra finally gave up on trying to help. “You have fun dealing with this one Dean.”

“Um ok,” Dean watched Deidra walk off down the hallway with a huff before he turned to Shannon. “So really what’s going on?”

“Your girlfriend was absolutely no help. I don’t know why you bother with her since she’s so out of the realm of reality,” Shannon wrinkled her nose at the thought of Deidra. “You deserve way better than someone like that.”

“Thanks I think, but I have to tell you I’m very happy with Deidra, though I really don’t believe that’s why you’re here. So what’s going on that I can help you out with other than our discussing my personal life?” Dean replied with a small smile.

“I’m going to kill my husband,” Shannon announced with a huff stomping her foot down. “How is that for a starter?”

“I think that’s a good sign that I need to put on some decaf,” Dean decided realizing that suddenly it was going to be a very long morning indeed!


“Where have you been young lady?” Rob questioned his worried blue eyes fixed on his daughter now that she stood in the middle of their living room after she’d been missing all night. He saw anger and bitterness behind her eyes, but he hadn’t anticipated the venom that fell from her lips.

“It’s none of your business,” Lindsay spat out at him before turning to her mother. “Mom I can’t believe that you can even think about being around him after what he did to you and our family.”

“Lindsay it’s not what you think,” Rob started again only to see his daughter glare over at him.

“Don’t you even talk to me. I saw you kissing Cori,” Lindsay shouted over at him, shaking her head with obvious distain. “I saw how you were all over her dad. It was disgusting and here I thought you were just helping her because you felt sorry for her.”

“I was helping her because of that. What you saw was…” Rob stepped forward hoping to defend himself with his daughter, but she cut him off sharply.

“Disgusting. I can’t believe I thought the world of you dad. You’re nothing but a liar and…” Lindsay continued to lash out at her father.

“Lindsay stop,” Alicia cut her off before she could say anything further. “What you saw with your father wasn’t what you thought it was.”

“Oh please don’t tell me that he got you to believe in his lies too mom?” Lindsay questioned painfully, “I saw him kissing Cori and…”

“What you saw was Cori kissing me,” Rob explained to her with a heavy sigh. “I don’t know why she did it, but I was trying to stop her when you walked in. I swear to you that I would never, ever do something like that to you or your mother. I love your mother.”

“Right and that’s why she was all over you dad,” Lindsay burst into tears thinking about what she’d seen. “I thought Cori was my friend, but all this time all she was doing was using me to get close to you.”

“Cori’s a very confused young lady, who obviously needs help, but…” Rob started ready to say something more when the front door opened and Don stepped into the foyer. Upon seeing Lindsay Don rushed over to his sister and gave her a big bear hug.

“Thank God you’re okay,” Don squeezed her in his arms firmly. “I was so afraid that something horrible happened to you when mom called earlier. I was about to get the police searching for you and…”

“I’m fine Don,” Lindsay replied in a small whimper hugging her brother close to her. “At least as fine as I can be with them.”

“Hey,” Don pulled back ever so slightly to see his sister was crying. He touched the side of her face before speaking up again, “Linds what’s going on?”

“I saw Cori and daddy…” Lindsay broke into tears again burying her head in her brother’s chest.

“It’s okay,” Don glanced over at his father not quite sure what to say or do now that it was clear his sister was upset.

“Cori kissed me,” Rob explained clearing his throat uneasily. “I was talking to her about the upcoming events at the club and then out of the blue she did it. I didn’t provoke it or ask for it, but when Lindsay walked in…”

“She thought that something more was happening,” Alicia added moving in to join Don and Lindsay. She smoothed her fingers through Lindsay’s hair before speaking up in a smooth and even tone. “Lindsay honey it’s okay. I know what you saw upset you, but I can promise you that it wasn’t what it seemed. Your father wasn’t interested in Cori.”

“But mom I saw him and…” Lindsay sobbed reaching out to embrace her mother. “I don’t want you to get a divorce--for our family to be broken and…”

“Honey that’s not going to happen,” Alicia promised hugging her daughter closer to her. “I swear to you that your father and I aren’t getting divorced. It was just a huge misunderstanding and…”

“I don’t want my family to break apart like so many other people have,” Lindsay continued to cry to her mother as Alicia glanced over at Rob and Don.

“It won’t honey,” Alicia promised wiping at her daughter’s tears. “In fact why don’t you and I go into the kitchen so that we can talk for a few minutes? I know you’re angry and upset, but I promise you that we can work this all out.”

“Okay,” Lindsay sniffled looking over at her father briefly.

“I love you Lindsay,” Rob offered up feeling his daughter brush past him before he looked to Don.

“What the hell happened?” Don couldn’t help but ask trying to make sense of the family crisis taking place in front of him.

“I don’t know. As I said I was just talking to Cori and then she kissed me,” Rob added with a small sigh his thoughts lingering to his daughter and Alicia. “I haven’t tried to lead her on in any way. I just felt sorry for her because of all she’s been through and I’ve tried to be a father figure to her. I always thought of her like a daughter and…”

“And there is something that isn’t right about Cori,” Don noted thinking about his house guest. “She’s a bit imbalanced and…”

“I never thought she would do something like that,” Rob confessed with a bewildered expression. “I mean I knew she had problems but…”

“Maybe it’s time to let her family help her deal with her problems,” Don motioned to over where his mom and Lindsay were talking to one another, “because I would hate to see Lindsay this upset again.”

“You and me both,” Rob sighed knowing full well that something had to be done regarding the situation he’d found himself in with Cori. While he’d been hoping to help her, he knew full well that he couldn’t do so at the risk of his family. That was one price he wasn’t willing to pay.


“This might be a good cartoon,” Nate whispered to himself drawing the cartoon looking characters on the paper before him as he took in a deep breath thinking back to what Shannon and Don looked like yelling at each other. “I think this looks a lot like them in my opinion.”

“You may want to rethink that,” Cori’s voice caught Nate’s attention as Nate looked up from his drawing to see her there before him resting her elbows against the countertop. “I actually kind of think that looks like a big nosed fat boy and an ugly version of a chubby female wrestler.”

“Well, you never know,” Nate flipped over the paper trying to push past the topic that he didn’t have the best drawing talents in the world. “Okay, so maybe it would be more like a funny cartoon, I didn’t say I was someone very artistic you know. I’m just a little bored.”

“And obviously boredom gets you nowhere,” Cori pointed out standing up straight before taking in a deep breath trying to think of something to say. “Maybe if you do this every time you get bored, you could possibly get better.”

“You know, I’m kind of surprised to the fact that you are here right now Cori,” Nate pointed out standing up more confidently, a cocky smile spreading throughout his features. Biting down on his bottom lip he shook his head back and forth in a teasing manner before taking in a deep breath. “I see honey that you actually did come back here. I would be embarrassed if I were you making such a fool of myself Cori.”

“A fool Nate? What I did, would never make me a fool,” she explained seeing his green eyes get wide as he nodded slowly before looking back down towards his paper writing down something and holding it up. “I am not a liar.”

“Hey,” Nate snapped feeling her snatch the paper from his hands and he snatched it right back from her before shaking his head slowly. “You will never understand Cori, you are an idiot. With what you did--you are going to have Rob so upset today that he won’t even want to talk to you.”

“Give me a break Nate,” Cori rolled her eyes folding her arms out in front of her chest before taking a moment to look around the gym. “Rob will never be upset with me. I have nothing that I did wrong.”

“Are you insane or are you crazy? I’m thinking you are a little bit of both,” he pointed out seeing her step forward as if she was going to fight with him more before taking in a small breath. “I can’t believe you don’t agree with me on this whole thing.”

“Why would I agree with you Nate?” Cori pushed back her long blonde hair seeing the way he stared out at her, not blinking once and making sure that she saw that. “Today is going to go smoothly between me and Rob. We are going to get the waters smooth and get everything good.”

“Cori, listen to me,” Nate snapped his fingers over and over again making her dark eyes look into his as he rolled his eyes once he got her attention. “You need to snap out of this whole thing Cori, you are acting crazy. He is married, he doesn’t love you like that and he never did.”

“I don’t need to hear this,” Cori began walking away only to feel his hand wrap around her wrist and she pulled it away roughly. “I know what’s real and Rob and I really do have something between us. You will learn that sooner or later.”


“I don’t even know what’s the right thing to buy for her,” Kyle let out a deep sigh setting down the teddy bear he had been looking at before shaking his head slowly and turning around running straight into a woman as he let out a long breath. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to run into you like that.”

“It’s okay,” Ria’s voice spoke up as she pushed back her long dark hair seeing the way that Kyle’s hazel eyes met hers and she smiled widely after noticing who he was. “Hey Kyle, what are you doing in here?”

“Well, this is actually the last place I have gone in the mall,” Kyle tried to explain seeing Ria eyeing him over carefully as he looked around the lane around them. “I’m trying to find the perfect gift for someone I love and I just can’t seem to find it. What about you? What are you doing here?”

“Truthfully,” Ria answered seeing Kyle’s eye look down toward the item she was holding in her hand before shrugging her shoulders. Holding it up she handed it over toward Kyle seeing him take it in his hands and hold it while he looked it over. “Kevin kind of has a thing for the model toy cars.”

“And he likes the sporty convertible cars I see,” Kyle chuckled handing Ria back the model before shaking his head slowly and thinking about the size of Kevin. “You sure he could fit into one of those things?”

“If it’s a convertible, sure,” Ria chuckled thinking about Kyle’s question before shaking her head slowly and letting out another laughing seeing him look down at her with a smirk. “Other than that, he would most definitely get stuck with being that tall. He is actually putting together one that he used to have when he was younger. He is really proud and I’m not sure when he’ll get it together, but I know he loves this kind of stuff.”

“Well, it’s good that he has a hobby,” he pointed out taking in a deep breath before shaking his head slowly thinking about everything that was going on. “Lucky for you, you can remember everything that your boyfriend likes. I cant even remember anything right about now. I don’t think I would know my name if you weren’t saying it.”

“You are just nervous that you might get the person you love something wrong,” Ria reminded him seeing Kyle wait for a minute and think it over before laughing. “How about I pay for this and then maybe I can try and help you find something you like.”

“Alright, sounds good,” Kyle nodded slowly seeing Ria motion him to follow her over toward the cash register and he waited for her to pay for the item before actually following her back out into the hall where they faced all the other stores. “I have no idea where to go, I feel like I’m lost.”

“It’s okay, that’s happen a lot sometimes,” Ria motioned him to follow her as the walked through the mall slowly, seeing the way he nervously looked at all the stores she elbowed him in the side lightly. “Don’t worry about finding the right store, I think I have the right thing for you.”

“Good,” Kyle hesitantly nodded seeing the way she was looking at him as he nervously shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t really know what to do. You see I made a mistake with someone I love and I don’t know how to repay for it you know. You’re a woman and you think much more clearer than I do, so I’m going to ask you this. If the man you loved was so called with another woman, but was willing to give up everything for you would you still be with him?”

“If he was only going to be mine and no longer hers,” Ria answered uneasily not quite sure where he was going with this as she led him into the jewelry store. “Why are you worried about this?”

“Well, say you thought the guy was still with that other women. He denies it--do you believe them?” Kyle whispered seeing the look behind Ria’s dark eyes as he shrugged his shoulders not quite knowing what to say as he fought for his words. “It will help out a lot--trust me.”

“I guess I would have to try and believe him,” Ria hesitated trying to think of something that Kyle could possibly be involved in and she shook her head slowly. “Is there something going on with you Kyle? Do you need any help with something?”

“This thing looks good,” Kyle answered feeling Ria place her hand over his shoulder after he picked up a pink diamond necklace after the salesman had been showing it to him. “I’d really like to have this one please.”

“Kyle,” Ria frowned watching the salesman walk away with what he asked for the man to bag for him. Kyle closed his eyes tightly before his hazel eyes met hers again as if he was trying to read something from her. “Is there something you really need help with?”

“How do you and Kevin do it Ria?” Kyle questioned not trying to sound like a nut in the position he was in, seeing the way she stared up at him. “I mean I look at you two and see that you two love each other so much. I can read the look of Kevin’s expressions and that’s sad because I hardly know him. I’ve been around when he has kicked my ass and I’ve seen him around you when he gives you that look. You just have that passion, how do you have that passion still?”

“I guess it just kind of comes and you know it,” Ria whispered giving his shoulder a small squeeze seeing the look behind his eyes as he paid for the necklace putting it in his pocket safely. “Trust me, by the way you are acting right now--I can see it in your eyes that you feel the same for whoever you are buying that for.”


Grady looked around his office thinking about how long it had actually been since he’d worked around this place. There were so many memories that haunted him--kept him away from where he’d worked so hard to be in his life, yet he forced himself to face the past and put his life back together for no other reason than to honor the memory of what he’d had with Jade. Looking over in the direction of his desk, Grady felt a tiny shiver race over him when he found himself hit by a memory of days gone by.

“I don’t see what the problem is,” Jade’s voice echoed in his mind at a time when focusing on her was the last thing he wanted to do. He felt her finger tips trace over his shoulder and another shiver raced over him, but he tried to play it cool.

“Jade, this isn’t the time to discuss this,” Grady sighed stiffening beneath her touch even though his mind and body were longing for another more primitive way to respond.

“What time is better than the present?” she questioned with a small shrug making her way to sit on the edge of his desk. She crossed her legs with heavy emphasis before her eyes met his again, “I really don’t see what the problem is Grady. You and I are both adults and…”

“And I already told you how I felt about getting involved with someone I worked with. It’s messy and it gets ugly when the fun is done and over with. Trust me that’s the last thing either one of us need when we have such a great working relationship with one another,” Grady pointed out with a small frown unable to deny how beautiful she was.

“Grady, it won’t be like that,” Jade wiggled her brow at him, “Trust me when I say our spending time with one another on a more personal level will be far more rewarding than you can imagine. Who knows? You might actually find yourself enjoying life a bit. That can’t be bad, now can it?”

“Trust me Jade when I tell you that the further away from me you are, the better you’ll be,” Grady had warned knowing that he was speaking more so to himself than her.

Now in retrospect Grady wondered why he hadn’t stuck to his guns with Jade. If he had, then maybe she would still be alive now. She wouldn’t have been touched by Susan’s evil and she would’ve had a chance at a future--at a life where she could be happy and find someone who wouldn’t take her down for loving him. She could’ve had so much more than what he’d given her and even now he found himself weighed down by the guilt of letting things get too far between them. He should have known better, but now…

“Knock knock,” a voice interrupted Grady’s thoughts. He turned around to see Avery standing in his doorway wearing a loose fitting black sweater and soft blue jeans. She smiled up at him with a curious expression, “I hope we’re not interrupting.”

“We,” he repeated, feeling his gaze drop to the baby carrier in her hands.

“Erin and I thought we’d pay you a visit since you were nice enough to take pity on her mother and hire her,” Avery replied with a teasing tone eyeing him closely, “I hope this isn’t a bad time.”

“For you,” he shook his head welcoming the company after the demons of the past had played games with his head, “never. Come on in and let me see my beautiful little niece.”

“This is a big trip for her,” Avery explained walking over to the sofa Grady had set up in the corner of his oversized office. She carefully placed Erin’s carrier down on the couch before moving in beside her, “Daddy’s at work today putting the office back together so Erin and I thought it was a great idea to visit one of her favorite uncles today.”

“I take it Kyle was busy huh?” Grady teased catching the shake of Avery’s head at his words.

“Oh would you stop kidding around and just say hello to Erin,” Avery mouthed reaching out for her daughter and pulling her into arms.

“Hey beautiful,” Grady couldn’t help but feel his mood elevate in looking at his niece. He knelt down in front of Avery reaching out to take Erin’s tiny hand in his, “So tell me sweetheart are you ready to start working for me as well with your mommy? Maybe you can run the office with Dorothy and get my butt in gear while you’re here.”

“I don’t think even an act of divine intervention could do that for you in most cases,” Avery teased with a small wrinkle of her nose, while trying to repress the laugh that built up inside of her.

“Yeah your mother says that now, but I’ll have you know that I do the right things--the responsible things when they matter and you’re living proof of that,” Grady informed Erin with a thoughtful expression, “I was there when you needed me the most and that’s what counts.”

“That it does,” Avery noted seeing Grady’s gaze drift up to meet hers again. A long silence filled the air surrounding them until Avery spoke up once more, “So tell me what were you really doing when Erin and I arrived?”

“Trying to make sense of all of that,” he motioned to his desk behind him before turning his attention to Erin again. He tickled at her stomach and watched her wiggle in Avery’s arms a bit with laughter. “I wasn’t kidding when I told you that I had a lot on my plate here. I am going to fully put you to work with these cases that have sprung up while I was away.”

“I’ll do everything that I can to help out,” Avery offered up eagerly ready to delve into any kind of work again now that her days at BBK were finished. “It hasn’t been the same not having somewhere to go to each day and put my talents to good use.”

“Work isn’t your only talent Avery,” Grady mouthed realizing that his words came out a bit more provocative sounding than he’d intended. Clearing his throat uneasily he spoke up again, “I mean you’re good with Erin too and…”

“I know that, but what I meant was I’m just not used to not having a job if you will,” Avery tried to explain herself while keeping Erin close to her. “I’ve been working since I’ve been thirteen. You know that.”

“Of course I do, but was modeling really work?” Grady arched a curious brow in her direction.

“When my mother was calling all of the shots you bet your butt it was,” she groaned inwardly, “but strangely enough being in that competitive atmosphere early on taught me an important lesson.”

“Yeah, what’s that?” Grady couldn’t help but ask.

“That modeling was the last place in the world where I wanted my life to end up. I knew that I would rather be the person behind the scenes putting together the contracts and getting things ironed out if you will. That kind of followed me into law in college and…” she stopped herself, “I sound ridiculous, don’t I?”

“You could never sound ridiculous,” Grady assured her reaching for Erin once again, “May I?”

“Oh of course,” she smiled up at him watching him stand up again. He leaned forward to pull Erin into his arms and bring her close to his chest. “Maybe while you’re playing with her I can take a look at what you’ve got going on over in that mess on the desk.”

“It’ll take that miracle you spoke of for anyone to make sense of it at this point,” Grady confessed with a small laugh, “I really shouldn’t have neglected things so much.”

“I know the feeling, but hey it’s a new day--a new leaf to turn over if you will. We can put all of this together and…” Avery stopped herself realizing that she’d pushed her way over to Grady’s desk without hesitation. “I’m being too pushy, aren’t I?”

“No, not at all,” Grady nodded to the papers in front of her, “Be my guest. If you see anything you like, we can divide it up and pick what cases will appeal to our strengths if you will.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” she reached for one file in front of her before tipping her dark eyes up to him again. She sank back into his chair and reached for another file, “This is going to be great.”

“Yeah it is,” Grady hugged Erin in against his chest seeing how interested Erin was in the button on his shirt. “Though I have to ask what’s with all the energy here?”

“I thought you said you didn’t think I was pushy,” she frowned realizing that she’d kind of just taken over his desk area. She set the file down with a heavy sigh, “I am being pushy, aren’t I?”

“No, it’s just I figured that given what you’ve just gone through that you probably wouldn’t be joining me for a few months,” Grady admitted thinking about the long year Russ and Avery had both had. “I didn’t want to make you feel pushed into slaving away at what I’ve neglected in being an idiot.”

“I’m not going to slave away, but if I have something to at least keep me from driving everyone around me crazy, well it might help,” Avery paused thinking about the way things had been at home lately. A shadow lined over her features and immediately Grady picked up on it.

“Avery, what’s really going on? What aren’t you telling me?” Grady couldn’t help but ask circling in around his desk to get closer to her. “Is something wrong with you and Russ?”

“No,” she informed him truthfully, “Russ is incredible--better than incredible. You should see him with Erin. He’s the best father. He’s warm and generous and everything that he’s always been. He’s so wonderful and yet…”

“Yet?” Grady repeated with a worried expression wondering if something had changed with Avery’s feelings for Russ. “Avery please don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts about Russ--about the two of you together and…”

“Oh God no,” Avery shook her head adamantly, “That never crossed my mind--at least not how you’re thinking. It’s just Russ has done so many wonderful things for me. He got the house and the car and he’s been helping me so much with Erin, yet…I guess I just feel like I’m not giving back what he’s putting into things. I’ve been a mess since everything happened with Bruce and I guess it’s just all weighing down on me. First with my mom and then…”

“Hey, no one expects you to be superwoman Avery. I think those are pretty unrealistic shoes for anyone to fill,” Grady offered up seeing a sadness carry over her.

“But Russ is like superman. He’s my superman. He’s always in control and knows what to do, but with me…” she threw her hands up in the air before turning her attention to Erin in Grady’s arms. “I’m just so afraid that I’m going to screw things up. I’m terrified that I’ll wake up one morning and this will all go away--that everything that’s meant anything to me will be taken from me and…”

“Avery that’s not going to happen,” Grady kissed Erin on the top of the head, “Right princess?”

Erin looked from Grady to her mother, then back to Grady’s button on his shirt again.

“Grady, I almost lost her. You and I both know how many times I came close to losing her and then with my mom,” Avery stood up feeling her voice shaking with heavy emotion, “When I think of all that she’s done to me--to Russ and even Erin--it makes me sick. I can’t stop dwelling on how a mother could be that cruel to her children--I don’t understand why she would sink so low--how she could be so evil…”

“Avery, no one has those answers,” Grady tried to remind her sensing there was a lot more happening then she was speaking of.

“It’s just that everything happened all at once,” she explained lowering her voice a bit. She stepped forward reaching out to touch Erin’s tiny arm as if she couldn’t believe her daughter was really right there in front of her. “I lost Russ and my life fell apart, then I married Brant and then there was that situation with Ken and…”

“Ken,” Grady tipped his head to the side surprised by her words, “Avery, did you tell Russ about Ken? Is that what’s bothering you? Does he know that…?”

She shook her head firmly, “No and I don’t want him to know about that. It’s bad enough that I was fool enough to believe that Russ was really dead. My instincts were telling me time and time again that he was still out there--that I could still feel him, but I ignored my heart and not only married a man he despised, but I slept with his twin brother as well.”

“Avery when you slept with Ken you thought you were with Brant. You told me yourself that you had no idea what was going on at the time. You thought that you were giving Brant what he wanted and,” Grady tried to remind her thinking about how hurt she’d been about what she’s done.

“But that doesn’t matter. I made the choice to be with him because I was trying to make Brant happy. I tried time after time to make him happy and when it got down to it all that he cared about was getting me in bed,” Avery found herself on the verge of tears. Bringing her hand up to her face she wiped at her eyes, “I feel like such a fool.”

“Brant was a jerk that never, ever deserved you,” Grady felt a sting inside of him at seeing her cry. “He was the idiot who didn’t realize how good he had it until he lost you.”

“But he’s the one who took my credibility away from me,” Avery blurted out in a small exhale, “I’m the one who truly believed that they’d hired me because they thought I had potential--that they trusted my talents, but all along my mother and Nicholas were planning for me to be Brant’s sex kitten--that I wasn’t worth anything more than a roll in the hay and…”

“Avery stop!” Grady instructed seeing her getting shaken up. He walked over to Erin’s carrier and carefully placed her back inside. Kneeling in front of her he spoke up in a small voice, “Erin, I’ll be right back. Just stay put.”

“Look Grady maybe my coming here today was a mistake,” Avery started ready to reach for Erin and leave only to feel him take her arm gently in his.

“No, it wasn’t a mistake. I’m glad you’re here,” Grady stood before her, his green eyes penetrating hers, “because I think we’ve both been beating ourselves up lately for a lot of things. I’ve been finding myself thinking about Jade--about all of the mistakes I made in my relationship with her and I’ve been doing exactly what you’re doing right now. I’ve been blaming myself for things that I couldn’t control. I kept telling myself if I hadn’t crossed those lines into love with Jade that maybe she’d still be here and everything would be okay. I thought if I denied myself that piece of my heart that she held that life would’ve been better, but the truth is if I had done that I would’ve missed out on one of the most incredible times of my life. She taught me how to love again and for that I’ll be forever grateful.”

“Yes, but you and Jade are different than what I did with Brant,” Avery explained with a heavy sigh. “I was just being stupid and…”

“Avery listen to me,” Grady cupped her face in his hands, “you married Brant because you were trying to save Erin. You were doing everything in your power to save her…and me. You risked everything to put my life ahead of your own. You were unselfish and generous and along the way Brant took advantage of that. Ken found a way to hurt you too, but even through it all you have still remained strong. You’re better than what Brant gave you, but just because he’s a pompous ass who doesn’t know anything about the true treasures in this world doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a person because of it. You’re a damn good attorney--hell, you saved my life when it looked like I was doomed…”

“Kyle saved your life,” she reminded him with a thoughtful expression feeling his thumb brush against her damp cheek. “He’s the one who brought Kipp back home to prove you were innocent.”

“And if Kyle hadn’t followed through--if he was running behind, I know you. You would’ve done anything you could to keep me from losing my freedom,” Grady continued in an impassioned tone, “which is why I’m not going to quit on you either. I refuse to let you beat yourself up for things that you can’t change. Avery you are an incredibly talented woman with so much to offer the world and if you can’t see how special you are, then I’m going to make sure that Russ and I spend the rest of our lives drilling it into your head. Hell, we’ll even enlist the help of Kyle and Erin if we have to.”

She couldn’t help but smile, “Ah I see how it is. It’s the good old times with everyone ganging up on me again, right?”

“Something like that,” he smiled in response feeling her more at ease with his words. Carefully tucking a piece of her long, dark hair behind her ear, he smiled allowing the underside of his fingers to brush in against her soft, damp cheek, “I mean hey it wouldn’t be so bad to have the gang back in action again, right?”

“That’s easy for you to say since you’re never the one they team up against,” Avery laughed lightly thinking about the past.

“Oh come on. I’ve been good to you even when we’ve teamed up on you. I mean remember when you were studying for the bar exam and I stayed up with you all night reviewing?” he asked with a glimmer behind his eye.

“How can I forget? You and I bored Kyle and Russ to tears. They were in the other room playing video games all night and when they got too loud, you ran up to the store and got them each headphones to plug into the television so that we didn’t have to hear them,” Avery laughed lightly thinking about the past.

“Yes, I thought it was a smart move, but I was wrong. We wound up having to break up a fight between them when Russ beat Kyle and Kyle wanted a rematch,” Grady laughed lightly.

“Which of course I knew they were getting carried away, so I pounced on the both of them ready to break up their little scuffle and only wound up being squashed by them,” she shook her head finding herself overtaken by a flood of laughter, “Even then I thought you had my back, but I wound up being the one who was tickle tortured mercilessly by all three of you.”

“Hey what can I say?” Grady shrugged his shoulders lightly, “I’m a follower more than a leader. It was all Russell’s idea. Kyle and I just thought we’d help it along.”

“Yeah right,” Avery wrinkled her nose at him, “You loved every second of it. You just wanted to see me squirm.”

“Maybe a little, but eventually we got back to work even with all of my brother’s excuses to get his hands on you,” Grady laughed lightly finding himself taken with a lightness that the memories of the past carried with it.

“I don’t think he was the only one,” Avery noted feeling his green eyes snap back to hers again. There was a sudden silence between them and Grady opened his mouth to say something more, but found himself at a loss.

“Avery, I…” he started wondering if she’d finally remember what had happened between them back at the camp before Russ had returned.

“I mean really you and Kyle were just looking for reasons to pull me into a wrestling match too,” Avery blurted out with a sudden laugh alerting him that she obviously wasn‘t thinking the same thing he was, “I don’t know why, but you guys never grasped that I wasn’t one of the guys.”

“You were just as tough as one of the guys,” Grady reached out for her, pulling her into his arms in an embrace, “You still are kiddo and I’m promising you that things are going to get better.”

“I hope so,” Avery sighed heavily into his chest, closing her eyes and savoring the warmth of his arms around her, “I just don’t want to wake up one morning and lose the best thing that’s ever happened to me with Russ and Erin.”

“That’s not going to happen,” Grady promised squeezing her in his arms as he looked over to a now sleeping Erin. He lowered his voice to a whisper and tipped his head to speak to her, “though I think we bored her a bit.”

“What do you mean?” Avery glanced over at Erin and couldn’t help but smile, “She usually naps right around now.”

“I think she’s continuing with that trend,” Grady replied with his arms still around Avery, “and you know if she’s so at ease here with us, then maybe we can have her around every day. She can work with us.”

“Oh I’m sure you’d love that,” Avery wrinkled her nose again tipping her head up to look at him.

“Actually I would. I think she’d be good for me right now--for both of us,” Grady explained with a thoughtful expression, “After all I have to keep a close eye on my namesake there given that you and Russ are trouble with a capital T.”

“Oh I’ll give you trouble,” she swatted at his chest lightly, “You’re the master of trouble.”

“Don’t you know it,” Grady picked her up in his arms and off of the ground, squeezing her for a moment.

“Grady put me down,” Avery couldn’t help but laugh fighting to keep the noise level down as she looked to Erin.

“Not until you promise me you’re going to quit beating yourself up. I can’t have you hurting my employees especially when I have a whopper of a case I’d like her to work on,” Grady warned her keeping her up in the air despite her protest.

“Fine, I’ll try to lighten up on her, but no promises,” she decided her dark eyes meeting his.

“Nope, not good enough,” he shook his head lifting her higher in the air.

“Grady I mean it. Put me down!” Avery warned swatting at his shoulder.

“You have to promise me,” Grady explained again, a determination behind his voice.

“Okay, I promise you,” Avery finally sighed giving up on being stubborn, “Now put me down.”

“Only if you say the magic words,” Grady taunted moving from left to right with her still up in the air.

“Fine please,” Avery blurted out feeling him circle around with her in his arms again.

“Nope those aren’t them,” he shook his head adamantly. “Try again.”

“Pretty please,” Avery batted her eyelashes at him.

“Nope, not it either. Let me give you a little hint,” Grady taunted wiggling her around in the air again. “It involves something along the lines of Grady you are absolutely the best and I‘ve always known it.”

“In your dreams,” Avery groaned inwardly swatting at his chest once again, “Put me down you raving egomaniac.”

“Nope, not yet. Not until you say it,” Grady insisted hearing her let out another laugh.

“Grady stop,” Avery felt him take another step forward continuing to tease her until she heard a sound from behind them. Glancing over Grady’s shoulder she spotted Deana standing in the doorway watching them with a confused expression.

“Grady I…” Deana’s jaw practically dropped as Grady set Avery on the floor again and spun around to face her.

“Hey,” Grady waved and smiled at Deana before taking a step towards her, “what are you doing here? I thought you had a full day at the hospital and…”

“I dropped Zane off at pre-school and had a few minutes, but if this is a bad time,” Deana began glancing between Avery and Grady with a look of uncertainty.

“It’s not a bad time at all,” Avery piped in motioning to where Erin was sleeping on the couch, “your boyfriend was taunting me into saying he’s the greatest now that he’s managed to put my daughter to sleep by boring her with his words.”

“Oh now I just have the magic touch to put any woman at ease,” Grady joked reaching out to pull Deana into his arms. He kissed her lightly before smiling down at her with a playful wink, “Right beautiful?”

“Keep telling yourself that Grady,” Deana nudged him in the ribs.

“Oh admit it you love me,” Grady prodded further hoping to get a reaction out of Deana.

“It’s a fault of mine I suppose,” Deana added with a teasing wink feeling him kiss her again. As they parted, she glanced over his shoulder at Avery again and wondering what was really going on with the two of them before she walked in. While she wanted to believe that it was really nothing, there was something about the air between them that caused her to wonder if there was more to the story that no one was saying anything about.


Chris walked into the newspaper offices thinking about the jump start he was going to have on the next article that the paper would be printing. No doubt the last story on Brant Ashford had caused a rift in Brant’s already tarnished reputation, but that wasn’t enough. As far as he could tell he was about to make Brant wish he hadn’t crossed him all those years ago. With any luck Brant would be ruined and Angela would realize what a big mistake she was making in wasting her time with someone that horrible. Soon she would come back into his life and everything would be as it should. Cameron would help swing thing in Chris’s direction and soon Angela would be…

“Chris,” he heard a voice call out to him. He turned around to see a very much alive Russ Denton standing before him, “I’m glad to see you’re early.”

“Russ,” Chris forced a smile in an attempt to be polite and professional, “I heard that you were back in town again no doubt ready and eager to come and check on your paper now that you’re sure that Avery is out of immediate danger of the monsters who have been taunting her, yes? She is alright, isn’t she?”

“She’s fine,” Russ nodded slowly, “better than fine, which gives me time to check out the newspaper.”

“Oh well I’ll have you know that sales are up and it’s doing much better than it ever has,” Chris boasted with a proud smirk, “Your father and Avery were right to place their faith in my hands as the Courier has evolved from where it was barely making ends meet to a money making business that…”

“Yeah about the paper,” Russ cut him off abruptly. “Well you see there’s a lot that I had in mind for this paper when it started. I wanted to see it grow and take a direction away from the mainstream. It was a paper where people could read it and feel good about themselves and…”

“And they do. Seeing everything else around them is in the air most of the time has certainly made people feel better about their lives. They see the way the world really is and they want to reach out and seize the day, along with grabbing the paper of course,” Chris added with a wink, “As I said before sales have never been higher.”

“Even so I’m afraid that this ‘new agenda’ hasn’t fit into what I’ve thought out for my paper,” Russ frowned over at him, before scratching his own chin lightly, “I wanted to make a statement with my paper you see.”

“And you have. It’s bold and brazen and hip I might add. It’s bringing in a whole new audience that never would have thought to look at it before. You should be thanking me for what I’ve done to pull it out of the slump it was in. I know that now isn’t really the best of times to talk about a raise, but given how much profit I’ve brought in I just got to thinking that…” Chris mouthed with a smirk ready to lay out his plans for the future of the paper.

“I’ll do one better Chris right here and now because I’d like you to meet your new boss--the man who will be filling in for me while I’m out of the office if you will,” Russ explained stepping aside to reveal Kevin, who had been seated on one of the desks behind Russ.

Kevin threw out a small wave and a big grin, “Hey Chris how’s it going?”

“Oh shi…” Chris began suddenly realizing that whatever he’d had in mind for the future of the paper was about to come to a screeching halt now that the rules had changed around him!


...to be continued...