Episode 338

“Prove it to me?” Kellen let out a small laugh moving forward and holding onto the door handle tightly. Shaking his head slowly, Kellen pushed back his short brown hair. “I think I proved to you how much I loved you when I got that restraining order against you. Which I might remind you that you are breaking right now.”

“I know that, but you have to give me a minute to explain,” Drew begged pushing back his dark hair, seeing the way that Kellen stared out at him. Drew had been planning this for months, just never really had the chance to see Kellen on the fact that Kellen was always with Kipp. “You just have to realize, that you’re the only one for me Kellen. You’re the only one I want to be with.”

“That’s nice,” Kellen replied seeing Drew rub at his chin slowly moving his fingers in over his goatee. Letting out a disgusted scowl Kellen shook his head slowly before taking in a deep breath. “You may feel that way Drew, but I feel the complete opposite for you. You see, I love Kipp and I want nothing to do with you. I would rather go straight before actually getting with you.”

“That’s not true,” Drew grabbed a hold of the door before Kellen could close it and Drew let out a small sigh. “I know you still feel for me Kellen, I know you do and that’s why I don’t understand what is going on with you.”

“What’s going on with me Drew?” Kellen snapped resting his hand on his hips before letting out a small laugh. Looking down toward the ground he took in a sharp breath before looking back up into Drew’s blue eyes. “Drew, you’re a freak. I don’t know how to put it much nicer than that because that’s the nicest thing I can come up with right now. You stalked me for three months.”

“That’s not true,” Drew tried to stand up for himself as he moved forward seeing Kellen drop his arms, his face growing angered as Drew took the hint and moved back slowly. “Kellen, I just wanted a chance to talk to you.”

“You had a chance to talk to me Drew,” Kellen blurted out, throwing his hands up in the air as he spoke. Feeling a bit of chill coming from outside Kellen moved his arms in front of his bare chest knowing that he would have to get Drew out of here sooner than later. “I tried to ask you to leave me alone, but the things you were doing. The ways you were following me was purely weird Drew. It was wrong.”

“It wasn’t wrong and I didn’t stalk you,” Drew tried to stay true to his words as he pulled his leather jacket in closer to his body before taking in a sharp breath. “I’m just trying to get you to realize that we are meant to be together Kellen. I’m yours and I want you to be mine.”

“I don’t really care what you want Drew,” Kellen went to grab the door and shut it before feeling Drew grab his wrist and pull him forward before Kellen could shut the door. “Let go of me before I hurt you Drew.”

“I’m not letting you go until you give me a chance to talk,” Drew stated once more before biting down on his bottom lip and taking in a small breath. “You don’t see what I am doing for you Kellen and you know what--your new boyfriend is nothing compared to me. I don’t know why you chose a loser like that over me.”

“A loser?” Kellen snapped pulling his wrist away from Drew knowing that he could always overpower him because of the mere difference in their size. “Kipp is my everything, Kipp is two hundred times the man you are. You couldn’t even compare the two of you together because Kipp loves me and I love Kipp. It’s something that me and you never shared.”

“That’s not true,” Drew snapped grabbing a hold of Kellen's arm roughly again seeing Kellen’s jaw clench with anger as Drew let go of him once more, moving in closer toward Kellen. “We loved each other and you know it.”

“You’re right,” Kellen replied taking in a sharp breath before moving back slowly acting like he was going to turn away. Spinning quickly Kellen brought his fist into the side of Drew’s face seeing him fly back onto the sidewalk as Kellen shook his head slowly. “I care that you are getting blood on my boyfriend’s cement. So why don’t you pull yourself up off the ground and get your ass out of here.”

Before Drew could even get up off the ground and say another word, Kellen slammed the door shut and locked it up tightly before moving back toward the bed. Something else popped into his head before he went back toward the door.

“Hey Drew,” Kellen called out opening the door seeing Drew turn around as he was halfway down the driveway. It was almost like his face lit up when Kellen called out to him and Kellen motioned him to stay where he was. “I was just going to tell you to get a hair cut and shave your face because you look like a bigger freak. Oh, and if you ever show up like this again--I’ll be sure to call the police. Have a nice day.”

Walking back into the house Kellen smiled and locked the door behind him, rubbing his hands together as he let out a small frown still feeling a bit cold. Moving over toward the bedroom again Kellen grabbed his shirt from the bed and pulled it on quickly, looking back at the clock when he finished.

“Hopefully your home,” Kellen picked his cell phone up from the dresser before dialing Kyle’s number hoping to get some kind of answer from Kyle as to if he had actually talked to Heather yet. Hearing the dial tone go on forever Kellen heard the other side click making him think that he had got the voice mail. “Damn Kyle, I really need to talk to you and you aren’t picking up which is really pissing me off because I really want…,”

“Um Kellen,” Kyle cleared his throat uneasily before letting out a small laugh hearing a gasp from the other side of the phone as Kyle switched the phone to his other ear. “I’m actually right here and I think I did answer.”

“Oh my dear, how embarrassing,” Kellen grumbled falling back against the bed before letting out a long breath and pretending to hit himself in the head with his phone. Putting the phone back to his ear he closed his eyes tightly before shaking his head slowly. “I’m sorry about that, I didn’t realize.”

“Hey, it’s alright. It happens to all of us,” Kyle inhaled deeply thinking about what he said for a moment before letting out a small laugh. “Well, it usually doesn’t happen, but I can’t blame you for worrying.”

“Well, thank you. I think,” Kellen paused for a moment not quite sure what to say before his thoughts lingered back to Heather even though his embarrassment was still there after what he did. Trying to get past that certain feeling he tried to move on with the topic he was originally going to talk to Kyle about. “So, have you heard from Heather yet?”

“No,” Kyle grumbled falling back against his leather couch before taking in a long breath thinking about all the things he had planned on doing tonight, but none of them had turned out right. “I have been trying to find her, but nothing is working. I’m going to guess she doesn’t want to be found.”

“That is not good,” Kellen sat up on the bed slowly thinking of something to say before getting caught up on his words. Hearing the sound of Kyle’s breath on the other side of the phone told him that Kyle was probably just as worried about Heather as he was. “We have to find her fast Kyle because she is mad at me now too. That’s for everything that has been happening, she doesn’t understand.”

“You don’t think I know that?” Kyle snapped with a small sigh relaxing the muscles in his shoulders before letting out a small, short breath. “I’m just trying to think of what I can say--what I can do just to get her to listen to me.”

“You seemed to pull some pretty sweet moves on her before with all those things you have pulled with her when I walked in,” Kellen added his input hearing Kyle silent on the other end telling him that either Kyle was pissed or hopefully two, Kyle didn’t hear him. “Let’s just try and find her because if we don’t--something bad could seriously happen to her.”

“Well, I’m not going to let that happen,” Kyle whispered thinking back to Heather and how much he needed to talk to her about his future. “I need her to hear everything, I just need to find a way to get her to listen to me.”

“Well, I know you have a special thing with her,” Kellen pointed out with a small nod of his head before looking over at the clock on the side of the bed. “You have to find her before tomorrow though Kyle because if you don’t, she might be gone forever. That’s something I know you don’t want to live with.”


Brant gazed out at over Lake Cardinal, a martini in one hand and a small box in the other. Taking in a breath, his gaze dropped down to the black velvet box in hand wondering if now would be the time--if tonight would prove to be the moment he’d been waiting his entire life to find. Even now he could feel knots of nervous anticipation building in the pit of his stomach. His dreams were so close, yet the threat of the nightmare lingered over his head. He shut his eyes reflecting on all the things that lead him to this moment in time.

“Face it son. No matter how hard you try, you’ll always be like me. You and I are one in the same and you can’t escape that,” he could hear his father’s voice taunting again and again after the years that Brant fought like hell to escape the same torrid fate.

“No,” he mouthed to himself taking another sip of his martini before looking down to the glass, “I’m nothing like that man. His mistakes will not change where I am meant to be. I won’t allow his memory of the myths of him to steal this from me too.”

He lifted his glass again to take a sip before thinking twice of it. With a long sigh he threw his arm back and tossed the martini glass down to the rocks below. There was no turning back--no more second guessing. Brant Ashford was now a man on a mission--bound and determined to keep himself from traveling down the same road that those in the past had. He knew of the Ashford curse--saw how obsession could clearly bring it on, but now wasn’t about obsession. Now was about that one thing that had always evaded him--the one moment that would forever change his destiny. He could do this. Hell, he was born to do what this night had in store for him.

“Guess who,” he heard the same familiar melody fill in his mind as the world around him went dark. Her soft, silken fingers teased over his eyes in an attempt to keep him from deciphering her identity, but there was no mistaking the beauty who leaned in against his spine hoping to hold his complete attention.

Smiling, he slipped the small box into his pants pocket before bringing his hands up over hers gently, “I don’t need to guess because I already know what is right in front of me.”

“Actually if you want to be technical, I’m not in front of you,” she corrected tipping up on her toes to place a small kiss on the side of his neck. He felt shivers race up and down his spine due in part to the intoxicating spell she weaved over him, but in part due to the butterflies that were doing flip flops ins his stomach. Before today he’d been convinced things would take a natural progression, but after his talk with Heather and his confrontation with Avery he was positive that this day--this moment would be destiny for him.

“Since when have we been technical,” Brant teased his index finger up over her wrist, feeling her skin respond to the faintest of his touches. Smiling he turned around to face her, sliding his arms around her waist and drawing her in against him. “Where is the fun in that?”

“Now that you put it that way,” she smirked up at him, her dark eyes dancing with delight, “there is something to be said about being abstract and steering away from conformity for a while.”

“Now you’re getting it,” Brant leaned down to kiss her tenderly, taking the time to savor the supple sweetness of her lips, to taste the fire behind her in all it’s glorious passion. It was neither a rushed nor impromptu kiss, this kiss had been planned with all of it’s explorations, with every caress, every movement, down to that final breath shared between them. As their mouths parted he could see she’d felt the power behind it too.

“If you keep kissing me like that, we might wind up over the balcony onto the beach from being weak in the knees,” she blurted out with a breathlessness behind her kiss swelled lips.

“Then I would die a happy man knowing that I’ve finally found everything I’ve ever wanted,” Brant caressed the side of her face, sliding his fingers into her dark hair and drawing her near to him for another kiss.

She eagerly responded to him wrapping her arms around his torso, hugging him against her tightly. He dropped his palms down to her bottom, squeezing her upward in a lightening-quick movement until they were flush against one another both feeding off of the warmth bouncing between them. His tongue tasted and teased hers, feeling as if he was about to burst from the inferno carrying over him at the nearness of her. It was something that he was convinced he would find no where else--something he didn’t want from any other source than from the woman in his arms.

“You were just drinking a martini, weren’t you?” she questioned as their lips parted and her dark eyes sought out his with a newfound curiosity.

“I was,” he nodded in response watching her lick her lips to absorb the taste of his kiss further.

“I miss those, but since I’m drinking for three at the moment,” she dropped her gaze to her abdomen and let out a small laugh, “I guess it makes you think twice about indulgences.”

“Some indulgences,” he curled his finger underneath her chin again, “but rather than reflect upon what we don’t have at our hands right now, how about we talk about what there is still available to us--of the new indulgences so to speak…”

“My you are in a good mood,” she noted the curious tone he had and smiled. “Something wonderful must’ve happened or you’re drunk.”

“I’m far from being drunk,” he assured her with a wide grin. “Sure, I mean I might’ve had a drink or two, but that was more so for my nerves more than anything else.”

“Nerves?” she repeated giving him a strange look. “Why? Is something wrong? Did you run into Shannon or something?”

“God no,” Brant shuddered at the mention of his ex, “Believe me if I ran into Shannon I wouldn’t have discarded my martini. I’d be drowning in them.”

“I can easily see why,” Angela frowned thinking about her conversation with Don’s wife, “She is impossible and rude and…”

“Not coming right?” Brant arched a curious brow thinking about Angela’s plans to try to help Don and his wife find their way back to one another.

“She didn’t so much as let me get a word out edgewise,” she divulged with a small sigh, “She was ruthless and clearly stubborn. Granted I can see why she might not be happy with me when she had seen Don and I together, but it was totally innocent.”

“Of course it was,” Brant nodded cupping her face in his hands again and drawing her in for another slow, lavish kiss. He felt her breath against his and he took the time to drink up every soft sigh that spilled past her full, luscious lips.

“Mmm,” she murmured the sound buzzing against his mouth, “why do I get the feeling that you aren’t interested in hearing about this?”

“Because as much as I want to see my best friend happy, there’s something about my life that I need to take care of first,” he divulged reaching for her hand and lacing her fingers with his, “Something that simply cannot wait a moment longer.”

“But Brant I thought that you wanted to meet here because of what we planned for Don--because we…” she started feeling him place his index finger over the center of her lips to silence her.

“We’ll get to that, but first I want you to take a walk with me,” he suggested squeezing her hand in his again before eyeing her intently, “You trust me don’t you?”

“From the moment I met you I’ve trusted you with more than you can imagine,” Angela revealed squeezing his hand in response before allowing him to take her away from the balcony to somewhere more private--to the place where he’d laid out the plans for the evening yet to come. “Something tells me that tonight is going to bring out a test of that trust though, isn’t it?”

“That all depends,” Brant shrugged his shoulders casually keeping his mind fixed on what he’d planned for them.

He lead her up a long, winding stairway above the restaurant where they’d met after planning a big day for Don and Shannon. Granted Brant had rented out the restaurant to help Don and Shannon fix things, but now upstairs he had his own plans. Once he’d reached the top of the staircase he looked over his shoulder at Angela once again.

“Close your eyes,” he instructed stepping beside her and reaching into his jacket pocket.

“Brant?” she spoke his name with a curious eye noting the white, silken scarf he withdrew from his jacket’s breast pocket.

“Trust me,” he whispered circling around to move in behind her. His fingers brushed over the back of her neck causing ripples of sensation to pour out over her.

There was something to be said about this game he was playing with her--something about his approach that had her completely captivated and that was exactly what Brant was hoping for. He secured the sash around her eyes before dropping a sensual kiss over the side of her neck. His arm curled around her body, fingers traveling up over her curves and causing her to arch back into him.

“My you are feeling dangerous today,” she teased in an attempt to seem as though she was in control, but something in her voice made him realize just how vulnerable she was feeling now that her vision had been taken from her. His palm pressed in over her soft curves for the briefest of moments knowing that it was sheer torture, but for the time being he had a bigger goal in mind. Dropping his hand to her waist, Brant nudged her forward ever so slightly.

“Follow me,” he whispered over her skin, sending a whole new set of shivers racing over her. He took a small step forward, his thigh pressing into her leg and urging her to do the same.

“That would only work if you were in front of me, not behind me,” she corrected remembering their earlier conversation with one another when their roles were reversed.

“I thought we were going for unconventional today,” Brant mouthed helping her up the last few stairs leading to his surprise. He kept his arm around her waist, keeping her close to him in his protective stance. Finally they stood at the door that served as the final barrier to what he’d had planned for them. Leaning forward he whispered in the back of her ear, “Now remember to keep holding onto me.”

“Alright,” Angela spoke up in a small whisper, a gasp building in the back of her throat when she felt the first breeze sweep in over her. There was a distinct change in the temperature and in an instant she knew she was no longer in the restaurant.

“Brant where are we?” she couldn’t help but ask feeling his hand fall to her hip again.

“Just trust me,” Brant whispered against her heated flesh giving her an altogether sense of excitement pouring out over her. “Stay right here…”

“Don’t tell me that you’re,” Angela started feeling him step away from her. She frowned before finishing her statement, “leaving.”

“I won’t be long,” she heard his voice echo from wherever he’d drifted off to.

She was met by silence for a brief moment until the soft sounds of the breeze were replaced by what sounded like the lake beyond where they were. She’d taken note of it on the way in admiring it’s beauty, but not really having time to really fully appreciate the sound until now. Now it sounded like home and brought forth a great many thoughts of the island she’d left behind. She opened her mouth to say something else when a soft melody filled the air around her.

“Brant?” she spoke his name curiously turning in the direction of the sound only to feel his arm coil around her waist pulling her into his powerful chest.

“What did I tell you about staying still?” he chastised collecting her into his arms and moving with her to the slow rhythm the music played out before them. “Now I know that this isn’t exactly what was playing the night we met, but it’s close.”

“Brant I…” she started feeling him move away from her once again. She stretched her arms out in front of her only to feel the air in front of her.

“I forgot one thing,” he explained sweeping her up in his arms in a haste and causing her to gasp. He carried her over to a chair and set her down. Dropping down to her feet, he reached for the clasp on her shoes and took his time massaging each foot after it was freed from the less than sensible heels she’d been wearing. Smiling he looked up at her, seeing the way her curiosity was carrying over her. Moving to his feet again, he couldn’t help but smile, “Much better.”

“Okay I’ll bite, what are we…” she started feeling him reach for her again. Within a matter of seconds she’d moved from the chair to a new place--to something that felt distinctly like sand beneath her toes. “Brant, what are we…?”

“Remember that night?” Brant whispered warmly, placing kisses over the side of her neck. “Remember what it was like when we met and when we danced the night away in one another’s arms? It was like something you would see in a romance novel--where the troubled would be hero finds the woman of his dreams, but he’s too stubborn to see that the one night is something that will change his life forever. Both parties are swept up in the moment, but neither one realizing that it’s destiny calling to them.”

“Brant I don’t understand…” Angela started feeling him press his index finger over her lips to silence her again.

“You will,” he promised still moving to the music that surrounded them. The breeze swept over the both of them, creating an atmosphere that mimicked the one that was around them the night they’d met. “Remember how the bar closed and they were trying to get us to leave that night after the music died down?”

Angela laughed lightly recalling the night she’d met him--the night all the rules changed for her. “You told them you just wanted to stick it out for one more song.”

“But the deejay had already left,” he laughed lightly remembering their beginnings, “I told the man that we didn’t need music to enjoy ourselves.”

“We were so plastered that night that I’m sure they thought we were insane,” she chuckled in response leaning into him. She placed her head on his shoulder and savored the warmth of his arms surrounding her.

“Maybe we were insane,” he mouthed nibbling on her earlobe gently, “but I was no where near being plastered.”

“Now we both know that’s not true,” she tipped her head up in protest. “We were both very drunk.”

“As drunk as I was, I wasn’t nearly too drunk to realize what a wonderful woman I had in my arms,” he whispered warmly turning her in his arms in a dance, “Even then I knew that I’d found something special--something that I wasn’t about to walk away from.”

“You were just looking to get laid,” she teased with a small laugh. “Admit it.”

“I’ll admit to being very turned on that night, but I’ll have you know that I wasn’t looking for just sex that night,” he stopped moving the music coming to an end as Angela found herself surprised by the sound of his voice. Silence followed and she felt him pull away from her.

“Brant?” she questioned uneasily reaching out in front of her to feel for him. When she met the air with her fingers she let out a frustrated sigh, “Where are you?”

“I’m right here,” he reached for her hand, his voice sounding a bit more distant even though she was sure he was still close to her. “As I was saying before even back then I knew that you were so much more than a one night stand. You and I found one another at a time when we were both so very lost and yes, we made our fair share of mistakes, me more than you, when it gets down to it, you changed my life that day we met Angela Meloni. You turned my world upside down and even when you threw me out of the beach house practically naked, I knew that it didn’t matter where you were because you’d stolen my heart. For months I tried to find you even when I was working to convince myself that I could get over you. Despite all the stupid things I did to try to move on, the fact to the matter is that I never have and I never will…”

Angela listened to him clear his throat before she felt his lips press in over the top of her hand.

“I know I promised you fireworks and everything you’d expect in a fairy tale, but after the other night--after we were out with Matt and Don and I saw you with Matt, I knew then that while we might have started this all wrong, we were headed in the right direction with one another--a direction that could only get better with one thing…”

She felt a breath catch in the back of her throat as he caressed her hand with his, a warmth carrying over her until she felt something at the base of her ring finger.

“With this…” Brant slid the ring he’d been carrying with him over the tip of her finger teasing her with the promise of forever between them, “And if you say yes to the question I’m going to ask you then I swear to you that I’ll be everything you’ve ever wanted--everything you could ever need. I’ll dedicate my all to being the husband you deserve and the father to our children that I know you want me to be. I realize that I’m not perfect, but more than anything else I know that I’d be lost without you. You’ve given me a new hope--a new breath of life and if I can’t spend forever with you, then I’m going to throw myself off of this building right now because life wouldn’t be worth living without you in it.”

“Don’t you dare,” Angela warned squeezing his hand in hers.

“Whether or not I do depends on your answer to the question I have to ask,” he explained with a smirk building over his lips. He saw her taking in a long, slow breath before speaking up again.

“Before you ask me you’d better damn well let me take off this blindfold,” Angela warned him with a firm tone.

“Fair enough,” he nodded rising up on his feet to unknot the sash that had been keeping her from seeing their surroundings.

“Thank you,” she smiled feeling her eyes adjust to the light. She looked around only to discover that they were on the top of the restaurant. There were a few strings of lights surrounding them in white and pink and a small table just beyond where they stood with flowers and what appeared to be dinner upon it.

“You’re very welcome,” Brant reached for her again, letting out a tiny laugh when she wiggled her toes in the small sandbox they were standing in. When their eyes met again, he offered up a shrug, “It was the best I could do with such short notice. I was trying to bring back the beach to us.”

“I like it,” Angela decided seeing that he’d also shed his shoes for their dance. “I like it a lot.”

“Enough to give me the answer I’m hoping for,” he asked with eager eyes.

“If you ever get around to asking it,” Angela laughed nervously feeling butterflies dance in her stomach.

“Always to the point,” he nodded taking a step back and returning to his kneeling position at her feet. He reached for her hand again and held up the sparkling diamond emerald cut ring he was keeping for this moment.

“Oh Brant,” her eyes widened as she felt the ring just over her finger practically begging to be hers much like the man who knelt before her pouring his heart out to her.

“I realize that I promised you the world and this is far from the exotic that you had imagined, but when it gets down to it, I’m offering you all that I am and all that I have to give. The truth is I love you Angela Meloni and even if we have a lot to learn about one another in the grand scheme of things, I say bring it on. I welcome each and every new experience between us--every shared moment as we anticipate our children coming into this world and most of all I want to embrace the dream of holding you in my arms for eternity sharing my life with you.”

“Brant I…” she started feeling tears threatening at the expression on his face.

“I know I’m not perfect, but I can promise you that I will dedicate each and every day that I have to making each and every one of your dreams come true. I love you Angela Meloni and nothing would make me happier than to have you with me forever--to make this official between us. What I’m trying to say is--what I want to say is…”

“Yes,” Angela blurted out reaching out to throw her arms around him excitedly. “Oh yes.”

Brant laughed lightly pulling her into an embrace. He wrapped his arms around her tightly hearing the excited squeals that overtook her. “Aren’t you even going to wait to hear the question?”

“If it involves our getting married, then you bet I’m going to say yes,” she informed him point blank, squeezing him tighter than before.

“Actually I was just going to ask you if you would help me find a place to get some good car insurance,” he teased with a wink feeling her jab him in the ribs.

“That’s not funny,” she pouted feeling him reach for her hand again.

“Then how about we quit joking and start seriously talking about forever,” he suggested with a warm, welcoming glance. “Angela Meloni, will you take the biggest risk of your life and take a chance on a loser like me by becoming my wife?”

“Well since you put it that way,” she shrugged her shoulders before wrinkling her nose at him, “You bet I will.”

“Thank God,” he feigned a breath of relief before slipping the diamond on her finger. He saw the tears building behind her eyes and reached out to kiss her tenderly, “I love you.”

“I love you,” she whispered in response kissing him again and again all the while knowing that her dreams of forever and happiness were starting to finally come true. With Brant holding her, she was certain she would have everything she’d ever needed now that her prince had come out from the darkness to turn her world around forever.


Shannon stepped off of the elevators realizing how familiar this all felt in showing up at the hospital to see Don, only this time it wasn’t to pay him the same kind of visits that they had shared with one another in the past. This time she had a lot more on her mind especially now after she’d had her run in with Brant’s latest plaything. While Shannon wanted to ignore what Angela had said to her, there was something nagging in the back of her mind that had her wondering.

“Don is a great guy Shannon and if you can’t see that one day you’ll find another woman will and she won’t waste any time in sweeping him up and away from you,” she heard Angela’s words echo in the back of her mind making her wonder if in fact she had been too haste in her treatment of Don.

Still thinking about the way she’d felt when she saw him with Angela it got her wondering about where the motivation had been in her outburst. Had she been angry with Don for spending time with Brant and his new girlfriend or was it more so to do with the fact that there Don was with a beautiful woman pampering him and giving him attention--attention that she didn’t like seeing? Was it that she was jealous? Did she feel threatened by Angela’s seeming connection with Don?

“No, it couldn’t be jealousy,” she thought to herself rounding the corner towards the direction of Don’s office. She couldn’t be feeling jealousy for a man that she’d only recently started to love. It wasn’t as if she and Don had some fantastic relationship where he was turning her into putty at his hands. He was the one who was so hung up on her that she’d felt sorry for him--she’d felt like she needed to stay married to him simply to keep him from falling apart. She was the one who could give or take the marriage on any given day, yet the idea of Don with another woman, well it made her blood boil.

“This is ridiculous,” Shannon mouthed to herself a frown carrying over her as she stepped towards his office now more determined than ever to have a few words with her husband. She was halfway down the hall when she heard Don’s voice raised in obvious anger.

“Listen Bucko,” she heard Don snap while shoving Zack in the middle of the chest, “You won’t be disrespecting women like that in my hospital and so help me God if I catch you doing it again…”

“What are you going to do about it Don? Kick my ass right in front of everyone and get fired for doing it?” Zack taunted further a wicked smirk spreading over his nefarious features. “You’re already in hot water for the little stunt you pulled a while ago with your buddy, so why not go for the gusto and just end your career right now? It’ll make this whole Chief of Staff race a whole hell of a lot easier on me that way.”

“Don don’t,” Shannon watched a pretty, young, blonde nurse rush over to him bringing her hand up over his bicep and squeezing gently, “He’s not worth risking your career over. Ignore him. He’s not worth it.”

“No, he’s not,” Don glanced over at Zack with a clenched jaw. He took a step back seeing Zack laugh at how Don was backing away from a confrontation. However before Zack could completely relax, Don threw his fist out impacting with Zack’s jaw and sending Zack flying back into the wall at the opposite side of the hallway. Don stood taller, puffed out his chest and looked to the nurse at his side with a smile, “But you are and I won’t let him disrespect you like that.”

“Oh Don you shouldn‘t have done that,” Deana spoke up in a worried tone seeing Zack crawling up from the ground after Don had laid him out on the floor.

“Yes I should have,” Don touched the side of her face in what felt like a far too intimate fashion for Shannon’s liking.

Immediately that jealousy she’d been denying spiked up inside of her and coiled through her when Don wrapped his arm around the woman’s shoulders for the briefest of moments. She was about to move forward and say something, but Zack beat her to the punch.

“You just made a big mistake Leveski,” Zack warned wiping at the blood that now pooled at the corner of his mouth.

“No I don’t think I did, but if you keep this up, then you’re going to find yourself in hot water Zack. Don’t you dare harass Deana again,” Don warned sharply watching Zack rush off before turning to face Deana once more, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine but,” her voice was shaky and Shannon fought the urge to spring forward from where she was standing and pounce on Deana, plummeting her to the ground much like Don had done to Zack if not worse, but instead she stood still watching her husband soften his voice to an inaudible whisper. She saw him lean in closer to Deana, who promptly reached out to embrace him. The two stood together for a moment before Deana stood up on her toes and whispered something to Don. Shannon couldn’t make that out either, but as she watched the two of them take off down the hallway together Shannon wondered if she was already too late.

“He couldn’t have found someone else,” Shannon thought aloud watching Don slip into a room with Deana. She took a step forward ready to go investigate further, but her instincts kicked in and anger poured over her causing her to stop. “No if he’s going to cheat on you, then to hell with him. You didn’t really love him anyways.”

Shannon repeated that to herself to the point that she’d almost believed it. Without taking a second look at the situation, she spun on her heel turning back towards the elevators now even more furious with the husband she’d been half tempted to apologize to.

“To hell with that,” she thought to herself as she entered the elevators once again. “Don’s nowhere near being worth the frustrations he’s bringing into my life. Forget him!”

The problem was that deep down Shannon knew that wasn’t such an easy order once she’d felt the first glimpse of the truth behind her feelings for the man who had somehow tricked her into a marriage that she’d never asked for--a marriage that she’d never wanted, yet now it was a marriage that she couldn’t stop obsessing over.


“Let me look at your hand,” Deana instructed reaching out to look at Don’s fist and seeing it was red. She shook her head at him before dropping it and moving over to the freezer in the on call room. She pulled out a tray of ice before shaking her head at Don once again, “You really shouldn’t have done that even if you were defending my honor.”

“The guy was just asking for it--begging for it even,” Don shook his fist in an attempt to wave off the pain that was now throbbing through his hand. “If I didn’t do it, someone else around here would have.”

“I almost would have preferred that they did,” she informed him point blank placing some ice into an ice pack and moving over to him once again. “Anyone else wouldn’t be putting their career in jeopardy like you just did.”

“Sure they would only they would have gotten fired. I know better than that in my case. I’m not going anywhere,” Don informed her point blank, a goofy grin spreading over his determined features.

“What’s that look for?” she saw something behind his blue eyes and he let out another laugh.

“I know for a fact that Dr. Reynolds hates that man and I’ve already got the job as Chief of Staff when Isaac retires. We were talking about it earlier today before I clocked that idiot,” Don boasted proudly puffing out his chest victoriously. “The rest of the time Isaac is here, it’s just a bunch of red tape to cut through, but there really is no race for Chief of Staff. The job is mine.”

“Even so, you could still wind up losing that position if everyone learns what you did in the middle of the hospital today,” she shook her head at him her dark eyes still laced with heavy disapproval when she placed the icepack on his hand. “That was a stupid move Don.”

“It wasn’t stupid. Hell I might even get a salary increase for doing the hospital a favor. With the way he was holding his jaw when he ran off like he did, I highly doubt he’ll be up to saying anything even remotely insulting for the next few days due to the pain,” Don smirked again before chuckling. However, his laughter came to a halt when he noticed the way Deana was looking at him, “Don’t give me that look.”

“Don I’m going to give you that look considering how impulsive that was. It was stupid and…” she started to chastise him.

“Now you’re sounding like Shannon,” he frowned taking a step back and turning away from her.

“In that case maybe Shannon is right. Granted I appreciate what you did for me…it was something that, well something that not a lot of people would do, but you can’t keep putting yourself at risk for those you care about,” Deana tried to reason with him seeing his shoulders tense up at what she was saying to him.

“Why not?” Don spun around to face her, his blue eyes filled with a newfound determination. “Why shouldn’t I be able to stick my neck out for those I love? Why shouldn’t I do the right thing when it’s clear that no one else is going to do something about it?”

“Because Don you can’t let your life fall to pieces simply because you feel like you have some old debt to fill,” she blurted out thoughtlessly immediately regretting it almost as soon as the words came out. The expression on his face said it all when she noticed the sadness burning behind his eyes. “Don, I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just…”

“Just what?” he questioned feeling a lump forming in the back of his throat, “That you’d want me to just stand there and see that man abuse you when we both know it’s not right? Deana, I brought you to Coral Valley so that you could start a new life--so that you could find a way to begin again without all the problems that you had back home.”

“I understand that Don and I appreciate that in more ways than you can imagine, but what you did today…” she paused biting on her lower lip nervously, “As honorable as it was I’m sure that Stephanie wouldn’t want you sticking your own neck out like that for me.”

“Stephanie wouldn’t want it any other way Deana,” he sighed taking a small step forward and reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “Don’t you know by now that she’d send lightening down to strike me dead on the spot if I let some son of a bitch attack her little sister like that?”

“Don,” she felt her own emotions overtake her as she turned away from him, “I understand what you’re saying, but she hardly knew me. We had half a dozen phone conversations and then…”

“So what?” Don shrugged his shoulders, his voice more impassioned than ever, “You and Jason were the only family she had and even though your father was a son of a bitch, that doesn’t change the way she felt about you. She wanted to meet the both of you before she…”

“I know,” Deana spun around to face him again seeing the sadness flooding over him. She stepped forward reaching out to touch his arm gently, “and I thank God each and every day that Stephanie found such a wonderful man like you. For you to do what you did in taking the time to find me…to give me a chance to have a family with you and Mattie, Don I can’t even begin to tell you how much that means to me. It’s given me a chance at something I would have never had if you hadn’t kept your promise to Stephanie. You have done so many wonderful things for me and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish I could do the same for you.”

“You do a lot of things for me kiddo,” Don reached out to embrace her feeling the lump in the back of his throat intensifying at the thought of Stephanie, “You’ve given me a chance to do something for my wife that I never could’ve done had I not met you. You’ve given me something special and I can’t help it if I feel protective of you even now. You’re family and I wouldn’t ever walk away from my family.”

“I know,” Deana nodded opting to quit arguing with him. She hugged him in response keeping her arms around him tightly as it was clear he was upset with the direction their conversation had taken. Still she wanted him to know how much she’d appreciated him and all he did. “While I’m not going to say that I think decking Zack Vaughn was the smartest career move, I will say that I’m certain Stephanie would be very proud of you for doing it even if it was reckless and impulsive.”

“God I hope so,” Don breathed against her blonde hair closing his eyes and thinking about the wife he’d loved so very much. In being able to help Deana and bring her to town it was Don’s way of doing in his heart what he knew Stephanie would’ve wanted and nothing was going to stop him from keeping Deana out of harm’s way even if it meant making a few small sacrifices in the process. He was certain he was doing the right thing--the only thing that he could do.


“Wow, this place is awesome,” Sarah mused taking in the techno music that surrounded her and Blake after they’d stepped into the night club. Turning to look over at Blake she grinned excitedly, “I haven’t been to a place like this in years. Not since college at least.”

“It is pretty cool here,” Blake decided taking a look around and seeing the hard thrumming music bringing people to the overcrowded dance floor. It looked like a scene straight out of one of those movies that Blake had seen in the past, but never really had taken the time to experience first hand. Now as she saw people all over the place all ready to party, she couldn’t help but feel a bit excited and nervous about being there. Tapping Sarah on the shoulder again she spoke up in a loud voice, “I hope you don’t mind that I asked Seth to join us later. I wasn’t really sure what we would find in the club here and…”

“Hey sexy,” a voice spoke up causing Blake to turn around and see a half dressed man standing before her. He was shirtless, but wore dark slacks with suspenders thus giving off a very bohemian air about him. He reached out to Blake placing his hand on her waist and urging her in closer to him while he smirked. “Want to dance?”

“I don’t dance,” Blake wrinkled her nose before stepping aside to get away from him before he tried to make another move on her. Tugging on Sarah’s arm she guided her through the club hoping to find a place to sit down so they could talk.

“Why didn’t you dance with him Blake?” Sarah frowned once the two moved over to one of the booths. “He was kind of cute.”

“I’m not interested,” Blake explained matter of fact. “Most men here are looking for one thing and I can assure you that I’m not going to be offering it to them since I’m happy in a relationship.”

“He just asked you to dance,” Sarah frowned over at her before shaking her head, “It’s not like he asked you to marry him. He just wanted to have a good time.”

“And I’m sure he’ll have one with someone else,” Blake piped in eyeing the room to see the man moving onto his next target. He seemed to pull the same move on a woman over near the bar and Blake nodded. “See he’s just practicing until he finds the right woman who wants to accept his offer.”

“I would’ve danced with him,” Sarah shrugged her shoulders before taking in the scene around here. “I mean why not? You only live once, right?”

“Keep talking that way and I’ll start to wonder if you’re really not ready to get married,” Blake noted seeing something spark behind Sarah’s eyes.

“Just because I don’t mind having a good time every now and then doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person,” Sarah pointed out with a huff. “Plenty of people go out and get drunk before they get married. They party and have a good time. It’s par for the course if you will.”

“Yeah well you’re pregnant, so you’ll have to skip the whole getting drunk scenario,” Blake pointed out with a frown.

“Who says?” Sarah challenged seeing a waiter approaching. “One drink won’t kill me.”

“It’s not you that I’m worried about,” Blake added as the man stood in front of them.

“What can I get for you ladies?” he greeted them with a bright smile, his muscled contours standing out through the uniform he was wearing. His blue-green eyes caught both Sarah and Blake’s attention as his dark hair seemed to only add to his already perfect tanned features.

“How about a little dose of you?” Sarah blurted out causing Blake’s eyes to widen at her suggestion.

“Sarah,” Blake gasped horrified before turning to the waiter. “What she means is we’ll both have some virgin strawberry daiquiris over here.”

“To hell with virgin,” Sarah licked her lips, her gaze traveling over the man in front of her again, “I’ll take the strongest thing you’ve got for me.”

“You really think you can handle my strongest thing?” the waiter flirted back with her clearly amused by the direction the conversation was going in.

“What do you think?” Sarah leaned forward giving him a very obvious view to her low neckline on her blouse.

“I’m sure I can whip something up with the drinks and as for what else you have in mind,” he paused his eyes sparkling with delight. “I have a break in a few minutes. How do you feel about a dance?”

“You’re so on,” Sarah nodded in agreement watching him walk away from the table before Blake glared over at her.

“Sarah, what are you doing?” Blake gasped in response.

“Having a good time,” Sarah shrugged her shoulders before watching the waiter again. “Just because you think being in a relationship is just about as good as being dead doesn’t mean that the rest of us do. I want to have some fun.”

“I understand that, but with the way you were flirting,” Blake began again shaking her head at her. “You’re getting married tomorrow.”

“But I’m single tonight, which means it’s open season for me to have a little fun. Now if you’ll excuse me I believe there is a dance with my name on it,” Sarah explained with a wide grin sliding out from her side of the booth to go over and join their waiter. Frowning Blake sank back into her seat watching and wondering just what it was her friend would wind up getting into before this night was over. Something told her that it wasn’t going to be a good thing at all.


Kyle knocked on Grady’s front door hoping that his friend could give him the perspective he needed to get through what was ahead of him. He knew what he had to do, but he was still having second thoughts about everything from his methods to his reasoning behind his actions. If only Heather would’ve been there when he’d arrived at her place--if only…

“No more if only,” Kyle forced himself to get a clear head--at least as clear as the moment could provide him with when Grady opened the door to see him.

“You look like hell,” Grady noted giving him a long once over.

“Yeah you look like shit yourself. Invite me in and we’ll sling insults at one another for a while. It might help,” Kyle suggested with a small shrug watching Grady open the door wider to let him inside.

“With that kind of proposition how could I refuse,” Grady teased moving to close the door behind Kyle. “So seriously other than my good looks what brings you here today?”

“I guess I’ve just had a lot on my mind lately,” Kyle confessed dropping his hands into his pockets and turning to face his friend. “And for the record you are far from looking good these days.”

“Yeah well your ugly mug isn’t exactly a sight for sore eyes either,” Grady walked past Kyle into kitchen area. He opened up the refrigerator and pulled out a couple of cans of Cherry cola. “Interested?”

“Always,” Kyle held his hands out for Grady to toss one over at him before popping it open and taking a long swig of the cool liquid. “This helps.”

“That’s what I keep trying to tell myself these days,” Grady noted remembering all too well the times in the past when he’d turned to something stronger to numb the ache inside of him.

“Keep it up. One day you’ll believe it,” Kyle warned watching his friend take a sip of his drink, “So I take it you haven’t talked to Deana yet, huh?”

“I sent her flowers and heard nothing,” Grady confessed with a heavy sigh, “I was tempted to go over to the hospital, but I figured she’d just tell me to leave…”

“Since when has that stopped you before?” Kyle noted catching the look his friend was giving him. “I’m just saying she’s been telling you to take a flying leap since day one.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t deserve that until well now,” Grady sighed thinking about how horribly wrong things went between him and Deana. “I know that I owe her more answers than I gave her, but nothing I can think to say is right. I feel like…”

“Like the past is coming back to haunt you all over again?” Kyle arched a speculative brow.

Grady nodded, “In more ways than I thought possible,” he revealed with a small shake of his head. “It’s crazy how one moment can change everything forever.”

“You aren’t kidding,” Kyle mouthed slumping down in one of the chairs in the living room. He closed his eyes and thought back to the day he’d learned that Heather had left home. He remembered searching for her, but coming up empty handed. Now that he knew the truth about everything, it felt like all the years had been nothing but a lie.

“Still haven’t figured things out, have you?” Grady couldn’t help but ask him.

“I’ve figured it out, but it’s putting things into motion that I’m having a problem with. I went over to see Heather tonight, but…” Kyle stopped hearing the doorbell again. He glanced over at the door curiously before turning to Grady. “Expecting company?”

“Not tonight,” Grady shook his head before holding up his finger to let Kyle know that he would be just a minute. He walked over to the door and much to his surprise he opened it to find Avery standing in front of him. He blinked wondering if his mind was playing tricks on him again.

“Hey,” she smiled up at him with Erin in her arms.

“Avery, what are you…?” Grady started to ask only to hear the sound of his brother’s voice from behind her.

“We were in the neighborhood and thought we would pay Uncle Grady a visit,” Russ explained with a bright smile joining Avery on the porch with Erin’s diaper bag hung over his shoulder. “You going to let us in?”

“Of course,” Grady nodded stepping aside to reveal Kyle seated in the living room.

“Hey Kyle,” Avery smiled over at him seeing Kyle’s hazel eyes perk up at the sight of Erin.

“Hey beautiful,” Kyle walked over to greet Avery with a kiss on the cheek before he focused on Erin, “And how are you princess?”

Erin made a small sound before Kyle eyed Avery once again, “Mind if I hold her?” he asked.

“Not at all,” Avery replied easing Erin into Kyle’s arms before Russ walked further into the room.

“Somehow I knew you might be happy to see her, though we weren’t expecting you here,” Russ noted seeing Kyle holding Erin in his arms with a thoughtful expression. “She’s missed you.”

“I’ve missed seeing her,” Kyle replied honestly knowing full well that he should’ve been seeing Erin more than he had up until now. With all the things happening with Sarah and Heather he’d been in his own little world, but in holding Erin it brought things into perspective again. “She’s growing so much.”

“More and more each day,” Russ noted seeing his daughter reach out for a piece of Kyle’s hair. “Pretty soon we’ll have to be chasing her around and hope that we can keep up.”

“Just you hush,” Avery swatted at his chest before throwing out a disapproving look at Russ, “I don’t want to think that far ahead.”

“Neither do I,” Russ wrapped his arm around Avery’s waist lovingly, “but I was just saying.”

“Even so, don’t rush it,” Avery leaned into his embrace before glancing over at Grady, “So how are you doing?”

“I was just preparing to have a quiet night and lo and behold it’s a party at my house,” he offered up with a small smile. “Not that I mind.”

“Good because we wouldn’t care if you did. There is always time for family,” Russ teased with a small wink glancing over at his brother. “So what have you two been up to?”

“We were just talking about life,” Grady shrugged his shoulders and turning his attention to the table over by the couch in the hopes of keeping the truth about what had been on his mind from showing.

“Life,” Russ noted scratching his own chin lightly, “That’s rather vague.”

“That seems to be the way things are lately,” Kyle added making his way over to the sofa to sit with Erin in his arms. “So what about you two? What has you out and about?”

“We took Erin to dinner,” Russ explained glancing over at Avery again.

“How did that go?” Grady questioned circling around the sofa to get a look at his niece.

“It went okay other than we had a run in with Brant,” Avery added with a heavy frown. “He’s being his usual self.”

“Ah in other words he’s acting like a world class jerk,” Grady’s head popped up and he spotted a look of upset on Avery’s face.

“To be polite in the matter that’s one way of looking at it,” Russ nodded before opting to change the subject. “But it’s not worth getting into. What about you Kyle? Excited for the big day?”

“I suppose that’s one word you could use,” Kyle tipped his head up to look at his friend, “Among other things.”

“Oh come on. Wedding days are always nerve racking,” Russ stepped forward in the hopes of offering his friend a pep talk. “I know Avery and I had our share of pre-wedding jitters each and every time we tried to make it down the aisle, but when that big moment happens, it’s nothing short of magic.”

“That’s what I’ve always hoped for,” Kyle’s gaze swept over Erin seeing how happy and at ease she was, “nothing short of magic.”

“I’m sure you’ll have that,” Avery added in a small voice hoping to put some of Kyle’s worries at ease.

“I’m hoping so,” Kyle mused pondering his situation with Heather. Looking over to Russ and Avery he couldn’t help but smile, “though it’s hard to be realistic about things when I find myself wishing like hell that one day I’ll have what you two have. It’s always what I wanted and I know that now.”

“I’m sure you will have that,” Russ moved in over to the couch to take a seat beside his friend, “Being married will make things even more special for you. It takes work, but it’s worth it in the long run.”

“Yeah, well as I said you two are a great example. It gives me some sense of direction and something to hope for,” Kyle looked over at Avery seeing the way in which her dark eyes were so full of love for Russ. There was just something about the two of them that had Kyle wishing more and more that his wedding could just be over before it began.

“Yeah I feel that way too,” Grady started seeing the group with one another and feeling a moment of something nagging over him. He cleared his throat uneasily and motioned to the kitchen. “I think I’m going to go get a round of drinks. I’ll be right back.”

“Sounds good,” Russ nodded before turning to Kyle.

“I’ll go help,” Avery announced seeing something was troubling Grady. She looked over to Russ with a smile, “I’ll see if he’s got something like a Sprite or something since I know you’re trying to steer clear of caffeine lately.”

“Whatever he has will work,” Russ tipped his head up to look at her. He smiled warmly and spoke up in a loving tone, “I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too,” Avery waved before going off after Grady determined to figure out what was wrong with him as he didn’t quite seem to be himself.


“Hey,” Mindy knocked on the bathroom door seeing that it was open and she looked inside to see Guy fixing his hair in the mirror as she moved further into the bathroom with him. Walking past him and over toward the edge of the bath she took a seat. “So, where is Gabe?”

“Oh, he didn’t tell you?” Guy questioned looking over toward Mindy who simply shrugged her shoulders before he went back to work on his hair in the mirror. “Well, Gabe actually had a business trip to attend to for a couple of days.”

“It will be different having him not being here,” Mindy replied seeing Guy look over at her with his light eyes for a moment before nodding slowly. Taking in a small breath she pushed back her long hair before looking around the room awkwardly. “Did he take Brittany with him?”

“Yep,” Guy nodded noticing that they weren’t having the kind of connection that friends should be having as he let out a long breath and walked over toward her. Moving in front of her, he sat down before her on the floor. “Sorry, I just had a few things on my mind. I didn’t mean to ignore you like that.”

“Hey don’t worry about it,” Mindy blew it off quickly before holding her hands up in the air trying to assure him that it was okay even though it was still kind of an awkward moment between them right now. “I’m sure I have done that to you at one point in my life and I’m sure I will do it again. So, no worries.”

“Cool,” Guy reached out to grab Mindy’s hand in his, giving it a small squeeze before resting his hands back against the floor. Inhaling deeply he shrugged his shoulders thinking about everything that Gabe had told him. “I guess the place he is going, Brittany had a friend that moved out over toward that way. So, I guess she got him to agree for her to go see her friend. That being said, I guess he will be gone for a little bit.”

“So you are going to be here all by yourself?” Mindy questioned with a small frown seeing guy nod slowly before shrugging his shoulders. Reaching out to touch his shoulder, she patted it gently seeing his blue eyes looking up into hers. “I think that you will be okay. I’m sure that Gabe will call or something.”

“Yeah, me too,” Guy offered up a half smile before looking around the bathroom and meeting her eyes back in a glance. With Gabe gone, he really wasn’t sure as to what he should be doing which is what worried him the most. Being alone. “So, do you want to hang out or something? Maybe we can catch a movie or get a pizza. Whatever you would like.”

“Oh Guy,” Mindy frowned standing up from the bathtub seeing him get up from the floor and follow her out toward the bed. Pushing back her long dark hair, she turned to him seeing his eyes looking out at her worriedly. “I would have loved to, but I’ve already got a date.”

“Oh hey, don’t feel bad about that,” Guy offered up a wide smile reaching out to grab her hands in his before nodding slowly. Seeing the way her dark eyes looked into his, he reached out to touch the side of her face gently. “Don’t worry about it kiddo. Maybe when you get back we can do something. I’ll be alright, it’s no problem.”

“Are you sure?” she questioned once more hearing a knock at the door telling her that Hunt was ready for her to get going as Guy let go of her hands slowly. “You are serious? We could always stay here with you if you don’t want to be alone.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” he assured her once more walking over toward the door so that Hunt wouldn’t be standing out in the hallway the whole time. “I can handle being alone today, everyone has to learn sometime.”

“I know, but…,” she went to say something else seeing Guy shake his head and open the door to see Hunt before him as Guy offered up a wide smile. “Hey Hunt.”

“Hey,” Hunt nervously moved forward seeing the way that Guy was looking at him as Hunt pointed back toward the hallway. “Are you--are you ready to get going?”

“Yeah, I will be right there,” Mindy nodded seeing Hunt nod before walking out into the hallway leaving her alone with Guy for just a second. “Are you sure you will be okay? I would love to have you come with me.

“Trust me, I’ll be alright.”

“Okay,” Mindy half smiled leaning in and wrapping her arms around his shoulders, feeling his arms wrap around her waist to give her a small squeeze. “I’ll see you later then.”

“Alright,” Guy watched her walk out the door and close it behind her as he took in a sharp breath. Looking back over toward the television, Guy walked over toward the couch and took a seat. “It’ll be okay. I’m sure she will be back sooner or later.”


“So what’s really going on?” Avery questioned closing the door to Grady’s kitchen after she’d followed him inside. She tossed out a pointed look before folding her arms in front of her chest, “You look like hell and it was clear that you weren’t just having a boy’s night with Kyle, so what gives?”

“Nothing,” he shrugged bending down to pull a few more drinks out of his refrigerator. “Why would you even think that there was something wrong?”

“Because I know you,” she added with a small sigh of her own, “or maybe because my night has been so miserable that I figured it might be nice to see if I could make someone else have a better day.”

“Why what happened?” he glanced over at her seeing something behind her eyes. “Never mind. Stupid question. Brant happened. What did he do this time?”

“He was just his usual self,” she paused biting on her lower lip nervously, “no I take that back. He wasn’t his usual self. He was cold and callous and downright evil. It was so far from the man that I married when I thought Russ was gone.”

“So you’re finally seeing him as who he really is then, huh?” Grady noted with a smug expression.

“Grady stop. You know Brant isn’t that bad,” she paused pondering what he’d said to her, “At least he wasn’t when we were together, but now, well now it’s like a stranger has stepped in and taken over him.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re not talking with Brant these days,” Grady offered up moving over to one of the cabinets.

“No, I’m sure it was Brant. It’s not Ken. I know that,” she shook her head dismissing the thought.

“No that’s not what I mean,” he pulled a cup out of the cabinet before turning to her, “What I’m trying to say is that it’s not Brant talking. It’s the hurt lashing out at you. That’s what owns him right now that it’s over.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Avery waved her hand dismissively, “Brant has made it clear time and time again that I’m irrelevant to him and that I was nothing but some conquest that bored him once everything was said and done.”

“Avery the man married you knowing that you were pregnant with another man’s baby,” he couldn’t help but state the obvious. Turning to frown at her he continued, “If he was just looking for a cheap thrill, then he would’ve found much easier places to find it.”

“Even so,” she shrugged her shoulders, “he doesn’t have to be so cruel.”

“As the old adage goes you have to be cruel to be kind sometimes,” he replied focusing on the drinks in front of him again.

“In that case Brant is Mr. Congeniality right now,” she huffed under her breath still feeling the raw sting of Brant’s lashing out at her. “It was just so hurtful…”

“Hey, I’ve been there, done that,” Grady looked over his shoulder at her, “Sometimes that’s your only option when you’re trying to do the right thing.”

“I’m not so sure,” she paused seeing something behind his green eyes, “So really enough about me, what’s going on with you Grady? Honestly.”

“Honestly,” he filled one of the glasses in front of him before turning around to offer it to her, “I think it’s over with Deana.”

“Already?” she couldn’t mask her surprise, “Why?”

“Because she doesn’t think I’m committed enough to what we have with one another. She was worried about taking the risk and now I don’t think she believes I’m worth it,” he handed her the glass and she accepted lifting it to her lips in a small sip.

“Well have you lead her to believe that you are?” she couldn’t help but ask catching him off guard.

“What in the hell does that mean?” he frowned over at her.

“Well if you really care about her, then you have to let her know. Have you told her how special she is to you?” she arched a curious brow. “Have you let her know that she’s someone you want something with and not just some fun passing through the moment?”

“I thought I did, but…” Grady stopped himself remembering Deana’s anger.

“But what?” she questioned again.

“But she isn’t as convinced as I’d hoped for and maybe I’m not all that convincing myself since I’m not sure what it is that I want these days,” he dropped his hands down to the countertop before eyeing her closely. “What about you?”

“What about me,” she sipped her drink again.

“Are you sure about what you want?” he couldn’t help but ask seeing something flash behind her eyes.

“I already told you that while I’m a mess right now, I’m sure I have what I want,” she explained with a newfound determination. “I waited a long time to have this dream be a reality for Russ and I and now that it has, well I’m trying to do everything in my power to keep it from falling to pieces.”

“Is that what it feels like? That it’s falling to pieces?” he tossed her words back out at her.

“Sometimes,” she confessed with a slow breath, “but I don’t really think it’s the two of us that are falling apart. More so I believe it’s me. In fact I know it’s me, but I’m trying to do what I can to get back to where I was with him before.”

“That’s just it Avery, we can’t ever go back,” Grady took a small step toward her. “We can only go forward and in doing so we have to let go of those past promises and dreams that just aren’t going to be.”

“I’m not looking into the past. I’m just trying to pick up the pieces of my life for the future--for Russ and for Erin,” she paused contemplating her words for a moment, “Don’t get me wrong this doesn’t sound like I’m being optimistic but…”

“No it’s not that,” he brought his hand up through his dark hair, “It’s just that…well, Avery you don’t realize how lucky you have it. You have someone who loves you--who wants to give his everything to you and your dreams are finally coming back into your life.”

“And you could have yours too if you stop hiding from your heart,” she moved in closer to him reaching out to place her hand over the center of his chest, “If you take down the walls that you’ve kept around you, I’m certain that you and Deana can work things out. I know how hurt you are after losing Jade and how hard it is to love again, but if you think Deana is worth it, then you need to make her believe that she has someone who loves her and wants to give her his everything. You need to prove to her that you’re not going to run away from her when times are rough and furthermore you need to be sure yourself that’s where your heart is otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time--especially your own.”

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I haven’t been doing that with her,” he dropped his head thinking about the way in which he’d been coasting through things after Jade had died.

“If you even have to question yourself on whether or not your heart was in it, imagine where Deana was at,” Avery prompted further watching him raise his head to meet her concerned eyes.

“You’re right. You’re absolutely right,” he nodded in agreement, “I have been playing this the wrong way and it’s long past due for me to pull my head out of my ass here.”

“I think that would help you see things a lot clearer,” she smiled up at him making light of his words. “So what do you say?”

“I think I need you around more often,” he couldn’t help but laugh, “because it seems that you’re better at this whole psychology thing than I am.”

“That’s because I just know how you work Grady,” she winked up at him before tapping him on the shoulder, “Now how about we get to those drinks before Russ and Kyle think we dropped off of the planet?”


“So your nerves really getting the best of you tonight?” Russ questioned giving Kyle a curious look. “I mean it’s not going to be as bad as it seems. There is something to be said to coming home to the woman of your dreams day in and day out.”

“Yeah so I’ve been told,” Kyle mouthed in a dejected tone.

“Okay I’ll bite,” Russ sat up straighter in sensing that there was something going on that Kyle wasn’t talking about. “What’s really going on?”

“I don’t know,” Kyle lied not wanting to get one more person tied up in the rouse that he had surrounding his life. “I guess I’ve just had a lot of time to reflect about things lately. You know reminiscing about the good old days if you will?”

“That could lead to trouble,” Russ teased back with a small laugh, “Considering that the good old days left you in some major binds more often than not.”

“That they did,” Kyle laughed in response before shrugging his shoulders, “They were pretty wild.”

“To say the least,” Russ laughed along with him, “but we all survived and that’s really what’s important.”

“Yeah it is,” Kyle nodded dropping his eyes to Erin again, “it’s those near death moments that really get a man thinking about his life though. It gets a man pondering the direction things have taken--the way that the world has spun right in front of him leaving him kind of at a standstill.”

“I’m not following,” Russ admitted seeing Kyle’s face darken.

“Do you remember when Grady and I were in college together? Remember how I told you that story about the girl back home?” Kyle asked glancing over at his friend.

“You mean Sarah?” Russ arched a curious brow.

“No about the other girl--you know the one that ran away,” Kyle watched his friend nod.

“What about it?” Russ replied.

“I guess I just started thinking about that time in my life. I remember what it was like when I lost her--when I thought that she left me forever, but lately,” Kyle paused pondering his situation with Heather, “I guess you could say I learned a few things that showed me that reality wasn’t as I perceived it to be.”

“How so?” Russ couldn’t help but ask.

“I guess you could say that I’ve opened my eyes to the fact that most of my choices have been made for me especially in matter of love,” Kyle continued in an evasive tone, his jaw clenching for a brief moment, “I didn’t realize until now that some of the most important decisions of my life were taken away from me.”

“Such as?” Russ prompted further.

“Such as they are things that I can’t take back, but now that I know the truth, I can take a firm grasp on my future. It’s my time to make things right and to make the decisions that I need to in order to get back on track again,” Kyle felt a smile tugging on the corners of his mouth, “I guess you could say that I wasn’t lying when I told you that I wanted what you and Avery had together. You two have something that neither time nor circumstance can rip away from you. No matter how many people tried to keep you from one another, you still found a way to make it work. You still love one another like you never stopped.”

“That’s because we never did,” Russ paused for a moment, “but I’ll be honest with you Kyle it hasn’t been easy. Despite the fact that we’re happy now and we have Erin, there are still a lot of things we need to work through. So much has happened that…”

“That you know now how much more holding onto one another means,” Kyle smiled with a thoughtful expression, “You know that regardless of what little situations have arisen that you can work it out and be free to love one another. You didn’t let Brooke or Nicholas or Brant stop you. You fought for what your heart wanted and it was a gamble that paid off. I respect that and in my own way that’s what I’m hoping for myself. I want that gamble to finally get me back on track again.”

“If it’s meant to, then it will pay off sooner or later,” Russ promised patting his friend on the back, “After the wedding I’m positive that all of your dreams will be coming true for you.”

“I sincerely hope so,” Kyle mouthed turning his attention to Erin again while saying a silent prayer that his wedding to Sarah would be one step closer to giving him the kind of life that he’d always longed for--the kind of life that he vowed to never walk away from.


“What are we waiting for exactly?” Sarah questioned seeing Blake let out a long breath as she played with the straw that rested against the side of her drink. Sarah leaned back further into her seat at the booth before letting out a long sigh after waiting for about forty minutes. “We have been sitting here doing nothing when you said we would be having some fun.”

“We’ll have some fun,” Blake insisted with a half smile looking out toward the crowd before looking back towards Sarah as she shrugged her shoulders. Sarah seemed kind of to insistent upon having what she called fun, but Blake figured she would be having more fun as soon as Seth came with Kevin and Ria. “As soon as Seth and his cousin get here--then we will start having some fun.”

“I don’t see why we have to wait for them,” Sarah stated with a small sigh seeing the way Blake looked down toward her drink again and Sarah moved her hands out on the table before her. “In all honesty we should…,”

“How is it going ladies?” Kevin moved his hands in over the table making Sarah jump at his quickness as he let out a small laugh seeing the way she looked up at him with her dark eyes. Standing up straight Kevin let out another laugh placing his hand in over Seth’s shoulder. “Sorry about that, didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You didn’t, don’t worry,” Sarah tried to explain seeing Blake get up for Kevin to get into the rounded booth before getting in. After Kevin and Blake were seated, Seth sat down and wrapped his arm around Blake tightly. “I was just wondering when you two were going to get here. We just waited quite a while for the two of you to actually show up. I was worried that you two wouldn’t show.”

“Speaking of waiting a little while,” Blake spoke up in a small whisper looking over at Kevin, seeing him playing with a pack of sugar before him pushing it back and forth slowly. Blake saw him look up from the table with his light brown eyes before offering up a wide smile. “Where is Ria?”

“You know women,” Seth spoke up after seeing Blake’s blue eyes look back at him and he let out a nervous laugh. Nodding over toward Kevin he shrugged his shoulders and let out another laugh. “Coming from him, they always take as much time as they can with buying things.”

“Dresses, she is out shopping for dresses with Trisha. So, I’m here all alone,” Kevin frowned shrugging his shoulders as he looked over toward Sarah seeing her look over at him and he offered up a small smile. Kevin heard Blake clear her throat as Kevin looked up and saw the waiter before him. “Oh hey, I’ll have a Malibu Maguire please.”

“Make that two,” Seth nodded over toward the waiter seeing him nod slowly before Seth looked over at Kevin who seemed somewhat shocked that he got the same thing. Letting out a small laugh Seth pulled Blake in closer to him and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m being different for once. I’m a lot like you so I figured you might have the same taste as me.”

“Maybe,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders feeling a hand move in over his leg as he arched his eyebrows up letting out a small laugh. Feeling the small hand move in closer to his inner thigh Kevin let out a hesitant laugh before resting his hands on the table before him. “You know Blake, I heard that blondes get confused sometimes, but I never knew that they were confused about their right and left hands.”

“Excuse me?” Blake laughed seeing Kevin’s eyebrows tense together as he felt a small rubbing at his inner thigh and he looked up at her with his light brown eyes. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Well as much as I appreciate the wake up call there, what I’m trying to say is try using your other hand,” Kevin replied seeing Blake hold up both of her hands and Kevin let out a small gasp bringing his knee up into the table knowing that it was Sarah doing it. Looking over toward Sarah he let out a long breath before scooting over a bit. “Sorry, I was just playing with you.”

“It’s no problem,” Blake laughed reaching out to place her hand over Kevin’s shoulder as he closed his eyes reaching down to grab his knee and let out a long breath. “Are you alright?”

“I’m just fine,” Kevin tried to assure her with a small nod looking over at Sarah, seeing a small smile developing over her features as he closed his eyes once more. “Maybe you and Seth should go dance or something.”

“He’s right Seth, let’s go dance,” Blake begged seeing Seth’s dark eyes widen as soon as the drinks were set down on the table and Kevin grabbed his, drinking it down quickly before setting down the empty glass. “Please Seth?”

“Blake, I really don’t feel like dancing in front of all these people right now,” Seth tried to reason with Blake before looking up toward Kevin who was getting another drink already. “I mean, I would love to, but…,”

“But Kevin would love to dance with you more,” Kevin motioned Seth to stand up so him and Blake could get up. Kevin grabbed Blake’s hand in his and smiled widely seeing her blue eyes staring into his. “That is one thing I have over my cousin, I’m not shy.”

Wiggling his eyebrows up and down Kevin pulled Blake out to the dance floor, pulling her in toward the middle as she held onto his hand tightly. Stopping right toward the middle, Kevin pulled Blake in against him as he let out a small laugh.

“Wow, you really like these kind of things don’t you?” Blake questioned seeing the smile over Kevin’s lips as they heard a new song start and he wrapped his arm around her waist gently. “Your cousin was right about you, wasn’t he?”

“Well, it all depends on what Seth told you,” Kevin moved his hands to her hips, moving her body with his as he wiggled his eyebrows up and down. “If he told you I was amazing at dancing, he would be right. I’m kind of a big guy, but I can really move.”

“I bet you can,” Blake teased seeing Kevin give her a small wink before letting go of her. Seeing her stare out at him a little bit confused, he motioned her to move out toward him. “What are you doing?”

“Watch this, I’ll get the crowd going. Just follow along with me,” Kevin motioned her to follow along with what he was doing. Moving his feet back in forth in a motion Blake tried to do the same thing with him, feeling his hands grab onto hers. “This is a form of break dancing okay? Watch this.”

Picking her up in his arms Kevin raised her up, feeling her hands press in over his shoulders he spun her around, seeing the people surrounding them in a circle as he smiled knowing that he got what he wanted.

“Keep going with me,” Kevin smirked pulling her in closer to him and smiling seeing the way that she looked a bit nervous when people around were watching with the loud music in the background. Feeling Kevin grab a hold of her leg and wrap it around his waist she let out a small gasp, feeling him dip her down and she wrapped her right arm around his shoulders. Seeing his eyes motion her to go with him she ran her fingertips through his hair seeing him smile and pull her back up quickly and in toward his chest. “Your move.”

“I’m making it Adonis,” she moved her fingers in over his shirt, tugging it out of his pants and seeing his eyes widen and he smiled down at her. Feeling her fingertips move in over his buttons he smiled widely feeling her unbutton four of them. Moving her hand in over his shoulder she walked around him slowly hearing the claps of the crowd as Kevin arched his eyebrow up curiously. “Now it’s your move.”

“I’ll have enough moves,” Kevin answer truthfully unbuttoning the rest of the buttons in his shirt before moving back. Smirking he took a step back and leaned back on his right hand, bringing his feet out from underneath him and stretched the out in front of him before quickly getting in on his feet. Sliding in before her he grabbed her leg and placed it over his shoulder, moving up quickly and leaning her down, swinging her carefully before pulling her up to him. “Now only if Seth could draw this much attention.”

“Believe me, he draws attention,” Blake smiled running her fingers through Kevin’s semi wet hair from the heat around them as she moved her fingers in over his back. Seeing Kevin wink down at her, she let out a small laugh. “So, what do we do to finish this thing off?”

“Well, I have something in mind, what about you?” Kevin whispered feeling her grab a hold of his hand and she turned her back to him, feeling her holding onto his arm. Kevin gently pulled on her hand seeing her spin for her finish before she pointed over toward him and he held his hands up in the air. “Alright, I’ve got this.”

Watching Kevin for a minute she saw him bend his knees a bit before actually seeing him slide down to the floor and do the five spins that she had only seen small guys do on television before as Kevin got to his knee and heard the crowd clapping for the two of them. Kevin held his right hand up in the air before nodding slowly and letting out a small breath.

“I can’t believe you just did that,” Blake let out a small laugh seeing Kevin get up to his feet and meet her in a small hug as she wrapped her arms around his waist tightly. “That was amazing.”

“You know what else is amazing?” Kevin saw her look up at him with her light blue eyes and he nodded over toward the crowd showing her that Seth was waiting for her after watching them. “That my cousin loved every minute of you out here. So why don’t you go and try to show him some moves.”

Seeing Blake nod Kevin smiled watching her walk over to Seth and grab onto his hands gently, pulling him out toward the center of the dance floor as she moved him along with the music and everyone started walking back toward their own places.

“Excuse me,” Kevin felt a small hand tap in over his shoulder as he turned around to see a brunette before him and a wide smile spread out over her features. “I was wondering if…,”

“Back off,” Sarah whispered moving between the two and she pushed Kevin back toward the center of the dance floor seeing him eye her over like she was crazy and she looked back toward the brunette. “He’s mine right now.”

“I’m yours?” Kevin chuckled lightly seeing her step forward as he folded his arms out in front of chest, inhaling deeply as he tried to keep a steady breath. “I thought that Kyle was yours.”

“Kyle is mine,” she nodded with a wide smile seeing him arch his eyebrows up and watch her carefully and she move forward and placed hers hand in over his hips. “Right now though, I was hoping you would be my dance partner.”

“I’d love to,” Kevin smirked with a small shrug moving his arms out in front of him as he took her left hand in his and wrapped his other arm around her waist gently. “I don’t mind being anyone’s dance partner.”

“So I’ve heard,” Sarah eyed Kevin over slowly seeing the flashing lights reflecting through his brown eyes as she watched him carefully. “I guess this is kind of weird to say, but you wouldn’t believe the things I have heard about you.”

“I would most likely believe it,” he chuckled seeing her dark eyes staring up into his as he watched her move forward and run her free hand in over his bare chest as she pushed the material of his button up shirt more to the side. “I was boxer for years, you have probably heard every story in the book. So which story was this one?”

“Just little things,” Sarah whispered moving her hand away from Kevin’s seeing him stare out at her as she moved her fingers in over his belt, dipping her finger in beneath the belt before looking back into his brown eyes. Moving forward again she saw him standing still before her as she reached her hands around, running them in over his back slowly before reaching down to cup his bottom in her hands hearing him let out a small gasp. “Some very nice rumors I guess is how I can put it.”

“I get what you’re saying,” Kevin felt a muscle in his jaw tighten as he shook his head slowly not quite knowing how to react now that he knew she was trying to come onto him for certain reasons. “Follow me then if that’s the type of thing you are talking about.”

Grabbing a hold of Sarah’s hand Kevin looked back into the crowd of people to see Blake and Seth still dancing as Kevin led Sarah back toward the back, walking through the dark doorway to the back of the club.

“Oh wow,” Sarah looked around the room before her as she saw tons of couples that obviously couldn’t wait to get out of the club before doing things like this. Seeing the way that Kevin was looking everything over, Sarah reached out to place her hand in over his damp chest. “I guess those stories I heard were right then?”

“Well, what are you waiting for then?” Kevin questioned seeing her smile and he felt her push him in against the wall and lean forward to press her lips in over the center of his hard chest. Quickly moving her lips down and over his muscled abdomen, her fingers made their way to his belt and slowly pulled it apart as he grabbed her wrist in his fingers tightly. “I didn’t bring you back here to molest me and try to blow me, I brought you back here to find another rat like yourself.”

“Wait, what?” Sarah snapped seeing Kevin buckle his belt back up slowly before starting to button his shirt back up as she stood up more straight. Seeing Kevin look down at her with his dark eyes she held her arms up in the air. “What’s this all about? I think I’m a little confused.”

“That’s right Sarah, you would be,” he took in a small breath before looking around the area before him. Shaking his head Kevin moved forward and bent down, breathing in Sarah’s ear as he shook his head slowly. “These people are disgusting as you and this is where you belong. I don’t know what you heard about me, but I’m not like these people anymore. I have a fiancée that I love and cherish. I would never ruin something like that for something like this.”

“This is ridiculous,” Sarah blurted out before Kevin left and he turned to face her slowly seeing the way she stared out at him as she threw her hands up in the air. “I don’t understand why someone would lie and say you were amazing when you are just a fake.”

“You know, I‘m engaged right now,” Kevin grabbed Sarah pressing her in against the wall before smiling widely and seeing her looking up at him with desire behind her eyes. Moving in closer, he pushed her hair behind her ear before breathing in deeply. “If there was no Ria, the things you are trying to do with me right now--I would be wanting to do with your sister.”

“Wait! What?” Sarah snapped seeing Kevin walk away for a moment before shrugging his shoulders and holding his hands up in the air slowly. “You aren’t fun at all. Everyone was wrong about you.”

“Yeah, everyone may be wrong about me, but everyone is twenty times worse when it comes to you,” Kevin stated with a small disgusted look behind his features and he took in a deep breath. “I hope Kyle finds out what a disgusting piece of trash you are before it’s too late. That’s the only good thing he could get out of all of this.”

“You can’t just walk away like this,” Sarah grabbed a hold of Kevin’s wrist seeing him turn to face her angrily pulling his wrist back before nodding over toward a guy by himself. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking there is only room in my life for woman and you aren’t her,” Kevin reminded her with a wide smile before nodding toward the guy again. “He looks lonely enough--why don’t you try and get a piece of him because I’m not interested.”

With that final word Kevin made his way out of the dark room and back toward the dance floor spotting Seth and Blake already back at the booth sitting down. Quickly taking a look back Kevin shook his head and made his way over back toward the table.

“Hey,” Kevin caught the attention of Seth and Blake as he sat down and let out a small scowl thinking back to what Sarah had tried to pull. Motioning the waiter to come over toward the table Kevin took in a sharp breath seeing the way that Seth and Blake looked out at him. “Can you get me a couple more please, thanks.”

“Someone having a rough day?” Seth questioned seeing Kevin nod slowly, his eyes widening as he rubbed at the back of his neck slowly. Seeing the waiter come back with a few drinks for Kevin, he saw the guy leave and Kevin gulped down the first of his drinks before pushing the empty glass aside. “Or more like twelve.”

“Yeah,” Kevin half laughed looking back toward the room he left Sarah in seeing her walk out with that guy he had led her toward. Seeing her fingers moving in through his longer dark hair, he let out a disgusted growl looking over toward Seth and Blake. “She is a freak.”

“Does she realize what she is doing?” Seth questioned seeing Sarah walk toward the center of the dance floor with the guy she just met and Seth looked down at Blake. “She is supposed to get married soon.”

“She’s just dancing, let’s hope,” Blake replied looking over at Kevin seeing that he already had finished the five of his drinks and she let out a small gasp seeing him lean back against the booth. “You know, maybe we should give him some air. Get him away from the drinks.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Seth nodded watching Kevin get up from his seat and stumble slightly before letting out a small laugh. Reaching out to grab Kevin around the waist, he felt Kevin’s arm wrap around his shoulders. “Cuz are you okay?”

“She tried to jump me you know,” Kevin pointed out biting down on his bottom lip seeing the way that Blake was staring out at him as he offered up a wide smile. “I love Ria though, so that’s never going to happen. Damn those drinks are good…,”

“No,” Blake reached for the drink that Kevin went to go grab seeing him move forward like he still wanted it as she shook her head slowly. “Let’s just go get you some water from next door.”

“I’m fine, I’m not drunk if that’s what your thinking,” Kevin muttered seeing the way that Seth looked at him when he held his hands up in the air. “I swear, I’m fine. I have to pay the bill. I’ll be right back, I swear.”

“Kevin,” Seth went to reach out for his cousin seeing Kevin pull away from him before nodding slowly and walking over toward the cash register pulling out his wallet and dropping it. Bending down he picked up the wallet and moved up quickly hitting his head on the edge of the bar and rubbed it in pain. Kevin quickly handed his money over before walking back toward the group slowly. “You alright?”

“Damn that hurt,” Kevin grumbled starting to shake it off before motioning Blake and Seth to follow him toward the front door as he took in a deep breath. “Nothing like a good knock in the head to set you straight. I think I’m going to call Ria.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Blake looked back to see if she could find Sarah, but found herself coming up lost not being able to see Sarah anymore. “I guess she will get a ride of her own then.”


“Okay, I have popcorn,” Kellen rubbed his hands together slowly reaching out to steal a piece of his popcorn and push it into his mouth before grabbing his two pitcher of lemonade he made. “I set out the glasses, got the popcorn, got the movies--now all I need is him.”

Hearing the doorbell ring Kellen let out an excited laugh quickly walking into the living room to set down the bowl of popcorn and the lemonade before moving over toward the door. Tripping over the step Kellen let out a small hiss realizing that he made the same mistake he always does when going to get the door.

“I hate when I do that,” Kellen pulled him up from the floor hearing the doorbell ring again as he let out a small groan, rubbing the back of his neck with his left hand and reaching his right out to open the door. Seeing Guy standing before him Kellen smiled widely seeing the way that Guy moved forward. “Hey, come on in.”

“Thanks,” Guy half smiled walking into the house seeing the way Kellen was rubbing the back of his neck and Guy frowned making sure he took a careful step over the stair. “Are you okay, it looks like you hurt yourself or something.”

“Oh yeah, I’m fine,” Kellen assured him with a small nod walking over towards the couch and motioned Guy to follow him. Watching the way that Guy nervously walked through the room Kellen let out a small breath rolling his eyes. “Don’t walk around like a lost dog, just come over and sit down silly.”

“Sorry,” Guy chuckled taking a seat on the couch and watching Kellen take a seat at the other end of the couch. Looking out toward Kellen he saw him push a drink over towards his direction and Guy picked it up slowly. “Thanks a bunch. For everything.”

“Hey, I hate being alone too,” Kellen pointed out seeing Guy half smile before taking in a deep breath and Kellen moved forward to grab a hand full of popcorn. “Sometimes all I need to do is have a movie night with some of my closest friends and I’m all good. So, what do you want to watch?”

“Whatever you would like to watch,” Guy answered quickly seeing Kellen shrug his shoulders as Guy took a small sip of his drink seeing Kellen eating down his popcorn and Guy reached for a piece. “I take it you were alone too?”

“Yeah, I hate when that happens. I had plans, but the other person pulled out on me,” Kellen looked over in Guy’s direction with a small frown before holding onto the remote tightly. Not knowing what really to say he turned the television on and flipped through the channels stopping on one that caught his interest. “You like wrestling?”

“I never really got a chance to watch it,” Guy replied softly seeing four people fighting in the ring as he leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees before looking over at Kellen who seemed to have his eyes glued to the television as he ate his popcorn. “I take it you like it.”

“Like it wrestling? Not really, just the guys,” Kellen truthfully answered looking over at Guy for a moment before reaching forward to grab his drink from the table. “Look at the guy in the black trunks there. Do you see him?”

“The guy that says Batista on his butt there?” Guy questioned with a small laugh seeing Kellen nod slowly before taking in a sharp breath and covering his chest. “You like him?”

“Honey, look at him. Sexy man with a nice body in those tight trunks--of course I like him,” Kellen mumbled leaning back into the couch, pulling his feet in underneath him. “I love the long blonde haired guy in the corner too.”

“I think the other two guys are cuter,” Guy pointed out looking forward into the television before looking back toward Kellen and letting out a hesitant laugh. “Cena and Orton. They are pretty good looking.”

“Yeah, I agree about Cena there, but not the other one,” Kellen took in a small breath shrugging his shoulders before reaching for the remote to change the channel and turn on CSI. “I always hate these kind of things.”

“Then why are we watching it?” Guy questioned seeing Kellen turn off the light after setting down the remote. Looking toward the television Guy saw someone walking through the dark hallways slowly and he looked to Kellen who grabbed the popcorn in front of him. “You picked the darkest--gloomiest one.”

“It will be alright,” Kellen insisted seeing someone pop out quickly on the show and it made him jump as he let out a small laugh. Taking in a deep breath Kellen felt someone’s hands move in over his shoulders as he let out a small scream, throwing the popcorn bowl up in the air. Moving quickly he lost his foot balance and fell over the coffee table before hearing Guy let out a small laugh. “Why are you just sitting there?”

“Because he has nothing to worry about,” Kipp’s voice erupted through Kellen’s ears as Kellen got up to his feet slowly seeing the popcorn bowl that was once in his hands was now on Kipp’s head. “Thank you for the popcorn by the way. How did you know that’s what I wanted?”

“Sorry Kipp, this is my friend Guy. We were both alone today so I figured we would have movie night,” Kellen informed Kipp almost seeing the jealousy look behind Kipp’s dark eyes as Kipp moved the bowl from his head and looked over at Guy. “He was all alone so I was hoping we could be some company to him.”

“Oh, that’s fine,” Kipp replied taking in a deep breath before moving his way over toward the couch and motioning Kellen to sit in the middle. “I put Charles to bed and now I’m here so how about we finish that movie night you got to talking about.”

“Alright, cool,” Kellen smiled widely walking back over toward the couch sitting between Guy and Kipp. Reaching his left hand out Kellen grasped onto Kipp’s hand gently before shaking his head slowly. “I guess we’ll have a triple movie night here. This is like a sleep over I had before where…,”

“Kellen,” Guy laughed looking over at him with his blue eyes, seeing Kellen look over at him with his eyebrows arched up in curiosity. “How about you just start the movie.”

“Oh, alright,” Kellen nodded quickly pushing the play button before reaching to turn off the light again that was behind him. Looking over toward Kipp he squeezed Kipp’s hand in his tighter leaning in close. “Thanks for not being mean to him. We all need a person to be there for us once in a while.”


“Is everything alright?” Hunt questioned looking over toward Mindy who was sitting in the passenger seat of his car as she took in a slow, deep breath. “You have been kind of quiet throughout the whole ride here and I was hoping that you would be alright. What’s bothering you right now?”

“I was just thinking about Guy,” Mindy took in a small breath seeing his dark eyes meet hers as she reached out to turn off the radio and fold her arms out in front of her. “I wonder if he still alone right now or if he actually got someone to be there with him.”

“What do you mean?” Hunt muttered seeing her look over at him with a slightly confused expression as he eyed her over quickly before looking back toward the road. “I mean, isn’t Gabe and Brittany there with him? He can’t be too lonely with the two of them around.”

“I guess I didn’t say anything about that,” she began inhaling deeply and folding her arms out in front of her chest. Looking out toward the road she realized that they had been driving for a while and she found herself interested in where they were going. “Um, I guess that Gabe had to go somewhere for his job and he took Mindy with him because she had a friend she wanted to visit out toward that way. So he is all alone.”

“Oh, that’s not cool,” Hunt whispered not knowing quite what else to say to what she told him as he took in a sharp breath and thought about everything that was going on. “It sucks when you are all alone with no one there. That’s really not cool.”

“No, it’s not,” Mindy agreed looking around the wooded area before her and letting out a long breath. Trying to place where they were, she couldn’t seem to find herself to do so. “I can’t help it--where in the world are we going?”

“I was hoping you would ask that,” Hunt smiled proudly gripping onto the steering wheel tightly knowing that it would be a good way to get off the subject of Guy. “Well, I was actually planning on taking you somewhere sweet, somewhere nice where it would be only the two of us.”

“This kind of a place is making us drive for hours?” Mindy took in a deep breath looking around the area before them again as Hunt took a turn onto a dirt road and she tensed up not quite knowing what was going on. “It seems kind of weird to me.”

“Trust me, you just don’t understand yet,” Hunt muttered seeing her dark eyes look out into his as he nodded slowly seeing her eyes behind the darkness. “You will understand soon. I promise.”

“Oh man, if this was a horror movie this would be the part where the innocent girlfriend gets slaughtered,” Mindy let out a hesitant laugh hearing Hunt let out a small chuckle as she looked out the window and toward the open area of land. “This is kind of like a movie I saw once.”

“But you trust me, so that means you wouldn’t think something like that,” Hunt pointed out arching his eyebrow up in a teasing manner as he pulled into a driveway of what seemed like some type of cabin. Seeing the confusion behind her eyes he figured he would explain himself before getting her anymore worried. “This is a friend of mines cabin and I figured I would take you here.”

“Oh,” she nodded slowly seeing him get out of the car and walk to her side, opening the door to help her out of the car shutting the door behind her. “This is a nice place.”

“Well, right now we are going to focus on the backyard,” Hunt muttered grabbing a hold of her hand and pulling her around the house. Feeling how tight her grip was he made sure that she was right next to him before seeing her eyes lighten up when she saw a fire before them with a telescope set up. “Let me explain for you. I figured we needed a night away from all the big lights and away from everyone else. So I set up a thing with my friend and he did me a favor. The two of us have a night alone together, underneath the stars. I was hoping this was something you might like.”

“Like Hunt?” Mindy turned to face him wrapping her arms around his shoulders before letting out a happy laugh. Pulling away slightly she reached out to touch the side of his face, feeling his hand move in over hers. “I love the idea. Thank you so much, the stars look so beautiful out here.”

“Not as beautiful as you,” he whispered pressing a small kiss against her lips before taking in a small breath and moving her over toward the blanket that his friend had set out for him. “Right now, how about we look at some though. Seeing your beauty matching with theirs just might make my night.”


“What about these?” Ria questioned looking at the earrings she had picked up to try and match the dress she had gotten for Kyle’s wedding. “I think I like these, but I’m not sure if they go with this dress.”

“Are you just planning on wearing the dress to the wedding?” Trisha questioned seeing Ria arch her eyebrow up in confusion as Trisha nodded slowly. “So, are you only going to wear it to the wedding?”

“Well, for that day,” Ria paused looking into her sister’s light brown eyes and she couldn’t help but find herself to let out a hesitant laugh. “Yes, that will be the only time I’ll wear it.”

“Then I don’t know why you would even wear earrings,” Trisha answered truthfully reaching out to grab a bracelet she thought looked nice and moved it in over her wrist. “Kevin is just going to rip that dress off you once you get home anyways, so I wouldn’t even see the reasoning to even do that.”

“I think they match nicely,” a voice came in from behind Ria as she turned to see Deana behind her and Ria smiled turning around to give Deana a small hug. “I think that it would go nicely if that was with a black dress. It matches your eyes nice, I think it works.”

“Thank you so much,” Ria whispered letting out a small laugh walking over to the register motioning Deana to follow her as Ria finished paying for all of her things. “It’s nice to have someone with a real opinion around here.”

“No problem,” Deana offered up a wide smile seeing the way that Ria looked over toward Trisha who was still browsing through some of the things. “You want to go sit down in the food court and talk or something.”

“You guys go ahead,” Trisha motioned them to go on and leave her for now as she picked up one of the necklaces that caught her eyes. “I think I will look for a little bit longer and then I will find you two.”

“Alright,” Ria nodded following Deana out toward the hallway of the mall as she moved in closer to her and let out a long breath. “So, how has your day gone so far?”

“Other than that jerk Zack trying to give me a hard time? I have been doing pretty fine,” Deana walked over toward the tables taking a seat and seeing Ria sit down across from her. Shaking her head slowly, Deana rested her elbows against the top of the table seeing Ria’s dark eyes staring out into hers. “If they give him that chief of staff job, I don’t think I will be able to handle it.”

“Trust me, they won’t give that job to him. I think it belongs to Don and…,” Ria felt her cell phone start to go off as she reached for it shooting Deana an apologetic expression as Deana nodded slowly in understanding. Looking at the number a wide smile appeared over her features as she saw it was Kevin calling her. “Hey sexy.”

“Baby, hey,” Kevin’s voice echoed through her ears loudly as she pulled back her phone a little bit hearing him let out a small laugh. “How are you doing sweetheart? I figured I would call you and see how things are going.”

“They are going okay,” Ria chuckled hearing the sound difference behind Kevin’s voice as he let out another small laugh and her eyebrows tensed together. “Is everything alright over there honey?”

“Yeah, everything is okay,” Kevin answered truthfully before letting out a small sigh and thinking about something to say. In the midst of thinking he saw something that caught his attention. “Whoa, that looks exactly like the car I’m fixing up.”

“Kevin,” Ria heard Seth call out to him as she heard Kevin’s laugh echo through her phone. “Kevin, just sit down right here okay? We don’t need you getting hit by a car or something.”

“I don’t know what his problem is,” Kevin muttered putting his phone back up to his ear before letting out a long breath and thinking about everything that had been going on. “For some reason he thinks I’m drunk. I’m not though, I just wanted to call and see how my baby was doing. I miss you so much honey.”

“I miss you too,” Ria laughed never quite hearing Kevin drunk like this before as she heard him let out a small yawn. Hearing Seth talking to Kevin in the background she let out another laugh. “I’ll see you later tonight though.”

“I know and I can’t wait. What are you planning on doing tonight because I had some pretty nice things in mind. I mean yeah, sleeping sounded pretty nice, but with you around--I don’t need any sleep,” Kevin muttered hearing her laugh before he let out a small laugh of his own. “I want ice-cream.”

“Kevin, give me the phone,” Seth grabbed a hold of Kevin’s phone before Kevin stood up slowly, reaching out to grab a hold of Blake’s shoulder as she helped him stand. “Hey Ria, Kevin is kind of out of it right now. He accidentally hit his head, but he will be alright.”

“Of course I’m alright,” Kevin muttered grabbing his phone from Seth and letting out a small frown. Clearing his throat Kevin straightened up before letting out a long breath trying to sound normal. “See, I’m fine. I love you sweetheart and I’ll see you later.”

“Alright, I love you too,” Ria chuckled hanging up the phone before staring out at Deana seeing the look behind Deana’s brown eyes and she shrugged her shoulders. “I guess Kevin is kind of in a weird mood.”

“I noticed,” Deana muttered letting out a small laugh before her laugh soon turned into a small frown. “But even with him being weird at least the two of you can talk and tell each other you love each other. I can’t even do that with Grady. He has had so many things go wrong lately, with a girl that he has been going around. I think that he wants something with her and I don’t know…it’s hard to tell with him sometimes.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it. Just ignore these so called trashy women in Grady’s past. I’m sure he still loves you and only wants to be with you,” Ria tried to assure Deana only to see a pair of hands move over the table as Ria looked up with her dark eyes to see Michelle before them. “Speaking of trashy--how can we help you Michelle?”

“I figured we needed some time to talk,” Michelle muttered seeing Ria roll her eyes before looking in the other direction. “So, I bet your having some fun screwing my husband.”

“He’s your ex-husband Michelle,” Ria informed her strongly before shaking her head slowly and rolling her eyes looking around the area before them. “Deana, let’s just get going. I don’t feel like being here right now.”

“You aren’t going anywhere,” Michelle grabbed a hold of Ria’s wrist seeing the way that Deana moved forward to push Michelle back and away from Ria--standing between the two girls. “Hey, I’m just saying--I need to show Ria something right now.”

“Oh really?” Ria questioned with a small laugh before shaking her head slowly and motioning Deana to follow her. “Why don’t you screw off Michelle because I have nothing else to say to you.”

“Good, I’ll leave you alone,” Michelle muttered pulling something out of her bag before calling out to Ria again before moving forward and handing it over to Ria. “I just figured I would give you this before I left. You might want to look at that Ria. It’s kind of important. Bye-bye.”

“Just throw it away,” Deana reached for the tape only to see that Ria had a strong grasp still on it as she looked down toward the tape that had the words watch me on it. “She’s only trying to cause trouble Ria, don’t let her get to you.”

“I’m not,” Ria shook her head slowly keeping a small hold onto the tape before looking over at Deana with a small laugh. “But I really would like to see what kind of stuff she is trying to pull right now. It might be kind of interesting to watch.”


Don turned the key in the front door only to find himself met by darkness. Stepping inside his foyer, he tossed his keys on the table beside him before making his way into the living room area. He’d half expected to hear the house full of sounds of Matt playing or of Nate bringing out his next big scheme, but instead there was nothing but silence. He circled around to go to his room to change when he spotted the faint flicker of light in the corner of the room. Stopping midstep he turned to see Shannon seated in a chair with a long neck bottle in hand.

“You’re finally home,” she spoke up in a low, abrasive tone, her words coming out like daggers to his heart at their sound. He turned to face her, catching the somber expression on her face.

“I was starting to think you wouldn’t miss me,” Don offered up testing the waters for her reaction while he took a tentative step forward only to see that she was holding the arm of the chair with tight fingers.

“Why should I miss you when it’s obvious that you’re not out there missing me?” Shannon gradually raised her eyes to be level with his. Her pupils were glossy indicating that she’d obviously done a number on that bottle she’d been holding. “Who is she Don?”

“Excuse me,” Don blinked back at her surprise by her accusatory tone.

“Who is the bitch you’re screwing now?” Shannon snapped at him, her voice cracked with anger. “Did Brant set you up with that too?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he frowned looking at the bottle in her hand, “but what I do know is that you’ve had too much to drink. You shouldn’t have drank that.”

“Yeah well shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t,” she flopped her shoulders waving the bottle around in the air in front of her, “None of that matters now does it?”

“Give me that,” Don bent down to snatch the bottle from her only to feel her free hand shove him backwards. She sprung to her feet anger rippling over her sudden movement.

“No it’s mine,” she raised the bottle to her lips to take another long swig.

“Shannon, I really don’t think that…” he started in a calm and even tone trying to keep her from exploding on him.

“That what? That now you don’t like me drunk?” she blurted out with a sudden, unexpected laugh. She stepped forward scratching her nail over the center of his chest before offering up a disgusted look. “I thought you liked me drunk. I thought that was part of the rush when you fucked me and forced me into a marriage I didn’t want.”

Don tensed up at her words, feeling her nails bite into his shoulder and causing him to wince. He stiffened feeling her other hand slide over to the front of his pants reaching for his belt buckle.

“What’s the matter Donny boy? See too much action tonight to give it up for your wife?” she slurred, feeling him catch her wrist in his palm.

“I don’t know what’s going on Shannon, but I’m not feeling it right now,” he pried her hand away from him in an attempt to get her to cool down before things turned ugly.

“Figures,” she shoved him away from her, “but it really doesn’t matter considering that the sex was all you were good at and even then you weren’t nearly as great as the other men I’ve been with.”

“Excuse me?” Don blinked back at her, his blue eyes flashing with surprise.

“You heard me,” she lifted the bottle to her lips taking a long, intoxicating sip again. Lowering the bottle she wiped at her lips before offering up a wicked grin, “Even your good old boy Brant knew how to please a woman better than you do.”

“That’s enough,” Don frowned at her, stepping aside to walk towards the kitchen, “You need to sober up and I’m going to put some tea on and…”

“What? The truth hurt?” Shannon hissed back at him, her fingers gripping the neck of the bottle tightly. “Face it Don you were a loser when you were a kid and you’re still a loser now. You don’t have the balls to be a real man and do the right thing when it’s right in front of your face. You’d rather piss away your career and your life for someone who doesn’t give a damn about you--for someone who can’t ever fully appreciate you.”

“Shannon stop!” Don warned spinning around to face her, watching her break into another round of laughter. His blue eyes flashed with concern, then worry and a strange mixture of hurt. “I know you’re drunk now and…”

“And what? The truth hurt Donny boy?” she mocked him waving her hands in the air. “Face it Don. You’re a nothing--a huge nothing who had to get someone drunk to take an interest in him.”

“Just stop…” he warned her once again surprised by this other side of her.

“What? You think other women give a damn about you? They don’t Don. All they see you as is the loser that bends over backwards for Brant. Sure you might have the whole doctor package to appeal to them, but when it gets down to it Don all you are is someone’s pity screw,” she gave him a long once over, her eyes burning with something that went deeper than the rage she’d unleashed on him. “That’s all you were to me and that’s all you still are. You sicken me.”

“Give me that bottle,” Don moved forward realizing it was the alcohol talking and even though it hurt to hear her speak that way, he realized he had to get her to sober up. Sure, they’d been having problems, but this was beyond anything he’d ever imagined.

“You want the bottle? Fine I’ll give you the bottle,” Shannon hissed feeling Don try to wrench the bottle away from her. She raised it up in the air, just out of his reach and before he could try to claim it again, she brought it down over his head with a firm, crashing movement.

“Damn it,” Don cursed falling backwards and colliding with the wall. He brought his fingers up to his head and found that he was bleeding.

Shannon watched him with a horrified expression as she still held the broken neck of the bottle in her palm. With a gasp she dropped it and took a shaky step backwards.

“Don I…” she started feeling bile in the back of her throat at her actions. The alcohol had given her courage, but now with her husband crouched before her kneeling on the ground with his own blood on her hands she felt another emotion settling in.

“Back off,” Don’s blue eyes warned, the concern replaced by an obvious hurt and anger.

“Don I didn’t…” Shannon tried to back peddle a bit to explain her actions leading up to the hear and now.

“You’re drunk. You’re plastered out of your damned mind and you hit me,” Don looked to the blood on his hands, “You know I expected a lot of things from you, but never this…”

“I told you I wasn’t someone you were supposed to be with,” she spat back at him with a tight hiss. “I’m never going to be the perfect wife or mother that you need. You see me right now? Well take a long, hard look because this is the real Shannon. This is the woman I’ve always been and the woman I’ll always be, so you’d better damn well get used to it.”

“You’re drunk,” Don repeated with disappointment behind his blue eyes, “and that’s something I’ve tried to tolerate and deal with, but if you are willing to do this to me unprovoked, I’d hate to think what you would do to my son.”

“I warned you about who I am…” Shannon started again fighting the tears that threatened at seeing him hurting.

“And now I finally see you as you are,” Don motioned to the door, “which leaves me no other choice. Get out.”

“What?” her eyes widened in response.

“You heard me,” he repeated a numbness in his tone, “I love you Shannon, but I can’t let this destroy Matt. I was okay with what you did the other night at the restaurant. I chalked it up as a one time thing, but now, well now I see that it isn’t going to change. You won’t even let me defend myself which is insane considering that I’m the one who hasn’t done anything wrong. You stand here and judge me for something I didn’t do…”

“I saw you Don,” she snapped at him, rage echoing in her tone.

“No, you saw what you wanted to see,” Don marched past her reaching for his keys once again. He turned to look back at her over his shoulder once again, “You have absolutely everything in this world that any woman could possibly want, but it’s never enough for you Shannon. It’ll never be enough. You talk about how stupid I am, but my one fault has been loving you unconditionally--in wanting to give you my all…”

“I never asked for this,” Shannon answered icily seeing tears building behind his eyes.

“Well guess what you don’t have to worry about it any longer because you’re not going to have it after today,” Don mouthed back at her spinning on his heel and walking out of the house with a slam of the door leaving Shannon to realize that she’d finally taken the last step in getting what she’d wanted in her marriage. She’d finally pushed Don away from her and while she’d hoped to feel triumphant about it, all she could think of was his words and knowing that he was absolutely right about everything he’d said. She was the idiot, not him.


...to be continued...