Episode 350

“Well this is just wonderful,” Jewel glared at her brother shaking her head with obvious irritation as she moved further into Dave’s living room. She shed her expensive, pink, designer jacket to turn around and glare up at him, “I hope you realize that this is entirely your fault.”

“My fault?” Dave blinked back at her incredulously, “How do you figure that one Jewel?”

“For starters,” she picked at one of her manicured nails and frowned up at him, “You’re the one who lead her to believe that she could have the audacity to speak to me in such a callous fashion.”

“Now wait just a second,” Dave frowned over at her, “The problems you and Stacy are having are between the two of you. I have nothing to do with this considering that I’ve been at the hospital trying to figure out what I’m doing to do to help Cori all night.”

“Ah yes, I heard about that,” Jewel sat on the edge of the sofa, a crease forming over her lips as she waved her hand at him once again, “Don called me and told me all about that.”

“You spoke with Don?” Dave’s eyes widened in surprise.

“What? You didn’t think he’d let me know that my sister lost her damned mind and flipped out on someone,” she shook her head at him before groaning, “Oh come on Dave. I might be out of reach a lot of times, but I’m not out of touch with our family.”

“You could have fooled me,” Dave muttered under his breath watching the kitchen door open and Carly stepped out into the living room to join them. She noticed Jewel sitting on the back of the couch and smiled.

“Hey,” Carly greeted her warmly.

“Well hello Carly,” Jewel smiled brightly before getting up to embrace Dave’s wife, “It’s so good to see you.”

“Likewise,” Carly replied hugging her in response, “I was hoping you’d got my call about Stacy.”

“I was on the plane when the call came in and you know how temperamental they are about cell phones up in the air,” Jewel waved her hand in the air before shaking her head, “It’s ridiculous considering that you pay a fortune to have luxury when you travel, but…”

“But you’re here now and I’m sure your daughter would love to speak with you,” Dave cut her off abruptly thinking about the compiling situations taking place within his family.

“I’ll give her a moment to cool down,” Jewel shrugged before eyeing Carly once again, “Girl you look great. It’s been like forever since I’ve seen you. In fact when Cori called and told me that you and Dave were married, you cannot even begin to imagine how relieved I was that he’d finally gotten over pining away on that loser Deidra. I always thought you were the best match for Dave--even too good for him really, but he was smart at long last I can see.”

“Well I…” Carly felt a blush rise over her as a moment of discomfort at the mention of Deidra overtook her.

“Believe me you’re too hot for my brother,” Jewel winked over at her, “but I’m sure he’s doing his best to try to make you happy.”

“He does,” Carly glanced over at Dave noticing he looked like he was fit to be tied. “You know Kayla’s waiting for you in the kitchen if you would like to check in on her.”

Dave nodded wordlessly passing by his sister.

“She’ll show you what to do,” Carly offered up seeing her husband disappear into the kitchen again.

“He’s too damned moody,” Jewel sighed circling around the living room to take a seat, “I mean really would it kill him to just try being polite for a change instead of being so wound up? Honestly Carly I think he’s going to give himself a heart attack before the age of forty if he’s not careful.”

“He’s had a lot to deal with lately between Cori and…” Carly tried to explain to Jewel in the hopes that she would cut Dave some slack.

“Cori should just learn to control herself,” Jewel waved her hand dismissively before rolling her eyes, “I don’t know how many times I have told her that the way to a man’s heart isn’t in giving him everything he wants but rather making him want everything you have.”

“She seemed like she was okay,” Carly pondered the way Cori had been behaving lately, “Yes, she broke up with Diego and took it pretty hard, but then she seemed to be moving on. She had a lot happening and…”

“Cori’s an idiot plain and simple,” Jewel blurted out callously, “She thrives on drama and being the center of attention. Rather than realizing that she’s young and can still have fun, she has to fixate on one man instead of enjoying the perks that this world has to offer. If you ask me I say she brought this on herself and maybe some time in the loony bin will do her good. I mean hey you never know, she could meet her prince charming while she’s locked up in there and they could fall madly in love with one another. Get it madly…”

“Oh come on,” Carly shook her head at Jewel’s attempt at a joke, “She’s your sister.”

“Yes, I realize that, but what Cori really needed was a good butt kicking when she was young enough to get in line,” Jewel shrugged her shoulders before frowning again, “Though I really don’t want to talk about this right now. I’m sure Dave will obsess over it soon enough.”

“Okay, then how about we talk about Stacy,” Carly suggested trying to open up the conversation. “She seemed pretty upset when she showed up on our doorstep.”

“She’s like Cori and far too hormonal for her own good,” Jewel tried to write off her daughter’s tantrum. “She had a fit when I told her I was going to be going on a new book tour promoting my latest cookbook on a few talk shows. She lost it and then told me she was going to spend time with her father. I figured I wouldn’t let it phase me since she’s known to react that way and it wasn’t until I got a very inappropriately timed call from Paul right before I was about to walk out and visit the Martha Stewart set that I found out Stacy wasn’t with him. I figured she’d run off to go shack up with some guy she’d met at the hotel or something, but instead I find out she’s here with Dave and of course you know what that means. I had to listen to hours of Paul telling me what a lousy mother I was when he can’t take five minutes away from his damned computer games to take notice of her. I mean is if my fault if she’s so damned moody now that she’s hit the teen years? He can take responsibility for that too as far as I’m concerned since he played a part in bringing her into the world.”

“I take it things with you and Paul aren’t going so smoothly,” Carly noted catching the air of irritation in Jewel’s tone.

“They haven’t gone smoothly ever,” Jewel shook her head adamantly, “and I swear if I wasn’t pregnant back then we might not have ever gotten married. We tried to do the right thing for Stacy, but obviously we’re still failing at it. I mean just last month she tried to put together this dinner for the two of us--I think it was her misguided attempt to keep us from following through on this divorce we have pending, but it was a total nightmare. I thought that it was just Stacy and I going to have a night out, so I brought this sexy drummer with me from the band Crucial Rage--maybe you heard of it. The guy had the best ass I have ever seen and let me just tell you the things he could do in the bedroom Paul couldn’t even come close to doing and…”

Carly’s eyes widened upon Jewel’s words seeing full well what might have prompted Stacy to be upset, “Isn’t that like a boy band?”

“Oh no,” Jewel shook her head adamantly, “At least not for the last five years. Let me just tell you that you don’t know how good it can be until you find yourself with a twenty five year old whose main purpose and goal is to please you. It was really wild, but needless to say when I showed up at the restaurant with Jackson Paul totally flipped out. I mean it’s not like I don’t know he’s banging his secretary there, but he made this big scene and Stacy lost it. Here she went all out to put together some romantic dinner scenario and when it got down to it, it just didn’t play out like she was hoping. I mean if I would have known that she was trying to make it some kind of family affair, I might have rethought bringing Jackson, but still…”

“Regardless of what happened what I saw last night was a girl with a lot of hurt inside of her,” Carly explained firmly, “and while you might not think you’re up to talking to her about it, maybe you should listen to what’s bothering her. I’m not trying to tell you how to parent, but…”

“But Paul has her so worked up that she thinks I’m the bad guy,” Jewel nodded before frowning, “Carly, you have no idea how hard it is to raise a teenager.”

“Hopefully when it gets to that point, it won’t be too difficult,” Carly offered up with a small smile, “I’m thankful Kayla’s got a way to go.”

“That’s right,” Jewel’s eyes perked up with interest, “Cori did mention that you and Dave had a little one. I say good for you for not marrying him right away. Once you do that, they think you owe them something and then they get possessive and boring and…”

“And there you go again running your mouth off about things you know nothing about,” Dave shook his head at her as he walked out of the kitchen, “You’re the last person who should be giving anyone a lecture on marriage or motherhood considering that you can’t even take the time to be there for your daughter.”

“Don’t you dare criticize me as a mother because I’m doing the best I can,” Jewel leapt up to get in his face, “You have no idea what I go through with her on a day to day basis.”

“When would that be exactly? Before or after you meet with your publicist and stylist?” he arched a speculative brow watching her huff back at him.

“Now you’re sounding like Paul,” Jewel snapped in response, “Just because a woman is successful in her career doesn’t mean she can’t be successful in everything else as well. She can be someone who is very assured in her sexuality and still be good at being a woman in all areas…”

“I don’t give a damn about your sexuality Jewel, but what I do care about is that little girl in my guest room that’s hurting. Maybe if you stop taking the time to focus on yourself you’ll realize that she needs you right now. You know you are the grown up after all,” Dave pointed out wondering if he would ever get through to his sister now that it was painfully clear that she was just as delusional about things as Cori it seemed.


“Don’t insult my intelligence!” Russ continued to shout at Kevin as Kevin tried to pull the small towel he’d grabbed together around his waist, “I know exactly what you’re trying to do and it’s not going to work.”

“Russ, it’s not what you’re thinking,” Kevin tried to reason with his friend seeing the madness behind Russell’s wild eyes, “I was just taking a shower to get cleaned up and…”

“You don’t owe him any answers Kevin. You’re my friend and he has no right attacking you like this,” Avery explained squeezing her arms around Russell’s shoulders tightly as she still hung onto his back. “He’s being a complete caveman and he owes you a huge apology for his behavior.”

“Only in his dreams,” Russ mouthed in response feeling Avery tug on his hair roughly causing his head to pop back, “I’m not going to apologize to him for moving in on you. He’s not going to sleep with you and get away with it.”

“Sleep with me,” Avery repeated blinking down at him. She yanked on his hair once again before she leapt off of his shoulders, “How dare you?”

“How dare I?” Russ spun around to see her standing before him hands on her hips and a heavy frown on her face, “Oh come on Avery all the signs are there. You’re mad at me so rather than trying to work things out like I wanted to last night, you find the first guy you can find and you seek comfort in his arms because it’s easier than facing what’s going on between us.”

“Actually,” Kevin raised one finger opening his mouth to say something more while his other hand held firmly onto the loose towel.

“Shut up Kevin!” Russ snarled back at him before turning to face Avery once more, “So what is this? Payback for the fact that you’re upset with me? Is this your way of hurting me like you think I hurt you? As if marrying Brant wasn’t enough to dig the knife into my heart already?”

“Go to hell you son of a bitch,” Avery spat back at him slapping him right square across the cheek and watching him recoil from the impact.

“You know I think I’m just going to go and get dressed right now considering that…” Kevin started to tiptoe towards the door feeling the tension rising in the room between them.

“You aren’t going anywhere, but he is,” Avery warned glaring up at a stunned Russ, “I told you to leave last night and that meant that I didn’t want you back.”

“Yeah well newsflash Avery. This is my house too. I bought it and I’m not going anywhere especially now that you’ve got Kevin here. If you think you’re going to shack up here with Kevin in front of our daughter, then you’ve got another thing coming because I’m not going to let it happen.”

“In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t ask for your opinion on this matter. Besides, I figured you would be too busy with the woman you were going to marry to care what I’m doing here with him. I mean you couldn’t be bothered when I was here in Coral Valley fighting for my life while you were shacking up with her, now could you?” she snarled in response clenching her fists at her hips.

“That’s not fair and you know it,” the side of his face vibrated with pain as tension rippled over his muscle corded body. “I had no idea who I was…”

“Yeah so you say,” she rolled her eyes at his comment, “but let’s face it Russ when it gets down to it you’re just like every other man who would rather make excuses than live up to the responsibility of his actions.”

“I have been being responsible for my actions from day one,” Russ noted as Kevin moved in closer to the bathroom door hoping to make an exit before things got even more heated between them. “I’ve always been there for you and Erin when you needed me…”

“Oh so what? Now we’re just some kind of responsibility and obligation that you’re stuck with when your mistress is waiting for you somewhere,” Avery growled up at him, her brown eyes wide with rage, “Tell me Russ do you really care if I was with Kevin because you don’t want me with anyone or is this all about you and your wounded ego?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Russ rolled his eyes at her, “Avery you know full well that I would never, ever go out of my way to hurt you. I never planned on what happened with Angela and…”

“And yet you couldn’t be man enough to admit to what you’d done. Oh yeah it just makes me oh so convinced that you didn’t know what you were doing,” she spat up at him taking a small step towards him and shoving him in the chest. “If you really didn’t mean to do it, then you wouldn’t have lied about it.”

“I didn’t lie,” Russ argued with her as Kevin held his finger up in the air.

“He’s got a point,” Kevin offered up in Russell’s defense watching as both Russ and Avery tipped their heads to the side to glare at him.

“Shut up Kevin!” They both mouthed in unison before turning to attack one another once again.

“You know on second thought I think I’ll just get my things and go check on Erin,” Kevin quickly scooted out of the bathroom and left them to battle, knowing full well that the war between them was just beginning.

“Now look what you’ve done,” Avery slapped Russell’s shoulder hard her fingers curling up into a fist as she moved in to hit him again.

“Hit me again and I swear…” he caught her wrist before she could cause anymore damage to him.

“You swear what?” she taunted, her words full of venom as she glared up at him, “Are you going to hit me? Are you going to push me back for calling you on the jerk you really are?”

“Don’t push me Avery,” he warned in a cool and even tone even though his skin was on fire, his body pulsing with a culmination of rage and jealousy over finding Kevin in their shower.

“Why? What are you going to do to me if I keep pushing Russ?” she questioned taking her other hand and shoving it into his abdomen roughly. “Does it hurt you to think that I might have been with someone else?”

“Of course it does,” he gritted his teeth fighting to contain his first reaction to finding Kevin in their home--in their shower. Mere words couldn’t express how much it bothered him to think of Kevin with her--more so to think about what it was like fighting with her when all he wanted to do was be kissing her.

“Too bad,” she shook her head, her dark hair cascading around her face with the movement and framing it in such a way that it made the flecks of amber in her brown eyes stand out even more. “That’s what you deserve for what you’ve done.”

“What I’ve done?” he repeated taking in a shallow breath, “Avery you married another man knowing full well that I hated him. I had amnesia and didn’t have the first clue who I was. I thought that she was you and…”

“And I don’t want to hear it. If it really was nothing, you would have told me, but instead you took the coward’s route. You proved that you’re nothing but a pig-headed, chauvinistic jackass that would much rather find fault in everyone else than live up to the consequences of his own actions,” she scowled, raising her wrist again only to discover that he was still holding onto it. She sucked in a breath before feeling her chest rise and fall with the hammering of her heart beating inside of her. She met his fiery green eyes and felt the breath catch in the back of her throat at the intensity of his eyes on her.

“I live with those consequences every damn day of my life. Avery I lost absolutely everything and the more I try to hold onto it, the harder it seems to want to leave my life,” Russ pleaded with her, a raw, brokenness in his tone as his green eyes begged for a second chance.

“And I guess when that happens you’ll have no one to blame but yourself since it’s clear that you’re not adult enough to deal with the situations that are right in front of you,” she wrenched her arm away from his touch despite her body’s initial reaction to him.

“Avery come on,” he spun around to chase after her into their bedroom. “This is ridiculous. You can’t possibly mean that considering that…”

“You’re the ridiculous one Russ,” Avery spun around so fast Russ hadn’t seen it coming. She shoved her hands into his chest firmly and sent him back into the wall between the bedroom and the bathroom. “You’re the one who is full of stupid thoughts and accusations and…”

“And I love you damn it,” Russ countered reaching out to her before she could punch him again. He saw her reach out to hit him again and he prepared himself for the impact. His jaw flexed, eyes closed in anticipation of the pain, but rather than the hard, striking blow he’d expected, he felt her hand graze his cheekbone before her fingers slid up into his hair commanding his full attention.

Before he could say another word, her mouth was plummeting in over his, kissing him roughly. He released her wrist he’d been holding seconds earlier and felt her hand press in against his hot chest. Her touch felt like fire--like a constant flame licking over his every synapse that threatened to engulf him alive and singe him to the core. Sliding his arm around her waist, he squeezed her to him, his tongue meeting hers with the same madness and fire that had prompted her to kiss him to begin with. He heard a soft moan of encouragement out of her when their kiss intensified and without a word he picked her up carrying her back into the bathroom with him.

“You had no right coming in here and saying those things to me,” Avery bit on his lower lip in an aggressive movement causing him to wince at the feel of her teeth sinking into his sensitive flesh, but before he could buckle back from the pain, she slid her tongue between his lips again, fingers threading even more tightly into his hair.

“I don’t want to lose you,” Russ mouthed circling around to set her up on the countertop as her legs wrapped around his waist, inviting him in closer to her.

“If you would just shut your damn mouth and stop acting like a caveman, then you would stand a better chance of keeping that from happening,” Avery warned, dropping her palm flat over his abdomen. Her nails traced over the top of his slacks before she boldly reached for the center of his pants massaging him through the material. “You have no idea how hard you make things on me Russ.”

“I think I might have some clue,” Russ replied sucking in a sharp breath upon her urgings. He opened his mouth to say something more--anything that would stop them from arguing, but instead he felt her fingers tug decidedly on the zipper of his pants pushing the material away from his excited flesh.

“Just shut up,” Avery urged him on again, circling him with her fingers, feeling him stiffen underneath her urgings. She leaned back just enough to pull her shirt up over her head before leaning forward to claim his mouth hungrily. Arching her hips up off of the counter top, she felt him slide her further towards him, lifting her up enough to pull at her sweatpants hoping to find the same kind of release that she’d wanted from him.

“Avery, this is insane,” Russ mouthed using his knee to kick her sweatpants to the floor before moving in closer to her.

“I said shut up,” Avery slapped him across the face again, this time with a far different intent than when she’d hit him earlier. He pulled back just enough to see the lust burning behind her eyes mirroring his own emotions as her lips found his again. Their kiss exploded for what felt like an eternity before she tore her mouth from his.

“I hate you when you act all caveman on me,” Avery hissed in his ear, biting on the lobe before her tongue traced a determined circle over his heated skin. She nipped at his shoulder, scratching her nails over his back while her legs squeezed him tighter than before.

“Something tells me you love absolutely every second of me being primitive around you,” Russ mouthed in response, reaching out to tug on her hair gently in order to bring her lips to his again in an unrestrained union. He let out a low growl, the sound vibrating against her lips as he reached for her hips guiding her closer to him in an attempt to show her just how caveman he could be about her when properly motivated.


Kipp walked through the hallway thinking about the plans for the company launch in a few weeks. While Heather had already started taking on some projects with a few friends and associates, Kipp knew full well that there were going to be a great many legal responsibilities around the corner in between the public announcement of the company’s introduction into the mainstream media and the contracts that would no doubt follow. Now was the time to get ahead, which meant getting some extra help around the office--help that Kipp hoped to have starting today.

“Is my morning appointment here?” Kipp questioned motioning to his secretary while shuffling the various documents he’d had in his arms.

“She’s waiting in your office just like you told me to have her do,” his secretary nodded rising up from her chair, “Do you need some help?”

“No, I have it,” Kipp used his hip to push open his office door, “but thanks for the offer Doris.”

“Don’t mention it,” she watched him shuffle everything again haphazardly.

“I’m sorry I’m late, but I was stuck in traffic,” Kipp explained apologetically using his foot to kick the door closed behind him. “I hope you weren’t waiting too long in here.”

“No, of course not,” the woman replied seeing him in a state of disarray. She stood up and rushed over to where Kipp was and reached for half of what he was holding. “Let me help you with these.”

“Really I’ve got it. I…” Kipp stopped feeling the load considerably lighter as he looked up to see the petite blonde standing before him, “You must be Becca.”

“That’s right,” she grinned up at him carefully situating his things in her arms before he dropped them, “and I’m guessing that you would like these on your desk, right?”

“Yeah that would be great,” Kipp nodded seeing her rush forward to set the documents on the center of his desk, “I appreciate the help.”

“It’s not a problem,” she spun around to face him, her long, blonde hair framing her face as a wide grin spilled over her lips, “I aim to please.”

“It’s much appreciated,” Kipp replied circling around his desk before taking a seat, “and while I would like to say I’m more organized than I am, right now everything is kind of all over the place. It sounds completely unprofessional, but with the new company getting off of the ground and all the paperwork…”

“It can be a bit overwhelming,” she finished for him seeing him nod in response.

“Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it, but don’t think that any of this is an example of any incompetence within the company. Things are only just starting and I can assure you that this is a place where the sky is the limit.”

“I don’t doubt that,” she replied with a determined tone, “which is why it would be an honor for me to get in with such a promising company. I know you probably have a lot of applicants to look through, but you can rest assured that I am more than willing to give a hundred and ten percent--more even if it means helping get this company off of the ground. I’ve done a lot of reading on Ms. Gibbons and I’m very interested in working for her.”

“Really?” Kipp arched a curious brow, “Well I’ll be honest and tell you that Heather’s not going to be your typical, run of the mill boss. She has a way about her that really is unique and she is a bit unconventional at times, but it’s part of her charm.”

“I can deal with unconventional. In fact I embrace it,” Becca piped in enthusiastically. “It’s something that I would love to be surrounded by.”

“You say that now, but it’s a different story when you’re in it,” Kipp laughed lightly thinking about the enthusiasm he saw in Becca. “It’s not going to be the most glamorous of positions. I’ll warn you that now considering that I’ll be here as much as I can, but I also have my son that needs me and…”

“And whatever you want, you can have it,” Becca assured him batting her eyelashes at him, “You just say the word and I’m yours Kipp. I mean to help with everything.”

“I knew what you meant,” Kipp laughed lightly noticing the color that rose in her face, “and the truth to the matter is that I have read over your qualifications, looked at your resume and the only question I have is when can you start?”

“Are you serious?” she questioned with wide eyes, “Really?”

“Yes really,” Kipp nodded with a tiny laugh, “You’re hired. If your amazing background didn’t have me convinced before, well your enthusiasm sealed the deal for me.”

“Oh thank you so much. You won’t regret this,” Becca mused with a bright grin as Kipp reveled in the thought that he would finally be able to put more time into home along with work now that he had a little help on his side.


“So, you’re taking us somewhere?” Heather questioned looking over at Kyle seeing him smile and nod slowly as she reached out to give him his arm a small squeeze. Looking back at Charles playing with his bear in the backseat she smiled hearing him laugh out having fun with what he was doing. “Where are we going?”

“I think I know what I’m doing, you‘ll see where I‘m going when I get there,” Kyle half smirked shrugging his shoulders reaching for her hand giving it a small squeeze. Feeling her fingers tighten around his he let out a long breath, glancing over into her green eyes. “Do you know how much I love you?”

“A lot I’m hoping,” she replied with a smile seeing the way that he nodded slowly and they heard Charles let out a long noise. Kyle turned back to see that he dropped the bear and he reached for it before feeling her hand move in over his. “You drive, I got the bear.”

“Okay,” he nodded seeing her get the bear and give it back to Charles hearing him let out a little laugh telling them he was in a better mood now that he had his bear. “Is that better little guy? He really loves that toy doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, he really does,” she bit down on her bottom lip looking out at Kyle thinking back to when they were at the house with Kellen and Kyle was talking about Charles. “What was it like to hold him first?”

“Like I was holding my own son,” Kyle informed her with a small sigh gripping the wheel tighter with his fingers before glancing over at her. “You know, since I always dreamed of having all of those babies with you, but in all honesty I fell in love with your son. To be holding a part of you, it was amazing. Night after night I was there and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s beautiful. I look at him like he’s my own, from the first moment I always did.”

“We’ll all be a big family,” Heather smiled reaching out to grab his fingers in hers again, seeing the way his hazel eyes stared out at her for a moment. “All of us can be. Kellen, Kipp, you, me and Charles. We all can live happily ever after, just like I always dreamed.”

“Kellen and Kipp are the extra adds,” Kyle chuckled pulling into the parking lot to a petting zoo as Heather eyed him over for a second. “You know, I really don’t mind Kellen actually I’d probably love him like a best friend too if it wasn’t so easy to tease him.”

“I knew you didn’t hate him,” she nudged him in the stomach seeing him shrug his shoulders and let out a small laugh as he unbuckled his seatbelt. “What are we doing at a petting zoo?”

“Well, I thought Charles liked animals so why not give him a real taste of it?” Kyle questioned with a small smirk seeing the way that Heather looked out at him with her nose wrinkled. “Oh please tell me you aren’t going to get all freaked out about germs Heather. You never used to be like this before when we were together.”

“No, it’s just…,” she fought for the right words to say seeing the way his hazel eyes looked out into hers and she shrugged her shoulders. “I guess you are probably right. I want a start a new life with you again, so I guess I could try it.”

“That’s my girl,” Kyle moved forward curving his fingers around the back of her neck before pressing a small kiss against her lips. “Not afraid to get down and dirty with nature.”

“I’d rather get down and dirty with you,” she gently nipped at his bottom lip as he cleared his throat and moved back a bit, moving in his seat uncomfortably. “But right now I want to see some animals, they could be really cute.”

“Right,” Kyle got out of the car opening the back door to reach for Charles, getting him out of his seat before picking him up in his arms making sure to grab his bear. “There you go little guy, I’m sure you will love this. They don’t have a bear, but they have really cool things other than that.”

“What do you mean they don’t have bears?” Heather met Kyle at his side wrapping her arm around his waist, seeing the way both boys look over at her as she approached them. “I think we have the biggest teddy bear right here.”

“You think that’s funny?” Kyle laughed hearing Charles let out a small chuckle and he pressed a small kiss on his forehead hearing Charles let out another small laugh before resting his head against his chest. “I guess I am just a big teddy bear, but I don’t mind if it has to do with you and my little man. I’ll be your teddy bear any day.”

“I think he’s glad to hear that,” Heather pointed out seeing Charles look up at Kyle with his big brown eyes seeing Kyle offer up a goofy face that made him laugh out loud. “I think he just loves you over all.”

“I’m thankful for that because I love him just as much if not more,” Kyle muttered with a wide smile pulling his wallet out of his pocket once they reached the front to pay for something before motioning heather to follow him in. “Hey look they have a sheep, a goat, and I see a pig. How about we start off at the pig Heather? I’m sure you would love to see that little guy.”

“You know, the goat seems great to me,” she stated hearing him let out a small laugh as Kyle nodded back towards something and he went to hand Heather Charles for a minute. “Where are you going Kyle?”

“I’ll be right back,” he motioned her to wait a minute before walking back with a cup seeing the way she looked up at him as she held onto Charles. “I got him some food to feed the animals.”

“You have to be kidding me,” Heather frowned hearing Kyle let out another laugh and she shook her head slowly. “I am not going to let my son get bit by some goat.”

“I’ll be with him, don’t worry,” Kyle chuckled reaching out to grab a hold of Charles and walk him over toward the gates looking back to see Heather just standing there and motioned her to move forward with him. Setting Charles down and holding onto him so he wouldn’t fall he put some of the food in Charles’s hand helping him reach out to feed it. Hearing Charles laugh fill the air Kyle chuckled himself and looked toward Heather. “You should try it Heather, it’s really not that bad.”

“You two look cute doing it together,” Heather pointed out seeing the way Kyle stared out at her and she grabbed a hold of the cup reaching out to feed one of them before smiling. Reaching out to touch its head she shrugged her shoulders and looked toward Kyle. “This actually isn’t that bad. They are kind of cute.”

“Oh my God Heather,” Kyle gasped seeing the way she looked at him almost nervous and he let out a long laugh before holding his hands up in the air. “Heather, he’s standing all by himself. What a good little boy, look at him.”

“He’s standing,” Heather gasped standing up straight herself feeling her heart hammering in her chest as she heard Charles laugh and look over at her. She moved forward to only see Charles fall back on his bottom and let out another laugh. Kyle picked him up from the grass and pulled him up into his arms pressing a small kiss over his forehead. “I can’t believe it.”

“He’s a push over just like you,” Kyle informed her with a small wink handing Charles over to her carefully before wrapping his arms around the both of them hugging them softly. “I’m so proud of the both of you.”


Cameron sank into his office chair thinking about the upcoming public debut of Heather’s company. While he knew full well she’d started up the business, he knew that there was a lot more ahead for them and he found himself wondering if her sister’s little incident with Kyle would be something that would pose a problem to their business venture. Frowning as he thought about how Sarah had not only managed to get herself caught in all of her lies, but of how she was taking him down with her, Cameron found himself wondering just what would happen next. He highly doubted that Kyle would make a move to attack Cameron given that Kyle hadn’t bothered to show up to the wedding himself. However, Cameron vowed to keep his options open and be safe about the situation that could rise up surrounding his investment.

“Cameron,” Thea spoke his name sauntering into the room to see him before her looking bruised and beaten. Her lips curved into an ‘oh’ shape as she scrutinized him. Circling around his desk she eyed him intently, “You look like death warmed over. Care to explain?”

“Not really,” he shrugged his shoulders before a twisted smirk spread over his face, “although I am pleased to tell you that I’m finally ready to put my plan into action in crushing the Ashfords one by one.”

“Is that right?” she arched a curious brow making herself comfortable on the edge of his desk. She kicked her shoe off before teasing her toes over his thigh, “Just what’s crept into your wicked little mind now?”

“Let’s just say that I’ve already started with Brant Ashford and Russ and I can promise you that I will finish with the both of them later,” Cameron’s jaw clenched and he curled his fingers into a fist. “They won’t get away with what they’ve done.”

“As they shouldn’t be allowed to,” Thea leaned forward sliding off of the desk and into his lap. Her fingers teased through his dark hair before her lips inched towards him curling in anticipation of a kiss, “but you do realize that Angel complicates things by being pregnant with not one, but two Ashford brats.”

Cameron pushed her away from him immediately stiffening against her. He rose up from his chair practically dropping her to the floor with the sudden movement. His dark eyes found hers again before he waved his finger in warning, “You lay off of her. I don’t want you hassling her.”

“Hassling her?” Thea couldn’t help but laugh, “Cam she was the one sleeping with the enemy so to speak.”

“My sister was a victim in all of this just like our father,” he continued to wave his finger at Thea, “She didn’t know what she was getting herself into, but now I have it under control.”

“Do you really?” she arched a doubtful brow while pulling herself up off of the ground. She adjusted her skirt before eyeing him once again, “Do you really think that you can control someone as stubborn and bullheaded as Angel especially when she has her sights on something she wants?”

“She doesn’t want him anymore and she can’t have him,” Cameron argued with her, a snarl twisting over his features.

“When does that stop your sister when she wants something?” Thea questioned with a haughty laugh, “Let’s face it Cameron your sister has never, ever listened to reason even when it was the best thing for her. She’s notorious for doing what can hurt you and your family and she doesn’t think twice about it.”

“Thea I’m warning you,” Cameron waved his hand at her.

“About what? About the fact that your sister doesn’t have the good sense to leave well enough alone when she’s been warned,” Thea continued to harass him about Angela, “Think about it Cameron. This isn’t the first time she’s defied your family and it won’t be the last. You know full well what kind of trouble she created when she and Kevin were together. You told her yourself that it was unacceptable and then…”

“Enough!” Cameron cut her off abruptly ready to lash out at her even further when the door to his office opened and Chris stepped inside.

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” Chris spoke up surprising the both of them as he walked into Cameron’s office and looked between them. “I hope this isn’t a bad time…”

“As a matter of fact,” Thea glared over at Chris ready to say something more when Cameron cut her off.

“No not at all. She was just leaving,” Cameron informed Chris before waving his hand at Thea dismissively, “We’re finished in here.”

“But Cameron…” Thea curled her lip in a pout.

“Good-bye Thea,” Cameron spoke up in a warning tone glaring at her one last time before turning to Chris, “So what is it exactly that you think I should be able to do for you Christopher since it’s clear that you never show up unless you want something?”

“I was merely stopping by to see how things went with Angel,” Chris arched a curious brow giving Cameron a once over and spotting just how mangled Cameron’s face appeared to be, “but I think it speaks for itself there given that you look like you got into a fight and lost.”

“I still look better than you do,” Cameron noted the black eye that Chris had. “So really Foley is that all you came here for or is there something I should care about that you have on your mind?”

“I was just wondering if you took care of that situation with Brant,” Chris half questioned pondering whether or not Cameron’s black eye had been any indication of what had transpired when Cameron had confronted the truth that Chris had laid out in front of him.

“The situation is dealt with,” Cameron mouthed cryptically sitting up straighter in his chair, “It isn’t something that you will need to worry yourself with any longer as I have a handle on this one.”

“Really?” Chris couldn’t help but crack a grin, his eyes lighting up at what Cameron was saying to him. “In that case I’m sure Angel could use a friend right now and I would really like to speak with her.”

Cameron blinked twice before roaring in overwhelming laughter. He shook his head at Chris and snapped his fingers, “Oh that is a funny one.”

“Excuse me,” Chris replied giving him a strange look, “What’s so funny about that?”

“Do you honestly believe that I would let a snake like you into my sister’s life again? It was bad enough when you tried to get her to marry you before, but now,” Cameron blurted out with another laugh, “Chris you are one of the last people in this world that I would want near her. Angel deserves better--a lot better.”

“But I was the one who helped you get her away from Brant. I told you what was going on and…” Chris pouted, a frown touching over his lips, “I thought that we had an agreement. We had worked out that arrangement and…”

“The only arrangement we have going for us is if you ever get near my sister again or hurt her in any way, then I’m going to kill you plain and simple,” Cameron cleared his throat before narrowing his eyes at Chris, “Is that clear?”

“Unbelievable, but yeah,” Chris scoffed with a grumble, “though if she comes to me…”

“You’ll listen to her, but if you try to touch her, you’re a dead man,” Cameron warned with one last icy glare before motioning his hand in a dismissive motion, “Now leave I have better things to take care of right now than waste my time with you.”

“But…” Chris opened his mouth to object.

“Good-bye Chris,” Cameron waved with a warning tone as Chris walked out of the office leaving Cameron alone to put his next plan into action for those who had wronged him in Coral Valley.


Angela looked around the bedroom she’d spent the night in wondering what she was going to do about getting away from the house long enough to put her thoughts together. Last night after she’d thrown Brant out of her room, she and Cameron had a talk with one another--one that wound up in a heated exchange of words. While he wasn’t thrilled with her decisions in the past, he was very adamant about keeping her inside of the house until she could finish the project he had in mind for her in Coral Valley. Once she was done, he was suggesting she go back to the island and leave the mess she’d walked into behind.

“But we both know it’s not that simple,” she thought to herself realizing that no matter how much she wanted to listen to her brother and do as he told her, there were still a million and one questions running through her mind especially where Brant and Kevin were concerned.

Frowning Angela paced around the room wondering if she would still have a guard at her door as she had after Brant had left last night. Once Cameron had walked out, he’d not only locked her in but made sure that she wouldn’t go anywhere. It was beyond infuriating and the more she sat in her room stewing over things, the angrier she was.

“I’m not a child anymore,” Angela thought out loud, “Cam is not my father and he can’t keep me here.”

Angela’s gaze lingered to the window where she’d last seen Brant remembering what it felt like to be kissing him, feeling his arms around her, yet as she remembered her brother’s rage a new fear swept over her. Tearing her eyes away from the window she vowed to find out the truth one way or another.

“I know what Cameron is saying, but still…” she mouthed to herself realizing that she needed answers and there was only one way to get them--on her own with a little investigating whether Cameron liked it or not.

Hearing a sound outside the door Angela stood up straighter, spinning around and half expecting to find her brother standing before her, but instead she found herself face to face with Franklin. She let out a gasp before forcing a small smile.

“Franklin, what are you doing in here?” she couldn’t help but ask a gasp falling from her lips as she stepped back into the oversized cabinet behind her.

“Cameron thought you might be hungry, so I’ve prepared breakfast for you,” Franklin replied giving her a long once over, “Shall I bring your meal up here or would you prefer to dine in the dining room downstairs?”

“I would like to go downstairs,” she stood taller eyeing Franklin intently, “and I would also like to have a word with my brother if you could find him.”

“Actually,” Franklin paused giving her a long once over, “he’s at work today, but I am more than sure that he will be eager to speak with you when he gets back.”

“I’m sure he is,” Angela huffed under her breath thinking about her brother’s retreat as she made her way downstairs to try to enjoy the little bit of freedom that Cameron had provided her with this morning. Hopefully it would be the first step to getting out and finding out the truth about what had really happened to her father and her late husband.


“So tell me what kind of ice-cream would you like?” Brant questioned as he and Matt stood in front of the glass counter at the ice-cream store that Ken owned. He looked around at a rainbow colored sorbet in front of him before pointing it out to Matt. “That looks kind of fun.”

“Food isn’t supposed to be fun,” Matt stated plainly tipping his head up to look at Brant with a less than enthused expression.

“Who told you that?” Brant frowned picking Matt up in his arms and leaning in over the counter to give Matt a better look. He tickled at Matt’s sides watching Matt’s stoic expression shift to laughter despite his earlier grumbling. “Now Matt you and I both know that food and everything in life has to be fun. If you can’t enjoy yourself, then what’s the point?”

“You’re nuts,” Matt couldn’t help but laugh lightly looking to the various choices in front of him again. He wrinkled his nose before finally settling in on the vanilla ice-cream in front of him, “I’ll have that.”

“That?” Brant gave Matt a sideways glance, “You sure?”

“Yep, that’s what I want,” Matt finally nodded as the woman behind the counter approached them.

“You sure you don’t want something else or at least a sundae or something with it?” Brant questioned setting Matt back down on the ground again before Matt shook his head firmly.

“I’m sure,” Matt’s blue eyes glanced over at the woman behind the counter once again, “I’ll just have one single scoop in a dish please and nothing else.”

“Sure, you’ve got it,” the woman nodded before flashing a flirty smile up at Brant, “and what can I get for you sweet stuff?”

“I’ll just have a hot fudge sundae with double chocolate chip ice-cream,” Brant decided with a small shrug before wiggling his brow at Matt, “I’ll be the daring one today.”

“You’re such a dork,” Matt shook his head before looking up at Brant again, “No offense, but you are.”

“I’ll show you dork,” Brant mouthed in mock menace reaching out to pick Matt up and pull him into his arms. He hoisted him over his head and feigned that he was going to keep spinning him around in the air as Matt squealed.

“Let me down,” Matt lightly punched the back of Brant’s shoulder before Brant set him down on the ground and took a step back. Brant placed his own hand over his shoulder before staggering backwards and feigning injury.

“You got me Matty. You beat me at my own game,” Brant mouthed in broken words doing a bit of a twist before falling flat to the ground face first as if Matt had knocked him out. Matt shook his head and rolled his eyes before accepting the two bowls of ice-cream from the woman behind the counter. Matt issued her a polite smile before turning around and stepping over Brant to make his way over to the table.

“Yep it’s official Brant. You’re a full fledged dork,” Matt groaned inwardly before finally revealing a small laugh as he watched Brant pull himself up off of the floor to join him at the table.

Brant dusted his shoulders off before sliding into the opposite of the booth that Matt was in and smiling, “I may be a dork, but you still love me.”

“Well duh,” Matt shook his head with another laugh, “but that still doesn’t change the fact that you can be pretty embarrassing to be around sometimes.”

“Yeah well I like to keep the kid in me alive just like your dad does because believe it or not it makes us fun guys,” Brant explained with a bright smile pulling the cherry off of his own sundae and placing it on top of Matt’s dish of white ice-cream. “There you needed some color.”

“Thanks,” Matt replied caving in and reaching for the cherry. He took one quick bite of it before eyeing Brant expectantly, “So tell me does the fact that you were flirting with her over there mean that Angela is history?”

“What?” Brant’s eyes widened, surprised by Matt’s tone, “What do you mean flirting?”

“I saw her flirting with you,” Matt pointed out glancing over at the woman who was now wiping at the countertop, “and I just have to tell you that she’s not your type. She’s no where near being what you need and most of all she’s not Angela.”

“No she’s not,” Brant sighed heavily thinking about his current situation with Angela. He dipped his spoon into his sundae, but found himself playing with it instead as he thought about how much Angela would be enjoying what he had right in front of him.

“So why isn’t she here?” Matt questioned breaking through Brant’s thoughts, “I mean you both liked to hang out with me before and…”

“She’s just not around,” Brant offered up not wanting to get into his romantic woes with Matt.

“In other words she dumped you huh,” Matt took a bite of his ice-cream and watched Brant intently, “That would explain why both you and my dad were having an all nighter. You’re both losers in love right now, huh?”

“What?” Brant’s eyes widened before he shook his head at Matt, “I’m not a loser. Neither is your dad.”

“Ok, so maybe loser was a little harsh, but when it comes to relationships, you both could use a little work,” Matt shrugged his shoulders plopping a melting spoonful of ice-cream into his mouth. “I mean you’re both nice enough, but you need to polish your skills a little bit.”

“I don’t believe I’m hearing this,” Brant’s jaw practically dropped as he eyed Matt suspiciously, “Have you been talking to your grandmother lately?”

“Nope, this is my own observation,” Matt informed him point blank, “the way I see it my dad is so eager to find happiness that he overlooks the realism that is involved in making a relationship work and with you, well you’ve been the player for so long that when you find real love, you have a hard time actualizing your feelings and putting them into real open emotion. That is tough on a woman from what I’ve heard…”

“And just who have you heard that from or any of this for that matter?” Brant questioned wondering if he’d just stepped into the Twilight Zone now that Don’s very young son was offering up his ‘professional’ opinion on love.

“Hey, I’m not a baby anymore. I watch Dr. Phil and if you want my honest opinion Brant whatever is wrong with Angela, you should really fix it. I mean even I can see how much you two love one another. My dad has said many times she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you and I think it’s safe to say that when you have the best thing that’s ever going to happen to you in your life, it would be pretty stupid to let it go right?”

“Yeah,” Brant sat up straighter realizing the truth behind Matt’s words, “You’re absolutely right.”

“I know I am and if you really think about it, maybe we shouldn’t be sitting here getting fat and eating ice-cream, but instead we should be coming up with a game plan for you and Angela to get back together,” Matt suggested pushing his half-eaten dish of ice-cream aside. “Maybe I can toss out a few suggestions that might work.”

“I can’t believe this,” Brant blinked back at him, “Are you trying to tell me that you want to offer me love advice?”

“Sure,” Matt shrugged his shoulders, “at this point, why not? I mean what’s the worst that could happen? She could tell you to go screw yourself and then you will have at least tried or you could throw your heart out and hope it pays off. Either way it’ll prove you gave an effort.”

“Does your father know you talk like that,” Brant wrinkled his nose disapprovingly at Matt’s word choice.

“Trust me on this one when I tell you I love my dad, but sometimes he’s just not too bright when it comes to women, though he‘s still got time to learn,” Matt shrugged his shoulders before he watched Brant closely, “So what do you say Brant? Are you in or are you out?”

“Out?” Brant arched a curious brow giving his godson a look.

“That’s right if you are smart you’ll listen to me because I think I know exactly how to get you and Angela together again,” Matt assured him with a bright grin.

“I can’t believe this. Do you do this with your dad?” Brant couldn’t help but ask fighting to contain the laugh that built up in the back of his throat.

Matt nodded, “Yeah all of the time, but he’s not smart enough to listen. Hopefully you are though.”

“Why not,” Brant shrugged his shoulders seeing the determination behind Matt’s eyes. At this point what else did he have to lose?


“Everything all set Don?” one of the nurses pressed their hand in against his shoulder as he let out a long breath after finishing up surgery with his latest patient. “Did everything go well?”

“Yeah, after a little work,” Don took in a deep breath rubbing his hands together and letting out a long breath after thinking things over for a moment. “Their leg is going to be all better. After a little rehab, they will be up and walking again with no problems.”

“Good job,” she moved back slowly looking out to see a few officers talking to a couple of the people and she shook her head slowly. “That poor boy. Did you hear about what happened at the store. Where three people were killed and the kid saw all of it?”

“No,” Don shook his head turning to face her resting his hands against his hips as he thought about what she told him. Feeling bad for the people and what took place there he couldn’t help but ask. “Who was the survivor?”

“A young man,” she tried to search for the right name as Don looked to his watch for a moment and she took a step back. “I think they said his name was Jason Sherman.”

“Jason Sherman?” Don chocked grabbing a hold of the clipboard quickly knowing that name clearly considering that was Deana’s brother and who he considered to be like his own little brother. Finding the room number he set the clipboard down and motioned the nurse to wait. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”

Seeing her nod Don quickly walked down the hallway and found Jason’s room knocking before coming in. Seeing Deana hugging Jason before him he quickly moved forward seeing Jason’s blue eyes look up and meet his.

“Don,” Jason moved away from Deana slowly only to feel Don wrap his arms around him tightly and Jason did the same. “I’m okay, I’m still alive. That’s what counts.”

“Are you hurt?” Don questioned moving back to look over Jason seeing him shake his head slowly as he stepped back and Don looked over to Deana. “Did he get hurt in this Deana? Cut or bruised? Jason how did you get in the middle of this?”

“I don’t know,” Jason tried to come up with a good explanation seeing Don’s eyes looking out into his as Don motioned him to take a seat on the bed and Jason did what he was told. “I wasn’t in the greatest of moods so I figured I would go get some ice-cream because that always makes me feel better. While I was there this guy tried to reason with me because I grabbed the last one and he was trying to get it for the girl he loves. I let him have it and the next thing I knew, I heard gunshots and I ducked down. I figured I wasn’t about to get shot, but after the first few I tried to get the guy down and I did. He killed those two guys and killed himself in the process. Don, if I wouldn’t have ducked out of harms way I could have saved Hunt. I was there for him, he died in my arms Don.”

“Hey kiddo,” Don frowned giving Deana a small glance before he moved forward to wrap his arms around Jason hearing him break down with his emotions over flowing. Feeling Deana moved forward to hug him too they both sat down on the bed trying to make him feel better. “It wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have stopped this Jason, it’s not your fault.”

“But he died in my arms Don,” Jason muttered looking up to meet Don’s blue eyes and he felt Deana reach for his hand giving it a small squeeze. “The worst part is that he gave me this.”

“What is that?” Deana eyed it over seeing him pull a ring out from the pocket in the front of the scrubs he was wearing. Looking it over she noticed that it looked like an engagement ring. “What happened?”

“I think he knew he was dying and wouldn’t make it,” Jason gulped down feeling Deana’s grip on his other hand tighten as he closed his eyes and imagined what it was like to have Hunt dying in his arms. “He told me to give this to the woman he was going to ask to marry him. Her name was Mindy or something like that, but I don’t think I can do it guys. I just…,”

“Hey, it will be okay,” Don tried to assure him patting him on the shoulder gently before glancing on at Deana knowing that Jason was never going to get over something like this. “I know you are strong kiddo, I always knew that. You can do it because I know you have the heart.”

“I know, it’s just,” Jason gulped down trying to get the picture of all the people that died out of his mind. If he was feeling the way he did toward people he didn’t even know, he wouldn’t want to imagine what it was like to be one of the loved ones of the people who died. “I just can’t imagine giving her something from the person she loved when he’s dead. I don’t know if I can handle seeing her like that. I think it would kill me inside.”

“If you need someone, I’ll go with you,” Don offered up giving him a small nudge before offering up a small smile trying to get Jason to look up at him. “I’ll be there for you just like I always have, just ask I will be with you.”

“Don,” Jason closed his eyes tightly closing his hand firmly around the ring before shaking his head slowly. Knowing that he made a promise, he couldn’t go back on everything he believed in. “I have to do this alone. I promised that I would do this, I’m going to go find her.”

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” Deana asked looking over at Don with a worried glance as Jason got up from the bed and walked over toward the door. Seeing him glance back at the two, Deana moved forward only to have him hold his hands up in the air. “Alright, I’ll be here if you need me.”

“Never mind,” Jason shook his head walking over and sitting back down feeling Deana’s hand press in over his back. “I will make sure that I find her. I just have to think of what’s the right thing to say. If there is even a right thing to say.”


Shannon walked through the hallway thinking about the night that they’d had in Coral Valley. It wasn’t bad enough that some jerk decided to complicate life for a great many people, but to make matters worse now there were dead bodies and problems just waiting to happen after the shooting that took place at the convenience store. Just thinking about it made her mad as hell considering that the man who’d been involved in it was someone she’d taken in during her days as a Federal Marshall. She’d convinced everyone that he was bad news, but obviously she hadn’t done enough convincing since it was clear that he was free to roam the streets again. What made things worse was that she’d just had his name come up with the investigation she’d been working on, but now she would never get the chance to ask him what he might’ve been hiding.

“Shannon,” Dave’s voice roused her from her thoughts of turmoil. She saw him standing just a few feet in front of her and she offered up a nod.

“Dave, how’s it going?” she replied with a polite nod of her own before joining him.

“I wish I could say it was good, but I think I’m up to my eyeballs in chaos,” Dave confessed with a heavy sigh shaking his head. “I never thought that Coral Valley would go from quiet to crazy in the blink of an eye.”

“That’s the thing about small towns. They can be deceiving,” she noted with a small frown knowing full well that Coral Valley was far from being the peaceful, quiet, homey town that the world broadcasted it to be. Sure everyone seemed like they were friendly and welcoming, but she knew better. Still as she saw the tension in the lines of Dave’s face she spoke up supportively, “This shooting really has made an impact on town hasn’t it?”

“Shooting,” Dave repeated blinking his eyes back at her before finally nodding, “Oh right. Yeah the shooting is a shocker. I have some of my best men working the case.”

“I think it’s pretty cut and dry. The shooter was looking for a quick fix and was probably high at the time and things got out of control,” Shannon offered up thinking about the man behind the shooting. “He has a history with drugs and it’s something that has always been his downfall.”

“Spoken like someone with experience dealing with him,” Dave noted eyeing her intently.

“Unfortunately he was someone I had to chase down half across the country and believe it or not it was his need for a fix that did him in,” Shannon continued to explain to him, “I busted him at his dealer’s house when he was trying to barter his six month old daughter for his next hit. It sickens me to see people like that.”

“To be that desperate and out of control is beyond me,” Dave mouthed in response his thoughts returning to his sister as it was clear that she had a lot happening inside of her that he couldn’t help her with.

“Dave, you okay?” Shannon questioned looking at him once again, “I mean is there something else going on?”

“I’m just worried about a lot of things,” he paused searching for the right words, “My sister Cori is in a bad place right now. She shot Diego at Kyle and Sarah’s non-wedding and now, well I don’t know if there is any reasoning with her.”

“Wait, are you saying that…” Shannon paused before shaking her head, “Where the hell was I when all of this went down? Cori actually shot him?”

Dave nodded, “Yeah and that’s really not the worst of it. She’s locked back in this obsession mode where she feels like he needs to pay for what he’s done and…”

“Poor Cori,” Shannon replied with a sympathetic expression, “For her to get that worked up at Diego must mean that something major happened. Did she walk in on him having sex with someone?”

“I’m not really sure what transpired because I,” Dave paused before eyeing her again. “Why did you ask that?”

“Because I’ll be honest when I tell you I half considered shooting Heather when I walked in on the two of them going at it,” she shook her head remembering how stupid she’d felt in finding Diego with Heather in such an obvious position with one another.

“That’s right you and Diego,” Dave noted thinking about Shannon’s attraction to the psychiatrist.

“Weren’t really even a blip on the radar with one another,” Shannon finished before Dave could recount her less than thrilling attempt at exploring any kind of relationship with Diego. “He was too smitten with Heather to really consider finding happiness with anyone else. Of course the ironic part is that they really never ended up together after everything was said and done.”

“Yeah, well that doesn’t make it any easier on Cori,” Dave sighed bringing his fingers through this dark hair. “She has lost touch with reality and when Diego decides to take action against her…”

“I can speak with him if you’d like. He and I are still civil with one another and I would more than readily remind him that it hurts when you think someone cares about you only to discover that they are only using you to forget what they feel for someone else,” Shannon offered up with a sigh knowing only too well what Cori must’ve been feeling.

“You know as much as I appreciate the offer, I think I’m going to have to pass. I think I’ll have to let things fall as they will although,” Dave paused giving her a long look before continuing, “It’s strange to hear you siding with my sister on this one.”

“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I actually like your sister because, well I just can’t do that. I think she’s got a few screws loose in more ways than one, but maybe now is the time to get her the help that she needs,” Shannon suggested after a moment of contemplation, “Maybe this will help her get the therapy that she’s been needing and things will get better.”

“I really hope so,” Dave sighed before shaking his head, “So what about you? How are things with Don?”

“Don’s a moron, but what else is new about that?” Shannon blurted out without hesitation. “He’ll never see that he’s screwing up his life by giving so much of it away to Brant. No matter what I say he can’t see that he’s being stupid.”

“If you approached him like that Shannon I would imagine he wouldn’t be open to seeing your point of view either. You might want to try a different approach,” Dave suggested pointedly. “We men tend to get defensive when we’re being told point blank that we’re being stupid.”

“I just call them like I see them,” she shrugged her shoulders and smiled, “I’ve always been that way and I don’t see the point in changing now.”

“Maybe not, but if you care about Don, you might want to try a less abrasive approach,” Dave offered up with a shrug of his own, “It might make married life easier.”

“As long as Don is spending his time around Brant, then I highly doubt married life will be easy for us because he’s never going to see things as they truly are. Brant is nothing but trouble and until Don gets rid of Brant’s influence in his life, he’s never going to be happy because Brant won’t allow it,” Shannon finished thinking about Don’s best friend and wondering if she and her husband would ever truly have some kind of happiness in their lives together now that it was clear that Don’s main priority was looking out for the one man that Shannon hated more than anything.


Avery’s head sank against Russell’s shoulder, body trembling in the after shocks of what they’d experienced with one another. While she’d set out to throw him out of the house when he’d attacked Kevin, something about the moment had transpired into something frantic, reckless and strangely gratifying as she felt him still inside of her. His strong arms wrapped around her, holding onto her through each and every response she’d had to his passion. Even now as they were together as one she felt their connection burning brighter than ever between them. It was as if nothing had changed between them and with each tremor that she’d felt carry over her, she wanted more of it--more of him and the magic that he brought into her life.

“I love you,” Russ whispered placing feathery light kisses over her damp skin, his lips leaving a drugging intoxication over every part of her that they touched. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” she confessed keeping her legs around him, her arms enfolding his shoulders as she leaned in against his chest wanting to hold onto the moment for as long as possible.

“I’m so sorry,” Russ whispered finger tips pressing gently over her shoulder, his words warm and inviting as he held her, “I never meant to hurt you with any of this.”

“But you did…” Avery pointed out her thoughts returning to what had lead up to this moment in time. She pulled away from him, her dark eyes meeting his and remembering what it felt like to be staring into those eyes in the heat of the moment--in the midst of passion and yet there were still so many things between them.

“Avery, I wish I could take it all back,” he brushed his thumb over her kiss swelled bottom lip, his green eyes memorizing every detail of her flushed skin as he held her. “I wish that I could go back to the day we were at the airport and change how things turned out…”

“So do I,” she sighed heavily knowing that the spell of the moment had been broken even though she’d wanted to keep holding onto it. She slid back on the counter top feeling him pull away from her bringing with his retreat an emptiness that filled her up inside longing to just reach for him again. She dropped her gaze to the floor and felt a heaviness in her chest, “but we can’t go back only forward.”

“And I want to do that,” he curled a finger underneath her chin and raised her eyes to his again, “I want for us to be able to do what we couldn’t do before and be together. Avery, I love you…”

“But you don’t trust me,” she reminded him thinking about his earlier attack on Kevin, “and I’d be lying if I said I could believe anything that you say right now.”

“If nothing else, then believe this,” he reached for her hand placing it over the center of his chest. “Avery, this is for you…with every breath that I take--every second I’m in this world it’s for you and Erin. You both are my world and…”

“And you still couldn’t be honest with me Russ. You couldn’t tell me about her and now,” she turned away from him reaching for her shirt and bringing it in to cover her chest, “we haven’t accomplished anything here.”

“Are you kidding me?” he blinked back at her, surprise registering behind his eyes, “Avery, you can’t tell me that you don’t want me like I want you--that you really believe that we can’t find a way to fix what’s wrong between us especially now after what we just…”

“Russ how many times do I have to tell you?” she shook her head at him, her eyes filling with a sudden sadness, “Sex isn’t a problem for us. It never was and judging by what just happened it probably won’t ever be, but we can’t have just that between us.”

“The last time I checked we had a whole hell of a lot more than that between us,” he frowned down at her trying to understand how she could be so dismissive about what was happening between them, “Avery our daughter needs us to be here for her--to be here for each other and…”

“What Erin needs is for her parents to be honest with themselves about what’s really going on here,” Avery blurted out fighting the tears that threatened behind her dark eyes, “Russ we don’t accomplish anything anytime we’re together like this. You came in here today ready to attack Kevin because you thought that I would sleep with him--that I would just jump him because I was hurting…”

“Avery, I was confused. I was just with my mom and…” he shook his head firmly, “I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions, but when I saw him in our shower…”

“Kevin’s been nothing, but nice to me. He’s trying to remind me that you and I belong together,” Avery added with a heavy sigh wrapping herself up in her shirt before reaching for her pants, “He wants us to do right by Erin.”

“And I think we can do that Avery. I’m sure if you just give this a chance…we can go talk somewhere and…” Russ tried to reason with her wondering what it would take to get her to come around again.

“What about her? About Angela?” Avery questioned wrapping her arms around her torso. “Where does she fit into all of this?”

“She doesn’t,” Russ explained without hesitation, “I don’t love her. I love you.”

“Yet you were going to marry her,” Avery pointed out with a frown.

“I didn’t know who I was,” Russ argued in response giving her a sideways glance, “I already told you…”

“I know what you said, but you were going to marry her. You were going to spend the rest of your life with her. Surely there was something between the both of you,” Avery pointed out watching him intently.

“Yeah it’s called I thought she was you,” Russ ran his fingers through his dark, mussed hair, “I didn’t know any better.”

“And now?” she arched a speculative brow.

“I want to spend the rest of my life with you and Erin--only you and Erin,” Russ answered with heartfelt honesty, “You both are my world.”

Avery nodded biting on her lower lip before looking to the small window on the other side of the bathroom, “If that’s really what you mean, then I want you to do something for me.”

“Anything,” Russ stepped towards her curling his finger around her elbow gently. He saw the tears that pooled in her eyes and as one fell to her cheek, he reached for it catching it with the pad of his thumb.

“Give me some time,” Avery spoke up in a faint whisper, her words coming out raspy and broken.

“What?” he blinked in response not expecting that from her, “Avery, what are you…”

“I need some time to find myself again,” she blurted out unable to mask her tears any longer, “You and I both know that I’m not the same person I was when you married me. So many things have changed and…”

“And we’ll find a way to work through them together,” he urged her on a pleading in his tone.

“No,” she shook her head reaching out to flatten her palm across the center of his chest. Her dark eyes met his and she took in a small breath, “Russ if I’m going to figure things out I have to do them on my own. I have to think about who I am before I can be what you need--what Erin needs even…”

“Avery, you’re everything either one of us could ever need,” he placed his hand on top of hers squeezing it gently, “We both love you so much.”

“Then let me figure things out,” she pleaded with him fighting to contain herself, “A lot has changed for me and now with what Cameron said…”

“Cameron’s nothing but trouble and we both know that,” Russ tried to appeal to her seeing something happening behind her dark eyes.

“But if any of what he said was true--if that woman somehow is tied to me--linked to me somehow…” she shuddered at the thought, “You yourself said that you couldn’t tell the difference between us…”

“Avery it’s only because I wasn’t myself,” Russ explained hating to see her so torn up over what was happening.

“Even so I think I need a little while to get my thoughts together,” she informed him with a small sigh, “I need to talk to my father and…”

“Avery there is no way that Cameron Stone is your brother,” Russ blurted out as if he had read the thoughts in her head. “It’s not possible.”

“Just like it wasn’t possible for you to be Brant’s brother?” she challenged in response, “Think about it Russ. You know what kind of person my mother was and is…”

Russ shuddered at the thought thinking what he’d learned when he’d been taken from Coral Valley. Remembering that he’d uncovered the truth about Brooke drugging Richard like she had with Russ to lead Avery to believe that he’d deceived her, Russ felt his body tighten. A moment of guilt pressed over him at knowing he’d kept that truth from Avery as well, but now that she pondered the possibility that her mother could’ve been somehow linked to Cameron’s father…he knew he couldn’t break her spirit even further.

“I want to see Erin first,” Russ decided his thoughts lingering to his daughter, “I need to see her before I go.”

“She’s sleeping Russ,” Avery sucked in a sharp breath trying to keep her heart from guiding her actions even though her head was telling her she needed time.

“She’s our daughter Avery and I have every right to be with her,” his green eyes pleaded with her, “Avery just let me see her.”

Avery opened her mouth to speak before nodding. She watched him move down the hallway towards Erin’s nursery and as he slipped into the room she couldn’t help but follow finding herself drawn to him. She stepped near the doorway watching him gaze down at their sleeping daughter and she found herself caught up in so many mixed emotions.

“Hey princess,” Russ whispered reaching out to touch Erin’s chubby cheek gently as she slept before him, “Daddy just wanted to come in and see you before he went away for a little while. I just needed you to know how much I love you.”

Erin seemed to snuggle into his touch as he leaned forward and pressed a tender kiss on her forehead.

“I love you and your mommy so very much,” Russ whispered his gaze fixed on Erin as his heart swelled with love for her, “and I promise you that whatever happens I’m going to find a way to make things right for all of us. I’m going to find a way for us all to be happy again. I swear to you that your daddy won’t let you down.”

Avery felt a lump forming in the back of her throat as Russ kissed Erin again. She swiftly ducked back into the hallway giving him a few minutes of private time with their daughter before she heard him returning to the hall. She closed her eyes and tried to stay focused as he closed the door to Erin’s room behind him.

She felt him standing in front of her, the warmth of his body sending tiny shivers racing over her as she forced herself to open her eyes again. She saw the intensity of his green eyes staring right back into her reaching into the heart of her as his finger tips skimmed over the side of her face gently.

Brushing his thumb over the hollow of her cheekbone, he leaned forward to press his lips to hers gently before whispering, “I’m not giving up on us Avery. You’re going to need a whole hell of a lot more than this to push me away.”

“Then trust that I’m coming back to you,” Avery mouthed pressing her head in against his, “Believe that we will find a way to work this out.”

“I never stopped believing that. I still haven’t,” Russ wrapped her up in his arms squeezing her as if he’d never let go. “I love you.”

“I love you too Russ. Please understand that,” she begged of him feeling his hold on her constricting.

“I don’t think I have the strength to walk out of here Avery. I can’t walk away from you,” he pleaded hugging her closer to him.

“I don’t want you to leave either, but that’s exactly why I know you need to,” she whispered in a shivering exhale.

“That makes absolutely no sense to me,” he countered feeling her touch his cheek lightly.

“It will soon,” she ran her fingers through his dark hair in a loving motion before stepping back. “I’ll call you later and set up some time for us to talk…”

“Avery, I…” Russ opened his mouth to say something more before finally nodding, “Okay, but if you don’t call me by tonight...”

“Don’t push it Russ,” she warned firmly wondering if she had the strength to let him leave again. She watched him get dressed before he turned to her again.

“Have dinner with me,” he urged sliding his fingers through her dark hair and pulling her to him in another embrace. “Say you’ll be with me tonight.”

“I’ll think about it,” she whispered tipping up on her toes before kissing him again. She held him for what felt like far too short of a time and before she knew it their kiss was over and he was walking towards the hallway.

“I love you,” he replied glancing over his shoulder at her and seeing the pain that ate away at the both of them reflected in her eyes.

“I love you too,” she replied feeling her heart breaking as he forced himself to walk out of their house and leave her to deal with the consequences of her request. Once she heard the front door closing, she burst into tears knowing that this would be the hardest thing she’d ever done.

“Hey,” she felt a hand on her shoulder as she turned around to see Kevin standing in front of her. She looked up at him, saying nothing as he enveloped her in his arms offering her support despite the fact he didn’t have the first idea what in the hell was going on with Russ and Avery.

“Hey, he’ll be back. You two will work this out,” Kevin whispered warmly squeezing her in his arms as she continued to sob.

“God I hope so,” Avery cried wondering just what would end up happening between her and Russ now that she’d voluntarily put a distance between them that she wondered if they ever truly were meant to have with one another.


“So how was breakfast Ms. Stone,” Franklin questioned walking into the dining room area to take another look in on Angela after she’d finished with the food he’d set out for her.

“It would have been a lot better if I would have been able to enjoy it outside on the porch,” Angela frowned shaking her head at the notion that Cameron actually believed he could keep her locked inside the house. “My brother surely would’ve allowed for me to have some time enjoying the morning air in the garden, wouldn’t he?”

“I didn’t make the rules Angel,” Franklin frowned at her thick air of sarcasm, “I merely do as I am told since he is paying me.”

“Fine,” she stood up abruptly pushing herself away from the table, “then let me remind you that my money is as good as his and I’m going to get myself some air.”

“Angel, I really wish that you wouldn’t be so stubborn,” Franklin rushed forward moving in front of her to block her from stepping outside of the oversized French doors.

“What are you going to do?” she challenged with an arched brow, “Tackle me Franklin?”

“Angel if you would just,” he sighed heavily shaking his head at her, “I’m sure that we could come up with some kind of compromise.”

“That’s right,” Angela nodded defiantly wiggling her brow at him, “You ignore what Cameron told me, say that I hit you over the head with something and then when I leave you can say you knew nothing about it.”

“You and I both know it will never work,” Franklin frowned down at her, “Your brother will never believe that…”

“We can put some truth into it if you would like,” she started to reach for a vase that was beside her watching his eyes grow wide with worry. He raised his hands in the air as if to fend off her impending attack.

“Okay, okay,” Franklin finally stepped back before wiggling his finger in the air at her, “but know I’m only not going to protest this because I know you’ve got two babies to worry about.”

“I thought you would see it my way,” she smiled proudly watching him retreat from the dining room area.

Reaching for the French doors again in triumph Angela was about to step outside when she heard the sound of the doorbell ringing. She hesitated and listened as she heard a small voice from outside of the room she was in.

“I’m lost,” she heard the voice explain in a pinched squeal. “I was with my dad, but now I can’t find him and I’m scared. I’m so afraid I won’t find my way home. I need help. I don’t know where my dad is.”

Angela heard Franklin’s muffled voice as an eeriness swept over her. Turning around she popped her head out of the room only to discover Franklin eyeing what appeared to be a child who now stood on the front porch. She stepped out into the hallway listening closer as Franklin spoke up uneasily.

“I’m really sorry about that, but I don’t know what I can do to help you,” he started apologetically as the boy before him started to cry and wail in fear.

“I want to see my father. I miss my daddy,” the boy explained as Franklin stepped aside and she realized that it was Matt outside of the estate. Immediately she rushed forward worry carrying over her.

“I can take it from here,” Angela explained pushing Franklin aside as she knelt down in front of a crying Matt. She reached out to touch his shoulder gently seeing the tears that carried over his face. Immediately she glanced up at Franklin with a glare, “I said I had it already.”

“I was just…” Franklin finally threw his arms up in the air, “I’m going out to the servant quarters. You figure things out.”

“Fine, I will,” Angela grumbled in response before turning to redirect her attention at Matt. She reached out to him wiping at his cheek before speaking up in a smooth and even tone, “Matt, honey you need to tell me how you got lost out here. When was the last time you saw your father?”

“This morning,” he replied with a small sniffle, his big eyes meeting hers, “He was on his way to work and then…”

Angela watched him burst into tears again and she pulled him into her arms instinctively in an embrace.

“It’s okay sweetheart,” she tried to assure him smoothing her fingers through his hair, “We’ll find out where he is. Why don’t you just come inside and we can try to call him and…”

“Okay,” Matt replied standing up straighter and stopping with the tears as he stepped away from her. He moved into the foyer and looked up at the marble and tile covered walls that stood before him, “This is a nice place you have.”

“It’s my brother’s house,” she confessed rising to her feet again and reaching for the door, “but don’t worry he’s not here so he won’t bother us when we look for your dad.”

“Okay,” Matt spun around to face her, a smile teasing over his lips, “but before you shut the door I should probably tell you I brought a friend with me.”

“What?” Angela blinked down at him before spinning around to discover Brant standing behind her in the foyer. He reached for her before she could let out a scream and carefully he closed the door behind him.

“Shh…before you say anything,” Brant started to plead with her seeing the anger bubble behind her eyes. “I jut need you to know that I had to see you and…”

“You mean you set this up…” Angela’s gaze shifted between a now contented Matt and Brant again, “You used him to get inside and get to me…”

“It was his idea,” Brant confessed in his own defense seeing the doubt behind her eyes.

“That’s a new low even for a snake like you,” Angela hissed back at him clenching her fists at her sides before she turned to Matt. “We’re going to call your father and get you away from this creep and…”

“It’s true,” Matt shrugged his shoulders seeing how upset Angela was, “I know how stubborn adults are so I came up with the plan to get Brant in here so that you would talk with him. From what I see you two obviously love each other and if you aren’t going to be grown up enough to talk about it, then maybe you needed a little push.”

“See I told you this was all his idea,” Brant waved his hand around in the air watching Angela tip her head to the side as Matt grinned up at her.

“Hey, come on,” Matt shrugged his shoulders casually, “sometimes you need someone outside of the situation to be the adult--so what if I’m not even in school full time yet. I still know enough to see that running away from a problem won’t fix it.”

“I don’t believe this,” Angela blinked down at him unable to believe that someone so young and seemingly innocent could come up with something so devious.

“Please just talk to him,” Matt stepped forward reaching for Angela’s hand and taking it in his, “He’s miserable without you and I’m afraid if you turn us away then it will be the end of him. Please Angela. Don’t throw us out when we came this far to see you.”

“Yeah Angela,” Brant stepped forward making a tentative movement towards her, “Don’t throw us out without at least giving us a chance. Please…”


Don stepped away from Jason and Deana long enough to give them both some time to be together now that they were caught up in a moment of thankfulness and sorrow with one another. Thinking about how close Jason had come to being a casualty of the shooting that took place at the store, Don couldn’t help but find himself thinking about his son and his family. His thoughts lingered to Lindsay and how she was at the age where she would be out more in the public in places that would seem safe enough under normal circumstances, yet he was sure that Hunt Lockhart had believed the same to be true when he’d stopped off to pick up some ice-cream.

Feeling a tiny shudder pass over him, Don found himself making his way over to the nurse’s station. An ache swelled up inside of him as he thought about how precious life truly was. More importantly he thought about how trivial arguments were something that most people held onto for far too long when the fact was that time and circumstance could take away far more than anyone anticipated. Stubbornness could only further deny happiness at a time when it was clear that people like family should be together and there for each other--at least that was what Don had on his mind as he reached for the phone ready to see where Shannon was. Something about seeing Mindy losing the man she loved brought out so many conflicted emotions inside of Don. Sure, he and Shannon had a lot to work through, but she was his wife and his…

“Well hello sexy,” he heard a voice whisper in the back of his ear as he felt soft finger tips pressing in over his eyes covering them in a teasing movement. He felt a slender form step in behind him and when he smelled the familiar perfume fill the air surrounding him, he couldn’t help but smile wondering how it was that he and Shannon were able to be so in tune with one another.

Perhaps things weren’t as bad as he’d thought, he smiled to himself bringing his hands up over hers and smiling.

“I missed you,” he couldn’t help but admit sliding his index finger over her wrist and smiling wider than before.

“I missed you too,” she mouthed her breath striking against the back of his neck as Don decided that he couldn’t take it any longer.

“I was just about to call you and…” he stopped himself when he turned around to find Jewel standing behind him. Disappointment started to cloud over his eyes at the realization that it hadn’t been Shannon at all, yet he tried to cover, “Jewel, hey…”

“You look like someone just shot you in the foot,” Jewel frowned catching the way his face lit up then darkened, “I take it you weren’t expecting me, huh?”

“Actually I was kind of hoping that you were my…” Don stopped himself shaking his head and forcing a smile, “Jewel it’s great to see you.”

“It’s great to see you too Don,” she stepped forward wrapping her arms around him in an embrace, “I really have missed you over the years.”

“Really?” Don questioned arching a curious brow as he returned the hug, “When do you find the time considering that I see your face all over the television set, on covers of magazines and even hear you on the radio all of the time these days.”

“Do you?” she smiled leaning away from him as her eyes fixed on him, “I didn’t realize that I made my way into Coral Valley that often.”

“Being the Sexiest Chef in America, how could you not?” Don couldn’t help but laugh giving her a once over, “Though you look even better in person than you do on television.”

“So you watch me eh?” her grin expanded as he nodded offering up a small laugh.

“Well yeah considering I still can’t cook to save my life,” Don laughed heartily thinking about his moderate cooking skills, “Brant might be a whiz in the kitchen and my son is taking after him, but with me, I’m still hopeless.”

“You’re not hopeless,” Jewel gave him a very appreciative once over, “Far from it from where I stand. Besides while cooking wasn’t necessarily your best trait in the kitchen, you did have your own special way of heating things up.”

Don blushed at her comment before shrugging his shoulders and attempting to lean back against the countertop behind him. Unfortunately he misjudged his distance and stumbled backwards before recovering and knocking a pile of papers down to the floor.

“I um…” Don stuttered leaning forward to reach for the papers he’d so carelessly knocked down when he noticed Jewel had leaned forward to help him. His gaze was immediately set on her very low neckline on her equally transparent blouse and he let out a gulp. He forced himself to look away and ignore the navy colored bra that was in plain sight before him as he focused on the floor. “Sorry about that. It’s just been a really rough day around here and…”

“Tell me about it,” she knelt down beside him on the floor and started to scoop up papers for him, “I think I’m about at my wit’s end with my daughter.”

“What’s wrong with Stacy?” Don couldn’t help but ask finding a topic to focus on as he met her eyes again.

“She’s not happy with me,” her lips curled into a frown as they both stood up once more. She handed him the papers before sighing heavily, “She’s upset about the divorce and no matter what I say to her, she’s always going to see me as the enemy in all of this. I tried to explain to her that things just happen sometimes and no one plans for them…”

“Yeah, but she’s still a kid Jewel,” Don pointed out with a sigh, “She’s not going to take it lightly that her parents are splitting up. I still would have trouble dealing with something like that now if it were to happen with my parents. It’s a hard situation for anyone to deal with and more than anything right now she’s going to need both you and Paul there to explain that this isn’t about her--that you both love her very much and that you’ll both be there for her.”

“I try Don but it’s so hard,” Jewel sighed again shaking her head and letting her long, blonde hair fall around her face, “Paul is constantly doing things to get her fired up against me and…”

“And you both should probably try to sit down and work it out,” Don suggested after a moment’s contemplation. He thought about his own situation with Shannon and felt a heaviness in his shoulders and in his heart, “Sometimes it takes a lot more to be the grown up in the situation and it’s about stepping up to the plate and being there for Stacy and her needs before we tend to our own if you will.”

“I know that, but it’s so hard to reach out to her,” Jewel explained with a small frown, “She ran away from the hotel she was staying at and she went to Dave’s so naturally he’s giving me the lecture on what a horrible parent I am and the such…”

“I’m sure he’s just trying to help,” Don offered up supportively, “I’m sure in time things will work themselves out.”

“I used to think so, but now I’m just not so sure,” she sighed again before forcing a smile, “Just wait until Matt is a teenager and you’ll see what I mean. The teen years are awful.”

“I’m actually very lucky with Matt,” Don explained with a bright smile bringing his fingers through his dark hair, “He’s actually more of an adult than me most of the time. I have to wonder how he got so smart and I wound up being so stupid there.”

“Stupid?” she laughed lightly shaking her head, “Oh Don you are so far from being stupid that it’s not funny. You and I both know you’re brilliant and besides, maybe fate is offering you a break considering what a wild one you were in your teen years.”

“I wasn’t wild,” Don liked with a crooked grin, his blue eyes shining with mischief.

“Oh right,” she couldn’t help but roll her eyes, “so then that wasn’t you I remember sneaking out of my bedroom window clad only in the newspaper he picked up off of my bedroom floor when he heard someone coming into the room and almost catching us.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Don began to whistle to himself feigning innocence as she stepped forward.

“That’s too bad because to this day I still think about that weekend we spent in Aspen with one another. It was probably one of the most hottest weekends of my life and to this day I have yet to find a man that rivals your capabilities in the bedroom,” she confessed in a low, sultry tone reaching out to pat him on the behind as Don practically jumped out of his skin.

“Jewel stop. I’m a married man now,” he gulped his blue eyes widening at her. “I already told you that…”

“Relax Don,” she couldn’t help but laugh at his face turning red in front of her. “I was just playing. Besides, it’s cute that someone so obviously uninhibited as you can still get all embarrassed around me.”

“That’s because you’ve been the one chasing me since day one,” Don shook his head at her fighting to suppress the laugh that built up in the back of his throat, “If it wasn’t for you I might have gone down the path of the straight and narrow if you hadn’t worked so hard at seducing me long before my time.”

“Before your time,” Jewel broke into a bout of laughter, “Don you and I both know you were looking for exactly what I gave you that first night we were together…”

“Actually the way I recall you were totally seducing me in that little red number you were wearing and…” Don stopped himself feeling the memory return to him in vivid color. Shaking his head he forced himself to change the subject as his fingers poked at his own collar feeling the temperature rising around him. “You’re evil. You know that.”

“You always liked my wicked ways before,” Jewel wiggled her brow at him before leaning forward to pat him on the shoulder, “but don’t worry. I won’t give your wife reason to want to kill you while I’m in town unless that’s what you’re looking for.”

“Nope, homicide is not on my top ten list of things I would like my wife to do to me,” Don revealed with a nervous grin trying to make light of the situation as Jewel reached out to embrace him again.

“Okay, then I promise I’ll be on good behavior just so that you don’t wind up in any kind of trouble since you’re one of the few that still like me in this town,” Jewel replied hugging him tightly, “I’ll behave.”

“You never behave,” Don mouthed in response returning the hug as his blue eyes glanced across the room only to discover Shannon standing near the elevators watching the two of them with a death glare. Suddenly it hit Don when he watched Shannon approaching him that it didn’t matter how good or bad Jewel was because from the expression on Shannon’s face became clearer to Don, he knew full well that there was only one outcome in this situation. He was no doubt a dead man!


“I think the big boy had enough for one day,” Kyle smiled getting out of the car once they pulled into Kipp’s driveway and Heather did the same. Opening up the backdoor he felt Heather step in behind him as he grabbed some of the bags and let her grab Charles. “I’d say we had a pretty amazing time.”

“Anything with my family is amazing,” Heather pressed a small kiss in against Charles’s cheek seeing him let out a long yawn and stretch his fingers out over her shoulders. “Let’s go put him down, he’s really tired.”

“I would imagine he was,” Kyle nodded slowly with a wide smile seeing Heather’s green eyes glance back at him for a second before they walked up the sidewalk to the front door. “Standing for the first time sure does take a lot out of you.”

“Standing for the first time?” Kellen’s voice echoed through their ears as they both looked up to see the door was already opened and Kellen was waiting for them. “Wait, are you saying that Charles stood up? He really stood up.”

“Yeah,” Heather boasted proudly seeing Kellen’s blue eyes get wide as he jumped up and down motioning them to come in the house quickly as Kellen closed the door behind him. “He was such a good boy today.”

“Let me see him,” Kellen reached out to Charles pulling him into his arms and pressing small kisses in over his forehead that made Charles howl out with laughter. “Kipp will be so happy to know this. Oh my God, I can’t believe I wasn’t there to see it.”

“Well as great as it was I think he’s a little tired right now,” Heather grabbed the bags from Kyle and motioned toward the back and looked back toward Kyle again. “We’re going to be putting him to sleep Kyle. You still have those things in the car you want to get?”

“Oh yeah,” Kyle cleared his throat uneasily before moving forward to press a small kiss against Charles’s head. Grabbing his keys from his pocket he looked back for a moment. “I’ll be right back.”

“He’s so cute,” Kellen blurted out after Kyle walked out of the house and they walked back toward Charles’s room and he squeezed Charles in closer to him. “I think you guys are going to make a great family.”

“Well you two are fitting into our family too,” she pointed out seeing Kellen’s blue eyes glance over at her as he carefully put Charles in his bed and handed him his pookey bear. “You and Kipp are always going to be close to us, that’s one thing I know.”

“She’s telling the truth,” Kyle’s voice entered the room as Kellen turned around to see Kyle behind him and Kyle cleared his throat uneasily. Kellen eyed Kyle over seeing that he had a monkey shaped balloon in his right hand and a stuffed monkey in his other arm. “I know they are really tacky, but I thought I remembered you liked monkeys so I got you this.”

“Wait, you got this for me?” Kellen questioned as Kyle nodded and handed the things over to Kellen and Kellen’s eyes widened not quite sure how to react. “I guess this is the time where I say thank you.”

“Well, I’m the one that owes you a thanks,” Kyle looked down toward the ground feeling a bit uneasy before moving forward and giving Kellen a small hug. “I owe you one.”

“You’re welcome,” Kellen’s jaw dropped realizing that Kyle just hugged him and he looked over at Heather who was smiling until he heard a sound erupt through the room and saw Kyle quickly reach for his phone. “You should get that.”

“Yeah, I’ll be right back,” Kyle walked out of the room and answered his phone not knowing who the number was. Pausing to look back at Kellen and Heather he shook his head slowly. “Hello.”

“Kyle Houston, I’m not sure you’ll know me, but I’m Trisha Merhan. You know, Ria’s little sister,” Trisha informed Kyle with a long breath before looking back toward the crowd of people at the hospital. “I know that maybe you weren’t the right one to call, but I know how close Mindy is to you and I think she could really use a friend right now.”

“What’s wrong?” Kyle felt a panic rise through him wondering if Mindy may have hurt herself or something as he stepped further into the living room. “Is everything okay?”

“Not exactly,” Trisha bit down on her bottom lip hearing the worry behind his voice as she held onto the phone tightly. “You see her boyfriend was killed in an accident. Hunt died and I don’t think she is in a very good state of mind right now. We’re at the hospital and…,”

“I’ll be there in a couple of minutes, okay?” Kyle questioned reaching for his keys and moving back toward the bedroom. Fumbling to find the keys to his truck he finally found them and saw Kellen and Heather looking back at him. “Just try and keep her company until I get there.”

“Who was that?” Heather questioned moving forward feeling Kyle wrap his arms around her tightly before pressing a small kiss against her forehead. “Is everything okay?”

“I love you baby, but I just have to go to the hospital,” Kyle informed her with a deep sigh looking over at Kellen before pulling back and giving Heather a small kiss. “I need to be there for Mindy, but Kellen while I’m gone stay with her okay?”

“Sure, no problem,” Kellen agreed to it seeing Kyle give Heather another small kiss before quickly leaving and Kellen moved forward wrapping his arm around Heather’s shoulders. “I hope it’s nothing too serious.”


“It’s okay,” Trisha tried to make Mindy feel better seeing her leaning forward in her chair, hiding her eyes from people seeing her tears and Trisha caressed her back gently. “Mindy, it’s okay. Just please look at me.”

“Um,” a man stepped forward and Trisha looked up to see someone in scrubs, his blue eyes seeming to be red from maybe crying himself. Mindy looked up at the sound of him clearing his throat and she saw him move forward to try and come up with something to say. “I think I need to talk to you Mindy. I’m Jason Sherman and I was there when everything took place.”

“I’ll give you a couple of minutes,” Trisha motioned to Mindy seeing her nod as her light blue eyes watched Trisha’s every move when she stood up. “I’ll be back in a little bit.”

“Thanks,” Mindy stood up wiping at her eyes as she looked to the man before her seeing him look down toward the ground and she folded her arms out in front of him. Trying not to break down in front of a stranger she shook her head slowly. “What can I do for you?”

“Well, I was the last person to see Hunt alive,” Jason muttered seeing her blue eyes meet his and he bit down on his bottom lip, his eyebrows tensing together as he spoke up. Seeing the pain behind her eyes he felt his chest tighten with sympathy for her. “He died in my arms.”

“What happened?” Mindy started to feel her eyes burn over as Jason looked away from her and she reached out to touch his face feeling some of her tears sliding down her cheeks. “Please Jason, I need to know. How did this happen?”

“You don’t need to know, I jut think you need to know a couple of things,” Jason tried to not to be weak about telling her what had happened as he shook his head slowly. “Mindy, I need you to know that Hunt loved you. He loved you so much and that he will never let you go. I know that you were his everything and…,”

Seeing Mindy start to cry harder before him he tried to swallow down that feeling to just reach out and hold her knowing that it wouldn’t help the fact that someone she loved just died.

“Mindy, he gave me this,” Jason reached inside his pocket to pull out the ring that Hunt had given him and he reached out to grab her hand in his softly. Pushing the ring down her finger softly he saw her beautiful, hurt eyes staring down at the ring. “He told me to tell you that he always loved you and always will--no matter what.”

“Oh God,” Mindy moved forward wrapping her arms around Jason only to feel his strong arms wrap around her tightly and hold her close. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

“I know,” Jason whispered holding onto her tightly feeling her head against his chest as her tears soaked at his shirt. Pressing his hand through her hair he gulped down resting his chin against her head. “I’m so very sorry.”

Holding Mindy in his arms he couldn’t help but feel an emotion carry over him as the person who loved Hunt just as much as he loved her was crying before him. This was a girl that just lost the love of her life and he could only imagine how that really felt. Seeing her heartbreak before him, he had to be there for her no matter what.


...to be continued...