Episode 351

Looking forward toward the stage Ria let out a long breath as she tried paying attention to the people talking at the convention she had been scheduled in for. The whole time she hardly caught what they had to say considering her mind kept going back to Kevin.

She could remember hearing the sadness behind his voice when he called her on the phone the other day and his words kept playing in her head over and over again. Sometimes she wished that actually what he said was true, but she knew that if she gave into him again, there would only be even more problems in the future.

“Okay, that leads us to the end today,” Ria caught those words spoken as she looked up to see the speaker putting away some of his papers and she stood up from her chair. “Remember tomorrow at the same time we’ll try and finish up.”

Grabbing her bag she threw it over her shoulder before walking out into the lobby looking around the hotel. Now that she had more than half the day to herself, she couldn’t think of a single thing to actually do.

“Ria Merhan?” a voice questioned from behind causing her to turn and face the blonde woman that said her name. Trying to remember the face of the person before her she struggled only to feel the woman move forward and hug her. “You probably don’t remember me, but we went to school together. I lived right around the corner from you, I’m…,”

“Denise right?” Ria muttered seeing her nod slowly as Ria hugged her tighter after thinking a moment about the face of the person before her. “It’s good to see you. How are you doing these days?”

“I’m doing fine,” Denise answered nodding over toward the bar area seeing Ria look back for a moment. “You want to go sit down and talk or something? It’s been so long.”

“Sure,” Ria followed her into the bar and they sat down at a booth as Ria paused trying to think of the right thing to say. “So how have you been?”

“I’m good. I got married, have two wonderful children,” Denise replied happily seeing the way Ria nodded and her eyes met the rock on Ria’s finger. “Oh my, if my husband would have given me something like that I would have died and went to heaven.”

“Oh, this?” Ria looked down to the pink diamond ring that Kevin had gotten her before holding it out to show Denise, seeing that she wanted to get a better glance. “It’s okay.”

“It’s okay, honey you must have one hell of a man to give you that,” Denise pointed out after taking one last glance at the ring before and shaking her head as she moved back. “What’s his name? What’s he like?”

“Honestly,” Ria muttered trying to think about the Kevin she loved, the Kevin she was always going to love. Looking down at the tabletop she shrugged her shoulders. “His name is Kevin and he’s amazing. Too amazing.”

“I’m glad you found someone Ria,” Denise reached out to grab a hold of Ria’s hand gently and giving it a small squeeze only to see Ria hesitantly nod making it very clear something was wrong. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine, just sitting there gets to me a bit,” Ria tried to push away the subject before taking in a long breath thinking about the fact of how much she missed Kevin. “What about you and your husband?”

“Chuck is amazing, we met back in New York when I was visiting family and then we just hit it off. He was my cousin’s friend and when we were getting married, he quit his job and moved to Chicago with me,” Denise let out a long sigh thinking about her past seeing Ria’s dark eyes staring out into hers. “It’s been an amazing six years and to say that I know I’m going to share the rest of my life with him makes just me so happy.”

“That’s wonderful,” Ria smiled widely as Denise stared out behind Ria seeing a man coming up from behind her with a dozen roses in hand, slowly sneaking up. “I’m glad you’re happy.”

“It’s always perfect when someone is happy,” a voice muttered in the back of her ear, their warm breath causing a shiver to run down her back as she turned to meet a familiar set of eyes. “Hey baby.”

“Kevin, what are you doing here?” Ria questioned seeing the smile that spread out over Kevin’s features as he moved forward to kiss her and she pulled back pressing her hand against his cheek. “How did you find me?”

“So, this is Kevin,” Denise smiled seeing the man before her as she noticed the wide smile spread out over his face and she nodded. “He looks like one heck of a man.”

“Thank you very much,” Kevin muttered with a wide grin seeing the way the woman before him nodded and Kevin grabbed a gentle hold of Ria’s hand. “Can I borrow her from you?”

Seeing Denise nod Kevin helped Ria up from the booth and led her over toward the elevator and made sure they were the only two in there before reaching forward and stopping the elevator.

“Kevin, what are you doing here?” Ria questioned again seeing his dark eyes meet hers for a moment as he held the roses out to her and she took them in her hands. “Kevin, answer me.”

“Ria, I have you on the elevator because it’s the only place you won’t run away from me,” he informed her stepping forward, reaching out caress her cheek softly, his thick fingers sliding in through her dark hair slowly. “Baby, I can’t live without you. You need to know that I have been trying my best to give you the space you need if that truly made you happy. I’d give up my own happiness for just you baby, but I can’t live without you and I know you feel the same. So, I had to do a couple of things to get this right, but I had to go to Trisha. I just had to come find you and I’m glad I did.”

“Kevin, you can’t just keep coming back into my life like nothing is wrong,” Ria blurted out seeing his dark eyes staring out into hers while she leaned into the caress of his fingers. “I can’t keep falling for you time and time again after your mistakes.”

“And I know that,” he tried pleading with her seeing the way she looked away from him and he moved forward cupping her face in his hand softly. Moving forward his lips pressed in over hers trying to show that she was his everything as her arms wrapped firmly around his shoulders. Moving back his thumbs skimmed in over her cheekbones as he shook his head slowly. “But I know that you can’t live without me and I will certainly die without you. You’re my everything and I know I’ve made mistakes, but for you I will do anything. Just tell me what I have to do to make you believe me.”

“Kevin,” Ria sighed trying not to fall for him again, but couldn’t help it as he leaned in again for another kiss making her fall for him all over again. That was until the sound of another voice calling out her name made her shake it off. Letting out a long saddened sigh realized that it was only a dream--a thought. “I’m sorry, I just…,”

“It’s okay,” Denise realized that something must have been wrong as she nodded over toward the entrance, “I have to go call my family, but I will see you again tomorrow. It was great to see you though.”

“It was great to see you too,” Ria smirked offering up a small wave goodbye before shaking her head slowly damning herself for even beginning to think Kevin would show up. When her friend left she shook her head before getting up and walking over toward the bar. Sure it wasn’t the right thing to do, but what else would she be able to do right now? “This is ridiculous.”

“What’s ridiculous? The fact that people would actually be in a bar in the middle of the day or the fact that a beautiful woman like you is here without a man?” an unfamiliar male voice questioned making her spin on the stool to see a gentleman that she had never met before. “Can I buy you a drink?”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” she whispered looking over the man before her. He must have been in his late forties, but for his age he looked pretty good. He had broad shoulders, dark hair, and green eyes that would really interest a girl in ways never imagined. Actually, he looked like one of the Italians she had seen in the gangster movies Kevin used to watch all the time. Getting her mind off of the looks of the guy for a moment, she held her hand up in the air showing that she had a ring on her finger as he took a seat next to her and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m engaged.”

“You’re engaged? Is that right” the man questioned with a bright smile thinking things over for a moment. Seeing the way her dark eyes stared into his he shrugged his shoulders. “You may have the ring on your finger, but I don’t see a man.”


Diego looked around the hospital room carefully pulling the last of his things together as a sigh escaped his lips. He looked around the room realizing that right now the best thing for him would be to get out of his own head for a while, yet he knew full well it wasn’t going to happen. Yes, he’d gotten word on his release today and he found himself relieved about it, yet he knew full well that there was a lot to still follow his actions.

“Hey there stranger,” Barbara’s voice perked up from where she stood outside his door, “I heard they were letting you go today.”

“I’m sure that’s not all you heard about me,” he noted with a sigh slowly turning around to face her despite the pain moving through his body. His dark eyes met hers and he forced a small smile.

“I don’t listen to the rumors,” she replied with a shrug of her shoulders before moving in closer to him. “At least not any of the good ones.”

“I’m sure they are anything but good about me considering the mess I’ve made of things,” he sighed shaking his head again, “Though it is nice to see you.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that because I have something for you,” she explained reaching out to offer up a small package wrapped up in a bow and some paper.

“Barbara, you shouldn’t have,” he replied looking down to see the gift she’d offered him.

“I wanted to Diego. It’s the least I could do for a friend,” she smiled at him a hopeful expression on her face. She held the box out towards him once again, “Just open it Diego. I’m sure you’ll love it.”

“Barbara,” he accepted the package before letting out a long sigh, “Look I appreciate your taking the time to come around here and be nice to me. Heaven knows I don’t deserve it, but at the same time I just don’t want you to get a reputation for being around me.”

“You talk about yourself like you’re on the most wanted list or something,” she frowned over at him her eyes full of concern and worry.

“It’s not that. I just don’t understand why you would be nice to me after the way I treated you,” he paused contemplating his words, “You deserve better than someone like me in your life.”

“How do you figure? What did you do to me that was so horrible?” she couldn’t help but ask him curiosity brewing over her.

“For starters when I took you out before you had no idea about what was going on with Sarah and I and…” he started an unsettled tone carrying over him.

“Last time I checked you and I weren’t married so you didn’t have to tell me about all aspects of your life. We just went to a party together. I didn’t take it as a sign that we were getting engaged so if that is what is bothering you, then you’re off the hook on this one,” she replied with a warm smile, “Granted I’m not going to deny that I do like you Diego probably a lot more than I should, but at the same time you didn’t make me any promises so I don’t have any problems with you.”

“Thanks, but even being around me is sure to generate talk around here. I’m a jerk and if you’re smart you wouldn’t waste your time on me,” he continued to explain to her with a frown again.

“First of all I don’t really care what people think of me and second of all for the record I don’t believe that you are a jerk. You just wanted to believe in someone who clearly misrepresented herself. You gave her your heart and she made a fool of you. No one should hold that against you because that is just wrong,” she paused for a moment before shaking her head, “You deserve better than to torture yourself for a mistake. Diego it’s not like you planned on any of this.”

“I know but right now,” he stopped himself before meeting her eyes again, “I just feel like I don’t deserve anything from anyone. I’ve kind of wore out my welcome so to speak.”

“Only in your mind,” she reminded him pointedly, “and for the record Diego I happen to think that you’re pretty wonderful still and the last time I checked my opinion was still worth something.”

“I appreciate that. I really do,” he couldn’t help but smile reaching out to embrace her, “You really are too good to me Barbara.”

“It’s because you’re my friend and I don’t give up on friends,” she replied hugging him back as she hoped that she would be able to get through to Diego and let him see how important he truly was to the world around him. Closing her eyes for a moment she savored the feel of his arms around her.

“Listen, I should probably get going. They are waiting for me downstairs and,” Diego cleared his throat stepping away just enough to meet her eyes again.

“Right,” she nodded quickly, “I just wanted to check in on you and maybe I’ll stop by later or something just in case.”

“That isn’t necessary, but I appreciate the offer. Still I think that I’m going to need some time alone tonight. I have a lot that I need to clear up in my head,” he replied reaching for the small box she’d handed him. “Thanks for the gift though Barbara.”

“Anytime,” she nodded seeing him collect his things and head towards the door for the person who was waiting for him. She watched him leave before letting out a sigh knowing that he was still so very clueless on so many levels. In that moment she wondered if one day he would realize that wasting his time with women like Cori or even Sarah wouldn’t give him nearly as much happiness as she could.


“I don’t believe this,” Angela threw her arms in the air after a moment of silent contemplation. She spun around to face Brant with a glare before shaking her head at him, “I cannot for the life of me believe that you put Matt up to this. Of all the low, disgusting things to do…”

“I swear I didn’t do it,” Brant defended himself seeing that she hadn’t changed her mind about his motivation even after the talk Matt gave her. “This was his idea and yes, while it was a little rough, I thought it was a good one.”

“Oh right,” she rolled her eyes before letting out a small groan, “Brant that’s really pathetic and we both know it. I mean how low can you sink considering that he’s just a child.”

“I might be a child, but I’m not stupid,” Matt piped in with a frown of his own, “I can see when two people need to find a way to talk to one another.”

“Of course you can Matt,” Angela glanced back at him and forced a small smile even though she wanted to tear Brant’s head off. She focused on Brant once again, “And he should not have put you up to this.”

“For the last time I didn’t. Matt said he watched Dr. Phil and…” Brant tried to explain himself further.

“Oh right. I’m sure it was Matt who got in the car and drove all the way over here since he was pushing all your buttons, right?” Angela taunted with a small glare.

“Actually he drove because I’m far too young to drive, but the rest of the plan was mine,” Matt piped in moving in closer to the two of them, “I thought it was a nice touch in working the whole I’m lost angle.”

“Matt, honey I know you mean well, but you don’t need to keep protecting him. He’s obviously in the wrong and…” Angela offered up trying to keep her voice cool and even despite her raging emotions.

“Yeah and correct me if I’m wrong on this one, but aren’t adults not supposed to yell at one another in front of a kid?” Matt arched a curious brow. “I believe it does something to deplete a child’s self-esteem if they are exposed to screaming and shouting for lengthy periods of time. It could effect me the rest of my life you know.”

“I’m sorry for yelling honey,” Angela looked over to Brant again before placing her hand on Matt’s shoulder, “Why don’t I take you into the kitchen and get you some ice-cream while Brant and I have a few words with one another?”

“What is with you adults and ice-cream,” Matt groaned throwing his hands in the air. “Do you not realize how unhealthy it is for you? I mean seriously it is unnecessary calories and it encourages bad habits that are sure to scar a kid for life if they aren’t careful.”

Angela blinked back at him surprised by his tone as she’d never heard of a child who would refuse ice-cream.

“Still think I’m the one who concocted the idea to come over here,” Brant stepped in behind her whispering in the back of her ear while her dark eyes shot back towards him with a glare. She ignored his words before reaching for Matt’s hand.

“Come on then. You don’t have to have ice-cream because I’m sure that I have some fruit and granola in the kitchen if you’re interested. You do like fruit yes?” Angela questioned taking his small hand in hers and walking with him towards the kitchen area.

“Fruit is very good,” Matt nodded eagerly, “My father said it is one of the essential fuels out there to keep me strong and healthy. I’m going to be like him one day--well not exactly like him, but since he is good in sports I think I would like to be good at them too. I’m already the best in my swim class. Even my teacher thinks so.”

“I’m sure you are,” Angela nodded listening to him talk as they entered the kitchen. She looked around to see what Cameron had stocked up before she put together a plate of various melons and strawberries for Matt. She smiled down at him seeing his eyes surveying what was in front of him. “How does that look?”

“Good,” Matt reached for a strawberry and pushed it to his lips. He stopped short of biting it and waved the berry in the air in Brant’s general direction, “Now you two talk and don’t yell because remember it’s not good for the child.”

“Of course,” Brant nodded reaching out to touch Angela’s arm. He felt her pull away from him as her dark eyes met his. She glared at him momentarily before spinning on her heel and walking out into the hallway area waiting for Brant to follow.

“Remember if I hear yelling I’m going to have to come out there,” Matt warned holding his thumb up in the air to Brant before whispering, “Good luck.”

“Thanks,” Brant reciprocated the movement before realizing that with the way Angela seemed irritated by him, he was going to need it if he had any chance of getting through to her.


“Well isn’t this nice,” Shannon glared over at Don, watching him immediately wiggle out of Jewel’s embrace. She noticed the way his Adam’s apple seemed to leap in his throat at the site of her and his blue eyes grew wide with fear.

“Shannon, hey this is Jewel,” Don pointed to the woman at his side and gulped again, “She’s um…Dave Warner’s sister.”

“Really?” Shannon glanced over at Jewel feeling a shudder of disgust carry over her at Jewel’s less than savory attire. Frowning Shannon realized that Jewel looked like someone who had leapt out of the doors of a strip club rather than someone who should be in the hallway of the hospital and visiting her husband no less. The memory of Don and Jewel hugging seemed to make Shannon’s blood boil even more.

“That’s right,” Jewel smiled back over at Shannon, “Don and I go way back with one another. We’re old friends.”

“Yeah I’ll bet,” Shannon muttered sarcastically before stepping forward and placing herself between Jewel and Don. “And I’m Don’s wife.”

“Really?” Jewel’s eyes widened as she gave Shannon a very long once over. Finally she smiled and offered her hand out to Shannon, “Wow, it’s great to finally meet you. Don has said so many wonderful things about you.”

“Yeah I’ll bet,” Shannon rolled her eyes at Jewel’s comment and stepped away from her refusing to shake her hand.

“Look we were just talking about…” Don began watching the fury build behind Shannon’s eyes as she glared up at him.

“Don,” Shannon spoke his name in a firm and authoritative tone, “we need to talk.”

“Right,” Don nodded quickly wondering just where their talk would lead them especially now after she saw him hugging Jewel. He glanced over at Jewel again and noticed Dave approaching. “Hey look there’s Dave!”

“What?” Shannon spun around to see her friend approaching, thus putting off her conversation with Don a few minutes longer.

“Hey Don, Shannon,” Dave waved joining the three of them, “I see you’ve met my sister here.”

“Oh yeah,” Shannon nodded glaring over at Jewel, “I’ve met the crazy one who thinks she’s well within her rights to be all over my husband…”

“You know what,” Don reached for Shannon’s arm before urging her to walk away from Dave and Jewel, “we’re just going to go talk and…”

“Sure,” Dave replied watching Don drag Shannon away before he looked to Jewel, “What did you do this time?”

“Honestly,” she shrugged her shoulders before watching Don and Shannon, “nothing, but something tells me she’s not at all what Don needs in his life.”

“It’s not your concern,” Dave warned motioning for his sister to follow him away from the situation as Shannon started to yell.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Shannon questioned assaulting Don with her words. She waved her finger around in the air in front of his face with a glare.

“Working,” Don caught her wrist and stopped her from almost poking him in the eye, “My brother-in-law was involved in a convenience store shooting and…”

“Nate,” Shannon’s eyes widened worriedly, “Oh God are you saying that Nate is here and you didn’t tell me?”

“Not Nate,” Don corrected realizing what he’d said, “Stephanie’s half-brother was in a store when a robbery went wrong and…”

“Ah yes Stephanie,” Shannon stepped away from him throwing her hands up in the air, “I should have known considering that’s what you’re all about these days.”

“Would you stop already with that,” Don frowned back at her, shaking his head, “you’re making an issue out of something that shouldn’t be an issue for us. First you’re accusing me of cheating on you, which I have never, ever done, then you attack me out of the blue for no reason and I’m in the wrong. When you can’t find a valid reason you always turn back to use what I felt for Stephanie against me.”

“That’s because I can’t compete with a ghost,” Shannon cast an icy glance over in Jewel’s direction, “or a skank for that matter.”

“You know what,” Don opened his mouth to say something more before shaking his head, “On most days I could deal with this--hell I would even argue with you to prove that I’m not doing anything wrong, but after what I’ve seen today, I just don’t have the energy. Believe what you want to believe Shannon.”

Before Shannon could get a word out Don walked away clearly fed up with her accusations. He made his way towards his office leaving Shannon standing there in the hallway wondering why in the world Don made her feel like the bad guy when he was obviously in the wrong?


“So tell me Heather Babes, what happened?” Kellen waved his arms around in the air impatiently, “I know that you’re holding out details on me and I’m going to die if you don’t start talking soon.”

“Really?” Heather glanced over at him fighting to suppress the grin that teased over the corners of her mouth, “Well in that case can I have your CD collection if you can’t hold on for me?”

“Very funny,” Kellen glared over at her, his blue eyes oozing with heavy disapproval. He reached out to wrap his arm around her shoulders, “You and I both know that I am your best friend and I should know absolutely everything about this time you’ve been spending with Kyle especially since I worked so hard to try to get it to happen for you.”

“Kellen it probably would have happened sooner if you hadn’t butted in so many times,” Heather pointed out with an inward groan, “You interrupted us so many times I think Kyle is getting a complex.”

“Because of me?” Kellen’s eyes widened with curiosity, “So what are you saying? He can’t perform now?”

“He can perform just fine--better than fine even,” Heather licked her lips cryptically before smiling over at him, “You might have the power to influence Kellen, but not that much power.”

“See now that’s where you’re wrong because I know I have plenty of power to persuade and,” Kellen paused giving her a long look, “but you’re trying to change the subject aren’t you?”

“It was almost working,” Heather chuckled in amusement leaning back onto the sofa she’d been sitting on with Kellen. “I was hoping your self-absorbed ego would kick in considering that you are your own biggest fan.”

“Someone has to be, but on the same side I could very well also be Kyle’s biggest fan, well aside from you of course, but still…” Kellen waved his hand dismissively, “Come on Heather Babes you must tell me the details because you know I’ve been thinking about them making them up in my mind, but there are still far too many holes in this story for me. I need the colorful metaphors and the magical moments that lead up to bliss for you and Kyle and…”

“And I’m not going to let you live out your fantasies of my boyfriend vicariously through our sexual experiences with one another,” Heather wrinkled her nose at him before shaking her head, “If you think I’m going to give you any more fuel for your fantasies then you’ve got another thing coming Kellen.”

“Hey, what can I say,” he shrugged his shoulders in response, “I know he’s hot and I don’t mind indulging in the idea a bit especially when Kyle’s got so very much to offer.”

“But not to you,” Heather sank further into the couch cushions, “He doesn’t swing that way.”

“An unfortunate tragedy to say the least, but you could at least give me something to go on here since I am after all your loyal and devoted best pal who would do the same for you if it was what you wanted,” Kellen pleaded with her batting his eyelashes in her general direction.

“Kellen, you forget I had a relationship with Kipp and at this point in time I would be quite content if you never, ever divulged any private details with me about your sex life--ever,” Heather informed him point blank a tiny shudder racing over her.

“Hmm, well if you feel that passionate about it, maybe I should start talking since it might motivate you to open up about your situation with Kyle,” Kellen suggested tipping his head to the side. He saw her glare at him and he grinned widely, “So anyways the other night Kipp and I were…”

“Kellen stop,” she reached for one of the throw pillows on the couch and shoved it right into his face, “For once do the world a favor and keep your mouth closed.”

“Trust me honey, when I have my mouth open I have some very favorable praises that come my way and then some,” Kellen squeezed the pillow to the center of his chest, hugging it against his half unbuttoned pink and white pinstripe shirt, “So now about you and Kyle…”

“It’s not going to happen Kellen. All I will tell you is that it’s everything I ever could have dreamt of and more. It’s so much better than what I expected,” Heather smiled widely thinking about the man she’d spent so very long in love with, “Kyle is my dream come true and I feel so lucky to have him.”

“Any woman would feel that way--or any man for that matter, but still,” Kellen paused contemplating his words, “I’ll tell you what if you tell me about what really went down, I will tell you about the wedding from hell in each and every detail because that one is for sure going to go down in Coral Valley history as something to be remembered.”

“Was it really that bad?” she inquired arching a curious brow and turning to face him.

He nodded quickly, “Oh heavens yes. If there was ever any doubt about where your sister belonged after divine intervention, I think it would be safe to say that she made her way into the ranks of being the devil’s buddy in the after life. She was furious kicking and screaming when the truth came out about her and what a slut she was. I mean to think that she was not only banging Diego, but Cameron and Drew as well…”

“Whoa, wait a second,” Heather’s green eyes widened in astonishment, “Are you trying to say that she was sleeping with Diego?”

Kellen nodded again before waving his hand in the air dismissively, “Yeah she was which is a complete eye opener as to why he never took the bait with you since the guy is obviously into trash and not class.”

“I don’t believe this,” Heather couldn’t help but be surprised, “I never saw it. Well, okay so maybe there were hints that something might have been going on, but to think that Diego would…I mean okay Kyle told me he suspected that they had something going, but I was sure that somehow it had to be a mistake. I mean yeah I knew there had to be someone else and when Kyle said Diego I tried to really force myself not to buy into that because Diego is such a good guy. I figured it was just some other jerk she picked up and…”

“Nope it was Diego and a whole slew of others,” Kellen informed her with a tiny chuckle, “but what made it all the more amusing was that it turns out that she’s a real skank. She was also sleeping with Cameron and hoping to keep you and Kyle from reconnecting because she obviously saw that you had chemistry with one another.”

“Yeah, she was good at trying to keep Kyle and I apart,” Heather stiffened at the memory of Kyle’s confession about never receiving Heather’s letter after Sarah had fought to keep it from him all of these years. She frowned before shaking her head, “Sarah should watch herself though because Cameron’s not someone to mess with.”

“And neither is Kyle because he really nailed it to her good without even being there,” Kellen continued proudly thinking about Sarah’s anger, “Plus she was so stupid that she slept with Drew, who is my psychotic ex-boyfriend. He sort of has been crushing on me lately and when he saw my interest in the whole you and Kyle situation I guess he took it upon himself to get involved and he did this whole little video tape thing of the two of them when they were together, then he delivered it to me in a nice little package and…”

“Your ex caught Sarah cheating on tape?” Heather’s eyes widened, “I don’t believe this. How did I miss all of this one?”

“You missed it because you were too busy moping about the man that you couldn’t get that really wanted you, but you were too lost in your misery to open your eyes and…” Kellen stopped when his gaze dropped to the ring on her finger. Immediately he reached for her hand and pulled it in towards his face, “And speaking of eye openers what is this?”

“It’s um…” Heather bit on her lower lip nervously looking at the engagement ring Kyle had given to her.

“Proof positive that there is a whole lot about this story of you and Kyle that you are holding out on me,” Kellen frowned back at her, “and given the size of this ring I’m telling you right now I want more details pronto.”


Moving forward into the crowd Kyle tried looking around the people at the hospital trying to spot Mindy the best he could. Spinning on his heel he looked around still not being able to find her until he noticed her sitting over in the corner. A young guy he had never seen before hugging her and she was crying in his arms.

“Mindy,” Kyle whispered after approaching them and stepping in behind her as she quickly turned to face Kyle seeing him behind her. Without hesitation Kyle moved forward wrapping his arms around her in a tight embrace. Hearing her cries intensify he held her tighter staring out into the blue eyes of the man before him. “Who is this?”

“I was there when Hunt died, I’m Jason,” Jason gulped down seeing Kyle’s hazel eyes staring out into his as he squeezed Mindy harder in his arms and Jason looked down toward the ground. “I’m really sorry that this happened. I tried to save him I really did.”

“This isn’t your fault Jason,” Mindy let go of Kyle long enough to turn to face Jason, reaching up to push away her tears feeling Kyle’s arm wrap around her shoulders. “You couldn’t have stopped it, you tried. You really tried.”

“Sweetheart, what happened?” Kyle questioned sliding his index finger in underneath her chin urging her saddened blue-green eyes to look into his. “How did this happen?”

“He knows more about this,” Mindy tried to point out seeing the way that Kyle looked over toward Jason again and she felt Kyle wrap his arms around her again. Resting her head against his chest she just shook her head. “I just can’t believe he’s gone.”

“I know sweetheart,” Kyle frowned pressing a small kiss against her forehead, feeling her tears soaking in against his shirt as he lifted his head to look at Jason. “Who was the son of a bitch that did this?”

“He’s dead. I went to the store and it just happened. He tried robbing the store, I heard shots and tried to come out as soon as possible,” Jason stuttered seeing Kyle’s jaw tighten in anger at the mention of the man killing Hunt. “I tried to save him I really did. I just--I was too late.”

“This wasn’t your fault, it was the son of a bitch that deserved everything he got,” Kyle muttered pressing his right hand in against Mindy’s hair, pressing another small kiss against her forehead. “It’s okay sweetheart. I know it hurts, I know.”

“Kyle, I should have told him things,” Mindy met Kyle’s glance again feeling his thumb press in against her cheek, wiping away at the dampness against her skin. “There were so many things he didn’t know that I should have told him.”

“He knew,” he tried to assure her as Mindy shook her head slowly and Kyle tried to get her to calm down as she shook her head slowly and he let out a long breath. “I’m sure he knew little one, it’s okay.”

“That’s the thing Kyle, he never did,” Mindy tried to inform him seeing the way Kyle frowned and pulled her in tighter to him as she rested her head against his chest. “Now, he’ll never know.”

Gulping down Kyle tried to be there for her knowing that Mindy must have been going through so much. He was so close to losing his dream with Heather and now that she was losing her dream with Hunt he couldn’t help, but feel bad for her.

“I’m here sweetheart,” Kyle tried to get her to calm down as he rested his chin against the top of her head feeling her shake in his arms. “I’m here for you. I’ll always be here for you.”


Stepping nervously back Jason couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable now that Mindy was in Kyle’s arms. There was nothing more he could do for, nothing more he could say. Obviously with his words he made her more upset and he couldn’t feel worse about it.

“You okay?” he heard someone question as they touched his arm gently and he turned to see Deana before him and he gulped down shrugging his shoulders. Feeling her give him a small hug he looked over toward Mindy and Kyle again seeing Kyle talking to her. “Did everything go okay?”

“She’s totally heart broken,” Jason replied seeing her frown as he stepped back and away from her, rubbing the back of his neck nervously still trying to come up with something more. “Who wouldn’t be when the person you loved died? I still think there was something I could have done. If I didn’t question him about the ice-cream and just gave it to him he would have been out of there before the guy walked in and…,”

“You can’t blame yourself again Jason,” she hushed him seeing the way his blue eyes met hers and she shook her head slowly. “You didn’t know this was going to happen, you could have never called something like this. It’s not your fault.”

“Right,” Jason nodded for a moment before noticing the girl she had been with and he motioned Deana to pause for a moment as he nodded over toward where he would be. “I’ll be right back, I’m going to talk to her friend.”

Leaving Deana for a minute Jason walked over to her friend pressing his hand in against her shoulder as she talked to someone. Seeing her turn to face him Jason offered up a weak smile feeling her hand press in against his.

“I’m Jason,” he introduced himself seeing the man step in next to her and he took in a deep breath. “I was just coming to tell you that if Mindy needed anything at all, just talk to the doctor here named Leveski. He could get a hold of me and I swear, I will do anything for her.”

“That’s so sweet, I heard what happened Jason and you tried. You really did,” she reached out to touch his shoulder casually as she nodded over toward Chase. “I’m Trisha and this is my boyfriend Chase. Why don’t you just give us your number and we’ll give it to Mindy when we get the chance.”

“Okay,” Jason realized he was in the scrubs so he didn’t have anything on him and Chase moved forward handing him a card and a pen. “Thanks.”

“No problem, I think we met earlier. At a job interview,” Chase replied seeing Jason look up to eye him over slowly and Jason nodded slowly before letting out a long breath. “I’m sure Mindy appreciates everything you did. You really tried to do the best you could.”

“Well my best didn’t save him,” Jason handed them over the card and pen before shaking his head slowly. Looking down toward the ground he could remember the scared look behind Hunt’s eyes as he was dying. “It was far from good enough.”

“We blame this on the guy that was too stupid to realize what he was going to do when he walked into that store and killed those two innocent people Jason,” Trisha moved forward catching him off guard as she gave him a small hug. “You tried the best you could do, but this is far from your fault.”

“I feel so bad though,” Jason bit down on his bottom lip closing his eyes and thinking about the possibilities of how he could have saved Hunt and made it so he walked through that door to see Mindy again. “He was going to ask her to marry him, they could have been together forever and then this happened.”

“Sometimes this just happens,” Chase tried to point out before feeling bad at the very thought of Hunt actually being gone. “There was nothing we could have done to stop this. I suppose that everything happens for a reason. It may hurt and may make no sense, but it does happen no matter how hard it hurts.”


“You have all your things?” Gabriella questioned looking around her brother’s hospital room and reaching for the bag he had on the table top.

“I didn’t bring much with me,” Diego confessed with a tired sigh ready to just make his way home after all of the craziness that had carried over his life the last few months. “I was hoping to stop off in my office for a bit and grab a few things since my patients still need me and…”

“I’m sure they will survive without you one day more,” Gabriella pointed out shaking her head at him, “but if you need something in particular I can grab it for you.”

“Actually there were a few things I have that I left in a bag near my desk and…” Diego started thinking about what he may need from his office.

“I’ll go get them. I’ll have your secretary let me in,” Gabriella decided before looking around the room, “You just make sure that you have everything to take home from in here.”

“Okay,” Diego nodded with another sigh looking around the room before hearing footsteps from behind him, “Gaby, I told you I’m moving as fast as I can…”

“Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not Gaby,” Sarah mouthed as Diego turned around to face her fully meeting her with a glare.

“What are you doing here?” Diego frowned over at her.

“I was worried about you,” Sarah stepped forward greeting him with a smile, “I missed you and…”

“You shouldn’t be here,” Diego answered tensing up at the nearness of her. His dark eyes met hers and he let out a long breath, “Sarah, I really wish you hadn’t come here.”

“It’s okay baby,” she slid her finger tips out across his shoulders, “I don’t mind your being hurt. I’m here to help you recuperate.”

“No, you don’t get it,” he reached for her hands and pulled them off of his shoulders, “I don’t want you here.”

“But Diego,” she curled her lip in a pout, “I know you’ve been upset with me, but I’m sure if we talk about this, we can…”

“Can what?” he questioned with an arched brow, “Work our way back to one another?”

“That was the general idea,” she nodded flashing him a small smile, “because you know that we’re meant to be together.”

“No what I know is that I have compromised absolutely everything that I am to be with you when the sad reality is that you are nothing like the woman I took you to be. You have lied about absolutely everything,” he reminded her with a wounded expression feeling her reach out to tease her fingers through his hair.

“But knowing how I felt about you. I was just trying to do the right thing in not breaking Kyle’s heart. I was only going to marry him because it felt like it was an obligation,” she mouthed her gaze lingering to his lips as she inched in closer to him.

“And sleeping with all those other men?” he stiffened further against her urgings, “Was that also an obligation Sarah?”

“Diego,” she frowned feeling him push away from her, “Oh please don’t tell me you’re going to adopt the holier than thou attitude considering you were sleeping with me when I was engaged to Kyle.”

“I slept with you when you weren’t together, and then the rest he threw his hands up in the air in frustration, “That was just stupidity plain and simple.”

“Whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t change the way you feel about me,” she added boldly, “You love me Diego plain and simple and deep down you know that you can’t avoid me forever especially not when we have our child to think about.”

“Our child,” he repeated his jaw clenched with anger, “Sarah, you don’t even know that is my baby. From what I’ve seen it may have a one of four chance in being mine.”

“Oh Diego you know that this is what you want. You’ve always wanted a family and…” she mouthed in response eyeing him intently.

“And if the child is mine, then I will live up to my obligation and do everything in my power to take care of my son or daughter, but the life I have with them will not include you if I can help it,” Diego informed her point blank hearing his sister return.

“Oh great, what are you doing here?” Gabriella groaned stepping forward ready to tear into Sarah once again like she had in their earlier meetings. “Didn’t I tell you to stay away?”

“Did you honestly think I would listen to someone like you,” Sarah replied in an emphatic tone giving Gabriella a very long, very disapproving once over.

“I’ll make you listen to someone like me starting now,” Gabriella lunged forward ready to attack Sarah before Diego intervened.

“This is not going to happen right now,” Diego warned his sister before glancing over at Sarah briefly. Finally he turned his attention to Gabriella again and sighed, “Let it go. I want to get home.”

“Fine, but don’t you follow,” Gabriella warned wiggling her finger at Sarah before practically pulling her brother out of the room in the hopes of getting Diego as far away as possible from that miserable woman once and for all.


“That doesn’t mean we still aren’t together,” Ria pointed out seeing his green eyes stare out into hers before he let out a small laugh and nodded slowly. “What’s so funny?”

“Well, you can tell when a beautiful woman is having problems with the man she is with and it’s clear honey that you are,” he cleared his throat uneasily before resting against the counter seeing Ria look out at him. Reaching his hand out to hers he took her hand in his and lifted her hand to his lips pressing a small kiss against the top of her hand. “I’m sorry, I was rude not to introduce myself first. I’m Craven. Antonio Craven.”

“Craven?” she questioned seeing him nod slowly as she took in a long breath trying to think back to when she had actually heard that name before. “Where have I heard that name before? I feel like I’ve heard someone talk about that name before. I’m Ria Merhan.”

“So, you’re Ria,” Craven’s grin expanded widely as he pressed his hands in against the top of the bar and she tried to not look him in the eyes, feeling a bit uncomfortable. “It’s a pleasure to have met you, I’m sure by the end of the night you might agree with the same toward me.”

“I doubt it,” Ria let out a sarcastic laugh seeing the way his green eyes stared out into hers and she hesitantly looked away from him. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but obviously you have too much free time on your hands.”

“No, that’s far from the truth. In fact, I’m working right now,” his eyes ran over her form slowly before meeting her dark glance. Offering up a wide smile he looked toward the bartender. “I’m here to help be a relationship worker. What’s going on with your man?”

“Why would I tell you something like that? Yet again, what makes you think anything is wrong?” she questioned with a small glance seeing the way he arched his eyebrow at her knowing that she was lying. “Well, what do you want me to say?”

“Let me guess. You have the type of boyfriend that every girl wants, but only few are lucky to have. One that seems so determined to keep his relationship alive that he is willing to risk anything to be with you,” Craven motioned for the bartender again ordering his drink while he paused their conversation before turning back toward her. “Maybe even being shot won’t stop him, but no matter what he’ll always be there. Out of nowhere though, there is woman that just appears in his life. The question is, are you the woman that appeared in his life or are you the woman that he would have risked his life for? From where I stand the man looks like an idiot because you look like that girl that just stepped in.”

“Well, not really,” Ria replied seeing his green eyes searching hers for a moment as his head tilt to the side like he was trying to read something from her. “That’s really nothing like that.”
“Whatever you say sweetheart,” he shrugged his shoulders trying to come up with something to say before staring out at her left hand seeing the pink diamond. “Wow, you’re boyfriend Chuck must have spent a pretty penny on that pink diamond.”

“Chuck?” Ria questioned seeing Craven get his drink and smile as she looked down at the ring on her finger and shook her head slowly. “No, his name is Kevin.”

“Kevin,” he smiled widely seeing her nod slowly and he took another long sip from his drink seeing her playing with the ring on her finger. “Well, I’d say this Kevin was too big of an idiot not to be here with you right now. You’re beautiful and you have these dark eyes that could perk anyone’s interest. Here, let me buy you a drink.”

“No, it’s okay,” Ria closed her eyes as she tried to take in all the words the man before her was saying and she couldn’t take in any longer feeling the anger she was holding in build up when she clenched her fist together. Hearing the bartender come back with the drink she stood up reaching for the drink and dumping it over the top of his head hearing him let out a long gasp and jump up from the seat. “Listen Antonio, you don’t know anything about my life so why don’t you butt out.”

Staring him in the eyes she saw the drops sliding down his face before she walked out of the bar and back into the hallway resting her head back against the wall for a moment. The room felt like it was spinning around her as a sharp pain pressed in over her stomach, making her place her hand over her abdomen.

“I must have ate something bad earlier,” she let out a small sound before slowly moving back up and looking over toward the elevator seeing a husband and a wife with their young daughter in the father’s arms. “I wish I could have had that.”

Staring out she saw the father move forward to press a small kiss against his daughter’s cheek as Ria closed her eyes tightly still seeing a vision of what Kevin and her would have looked like together like that. It was something she truly wished would happen, but she just just knew now that everything was done with--that was never going to happen.”


“I can’t believe that you did this,” Angela hissed once Brant was out on the hallway with her, “This was a new low even for you.”

“Hey, you were the one who refused to listen to me. Matt had a good idea and I decided to run with it,” Brant explained in a low tone making a small movement towards Angela in the hallway, “You can’t just ignore me you know.”

“Brant, you and I both know that you have no right being here after what you’ve done,” Angela wrapped her arms around her own body, “You have no business showing up with Matt and trying to manipulate me when…”

“When what? Think about it Angela,” Brant frowned back at her reaching out to touch her arm even with her anger still very present behind her dark eyes, “we’re about to bring two children into this world together. That in itself qualifies me as having plenty of rights in this situation.”

“You lost your rights to me and to our children when you murdered their grandfather all those years ago,” Angela stiffened in his embrace stepping back just out of his reach, “Brant you’re a monster and…”

“No,” he shook his head adamantly, “Angela I’m not a monster and you of all people know that. Yes, my father has done some horrible things--things that I’m not proud of, but those were his doings, not mine. I can honestly tell you that I have no idea if my father was responsible for your father being murdered, but I can assure you with all that I am that I wasn’t a part of that. I’m not the man your brother painted me to be. Sure, I’m not perfect and I have made plenty of mistakes, but I am no murderer.”

“I can’t believe you. I know what Cameron said and…” Angela tried to reason with him thinking about her brother’s words, “He told me all about your plans--about how you manipulated me from the first day we met so that you could get the ultimate revenge on my family…”

“Angie, I hate to say this to you because I know you care about your brother, but he’s full of shit,” Brant blurted out surprising her when he called her Angie. It caught her attention however and he continued with his desperate plea, “Your brother might have told you that I was behind what happened, but your brother is a liar. He hasn’t been on the up and up with you about what he’s done either. As he stood there telling you about all of the supposed crimes that Kevin and I have done against you, he failed to mention that he tried to destroy a man’s life because he was obsessed with a woman that my father raped. He terrorized her and her fiancé and helped aid in her death in his madness. He also married someone who is rather close to me and he abused her mentally and physically. He raped her and yet he stands there and tries to play himself off as the noble savior that you’ve been missing from your life…”

“Stop,” Angela shook her head refusing to listen to what he was saying to her. “You’re lying.”

“Lying,” Brant repeated with wide eyes feeling a pain at seeing her so upset, but he knew she deserved the truth. “If you don’t believe me go ask Heather. She will tell you all about how he threatened her and tortured her again and again while they were married. He was horrible to her and…”

“Stop,” Angela snapped back at him, her brown eyes glaring at him.

“Face it Angela. You’ve been lied to, but it’s not from me and not from Kevin. Cameron is the one pulling all of the strings here and he’s the one trying to hurt you. He hates me--he’s hated my family since day one and he’s trying to take away the one thing that means the most to me by turning you against me. I love you and I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you on the beach…”

“When you thought I was Avery,” she corrected with an icy glare, “That’s really what you loved--it wasn’t who I am or what I was. It was because you were looking for what you couldn’t have with Avery--admit it.”

“Okay, so maybe at first I was confused, but you can’t tell me that you were sure about me when I found you,” Brant tossed out at her watching her face shift with emotion, “You weren’t sure of anything until we went back to that beach house and made love. After we spent the night together you and I both knew that something was happening and neither one of us could walk away from it. It was too strong to ignore…”

“Don’t do this,” she shook her head bringing her hands up over her ears to block out what he was saying, “You’re just trying to manipulate me again into believing your lies.”

“It’s the truth. It’s always been the truth with you,” he stepped forward reaching out to place his hands on top of hers. He gently pulled her fingers from the side of her face before staring into her eyes with a newfound determination. “I love you and I’ll always love you. Even after knowing that you are Cameron Stone’s sister that is irrelevant to me. I don’t give a damn about who he is or what things he and my father have done to one another. I hate that you were hurt by this in losing your father, but I swear to you that it wasn’t me. I promise with all that I am that I wasn’t behind this. I would never, ever kill anyone--especially someone who meant so much to you. Angela, I would never go out of my way to hurt you. You and the twins are everything to me…”

“Brant, I…” Angela opened her mouth to say something when she heard footsteps approaching. She tipped her head back to see two of the men who had been running security last night down the hallway. They must’ve returned from their breakfast out and immediately Angela was on edge. She placed her hand firmly into Brant’s chest as she shoved him towards the kitchen again, “You have to go. You have to get Matt out of here before they see you.”

“I’m not leaving without you,” Brant argued with her, his words firm and unyielding.

“Brant, Cameron wants to kill you and if they see you here, you’re a dead man,” Angela reminded him point blank. She spotted Matt standing over by the back doors looking out into the yard.

“That’s a nice pool you have out there,” Matt pointed to the Olympic sized pool that was right outside beyond the deck. “Do you swim in it a lot?”

“Not yet, but it is pretty nice to look at,” Angela replied with a small smile pausing to listen to the men approaching in the hall. She threw Brant a pleading look, “If you don’t go they will kill you.”

“If you really believe that I’m responsible for what happened to your father, then maybe I should just go out there,” Brant tossed back at her in a daring fashion. “If you really believe that I’m a murderer perhaps I should just let them kill me since I swear to you it will be the death of me if you don’t believe in me or my love for you.”

“Brant please…” Angela watched him move over towards the door to exit into the hall once again. Feeling her pulse racing she reached for his arm and tugged him back into the room beside her, “Don’t do this.”

“I have nothing left if you don’t believe in me,” he brushed the pad of his thumb over her bottom lip gingerly, his chocolate colored eyes fixed on hers. “I love you.”

“And if you don’t leave now you’re not going to be able to feel that or anything else anymore,” Angela whispered in a muted tone, “Please Brant just take Matt and go before someone sees you both. I can’t afford to let anything happen to either one of you. Don would kill you if he knew you put Matt in danger and…”

“You already said the men in the hall would do the job for Don,” Brant challenged arching a daring brow, “and with Matt, I know you would keep him safe. He’s in good hands with you because I trust you with him--I trust you with one of the most important people to me because I know you and I know your heart.”

“My heart is telling me that I don’t want to have you gunned down in front of Matt,” Angela paused biting on her lower lip nervously, “or me for that matter.”

“So then you are saying that you still want me around,” he began fishing for a sign that she would be open to taking him back into her life again.

“I’m saying if you’re dead that won’t ever be an option,” Angela warned pushing him over by the door once again to join Matt. “Maybe next time you come over you can go for a swim Matt, but right now I have to get to work. Tell your dad I said hi.”

“You mean you’re not going to come with us?” Matt curled his lip into a pout, “Angela I really wanted you to go out with us.”

“I promise I’ll see you again,” she knelt down in front of Matt touching the side of his face, “very soon, but right now I have somewhere else that I have to be.”

“But you promise you’ll go out with us later?” Matt questioned with puppy eyes hoping she would take the bait.

“Yes,” she mussed her fingers through his hair, “I’ll go out with you later and maybe we can take your dad along too.”

“Okay, it’s a date,” Matt held his hand out to shake on it before turning to Brant, “Does that work for you?”

“As long as she realizes that I’m going to hold her to later,” Brant’s gaze locked with Angela’s once again before she stepped aside to open the back door.

“You can go through the garden. There is a path that will take you out front undetected,” Angela explained turning away from Brant as the footsteps neared in the hall.

“I’ll be back soon,” Brant promised in a light whisper the warmth of his breath skimming over her neck offering it’s sultry promise of things to be before he stepped out into the yard with Matt and away from the impending danger.

Angela forced herself to turn away from them even though her heart longed to be with them--to go with them and work things through. However, as she heard the footsteps approaching just outside the door, she leaned up against the door turning the lock and exhaling a breath she’d held inside as she realized that there had to be an easier way to figure things out. She had to find the truth before this situation killed her--or Brant for that matter.


Don made his way towards the elevators ready to put the day behind him though something told him by the tone in Brant’s voice on his voice mail message that things were going to be less than over once he caught up with his best friend. He made his way to the elevators when a voice roused him from his thoughts.

“I see you’re still in one piece,” Jewel called out to him flashing him a flirty smile, “That must bode well for how things went with your wife.”

“My wife had homicide on her mind just like you’d suggested earlier,” Don replied turning around to face her. He forced a small smile despite his sour mood. Leaning up against the wall while he waited for the elevators he couldn’t help but give her an appreciative once over now that he’d found himself thinking about the past they’d shared with one another. Of course even if Shannon hated him for being a guy, there was nothing wrong with looking, Don reasoned before meeting Jewel’s eyes again.

“So you’re damned if you do or even if you don’t,” Jewel replied with a hint of a smirk touching over her lips. She stepped in towards him lowering her voice just a bit before reaching out to touch the center of his chest in a bold movement, “though in my particular case I would’ve liked it a lot better if you were one to ‘do’ so to speak.”

“And risk castration or worse,” Don chortled suddenly getting a visual of Shannon trying to murder him. Swiftly he plucked Jewel’s hand away from his chest, “I think I’ll take my chances on what will happen to me when I’m really behaving.”

“She’s got you that whipped huh?” Jewel noted with another laugh, “I never thought I would live to see the day that you settled down, well other than when you were with Stephanie.”

“I never thought I would find anything even remotely close to that again,” Don trailed off his thoughts lingering to his late wife. A sadness filled him up inside before he let out a long sigh.

“Something in your eyes tells me that your heart believes you still haven’t found something like what you and Steph had,” she noted catching his expression before speaking up again, “So what about Matt? What does he think of Shannon?”

“He’s a good kid. He could go either way on the issue,” Don revealed thinking about his son’s relationship with Shannon. “He loves her brother Nate, but I think he could give or take Shannon.”

“That doesn’t sound too promising Don,” she pointed out with a shake of her head.

“Matt makes his own opinions on things and I think what he thinks about Nate more than makes up for what he does or doesn’t think about Shannon,” Don paused contemplating what he’d just said to her, “You know maybe I shouldn’t have said that considering that…”

“It’s okay,” Jewel waved her hand dismissively, “if marriage was perfect we all wouldn’t feel like we were trapped in it being suffocated alive.”

“I take it things got brutal with you and Paul,” Don noted thinking about what she’d mentioned earlier about her divorce.

“Paul is a self-absorbed narcissist that can’t see beyond his own issues to even know what it is like to be good in a marriage,” she paused a sour expression carrying over her face, “Then again he’s not really good at much of anything. He’s always been such a slacker.”

“Which if I do recall that was one of the reasons you liked him,” Don tossed back at her with a small smirk, “You were never into the overachievers.”

“I liked you, didn’t I?” she retorted meeting his blue eyes again.

“I’m an exception to the rule and besides you didn’t really like me. You just liked the games we played together,” he pondered his past with Jewel. “We weren’t really about substance, but rather it was more of an entertainment situation.”

“And you gave me plenty of entertainment. Even now I wouldn’t mind rekindling that,” she divulged her mouth curling in a half smirk, half pout.

“Well you can’t go back I’m told,” Don cleared his throat uneasily before turning to the elevators again. He wondered what was taking so long as he glanced over his shoulder at Jewel, “So what about Stacy? Have you spoken with her recently?”

“Only long enough for her to tell me that she hates me,” Jewel admitted thinking about her daughter, “I’d like to say we’ll be making some progress with one another but at this point it seems hopeless. She’s set on hating me and there isn’t much I can do to change that.”

“There is always room to change it. You should keep trying,” Don suggested thinking about her troubles with her daughter. “Sooner or later she’ll break down and open up to you.”

“After everything that’s happened I’m not sure I could have the kind of faith that you have,” she added thinking about her daughter, “Since Paul and I separated and filed for the divorce she’s kind of closed herself off. She’s been spending time with him, which of course means that she’s been surrounded by a horrible influence…”

“So try to give her a more positive one,” Don offered up before a thought occurred to him, “I could always have Lindsay come over and see her. I know Lindsay would love to catch up with her again since it’s been a while. If Stacy really needs a friend, then I’m pretty sure Lindsay would love to be there to help.”

“You really think so?” Jewel pondered the thought.

“I know so. Linds is great,” Don boasted thinking about how mature and responsible his younger sister was, “She’s a really great listener and all of her friends come to her for advice. Sometimes I think she and Matt share some of the same traits in that respect. If Stacy’s having a hard time, then I’ll just call Linds and let her know that Stacy is in town. Maybe after Stacy is able to vocalize what’s going on inside of her right now in dealing with the divorce she might be more open to bringing out the lines of communication between the two of you. Sometime a friend can help put things into perspective. It’s worth a shot at least.”

“You know that doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. I’m sure Stacy would love to see Lindsay again,” Jewel nodded in agreement a smile spreading over her features when Don’s cell phone rang.

“Hold that thought,” Don reached for his phone realizing that it was Brant’s number. Answering he spoke up brightly, “Hey pal, what’s up?”

“Dad, it’s me,” Matt mouthed into the phone with a seriousness in his tone, “I think we have a situation on our hands.”

“A situation,” Don replied worried by his son’s words, “Why what’s going on? Where’s Brant?”

“He totally crashed and burned romantically today, so I think you’d better meet up with us and do some damage control,” Matt explained with a heavy sigh, “Sometimes I swear adults make things so difficult.”

“Where is Brant now?” Don questioned wondering how Matt had snagged Brant’s cell phone.

“He’s coming back to the car. I told him that I left my book bag at Mickey’s place so he ran up to the door to get it,” Matt informed him after a moment.

“You left your bag at Mickey’s?” Don replied with a curious expression.

“Of course not, but I had to find a way to get him out of the car. I told him that I was just going to wait and Mickey would meet him at the door,” Matt informed him point blank, “I said I was tired so he walked up to the door.”

“And just what is he picking up if you didn’t leave your bag?” Don couldn’t help but ask his son thinking about the little schemer that Matt was.

“I don’t know some toys or something in a bag. Who cares? The point is that you need to meet with us because Brant totally blew it today. He might need a pep talk,” Matt suggested before his tone grew muted, “Brant’s returning. Gotta go.”

“Matt,” Don spoke his son’s name only to hear the sound of Matt hanging up on him. Turning to Jewel again Don spoke up with a small laugh, “I guess that is my cue to leave.”

“Something wrong?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Not really. Well, not for me or Matt, but Brant, well he’s got this woman he’s in love with and,” Don paused thinking about how to explain the situation, “long story short they are having problems right now and Matt’s trying to get them back together.”

“Matt is?” Jewel arched a surprised brow, “Isn’t he only like five?”

“He’s advanced for his age,” Don explained quickly as the elevator doors opened and he stepped inside. “It’s been great talking with you though and we’ll have to do it again soon. I’ll be sure to call Lindsay and then I’ll let you know.”

“Okay sure,” she waved at him before smiling, “It was great seeing you too Don.”

“Thanks,” Don replied as the elevator doors closed and Jewel smiled to herself thinking about just how nice it was indeed to run into Don again after all this time. Maybe Coral Valley wasn’t such a waste of her time after all.


Shannon pounded on the door in front of her, her eyes narrowing with anger as she found herself reminded of Don in Jewel’s arms. While Don once again tried to play it off as being nothing more than an innocent situation, Shannon couldn’t help but be livid. Just when she thought that maybe just maybe it was time for the two of them to talk and try to work things out, there he went again doing something stupid with some bimbo to get her worked up. She threw her fist into the door again only to feel it swing open and cause her to stumble forward.

“Hey, where’s the fire,” Dean questioned catching her before she could fall fully into him, “Shannon, what’s wrong?”

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong. My supposedly perfect husband thinks he’s God’s gift to women--more specifically all the blonde bimbos in Coral Valley,” she clenched her fists at her sides a low growl building up in the back of her throat.

“I hate to state the obvious, but um Shannon you’re blonde yourself and,” Dean caught the death glare that she gave him and he gulped, “certainly not a bimbo.”

“No, but that seems to be the company that Don is keeping these days. Here I went to the hospital ready to try to put things into perspective between us, and what do I find? I’ll tell you what I found. I saw him with this woman that looked like she stepped out of the pages of Playboy magazine in his arms. She was in this see thru barely there outfit and she was all gushing on him with, ‘Oh Don, you’ve got such big muscles. Oh Don you’re so wonderful.’ and laying it on so thick I thought I was going to puke,” Shannon blurted out with an emphatic groan, “It was pathetic. Truly.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Dean hugged her once more before releasing her, “I’m sure it was nothing. I know Don and everyone can see he’s completely devoted to you…”

“Until the Playmate of the month popped into his life,” Shannon grumbled in response opening her mouth to say something more when she spotted Deidra entering the room in a very slinky nightgown.

Deidra seemed ready to beckon Dean, who Shannon realized was now dressed only in sweatpants and before Deidra could get out what was obviously on her mind, she stopped and frowned. She set the bottle of champagne down that she was holding and her dark eyes glared over at Shannon.

“Let me guess,” Deidra began with an air of thick sarcasm, “You and Don are fighting again.”

“Look I didn’t know that you were…” Shannon tried to explain herself before thinking better of it. She shook her head defiantly before stomping further into the apartment to join Dean and Deidra, “I don’t know why I even bother with Don considering what a pain in my ass he’s been lately.”

Deidra frowned once more catching Dean’s apologetic glance before she huffed, “I guess I’ll go get dressed.”

“Deidra I…” Dean watched her retreat back to the bedroom before he focused on Shannon, who was now seated on the middle of his sofa having her own not-so-private tirade.

“I mean seriously is this his way of punishing me for my mistakes? Does he really hate me that much that he’s willing to replace me in the blink of an eye like this?” she threw her hands up in the air, “I just don’t get it. What is so wrong with our relationship that he has to go off and find someone else so soon?”

“You’re the one who thought it would be best to break things off,” Dean couldn’t help but point out to her, “You said yourself that you didn’t think it was going to work.”

“Well yes, but,” she huffed in response, “It just wasn’t supposed to be like this. He was at least supposed to think about the way things were between us and realize that maybe even with my being stubborn we still had something worth fighting for.”

“Why would he even bother when you have been making it clear that you don’t want anything from him?” Deidra interrupted returning to the room in a robe and glaring at Shannon. “You have been nothing but indecisive with him from day one and if Don is smart he’ll say to hell with you and the whole marriage since all you seem to enjoy doing is jerking his chain.”

“You stay out of it,” Shannon sprung up off of the couch to glare at Deidra, “This is none of your business.”

“You keep making it my business when you show up on my boyfriend’s doorstep to whine about problems that you create yourself,” Deidra shook her head at Shannon, “You know I used to be like you once upon a time where I blamed the rest of the world for problems I created, but then one day someone gave me some great advice when they told me to grow up. It was probably the smartest thing I ever heard because the fact to the matter is Shannon is that the world doesn’t revolve around you and your issues. Sure, Don wanted to revolve his world around you, but given the icy reception that you’ve thrown back at him, why would he want to bother anymore? Why would he want to put his heart out on the line only to have you squash it over and over again?”

“Oh please,” Shannon rolled her eyes, “You are the last person to lecture me on how to treat a man Sharon Stone.”

“Oh, so you want to go there huh?” Deidra rolled up the sleeves on her robe and marched forward tossing her arms in the air, “Yeah I stabbed Dean when I thought that he was trying to kill me and hey I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong, but there in lies the difference between you and I. I was woman enough to admit I made a mistake. You on the other hand spend all of your time whining about how the rest of the world has wronged you, but newsflash here. Chances are you are the one that created the problem you’re having with Don and rather than saying that you need to find a way to fix it, you spend your time creating imaginary faults in Don because it’s easier to blame him than to say that you yourself need to work on something.”

“You know what…” Shannon stepped forward opening her mouth to say something more when Dean stepped in between them.

“This really isn’t going to solve anything you two,” Dean started with a worried expression on his face placing his arms out to fend the both of them off before they killed one another.

“She needs to hear it and if you don’t have the balls to be honest with her, then I will,” Deidra blurted out in a blunt fashion, “Face it Shannon you need to grow up and start approaching this relationship like an adult rather than carrying on like a child with a chip on her shoulder. You need to stop blaming Don and start thinking about what it is that has you constantly finding reasons to dump on him and make him the monster in your victim scenario.”

“Deidra please,” Dean began again trying to silence her angry rant before Shannon did something crazy like decked her.

“Actually,” Shannon broke her long silence, a puzzled expression on her face before she stepped back and sank onto the couch once again, “She’s right.”

“What?” Dean and Deidra mouthed in unison turning around to face Shannon with a stunned expression on both of their faces.

“She’s absolutely right,” Shannon realized more so to herself than anything else, “I am the problem with Don and I and it’s because of me that something so wonderful is falling to pieces. I’m the reason why my marriage is falling apart and now, well now I don’t know what I’m going to do change that.”

“You might want to start by talking to Don about this and seeing how he feels about the situation,” Deidra suggested in a much calmer tone than before. “I know he loves you and obviously you love him, so there has to be a way that the two of you can work things out somehow.”

“I honestly don’t know,” Shannon slumped over wondering if there was in fact a chance around the corner for her and Don to find happiness with one another ever again.


“Girlfriend you had better not hold out on me,” Kellen continued eyeing the diamond on her finger, “because this ring sure as hell doesn’t speak lightly here. Quite the contrary as the cut and color and even the quality tell me that this is more than just a minor kiss and tell that you’re trying to keep from me.”

“Kellen really it’s…” Heather tried to contain herself as she felt color rise in her face. “Okay, it is something pretty important.”

“Something that involves a wedding that Kyle would want to show up for instead of running away from?” Kellen arched a curious brow his blue eyes shining with curiosity and enthusiasm.

“If he tries I’ll have to hunt him down and kill him,” Heather teased with a small laugh finally caving under her friend’s urgings, “Okay so we’re engaged.”

“I knew it,” Kellen snapped his fingers in the air before bouncing up and down on the couch, “I knew that’s what this ring had to mean and by the way it’s gorgeous.”

“It was his grandmother’s ring,” Heather explained with a small sigh feeling tingles all over her body at the memory of Kyle asking her to marry him, “She told him to give it to the woman he was certain he wanted to spend the rest of his life with and well…”

“I see Sarah did not make the cut,” Kellen pointed out with a tiny laugh. “Sure she had a nice ring on her finger, but…”

“It was something Kyle had left over from a case he was working on,” Heather couldn’t help but laugh thinking of that confession Kyle had given her once they were alone at last. Pulling her hand back she fingered the gold band on the ring while eyeing the diamond, “This one is perfect though. It’s beautiful in every way.”

“Just like the smile on your face is,” Kellen nodded in agreement leaning in closer to her, “which has me believing that there is also a very incredible story to go along with how he proposed.”

“There is,” Heather nodded offering up nothing else than the joy she felt at the moment, “and I know I’m very lucky to have Kyle in my life.”

“So details. Girl give me details,” Kellen waved his hands around in the air frantically, “I need to know.”

“I’m sure you do,” Heather threw the pillow at him once again, “but right now all I’m going to say is that it was perfect in every way imaginable.”

“There are lots of things that spring to the imagination so why don’t we elaborate on them?” Kellen wiggled his brow at her wanting to know more when the door opened and both of them looked up to see Kipp entering the living room. “Hey honey.”

“Kellen,” Kipp nodded in response before seeing Heather beside Kellen, “Hey Heather how are you?”

“Wonderful,” Heather replied with a bright smile waving over at Kipp.

“Better than wonderful,” Kellen reached for her hand and pulled it with him off of the couch to hold it out towards Kipp, “See the rock on her hand here?”

“Kyle decided to prove he’s full of even more surprises huh,” Kipp grinned with a knowing look as he slid out of his jacket, “which means we only have even more to celebrate as it seems that you are on top of things in a personal and professional setting Heather.”

“Oh she’s definitely on top of things on a personal level--very big and sexy things,” Kellen quipped under his breath catching a glare from Heather.

“Behave,” she warned wiggling her finger at her pal before redirecting her attention to Kipp again, “So what great news do you have for me about work?”

“Well I happen to have hired a very qualified, very eager assistant today who I have no doubt will do great things for the company,” Kipp explained with a proud smile, “She’s been following some of your work in the past and believes the company is going to be the best, which of course it will be.”

“But of course,” Heather mused with a bright grin, “Everything seems to be looking up lately, doesn’t it?”

“That it does, which is why a toast is in order,” Kellen bounced up off of the couch to walk over to the kitchen, “I’ll get the champagne.”

“Gee, he’s not excited or anything is he?” Kipp couldn’t help but laugh watching Kellen race off for champagne.

“I think he’s just trying to get me drunk enough to tell him about every little detail of my time alone with Kyle, but even with how much he pries it’s not going to happen. This time I’m keeping some of the private stuff with just me,” Heather divulged looking to ring again and thinking about how truly lucky she was to finally have the man of her dreams in her life from here on out. Finally things were finally turning in her favor after all.


“Here, why don’t we take a seat,” Kyle gently wrapped his arm around Mindy’s shoulders still feeling her holding onto him tightly while he tried to get her to calm down. “You shouldn’t stand up this whole time, we’re going to just sit down over there, okay?”

“Alright,” Mindy nodded walking slowly over toward the seats with Kyle and brushing at the tears on her face before looking up into his hazel eyes. “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do Kyle, nothing is going right. My whole life is a big bottle of mess and I have been having this bad luck, Hunt died probably because he was around me.”

“Sweetheart, that’s not true,” he pressed his hand in against her cheek caressing it gently before shaking his head slowly. He saw her light eyes staring into his as he brushed at the dampness of her cheek with his thumb. “This would have never been your fault. No one could have stopped this from happening.”

“You don’t understand Kyle,” she blurted out seeing his glance never leaving hers as she threw her hands up in the air. “I have no one right now, no one at all. My mom is gone, Guy and Gabe are away with Brittany. Of course Trisha is here for me, but I feel like I’m almost a jinx. Everyone I’m with gets hurt, I have no one.”

“That’s not true,” Kyle’s fingers slid in against hers gently before holding onto her hand tightly, feeling her fingers loosely hold onto his until it tightened up one she met his eyes. “You have me Mindy and you will always have be as the shoulder to lean on. I love you kiddo and if you weren’t able to trust me what kind of Kyle would I be?”

“Would you look at this?” Sarah’s voice echoed through their ears as Kyle looked up, his hand still pressed in against Mindy’s cheek as Mindy’s light eyes met Sarah’s glance. A small laugh erupted from the back of her throat as she folded her arms out in front of her chest. “And you called me a whore when it’s obvious you’re the one screwing around with young girls now.”

“Sarah back off,” Kyle warned seeing the way her dark eyes stared out into his as Mindy’s grip on his fingers tightened like she knew he would be getting upset. “This isn’t the time or the place so I suggest you back off right now.”

“You see I would,” she tried to explain seeing both Kyle and Mindy stand up as she reached out to touch his chest softly. “That is if you wouldn’t have ruined my life like you did Kyle. What should I be worried about though, you’re just a hypocrite. Claiming me to be a slut when you’ve been the real one all along.”

“You know, I’m tired of you Sarah,” Mindy snapped feeling Kyle’s hand press in against her shoulder and she tried to stay calm. “My boyfriend just died and got killed Sarah, Kyle has been here trying to be a good friend. In face, Kyle is the best friend I’ve ever had and he is one hell of a man. For you to do what you did to him, yeah that makes you a bitch and a whore, but I am not going to stay around here and let you talk to him like that. We’re through with that and right now, I’m just about ready to beat your ass.”


...to be continued...