Episode 352

“You have to be kidding me,” Nate groaned grabbing a hold of the sheets they had told him to take off the bed after a patient had gone away to get some tests. Grabbing a hold of the sheet, he held onto the corners of it letting out a small gasp as he dropped it into the hamper. “I can’t believe I have to work at a mental hospital. What kind of community service is this?”

Grabbing a hold of the new sheets he quickly did the bed only to hear someone clear their throat from behind him and he rolled his eyes turning to face the doctor that had originally told him to do the beds.

“Can I help you?” Nate snapped folding his arms out in front of his chest knowing that doctor had to be out to get him or something. It seemed like the guy was getting a kick out of the fact he had to do all of this. “What other disgusting, horrible thing do you want me to do next? I mean honestly.”

“No, I was just going to tell you--you’re doing great Nate,” the doctor moved in front of him, his blue eyes glistening as Nate frowned. The guy gave his shoulder a small squeeze before a laugh fell from his lips. “Just don’t forget all the other rooms and then I think you have done enough for today.”

“Gee, all the other beds, how nice of you,” Nate smiled seeing the doctor let out another small laugh before giving him a wave and leaving the room. “Asshole.”

“Oh yeah Nate, just do the whole community service thing,” he mocked Shannon’s earlier voice knowing that she did this to make a fool of himself and he couldn’t believe she would set him up with something like this. “I wish I could just be like one of those people cleaning up trash on the side of the highway.”

“Then you would be a prisoner,” the janitor mentioned walking into the room with his mop before cleaning up the floor slowly, seeing the way that Nate looked over at him. The older man shrugged his scrawny shoulders before shaking his head slowly. “I would rather be in community service if I were you.”

“Good point,” Nate agreed reaching out to casually touch the janitors shoulder seeing him nod slowly before finishing up his job with the bed. “I guess I’m off to do the rest of my work. Have a good day man and try to avoid that asshole, he might drop a drink and make you clean it up.”

Nodding Nate pushed the cart out of the room and walked toward the next room the guy had told him to do before hearing someone scream out and it made him jump tipping the cart over.

“I hate this place,” he hissed reaching for the sheets that had fallen out once he picked the cart back up for the laundry. Finishing putting everything back he thought about the possibilities of getting killed here. “There are psychos here and they are all capable of killing me, but they put me here of all places. I’d rather clean toilets, I’m going to die.”

Moving toward the door where he heard the scream he looked inside to see the blonde woman that had yelled, sitting down on the floor with her back against the wall and he pressed his hand in over the window.

“Cori?” he muttered seeing the way her brown eyes looked up when she pushed her hair away from her face and he got more interested by the second. “You look so sad here.”

Taking a quick glance back in the hallway he made sure no one was looking before reaching for the keys that he'd been given the first time that he got here. Fumbling through them he tried to remember what one belonged to which door and when he found the right one he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t kill me,” Nate blurted out dropping the keys to the floor and looked back to see the janitor behind him and he placed his hand over his chest. “Damn it you scared the crap out of me, I was about to pull some crazy karate stuff man. You were this close, this close…,”

“To have you falling to the ground and crying like a baby?” the janitor questioned with a small laugh seeing Nate frown before feigning being not scared by folding his arms out in front of his chest. “Listen, I was just going to tell you I was leaving now. Take care of everything all the floors are wet, so be careful.”

“Okay, thanks,” Nate frowned seeing the guy walk away and he shook his head slowly hating the fact that the guy just nearly gave him a heart attack. “This is so wrong, but I have to.”

Moving his keys forward he made sure that no one was really there this time and opened the door to Cori’s room stepping forward only to slip on a patch of water and fall flat out on his back.

“Um,” Nate bit down on his bottom lip seeing the way that Cori looked out at him from where she was sitting and he let out a hesitant laugh before letting out a loud groan. “That hurt.”


“Back off Sarah, you don’t know what you’re trying to start,” Kyle stepped forward pushing Mindy in behind him carefully not wanting her to get anymore hurt than she already was today. “Why don’t you go find some else to go screw around with? Find another person’s life to toy with because this isn’t the right time.”

“What? It’s okay for you to be banging a younger girl, but when it comes to me I get in trouble for just being around Diego?” Sarah muttered seeing the way Kyle’s hazel eyes angered as she held her hands up in the air before dropping them angrily. “How manly of you Kyle. So much for her being like your little sister, that’s a little gross Kyle.”

“Why don’t you back off bitch,” Mindy blurted out from behind Kyle as she stepped away from him and moved forward seeing Sarah’s dark eyes staring into hers. “Kyle is a good guy that doesn’t need someone like you in his life trying to destroy it.”

“Hey Mindy,” Kyle touched her shoulder trying to get her to calm down as she pulled away from him stepping in closer to her. “Sarah isn’t worth it honey, just it’s okay. You’re in no shape to fight and…,”

“Oh come on Kyle, it’s okay,” Sarah laughed seeing the way Kyle glared out at her and she nodded slowly seeing Mindy’s light eyes staring into hers. “I mean honestly, this little girl has had a crush on you her whole life, so let’s see her try to stand up for you right now.”

“Sarah back off,” Kyle warned setting his hands on Mindy’s shoulders feeling her tightening up against his touch as she glared out at Sarah. “You have no idea what’s been going on and you have no right to talk to her like that.”

“I know what’s been going on over the last few days,” Sarah blurted out seeing Kyle and Mindy both extremely tense before her as she shook her head slowly. “What has been going on is that I have been getting screwed in each and every situation possible. Mainly by you Kyle.”

“You wish,” Mindy blurted out in a small laugh hearing Sarah let out a sarcastic laugh almost mocking her as she felt Kyle’s hand press in against her hip as if he was trying to hold her back better. “Kyle wants nothing to do with you so why don’t you just leave?”

“Sweetheart,” Sarah reached forward to swipe at the hair resting against Mindy’s shoulder as Mindy looked down. “I’m not going to back off until I get what I rightly deserve.”

“You’re right, you need to get what you deserve,” Mindy nodded slowly meeting Sarah’s glance seeing the way she was smiling before Mindy pounced forward and decked Sarah across the face seeing her fall to the ground. “A good ass kicking that is.”

“Whoa, Mindy,” Kyle tried calling out to her seeing her get on top of Sarah as the two fought before him and he reached out trying to grab Mindy feeling her elbow hit him in the thigh and he let out a small sigh. “Thank god she wasn’t a few inches the other way.”

Hearing the girls letting out sharp noises he saw Sarah roll Mindy over onto her back and Kyle reached forward grabbing her by the waist and pulled her up quickly. Seeing Mindy get up and rear back, Sarah ducked down making Kyle get decked in the jaw as he let go of Sarah, holding onto his jaw.

“Hey, break it up,” Chase tried getting between the two as he got pushed back a couple of times too while Mindy got most of the hits in and Kyle moved forward to grab a firm hold of Sarah holding her up, feeling her kicking at him over and over again. “Mindy come on.”

“Hey,” Jason’s voice whispered in her ear as he pressed his hands in against her shoulders seeing the way her light blue eyes looked back at him. “It’s okay, she’s not worth it.”

“You need to stay away from her,” Chase warned as he watched Mindy turn into Jason and hug him, his fingers pressing in against her hair as Chase walked over and touched her back. “Are you okay?”

“You’re coming with me,” Kyle finally set Sarah down keeping a firm hold of her wrist before shaking his head slowly. Tugging her towards the other hallway he saw her brown eyes staring out at him. “We really need to talk now!”


“You didn’t need to put up with her like that,” Jason whispered resting his chin against the top of Mindy’s head feeling her head resting against his chest. “You’re already hurt, you didn’t need more. She’s lower than you anyways.”

“I know that,” she muttered looking up into his light blue eyes seeing him offer up a weak smile as she felt her eyes water over again thinking about the things that had been going on over the last few hours. “I’m just not going to let her talk to someone I love like that. I already lost one person I loved.”

“Hey, I understand,” Jason tried to hush her caressing her cheek softly with his thumb as his worried eyes met Chase’s seeing the way Chase bit down on his bottom lip. “I know how you feel and you were protecting your friend. It’s going to be okay.”

“Here, how about we go sit down,” Chase offered up seeing Mindy nod as Chase wrapped his arm around her waist gently and moved her over toward the seats. Looking back at Jason he motioned him to move with them. “Are you coming?”

“I’ll be there in a minute,” Jason answered seeing Chase nod before they sat down and he stepped back staring out at the two. He couldn’t help but feel his heartbreaking for her each time he looked into her eyes. He could tell she was hurting and he hated that she had to feel that way. Feeling a hand move in over his shoulder he felt arms wrap around his left arm and he looked down to see Deana. “Hey.”

“Everything alright?” she questioned seeing the worry behind his face as he stared out at Mindy with Chase and she gave his arm a small squeeze. “Jason?”

“Yeah, I just hate how this happens to the nicest people,” Jason tried to explain seeing the way that Deana looked up at him and his jaw flexed feeling a pain building up in his chest. “I thought I was coming to this city to make things in my life better, not make someone else’s life worse.”

“Jason,” she frowned seeing him shake his head slowly, holding up his other hand motioning her to stop before she could try and talk him out of his feelings. “I know she is thankful to have you here.”

“Yeah, well if we weren’t here then she wouldn’t have lost Hunt,” Jason blurted out in an angered tone before shaking his head again looking down toward the ground. “I don’t get it, if you’re a good person how come this world is always trying to screw you over? You do everything right and then you get so hurt, she doesn’t deserve this Deana. She never would have deserved something like this.”

“She seems to be holding herself up well,” she tried to add seeing Jason shake his head slowly and she let go of his arm seeing him turn to face her. “I saw that punch she gave Sarah and that was one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

“Well that was to protect her friend there and stand up for him,” he insisted seeing Deana’s dark eyes looking up into his as he ran his fingers through his hair slowly. “I can’t stand the fact that this happened to her. She’s trying to be strong, but you can tell behind her eyes she is upset. She was going to have a future with Hunt and now it’s all gone Deana, I feel horrible about that. I’m worried about her, I’m worried about what’s going to happen to her.”

“I’m sure she will be okay,” she tried to assure him seeing the way he looked down toward the ground again and she reached out to press her hand in over his shoulder. “I’m being honest Jason, it looks like she has so many people that still love her. There is Kyle and Chase there and her best friend. She has you too and that’s what she needs the most right now is people to lean on. That’s what she will always need the most right about now during this time.”

“People think this would only bring a person closer to others, but I think this is breaking her heart Deana,” Jason muttered again knowing how much pain she had been going through and what it must be like to lose someone you love. “I’m just worried about her and what’s going to happen. She needs to be happy. That’s all I want for her.”


“So what’s up?” Ria questioned hearing something in her sister’s voice, “I told you that I didn’t want to be bothered unless it was an emergency.”

“I got that, but I just wanted to talk to you since something horrible happened today,” Trisha explained with a heavy sigh thinking about the loss that her friend endured. “I mean I just got to thinking about the people I love and I was worried about you. I thought about calling mom, but you know how busy she is with what she does and…”

“Hey, what’s going on?” Ria asked worriedly taking a seat on her hotel bed as she could hear the upset in her sister’s voice. “Trisha talk to me.”

“There was a shooting today and…” Trisha began her voice trembling with emotion.

“Oh my God,” Ria gasped horrified, “Trisha are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Trisha replied with a long pause, “well no I’m not fine, but in terms of whether or not I’m hurt, I wasn’t there when it happened. In fact none of us anticipated what went down. Mindy’s boyfriend Hunt was planning to propose to her and then some crazed gunman rushed into the store where he was at and shot almost everyone. Hunt didn’t have much of a fighting chance and now he’s gone…”

“Oh Trisha, I’m so sorry,” Ria replied knowing full well how close Trisha had grown to Hunt and Mindy after they had saved her life in the past.

“It’s just so hard to believe that he’s gone,” Trisha confessed tearfully unable to contain her emotions a moment longer, “I mean when I was near death’s door, Hunt just kind of stepped out of the night and saved me, yet when he least expected it some monster stole everything from him… It’s not fair.”

“No it’s not honey,” Ria replied hearing the pain in her sister’s voice, “and I’m so sorry this happened.”

“Mindy is devastated. I mean she was planning to spend the rest of her life with him. They were happy together and then something like this happens,” Trisha cried in a muted tone, “It really gets you thinking about the important things in life. It shows you how life is precious and you can’t waste a second of it because there is always some jerk out there who is ready to rip what little happiness you have away from you.”

“I know,” Ria nodded sympathetically wishing that she was back in Coral Valley to help her sister, “My heart aches for Mindy considering how much she and Hunt had ahead of them. It isn’t fair.”

“No, it’s not,” Ria agreed with a somber expression laying back on the bed. “I’m so sorry that this had to happen. My heart goes out to Mindy and Hunt’s family. This is a horrible tragedy.”

“I know,” Trisha sniffled into the phone, “and I don’t know how I would be going through this if I didn’t have Chase here. With you and mom away from town, well it helps having him around.”

“I’m sorry I’m not there, but if you need me…” Ria started thinking about her sister, “I’ll hop the first flight back home and…”

“Actually I wasn’t really thinking about me, but you,” Trisha admitted openly with a small sigh, “I know how you’re running away from Kevin--how you’re only out of town because you’re trying to avoid him, but maybe you should think about what I said before…”

“Trisha,” Ria replied in an agitated tone, “I really don’t think that…”

“You love him Ria and he loves you and as you said yourself time has a way of stealing happiness from you. Look at Hunt and Mindy. They thought they had it all, but now--they can’t ever get any of that back Ria. That’s something that will always eat away at her,” Trisha continued with an impassioned tone, “but you and Kevin, you have a second chance. You love one another and that’s really important. All the things you were fighting about are trivial in comparison to how much you need one another. I know you love him.”

“Of course I love him Trisha, but Kevin’s heart isn’t with me. He’s in love with someone else and…” Ria started to argue feeling foolish after what Trisha had told her about Mindy’s loss.

“Ria, would you stop running away from Kevin. Just start being honest with yourself and admit that you’re afraid of losing him so rather than try to work things out, you leave before you can get in too deep because you think it’s easier that way. You’re wrong though. If you just turn away from what you know in your heart feels right, then you’re going to be denying yourself the one happiness you deserve in your life. Kevin would move mountains to be with you and I know you’d give anything to share your life with him, so why fight it? Why keep finding excuses why it won’t work and just give it a chance?”

“Trisha now really isn’t the time,” Ria tried to backpedal with her sister.

“If now isn’t the time, then when is? When are you going to see that time doesn’t wait for anyone and the longer that you put this off, the more you stand to lose,” Trisha pleaded with her, “Damn it Ria. My best friend lost the love of her life today because some jerk shot him and took him from her. You still have Kevin. He’s still alive and so very in love with you. Mindy would give anything to have Hunt like that, so why do you have to be so damned stubborn? Why can’t you just quit fighting it and give love a shot for once?”

Ria remained silent not really sure how to respond to her sister’s words. After a long pause she heard a muffled sound coming from the other end of the line before Trisha spoke up once again.

“I have to go Ria. I need to check in on Mindy, but at least think about what I said before,” Trisha paused a desperation in her tone, “please.”

“I’ll try,” Ria offered up her gaze lingering to Kevin’s ring that still wrapped around her finger as she hadn’t had the heart to take it off even in the midst of her anger. “And Trisha, if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call. Give Mindy my condolences.”

“I will,” Trisha replied saying her good-byes to Ria as Ria found herself wondering if her sister was right. Maybe she had acted in haste with Kevin in leaving town. Perhaps she’d screwed up in more ways than she’d ever thought possible and now as she thought about what Mindy was going through, she realized that regardless of how upset she felt, it would hurt a whole hell of a lot more not to have Kevin in her life. That was something she knew full well she couldn’t be able to survive through.


Avery walked around the living room feeling a chill overtake her even now after Russ had been gone. She knew full well that she’d been the one to ask him to leave, but now that he was no longer at home with her, she felt an emptiness carry over her. Rubbing her hands over her arms, she closed her eyes and thought back to what it had been like being with him--having his arms around her and his lips over hers. Having him home again was like a dream come true, yet she’d pushed him away when he’d caught her off guard by not being honest with her. Even now she couldn’t shake how that had felt.

“Here, have some of this,” she heard Kevin’s voice break her from her thoughts. She turned around to see him standing behind her, dressed in a pair of Russell’s old sweats and a tight fitting black t-shirt. He was holding a mug in his hand and his worried eyes were fixed on hers, “Trust me it won’t bite you.”

“I know that,” she mouthed stubbornly stepping forward to take the mug from his hand, “I was just…”

“Thinking about Russ,” he finished for her already knowing what she was going to say, “You know you could still call him and invite him back home.”

“And say what?” she questioned more so to herself than him as she moved over to the sofa. She took one long look around the living room realizing that while this was her home with Russ, it was so new that it still felt foreign to her. Another chill crept up over her spine as she raised the mug Kevin had given her to her lips.

“That you miss his hot bod and that you’d like to go for round two in the bedroom this time,” Kevin suggested wiggling his brow at her before taking a seat beside her on the couch.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she frowned up at him, a crease in her brow after she’d finished sipping her drink. She eyed the mug curiously before taking another sip, “This is good.”

“A friend of mine makes this stuff on the island I live on,” Kevin noted with a proud smile, “She says it’s her cure all remedy and usually hands it out when someone needs a pick me up.”

“Does she have a remedy for failed marriages,” Avery questioned eyeing the mug once again before taking another reluctant sip.

“I’m sure she does, but it’s usually called bullying the two people into a room with one another and throwing away the key until they either kill one another or wind up ripping one another’s clothes off and making wild, passionate love,” Kevin explained matter of fact, his dark eyes watching her closely, “and judging by what I’m pretty sure I heard earlier, I can guess which one you and Russ would be doing after a short while.”

“Kevin, really,” Avery’s face grew red with color as she felt a blush overtaking her, “about that I’m really sorry that…”

“Don’t apologize,” Kevin shook his head raising his own mug to his lips and taking a sip, “I think it’s wonderful that two people can have a healthy expression of love for one another when they stop being stubborn for a little while.”

“Neither one of us gave up being stubborn,” Avery pointed out with a heavy sigh leaning back into the couch, “We just gave up our clothes and our inhibitions for a little while.”

“And it felt good, didn’t it?” Kevin shifted on the couch turning to face her. He watched her lay her head back on the top of the couch and he couldn’t help but smile, “Maybe that’s exactly what you two need right now to get things in perspective again.”

“Is that what you told him when he was on the island with you and Angela?” she questioned stiffly thinking about the man she loved in another woman’s arms.

“Hell no,” Kevin shook his head adamantly, “I told him to stay far away from her. I knew that together they would only bring trouble into one another’s lives…”

“But he still went for it anyways,” Avery noted feeling jealousy overtake her at the thought of Russ sharing any inkling of his passion with anyone else.

“Avery, I know that it’s not any of my business here,” Kevin started seeing the way her face shifted at the thought of Russ and Angela together.

“You’re right it’s not,” Avery answered harshly glaring up at him before her features softened a bit, “yet we keep dragging you right into the middle of it by acting like children in front of you.”

“I would much rather see the two of you doing what you need to in order to work things out rather than letting go,” Kevin explained lazily reaching out to push a strand of her long, dark hair away from her eyes. He saw the sudden sadness burning behind the chocolate depths in front of him and he let out a long sigh, “I have no doubt in my mind that Russ never would have let things happen with Angie if he would have known who he was and where his heart really was. I have no doubt in my mind that when he saw her, it confused him and it lead his heart to believe he was supposed to be with her, but deep down it was always you.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she looked away focusing on the television that was in front of her. It wasn’t on, but it was a way to focus on something other than how empty she felt in letting Russ walk out of their home.

“Yes it does,” Kevin reached out to curl his finger underneath her chin not allowing her to ignore what it was she was feeling. Their eyes met once again and he gently swept the pad of his thumb across the hollow of her cheekbone, his dark eyes fixed on hers, “Avery the man loves you more than life itself and I have no doubts in my mind that he would risk anything and everything to have you and Erin back again.”

“It’s not just him Kevin,” she finally sighed tears threatening to overtake her. “It’s me. I’m not the woman I was when I thought he’d died.”

“Do you honestly believe that matters to him?” he couldn’t help but ask seeing something flash behind her eyes. “Avery people change and that’s just a fact of life, but love--real love doesn’t fade away. I know you and Russ have that with one another. I mean yeah sure you could say I don’t know anything about what it is you have together, but when I take one look at Erin it only proves to me even more that you two are meant for one another. You have the whole world in front of you.”

“I know,” she nodded painfully her gaze dropping to the ground again as she inched away from him. She set her mug down on the coffee table before bringing her legs up underneath her and pulling them to her chest, “and that’s why I’m so afraid that I’m making a mistake.”

“Well, then maybe it’s time you work on fixing it,” he suggested leaning forward to reach for the phone.

“Kevin don’t,” she placed her hand on his arm stopping him from handing the phone to her, “I just can’t do this right now.”

“Why not?” Kevin questioned turning to face her again, “Why can’t you just do what you know in your heart is right?”

“Because Russ isn’t the only guilty party here,” she confessed wiping at the tears that escaped from her eyes. “Here I am getting on him for not telling me the truth about Angela, but I’m not better than him. I married someone else--someone he hated and I convinced myself that I was doing it because I was trying to protect Erin, but deep down I have to wonder if I did it because I was trying to hurt Russ like he hurt me when he died. I know it sounds crazy, but I knew he hated Brant. I know how much anger they have between them, yet I married Brant readily because I was hurting so damned much with Russ gone. I was angry and bitter and hating that he was taken from me. I cursed the fact that he left me that day at the airport--that he was walking away from what we had because he couldn’t stop digging into something I didn’t think would effect us. When he walked away, I was upset and…”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Kevin saw the tears of frustration that carried over her, “No one can blame you for what you felt.”

“Yes, but I should’ve been smarter than that. When they told me he was gone, I didn’t believe it,” Avery admitted freely wiping at her face again, “I kept telling everyone that Russ wasn’t dead--that he was still out there, but rather than going with my instincts I let everyone tell me he was gone. I bought into the lies and in turn it only caused more hurt between us. If I would’ve stuck to my guns, then he never would have met Angela--never would have had to be away from Erin and I and I never would have…”

“Hey, we can’t change the past,” Kevin cut her off reaching out to touch the side of her face. He urged her to meet his gaze once again as he spoke up in a smooth and even tone, “I know that it seems like there are moments in time when we should have done something differently--where we should have gone down a different path, but the fact to the matter is that our past--mistakes and all--make us who we are. We can’t change what happened. We can only work towards making our future as bright as we hoped for.”

Avery couldn’t help but smile, “Here I was trying to cheer you up, and you’re being the voice of optimism to me.”

“I’m good at that,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders, “I’ve had a lot of practice.”

“With Angela?” she couldn’t help but ask stiffening at her question.

“Avery, I really don’t think that…” Kevin started feeling uneasy in the direction of the conversation.

“I want to know about her. Hell if Cameron is trying to tell me that I can somehow be related to her, I think I should know about her,” Avery insisted with a stubborn expression, “After all the men in my life seem to take a liking to her.”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Kevin reasoned with her thinking about the differences between the two women, “Once someone has loved you, I can’t see how they could even bother with Angie. She’s no where near being the woman that you are.”

“I seriously doubt that,” she shrugged off his words reaching for a throw pillow that was beside her.

“It’s true,” Kevin insisted firmly knowing that she only thought he was pacifying her, “I mean yeah she’s fun and she’s good for a lot of things, but she’s never been able to be honest with herself about what she really wants. She’s more about playing games than about letting anyone in.”

“In other words that’s how she broke your heart?” she questioned eyeing him expectantly.

“She broke my heart more times than I can even begin to tell you,” he sighed thinking about his tortured relationship with Angela, “and yet I’ve always been foolish enough to bring her back in. When I met her, she was stubborn and impossible. She was young and sexy--too sexy, but I kept telling myself that I could rise above it. I thought that I could just protect her like I was hired to do, but not fall in love with her. Believe me I tried to keep myself from feeling anything, but she kept pushing herself on me and eventually…”

“You caved in,” Avery arched a curious brow watching him nod.

“More than I ever should have,” he nodded in confession thinking back to another time in his life. “I fell hard and I knew it would be something I would live to regret, yet when I was with her, I wanted to experience every second of what we had together. We had something that was never meant to be, yet we were like two forces of nature colliding in such a way that there was no avoiding impact. It was hot and heavy and full of fire, but it was also very turbulent and tortured for us.”

“Sounds familiar,” Avery noted thinking about her own history with Russ.

“In the end it would have destroyed me to be with her,” Kevin snapped back into the here and now, “When we lost our daughter we lost any hope for any kind of solid future between us. On some level I think she blames me for what happened and I couldn’t face the emptiness I felt in being around her. Here I had the whole world at my feet and in an instant it was swept away from me,” he choked up on emotion remembering the day his daughter had been taken from him. “I never got over it and I don’t think she did either. After that it was never the same.”

“I’m sorry,” Avery placed her hand on his thigh tentatively, “It sounds like you went through hell and back.”

“Enough to know what real love is like when I see it,” Kevin instinctively reached out to press his palm against her cheek, “You and Russ have what Angie and I could never have with one another. You have love and a daughter that is an angel. You have that dream that I had waited a lifetime to find. I missed the window of opportunity to have everything I ever wanted, but yours is still well within your reach.”

“What about you and Ria?” Avery couldn’t help but ask massaging his leg gently. “Did you ever really think that she was someone you could have happiness with?”

“I wanted that more than anything,” Kevin nodded in confession sliding his fingers into her hair tentatively, his gaze fixed on her dark eyes, “God how I wanted to start over again and forget about all of the drama Angie brought to my life, but she never let go. Sure, she moved on many times with each and every new guy that came her way, but damn that woman knows how to build me up to tear me to pieces all over again.”

“You’re still in love with her, aren’t you? That’s why Ria left, isn’t it?” she couldn’t help but ask watching him closely.

“I thought I was the one who was supposed to be giving you advice and trying to pick inside your head,” Kevin offered a small smile, his dark eyes growing apprehensive and closing off in front of her. He let out an ironic laugh, but Avery could see through it.

“You never answered the question,” Avery pushed further leaning in closer to him. “Is the reason Ria left because you know in your heart that you’ll never be able to let go of your past with Angela?”

“I’ll never be able to let go of the dream that I had for us,” Kevin confessed in a lazy tone, unable to keep from comparing Avery and Angela in his head mentally after he’d found himself thinking about the past he’d shared with Angela. “I always wanted what you and Russ had and I’ll be honest when I say it burns me to no end that I can’t have that. I’d give anything to be able to change that one moment in time…”

“I can see why Ria left then,” Avery noted seeing him tense up at her words. His jaw flexed with a moment of fleeting anger before he seemed to relax a bit.

“I’m truly a hopeless case, aren’t I?” Kevin couldn’t help but ask throwing out another compensatory smile. “You sure you’re really a lawyer and not a shrink Avery?”

“Heavens no,” Avery shuddered at the thought before offering up a laugh of her own, “Every shrink I’ve known is clinically insane themselves. I would hate to think I fall into the category even if my actions seem to take me in that direction lately.”

“I don’t think you’re insane,” Kevin couldn’t help but smile leaning in closer to her. He tapped her nose lightly before laughing once again, “In fact I think you’re one of the most sane people I have met in this town.”

“Obviously you don’t get out much because there are a lot of people in town who would argue that point with you,” she teased in response feeling his fingers curl around the back of her neck as his dark gaze seemed to reach into her.

“People in this town scare me, but you, well you’re a whole different story,” Kevin confessed unable to contain himself as he leaned forward caught up in a moment of the past he’d spoken of. His lips brushed up against hers, in a faint, barely there touch. His fingertips teased over the curve of her neck sliding up into her long, dark hair as his mouth meshed over hers with a bit of an urgency that he’d thought had long left him. He felt her hand press in over his shoulder, her lips parting as a soft sound erupted from the back of her throat and instantly he snapped back to the present--to the problem he was trying to fix instead of the demons he was trying to escape from.

Immediately he pulled away seeing the confusion that settled in over Avery’s face. Before she could say anything in response, he leapt up off of the couch and focused on the floor. He pushed one hand into his pocket and another through his dark hair as he stepped back further. Finally forcing himself to face what he’d done, he looked to Avery again.

“Maybe you had better call Russ before I start doing something that I really shouldn’t do,” Kevin explained in a low, heated tone, unable to refrain from the soft pounding in the back of his throat at the nearness of her.

“Kevin, I know we were just talking about things that obviously had you confused and…” Avery blinked up at him trying to make sense of the kiss he’d just issued her.

“Avery, I’m not trying to get in the way of what you and Russ have together. Hell I want you two together again more than anything and this,” he shook his head silently damning himself for what he’d done. “I’m doing a hell of a job showing what kind of friend I am.”

“I know you weren’t thinking about me,” Avery stood up from the couch doing her best to stand up on steady legs after he’d caught her off guard. “I’m sure you were thinking about her just like everyone else has been lately.”

“No,” Kevin shook his head adamantly, “that’s the problem. I wasn’t thinking about her at all when I realized I wanted to kiss you. I couldn’t have possibly wanted to kiss her when it’s you that I feel close to. It’s you that…”

“Kevin,” she spoke his name watching him turn away.

“I didn’t mean anything by it, but…” Kevin spun around to face her again, his eyes staring right through her with an intensity that caused her to shiver upon the heat of his gaze. “Maybe we should get out of here. Maybe catch a bite to eat or something since we’ve obviously stepped into some really crazy territory.”

“Yeah,” Avery brought her hand up through her hair clearing her throat uneasily, “I can get Erin and…”

“That’s a good idea,” Kevin nodded shoving his hands into his pockets once again. “I’m sure we can do something that can give us both a distraction for a while--something that won’t give Russ a reason to murder me.”

“Would you really let things get that out of hand?” she couldn’t help but ask searching his eyes once again.

“Considering that the woman that I love more than anything took a flight and left town pretty much telling me that she never wanted to see me again and then top that off with the fact that when I’m with you and Erin, it gets me thinking about what I could have had all those years ago with Angie, yeah to be honest with you I think it could prove to be a huge problem here,” Kevin admitted clearing his throat uneasily, “I could very well give Russ a good reason to kick my ass the next time he comes home.”

“Who is to say that I would let you have a reason to get your ass kicked?” she arched a curious brow thinking about the way that he’d kissed her. Her hand slipped up to her lips remembering the way it felt to have his lips over hers.

“Given that you’re second guessing everything and wondering how you compare to Angie, I think it would be very easy for you to fall into my arms considering that you’ll always wonder if there’s someone out there to be honest with you from the start about how much better than her you are,” Kevin blurted out thoughtlessly. “I mean…that didn’t come out right.”

“No maybe not, but maybe you’re right,” she shrugged her shoulders in an after thought. “I’m hurt right now and I’m known to act first, think later.”

“Yeah well thinking has never been my strong point either,” Kevin admitted once again taking a small step towards her, “and as much as I like Russ, there’s a part of me that can’t help but wonder how in the hell he could walk away from you when you’re so damned perfect.”

“Kevin stop,” Avery shook her head at him forcing a nervous smile.

“I mean it Avery. You have no idea how easy it would be for me to fall in love with you considering that you’re everything I wanted her to be. She went to him knowing how much I loved her and he was with her, yet…” Kevin shook his head throwing his hands in the air, “I’m the one that’s losing my mind now. Even suggesting that I want to make love to you is ridiculous.”

“No, it’s not,” Avery smiled at him, unable to refrain from taking a small step towards him, “and if circumstances were different--if things weren’t so--complicated, I would have no problems making love to you in a heartbeat.”

“That’s only if I would’ve been the one that met you first right,” Kevin grinned again feeling her lean up on her toes to kiss his cheek gently. He snaked his arm around her waist pulling her in for a squeeze as his lips met the warm side of her neck kissing her just below her earlobe as he whispered, “but Russ was the lucky one who found you this time.”

“I’m the lucky one because I love him more than anything,” Avery confessed pulling back ever so slightly to meet his dark gaze. She opened her mouth to say something more when she heard Erin over the baby monitor. She stepped back and out of his embrace before giving him one last look. “I’ll go get her ready for us to go out.”

“Good idea,” Kevin nodded feeling a lump form in the back of his throat.

He turned away from Avery, running his fingers through his hair as he wondered what in the hell he was getting himself into. Yes, he’d remembered full well the rage he’d felt on the island when Russ had started seeing Angie knowing how Kevin had felt about her. He thought about how Ria had left him time and time again because he’d still allowed Angie a hold on his heart and now as Kevin thought about what he’d done in kissing Avery, he wondered if he was really trying to be a friend or merely trying to find a way to even the score between him and Russ. Listening to the sound of Avery and Erin over the intercom he realized that Russ had absolutely everything that Kevin had ever wanted, yet Russ had blown it in being with Angie. Like Russ, Kevin had lost it all in loving Angie and now as he was with Avery, he thought about everything he should have had.

“Damn it. This is ridiculous,” Kevin decided reaching for his phone in the hopes that he could keep two people from falling into the trap that carried over him or at the very least he could keep himself from betraying what little part of his dignity that Angie hadn’t managed to steal away from him over the years.


Russ stepped out of the car realizing that after he’d pulled up to his old house fully prepared to see Kyle, but instead he found himself flooded with memories of the past--memories of a time when life with Avery was far from being complicated. Rubbing his hands together as he felt a chill in the air, Russ stepped up towards the door trying not to let the past get the best of him, but it was no use. He stopped mid-movement and turned his attention to the backyard. Without hesitation he moved forward circling around the back of the house to look out over the yard as a memory came to him.

“Russ put me down,” Avery squealed kicking her legs wildly as he pulled her off of the swing in the yard and into his arms, “Russ I mean it if you don’t set me down now, then so help me God I’m going to…”

“Going to what?” he questioned circling around with a laugh as he kept her over his left shoulder. Unable to resist the urge he swatted at her bottom feeling her legs kicking gently into his chest in protest. Her fingers curved over his shoulder squeezing it gently before a laugh carried over her.

“Going to make you seriously wish you would’ve rethought making a scene in front of our new neighbors,” she warned him sharply her words barely containing a threat as he spun around again. “Russ I mean it.”

“What neighbors?” he questioned looking around the backyard. “Avery as far as I can see no one is home.”

“Or so you think. Someone could be watching and,” she paused feeling him spin around again. “Russ come on. If you don’t put me down right this instant then…”

“You’re just full of empty threats aren’t you,” he couldn’t help but tease loving the feel of her in his arms.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she mouthed digging her foot into his abdomen just enough to catch him by surprise.

He stepped forward attempting to rebalance himself but before he knew it he was moving face forward headed into the grass. Quickly he resituated her in his arms before rolling onto his back and taking her down with him on his chest. Upon impact his green eyes widened before he let out a surprised gasp. He fought to recapture his breath before closing his eyes and feeling Avery’s hand upon the center of his chest, her long hair teasing over the side of his face.

“Russ, are you alright?” she questioned worriedly her fingers moving up over his cheek in a tender fashion, “Russ say something.”

“You’re a brute,” Russ finally blurted out with a hint of a smile over the corners of his mouth, “all of our new neighbors will see that soon enough since you’re out here beating me up.”

“I’m not beating you up. I’m just,” she paused repositioning herself over him, “just trying to get you to listen.”

“I listen to everything you have to say Avery,” he informed her opening his eyes again before smiling up at her, “I’m just selective about what part of it I’m going to actually follow through on when it gets down to it.”

“You are so damn stubborn,” she shook her head at him before tracing the outline of his lips with her index finger, “and so sexy.”

“Sexy enough for you to cut me a little slack here for wanting to have fun in the yard,” he arched a curious brow and saw her disapproving look. “Come on I wasn’t behaving that badly.”

“No you just wound up causing me to get this new blouse totally caked in mud after you wanted to play a round of football,” she reminded him thinking of their earlier adventure.

“Avery, you’re the one who suggested football. I just took it upon myself to tackle you because you looked too cute standing there like you were teasing me with that football and,” he felt her press her fingers to his lips again.

“You were in the wrong. Just admit it, apologize and then take me to bed where you can spend the rest of the night groveling,” she suggested in a low, sultry slur leaning in to steal a kiss from his lips.

“I’ll do whatever you want as long as you promise me that we’ll always be able to be together just like this,” Russ replied with a warm smile meeting her dark eyes once again.

“Of course we will Russ,” she whispered warmly against his lips taking the time to savor his kiss again, “I can’t imagine what my life would be like without you in it. I love you.”

“I love you Avery,” he mouthed in response curling his arm around her slender frame before shuffling off of the ground and taking her back into the house with him.

Turning his attention to the house again Russ felt a shiver carry over him. Could it really be over? Could she really be ready to write him off forever because of one mistake he hadn’t been aware that he’d been making at the time? He knew full well he should’ve told her the truth about Angela, but there was something inside of him--something that was so afraid of losing her that had prompted him to silence.

“Stupid,” Russ thought aloud closing his eyes and remembering how good he and Avery were with one another. Why couldn’t she just see that what they had ran deeper than anything either one of them had known? He’d vowed to honor her wishes and give her space but after holding her in his arms and being beside her again, he knew now that it was one promise he wouldn’t be able to live up to. He loved her and couldn’t just walk away from that. He didn’t want to especially now that they were so close to having their dreams of happily ever after together.

“I need to get her to see that this isn’t right for any of us,” Russ mouthed thinking about his daughter and how hard it had been to leave Erin and Avery when all he’d wanted to do was stay with them and show them both how important they were to him. They were his world and he would’ve done anything to make them happy, yet all he could feel was the misery that surrounded all of them after the fallout of what had taken place between him and Angela.

“That was a lifetime ago,” his mind kept telling him as he felt flashes of his past with Angela coming back to haunt him. He wasn’t himself at the time--wasn’t even remotely close to being the man who had spent his entire life dedicated to Avery and Avery alone. When he was with Angela he’d been confused and lost inside his mind, yet it would forever be the thing that kept him and Avery from complete reconciliation. He’d forgiven Avery for what had happened with Brant, yet…

“She’s never going to be able to put this behind us because I wasn’t honest with her,” Russ thought to himself moving around to the front of the house again ready to go speak with Kyle when he noticed a car pulling into the drive. He took another step forward wondering if his friend had a new rental car, but much to his surprise a woman stepped out of the car. In the sunlight, there was a glow surrounding her as she tipped her dark head to the side and she kept sunglasses on her face.

“Avery,” Russ half questioned, half wondered as he stepped forward to speak with her wondering if she too had come in search of him hoping to reconnect with him again. He continued to approach her, but it wasn’t until he stood beside the car that disappointment carried over him, “Angela.”

“Hey,” she tipped her head to the side and offered up a small smile before pulling her sunglasses down from her face just enough for her dark eyes to reach out to his, “Just the man I was looking for.”


“So I’m thinking that you’ll obviously want to have a spring garden kind of wedding, or maybe a private ceremony by the beach,” Kellen mused enthusiastically walking over to Heather and pushing a magazine in front of her, “I’ve been looking at this particular resort and…”

“Kellen she just got engaged,” Kipp pointed out with a small frown seeing the mountain of magazines Kellen had pulled out and spread over the kitchen table in front of them. Each one was opened to a page in particular as Kellen waved his hands frantically between each magazine. “You don’t need to throw this all at her just yet.”

“If she wants to have the wedding of the century, you can bet that she needs a lot of this and more,” Kellen scoffed in response before reaching for another magazine and holding it up to Heather, “What do you think about this color scheme?”

“I think it’s really beautiful, but Kipp is right,” Heather pointed out with a thoughtful smile, “Kyle and I are hoping to take it slow and get things in perspective before we leap into any hasty situations.”

“Oh so Kyle likes to take his time and go about doing things the slow and drawn out way,” Kellen arched a curious brow wiggling it at her suggestively, “Is that a representation of how last night was for you?”

“You’re hopeless,” Heather giggled in response hearing the doorbell ring alerting them that they were no longer alone.

“More like insane,” Kipp shook his head getting up to go and answer the door, “and when Kyle shows up he’s going to tell you just how crazy you are.”

“Crazy about the idea of my Heather Babes getting her happily ever after with the hottest hunk around, well other than you Kipp,” Kellen shouted out before turning to Heather again, “So really what do you think about this arrangement?”

“They are all nice, but…” Heather started hearing a woman’s voice in the other room.

“Kipp, I’m sorry to intrude, but I forgot to give you these earlier,” Becca explained holding out a folder in front of her, “I meant to leave these at the office, but…”

“Hey it’s no problem,” Kipp took the folder from her before motioning to the kitchen, “Actually it’s a good thing that you’re here. You can meet Heather since she’s in the kitchen with me.”

“Oh great,” Becca grinned widely following him over to the kitchen area where Kellen had picked up another bridal magazine and shoved it in Heather’s face.

“We were just about to have some dinner or something, but Kellen got a little carried away with celebrating,” Kipp explained apologetically seeing Kellen in the thick of the magazines.

“Oh I hope I’m not intruding,” Becca started apologetically, “because if you’re busy.”

“Nonsense,” Heather smiled up at their new arrival, “I’m Heather and you must be Becca. Kipp was telling me all about how excited he is to have you working for the company.”

“I’m the one who is excited considering that it’s such an honor to be working for someone like yourself. I’ve seen some of your work and you are an inspiration in the fashion world,” Becca gushed in response grinning widely at Heather, “I have no doubt in my mind that you are going to make a whole new impact in the industry with your company and I’m just honored to be a part of it from the beginning.”

“It’s great to have you with us,” Heather offered in response watching Kellen lean across the table for another magazine at the far end.

“Look at this dress. It’s so gorgeous,” Kellen continued to carry on clearly oblivious to Becca’s presence as he held the magazine to Heather, “Now can’t you see yourself in a gown like this on your big day. It would make for the perfect bride and…”

“Bride,” Becca repeated with wide eyes, a sudden interest sweeping over her, “Oh you mean you’re getting married…”

“That’s right,” Heather laughed lightly swiping the magazine away from Kellen, “and someone here is just a tad bit excited.”

“Well it’s not every day that my best pal in the world is getting married,” Kellen continued to remind her enthusiastically, “The way I see it, things are only looking up from here on out.”

“That they are,” Kipp nodded in agreement glancing over at Becca, “I was just about to crack open some champagne, care to have a celebratory drink with us?”

“I would love to,” Becca nodded in response moving in over to the table to take a look at the gown Kellen had pointed out for Heather, “Oh that one is beautiful and I know the designer.”

“Really?” Heather and Kellen both looked up at her in unison.

Becca nodded, “I went to college with her and I’m sure if you like her styles I can have her make a custom gown for you. She does all the big weddings now and…”

“It sounds like it was made for you Heather. The wedding of a true princess,” Kipp leaned forward placing a kiss on Heather’s cheek before going for the champagne.

“And it sounds perfect,” Kellen grinned widely thinking about the gown he saw on the page in front of him, “Heather should be looking like a princess on her special day and I have no doubt in my mind that this designer could be doing her ultimate justice.”

“Which is exactly what this wedding needs,” Kipp teased returning to the table with four glasses and a bottle of champagne. He popped it open before pouring each person a glass. “I think a toast is in order. What do you say?”

“To Heather and her special day,” Kellen mused with a dreamy eyed expression before lifting his glass to his lips and taking a sip, “as she deserves nothing less than the best.”

“To making all of her dreams come true,” Kipp added wrapping his arm around Heather’s shoulders and giving them a squeeze, “To happily ever afters.”

“May you both find them together now that you’re ready to take the plunge together,” Becca held her glass up in the air to add to the toast, “To Heather and Kipp, may you both find happily ever after together.”

Kellen spat out the champagne he’d been drinking at Becca’s words and his blue eyes suddenly glared at her, “Oh no you didn’t.”

“Kellen, Becca didn’t know that…” Heather started seeing her friend’s face grow red with anger. And in an instant Heather knew full well that trouble was just around the corner for everyone!

“What is your problem?” Kyle snapped letting go of Sarah’s wrist roughly seeing her reaching down to rub at it slowly and he rolled his eyes seeing the way she snarled up at him. “Of all the days you choose now to do something like this. I thought you were low Sarah, but this is far beyond low.”

“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” she yelled back seeing him fold his big arms out in front of his chest to stare out at her when she threw her hands up in the air. “All I know is that you are here with the kid I know has the biggest crush on you and she is in your arms holding onto you. I’ll tell you what that looks like.”

“Well I’ll tell you why it looks like that,” Kyle began seeing the way Sarah stared out at him almost expecting a story that had a happy ending. “Hunt died today and Mindy was crying in my arms. She lost the person that she loved and he was going to propose to her Sarah. The person she loved died tonight.”

“Oh,” Sarah backed up a bit looking away from him biting down on her bottom lip, finding herself at a loss of words when she tried to come up with something to say. “I didn’t know that. You should have said something to me, I wouldn’t have said something like that if I knew.”

“Yes you would have,” Kyle pointed out with a small hiss throwing his hands up in the air angrily hating the fact that someone he loved was hurting and Sarah tried to hurt her more. “You always have to get the last jab in, no matter who you are with.”

“Yeah, but I’m not that evil,” she tried to point out seeing the way that Kyle rolled his eyes and she reached out to push at his shoulder. “Whether you believe it or not, I’m not that cold hearted no matter what you think.”

“Yeah right Sarah you are nothing but a no good liar,” he chuckled to himself before rubbing at his chin softly trying to hold back his temper the best way possible. “You lied to me all those years about Heather. I can’t believe you did that and hid that letter from me. I could have been with the person I loved the rest of my life, but you screwed my happiness over for some fun.”

“You two shouldn’t have been together anyways, you only liked her because I didn’t give you the time of day,” Sarah snapped hearing Kyle let out a small laugh as she shrugged her shoulders. “It would have been the biggest mistake of your life.”

“It was when I didn’t get to her on that train Sarah,” Kyle pointed out with a small shake of his head. Rubbing at his cheek he let out a long breath before thinking about everything carefully. “I’ve loved her since I was six and yeah, you were there when she wasn’t. I was with you when she wanted Brant, but the whole time we both thought the other didn’t want us. So you know what, if I even knew I had a chance with Heather, I would have never gotten with you.”

“That’s bull Kyle,” she tried to fight him back seeing the way he shook his head slowly and she thought about all the things that Kyle had promised her when they were together. “You always wanted to be with me, you told me that.”

“You were my substitute for her Sarah,” Kyle informed her point blank before letting out a small laugh seeing her pouting as he thought about Heather and all the times he had hoped that Heather was Sarah. “I got the chance to leave you and I took it. The only thing that was keeping me with you was the thought that you were having my baby, but not now that I hardly believe that, I’m never going to be with you again.”

“Kyle, you loved me,” she urged him to admit seeing him shake his head slowly before biting down on his bottom lip and thinking about all the things that had taken place between her and Kyle. “I know you did.”

“Sarah, I hate you and I never want to see you again,” Kyle’s voice rumbled with pure anger as she stared up at him seeing the way he moved in closer to her. Slightly smiling he tilted his head to the side before taking in a deep breath. “I have to tell you though, if you are pregnant with my child I am more than willing to take responsibility for my child, but I’m pretty damn sure it’s not mine. If it’s Diego’s baby, I’ll pay to have Diego get the best lawyer in the town and take that kid from you. You have no chance when it gets down to it. If you’re lucky, the baby will be someone else’s because if it’s mine or Diego’s, you’re screwed.”

“Kyle no,” she reached out to grab his arm before he left feeling him pull away from her angrily and glare out at her, his jaw clenching as he thought about everything. “Please, just give me another chance. You know I can do it.”

“Sarah, I don’t mean to be blunt here, but fuck off,” Kyle hissed seeing the way her eyes widened and he shook his head slowly letting out a small laugh before rubbing his chin again. “Stay away from me and my friends if you know what’s good for you.”

Seeing Kyle give her one last glance over before leaving she kicked at the wall hating the position she was put into. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end. It wasn’t going to end like this. Nobody was going to treat her like that from here on, payback was bound to happen.


“Ouch,” Nate tried to move up from where he was, only accomplishing to roll onto his stomach as he looked up to see Cori’s dark brown eyes staring out into his and he shook his head slowly. “Hey, how you doing? What brings you here?”

“What the hell are you doing here?” Cori stood up from the ground seeing the way his green eyes followed her movements and she moved forward to help him up slowly. “Are you like stalking me or something, if so that’s kind of creepy.”

“Hey, I’m not the one in the mental hospital,” Nate blurted out looking around him before letting out a nervous laugh seeing the way she stared out at him. “Well, I am in one, but I work here for a couple, I don’t…I’m not in this place. I’m not crazy.”

“You sure as hell seem it to me,” Cori blurted out seeing the way he shrugged his shoulders and let out a long laugh making her roll her eyes. “Seriously, how did you find me for one and why are you even dressed like that?”

“Well you see, I was arrested a while back because I made a mistake in doing something and they gave me community service so now,” Nate’s smile turned to a frown as he tried to think of something to say and he shrugged his shoulders. “Well, now I’m here.”

“How hardcore of you, you must have done something really harsh to get in so much trouble,” Cori rolled her eyes going over and standing in the corner of the room seeing him shrug his shoulders. “Are you even allowed to opened these doors?”

“You see, I was thinking--the people around here kind of listen to me and what I’m trying to say is if you give me the time of day. I’ll get you out of here,” Nate offered up wiggling his eyebrows up and down slowly before letting out a long breath. “So, that’s only going to happen if you give me what I want though.”

“Nate, I may be considered crazy,” she blurted out with a small laugh seeing him frown at her response as she moved in closer to him, pressing her hand against his chest, “but I’m not that damn crazy.”

“That coming from a girl who just shot some guy in the butt?” Nate chuckled hating the fact that she just told him off and he didn’t like people trying to embarrass him like that. “Obviously people thought you were damn crazy because you are in this place aren’t you?”

“Screw you,” she blurted out pushing at the center of his chest seeing the way he held his hands up in the air and shrugged his shoulders. “You really are an ass.”

“Well with that attitude,” Nate paused stepping in closer to her, pressing his index finger in underneath her chin seeing the way she looked up at him before pushing him away. “You’re never going to get out of here psycho.”

“You stupid…,” Cori blurted out stomping on his foot and jumping on his back hearing him let out a small groan as she let out a small hiss. Clawing at the sides of his face she tried to get him down feeling him trying to shake her off of him. “I’m…,”

“Going to calm down,” one of the doctors came into the room taking out one of the needles, getting her in the bottom with something as her grip soon loosened and she fell back into the other doctor’s arms unconscious. “Are you okay? You shouldn’t have been in here with here.”

“I’m better than okay,” Nate muttered seeing the guy give him one last look before shaking his head slowly and letting out a laugh of his own. Turning towards the door Nate smiled widely before shrugging his shoulders. “Because I just met the my dream girl.”


“Hey, how are you doing?” Jason moved in behind Mindy placing his hand on her shoulder and giving it a small squeeze. Bending down a bit he saw her light eyes staring up into his and he smiled down at her. “Are you feeling better?”

“A little bit,” Mindy admitted looking between Jason and Chase before taking in a deep breath and standing up from where she was sitting. “I think I am going to go get some air real quick.”

“Okay,” Chase nodded looking up at Jason before looking away toward the direction he knew that Trisha had gone toward. “If you need anything though, we’ll be here okay?”

“Alright,” she nodded going to walk away before stopping and turning back to look at Jason seeing the way his blue eyes stared out at her. “Will you come with me?”

“Me?” Jason pointed to himself seeing the way she nodded and he took in a deep breath moving forward with her and wrapping his arm around her waist gently. “Sure, no problem.”

“Thanks,” Mindy wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand softly following Jason toward the doors to walk out in the front for a moment toward the garden. “I really appreciate you being here for me, you really didn’t have to stay.”

“That would have been the wrong thing to do,” Jason pointed out reaching out to push back some of her hair that was in her face before caressing her cheek gently feeling her tears against his fingers tips. “If I would have left, that would have been horrible.”

“You really are a sweet guy,” she placed her hand over his seeing the way he stared out at her before her fingers tightened around his. “I know nothing about you other than the fact you like the same ice-cream as me.”

“There isn’t much to know,” his accent filled the air as he shrugged his shoulders seeing the way she looked up at him. “The blonde in there with me is my twin sister and I’m from Texas. Other than that, I don’t really know what to tell you.”

“You don’t have to, I’ll learn in my own ways,” she muttered sitting down on the edge of the bench seeing him take a seat next to her when she turned to look at him. “I take it you have lost someone you loved too?”

“I never really had anybody to lose,” Jason informed her with a small shrug thinking back to Stephanie as he took in a deep breath. “I had a sister that was killed a few years back, but I never really even met her. It’s sad, you think you know you’re life and when you get the chance to have a new add on, they are taken away from you. Those are the ones that hurt you the most.”

“Tell me about it,” Mindy half laughed clearing her throat realizing that she must look terrible breaking down in front of a person she didn’t even know. “Listen, I’m sorry that I am doing this in front of you. You really seem like a great guy and I shouldn’t be here telling you how bad my life is.”

“Honey, the person you loved just died,” he reminded her seeing the way she gulped down roughly and he reached out to place his hand over hers on the bench seeing the way she looked out at him. “It’s okay to show your emotions. That doesn’t mean you aren’t being strong. That’s never showing weakness Mindy.”

“I know,” she bit down on her bottom lip seeing the way his eyes glazed over with emotion for her as she wiped at her cheeks again feeling the moisture sliding down them. “It’s just hard you know, I feel bad about things I never told him.”

“Just remember the good moments you had and the time you did spend with him,” Jason frowned hesitantly moving forward to wrap his arm around her shoulders gently giving her a small squeeze. “I know somewhere up there he’s watching you and he’ll make sure you live your life happy. He’s going to find you the ticket to happiness, always staying right in your heart where he belongs.”

“Jason,” she let out a deep sigh resting her hand against his chest feeling his arm tighten around her shoulders and she shook her head slowly. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me to actually have you here with me.”

“I’m meant to be here,” Jason pointed out resting his chin against her head knowing that he was pushing it maybe being this nice to her, but he couldn’t help feeling bad for her. “I’ll be here if you need me. That’s the truth and beyond it.”


“I don’t care if she didn’t know,” Kellen snarled over at Becca unable to believe the words that had fallen from her lips. “Why in the hell would she think that you and Kipp are getting married to one another?”

“I saw the photo of Heather and Kipp with Charles and I just assumed that…” Becca’s face drained of color as she searched the room for an ally.

“A simple mistake,” Heather pointed out tossing a warning look out at Kellen, “Obviously people might think that since Kipp and I share a son with one another that maybe we would get married. It’s not that far out to assume that.”

“The hell it isn’t,” Kellen placed his hands on his hips and glared over at Becca, “Heather and Kipp aren’t getting married because Kipp is my man and Heather has a man of her own.”

“Your man?” Becca repeated with wide eyes, her jaw dropping in shock, “Oh, I didn’t know…I mean I just assumed with that family photo on Kipp’s desk that…”

“Well you know what they say about assuming,” Kellen’s head bobbed back and forth with his narrowing blue eyes. “It makes an as…”

“It was a simple mistake,” Kipp added frowning over at his lover, “and it’s partly my fault because I never cleared up the situation. Yes, Charles is our son, but Heather’s getting married to a wonderful man named Kyle. You’ll probably meet him soon enough since he’s head of security at the company.”

“I am so sorry,” Becca continued her face growing red with embarrassment, “I never meant to intrude upon this party let alone offend any of you.”

“It was an honest mistake,” Heather glared over Kellen warning him to take his anger down a notch, “One that we’ll all get over very soon since it was not a big deal, right Kellen?”

Kellen remained silent and Heather kicked his foot underneath the table causing him to jump up in his chair. He turned to look at Heather catching her warning look before he finally reluctantly sighed.

“It’s not a big deal,” Kellen grudgingly replied less than thrilled at having to apologize, “Sorry I got a little worked up there.”

“It’s okay,” Becca forced a small smile before turning to Kipp again, “Actually how about I just show you a few things on those papers and then I’ll get going?”

“You don’t have to leave,” Kipp offered up motioning to the table again, “You can stay and join in the celebration still.”

“Right now I don’t think it’s a very good time. I have a few things that I need to get back to,” Becca piped in quickly before walking out of the kitchen.

“Nice job Kellen,” Heather mouthed under her breath watching Kipp follow Becca but not before glaring over at Kellen, “That’s a good way to get your boyfriend pissed off by insulting his new hire.”

“I don’t see why he needs an assistant anyways,” Kellen frowned heavily, “I mean I could totally work for him and do the job ten times better.”

“Kellen you have about ten jobs that you never work on, so why take on another one than to use it as an excuse to get closer to Kipp during his office hours?” Heather arched a speculative brow before shaking her head at him. “Face it you’re just ticked that he hired a cute, perky blonde to work for him.”

“I’m not threatened by that blonde,” Kellen wrinkled his nose at Heather, “I just don’t like people who are so obviously ignorant to the ways of the world.”

“Kellen not everyone has built in gay-dar and while you obviously don’t make it hard for people to figure out that you like boys, Kipp isn’t exactly screaming queen,” Heather wrapped her arm around her pal’s shoulders, “Face it sweetheart people are bound to get the wrong idea about Kipp since he and I have Charles.”

“Yes, but you two are so far from being together it’s not funny,” Kellen pouted curling his lip at her, “Anyone with eyes can see that.”

“And I’m sure Becca would have too if you would have given her a chance to get to know you and Kipp,” Heather informed him with a disapproving stare, “She didn’t know she was about to unwittingly step on your toes tonight. Cut her some slack.”

“Heather I just don’t like her,” Kellen frowned tipping his head to the side to see Kipp and Becca out in the living room going over a few papers with one another. His frown intensified, “I just don’t trust her.”

“You liked her when she was talking wedding gowns,” Heather pointed out with a small laugh, “So maybe she’s not all that bad.”

“No, I don’t like her,” Kellen folded his arms in front of his chest, his blue eyes glued to the interaction taking place between Kipp and Becca, “and mark my words she’s going to be trouble. I can feel it.”

“Well okay, I’ll keep that in mind, but how about rather than sulking you and I get back to these magazines,” Heather suggested trying to take Kellen’s mind off of being grumpy, “because I get the feeling that your energy would be much better suited in talking about all things wedding-like.”

“Hmm, now that you mention it, that does sound like fun, though I would much rather hear all about you and Kyle and what happened last night,” Kellen perked up at the mention of Heather’s fiancé, “How about you issue some details to me because I’m sure that might make me feel much better?”

“Keep dreaming Kellen,” Heather laughed lightly tossing a magazine into his lap, “I might be trying to cheer you up, but I’m not crazy.”

“It was worth a shot,” Kellen shrugged with a small smile before eyeing Becca again and knowing full well that he was going to have to keep an eye on her considering there was something about her that just wasn’t quite right. He was sure of it!


Kevin paced around the living room for a few more minutes having chickened out on doing what he’d wanted to do when Avery had left the room. He’d picked up the phone and dialed, but guilt and nerves had caused him to hang up without so much as a second dose of courage. Now as he looked to the phone on the counter again, he contemplated his next move ready to do or say something that would change the awkward situation he’d put himself into. He rushed forward ready to give his courage another try when he heard footsteps from the hall.

Turning around he saw Avery approaching with Erin in her arms wearing a pink floral sundress. She had on matching pink booties with bright yellow and white daisies on the side. Her dark hair had a small daisy barrette in it and she seemed bright and alert after her nap. His gaze lingered to Avery half expecting her to be wound up and agitated with him, but instead he found that she still had the same pleasant expression that she’d always greeted him with in the past. It was as if his kissing her hadn’t phased her in the least--like it had never happened.

“Hey beautiful,” Kevin smiled his eyes still focused on Avery before he felt a jolt of embarrassment carry over him. He looked to Erin, with a bright smile and stepped in closer to her, “Did you have a nice nap?”

“Of course she did,” Avery explained brightly squeezing her daughter in her arms, “She’s ready to take on the world now.”

“That’s my girl,” Kevin mouthed seeing Erin reaching for him eagerly. Kevin glanced over at Avery before speaking up again cautiously, “May I?”

“Sure,” Avery nodded carefully handing her daughter over to him, “because I have to get her bottle ready. She’s happy to see you now, but she’s going to be hungry very soon, which means she needs to eat before we do or else I won’t get a thing in for dinner.”

“I think I can keep her busy long enough for you to go get that bottle,” Kevin promised quickly turning his focus to Erin, who now watched him with curious eyes. Her tiny fingers stretched out reaching for his nose as he smiled down at her. She giggled as she pinched at his nose.

“You like that,” Kevin laughed lightly feeling his hip vibrating as he held Erin. He watched her reach out for his nose again as he pulled his phone out of his pocket. He tried to see the number, but with Erin poking at his nose, he couldn’t help but be distracted by her as he pushed the answer button. She giggled as she stretched her hand out for his nose again.

“You really do like this, don’t you?” Kevin mused bringing his phone up to his ear before speaking, “Yeah I know princess. It’s looks like a pretty big, pretty silly looking thing there, but it’s mine. Rest assured however that yours will never be this big even if it seems to amuse you quite a bit.”

Kevin shuffled with the phone feeling it slip away from his ear. He managed to catch it mid-air and pull it up to his shoulder once again while Erin pinched at his nose causing him to let out a small groan.

“Hold on baby girl. I have to take this call first before I can get back to playing with you,” Kevin explained in a low, whisper of a tone, “After I see who is on the phone we can get back to having fun together all over again. I promise you that you can play with me all you want in a second here…”

Kevin finally pulled the phone up to his ear ready to speak with the caller on the other end of the line, “Hello. Hello. Is anyone there?”

Kevin heard a silence after he spoke up. He paused for a moment listening to hear if there was anything on the other end of the line before he spoke up once again, “Is anyone there?”

A clicking sound followed indicating the person had hung up. He looked to the number not recognizing it as he shuffled with the phone once again. Seeing Erin reach for his nose, he pulled her up in his arms closer to him and watched her giggle triumphantly once she was able to grab his nose.

“It looks like we scared them away,” Kevin teased tickling at Erin’s belly and watching her laugh wildly.

“Scared who away?” Avery questioned returning from the kitchen with a bottle in her hand for Erin.

“I don’t know,” Kevin shrugged seeing the way that Erin’s eyes lit up when she spotted the bottle her mother had. Immediately she was ready to wiggle right out of his arms into her mother’s once again. Kevin couldn’t help but laugh, “I think this is the first time she’s wanted to get away from me ever.”

“That’s because mommy has the secret formula to making Erin a very happy baby,” Avery couldn’t help but laugh as her daughter worked her way into her arms. Enthusiastically Erin snuggled into her mother, her lips smacking away in anticipation of the bottle Avery had for her. Avery carried her over to the couch and took a seat watching Erin open her mouth and gobble up the bottle greedily.

“I guess she knows what she wants and wastes no time in getting it,” Kevin couldn’t help but laugh watching Erin smack her lips with each sip she took.

“She’s going to make herself sick if she doesn’t slow down,” Avery attempted to pull the bottle back enough to get Erin to slow down, but Erin only let out a tiny wail of complain. Avery frowned down at her, “Honey I’m just trying to keep you from having a tummy ache later when you realize you worked too fast at getting it down.”

“Oh come on mom. She’s enjoying herself,” Kevin teased seeing Erin protest and reach for the bottle again.

“Until she throws it all up a few minutes later,” Avery warned taking a look around the couch and realizing that she’d forgotten all about the burping cloth she’d left behind in the kitchen, “Speaking of which I have this cloth on the table that I was supposed to bring with me for her when I burp her and…”

“Say no more,” Kevin raised his hand in the air springing up off of the back of the couch he’d been seated on. He motioned to the kitchen before watching Avery with Erin, “Just think about what you’re hungry for while I’m gone. Maybe some Italian or something…”

“Italian sounds good. There’s this little place on the other side of town that Russ used to take me to on Main and Tenth and…” Avery stopped herself finding her thoughts lingering to Russ again.

“It sounds great,” Kevin decided walking into the kitchen quickly. He took a look around and easily found the cloth Avery needed for Erin. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his phone again and tried to see if he could figure out who had called him. When he realized he had no idea who was calling, he thought back to his earlier plans. Now was the perfect time to put them into action especially after he had gotten Avery to agree to go out with him.

“It’s now or never,” Kevin decided dialing a familiar number before his courage left him. He heard the voice mail on the other end of the line pick up and he frowned contemplating whether to leave a message or not. Thinking about Avery and Erin he forced himself to speak up, “Hey it’s Kevin. Listen I really need to talk to you right away. It’s really important and I hope you get this message. I’m going to be going to this Italian restaurant on Main and Tenth. If you get this, could you meet me down there as soon as you get the message? It’s really important and it can’t wait, so at least call me back or just meet me there. Thanks.”

Hanging up the phone Kevin looked around the kitchen again wondering if he could really pull together the plan that was forming in his mind. He hadn’t anticipated talking to a voice mail, but after what he’d pulled earlier in kissing Avery it was easier than talking on the phone, he supposed. He just hoped this plan would pay off.

“Kevin, did you find it?” he heard Avery calling to him from the other room.

“Yeah, I have it,” Kevin replied quickly shoving his phone back into his pocket as he headed back to the living room hoping that after tonight he would be able to make a positive difference in his friends lives if for no other reason than to help himself find peace of mind somehow.


“I promise you that you can play with me all you want in a second here…” Ria heard the words in her head over and over again as she thought of the playful air in Kevin’s voice when he’d answered the phone. It was clear he was occupied with his ‘princess’ and it didn’t take much for her to realize that she’d been completely mistaken in thinking that he’d missed her once she’d left town. Obviously he’d found his way back to Angela and it was clear by his laughter and the way he was speaking to her while Ria sat on the phone that he had all but forgotten anything that he and Ria had with one another.

“Well forget him,” Ria decided getting up off of the bed and glaring over at the hotel phone. To think that she’d gotten emotional about Kevin--that she’d actually thought that she was doing the right thing in calling him and trying to open the lines of communication between them. How dumb could she be? He hadn’t missed her at all--probably never really wanted her around in the first place and yet she’d allowed herself to get her hopes up for absolutely nothing more than a let down.

“You’re such an idiot,” she cursed herself again realizing that she never should have listened to Trisha in the first place. It was clear Kevin wasn’t interested in even thinking about her, let alone going back to what they’d had with one another. He was already with his ‘princess’ and that was all he needed.

“That’s it,” Ria reached for her purse and her hotel room key deciding that she needed a stiff drink after the upset she’d just willingly placed herself into. Of all the stupid, idiotic things, this one seemed to take the cake.

With a huff, she thought of all the things Kevin could be doing with his ‘princess’ and she felt herself enflamed with rage. She stomped out of her room over to the elevators that seemed to be open and waiting for her once she’d fled from the confines of her hotel room. She stepped inside and made a mental note never to listen to Trisha again as she was obviously wrong about a lot of things. Then again when had Ria ever sought out her sister’s advice in the past about love?

“Trisha changes relationships like most people change their underwear,” Ria mouthed in a low huff thinking about her sister’s advice, but at the mention of underwear, she thought about Kevin and how he’d taken to not bothering with underwear after they’d gotten together and how he would just randomly pull a surprise seduction on her when…

“Damn it,” she cursed again thinking about how the other woman in his life must be enjoying all the things that she’d felt were sacred to them. As the elevator doors opened anger fueled Ria towards the hotel bar where she took a seat near the end and snapped her fingers motioning to the bartender. “I’ll take the strongest thing you have here.”

“That would be me,” a voice roused from behind her as Ria looked up to see Craven standing beside her. He nodded at the bartender before speaking up in a smooth and even tone, “Make the lady a martini.”

“Really, I can order for myself,” Ria started to argue with him watching him take a seat beside her.

“Yes, you could but why deny me the privilege of doing something nice for you considering we didn’t exactly have the best of meetings the first time around,” he suggested smiling over at her before nodding to the man behind the bar again, “It’s the least I can do for someone as beautiful as you once you look as upset as you are right now.”

“I just hate the world,” Ria sighed looking away from Craven and focusing on her own reflection in the mirror behind the bar, “I mean how can people you think you know more than yourself turn out to be such huge disappointments?”

“Man troubles huh,” Craven sighed in response before leaning in closer to her, “I suppose I should do you a favor and tell you now that we’re all pigs. We can’t help it, but there is something in our genetic makeup that turns us all into assholes at one point in time or the other.”

“I’m starting to think it happens on a very frequent basis with the men in my life,” she watched the bartender return with her drink. She accepted it and raised it to her lips before pausing to eye Craven for a moment, “Thank you for this.”

“It’s my pleasure,” he smiled at her giving her a long once over, his eyes catching the way she sipped her drink, “It’s the least I can do to help in proving to you that there are some of this gender that are decent.”

“I seriously doubt that considering that you said yourself that you all act like…” she began to point out turning to face him again.

“I know what I said, but that doesn’t mean that we are all that way at heart,” he couldn’t help but reply in a smooth, even tone. “Some of us just need to have our eyes opened more than others. I mean take me for example. From the moment I saw you walk into the hotel I told myself that you were something special. I said that this is a woman that I would love to get the chance to talk to because she has that ‘it’ quality about her.”

“Yeah it’s called I’m on a warpath right now and people just don’t know when to back off,” Ria snarled in response feeling her anger overtake her.

“Maybe, but I think you’re worth the risk,” he noted with a sly grin, “even if some idiot doesn’t realize what he lost right about now.”

“Oh I don’t think he’s even close to realizing it, but sooner or later it’s going to bite him in the butt big time,” Ria sipped her martini once again, “He’s going to wish he never hurt me like this.”

“I’m already betting that he is, though I have to admit that I’m kind of glad he did,” he confessed catching her less than impressed expression, “because it provided the groundwork for me to be able to prove my worth to you after all.”

Ria let out a sarcastic laugh before taking another long sip of her drink, “Fat chance on that one.”

“The night is still young. I’m sure I can find a way to impress you before you decide to walk out of my life forever. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that I’m much more worthwhile than the chump who doesn’t know a good thing when he sees it?” Craven suggested with a flirty smile as Ria found her thoughts lingering to Kevin and his obvious reunion with Angela. As she finished her drink she wondered if she could find it in her to be as callous as Kevin was and move on without looking back. After the way she’d just tried to put her heart out on the line only to feel him stomp on it unwittingly she wondered if she could ever truly move away from what it was that she felt for him? Looking to Craven again she finished her drink and signaled for another in the hopes that maybe just maybe she could force herself to try to forget--at least for a little while.


“What are you doing here?” Russ couldn’t help but ask seeing Angela standing before him on the front porch looking a bit apprehensive about being there.

“I just um,” she bit down on her lower lip nervously before speaking up again, “I just wanted to see you again and talk. I missed having you around Nick…”

“Russ,” he corrected stiffly feeling an uneasiness in being this close to her especially after his relationship with Avery had hit a major pitfall after Cameron having told Avery about his time with Angela.

“Russ, right,” she offered shrugging her shoulders and shifting on her feet nervously before issuing him a small smile, “I guess that will take a little time to get used to.”

Russ said nothing, just looked at her and cleared his throat again before finally speaking up, “What are you doing here?”

“I looked you up and thought that maybe we should talk,” she informed him with a nervous expression looking over his shoulder to see if he was alone in the house or not after he‘d opened up the house upon her arrival.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Russ replied holding onto the door tighter than he’d been before when he’d first stepped up to the door contemplating going inside with her. His green eyes looked beyond her before he forced himself to face her again, “I don’t live here anymore. I was just visiting my friend and…”

“Please,” she begged her dark eyes appealing to him, “Russ I could really use a friend right now and since I’m obviously the new girl in town, you can see I’m not exactly making a lot of them. Please just give me a few minutes.”

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea,” he sighed heavily feeling a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, “as I said before I don’t exactly live here anymore and if Avery knew I was talking to you…”

“Is she here?” Angela arched a curious brow peering over his shoulder.

“No, but right now I think it’s probably best that we don’t spend too much time around one another. It’s pretty safe to say that it will only cause some problems for the both of us in the long run,” Russ answered stiffly not wanting to get himself into a whole new world of trouble as his gaze met hers once again.

“I don’t see how we could be in anymore trouble considering that your Avery is still married to my Brant,” she pointed out with a casual shrug before taking a small step forward, “As it stands you and I are old friends and former lovers which more than qualifies us to be able to talk to one another every now and then.”

“Angela I…” he stopped himself feeling guilt pour over him at the way he’d run out on her on the island. Finally he caved opening the door to her and letting her inside, “As I said before it’s not my place anymore.”

“It’s nice,” she looked around taking in her surroundings before spinning around to face him again, “not what I expected from you, but it’s decent.”

“It had it’s good times that it gave me,” Russ confessed with a thoughtful expression thinking about all of the memories he’d shared with Avery in their old home. It had been hard to walk away from their history, but he’d hoped for a new start. He’d wanted to give her all of the things she’d longed for, yet as he turned his attention to Angela again, it was just another reminder of how he’d failed her.

“So did she throw you out?” Angela couldn’t help but ask as if trying to decipher his thoughts. “Was she pissed that you found someone else to spend some time with while you were mentally away on vacation?”

“Look Angela,” he started not really sure what to say as he brought his fingers through his hair nervously, “I wish I could just say I’m sorry and that would somehow erase all of the pain that I’ve caused you and Avery, but that’s not really going to cover it, is it?”

“No, probably not, but maybe a drink would. Non-alcoholic of course,” she teased with a small wink, an air of flirting in her tone as she placed her hand over her abdomen, “for old time’s sake.”

“I suppose a drink wouldn’t hurt,” he finally decided realizing that it would only be one drink, “though you know you and I probably would’ve saved one another a lot of trouble if you would have let me know that Brant Ashford was the father of the twins.”

“Who would have thought that you’d wind up not only knowing him, but being his half brother,” she watched him stiffen where he’d been standing and she took a small step forward searching his eyes, “I should have seen it though because you both have that lost look in your eyes--that air about you that always leaves a girl wondering about whether or not she should be terrified or intrigued.”

“You make us sound like monsters,” Russell’s jaw flexed with obvious tension watching her approach him, “and from what I remember you never once thought me to be a monster.”

“That’s because I knew you had a good heart from day one,” she confessed with a thoughtful expression, “when I found you on the beach I knew there was something special about you…”

“Angela,” he spoke her name tightly, “you know on second thought I really don’t think this is a good idea…”

“Why not?” she curled her lip in a pout. She reached out to touch his arm feeling him tense up beneath her finger tips, “We were almost ready to spend our lives with one another not so long ago.”

“I’m married and I have a daughter,” Russ informed her bluntly pulling away from her brief connection, “that’s everything to me. It always has been and always will be.”

“It wasn’t always everything,” she countered in a low, throaty tone, the heat behind her implications causing the thick air between them to engulf the both of them. He stepped further away from her not wanting to relive the life that Nick Smith had on the island all over again. She seemed to catch his lack of interest and called him on it, “Besides last time I checked Brant had a wife and you just had…well, what’s left.”

“Why are you doing this?” Russ couldn’t help but ask, a stunned expression on his face, “When you told me that you were Cameron’s sister I didn’t think twice about it, yet now that I remember everything I have to wonder if he sent you to me to ruin my life.”

“Ruin your life,” she repeated with a huff, a scowl touching over her lips, “In case you haven’t noticed I’m the one who has lost practically everything. Here I thought I had found the man of my dreams, but he leaves me to go back to a life that didn’t even want him back.”

“Oh please,” Russ rolled his eyes at her, “You didn’t waste any time jumping right back into bed with Brant from what I heard and I’m sure Kevin’s too pissed off to talk to you, so I’m just next on the list.”

“Oh that’s rich coming from you,” she rolled her eyes before throwing her hands in the air, “Here I thought that you might be somewhat reasonable considering that we were friends for a while before things fell apart. I thought you were someone who promised to be there for me and help me when I needed someone, but obviously you were a liar just like everyone else.”

“I’m not a liar. I just didn’t know who I was,” he sighed heavily, his frustrations mounting, “if I was in my right mind I never would have…”

“Promised me the world?” she tossed back at him callously, “Told me you loved me and that you wanted to have a life with me?”

“Angela that was Nick Smith,” he replied feeling another wave of guilt wash over him at the way she was looking at him. It was the same disappointment that Avery had in her eyes time and time again right before she finally threw him out. “I’m sorry, but that wasn’t me.”

“So what? You’re not a guy who keeps his word and offers a friend a shoulder to cry on when her world is falling apart?” Angela questioned tears threatening to overtake her. “Look I’m sorry that I bothered you, but I had no where else to go…”

“Angela I…” he stopped himself suddenly feeling like the jerk of the world at seeing her start to cry. “Listen maybe we can talk. I don’t mean to sound like a jerk. It’s just that with the way things are with Avery, I can’t afford to blow it. I love her and I would do anything to have her take me back again.”

“I understand that and I didn’t come over here to cause you anymore problems. It’s just that I’m really confused right now and you’re one of the only people that I think I can trust right now,” she informed him with a heavy sigh, “Russ I have so many different stories being fed to me that all I want right now is the truth and you might be one of the only people to give me that.”

“Funny you would say that considering what happened,” Russ let out an ironic laugh in spite of himself.

“Well unlike everyone else you never intentionally withheld information from me,” she reminded him with a sad smile, “Besides maybe after you help me I can help you fix things with Avery. I mean it’s the least I can do after all the chaos I brought into your life.”

“You can’t take all the blame. I’m equally responsible in my own stupid way,” Russ informed her with a sympathetic expression before hearing his voice mail ringer go off. “One second.”

“Sure,” she nodded watching him pull his phone out and listen to the message. She looked around the small living room wondering what it would’ve been like to live in Coral Valley with someone like Russ enjoying the simple quiet that small town life could bring. She knew she’d never had that before and with Brant, well she wasn’t sure if there was a future ahead of her with him now.

“I’m sorry,” Russ apologized returning to her again. “That was Kevin. He wants me to meet him later, so how about we get a drink down at the restaurant while I’m waiting for him?”

“Okay,” Angela decided with a nod wondering if she could get over everything that had happened with Kevin and Brant and even Russ now that she was in town, “though I may have to lay low when Kevin’s around. He and I have some issues between us…”

“Which maybe this will give you a chance to talk about them,” Russ suggested leading her out of the house as he hoped to find a way to resolve his own ongoing issues with the woman he loved for once and for all even if it meant confronting his past with Angela.


...to be continued...