Episode 353

“So tell me what has Mr. Stupidity done to upset someone as beautiful as you are?” Craven questioned eyeing Ria intently as she finished off the drink he’d bought her. He circled his fingers for the bartender to bring her another round quickly. He tipped his head to the side and let his gaze travel over her long, slender legs before a smile teased over his features, “Surely he had to do something pretty awful to get you all riled up.”

“He’s just,” she sighed heavily, frustrations carrying over her as she looked to Craven, “too nice for his own good.”

“Too nice?” Craven arched a surprised brow. “How can a man be too nice for his own good and get you so worked up?”

“Well, it’s not that he’s too nice exactly, but rather,” she paused contemplating her words as the bartender returned with another round of drinks, “there’s this woman…”

“There’s always a woman,” he noted teasing his fingers out over the top of the bar, “one that would love to move in on something that isn’t hers.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” she huffed under her breath thinking about the way in which Angela found her way back into Kevin’s life again. She sighed further, “She never lets him just be happy. She won’t give him a chance to just be happy. She always has to find a way to reel him back in, but I suppose he’s partly to blame too. I mean if he didn’t want to be taken in, then he wouldn’t’ fall for it each and every time.”

“We men find ourselves often led around by our instincts or rather our sex drive at times,” his gaze swept over Ria once again, “It’s just a habit we find hard to break.”

“Yeah, well his sex drive should’ve been more than satisfied when we were together,” Ria blurted out with a small slur, “I gave him the best months of my life. I just loved him with everything, even gave up on other things I had going on because I’d waited forever for him. Hell, I would still wait for him forever, but where is he?”

“Off with her,” he half questioned arching an amused brow as he slid in closer to her seat.

“Damn it that’s the part that sucks,” Ria curled her lip in a pout thinking about how much she hated the idea of Kevin being with Angela again. That in itself caused her heart to sink all over again. Focusing on the mirror in front of her, Ria wondered what it was that Kevin was doing right about now. Okay, so maybe she didn’t want to know, but it was the not knowing and her imagining how Angela was playing him all over again that was killing her.

“It doesn’t have to suck you know,” Craven interrupted her thoughts, his words trying to lure her in to ignoring her lingering thoughts of Kevin. She felt his finger tips tease over hers on the top of the counter and she fought to repress the shudder that carried over her.

“As long as I don’t have him yes it does,” she explained glancing over her shoulder at him and seeing the way his eyes were sparkling at her. “Tell me something, why are you still sticking around?”

“Maybe I thought you looked like you could use a listener tonight,” he shrugged his shoulders again, “Or maybe I find myself wondering if there’s a way I can win you over and convince you that your man isn’t worth the trouble.”

“I know he’s not worth the trouble, but…” she shook her head refusing to go down that road again. She forced a small smile, “You know I have to admit I’m surprised you would even sit here with me considering that I dumped a drink over your head.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” he winked up at her leaning in dangerously close to her, “I figure if a woman is that upset it’s either a man or PMS and in your case, well I was willing to chance it.”

“I wish I could say it wasn’t a man and it’s most certainly not…” Ria stopped herself thinking about what Craven had said to her.

“Not what?” Craven questioned giving her a long look and realizing the color had drained from her face. “Is something wrong?”

“Today’s the twenty-first isn’t it?” Ria couldn’t help but ask feeling a lump building in the back of her throat. She let her gaze fall to the glass in her hand and with a small gasp she nearly dropped it.

“Last time I checked,” he nodded watching the liquid spill out of the glass and onto the top of the bar.

“I have to go,” Ria replied abruptly a moment of panic crashing down over her. She stepped away from the bar stool giving Craven one last look before rushing out of the bar ready to get some air.

Once Ria was out of the bar, she found herself making her way out of the hotel to the small drug store she has spotted during her arrival. There was no way she hadn’t realized what the day was. It had been a busy few weeks, but the fact to the matter was that she hadn’t really been keeping tabs on much of anything since Kevin had come into her life, but something Craven said had her suddenly worried that fate was throwing her yet another unexpected curve.

“It’s nothing,” Ria talked to herself catching the eyes of an elderly woman behind the counter of the store she’d just stepped into.

“Excuse me,” the woman blinked back at her, “May I help you with something?”

“It’s nothing really,” Ria repeated pushing her way down the aisle in front of her knowing full well that she had to be overreacting to what she’d just come up with in her mind. Here she was ready to throw in the towel with her relationship with Kevin. Hell, he’d already given up on her, yet with it being the twenty first and her having been so very moody and…

“This is just stupid,” she mouthed throwing her hands up in the air and knocking down some boxes from the shelf beside her. That caused a few people in the store to look up from where they’d been standing. She felt her face grow red. “I’m sorry.”

Ria bent down to pick up the boxes she’d knocked over before she could embarrass herself any further. Seeing that she was holding a box of condoms in her hand, she leapt back dropping it as if it had burned her. She stepped back further, her gaze locked on the display she’d knocked over and she felt a shiver race over her.

“Miss, are you sure you’re alright?” the woman who had been behind the counter questioned touching Ria’s shoulder and startling her.

“No, I’m not alright,” Ria confessed in a frustrated breath throwing her fingers up in the air once again. She spun around to face the woman and began to speak up louder in a shriek, “I left my boyfriend back in Coral Valley where he obviously is shacking up with his ex-girlfriend and I’m here doing my job and slaving away over medical classes when it dawned in on me that there’s a very strong possibility that I might be in big trouble. I mean I was just drinking a martini before and then it hit me. Well, actually it didn’t hit me until I was talking to this guy at the bar, but….do you have any idea what day it is?”

“It’s the twenty first,” the woman replied wearily unsure how to react to the sudden outburst in Ria.

“You’re damned right it’s the twenty first,” Ria snapped her dark eyes wild with a moment of frenzy, “Do you have any idea what that means?”

“Well no, but…” the woman answered tentatively looking to the back of the store where the pharmacist was already walking out around the corner just in case there was anything he needed to do to keep Ria from hurting anyone.

“I’ll tell you what it means,” Ria answered in a shrill tone, “It means that I am that I’m late--that I’m three weeks late.”

“Three weeks late,” the woman repeated realization suddenly dawning in over her tired eyes. She turned to the pharmacist and waved her hand dismissively at him alerting him that things were okay as she reached out to touch Ria’s arm gently, “Oh honey, do you think that you’re pregnant?”

“If I am it’s going to be the most horrible, wonderful disaster that I’ve ever had in my life,” Ria broke into tears suddenly feeling as if the world came crashing down around her, “because the man I love doesn’t love me and he’s not going to leave her to be with me even knowing I’m having his baby and…”

“Oh sweetheart,” the woman reached out to embrace her sympathetically, “It’s okay. I’m sure things will work themselves out. He sounds like a snake if he’s going to be using you to cheat on his wife. The baby will be much better off without him in his or her life if he’s a creep…”

“No, you’re not getting it. He’s my fiancé and she’s the other woman,” Ria explained with a pained expression the beginnings of a panic attack overtaking her as she thought about the turn of events. “Oh God and I had a martini tonight and I haven’t been taking care of myself which means if I’m pregnant, then I have a baby that’s going to be hurting because I’ve been stuck in this self-loathing period lately. I haven’t thought about sleeping right or eating like I should or even taking care of myself because…”

“Why don’t we start with one of these,” the woman suggested holding out a home pregnancy test and handing it over to Ria. “This might help you with some of the answers to your questions you’re having.”

“You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I mean I can’t be pregnant right now. It just has to be a mistake because there is no way in the world that fate would let me have Kevin’s baby now that I don’t have Kevin. It would be unfair to give me something that I’ve always wanted only to take away the one thing that would make everything perfect. That is probably just me jumping the gun and overreacting because there’s really no way that I could be pregnant, could I?” Ria questioned with a blank expression turning to the woman again.

“I suppose anything is possible at this point,” the woman replied taking the box back from Ria, “I’ll just ring this up for you so you can take it with you.”

“Okay,” Ria nodded in a small voice wondering if she was going to find herself on the receiving end of a surprise that would turn her world upside down forever. The idea of having Kevin’s baby was something she’d always wondered about--always hoped that she would be able to share with him each and every step of the way. When they’d first got together it was about fun and exploring each other, but now to think that their time together could’ve brought about a new life--a new little person into the world.

Ria’s hand clasped over her abdomen as she sucked in a sharp breath wondering if after taking the test she would find out that she was in fact having Kevin’s baby. If the results said that she was, then she knew full well there would be no avoiding Kevin. He had to know that he was going to be a father--that they were going to be parents. She had to go back home and tell him even if he was with that witch.

She turned her attention away from where she’d been staring before and she spotted someone in the aisle watching her with a weary expression. She spotted the bottle of strawberry syrup in the man’s hand and let out a squeal. He seemed to jump back as Ria stomped forward ready to get out of the store and back to her hotel room to take that step towards learning the truth as soon as possible. As the man seemed to keep his eye on her Ria glared over at him.

“What haven’t you seen a pregnant woman before?” Ria huffed rolling her eyes and marching to the front of the store as she found herself wondering if she was in fact about to learn some news about her situation that would change her life forever!


“So tell me something,” Kevin began glancing into the backseat where Erin was in her car seat playing with her ducky toy Avery had brought along to keep her busy for the dinner ahead of them. He could see how much joy Erin was getting out of the toy that promptly made it’s way to her mouth. She made a noise before shaking it around in the air in front of her laughing tiredly, “with you and Russ, did you two plan on having a big family with one another?”

“Russ always talked about having a whole baseball team,” Avery confessed with a tiny laugh shifting her attention between Erin and Kevin, “He always was a big Red Sox fan and he wasn’t about to let the opportunity to have a future full of All Stars in the family. He’s an amazing player himself and if he wasn’t so hung up on me, maybe he might’ve been up there himself with his favorites.”

“So he was a big ball player himself, eh?” Kevin questioned lifting a curious brow as Erin seemed to be contented with her toy in her arms.

“Yeah he was one of the best Coral Valley had to offer and they scouted him--even trying to coax him into finishing school early, but he wouldn’t leave me,” Avery confessed with a small sigh sinking into her seat, “He had enough credits to graduate a semester before I did which would’ve easily given him the chance to be ahead of the game for spring training, but instead of following his dreams, he stayed back here for me. Sure, he’ll tell you he had other obligations, but I know full well that he didn’t want to leave me and that had him give up his dreams there.”

“Or maybe his dreams changed,” Kevin suggested glancing over at her once again, “because it sounds to me like he’s loved you all of his life.”

“I’ve loved him for what feels like that long too,” she replied with a small sigh, “and when I found out that he was giving up his chance at going pro I broke up with him, but it didn’t do any good. He still refused to leave town and do what he’d always loved.”

“It might have been a passion, but clearly it wasn’t anywhere near the passion he has for you,” Kevin pointed out focusing on the road ahead of him as he tried to reflect on his earlier spontaneous kiss he’d thrown on Avery. “So tell me, why doesn’t Erin have all those brothers and sisters running around?”

“Because I lost our first child,” Avery answered honestly seeing Kevin’s expression change at his thoughtless comment, “I left him at the altar when I realized I was having a miscarriage. At the time I thought that there was something wrong with me. I even had people telling me that I would never be able to give Russ the family he wanted, so I gave him a way to have his dream of happiness with someone else who could give him all of his dreams.”

“But that obviously wasn’t what was meant to be,” Kevin noted looking in the rearview mirror to see that Erin had drifted off to sleep.

“When I found out that I was pregnant with Erin it was an incredible surprise. It was a miracle and I knew that regardless of whether Russ and I would be together I had to have her,” Avery confessed with a small sigh turning to watch her daughter. “She’s everything to me and I fought like hell to bring her into this world.”

“And you did a wonderful job,” Kevin smiled thoughtfully taking the time to look at Avery, “She’s every bit as spunky as you are and I can see there’s a lot of love between the three of you. Who knows maybe one day you’ll have some more miracles ahead of you?”

Avery couldn’t help but smile, “Now that my mother’s away it might happen considering that she was the reason I lost my child the first time. She drugged me and it caused the miscarriage and…”

“I’m sorry,” Kevin watched Avery trail off turning her gaze out over the town passing them by. “No mother should do that.”

“No they shouldn’t and I can’t help but wonder what might have happened if she wouldn’t have tried to keep Russ and I apart by killing our child. If our baby was still alive, then maybe the happiest day of our lives could’ve continued to be the happiest day and with Erin, she could have a big brother or sister right now and…” Avery stopped herself feeling choked up on her emotions. She felt Kevin’s fingers press on her leg gently before he spoke up in a soothing tone.

“You know it sounds like you and Russ missed out on a lot of time with one another. I would hate to think that you would have to lose any more of it just because of a few misunderstandings when it’s clear there is a lot of love still very much alive between the both of you. Sure, things might not seem clear right now, but maybe if you just take a moment to think about what it is that you both have in your hearts, then you might find the answers you’re searching for,” he suggested turning off of the main road to lead them in the direction of the restaurant.

“Maybe you’re right,” Avery sighed glancing over her shoulder once again at her sleeping daughter as she wondered if perhaps she had taken things too far in letting Russ walk out of the house. Thinking about the pained expression on his face when she’d begged him to leave, Avery found herself wanting nothing more than to find a way to repair the damage that had been done between them before they missed out on more moments that they could never reclaim between them again.


Ken stepped into the kitchen thinking about the spell that Wendy had taken a few days ago. While he’d tried to downplay the situation the fact to the matter was that he was terrified, worried beyond belief about the woman he loved. Wendy had tried to dismiss the situation, but Ken knew better. Ken was well aware that there was more happening than she wanted to admit.

“Hey you,” he heard Wendy call out to him from where she was perched on one of the chairs near the countertop. She was thumbing through a newspaper and Ken couldn’t help but notice that her face had drained of it’s normal color. Still he forced a smile and approached her moving in to kiss her on the cheek.

“Hey yourself beautiful,” he whispered pressing his lips in against her ear before standing up straighter again. He reached out to touch her face gently before growing suddenly serious, “How are you feeling?”

“Better now that you’re here,” she smiled up at him feeling his fingers press into her long, dark hair.

“No really,” he searched her eyes again, “How are you doing?”

“Ken, I already said that I was fine,” she started to protest knowing full well what was really on his mind. “I know you’re worried about me because of what happened the other night, but I already said that everything will be okay. I was just overdoing it the other night and it came back to haunt me.”

“Which made me less than happy,” he reminded her with a sigh leaning in to kiss her again, “I worry about you.”

“You shouldn’t,” she reached out to squeeze his hand in hers, “because whatever is meant to happen will happen. I’ve accepted my fate.”

“Well I haven’t and I’m not about to lose you in all of this,” he added seeing worry behind her dark eyes.

“Ken, I know that you want to believe that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m a realist about this one. We both know that things aren’t going to get better overnight. I won’t wake up tomorrow being completely perfect,” she added worry creasing her brow, “I don’t want you to start believing in something that may never happen…”

“As long as we have one another anything is possible. I firmly believe that,” he added kissing the top of her head once again before going to the refrigerator to pull out some orange juice.

“Ken,” she sighed tipping her head to the side to face him. She saw the way he was ignoring the obvious truth in front of them and she tried to keep things in perspective, “I’m going away this weekend.”

“What?” he popped his head out of the refrigerator long enough to see she was telling the truth, “Why? Where are you going?”

“I’m not going too far,” she explained with a small sigh, “but I have treatment this weekend. It’s something that I have to do pretty regularly and…”

“And we’ll do it together,” Ken decided pulling out the carton of orange juice and walking over to get a glass. “We can be there to support one another.”

“Ken, you really don’t want to see me after one of my treatments. They aren’t very invigorating. Hell, they are miserable,” she added offering up a taste of honesty.

“Then we’ll endure them with one another,” he poured himself a drink before walking over to her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and kissed her again, “Wendy you aren’t alone in this anymore. We have each other and it’s time that we focused on what it is that we can do together.”

“I know that Ken, but…” Wendy started only to hear the sound of running in the hallway just outside the kitchen. A moment later she spotted Brant and Matt joining them in the kitchen area.

“I totally killed you Brant,” Matt explained in a matter of fact tone. He rushed over to one of the bar stools near the counter and climbed up on it to face Brant down, “Face it you might be good, but I’m better.”

“That’s because you were cheating,” Brant wrinkled his nose at Matt before laughing, “Besides I thought you didn’t like video games.”

“I don’t,” Matt shrugged his shoulders before reaching for an apple from the fruit bowl in front of him, “I just know strategy that’s all.”

“Is that right?” Brant questioned pulling out a box of granola for Matt before nodding over at Ken and Wendy, “Hi.”

“Hi,” Ken replied glancing over at Matt again, “I see you’re entertaining.”

“Nah, I’m just babysitting Brant,” Matt piped in with a bright grin before taking a bite of his apple. He spoke up with a mouthful and nodded over towards Brant again, “Unfortunately I’m not getting paid for it though.”

“I’ll give you paid for it,” Brant reached out to collect Matt in his arms pulling him off of the stool and tickling him with a quick movement.

“Stop!” Matt laughed wildly spitting out the piece of apple he had in his mouth, “Brant I’m going to choke.”

“Oh I’m sorry,” Brant set Matt down on the stool before playing with his dark hair, “Matt likes to think he’s babysitting and that he hates video games, but the truth to the matter is he’s only trying to fool us by saying that.”

“I do hate them,” Matt confessed glancing over at Wendy before grinning, “except they are sort of cool when I beat Brant. My dad is never able to do it, so I’m pretty psyched that I can beat Brant.”

“You were cheating,” Brant slid in to take a seat across from Matt. “Behind that cute exterior lies the heart of a conman.”

“Conmen cheat people. I merely point out a person’s weaknesses and then exploit them,” Matt shrugged his shoulders before reaching for his apple again.

“Does your father have any idea what a piece of work you are?” Ken couldn’t help but chuckle seeing the pride that Matt took in boasting about his abilities.

“Yeah he knows I’m brilliant,” Matt nodded in confession, “and he lets me use my talents all the time on my Uncle Nate. I’ve gotten him to do some crazy stuff.”

“Such as?” Wendy arched a curious brow.

“Trust me you don’t want to know,” Brant couldn’t help but laugh remembering the night he and Don found Nate with his hand down the garbage disposal upon Matt’s urgings.

“Oh it can’t be that bad,” Ken goaded further thinking about how little Matt was.

“Let’s just say that I’m the cerebral assassin,” Matt explained with a wide smirk, “and there isn’t anyone who can beat me when I’m up for a challenge.”

“Is that right?” Ken laughed lightly before shaking his head, “Well I’ll have you know I just bought a new game system and I’ve been pretty good at it lately.”

“I’ll beat you,” Matt decided with a bored expression, “Twenty bucks says that not only do I beat you, but I’ll make you cry by the time you see my score is at least a hundred thousand points more than yours at any game.”

“Hmm, well I don’t know if I would cry over it, but…” Ken pondered the thought for a moment.

“Trust me Ken, you’ll cry when he’s finished with you,” Brant teased thinking about his godson and how Matt thrived in his ability to be better than the rest. Reaching out to Matt again Brant nudged him slightly, “What do you say we play on teams? You and me against Ken and Wendy?”

“Um no, don’t get me wrong Brant you’re cool, but I’m a ladies man all the way,” Matt snubbed Brant before turning to Wendy and pouring out the charm, “What do you say? Care to be my partner in this new game?”

“I’d love to,” Wendy laughed lightly before looking to Ken, “What can I say he’s a charmer?”

“So I’ve noticed,” Ken replied thinking about how Matt had found a way to lighten up the situation without realizing it. As he watched Matt pull Wendy out of the kitchen with him, he just hoped that whatever was ahead for him and Wendy would lead to good times down the road instead of misery.


“I can’t believe that your brother totally flaked on you with Matt,” Jackie sighed looking over at where Zane was playing in the small play area in the pizza place that they were at. She watched him talking with a couple of the other children before she turned her attention to Lindsay again, “I would’ve thought that he would’ve let Matt come along so that you could keep Zane busy.”

“Zane seems to be enjoying himself right now,” Lindsay sipped on her cherry coke before glancing over at Deana’s son. “He’s pretty easily amused. Plus he’s a fun kid.”

“Perhaps, but he’s not exactly a guy magnet while we’re here,” Jackie frowned thinking about the day she’d had planned ahead of her. “I mean don’t get me wrong I don’t mind having him around because he’s cute, but with Matt here I’m sure that he wouldn’t have rushed over the moment a guy approached either one of us.”

“Um in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t think this is the kind of place for us to find a guy unless of course he’s the married kind,” Lindsay motioned to the various parents with their children who were playing on the toys and video games area. “I’m not looking for someone with kids just yet.”

“Well neither am I, but there are hot guys here,” Jackie surveyed the area before nodding over towards behind the counter where a guy was taking orders, “Like him for example. He’s kind of hot.”

“Who?” Lindsay followed her friend’s stare before honing in on the person Jackie had pointed out. “Eeew, no he’s not hot. I’ve seen him before hanging around school and I think he’s a senior or something.”

“So,” Jackie shrugged her shoulders before smacking her lips together to smear the lip gloss she was wearing. She pulled at the clingy fabric of her shirt in an attempt to accentuate her cleavage further before she looked to Lindsay, “I heard from Amy, who heard from Emily, who heard from Keri that he’s so totally hot in bed.”

“What?” Lindsay’s jaw practically dropped at her friend’s admission, “You’ve got to be kidding me right.”

“No, not at all,” Jackie reached into her purse and pulled out her compact to check her appearance, “Rumor has it that he’s very well hung if you know what I mean…”

“Okay, just stop right there,” Lindsay held her hand up in the air in an attempt to cover her ears, “I so don’t need to be listening to this.”

“Why not?” Jackie reached out across the table to pry Lindsay’s hands away from her ears. “There is totally nothing wrong with talking about how hot a guy is.”

“Talking about how hot a guy is, well is one thing, but to talk about a guy like that,” Lindsay wrinkled her nose at the thought, “At our age it just is not something that I want to get into.”

“Why? Because you think that you have to be a virgin forever?” Jackie snapped her compact together again before sliding it back into her purse. “There’s totally nothing wrong with sex you know.”

“I never said there was,” Lindsay protected a frown curling over her lips, “but at the same time I don’t think that I’m old enough to be getting into that just yet. Let’s face it any guy that we meet now is more than likely not the guy we’re going to spend the rest of our lives with. I don’t want to find someone and get into that whole part of a relationship only to blow my future down the road.”

“It’s not exactly your future that you’ll be blowing and trust me once you give it a try, you’re going to love it,” Jackie wiggled her brow suggestively, “I mean really it’s not all that bad even though your parents have you brainwashed into believing that you have to wait until you’re eighty to enjoy life.”

“I do enjoy life,” Lindsay protested with a scowl, “but I don’t feel the need to jump the first guy that says hello to me just to say that I’m grown up and different.”

“I don’t think anyone would ever accuse you of being different when it comes to sex,” Jackie paused before a thought occurred to her, “well okay so maybe they might say you are because you’re not doing it, but…”

“Can we just drop it?” Lindsay frowned over at her wanting nothing more than to change the subject, “Besides I thought that you had a boyfriend.”

“I do, but there is nothing wrong with window shopping,” Jackie glanced over at the man behind the counter again, “I mean it’s not like I’m married or anything.”

“Or loyal for that matter,” Lindsay muttered under her breath before shaking her head, “You know there are nice guys out there who might just like you for you.”

“Yeah and the Easter Bunny is still real. All guys are the same and you have to know how to manipulate them. They are great eye candy and they need to be treated accordingly,” Jackie paused her dark eyes widening as something caught her attention across the way, “Speaking of great eye candy.”

“Huh?” Lindsay turned around to see Daniel walking towards them. Feeling a blush rise over her features she took in a breath and reached for her glass again. “Where is he?”

“Coming this way,” Jackie replied turning her attention to her friend again. She tipped her head to the side and gave Lindsay a once over, “Are you okay? Your face is all red.”

“Yeah I’m fine. I’m just…” Lindsay started opening her mouth to say something more when she heard a sound rise up from the play area.

“That’s mine,” Zane protested to one of the children who shoved at him in the play area with the plastic balls. “Give it back.”

“No way loser,” the other boy tossed a ball at Zane’s head before taking off with his toy.

“Wonderful,” Jackie rolled her eyes seeing Zane go after the other child before the two started to fight.

“Oh no,” Lindsay rushed up from the table moving over to break up the impending fight. She dove into the play area and tried to intervene before things got ugly.

“Hey Daniel,” Jackie waved at the new arrival seeing him stopping right at the table in front of her, “How’s it going?”

“What’s Lindsay doing?” Daniel questioned seeing the confusion inside of the play area. “Are they fighting?”

“Who knows,” Jackie shrugged her shoulders before motioning to the seat Lindsay was sitting in, “I think she’ll figure it out sooner or later. How about you sit down while she’s gone so we can talk?”

“Actually she looks like she needs help,” Daniel noted kicking off his shoes and marching over to the play area. Without hesitation he dove inside and wiggled his way through the balls over to where Lindsay and Zane were. “What seems to be the problem?”

“He stole my toy!” Zane snapped glaring at the other larger child in front of him, “I got that with my tickets and he took it!”

“Did not you baby,” the other boy stuck his tongue out at Zane before glaring at him, “You are a stupid loser and this is mine.”

“No it’s mine!” Zane shouted ready to lunge forward again as Lindsay held him back.

“Zane calm down!” Lindsay pleaded with Zane knowing full well that the toy was his despite the other boy’s protests. “Can you please just give him his toy back?”

“Eat me,” the other boy snarled over at Lindsay before attempting to walk away.

“I don’t think so,” Daniel caught his arm before he left, “I know your parents and I don’t think they would appreciate your talking to a girl that way or picking on a little kid for that matter.”

“Screw off,” the boy spat out at Daniel before attempting to make another retreat.

“Fine, then be that way, but I’m calling your mom as soon as I get out of here. She’s not going to be happy about this,” Daniel warned him sharply before looking out over to the tables area, “On second thought maybe I’ll just go talk to her myself.”

“No wait,” the boy replied tossing the toy over at Zane in a haste before moving to block Daniel from leaving to tell on him. “I didn’t want his stupid loser toy anyways.”

“It’s not a loser toy,” Zane shouted with a huff watching the boy leave the area. He turned to Lindsay with big, frustrated eyes and frowned, “It’s not a loser toy at all.”

“Of course it’s not Zane,” Lindsay nodded pulling him into an embrace, “He was just jealous.”

“And why wouldn’t he be?” Daniel piped in surprising Lindsay with his words. He reached for the toy the other child had discarded and took a look at it, “It’s only like the coolest toy in the whole, wide world and I can see why anyone would want to have it.”

“Really? You think it’s cool?” Zane’s eyes lit up with curiosity.

“So cool in fact that I think there is only one thing that would make it cooler,” Daniel nodded in confession, “On the way inside here I passed by a toy store that had one like it, but it was it’s battle partner.”

“Really? They had it in a second edition just like this one is?” Zane questioned again reaching for the action figure he’d had with him earlier.

“Oh yeah and I’m telling you it was pretty cool. Maybe you could take Lindsay with us and we could go get one,” Daniel suggested flashing a smile over at Lindsay, “What do you say?”

“Well I really don’t have a lot of money on me because of the pizza and…” Lindsay started nervously feeling her face grow hot at the way that Daniel smiled at her. There was just something about him that she couldn’t help but admit made her like him all the more.

“It’ll be my treat,” Daniel offered up with a small wink, “After all anyone cool enough to have the one toy absolutely needs the second one.”

“Right on. I’ll go tell Jackie,” Zane announced racing over to the exit of the play area. He stopped only long enough to face them again, “Are you two coming?”

“In a second,” Daniel nodded watching Zane return to Jackie before his eyes focused on Lindsay again, “I hope you don’t mind my stepping in like this.”

“I can pay you back later,” she offered up thinking about what he was trying to do for Zane. “I normally have some money on me, but…”

“Don’t worry about it,” he waved his hand dismissively at her, “I want to do something for the little guy. It’s no fun being picked on.”

“No it’s not,” she nodded in agreement thinking about the way that Daniel stepped in to the situation.

“Besides, I like Zane. He’s a cute kid,” Daniel explained further with a warm smile, “I think he deserves a reward after not getting into a major scuffle.”

“That was only because you intervened,” Lindsay couldn’t help but point out to him. “You stopped it all from going crazy in here when you threatened to tell on that boy. He was really afraid of what you would say to his parents.”

“Funny,” Daniel let out an ironic laugh, “because I didn’t have the first clue who his parents were. I was bluffing.”

“Seriously?” her blue eyes widened with surprise.

“That’s right,” he nodded with a laugh noticing where the boy had run off to, “and it paid off. I don’t think he’ll be picking on Zane or talking bad to anyone all that soon since he’ll never know who will tell on him.”

“Let’s hope so,” she replied taking in a breath before looking around the area, “Well I guess we should go find Zane.”

“Yeah,” he nodded in response seeing her move past him, “Wait.”

“What?” she questioned turning around to face him again. She looked down to see his hand was curled around her wrist preventing her from leaving.

“I thought it over,” he blurted out in a quick breath, “and I know how you can pay me back for the toy we’re getting Zane.”

“Excuse me,” Lindsay blinked up at him confused by his words. “Look I can get you the money later in the week if…”

“No, I don’t want money,” he admitted honestly.

“I don’t understand,” she shifted her eyes to the balls they were in back to his gaze again.

“I want you to go out with me, you know like a real date,” Daniel blurted out surprising her with his words.

“Really? I um…” she fought to find the right thing to say, but that was the last thing that came out, “I can’t go out with you. I mean I don’t date.”

“Why not?” he questioned with a small frown. “Do you have a boyfriend or something?”

“No, my father doesn’t really want me to have one since I’m so young and,” she pause thinking about how Jackie would say she sounded stupid, “I mean my parents just want me to focus on school and…”

“What would you like to focus on?” he questioned catching her off guard completely.

“My future,” she shrugged her shoulders before offering up a nervous laugh, “Sounds stupid doesn’t it?”

“No, not at all. I feel the same way which is why I feel obligated to tell you that I was thinking about perhaps just hanging out, not something that could get us into trouble. If you’re worried that I’m some kind of pervert or something…” he cleared his throat uneasily.

“No it’s not that. It’s just…” she struggled to find the right words to say to him.

“We can even invite Jackie if you want. My cousin is in town and he’s going to be staying for a while. We could double with them and that way it won’t really be like a date. It could be fun and just a friendly thing. Your father does let you have friends, doesn’t he?” he couldn’t help but flash a hopeful smile at her.

“Yeah, I can have friends,” she nodded biting down on her lower lip nervously before smiling at him, “Since you put it that way I think we can work on something.”

“Then it’s a date?” he replied eagerly his face lighting up at the notion.

“It’s a friend date,” she agreed realizing that she was more excited than she let on considering that she had thought about seeing Daniel again. Smiling to herself she couldn’t help but enjoy the moment of him asking her out. It was like a dream come true, well except for the part where Zane was shouting at her and Daniel to join him outside of the play area. She spotted security approaching them since she and Daniel were too large to be in the play area.

“We should probably get out of here fast,” Daniel noted reaching for her hand and dragging her to the edge of the area.

“Right,” she nodded in agreement hoisting herself up and out of the balls all the while thinking about how her day was turning around for the better now that Daniel had arrived. Maybe just maybe things were picking up for her after all considering she could always use a new friend--especially a cute one like Daniel.


Evie stood behind the bar surveying the empty area in front of her. While it was nights like these that were usually packed in the hip bar it seemed that tonight was a slow night after all. She’d had three tables to wait on since JT had bumped her up to waitress and between the three of them she’d made only two dollars and fifty cents as a tip, which wasn’t about to help anything. Frowning she fixed her eyes in on a table in the far corner of the room where two men she’d waited on earlier were still nursing away at their beers while spouting off about sport’s scores.

“Guess who,” she heard a warm voice whisper in the back of her ear while soft hands pressed in over her eyes blocking out the men she’d been watching.

“Santa Claus,” she teased with a small smile immediately recognizing the familiar cologne that surrounded the air around her.

“Not quite, but you’re going to feel like it’s Christmas when I tell you what I have in store for us,” JT whispered pressing a small kiss over the side of her neck before removing his fingers from her eyes. She turned in his arms to see the smile that spilled over his lips.

“And just why is that?” she questioned with a curious grin taking advantage of the way he was holding her. His hand was pressed firmly around her waist tapering off over her hip while she wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “Are you going to spoil me?”

“Maybe,” his grin expanded as he leaned down to steal a quick kiss from her, “Let’s just say that as your boss I have decided that I’m going to give you a vacation.”

“A vacation,” she repeated giving him a strange look, “I hope it’s not a permanent one.”

“As much as you would enjoy that,” he teased with a small wink, “I’m not that generous. However, I would like to know how the idea of spending a couple of weeks laying on a white sand beach clad in a bikini and drinking margaritas sounds to you?”

“Are you serious?” her eyes widened at the suggestion.

“Well, they won’t be alcoholic considering that you’re not old enough yet and I’ve had more than my share,” he teased with a small laugh before squeezing her closer to him, “but yeah, I’m very serious. I talked to my brother earlier and we worked out an arrangement for me to spend a couple of weeks at his lush beach house with the woman of my choice.”

“I see and you’re assuming that I’ll say yes, huh?” she teased again giving him a sideways glance, “Who is to say I haven’t been given a better offer while you were away?”

JT released her and let out a small sigh, “Well, if you’re all about staying here with some other guy and waiting tables, I’m sure I could find another woman more than willing to have me rub suntan oil all over her back and show her about the fine art of skinny dipping.”

“Skinny dipping,” she repeated her dark eyes immediately perking up on the suggestion, “Okay I’m like so in on that one.”

“What about your other plans?” he tossed back at her feeling her slide her arms around his waist.

“I think that they aren’t nearly as pressing as the ones I’m making up right now for you and I once I have you alone in paradise,” she whispered warmly stepping up on her toes to tease her lips over his, feeling him respond to her kiss as his arm dropped around her waist and pulled her up closer to him.

“And just what will those plans entail?” he questioned lazily as their lips parted and he found himself lost in her dark eyes.

“Let’s just say that I’m thinking after we take that dip you mentioned, maybe you and I could take the time to get to know one another,” her finger tips teased over his shoulders once again, “a little more intimately. I mean you’ve been saying that you want to wait until something special comes up and I think that sounds very special to me.”

“Ah, so I see how this is,” JT laughed lightly at her tempting words, “You just want to go away with me so that I’ll finally let you seduce me.”

“I’d gladly do it right here in town, but since you’re talking about the tropics, I figured there is nothing sexier than making love on a hammock on the beach at sunset,” she whispered in a throaty voice nibbling on his lower lip gently. “So what do you say? Tempted?”

“I thought I was supposed to be the one tempting you,” he couldn’t help but gulp thinking about what this trip would mean to their relationship.

“I’m more than tempted,” she promised tangling her fingers through his hair, “I’m packed and ready to leave whenever you are.”

“No you’re not,” he shook his head at her and laughed, “You don’t have anything.”

“Given the plans I have for us, I’m not going to need anything more than what I have on right now,” she motioned to the low cut form fitting blue shirt she’d been wearing since her uniform shirt was still stained from a rowdy night at the bar and her tiny black skirt. “I’ll probably actually need less than this on most of the time.”

“All this talk is making me very,” he trailed off feeling her lips hovering over his.

“Aroused,” she finished for him, placing her index finger over the center of his lips.

“Hungry,” he pressed a kiss over her finger, “I haven’t had a thing today and I’m starved.”

“I’m sure I can find a remedy for that one,” she grinned widely leaning up to kiss him once again.

“As much as I’m interested, I think I’m going to need real food for now,” he stepped away from the kiss and winked at her, “Besides I think I should build my strength before we leave town otherwise I have a feeling that you’re not going to leave me much to work with on the island.”

“We wouldn’t want that,” Evie replied feeling him pull her back into the kitchen to make some dinner as she realized that things were most certainly looking up for her now that JT was going to whisk her away to paradise. It was perfect!


“So you can see why I came to you considering that you are one of the few people who aren’t connected to any of this,” Angela finished her tale as she sank in over the bar turning her attention to Russ as he sipped his drink in front of him.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Russ set down his drink and tipped his head to the side to take a long look at her remembering how much fun they had with one another back when he was someone else living a life that wasn’t meant for him. She’d been haunted back then and it was clear that she was still haunted by a past that she had no control over and a future that she was uncertain about. He contemplated his words before finally speaking up, “Though I do have to ask you something.”

“What’s that?” Angela questioned bringing her hand up to the side of her face as she watched him.

“Do you love him?” Russ couldn’t help but ask thinking about the tale she’d told him about Cameron, Brant and Kevin and about the lies that clearly surrounded her life.

“Who?” she curled her lips into a pout eyeing him intently.

“Well for starters I know you care about your brother. It wouldn’t be normal not to even if he is a snake,” Russ noted with a frown, his thoughts turning to his arch-rival, “but I wasn’t talking about him. I was asking about Brant. I mean yeah I’ll be the first one to tell you that I can’t stand the man. Hate would be too kind of a word in this particular situation, but in all truthfulness this isn’t about how I feel about Brant. This is about you and what it is that you two have together.”

“I honestly don’t know what we have together,” she sighed heavily placing her hand on her swelled abdomen as her gaze followed the movement of her hand.

“On the contrary, I think you know full well what it is that you two have together,” Russ caught the movement she’d made, “and something tells me that you love him. That even after what Cameron told you about Brant you still love him. The other night Cameron took advantage of a moment that he never should have pushed upon any of us.”

“Avery wasn’t exactly thrilled either, was she,” she couldn’t help but ask taking a moment out of her own concerns to think about the situation Russ had been thrown into.

“If you were in her shoes you wouldn’t have been happy either, would you?” he arched a speculative brow watching her shake her head in response.

“Not at all,” she admitted freely reaching for her glass of juice, “I lost you once on the island and it felt like the end of the world. I couldn’t imagine having spent my life loving you and then losing you again.”

“I hope it hasn’t come to that,” Russ pondered aloud thinking about the last time he’d seen Avery, “though if you want my advice Angela you should stop listening to the world and start listening to your heart. This situation isn’t just about you and Brant any longer. It’s about your children too.”

“But if Brant is a murderer…” Angela started with a small shudder.

“He’s a whole hell of a lot of things, but I don’t really believe he’s a murderer,” Russ blurted out without a second thought, “I don’t think he has it in him. Yes, he has plenty of reason to snap, but he wouldn’t do that even at his worst. He wasn’t like his--our father.”

“Your father,” she repeated seeing Russ shudder again, “Brant mentioned he was a monster.”

“That’s putting it mildly,” Russ confessed with a long sigh, “I grew up despising the man and the entire family because I knew full well that Nicholas Ashford spelled trouble. I had no idea that he was my biological father and if my parents had their way I think they would have kept that from me for the rest of my life, but I learned the hard way.”

“How so?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Nicholas tried to kill me only the woman he sent to do it didn’t have the heart to murder me,” he confessed pained at the memory of the turn of events leading up to his disappearance. “She drugged me and took me out of town. When I woke up, I found out that someone I truly believed was a good person had turned on me. Not only did she try to take me from my family, but she helped Nicholas steal my life from me. I managed to escape however and in the midst of running away, I encountered some bad weather and the boat I was on was in a crash. I must have hit my head and somehow I washed up on shore and…”

“Into my life,” she finished placing her hand on top of his gently, “which obviously only further complicated things considering that Avery and I look so much like…”

“You saved my life Angela,” he reminded her pointedly, “and regardless of what ever else happened or didn’t happen between us, if you hadn’t found me, I may not have made it back home to Avery and Erin. I owe you my life.”

“No you don’t,” she smiled lightly shaking her head, “I was just doing my job.”

“No you did a lot more than that and that’s why I’m going to go out on a limb with you and tell you that while I know Nicholas is a monster who tried to murder me and steal my life from me, Brant is not the same as him. Yes, he did a lot of devious and underhanded things to sabotage me with Avery and I’ll always hate him for that, but with you,” Russ paused finding himself in a moment of conflict, “I’ll push the personal feelings I have about him aside and say that I think that Brant wouldn’t do what Cameron accused him of doing. Brant isn’t a violent person who is out for some kind of greedy agenda. He’s been spending his time trying to fix the mistakes his father has made when it gets down to business and he turned his company around from being one of the most seedy empires in town to being almost respectable there.”

“Yet you can’t stand him,” she pointed out with a frown, “and that should say something there.”

“Quite honestly I think Brant is a jerk. That’s not going to change. He’s done a lot of really horrible things to me in an attempt to keep me from Avery, but that’s between us, not between you and him,” he informed her point blank, “and from what I’ve seen you two obviously have a history with one another and clearly a future with those two little ones. It’s up to you whether or not you decide to find your way back to him, but for argument’s sake you wanted my opinion and I really don’t believe that Brant killed your father. With Nicholas Ashford, I wouldn’t have to second guess that one. I’m sure that he’s probably played a hand in it, but with Brant, not a chance.”

“That’s funny considering your own feelings,” she still added with a shake of her head, “I mean it’s not every day that you sit here telling people to give Brant a chance to redeem himself.”

“I don’t think it’s ever come up before and it probably will never come up again, but if Avery taught me nothing else it’s that life is about second chances and in love all the rules just simply don’t apply,” Russ added thinking about all the times Avery had tried to reason with him about Brant’s nature. “I’m not saying that I’m going to start Brant’s fan club, but at the same time he is the father of your children and if you love him, I think it’s worth finding all the facts if you can.”

“You’re right,” she nodded in agreement forcing a small smile, “Somehow you always were.”

“I always am,” he winked back at her, “No just kidding, but seriously I’m glad that I could help you with that situation and since it seems Kevin’s running behind, maybe I can help you out with that one too.”

“Another person that you’re not rather fond of,” she noted seeing him let out a small laugh, “right?”

“Actually Kevin’s growing on me. Now that I’m not trying to steal you from his life he seems to be much more reasonable,” Russ explained thinking about his newfound friend in Kevin. “Although he might not be too happy with me right now considering that I just kind of kicked his ass so to speak.”

“I don’t understand,” she replied with a sideways glance.

“It was just a huge misunderstanding. I came home and found him in my shower and I thought the worst. I started thinking that something was going on with him and Avery and,” he waved his hand dismissively, “It was just ridiculous.”

“Actually maybe it wasn’t,” Angela placed her hand on top of his, “I mean I hate to say it Russ, but Kevin has always kind of had a thing for me over the years.”

“Gee, you think,” he rolled her eyes at her comment, “the man is in love with you and anyone with eyes can see that--well anyone except you.”

“Which means you’ve got a whole lot to worry about now that Kevin and I aren’t talking to one another. I mean the way I see it if he thinks he’s lost me, then I’m sure he’s doing all that he can to get close to her. After all she’s the closest thing to me that he has right now, which should give you a lot to worry about if you’re not careful.”


“What the hell are you doing here?” Cameron greeted Sarah with a snarl seeing her standing in his study awaiting his arrival. He noticed that she was fingering through a couple of the books he’d had on the shelves and as she turned to face him he couldn’t help but frown. “Haven’t you done enough lately?”

“Cameron, I’m here because I need your help,” she explained pointedly stepping towards him with a venom in her tone, “You owe me that much after everything that’s happened.”

Cameron couldn’t help but laugh wildly at her words. He took a step forward and eyed her with muted amusement, “Do you honestly believe that Sarah? Do you really feel that after what transpired at your wedding from hell that you are really in a position to be requiring some kind of favor from me?”

“Cameron, you owe me,” she repeated her eyes narrowing with anger after what she’d seen with Kyle. Now that she’d lost him and Diego wasn’t speaking with her, she knew that she had to find a way to reclaim her life again. She wanted Kyle, but he was being stubborn and undoubtedly he was in the mood to make her suffer for what he’d perceived she’d done against him. With Diego he was clearly allowing his sister to push him around, which had only left her with one option--Cameron. Now as she stood before him she could see that he was neither thrilled or happy to see her, but she didn’t care.

“I don’t owe you anything Sarah,” he breezed past her making his way over to the mini bar across the room, “You made your bed and now you can lie in it. Everything that’s happened to you, you brought on yourself by doing what you’ve done.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” she snapped stomping her foot down and causing a vase on one of the tables to rattle with it. “Can I help it if I find myself drawn to men? I was only following my instincts and…”

“Clearly they’ve lead you astray,” he couldn’t help but chortle remembering the way in which she’d been dumped at the altar, “since it would seem that your Herculean hero has washed his hands of you as has your psychiatrist. Though I never pegged him for much of a fighter myself.”

“I’m not here to talk about them,” Sarah marched over towards him her dark eyes piercing his with a newfound determination, “Right now I’m here to talk about us and about the deal we made.”

“All of our negotiations were off the moment you decided to get yourself outed in the middle of that ceremony. Do you have any idea what that little indiscretion has done to me?” he challenged arching a curious brow over at her.

“Like you care,” she rolled her eyes at him. “Everyone in this town hates you anyways so it’s nothing new.”

“Nothing new,” he roared with sudden laughter, “Sarah in case you haven’t noticed my association with you caused me to be put in an unsavory spotlight which doesn’t fit into my plans for the future. Quite honestly I don’t care what happens to you at this point. Your romantic endeavors are not my problem. I have no desire to get caught up in your drama.”

“You can’t just blow me off that easily Cameron. You’re going to help me,” Sarah challenged seeing him ready to walk away from her.

“Watch me,” he shrugged not bothering to look back at her. He was halfway out of the door as he muttered under his breath, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

“I’m not leaving Cameron,” she marched out after him reaching out to snag his arm with her fingers. She forced him to turn around to face her again with a scowl on her face, “You’re not going anywhere until you agree to help me because I’m not taking no for an answer plain and simple.”


“Daddy,” Matt greeted his father with a big hug as Don entered Brant’s arcade to find the two of them playing a round of video games with one another, “thank heaven you saved me from all of this.”

“All of what?” Don picked his son up pulling him into his arms, “All of this fun?”

“Video games are fun yes, but they have a bit of a mind dulling effect after a while,” Matt pointed out with a small frown, “You of all people should know that because Nate is a prime example of that.”

“Nate’s a moron and that has nothing to do with video games,” Don teased with a small laugh turning to his friend, “Though I hear my son gets to start charging by the hour for being Dr. Phil.”

“That was all him,” Brant set the controller down he’d been playing with and laughed, “He was bound and determined to help me find a way to reach out to Angela.”

“So tell me did you crash and burn?” Don inquired with a curious expression feeling Matt tug on his pant leg.

“He didn’t totally crash and burn because I managed to hook him up with dinner,” Matt dusted off the sleeve of his shirt and grinned proudly, “Not all that bad for a day’s work, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Not bad at all,” Don gave Matt a high five before spotting Ken and Wendy in the hallway, “Hey I thought I heard company.”

“I was checking to see if Brant was treating Matt right considering I heard Matt shouting in here before,” Ken teased lightly laughing at seeing his brother on the floor. “I take it Matt beat you at your own game.”

“Matt’s a pro at this game even if he pretends to hate it,” Brant winked over at Matt, “though I do have this new race car game that I would love to show him. I just had it shipped in since it’s kind of a hot game right now.”

“Hot game?” Matt glanced over at Brant trying to hide his interest.

“That’s right,” Brant nodded pointing to the far end of the arcade. “It’s one of those games that you get to sit inside of it and start driving it like you would be really driving a car. I mean it’s trivial kid stuff and it’s all a virtual environment, but…”

“Say no more. I am so there,” Matt wiggled out of his father’s arms and raced over to the game system.

“I didn’t have to say that twice,” Brant laughed lightly before motioning to Wendy, “Ken tells me you’re pretty good at this one. Want to give it a try?”

“Oh I don’t know if,” Wendy shrugged her shoulders before turning to Ken again.

“Go ahead,” Ken waved his hand with a grin, “Show my brother that he’s not top dog around here while I have a word with Don. He thinks he‘s the best, but I still say he‘s a cheater.”

“Oh come on. I’ll play fair this time with Wendy,” Brant grinned up at his brother’s girlfriend, “I might even be nice and spot you a few points to get started.”

“How generous,” she teased moving in to join Brant over at the game he’d been playing while Ken pulled Don back into the hallway.

“So what’s up?” Don questioned catching the expression on Ken’s face when Ken had urged Wendy to go with Brant.

“I just wanted to talk to you about Wendy,” Ken paused an uneasiness carrying over him, “I mean I know you’re a doctor and all and I thought that maybe if you had some time you might convince her to seek out some kind of second opinion.”

“Why is something wrong?” Don couldn’t help but ask with a worried expression.

“I just don’t think the treatment she’s on is really helping her,” Ken revealed in a low whisper, a sadness carrying over him, “I mean I know that this illness may very well get the best of her, but there has to be some other treatment out there for what she has. Some other way to help cope…”

“I wish I could offer you the answers that you’re looking for, but at this point in time there’s nothing more that medical science can do. We’ve got a lot of things in the works as you’re well aware of, but at this point Wendy’s on the only treatment available for her condition,” Don answered with a sigh, “I wish I could tell you more, but…”

“I know I’m asking a lot, but I just don’t want to lose her again. I know it’s selfish, but given what she’s gone through I just wish I could spare her the pain and help her get stronger again,” Ken glanced over into the game room where he watched Brant and Wendy laughing with one another while playing the game. “I don’t know how I could live with that considering that I’ve already buried one of the women I’ve loved this past year. I don’t want to have to do it again.”

“Hopefully that won’t happen. Maybe with a little faith things will turn themselves around,” Don replied knowing full well he was offering his pal false hope, but still he couldn’t let Ken get lost in a depression since what was important was the time that he still had with the woman he loved. “If you want my advice just be there for her and cherish each second you have together. That’s what’s really important.”

“I know,” Ken nodded turning to Brant and Wendy once again as he found himself wondering just how much time he had with the woman he loved more than anything. He’d been enjoying their newfound reunion with one another and with each passing day he found himself more and more in love with her and wanting to hold onto what they had with one another--even if it meant moving heaven and earth to make it happen.


“Thanks for doing this,” Lindsay smiled over at Daniel now that it was clear that Zane was beyond thrilled with the toy that Daniel had bought for him, “You totally made his day. I’m sure when he goes home he’s going to be bouncing off the walls for his mom.”

“Hey, I like to see people smile,” Daniel confessed sheepishly, turning his attention to Lindsay once again, “especially you.”

“Thanks,” she paused feeling a blush carry over her, “I think.”

“You’re really pretty when you smile. Well, it’s not like you’re not very pretty all the time, but…” Daniel started to say something more causing more color to rise over Lindsay’s features when a sound interrupted them.

“You know it’s getting kind of late Linds and there are places I think we need to get to,” Jackie replied impatiently clearly having had more than enough of the toy store. She looked over at Daniel before frowning, “I have to pick John up too you know.”

“Right,” Lindsay turned her attention to Daniel once again, “I really appreciate your doing this for him and I’ll totally pay you back.”

“With dinner or something,” Daniel suggested once again, “You said you’d go out with me.”

“I know what I said, but…” Lindsay stopped herself when the sound of her phone ringing carried over the moment. She fished into her pocket and pulled out the cell phone noticing it was her mother as she answered brightly, “Hi mom.”

“Hey Lindsay,” Alicia began in a cheerful tone, “I was just calling to check in on you since I hadn’t heard anything from you. How’s it going?”

“Things are fine,” Lindsay glanced over at Daniel again, “Better than fine.”

“Great, that’s wonderful to hear. And Zane is behaving?” Alicia questioned curiously.

“Yeah, he’s had a really busy day. He’s going to have a lot to tell Deana when he finally gets home,” Lindsay added thinking about the day she’d spent with Zane, Jackie and especially Daniel, “Everything has been really fun today.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Alicia replied brightly, “I always like knowing that you’re having a good time. Speaking of which Don called earlier. He said he wanted me to tell you that Stacy was in town.”

“She is?” Lindsay replied enthusiastically, “Seriously?”

“Yeah, she just came in and Don mentioned that it sounded like maybe Stacy could use a friend right now. He said that she was staying with her Uncle Dave and I thought that maybe you might want to stop by later and see her if you and Jackie weren’t busy,” Alicia suggested without delay.

“Yeah, I think we can totally do that,” Lindsay promised before looking to Daniel again, “I’m sure Jackie would love to see Stacy.”

“Good, then be safe and have fun honey. Don’t forget to check in later,” Alicia added after a moment, “And remember I love you.”

“I love you too mom,” Lindsay finished hanging up the phone and turning to Daniel once again.

“Good news?” he arched a curious brow catching the change in her voice.

“A friend of mine is in town,” she nodded with a bright smile, “We haven’t seen one another in a long time, but when we were younger we were like best friends.”

“She sounds cool then. After all what friend of yours wouldn’t be?” he tossed back at her with a grin.

“Yeah,” she shuffled on her feet before looking over her shoulder at Jackie, “Well Jackie has to go and…”

“I understand,” he nodded in response before clearing his throat, “So um I’ll call you tomorrow then.”

“Sure,” she cleared her throat again, “That would be great.”

“Cool, then maybe we can get together with my cousin and your friend who is in town or something. Jackie too if you’d like,” Daniel added brightly, “We can make a day of it.”

“I’d like that,” Lindsay took a step back, “Thanks. It was a lot of fun today.”

“Yeah it was,” he waved as Lindsay turned around to join Jackie once again.

“What was that all about?” Jackie couldn’t help but ask turning to look at Daniel who was still watching them walk away.

“We’re just going to hang out later,” Lindsay explained brightly, “Tomorrow or something.”

“I see,” Jackie couldn’t help but smirk, “well that’s interesting.”

“Why?” Lindsay couldn’t help but ask catching her friend’s cryptic tone.

“Because he’s an Ashford and Ashfords, well they have a reputation for living life in the fast lane so to speak,” Jackie mouthed fighting to repress the laugh that bubbled in the back of her throat. “No offense Linds, but you’re more of a person who takes it slow--really slow.”

“Daniel doesn’t seem like he’s like that,” Lindsay noted thinking about her new friend, “He’s a really nice guy.”

“All guys seem nice when they want something. I’m sure Daniel’s no different than the rest of them, but hey it’s cool,” Jackie grinned at her again, “You might find that you actually enjoy guys after seeing him.”

“I do enjoy guys. I’m just not going to end up with a kid of my own at this age,” Lindsay protested with a frown not liking her friend’s implications, “I happen to have my future ahead of me.”

“You say that now, but once Daniel flashes you that smile of his, you’ll be lost to the Ashford charm,” Jackie laughed lightly before seeing Zane running up to jump on one of the candy machines in front of them, “Hey Zane, watch it. Get down.”

Lindsay opened her mouth to say something, but stopped as she watched Jackie rushing over to pull Zane off of the candy machine. While Jackie thought she knew everything about Daniel, Lindsay was convinced that Jackie was wrong. Daniel was a nice guy and he was someone Lindsay enjoyed, not someone with an agenda. As Lindsay joined Zane and Jackie, she vowed not to worry about it at the moment considering that things were looking up for her. Daniel was a nice guy and she had nothing to worry about. She was sure of it.


“So what do you say? Want to cut out of here early?” JT questioned meeting Evie at the bar as it was clear that business wasn’t going to pick up for the night.

“Are you kidding me,” she smiled at him tipping her head back to see him watching her closely, “I thought you would never ask.”

“Good because I was thinking that we’d go meet up with my brother so that I can show him just how special the person I’m taking to his place is,” JT grinned down at her before wrapping his arm around her waist, “I wanted Cam to meet you considering that I owe him huge for what he’s doing for us.”

“I’d like that,” she turned in his arms pulling him into an embrace, “but furthermore I would really like to get you back to your place and maybe get you undressed and then we could…”

“Jumping the gun again my dear,” he laughed lightly shaking his head at her, “Now I thought we agreed that we would find paradise in paradise so to speak.”

“I know what we said, but I was thinking we could renegotiate the terms a little bit,” she dropped her palm down flat over his chest. Reaching in underneath the bottom of his shirt she ran her fingers over his abdomen and felt him shiver against her urgings. Smiling inwardly she leaned up on her toes to kiss the side of his neck. Speaking up heatedly, she nibbled on his earlobe, “What do you say JT?”

“I promised Cameron that he would get to see you,” he groaned feeling his resolve slowly slipping away at her urgings. Finally he placed his hand over hers and pulled her into the backroom behind the bar. He pressed his forehead to hers and let out a small sigh, “You’re going to be the death of me. I hope you realize that.”

“I was really thinking more along the lines of being the thing that brings you back to life again,” she purred against his skin feeling his body heat up against hers. She scratched her nail lightly over the top of his jeans, thumb playing with the button on them as a wicked smirk spread over her, “Tell me JT how much would it take to get you hot and bothered right about now?”

“I think you’ve already started working on that,” JT gulped feeling her pop open the button on his jeans. He looked out into the bar and noticed that there was no one really around in the restaurant area. His gaze snapped up to hers once again and he spoke up in a quiet, sensual tone, “You’d better stop playing with fire or else you’re going to get burned Evie and we can’t have that.”

“I happen to like the thought of getting burned,” she explained with a tiny wink catching the zipper of his pants between her thumb and index finger. She teased with it, snagging it down just a bit before stopping and meeting his gaze again, “What about you?”

“I don’t particularly like the idea of losing my cool at work,” he answered taking in a small breath as her hand pressed against the top of his pants feeling his body respond to her.

“I think I like the idea of you losing your cool,” she explained with a wicked smirk, moving her fingers over the material before her. She pulled on the zipper once again ready to further explore his body when a buzzing conjured up at his hip.

“Duty calls,” he answered quickly turning away from her and reaching for his phone. He brought it up to his ear quickly before readjusting his pants again, “Hello. Oh hey Cam. I was just talking about you. Yes, I was going to bring that special friend over like we talked about earlier. That’s right.”

Evie let out a laugh before leaning up against the counter and watching JT trying to keep his cool after she’d attempted to shake him up a bit. She could see that she’d gotten to him and the more she thought about the island, the more she found herself wanting to get into that scenario that JT had painted for them. She smiled imagining just what it would be like to be alone with him in paradise and as he continued his phone call, she pondered just how perfect life was going to be for them once they’d bonded with one another.

“Sorry about that,” JT spun around to face her with a frown.

“Something wrong?” she questioned curiously.

“My brother had something come up, so we’re going to have to reschedule,” JT explained pushing his phone back into his pocket, “He had some kind of meeting or something so he’s not going to be able to meet with us.”

“That’s alright,” she stepped in closer to him, “because I’m sure that you and I can think of ways to keep busy with one another tonight instead.”

“Honestly,” JT bit down on his lip, “I think we should probably get planning for this trip to paradise. There are a few things I think we’re both going to need and since Cameron’s not busy, I think shopping might be a good idea. What do you say?”

“Well, I suppose if you’re buying and you’re wanting me to model swimsuits for you, we can work out something,” she scratched her nails over his chest once again before he let out a small laugh.

“You’re dangerous,” he shook his head at her again.

“But you like dangerous,” she reminded him before taking his hand in hers, “Come on we’re going to have to move fast if we are even thinking about making it to the mall before it closes.”

“Actually I had another place in mind. It’s a different kind of store, but I’m sure it’s one you’ll rather enjoy in your state of mind,” JT decided ready to prepare them for the fantasy trip of a lifetime now that he’d found someone he could actually have fun with in a relationship. Sure, in most cases he’d leap to sex and then to the next partner, but with Evie there was something special and he promised himself that he would find a way to make this trip memorable for the both of them in more ways than either one of them could imagine!


“It’s not going to happen Sarah,” Cameron shrugged out of her reach. He frowned down at her before shaking his head at her, “I would’ve thought that you were better than this. Being so pathetic really doesn’t suit you.”

“Cameron I’m not going to let this world write me off just because I was strong enough to give in to my desires. I can’t help it if I find myself having a great many cravings from the world around me. No one in this town has a right to condemn me for that,” she blurted out with an angry scowl.

“No one says that they do, but this isn’t my place to be listening to this. Go groveling to Diego or Kyle because I’m sure they are tender hearted enough to consider listening to you,” Cameron snubbed her again before offering up a wicked laugh, “Although I would try a different approach with them. Being a woman of worldly pleasures probably won’t appeal to their sensitive natures.”

“Cameron, you know damn well that neither one of them is going to talk to me. They both are believing the worst of me because they are afraid to see things as they really are,” she continued to rant feeling her anger mounting.

“How is that Sarah? That you slept with half the town and now you’re not sure who the father of your child is? That you’ve played them both and now they are both bitter?” Cameron couldn’t help but ask with an amused laugh, “I’m sure they know full well how it really is Sarah.”

“Then perhaps you’re the one in denial because you know as well as I do that they aren’t the only ones who should consider a vested interest in all of this,” Sarah stepped forward her dark eyes meeting his with a newfound determination. “You know as well as I do that they aren’t the only candidates for fatherhood.”

“Of course not. Given that you’ve been sleeping with half of Coral Valley I’m sure that the time frame opens a lot of windows of opportunity for people who would like to be a father,” Cameron shook his head at the thought, “but unfortunately for you that’s not my problem.”

“That’s where you’re wrong Cameron,” she challenged watching him turn away from her once again, “Because even though I might’ve slept with a few people between the time I got pregnant and now, the fact to the matter is that around the time I was pregnant there were only three men I’d slept with and you were one of them.”

“Of course it falls back on me,” Cameron couldn’t help but laugh thinking about her desperate plea to get him to help her. “Let me guess you want me to offer up my sympathy out of the kindness of my heart and then offer you anything you need so that you can get back on your feet again because the child could be mine.”

“Don’t even stand there and pretend that you haven’t thought about it,” she searched his dark eyes for a long moment. “You know as well as I do that this just didn’t pop up overnight between us Cameron.”

“There is no us Sarah,” Cameron couldn’t help but laugh at her insinuation. “You know that.”

“What I know is that I think the world would be interested in hearing that you and I were sleeping together back when you were married to my sister--back when I first came to town and you wanted to sample what it was like to be with sisters,” she shot out at him icily, “When you came to me and decided that you wanted me.”

“You were the one who seduced me back when you weren’t getting the attention from your precious Kyle,” Cameron spun around to face her once again, “And don’t wax poetic on the situation Sarah. It was sex--nothing more and nothing less.”

“Sex that you enjoyed enough to keep coming back for even after you knew Kyle and I were together,” she reminded him moving forward to placed her hand over the center of his chest. “You can try to deny it now Cameron, but we both know that you’ve been into this for a very long time.”

“You haven’t made that much of an impression on me Sarah,” Cameron replied dismissively, “and besides who would believe anything you have to say right now no the matter?”

“Anyone who knows how desperate you were to keep Douglas from getting his hands on Charles. You and I both made an arrangement back then and you said you would honor it,” Sarah mouthed bitterly thinking about her secret association with Cameron in the past. “We offered a helping hand to one another.”

“And in the end neither one of us got what we wanted,” Cameron tossed at her flippantly, “From where I stand it’s best to cut our losses.”

“Are you so sure you can do that Cameron when we both know full well there is a strong chance that a part of our arrangement could be right here inside of me,” she reached out to take his hand in hers and place it over her abdomen. “I know full well that there are really only two men in this world who could possibly be the father of my child and we both know that you’re in the top running.”

“Only because Kyle tossed you aside and Diego is too much of a coward to own up to his feelings,” Cameron rolled his eyes at the mention of her fling. “He doesn’t even know what it means to be a man because he runs at the first sign of weakness.”

“The same weakness that you would want to claim your child?” Sarah arched a curious brow watching the expression on his face, “Tell me something Cameron, can you honestly let me walk out of here taking the baby with me when we both know that there is a fifty-fifty chance that you’re the father?”

“Don’t you mean thirty three percent chance?” he corrected giving her a brief once over.

“Kyle’s not the father,” Sarah blurted out with a heavy sigh, “I wish like hell he was, but after doing the math I know full well that you and Diego are the only possibilities.”

“That’s not what you were saying a few minutes ago,” Cameron reminded her with an ironic laugh, “You may want to keep your stories straight Sarah because this indecision makes you come off as pathetic.”

“Pathetic would be letting me walk out of your life without you lifting a finger to help me when I could be carrying your son or daughter,” Sarah explained standing up taller and meeting his eyes again, “I’ve done my homework and I know my history Cameron. I know full well that you and Diego share a lot more than animosity between you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Cameron scoffed shaking his head at her. “You’re grasping.”

“Am I?” she couldn’t help but eye him intently, “because from what I’ve heard I’m not the only woman you’ve shared between you. Yes, I know that you both had a thing for my sister, which deems you both as pathetic, but she’s not who I’m talking about.”

“Sarah, I think it’s best you leave,” Cameron warned her sharply turning to walk down the hallway in the opposite direction.

“I know that you were sleeping with Maria Sanchez and that even though Diego goes on and on about how she was the love of his life, the fact to the matter was that it was your child she lost in that accident and not his,” Sarah watched him stop mid-movement before a wicked smirk carried over her features.

“Why would you say such a thing?” Cameron questioned turning around to face her once again.

“Because as I said before I’ve done my homework Cameron,” Sarah shook her head before taking a bold step forward, “It turns out that Little Miss Innocent wasn’t all that innocent after all when she decided that the best thing she could do to further her cause was to sleep with the enemy so to speak.”

“It wasn’t like that,” Cameron mouthed with a scowl glaring over at her. “You know nothing about Maria.”

“I know enough to know that she was a lying, cheating whore just like the world perceives me to be. She was engaged to be married to Diego, but pregnant with your child. It makes for an ironic twist doesn’t it?” she wiggled her brow suggestively, “Of course what makes it all the more ironic is that Diego has spent his years vowing to take you down and have his revenge on you due to the fact that you ripped away his one true love by having her murdered, but the fact to the matter is that you weren’t at all responsible for her death. How could you be when you were about to have a child with her? Of course there there’s always the possibility that her death wasn’t a murder or an accident after all. Maybe she pushed herself in front of that car to avoid the horrible fate of spending her life tied to you through a child.”

“Enough,” Cameron marched forward anger burning behind his eyes, “You have no right to come in here and make assumptions about things which you know nothing about.”

“I know enough to get Diego to open his eyes up about what you really were. He might not want to listen to me, but once he knows about you and Maria--about how you blackmailed her into sleeping with you by promising her that you would save her little apartment complex. I’m sure he’d love to know all about how you forced her into your bed, into your life by holding her cause hostage with your insignificant promises in the barter between the both of you,” she continued to push at his buttons seeing the rage expand behind his eyes. “All I would have to do was say the word and Diego wouldn’t need anymore reason than that to go after you. Whether or not he cared about me would be irrelevant because he would want to make you burn for hurting the woman he loved.”

“First of all your claims are unwarranted and even if they had any inkling of truth in them, they would be horribly skewed,” Cameron warned waving his hand around in the air, “A woman like Maria Sanchez would not be one that I would take by force. If Maria was in my bed it was because it was where she wanted to be. It would be because it was the one place where she felt truly alive unlike the farce of happiness she pretended to have with her psychiatrist. She knew nothing of living until she was in my arms. I gave her a reason to believe in the world again and Diego was the one who was disillusioned about the way things really were. He claims to know pain and suffering, yet he doesn’t have the first idea of what it’s like to see everything that you’ve held onto fade away in the blink of an eye. He has no idea what it is to silently mourn the loss of the one true thing in your life again and again with the world perceiving you as the monster.”

“But he may have the opportunity to know it if you take away what could possibly be his last chance at a new start,” she coaxed him further moving in to place his hand on her abdomen again, “It’s a win/win situation for you Cameron. If Diego is this child’s father, then you’ll have the chance to steal everything away from him as he intended to do with Maria. He wanted to live with her and share his life with her raising your child as his own. Even now he still believes that he is that child’s father and that the rights to mourn are only his. He sees you as a monster, as the one thing that stole his happiness, but in reality he stole yours. Now is your chance to get even. If I’m pregnant with his child, then you can have what was supposed to be his. You can take what he could’ve had, but now it is no longer an option.”

“And if I’m the father?” Cameron couldn’t help but ask his dark eyes clouded over by the first hint of interest since she’d walked in through the door.

“Then I guess it would prove that fate wanted you to have something all over again in your life. Even if you and I aren’t exactly what you would call true romance, we do have something together--something powerful and regardless of this child’s paternity, our union could prove to be something that would give you a very distinct advantage over the world around you. It could help provide you with the kind of power that you truly crave Cameron,” she eased her palm flat out over the center of his chest, a wide grin expanding over her lips, “All you have to do is open yourself up to the possibilities of what if should you agree to help me help you.”


Craven walked up to the front desk taking note of the woman who stood behind the counter. She was hunched over looking completely bored with what she was doing and in that moment he knew he’d found his in to the situation that he had walked right into. He approached the woman greeting her with a bright smile before leaning in on the opposite end of the counter.

“Rough night?” he couldn’t help but question seeing her stand up almost immediately. She had a surprised look on her face and he could see she was shuffling to pull herself together as he watched her closely.

“Something like that,” she nodded before tossing out an apologetic expression, “I’m sorry about that. I know it was unprofessional and…”

“We all have bad nights or bad days for that matter,” he shrugged his shoulders simply before flashing a bright, white smile over at her, “I think I’ve had more of them than you can imagine so please don’t apologize for taking a moment to give yourself at time out.”

“It’s completely unprofessional and,” she offered up her face growing red with embarrassment.

“It can be our little secret,” he suggested leaning in closer to her before offering up a wink, “What do you say?”

“Sure,” she nodded in response bringing her hand up to toy with a piece of her long, dark hair that had escaped from the bobby pin that she’d kept the rest of it up with. “What can I do for you?”

“You could say I’m having a bad night myself,” he mouthed thinking about his earlier exchange with Ria. “You see my wife and I kind of got into a fight with one another and she ran out on me. We were at the bar and well let’s just say she thought a waitress was flirting with me, which she wasn’t and before I knew it I was wearing her drink.”

“Oh that’s awful,” the woman nodded listening to his tale.

“What makes matters worse is that it’s our anniversary. We came out here to celebrate together and make the most of this special occasion. We’ve been married five years you see, but in the middle of our fight, she left me in the bar by myself,” he inched in closer to her lowering his voice just enough for her to hear him, “Not only did she run out after she stomped my heart, but she also took our hotel room key with her. I’m afraid I don’t have a card to get into the room.”

“Oh I see,” the woman nodded in response, “Well I’m sure that if I look you up and you give me some identification then it won’t be a problem. We can just…”

“She has my wallet as well,” Craven replied with a sigh before looking to what was in his hand, “although I do have her purse if that would help.”

“Her purse?” the woman replied giving him a strange look.

“With her identification,” he informed her with another smile opening it up and pulling out Ria’s driver’s license. He gave it a brief once over before holding it out to her, “You have no idea how moody my wife is, but I would like to find a way to make it up to her. Perhaps I could get you to help me bring room service into things and get us some champagne and strawberries.”

“I’m sure we can arrange it,” the woman nodded looking over at Ria’s identification before a frown touched over her lips, “I’m afraid I can’t give you another key card.”

“Why not?” Craven frowned at her.

“Because she left specific orders not to be disturbed,” she explained to him with a shake of her head, “and it appears that there was only one key card picked up by her.”

“That’s because we didn’t arrive together. Look I would’ve called her and had her explain it to you, but right now she isn’t speaking with me. I really wanted this to be a special anniversary, but now…” he trailed off with a heavy sigh. He flashed her a hopeful smile before speaking up again, “Surely you believe in true love, don’t you?”

“Well,” she paused glancing over at the monitor again before taking in a breath, “I really can’t offer this to you given that the room is registered in her name and she only has herself listed in the reservation.”

“She and I were together earlier today at the bar. You can ask the bartender if you don’t believe me that my wife was sharing a drink with me before she got upset,” he pleaded with her before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a couple hundred dollar bills, “Please in the name of true love.”

“Well since you put it that way,” she clicked away at a few keys on the computer before moving to retrieve a card key for him. She searched the area around them before sliding it casually over to him in a small movement, “You didn’t get this from me.”

“You’re a life saver or in this case a marriage saver. Thanks I owe you,” he winked at her before depositing the card into his pocket. He turned to leave before stopping and facing her once again, “That was room five fifteen wasn’t it?”

“No it was actually room five twenty six,” she replied quickly as he offered up a snap of his fingers.

“That’s right,” he smiled at her brightly, “See you’re already making my day better. Things have to be looking up for us both.”

“Good luck with your wife,” she called out after him as he approached the elevators knowing full well that luck would have nothing to do with what he had in mind once he got to Ria’s room. While she had no idea what was in store for her, he knew full well that he was about to give her a whole new perspective on things--one she‘d never forget.


Ria paced around her hotel room shuffling her feet over the carpet as she thought about the pregnancy test she’d just taken in the other room. She’d been so damned shaky when she’d pulled it together earlier after she’d left the bar. To think that there was a possibility that she might be pregnant was just beyond mind boggling. There was no way this could be happening to her now. She couldn’t have this to deal with on top of everything else.

“You’re just having a really bad week,” she thought to herself trying not to let her memories of Kevin get the best of her. As she moved around her hotel room anticipating the time to arrive when she could check the test results she found herself thinking about the last time she’d seen him. She could still remember the pain she’d felt in walking away from him, yet when she thought of how he’d played her for a fool time and time again, she knew she couldn’t live that way.

“I can’t always be his second choice,” Ria mouthed to herself turning around to pace to the other side of the room when she heard the sound of her alarm on her clock going off to alert her that the time was up. She stopped moving and felt herself frozen in the middle of the floor terrified of what she might uncover once she returned to the small bathroom in the hotel room.

“You can do this,” she tried to coach herself into just moving forward and checking the results. In a matter of moments she would know if she and Kevin were truly over or if they would have something that would forever link them to one another. It was in that not knowing that she found herself in the real turmoil. Closing her eyes she thought back to how it felt to have him making love to her, how it was to be in his arms, having him kiss her all over and promise her forever.

“It was just a lie--one that you bought into because you really believed he thought you were special,” she could hear a voice in the back of her mind taunting. Still as she thought about Kevin and how much they seemed to have with one another, her heart sank. She’d been in love with him for so very long, yet those feelings weren’t mutual. The fact that she could be having his child would be irrelevant to him in his quest to always put Angela first.

“That’s it,” Ria forced herself to focus. She brought her hands up through her hair and marched into the bathroom ready to learn the truth. She reached for the wand ready to see if it was pink or blue as the box had indicated, but much to her dismay it was a brown color.

“Brown?” Ria blinked back not able to believe what was happening. She set it aside and reached for the box again reviewing the instructions. “It’s not supposed to be brown. This can’t be happening. Damn it!”

Ria kicked at the trash can knocking it over when another sound rose above the ones she was making in the bathroom. She listened closely before hearing a rustling sound once again. Frowning she reached for her makeup bag as she wondered if someone was in her room. She listened at the door for a moment before unzipping her makeup bag and pulling out the nail file. There was certainly the sound of someone rustling through things, she realized and with a frown she stood taller wishing like hell she’d had her cell phone on her.

“You can do this,” Ria mouthed to her reflection opting to take a step out and confront whomever was in the room. She leapt out quickly in the hopes of stopping whomever was in there, but much to her surprise the room was empty. She looked around and realized that everything was as she’d left it. Suddenly she’d felt foolish.

“You’re getting paranoid,” she mouthed to herself ready to return to the bathroom when she heard a knock on the door. She let out a small yelp before turning towards the sound. Frowning she set down her nail file and vowed to pull herself together. She approached the door taking in a small breath before opening it with a fake smile.

“Hey beautiful,” Craven smiled at her with a wide grin while leaning in casually against the door frame, “did you miss me?”

“How did you?” her eyes widened as she spotted the stranger she’d met at the bar in front of her door.

“The how isn’t important, but rather the what it is that I can do for you is what really matters because I can promise you Ria that what I have for you is something that you want. Quite honestly it’s something that I know you can’t resist taking from me,” he flashed her a cryptic smirk before standing up taller and meeting her dark eyes, “the question is what are you going to give me when I let you know what my real agenda for us is?”

“Excuse me,” she replied blinking back at him with a confused expression. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that by the time I have my chance to tell you what it is I really want from you, you’ll find that you’ll be forever indebted to me,” he explained with an arrogant grin knowing full well that he was on the first step towards getting Ria exactly where he wanted her to be for the future. Of course she had no idea what was in store for her just yet, but he was about to begin what it was he’d set out to do in finding her once again and the best part was she‘d never truly see it coming.


“I really don’t think I have anything to worry about with Avery and Kevin,” Russ shook his head in refusal not giving Angela’s warning any further thought. He closed his eyes briefly and thought back to what had transpired between him and Avery when they were alone with one another. “Don’t get me wrong I can see how it might be easy for you to draw that conclusion, but that’s simply not how it is. I know Avery and I are having our share of problems, but she and I still have something pretty solid.”

“I thought that Brant and I did too, but you see what happened to that,” Angela pointed out with a frown, “Things just come up and you can’t help but find yourself in a situation that you never planned on being in.”

“I realize that considering that your brother beat me to the punch in telling Avery about you and I,” Russ shook his head in frustration, “which was a really stupid thing because I should have been honest with her from the moment I came home. It’s just that we had so much on our plate dealing with Bruce and then Erin and then Brant and…”

“I’m sure it all took it’s toll on the relationship, but once you lie about something, you can’t ever take it back,” she paused thinking about her own situation, “Avery has to be feeling betrayed and hurt right now that you were able to carry on and have a whole other life without her. I mean if you hadn’t regained your memory you and I might be together on the island right now married to one another and sharing a future together.”

“But I did get my memory back and when I was on the island,” he hesitated feeling a moment of anxiety pass over him, “I wasn’t myself and I did things that I wouldn’t normally do.”

“You thought you found love and you were willing to fight for it. You saw me as the woman you loved and it was what you were focused on,” Angela added in reflection, bringing her hand through her dark hair, “You said it yourself that anyone with eyes saw that Kevin had feelings for me and you were one of those people.”

Russ nodded in confession, “I even confronted him on it after he told me to stay away from you.”

“But you didn’t stay away. In fact I’m sure you pursued me more relentlessly,” she wiggled her brow at him suggestively seeing that he was getting a bit uneasy with the topic of discussion, “Face it Russ, Kevin’s a great guy but he’s got an ax to grind since you stepped in his way.”

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this out of you,” he blinked back at her surprise in his voice, “He’s your best friend.”

“Who also happened to murder my husband,” Angela blurted out with a pained expression, “He didn’t even bother trying to deny that one.”

“I’m sure there was a reason why things happened like they did,” Russ answered in a pinched tone, “Kevin doesn’t strike me as a man who is full of violence and rage.”

“Yet you could clearly see that he had feelings for me,” she added with a wrinkled expression, “Face it Russ, I broke his heart. I knew on some level he was in love with me and maybe I lead him on, but when you and I were together I didn’t want to play on what I had with him again. I’d gone down that road of bringing him into my life to throw him away and doing it over and over again. The last time we tried romance we failed miserably and I was ready to move on. He wasn’t prepared for that and the fact that you were the guy that I tried to do that with hurt him.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt him just like I never meant to hurt you or anyone else,” his voice raised with agitation as he stood up from the barstool he was seated on, “If I was myself…”

“But you weren’t yourself Russ,” she matched his movement standing up in front of him, her dark eyes penetrating his, “and as much as you want to keep saying it wasn’t you on some level it was. It was you I spent time with, you who made love to me and you that I was going to marry even if you didn’t know your name. It was in your heart.”

“I was confused. I thought that you were Avery on some level and,” Russ threw his hands up in the air and let out a groan, “This is ridiculous. I only agreed to talk to you because I wanted to help.”

“And that’s what I’m trying to do for you,” she reached out to grab his arm forcing him to turn around and face her, “Russ, if you think that Avery is going to forget and forgive the fact that the man she loves slept with another woman, you’ve got another thing coming. Women don’t forget those things. They don’t forgive someone finding another person in their life and then lying about it.”

“The circumstances aren’t exactly what they seem in this situation,” he further argued with her feeling her fingers curl further around his bicep. “It wasn’t my fault.”

“Regardless of who is to blame the fact to the matter is that we slept together Russ. We almost got married and Kevin hated absolutely every single second of it and Avery’s bound to feel the same way if she loves you like you think she does. I’m sure by now after learning what she did from Cameron, she’s got to be furious with you and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the time that Kevin moved in for the kill,” she explained in a frenzied tone thinking about the man she’d had an on and off again relationship over the years, “I’d even go so far to say that you’re being naïve to think that Kevin wouldn’t take the chance to be with her now if for no other reason than to get back at you and me for what we’ve done. Avery’s being betrayed, so I’m sure if Kevin suggests it, she’ll consider it if for no other reason than to even the score.”

“There isn’t a score to be evened. This isn’t a game. This is my life and I know for a fact that my wife is not going to sleep with Kevin Adonis or any other man for that matter when she loves me,” Russ snapped back at her, agitation growing behind his bright green eyes.

“In a perfect world that would make sense, but right now Russ it’s not a perfect world and the last time I checked she’s not your wife,” Angela blurted out coldly feeling a shudder press over her at the thought of Avery and Brant being together. “Hell at this point even if I did go back to Brant, he’s not free to be mine. He might be the father of my children, but he’s still married to her.”

“That’s irrelevant. He drew up divorce papers,” Russ added with a frown, “but I thought you would have known that considering you and Brant are together.”

“I know it, but that doesn’t mean that things won’t change. I’m sure if Kevin and Brant can’t have me…” Angela started again with a huff.

“Are there no limits to your ego?” he couldn’t help but laugh, “Angela while I tried to be nice about it, the fact to the matter is that in my life there has always been only Avery and there will always be only Avery. Whatever happened on the island is irrelevant to my life and it always will be.”

“But it won’t be to her,” Angela watched him turn away from her in an attempt to step away from the bar and towards the restaurant’s exit. “It won’t ever be irrelevant to her and we both know that.”

“What do you want from me?” Russ finally spun around to face her again, his green eyes narrowing down at her, “Are you trying to use me to hurt Brant? I mean you’re spouting off about how Kevin is going to steal Avery away from me, but is that really what you think?”

“I was just trying to help you with Avery,” she countered bringing her hand up over the center of her chest, “I was just warning you that…”

“No I don’t think that’s it,” he shook his head and frowned in response, “In fact I think that you purposely sought me out for the sole purpose of reminding me of what we had together. I don’t think that you wanted to help me with Avery at all and as for your situation with Brant and Kevin, well I think you have your mind made up about that too. You’re hurting and you’re upset because you can’t trust your own instincts so you have to come in here and get mine in an uproar so that you can feel like you can relate to someone else whose life is equally as screwed up as yours. You want me to think that Kevin and Avery could have something going because you want me to lose my mind in all of this when it seems like I’m going to lose everything else.”

“No, I want to stop you from losing everything that’s ever mattered to you simply because you were too foolish not to open your eyes up to the reality of the situation,” she threw her hands up in the air, raising her voice ever so slightly, “Russ you’re going to lose absolutely everything if you aren’t careful.”

“I think I’ll take my chances on where I’m at right now,” Russ mouthed in response seeing something shift behind Angela’s eyes. Before he could question her on it, she stepped forward reaching out to curl her arm around his neck and draw her nearer to him.

“In that case take your chance on this,” she murmured leaning up on her toes to plummet her mouth to his in a sporadic, impromptu kiss catching Russ completely off guard. He felt her wrap around him, lips commanding and determined as he finally managed to detangle himself from her in a state of shock.

He blinked twice before speaking up with a scowl, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“That’s exactly what I would like to know,” Avery’s voice hissed as well. Russ stood up straighter, feeling a sense of fear jolt right through him as he spun around to see Avery standing in the doorway to the restaurant with Kevin beside her. Suddenly in that instant it felt like all of the walls were crashing down around Russ and there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening!


...to be continued...