Episode 354

“Hey,” Kyle met Mindy at the door as she walked into the hospital and he reached out to her wrapping his arms around her tightly, feeling her head rest against his chest. “You okay? I didn’t know where you were, is everything okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” Mindy tried to assure him as she pressed her hand in over the center of his chest, meeting the worried expression behind his hazel eyes. Feeling his thumb caressing her damp cheek she closed her eyes tightly before turning away from him. “What happened with you and Sarah?”

“It doesn’t matter, she just knows her place now, it’s okay,” he muttered reaching under her chin with his index finger making her look up at him with her light blue eyes. “Listen to me, don’t worry about her. She has no part in our life what so ever, okay? She was just a minor problem that’s all taken care of. Don’t you ever let her bother you again, okay?”

“Yeah,” she bit down on her bottom lip seeing the way his eyes stared out into hers and she knew he was worried. She hated to have people worried about her, she was strong enough to take care of herself. “Kyle, you really don’t have to be with me right now. I’m fine, I don’t need anyone.”

“Everyone needs someone,” Kyle’s jaw tightened as a frown developed over his features and he caressed her cheek gently seeing the way her eyebrows tensed when he said that. “Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on or they’ll never be able to trust anyone. If you don’t have that one person that makes you smile, that one person that can make you feel like you can always come to them--then you are going to have a highly upsetting life.”

“You seem to always know things like that,” Mindy chuckled seeing him smile before reaching out to push a piece of her hair away from her eyes. “I guess that was always why you were kind of my hero back in the day.”

“Well, I’m not as strong as you think I am,” he frowned seeing the way she looked up at him almost like she didn’t believe what he admitted. “You see, I can tell you are trying to be strong Mindy, but even me I couldn’t be strong with something like this. I know it’s hard, but when everyone thought Russ was dead, I went insane. I lost my best friend and I couldn’t hold in, but I never let my feelings out, I kept my anger and my pain in. I tried pushing people away and I didn’t let the people I needed the most in my life in and you know that I made some pretty bad choices.”

“But you were hurting,” she pointed out seeing him nod slowly and she reached out to press her hand in over his shoulder casually. “Kyle, you couldn’t help it and Grady was just as bad back then. It was something that just happened, but you can’t blame yourself for what happened back then.”

“But I do, that’s why I’m begging you Mindy,” Kyle muttered seeing the way her blue eyes searched his for an answer as he nodded slowly. “I’m begging don’t push the people you love the most away right now, they are the people you need in your life, they are your future. Don’t hold everything in, you can be strong still showing your love.”

“I know,” she sighed moving in feeling him reaching out to her again and she rested her head against his chest thinking about Hunt all over again. “But it’s like if I cry, it’s letting him down. Showing I’m not strong.”

“Honey you loved him, crying doesn’t mean you aren’t strong,” Kyle urged her to look up at him as he moved forward to press a small kiss against her forehead. “You’ll never, ever let Hunt down little one. He loved you and he knew you loved him, nothing you can do will let him down.”

Seeing her break down in his arms all over again he reached out hold her close resting his chin against the top of her head hating to see something like this happen to a good kid. There were so many bad people on this planet, but the worst always happened to the best people. Pressing another small kiss against Mindy’s forehead, Kyle’s eyes met the dark glance of a very familiar pair of dark eyes, Mindy’s mother Paula. The woman who grew up hating him and Grady in their college years and he knew by the look in her eyes she wasn’t appreciating the fact that he was with her daughter right now.

“Mindy,” Kyle whispered seeing the way she looked up at him as he nodded over toward Paula seeing the way that Mindy looked back. “You should spend some time with your mother.”

“You’re leaving?” she questioned seeing him take in a long breath before looking over at her mother again before shaking his head slowly. “Kyle?”

“Hey, every will be okay. I will be here no matter what, whenever you need me, I’ll be here,” Kyle muttered leaning down and pressing a small kiss against her cheek feeling her hand give his a small squeeze as he stepped back. “I’ll always be here for you kiddo. You know that. I love you kiddo, just know I’m always here.”

“Kyle,” Paula called out seeing the way Mindy nodded as Kyle started to walk away. After she called him she saw him take a look back over his shoulder at her and she nodded slowly. “Thank you.”

Kyle nodded slowly before letting out a long breath and walking over toward the elevators knowing that if Mindy and her mother had a chance at getting closer, it would be now without him there. With the time he had to himself, he knew what it was he was going to have to do. A big decision that would change the rest of his life forever.


“Avery I can explain,” Russ stammered finding himself unable to believe all that had transpired in the few seconds his argument with Angela had escalated from a verbal dispute to her planting an out of the blue kiss on his lips. However as he saw the pained expression on Avery’s face he knew full well whatever it was he had to say, wouldn’t repair the damage that had been done.

Russ moved away from Angela seeing her standing taller as she glared over at Kevin and in that moment it hit him. She’d been doing that to hurt Kevin. The kiss hadn’t been about anything more than that, yet in her little quest to jab her friend, she’d managed to cause an even greater rift between him and Avery. Frowning he turned to face Avery fully putting his hands in the air.

“Avery, this isn’t what it looks like,” Russ stammered struggling to find the right words to say to her.

“Funny, you accuse me of trying to sleep with Kevin, when it’s clear you were in a quick rush to get back to your mistress here,” Avery spat out at him, disgust pouring out over her. She bit down on her bottom lip before turning to face Kevin, finding herself grateful that they had dropped Erin off at her father’s before stopping for dinner. She focused on Russ again before blurting out, “I’m just glad your daughter wasn’t here to see what kind of man her father truly is.”

“Avery, it’s not what it looks like. You know that I love you and only you,” Russ started to plead with her seeing that she was ignoring him.

“I’m sorry Kevin, but I just lost my appetite,” Avery explained in a quick rush spinning on her heel and racing out of the restaurant without bothering to look back at Russ again.

“Avery wait,” Russ watched her leaving the restaurant and without a second thought he chased after her nearly knocking Kevin over in the process. He was halfway out the door when Angela stood up straighter and glared at Kevin.

“I’m out of here,” Angela announced tucking her purse under her shoulder before heading towards the exit as well only to watch Kevin block her from walking away.

“Oh no,” Kevin shook his head firmly, his dark eyes narrowing down at her, “You’re not leaving just yet because you and I are going to have a talk.”

“In case you didn’t get a clue the other night, I have nothing further that I have to say to you,” she wrinkled her nose at him, attempting to sidestep him only to watch him place his arm out to block her from leaving.

“I don’t think you understand, but I’ll make this very clear. I don’t care what you do or don’t have to say because I’m the one who wants to do a lot of the talking. You see I know exactly what you were doing in that little stunt and from where I stand Angie, you just hit a new low,” he frowned down at her shaking his head with heavy disapproval, “If you ruined their chance at happiness…”

“What the hell do you care about it? You hate Russ anyways,” she mouthed in response, wrinkling her nose at him before giving him a second look, “Unless of course you are getting sweet on Avery like I predicted and you’re trying to become her one and only best buddy now that you can’t have me.”

“Don’t flatter yourself sweetheart,” Kevin rolled his eyes at her, before casting a long look over her, “because from where I stand you have absolutely nothing to offer anyone around you at this point.”

“This is ridiculous,” she pushed at him once again in an attempt to get him out of her way, “I’m leaving.”

“No, you’re not,” Kevin placed his hand on her shoulder firmly, but not too hard to hurt her, just enough to make his point be known, “because as I said before we need to talk and you’re not leaving until we do just that. Now sit down and shut up before I get really upset.”


“Avery wait,” Russ chased after Avery knowing full well that he had to find a way to convince her that what she saw was the furthest thing from what had really been happening when she’d arrived at the restaurant. “Avery please…”

“Just stay away from me Russ,” she snarled at him, not bothering to look back as she kept pushing forward towards Kevin’s car silently wishing that she would’ve drove herself. They had dropped Erin off at her father’s place and then she was talking about all of the reasons that she should give Russ a second chance, yet to see him in a lip lock with Angela sent him over the edge. “I have nothing to say to you.”

“Well I have plenty to say to you,” Russ finally caught up to her reaching to snag her arm with his fingers, “Avery, damn it would you just look at me?”

“Leave me alone,” she shouted, her voice raising with anger and disappointment as she spun around to face him again, tears burning behind her eyes. “Is this what you wanted me to see? Did you want me to find you with her so that you could have an easy out? I mean is that really what you want?”

“No,” he shook his head adamantly keeping his hold on her arm, “Damn it Avery I never wanted her. I don’t know what she was trying to pull back there, but I’ve always wanted only you.”

“It sure looked like it wasn’t that way when she was kissing you,” she rolled her eyes at his remark. She wiped at her face and tried to get him to ease up his hold on her arm, “Let go of me Russ.”

“No,” he pleaded with her, a low, raspy tone in his voice, “Avery you have to believe me when I tell you that nothing happened. It’s not what you think it was. I don’t know why she did that, but…”

“But what? You figured that you’d pick up where we left off together with her since I told you to leave?” she squealed in a rage reaching to slam her fist into his chest, “What? Wasn’t what we shared enough for you?”

“It was more than enough for me,” Russ tried to touch her face only to feel her slap his hand away from her, “Avery you’ll always be everything I want and need…”

“That’s not what it looked like in the restaurant. I saw what you were doing in kissing her,” she argued tears falling from her face, her words coming out short and broken by her emotions, “I know what I saw.”

“You didn’t see what you think you saw. I didn’t kiss her. She kissed me. I have no idea why she did it,” he paused remembering Angela’s face when he’d pulled away from her. The smug expression she’d had told him what she was doing, “No I take that back. I know why she did it. She’s upset with Kevin and she wanted to hurt him…”

“So you thought you’d just jump up to oblige huh?” she shook her head feeling a thundercloud roar above them with the first signs of rain around them. “You figured that you would help her hurt Kevin since it’s something that you’re good at right? You thought he was too close to me, so you wanted to stab him in the heart by going to her.”

“No, that’s not it at all. She showed up when I went to see Kyle. She was upset about Brant and Kevin and needed a friend,” he insisted with a frustrated groan feeling the rain start to come down around them harder than it had been seconds earlier, “Avery I was just trying to help her…”

“With your tongue down her throat,” she let out a pinched laugh, “Oh yeah you were doing a great job of it I’m sure. Of course I’m just sorry that I stepped in and stopped you from getting a chance to make her feel really good.”

“Avery it wasn’t like that. It’s never been like that,” he shook his head insistently, “Avery I love you and only you.”

“Do you honestly expect me to believe that after everything else you’ve said has been a lie Russ?” she asked with a painful expression, the rain soaking through her clothing as she stood before him. She felt her tears hot against her skin in contrast to the cool rain from the clouds above and it only made her shiver even further as she watched him.

“I’m not lying,” he spoke in a low, solemn tone, “Avery I’m not lying to you about any of this. I came here to meet Kevin and…”

“And you figured that you’d once again stick it to him like you did when you thought that he and I were doing something together,” she muttered with a thick air of sarcasm, “That makes you quite the hypocrite considering that you were there kissing her and Kevin and I…”

“Kevin and you what?” he questioned watching her eyelashes flicker in response. “What about Kevin?”

“It’s none of your business what I do or don’t do with anyone at this point Russ because I’m not your wife and obviously you don’t ever want me to be again judging by your actions,” she hissed in response clenching her fists at her sides. “Obviously the life we had together wasn’t good enough for you when you have oh so many other options out there.”

“The life we have together is the only life I want,” he begged of her watching so many things happening behind her dark eyes. He took advantage of the moment and reached out to touch her cheek seeing her lip trembling in response to the rain and her emotions.

“You have a hell of a way of showing it,” she sniffled closing her eyes and thinking about what she’d walked in on.

“Avery, I love you and only you,” he pleaded with her taking her into his arms and kissing her as if he’d never let go in the hopes that she could feel the truth behind his emotions if his words failed to reach her.


“Thanks for bringing this back to me,” Ria clenched her purse over her stomach seeing the way that Craven was looking at her with something behind his eyes that Ria didn’t quite trust. She took in a small breath before bringing one hand through her long, dark hair. “I appreciate your taking the time to get this to me considering that most people would probably have taken what little was in here and ran with it.”

“I’m not like most people,” he leaned in against the doorframe and eyed her with obvious interest, “I thought we already established that I was different than other men.”

“So you are,” she nodded feeling a slight chill creep in over her once again.

“So now that we’ve got that out of the way, how about you invite me in for a nightcap? It’s clear you’re a bit shaken up and that you could use someone to talk to, so what do you say we…” Craven started watching Ria tense up at the suggestion.

“I’m fine,” she explained dismissively noting the way his eyes darted past her and into her hotel room, “better than fine actually and I really think I’m just going to call it a night.”

“Are you sure because I am more than willing to listen to whatever it is you have on your mind,” he stood upright once again reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “I don’t mind being here for such a beautiful woman…”

“Actually,” Ria started opening her mouth to say something more when she heard her cell phone ringing inside of her purse, “I have to go. That’s someone I’ve been waiting for all night and…”

“And?” he gave her a very long once over as she pulled her phone out of her purse.

“Hello,” she answered quickly, “Oh I’m so glad that you made it here. You’re going to be up in a few minutes? Excellent. I was just about to get things ready for us--maybe order some room service. That’s right. Can you hold on for just one second?”

Ria covered the phone with her hand and looked over at a more than curious Craven again, “I’m sorry, but I need to cut this short here.”

“I take it you and Mr. Idiot found a way to mend fences,” he noted with an inquisitive brow.

She nodded before smiling, “Well you know what they say about true love. It has it’s ups and downs along the way.”

“So it would seem,” he nodded in response reaching out for her hand and raising it to his lips to press a kiss over her palm, “Unfortunately I found you too late for us to even have a chance at something along those lines.”

“That’s right I’m very taken,” Ria motioned to her phone again, “and I shouldn’t keep him waiting.”

“I suppose not,” Craven stepped back giving her one last look before Ria shut the door and raised the phone to her ear once again.

“Room service ready for my arrival?” Trisha’s voice squealed on the other end of the line, “What was that all about? Ria, was that a man I heard with you?”

“It’s not what you’re thinking,” Ria quickly double locked the hotel room door before taking a step back into her room. “It was just some guy I met at the bar and…”

“You’re picking up some guy at a bar when I told you that you should call Kevin and mend fences,” Trisha huffed impatiently, “Ria what the hell is wrong with you?”

“Nothing is wrong with me. Well, no that’s not entirely true and before you give me a lecture I called Kevin,” Ria argued with her sister.

“And?” Trisha asked expectantly.

“I hung up before I said anything because he sounded like he was busy,” Ria frowned remembering what she’d heard over the line.

“Busy how?” Trisha couldn’t help but ask.

“Busy like he’s not missing me, which might be a problem considering that I think I may be…” Ria stopped herself before she could only make her situation worse.

“May be what?” Trisha picked up on her sister’s hesitation, “Ria, what’s going on?”

“Trisha, I really don’t want to talk about it especially now considering that I’m sure you’ve had more than your fill of disaster today. You’ve probably got a lot on your mind with what happened to Hunt and…” Ria tried to distract her sister from what was going on.

“Ria, I can tell that something is bothering you by the tone in your voice, so why don’t you just tell me what’s going on? You said you hung up on Kevin and that you think he doesn’t miss you, but if you really think about it, I’m sure you’re wrong,” Trisha started to argue with her, “I know how Kevin feels about you and…”

“And he’s obviously moved on. I’m sure he’s with Angela right now and…” Ria mouthed feeling a frown touch over the corners of her mouth at the thought of Kevin and Angela.

“I highly doubt he’s spending any time with that woman when you’re the one he loves. You know I just don’t get you. One minute you and Kevin are fine and then the next you are so moody and,” Trisha stopped for a long moment of silence before a gasp swept over the other end of the line, “You know you have been really moody lately. More so than usual.”

“Look Trisha I’m hanging up now. I’m tired and…” Ria interrupted wanting to get back to what had been on her agenda before Craven showed up.

“No wait a second. You have been moody and tired and,” Trisha made a small pinched noise before another gasp followed, “Ria are you pregnant?”

“Trisha, I really don’t want to get into…” Ria tried to dissuade her sister’s question.

“Oh my God, you are, aren’t you? You’re pregnant and you ran away to try to deal with this on your own didn’t you now that you and Kevin are fighting,” Trisha deduced in a surprised tone.

“I didn’t run away because I thought I was pregnant Trisha. I came here for a medical conference and it wasn’t until I ran into that guy at the bar that it dawned in on me that I might be pregnant,” Ria paused wishing she hadn’t said that last part to her sister.

“So you are pregnant,” Trisha practically squealed into the phone. “Ria, do you have any idea what this means?”

“For starters I’m not sure if I’m pregnant because I only now just realized that I’m late and secondly,” Ria offered up in response.

“Oh my God, have you told Kevin? I mean is that why you hung up because you were worried about doing this over the phone?” Trisha questioned hurriedly, “He needs to hear about this because I know he’s going to be so excited to be a father. You both are too cute together and I’m sure that any baby you have is going to be beautiful. Of course I know you never planned on having children before you were married, but hey it happens sometime and I’m sure once Kevin hears about this, you’ll work out whatever has been the issue between you lately and we’ll probably get a wedding sooner rather than later.”

“Slow down Trisha,” Ria hushed her sister, “Kevin has no idea that I could be pregnant and right now I think I’m one of the last people he wants to see. I told him it was over.”

“But if you’re pregnant it can’t be over,” Trisha argued with her, “It’s only further proof that you two belong together and you can’t deny it. Kevin loves you and you love him and if you’re having his baby…”

“Trisha, right now I just need to think about this and you have to swear to me that you won’t tell Kevin about any of this,” Ria pleaded with her younger sister, “I don’t know what I’m doing to do here and as it stands, well, I’m just needing time to deal with this one myself… I just need to figure things out and…”

“And what? Ria, you have to tell Kevin,” Trisha snapped in response.

“I’m going to, but I need time to adjust to this too,” Ria could almost hear her sister’s disapproval behind her voice, “Trisha I will tell him, but right now isn’t the time. I swear though that I will do what’s right and I won’t leave him out of this.”

“Ria, honey I know you. You can’t go this alone. You have to tell Kevin and if you don’t I will,” Trisha warned her sharply, “because you two should be together right now.”

“I promise you I will tell him, but don’t you dare do it before I do because this isn’t something he can hear from anyone else,” Ria warned her sharply before falling back onto the bed and closing her eyes, “I just have to find the right way to do this.”

“Fine, but don’t wait too long Ria because you and I know full well that this isn’t something that you can hold back on,” Trisha warned her once again, “Kevin really does love you.”

“I love him too and that’s why this is so hard on me because I’m so afraid that even with this I could still lose him forever,” Ria whispered under her breath realizing that far more was at stake now that she suspected that she could be pregnant with Kevin’s child. If he learned the truth and still wanted to chase Angela, it would be the end of her whether or not she was truly pregnant. On one hand she didn’t want him to know simply to make him feel obligated to be with her, yet in her heart she knew she couldn’t keep something this important from him. Trisha was right. She had to tell Kevin the truth.


“If you don’t know about your own relationship Shannon, who else will?” Dean questioned arching his eyebrow up in response seeing the way she stared out at him blankly. “I mean be honest, do you think you love Don?”

“Maybe,” Shannon muttered shrugging her shoulders as she spoke not quite knowing what to say considering she never really thought about it herself. “I really don’t know about that Dean, how can you expect me to say yes or no?”

“Because when you love someone, you know,” Deidra blurted out seeing the way that Dean glared over at her and she threw her hands up in the air. “All I’m saying is that you have probably one of the nicest guys in this town and you can’t seem to treat him right. Don is perfect, Don is amazing and he loves you. The only problem I’m seeing right now is you.”

“Deidra,” Dean shot her a begging look seeing the way that Shannon looked down toward the ground. “I’m not saying you are wrong sweetheart, but…,”

“No, she’s right Dean,” Shannon pointed out seeing the glance that Deidra gave her before folding her arms out in front of her chest to listen to what Shannon had to say. “I don’t know what to do sometimes because I’ve never been in a relationship like this before.”

“I’ll tell you what you have to do, you’re married Shannon,” Deidra stated seeing the way Shannon’s brown eyes stared up into hers and Deidra shook her head slowly. “That’s something you can’t just get out of in a matter of moments. What you need to do if you really love Don and you aren’t just playing mind games with him, you go and you make things right. That’s what you do when you are in love with someone.”

Hearing a silence fill through the room Deidra threw her hands up in the air hating the fact that Shannon couldn’t make a decision over someone like Don. A guy who was amazingly nice and a perfect father, it was like Shannon wanted to make her life horrible.

“I’m not going to stay in here,” Deidra walked over toward the door seeing the way Dean stared out at her and he shook his head slowly thinking about what she was saying, knowing she was right but Shannon would never get it like that. “I don’t want to say something complete and utterly rude.”

“Okay. She’s right you know,” Dean pointed out after seeing Deidra walk out of the room and he saw Shannon roll her eyes and he nodded slowly. “She is right Shannon. Why can’t you make a decision when it’s more than clear that you are still in love with Don.”

“I wouldn’t call it love,” she half laughed seeing the disbelief behind his eyes as she looked up at him and shrugged her shoulders. “I mean really, Don is just a big loser that only has his world surrounded by the dumbest things.”

“Wow, I can see that. You’re right,” Dean bit down on his bottom lip seeing the way she glanced at him almost confused to why he was agreeing with her and he let out a long breath. “I mean protecting your son, your best friends and your wife is a dumb thing to do. I can see where you are coming from.”

“Oh come on, don’t throw it on me like that,” Shannon begged seeing Dean stand up and roll his eyes before walking over toward the window and she stood up slowly. “You don’t know anything about Don and the way he is around other people. I saw him with another girl today and she was pawing at him completely. Her hands were all over him and I could tell he liked it.”

“Is that so?” Dean looked at her over his shoulder for a moment shaking his head as he thought about it. Glancing outside he was trying to put things nicely for Shannon, but no matter what he could do he couldn’t say something nice. “I see.”

“You see?” she blurted out catching that Dean wasn’t even looking at her and she moved in closer to him throwing her hands up in the air. “He is out there trying to replace me with the first bimbo that is ready to jump him and that’s the kind of man he is. He’ll leave you for the first thing that drops right in front of him. I just can‘t believe he replaced me so fast with that blonde, she was so not his type, but I should have known. I should have known that he was like this considering his best friend was exactly the same.”

“You idiot,” Dean hissed turning around to meet Shannon’s widened eyes as he moved in closer to her, his dark eyes searching hers. “What in the hell makes you think he is replacing you?”


“You are so going down Brant,” Don shouted shoving his friend out of the way before shooting his gun at the television screen in front of him. The video game popped to action as Brant nudged his pal in the ribs in response before reclaiming his place in front of the game system shooting away and attempting to double his score in a matter of seconds.

“Don’t bet on it Don because the way I see it I’m still in the game,” Brant shouted in response feeling his score rising rapidly by the second while Don fought to catch up and move ahead in the game.

“Face it Brant, you’re good, but I’m the best,” Don teased poking at his friend again while Matt watched the two of them and shook his head.

“You two are ridiculous,” Matt groaned inwardly before motioning to the door, “I’m going to go find Annie and see if Peanut wants to go for a walk or something.”

“Make sure you don’t leave before telling me if you do take her for a walk,” Don paused the game to watch his son closely, “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“Dad I’m just going to walk around the garden with Annie and Peanut,” Matt frowned up at his father, “It’s not like you can get lost in there, well if you’re an idiot maybe, but still.”

“Just let me know when you’re leaving and when you’re back,” Don held his arms out towards his son, “and you’re not going without giving the old man a hug.”

“In that case,” Matt walked over to Brant and hugged his leg, “I’ll see you in a little while Uncle Brant.”

“Very cute,” Brant picked Matt up and into his arms before tickling him, “You think you’re funny, don’t you?”

“I know I’m funny,” Matt grinned proudly a tiny laugh bubbling over him as he turned to his father, “but seriously I’ll be okay dad. I’m with Annie. The last time I was here we spotted a new flower that she wasn‘t really sure what kind it was. I looked it up and got a whole bunch of information that I have to tell her about it.”

“Just be easy on her,” Don teased reaching for his son and hugging him tightly before setting him down on the floor again.

“I thought I heard my name,” Annie popped her head into the arcade and as Matt had anticipated she had Peanut on her leash ready to go for her evening stroll. “You ready Matt?”

“You bet I am,” Matt waved back at Brant and Don before joining Annie and reaching for Peanut’s leash, “You know where you can find us.”

“Have fun little buddy,” Brant waved before watching Matt and Annie leave with Peanut. Finally he turned to Don and laughed, “How did you wind up with such a brilliant son?”

Don shrugged his shoulders, “I guess he just gets it from good old dad.”

“Or Stephanie,” Brant teased with a small laugh remembering Don’s late wife, “She was always the brains in the family.”

“Very true,” Don nodded in response. He sank down onto one of the chairs in the arcade putting the game on hold for a while as he sighed, “She was always one step ahead of me.”

“More like three or four at least,” Brant noted moving over to take a seat beside his friend, “You know I see more of her in Matt each time I’m with him.”

“So do I,” Don replied with a thoughtful expression, “I’m glad though because it’s good to know he’s not an idiot like his dad. I mean you and I both know how he’ll end up. He’ll take Peanut for the walk, then end up in the library reading anything he can get his hands on.”

“Good thing I don’t leave the girlie magazines in there,” Brant teased with a small wink.

“I’m just waiting for the day that he locates mine,” Don laughed lightly thinking about his son’s curiosity, “Boy will I be in for a lecture then considering my son is far more evolved where I am when it comes to women.”

“Give it time. By the time he hits the teen years he’ll see what all the fuss is about,” Brant chuckled leaning over to pop open the door on the mini-refrigerator he had set up near them. He pulled out a couple of bottles of water and tossed one at Don, “That’ll be when the real fun in parenting begins.”

“The real fun actually starts the day they are born,” Don paused thinking about his son’s arrival in the world, “I mean yeah there were a lot of things that I would change starting with losing Stephanie, but from the moment Matt came into my life I knew I would never be the same. He’s the most important person in the world to me.”

“As he should be,” Brant noted with a thoughtful expression, “He’s a good kid.”

“He’s the best,” Don nodded in agreement eyeing his friend once again, “and I’m sure that your son and daughter will both be incredible too. They’ll probably both be quite a handful once they are able to start running around considering who their father is.”

“That’s if I can ever see them,” Brant sighed heavily tension sweeping in over him, “I mean even when I saw her earlier, I can feel that Angela is hesitant to listen to me--to really hear me out. Cameron’s poisoned her against me and it’s going to take a lot of work to get her back in my good graces.”

“But you’ll manage to do it. I know you love her and she loves you,” Don added encouragingly in an attempt to give his friend a pep talk, “She’ll see that you aren’t what he says you are sooner or later.”

“I’m starting to wonder if that will happen Don,” Brant sighed, worry evident behind his eyes, “My father did some horrible, rotten things and I don’t know if any of us can ever truly rise above it. For all I know he could have murdered her father and that’s something that will always haunt her.”

“After all the things that son of a bitch has done to you, well, it’s not like you’re not a victim here either Brant,” Don pointed out with a frown, “You aren’t to blame for what he’s done.”

“I know that, but there’s so many things I wish I could have prevented--so many situations I wish I could have changed,” Brant’s dark eyes clouded with worry, “and if that keeps me from Angela.”

“As long as you both are in this world, then nothing can keep you from being together,” Don added hopefully before offering up a teasing wink, “Besides once she comes to her senses she’ll realize that she can’t go for long without bedding you. She’s too hot for you and that Ashford spirit there.”

Brant couldn’t help but laugh shaking his head at his friend’s words, “Is that how it works with you and Shannon?”

“No, think train wreck and disaster,” Don’s smile faded, “throw in a bit more chaos and that’s Shannon and I.”

“Have you talked to her?” Brant couldn’t help but ask worried about his friend’s situation.

“She’s not listening,” Don sighed heavily popping the cap off of his water and taking a long sip of it, “She came over to the hospital after I was there talking to Deana and Jason about the shooting…”

“I heard about that,” Brant admitted with a pained expression, “that has to be hard on Jason. I can’t even imagine what he’s going through right now.”

“A good case of survivor’s guilt I’m pretty sure,” Don shuddered at the thought, “Something I’m very familiar with considering.”

“But you were able to pull things together and I’m sure Jason will too, though if he needs anything,” Brant offered up sitting up straighter, “You can always send him over this way if he needs to talk.”

“Yeah,” Don nodded back at him, “he always did enjoy talking with you when you were around. I think he said something about it being like he was having a court jester in his life or something.”

“Very funny,” Brant rolled his eyes at his friend, “Jason’s a pretty cool kid, just like Deana and they should know if they ever need anything, I’m always here. I’ve seen Deana, but I don’t think she’s too big on me lately especially after that whole paternity thing I tried with Avery.”

“Deana’s a hard one to crack,” Don confessed rubbing his temple as he looked to his friend, “but I think that’s got a lot to do with her having to grow up so young. Man, if Steph was around I know they would’ve been the best of friends and sometimes I wish that I could be more like Steph and help her with what’s going on in her life. I can see there is a lot she’s holding back on and I worry about her.”

“If you think she needs a woman’s touch, she can always talk to Annie or Blake,” Brant suggested openly, “Blake’s not much older than her and I’m sure she could offer a little bit of girlfriend advice if you will.”

“I’ll suggest it and see if she’s open to it,” Don shrugged his shoulders once again, “Something’s got to give.”

“Especially for you pal,” Brant took a long swig of his water, “You’re a great guy always wanting to save the world and it’s about time that someone tries to save you.”

“I don’t need saving, just some clarity especially now,” Don revealed his thoughts lingering to Shannon again, “My wife just doesn’t get it. No matter how hard I try to explain things, there’s always going to be this distance between us. It’s like no matter what I do and what I say there’s always something she’s condemning me for.”

“Yeah, you’d mentioned she was at the hospital,” Brant reminded him thinking of their earlier conversation, “What was wrong this time?”

“She saw me with Jewel and she flipped out,” Don shrugged his shoulders before leaning back in his chair, “I just didn’t have the time or the energy to fight with her about it and I kind of walked away.”

“Wait a second,” Brant sat up straighter, his brown eyes now filled with a sudden curiosity. “You and Jewel were together and you’re still alive to talk about it?”

“She’s just a friend Brant,” Don pointed out once again catching Brant’s disbelieving look.

“Right,” Brant mouthed in response, “I can almost believe that considering that last time I saw her with you, the two of you were about to get yourselves thrown out of that restaurant because you both were engaged in some pretty x-rated activity in a public place.”

“At least we didn’t get arrested,” Don chuckled in response shaking his head at the memory.

“So tell me, she still hot?” Brant wiggled a curious brow.

Don hesitated before finally nodding, “Yeah she’s still pretty hot.”

“I see, so that leads me to my next question,” Brant couldn’t help but ask, “She still hot for you?”

“She’s married Brant and so am I,” Don frowned over at his friend, “I love my wife no matter how neurotic she is.”

“More like psychotic,” Brant corrected with a tiny smirk, “and as for Jewel, well she and Paul being married is like me being a saint. It just isn’t happening. Those two have been in divorce court for years. Besides, did you see her new television show on the food channel?”

“Um yeah,” Don practically gulped, “and I was surprised that the censors let that one be on screen considering how sultry it was. Hey, I thought you weren’t into cooking instructionals there.”

“I’ve picked up a few things as I’ve grown up,” Brant laughed lightly, “especially since Angela is in awe of my cooking. It helps to brush up on a few new techniques.”

“Yeah well seeing Jewel on that show and the way she dresses doesn’t exactly inspire most men to brush up on their cooking skills,” Don added with a small laugh. “They all tend to get a rise out of other aspects of the show.”

“Speaking from experience?” Brant arched a curious brow again.

“Let’s just say I’ve noticed she’s still hot and leave it at that because that’s as far as it’s going to go,” Don wrinkled his brow dismissing his thoughts of seeing Jewel again. “Besides, when I called her into town I was just telling her about Cori’s situation and…”

“Wait,” Brant’s eyes widened again, “You called Jewel? As in you’re the one that brought her back?”

“Yeah, what of it,” Don shrugged again seeing the way that Brant was watching him. “What?”

“No wonder Shannon is out for blood. If you’re calling Jewel again, it can only mean one thing and that’s trouble,” Brant noted thinking of Don’s connection with the one woman in Coral Valley who had found her way into Don’s life shaking it up in more ways than anyone had ever thought possible.


Hart felt an ache in his temple as he found himself buried in the paperwork that had followed his agreeing to move to BBK and fill Avery’s former position with the company. While he always welcomed the challenge of a new task, there was something a bit mundane about the whole aspect of business law as opposed to being in the courtroom and charming the judge and jury. Granted this seemed like easier work, but there was much less involved in going for the kill.

“If I wasn’t working for Brant, I probably wouldn’t be there,” Hart recalled what he’d told Jenna earlier about his new position in the company. Of course the fact that his paycheck had increased dramatically didn’t hurt, but still he’d always thrived on drama which wasn’t exactly around the BBK scene--at least not currently.

“Time for a break,” Hart mouthed to himself realizing that it was far too quiet at the apartment without Jenna around. He’d opted to take a day out of the office to work at home and possibly spend some time with her, but she’d been called in after there was a horrible pile up on the road not far from the edge of town. Of course that tragedy had left him alone to focus, but he’d found he would’ve preferred the company instead.

“Enough of this,” Hart decided going into the kitchen and contemplating making himself a sandwich. He opened up the refrigerator door when the phone started to ring. Standing up he felt a moment of relief carry over him at the thought of having to talk with someone after a day of far too much quiet in the apartment. He moved over to the phone and answered in a cheerful tone, “Hello.”

“Hart, hey it’s Barbara,” the voice explained on the other end of the line.

“I know who you are,” Hart replied brightly thinking about his old friend, “I would recognize your voice anywhere. How are you doing?”

“I wish I could say that I was doing well, but what I’m about to say isn’t really a social call,” she replied a sudden seriousness in her tone, “I know that it probably isn’t my place, but I remembered that you were kind of a mentor to Hunt for a while with his family being close to yours and all…”

“Hunt,” Hart repeated a worry carrying over him, “Barbara, is something wrong with Hunt?”

“He’s dead,” Barbara blurted out with a pained tone. “There was a shooting last night at one of the local mini-marts.”

“I saw something about that on the news this morning, but only in passing,” Hart admitted realizing that he’d shut the television off earlier in the name of focusing on his work. “Barbara, are you sure that Hunt…”

“He was one of the few that were involved in the shooting. He held on for a little while, but there was too much damage. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but I just thought you should know. I know someone called his parents earlier, but…”

“I should probably check in with them since they are like family,” Hart replied feeling a heaviness carry over him, “I don’t believe this. I mean how can something like this happen?”

“I wish I had the answers, but…” she paused for a moment, “You know if you’d like I can come over and we could talk for a while or something if you need me to.”

“Jenna should be home later, but thanks for calling me Barbara,” Hart finally replied struggling to keep his emotions in tact. “Thank you for letting me know about this.”

“I don’t feel like this is something you should be thanking me for,” she replied with a heavy sigh. “If you need anything though, anything at all…”

“You’ll be one of the first people I call,” he promised again before saying his good-byes. He hung up the phone and closed his eyes thinking about when he’d first met Hunt when the Lockharts had adopted him. Hunt was a survivor of so many things and yet to hear that he’d fallen to tragedy himself only reaffirmed how unfair things truly were in this world. Hart’s thoughts lingered to his friends and he thought about making a call to them to offer his condolences and anything else they might need, but before he could follow through on those thoughts, he heard a sound at his front door.

“Jenna,” he mouthed to himself making his way to open the door for her, but instead he found Sam standing before him greeting him with a big, bright smile.

“Hi dad,” she waved up at him in her usual cheerful tone, “I hope this isn’t a bad time.”

“It’s not a bad time at all,” Hart replied unable to contain himself as he reached out to pull her into an embrace, “It’s never a bad time where you’re concerned. I love seeing you.”

“I love seeing you too,” she admitted hugging him in return before she felt something behind his hold on her. She tipped her head up and noticed the tears behind his eyes and she felt a worry overtake her, “Dad, is something wrong?”

“A family friend just passed away. He was involved in a shooting and someone killed him. He was just so young. He wasn’t much older than you,” Hart admitted painfully thinking about Hunt and his short life, “I watched him grow up over the years and he was a very special person. He had his whole life ahead of him and now…”

“Oh dad, I’m so sorry,” Sam offered up seeing how upset he was.

“It’s just when I think about what his family is going through,” Hart stopped himself reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of pain they are experiencing right now, yet when I think about how much time they believed they had left, I can’t help but find myself thinking about us--about you.”

“Dad, I’m right here,” Sam offered up feeling him pull her into another embrace.

“I know, but we missed so much time together and I don’t want to take any of what we have together for granted. I don’t want us to miss a moment with one another again because I don’t want to ever have to lose you like that Sam,” he admitted choked up on his emotions. “I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you like that.”

“You’re not going to. I promise you,” she replied returning his embrace as she realized that right now her father needed her more than ever. Even though she had no idea what was happening, she knew in her heart that right now the best thing she could do was stay there and support her father through this time of grief.


“Mom,” Mindy muttered stepping forward after Kyle left them alone and she looked toward the ground, not quite knowing what to say as she took in a deep breath. “I take it Trisha called you about this, right?”

“Yeah,” Paula nodded seeing the way her daughter avoided eye contact with her at all possible chances and she knew her daughter was hurting inside. Mindy never looked away from someone, she never did that. “You have some pretty good friends.”

“Yeah,” Mindy agreed taking in a long breath wiping at her eyes with that back of her hand looking to the side to see if maybe she could try and start a new conversation. “They are all pretty great.”

“So that Kyle Houston,” Paula muttered seeing Mindy’s reddened blue eyes look up at her and Paula took in a long muted breath. “He was with you this whole time, right?”

“If you are going to talk bad about him mom, I don’t want to hear it,” Mindy informed her with a small shake of her head thanking god that she could have someone like Kyle in her life to be there for her. “He has been a good friend to me all along and nothing you can say can change that. He’s amazing and I would probably be breaking down even more if he hadn’t been with me.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything wrong about him,” Paula moved forward gently setting her hand in against the curve of her daughter’s shoulder. “I was going to say I appreciated everything he did for my baby girl. That I was never so happy to see someone that cared so much for my little girl.”

“Yeah, well,” Mindy paused thinking about Kyle the way he was always there for her when she needed him the most. Even when she was a kid he was always there for her to protect her. “He’s like my big brother and I would be lost without him.”

“Well then I guess it’s a good thing you have him here then,” Paul reached down to squeeze Mindy’s hand tightly seeing the way that Mindy’s eyes started to water over again. Seeing her daughter in pain she felt her own eyes overcome with emotion, squeezing her hand tighter. “I’m so sorry baby. Hunt was a good boy.”

“He was too good mom, he was too good for me and he died with a lie,” Mindy muttered seeing the way Paula stared out at her and she shook her head slowly. “I can’t ever tell him what he meant to me during the time we were together. I’ll never be able to tell him the truth and now I’m stuck with that pain. He shouldn’t have died mom.”

“I know sweetheart,” she reached out to hold her daughter in her arms tightly, squeezing her in close thanking god that it wasn’t Mindy that left this world. Feeling her own emotions take in more effect she held Mindy closer hating that the man Mindy loved left her forever and she knew for one that was a horrible feeling. “It’s not fair.”

“No it’s not mom,” Mindy pulled back slowly feeling Paula’s hand press in against her damp cheek and Mindy closed her eyes imaging the way that Hunt smiled. Every time he smiled around her it felt like everything was going to be okay, like the world around them didn’t matter. “I would do anything just to see his smile again, but that’s never going to happen because he’s gone mom. He died before he should have and now I can’t ever tell him the truth and that’s going to kill me inside. It’s going to kill me inside for the rest of my life and that’s something that is going to hang in over me for a long time.”

“I know baby, but he knows,” Paula hushed pulling her in closer and resting her hand against Mindy’s back gently. Pressing a small kiss against her forehead she bit down on her bottom lip before shaking her head slowly. “He knows baby and he has nothing against you. He’ll always love you. You need to know that. He’ll always be right in your heart, you can’t let him go. You don’t have to, he’ll always be with you baby and that’s what matters.”


“Excuse me?” Shannon placed her hand over her chest seeing the angered look behind Dean’s features showing her that he was angry with her. It was a look that she had never really seen from him before, in fact he had never blown up at her like that before in the whole time they have known each other. “What did you just call me?”

“I called you an idiot Shannon because that’s what you are,” Dean muttered running his hands through his thick dark hair and thinking about what would make sense to her. “You sit here this whole time thinking just about yourself, there are other people in this world hurting Shannon. Don’t you think Don could be one of them?”

“Of course he could,” she paused thinking about the words he was telling her and how Don had told her about his past. That still didn’t explain the scene she saw before her with Don and that blonde earlier. “Honestly though, that gives him no right to go and jump the bones of the next girl he finds.”

“What was he doing when you saw him Shannon?” he eyed her over carefully throwing his hands up in the air before shaking his head slowly. “Were they on top of his desk, against the wall, or hey maybe even on his couch? Or were they just hugging Shannon because if that’s the case, does that mean if I hug you, I’m cheating on Deidra?”

“Well,” she paused knowing that he was trying to prove her wrong and obviously it was working more than she would like to admit. “No you wouldn’t be cheating on her Dean we’re friends, but this is different.”

“You mean Don can’t have friends of the opposite sex?” Dean questioned again seeing the way she turned away from him and he reached out to grab her shoulder. “Shannon you have to realize how ridiculous you sound right now. I know deep down in that crazed mind of yours you have some feelings for Don. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here with me right now worrying twenty-four seven about it Shannon. You need to realize what it is you really want in your life before it’s gone. And when it’s gone, this thing is going to be gone forever. I know you like Don, but is your heart--no it’s not your heart this time. Is your brain big enough to actually go through with this, are you smart enough to actually realize what you have before it’s gone.”

“Well, that’s a nice way to put it,” Shannon fell back down to the couch running her fingers through her long blonde hair, closing her eyes and imagining Don’s blue eyes. “I don’t know Dean, it’s harder than you think.”

“It’s not hard to say I love you when you mean it,” he informed her with a small nod not believing that someone could honestly be this confused about the person they cared about. “Shannon, I love Deidra and I would never ever let her go, I say I love her every chance I get because I don’t know how much longer I will have with her every day of my life. If I say I love you and that night I die, at least I know I died letting the person I loved with everything that I was know that I loved them. You’re leading Don in circles and you think it’s all about your life Shannon. It’s not just your life Shannon, it’s his too. He has a son, he has a past, and damn it he has a heart. I’m sure every time you are here telling me all these things Shannon, he is at home and what left he has of his heart is tearing a little bit more every minute because of what you put him through. You need to open your eyes now Shannon. You have to realize what it is you want and you have to grab it because if you don’t, I’m not going to be here to save you. No one is going to be here to save you and you know what? I think you need to see the light, the thing that makes your life worth living. Are you going to wake up alone every morning or are you going to want to wake up to those blue eyes staring into yours? Do you want to be with Don the rest of your life Shannon? Do you? That’s the one question you have to answer, you have to answer it now and follow your choice because if you don’t it doesn’t matter what you want, it will be long out of reach. You need to make a choice and you need to make it now. What you choose I don’t care, but make the right one because this is your last chance Shannon. Don’t waste it.”


“I told you Brant it’s not like that,” Don frowned at his pal’s insinuations about Jewel, “There’s absolutely nothing going on. Her sister is in trouble and she’s having some problems with Stacy.”

“Stacy,” Brant repeated thinking about Jewel’s daughter, “What is she like ten now?”

“Try fourteen going on fifteen,” Don corrected thinking about Jewel’s daughter, “She’s about Lindsay’s age now.”

“Already,” Brant blinked back with a small laugh, “wow we’re getting old, aren’t we?”

“One of us is,” Don teased back, “but hey at least we still seem young to the rest of the world.”

“Even so it’s so hard to believe that Stacy is already at that age. Last time I saw her was at that party your folks had remember the one where Jewel and Paul wound up having that big fight?” Brant noted thinking about the past.

“Yeah the one that Dave tried to break up and he ended up face first in the cake my parents had,” Don noted with a tiny laugh, “The poor guy he is always getting the brunt of the problems his sisters have. I don’t know how he does it.”

“Me neither, but you have to give him credit. I mean Jewel and Cori are both hot, but there is just something upstairs that isn’t all there,” Brant circled his hand around in the air before laughing lightly, “thought that didn’t stop you from entertaining the idea of spending your life with Jewel.”

“I was drunk,” Don frowned back at his friend, “I asked her to marry me after a night of almost drinking myself to senselessness after Stephanie wouldn’t go out with me. I was feeling desperate…”

“And horny,” Brant added catching the glare that Don gave him. “Don’t even try to deny it.”

“I won’t, but still,” Don laughed lightly shaking his head at the memory, “I might have been Stacy’s father if things had turned out differently.”

“Yeah, but then you never would have had Matt or anything else that happened along the way,” Brant added seeing something flash behind his friend’s eyes.

“I wouldn’t trade that for the world you know,” Don confessed choked up on his emotions, “Even if I knew that things would end like they did, I wouldn’t have changed a single second that I had with Stephanie other than I would’ve tried harder to save her.”

“I know,” Brant nodded seeing his pal getting all choked up.

“I just miss her so damn much,” Don explained feeling himself getting misty-eyed at the idea of what he’d lost. “Is it so wrong of me to want to carry a part of her with me still?”

“You shouldn’t feel guilty for loving her because what you both had was special,” Brant added hearing footsteps in the hallway indicating Matt was returning, “It still is.”

“I know,” Don cleared his throat seeing his son standing in the doorway once again.

“Dad, you would not believe what I found out there,” Matt explained proudly rushing into the room and displaying a clear plastic case he’d had in his hands. “I know it seems silly, but I found the most amazing butterfly and, well just look at her.”

Matt held up the butterfly for display hoping to get his father’s attention and approval. He showed Don the colorful butterfly as it moved around the container swiftly.

“She’s beautiful Matt, but I don’t think she’s really the kind of pet that we can take home,” Don started thinking about his son’s find.

“She’s not a pet,” Matt shook his head at his father, “I wasn’t planning on keeping her because that would kill her. I just wanted to show you what she looked like since you said that mom used to collect butterflies too.”

“That’s right,” Don pulled his son up into his lap, “She used to love butterfly charms and figurines. She thought they were beautiful.”

“Just like she was, right?” Matt questioned with wide eyes watching his father closely.

“She was amazingly beautiful,” Don nodded in agreement reaching out to touch the side of his son’s face, “She would be so proud of you.”

“I would be very proud of her too because she gave me a good dad,” Matt leaned forward to hug his father before wiggling in Don’s lap and motioning to the butterfly, “but I have to let her go here before I end up hurting her. She can’t stay caged up.”

“No she can’t,” Don nodded in agreement touched by the moment with his son before looking to Brant.

“You know I think I know of the perfect place we can let her go,” Brant spoke up from his long silence after watching the touching moment between Don and Matt. “I used to have this tree house when I was younger and your mom, dad and I played in it all the time. It’s right out by the gardens and I’m sure that we can take her up there and let her go. She’ll be able to fly with the other butterflies that hang out up there.”

“You mean you have more around here?” Matt’s eyes widened with curiosity.

“A whole lot more,” Brant nodded in confession glancing over at his friend, “What do you say Don? Think you still have it in you to climb up to the tree house?”

“If you can scale the side of mansions, then you know I can more than keep up with you at the tree house,” Don laughed lightly scooping his son up into his arms as he vowed to stop worrying about all the other issues in his life for a while and focus on the one thing that mattered most to him in this world--his son.


“Are you sure I can’t get you anything?” Sam questioned realizing that things still weren’t right with her father. While she hadn’t known the person that had died it was clear that the loss was clearly effecting her father. “I can call Jenna if you’d like and…”

“I don’t want to bother her,” Hart replied with a small smile before his dark eyes met hers again, “Right now I just want to spend time with you. Let’s talk.”

“Okay,” she replied taking a seat on the sofa across from him, “What would you like to know?”

“How are you doing? I mean really doing?” he couldn’t help but ask as he thought about how much time he’d missed out with his daughter.

“I would be better if you weren’t hurting,” she admitted honestly reaching out to squeeze his hand. “Dad, if you want to talk about this, I’m here for you.”

“I just don’t know what to say,” Hart confessed honestly, “I mean I knew him for most of his life since his family was friends with our family, but there was a lot that I still didn’t know about him. He was only a child when the Lockharts adopted him. They wanted to give him the world after his parents died.”

“I’m sure that they did in their own way,” she replied thinking about how hard it must‘ve been for the family to learn they’d lost their son.

“They wanted so many things for him, but like the rest of us we all take time for granted thinking that we have plenty of it,” Hart explained tipping his head to the side and looking over at her once again. “It’s easy to get lost in the unimportant stuff when you aren’t focusing on what really matters.”

“Dad,” Sam started hating to see her father so upset.

“Sam all I’m saying is that we never really know how much time we have left and when I think about what the Lockharts must be going through now that he’s gone,” Hart glanced over at her once again, “I would hate for that to happen with us. You need to be careful wherever you are. You know that, don’t you?”

“Of course I do,” she nodded in response, “I’m not going to go out of my way to put myself in a dangerous situation.”

“He wasn’t planning on that either, yet there he was in the middle of a blood bath,” Hart shuddered at the thought of what had happened, “I just couldn’t live with that happening to you.”

“And I couldn’t live with that idea where you’re concerned either. You’re the one who is the lawyer. You deal with psychos and criminals all the time,” she pointed out with a frown of her own. “You are the one who is at risk daily.”

“Not so much anymore since I’m just working for Brant,” he admitted thinking about how he’d been bored with the normalcy of his work, but now after what had happened to Hunt it put things into perspective. “I’m pretty safe in my office away from the rest of the world.”

“Really?” she arched a curious brow, “How is that working out for you?”

“It’s something different, but it’s okay,” he paused realizing that she was trying to open up the lines of communication between them, “What about you? How is the school hunt going?”

“It’s going,” she admitted with a small smile, “but the apartment hunt is what I’ve been focused on. Wayne and I want to find something bigger since I’m not staying with mom anymore.”

“Wait a second. You’re planning on moving in with Wayne?” Hart’s eyes widened as she nodded, “Sam, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea considering that…”

“That what? You’re living with Jenna,” she pointed out with a small scowl.

“And we’re adults,” he shot back at her catching the glare she issued him.

“And so am I. I love Wayne and it’s not like we’re not in a serious relationship with one another,” she curled her lip in protest. “Dad, I’m not staying with mom and I’m certainly not moving in with you and Jenna when this place is cramped enough with the baby on the way.”

“Fine, then move into my place,” Hart suggested without hesitation, “I haven’t been able to sell it yet and…”

“I can’t afford your place,” she replied thinking about the lavish condo her father had, “It’s too expensive for me.”

“I’ll foot the bill,” he shrugged his shoulders without hesitation, “Heaven knows I can afford it.”

“Dad, I’m moving in with Wayne. I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but…” she started to protest knowing full well this wasn’t the time to get into the subject with Hart, “We’ve been living together for a while already. We just wanted something bigger.”

“Fine, then stay at the condo until you’ve settled in on something,” he paused feeling a moment of reluctance carry over him before he spoke up again, “Even if that means bringing Wayne with you.”

“Are you serious?” she searched his eyes for a long moment seeking out protest.

“Yeah, I’m serious. If it helps, then stay there,” Hart finally nodded in spite of himself, “I would much rather you two being in a better area until something good comes along.”

“Oh thank you,” she replied reaching out to hug him excitedly, “I’ll tell Wayne all about it and if he says it’s okay, then we’ll move in this week.”

“And here I thought you might fight me on the issue,” he laughed lightly before squeezing her in his arms, “I love you Sam.”

“I love you too dad,” she assured him thinking about how good it was to finally have him in her life after all the years that they spent apart. While time had been stolen from them in the past, she vowed to make the most of what they had left with one another even if it was on limited moments.


“I’m not sitting down Kevin because I have nothing else to say to you,” Angela informed him with a small shake of her head feeling him grab her hand in his as he pulled her hard, but not enough to hurt her over towards the table so she would sit. “I don’t even want to talk to you right now.”

“Good, that’s real good because I want to be the one that talks,” Kevin replied sitting across the table from her, his light chocolate brown eyes filled with anger. “What is your problem Angie? Are you just out to hurt everyone in the world because you aren’t happy with yourself or something?”

“Please Kevin,” Angela rolled her eyes crossing her legs as she looked towards the window trying to do anything that wouldn’t make her give him eye contact. “I don’t need anyone to make my life better.”

“That’s obvious because you are going to end up being with no one if you continue to do things like this,” he informed her with a small shake of his head, a muscle in his jaw tightening as he watched her make sure she didn’t look him in the eyes. He reached his hand out to slide his fingers in underneath her chin making her look at him. “Look at me when I talk to you.”

“Go find someone else who cares Kevin,” Angela went to get up feeling him wrap his thick fingers around her wrist so that she would sit back down. She pulled her hand away from his before shaking her head slowly. “You think you are really that great don’t you? Well, let me tell you now Kevin, you aren’t perfect--you are far from it.”

“You don’t think I know that?” Kevin snapped right back at her seeing her dark eyes staring into his seeming as if she was acting dumb with all the things that were happening around her. “Just listen to me Angie and listen to me good. Stay away from Russ and Avery, they belong together. They don’t need someone like you hanging around them and always trying to break them up. They have a baby, does that mean nothing to you?”

“Please Kevin, like you really think he wants to be with her,” Angela furthered the subject seeing Kevin glaring out at her, a muscle in his jaw tensing as he stared out at her. “You just saw him kissing me like that and…”

“Bull shit,” Kevin cut her off angrily seeing some of the people around them stare out at them as he reached for her hand and pulled her up out of her chair. He walked out the backdoor, feeling the rain slamming down against them. “You know you did that just to make me jealous Angie. Russ loves Avery and you are not even a second thought to him. Hell, you aren’t even a choice in Russell‘s book.”

“Why would I want to make you jealous Kevin? You don’t even matter to me,” she whispered seeing his dark eyes look into her as he bit into his bottom lip. “Kevin, your dead to me now and you know exactly why.”

“Good,” Kevin grumbled his gaze rising back up to hers as a smile licked over the corners of his lips. “I’m glad you don’t like me anymore because you will understand me more when I tell you that you are a horrible person for even trying that with Russ and Avery. They have a baby and Avery is a good person that…”

“Oh please Kevin,” Angela rolled her eyes upon hearing Kevin’s words, seeing the way his chocolate brown eyes looked down at her. “The only reason you care about that woman is because she looks exactly like me. That’s the one and only reason you want to be with her so much Kevin. If you had the chance you would sleep with her just like that and Russ wouldn’t even cross your mind. The only problem you are having is that she’s not me and if you did sleep with her you would think you were sleeping with me.”

“You think so?” Kevin chuckled folding his arms out in front of him and shaking his head slowly. He rubbed his chin gently with his right hand before nodding slowly. “You see Angela, that would only be in your dreams because I don’t love you anymore. I never will again.”

“Oh really?” Angela arched an eyebrow up at him seeing the way that he nodded as she took a bold step forward making him back up into the wall before she reached up and curved her hand in around the back of his neck.

She saw his eyes stare into hers for a moment wondering what her next move would be before she pulled him down for a kiss. She felt his body tighten against her and there was no response from him as she nibbled at his bottom lip gently. After a moment Kevin grabbed her by the arms and pushed her back gently so he could step away from her. He wiped at his lips with the back of his hand before a small scowl developed over his features.

“Don’t tell me you don’t like me anymore Kevin, I know that wouldn’t be the truth.”

“I never liked you,” Kevin snapped wiping at his lips again before glancing down at his hand and let out a small growl. “The woman I loved left a long time ago. The woman I loved was caring, beautiful, sweet, and I loved her more than life itself. Where she went, I don’t know. All I know is that you sure as hell aren’t the woman I loved. Now I love someone who loves me for me and wouldn’t take advantage of me like you always have. I love Ria with everything I am and I would do anything for her, I don’t love you.”

“You tell me this when I look right to your arm and right there is my
name still on your arm Kevin,” Angela pointed out, arching her eyebrow up to him as he looked down towards his left arm where he had the tattoo. “You can’t stand here and tell me that you don’t love me when you once said to me I’ll never let you go as long as I have this tattoo.”

“Angela,” Kevin laughed lifting up the sleeve of his drenched shirt to look over the tattoo before looking back up at her. He licked his thumb, rubbing at the tattoo with that thumb and then shrugged his shoulders. “It’s kind of hard to get rid of if you think about it honey. If I do recall you still have my name on you too, right at the bottom of your back sweetheart, so don’t you use the tattoo against me.”

“Fine then, I’m sure you still have the passion ring on your necklace,” Angela grabbed a hold of Kevin’s shirt, pulling it down a bit at the collar before grabbing the chain necklace he was wearing. Seeing Kevin’s eyes staring out into hers she saw the regular cross chain that he always wore with nothing on it other then the charm it had on it from the beginning. “It’s not there.”

“Why do you think that Angie?” Kevin questioned arching his eyebrows up before shaking his head slowly. Pulling his shirt away from her he smoothed it out slowly. “I don’t have it because I don’t feel the way you think I feel.”

“Kevin, every time we were on the island you followed me around like a lost puppy dog,” Angela pointed out seeing his eyes seem to start fill up with more anger. “Everyone sees that you are still in love with me--even your fiancée Kevin. Oh wait, that‘s right--she left you. She isn’t your fiancée anymore.”

“Damn you Angela,” Kevin snapped taking a step forward towards her, feeling the water hitting against his body and hearing the thunder rumble above him. “Can’t anyone be happy just for once? After all I have done for you, can I just be happy? The one person I love the most left me because of you and I loved her more than anything I have ever loved other than my daughter. You know Angie, you don’t deserve me or Brant, we are too good for you because you deserve to be alone. You’re the one that’s not right.”

“Please Kevin, like you want to be happy,” she came right back at him with a small scowl, reaching out to push him back seeing him look down towards his chest. “You just keep coming on back to me like something is going to happen, but nothing ever is going to happen. I don’t like you and I never liked you. The only thing you were good for was in bed. You knew how to do something right because other than that you were just a screw up.”

“That’s what you think?” Kevin smirked reaching up to push his wet hair back, rubbing at his cheek lightly before nodding. “I think you have forgotten just who the hell I am Angela. I’m the man that took care of you every second after you got pregnant with the twins. They are Brant’s children and he has every right to be with them, but I was the man that was there the most. I took you to your appointments, I went to your Lamaze classes and still--you don’t appreciate anything. You know what? I’m done with you Angie. I’m just done with you, I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

“You say that now Kevin, but you will come back like you always do,” Angela reached into her pocket, pulling something out of it and watching him walk away from her slowly. “Well, I have something for you before you walk out of here and I never see you again.”

Kevin felt something hit the back of his head as he turned around to face her. He rubbed the back of his head thankful that it was something small because if it was bigger she probably would have knocked him out from how hard she threw it at him.

“That was real mature,” Kevin grumbled bending down to pick up the object that was on the ground and as soon as his eyes hit the object he felt his throat grow dry. It was the engagement ring he had given her and as he looked at it he couldn’t help but think back to when he gave it to her.

He gave it to her one of the nights she spent with him and he brought it up as a surprise when they were together. He could remember the look on her face when he asked her to marry him, how could he forget that face she gave him? She looked so much in love with him that day that he would never forget her answer. Never forget the way she kissed him and held onto him that night. The words she promised to him again and again that day always stayed in his heart and broke it a little more every time he thought about it.

“I’ll love you always and forever,” Kevin whispered reminding her of the words she once said to him as he looked over the diamond ring before looking back up at her with a small smirk. “Look at where always and forever led us.”

“This isn’t my fault Kevin,” Angela snapped seeing the way his dark eyes were looking into hers as she tried to look away from him, hating the way that he could make her feel. “This was never my fault, I never did anything wrong.”

“Of course you didn’t,” Kevin slid the ring into his side pocket, pushing back his wet hair before noticing the way she was looking at him. “I mean, all I tried to be was perfect for you. I know that must have been hard. So hard that you wouldn’t want to marry me anymore and not even care about me.”

“It could have been perfect Kevin, but you were the one that ruined it, you were the one that did this,” Angela snapped taking a step forward and poking him in the center of his chest as he let out a small hiss running his hand in over the front of his chest. “I don’t want the ring anymore Kevin, you mean nothing to me and I don’t even want to see that anymore. I hate you so much Kevin and I would never, ever think about marrying you again. You are absolutely pathetic and just look at yourself. No wonder I left you because I know I can do so much better than you.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong to you Angie,” Kevin pointed out with a small frown rubbing his pocket and feeling the ring beneath his fingers. “I was the best boyfriend I could have been and you never accepted me for who I was. Sure, back then I didn’t have the money you wanted, but I was willing to give you my everything. Was that not good enough for you? Me giving my life up for you and my daughter? Was that so bad?”

“Kevin,” Angela tried to say something seeing the way his face filled with anger as she shook her head and folded her arms out in front of her chest. “I don’t really remember.”

“Everything I did was because I was looking out for you,” Kevin stepped forward looking down at her angrily before snapping his fingers so she would look up at him. “Think back to when I left Angie, a couple of months after we lost our daughter. You told me you wanted me gone so I left because I didn’t want you hurt. I wanted you to have what you wanted because I loved you. When you got married to Cary I pushed aside my feelings that I had so strongly for you. I loved you so much, but I had to move on and let you be happy. I wanted you to have everything I couldn’t. I did everything for you. Just like I did for you to be with Brant. So don’t tell me I don’t want you to be happy because I gave up everything for you.”

After hearing what Kevin blurted out Angela turned away from him hearing Kevin let out a small laugh before she met his glance again, hating the silence between them.

“Everything turned back to good in my life Kevin,” Angela reminded him, not trying to feel upset by thinking back to the time she had spent with him after their daughter died. There were so many times she thought about that moment in time when she told him to leave, so many times she wished she could change that moment and try and make it better. “I had another chance at happiness, but you just had to kill Cary to try and get my attention again.”

“Damn you,” Kevin slammed his hands up against the brick wall on both sides of her as he looked down at her angrily. “What is your problem?”

“You Kevin,” she snapped right back feeling her heart beating wildly after she thought he was about to hit her. She felt him press her further back against the wall as the muscle in his jaw tightened more. “You killed my husband and you deserve to go to hell for what you have done.”

“You don’t even know what happened Angela,” Kevin informed her with a small growl feeling a pain building up in his chest as he watched her carefully. “He was going to kill you and me. You were too blinded by his damn charm to care. He was going to kill you and you were going to sit back and let it happen.”

“I knew Cameron was right from the start because the day Cary died,” Angela paused seeing Kevin’s eyes staring into hers. “The night he died I was with you. I knew you were just jealous.”

Just seeing the way that Kevin was looking at her, she couldn’t help but remember the day she had called Kevin after her and Cary had gotten into one of their fights--one of the ones that turned out bad.

“I came here as soon as I could,” Kevin walked through the front door seeing Angela before him and wrapped his arms around her tightly after closing the door. Kevin leaned back brushing his fingers up against her bruising cheek as a frown spread throughout his features, feeling her tears against his fingertips. “What did he do to you?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Angela hushed him seeing him walk into the kitchen and then come back with a small bag of ice in his hand. He led her to the couch, making her sit down as he sat next to her placing the ice against her skin. “It was really nothing, we just got into a fight and…”

“And he hit you?” Kevin finished off feeling his jaw tighten in anger as he looked over towards the clock knowing that Cary would be training right now. “I’m going to kill that son of a bitch.”

“Kevin, no,” Angela grabbed Kevin’s wrist in her hand pulling him back down to her feeling him reach out to caress her cheek as she pulled the ice away from her cheek. “I can’t let you do that, I don’t want him to get mad at me. I’ve got his baby growing inside of me now…”

“And he doesn’t deserve to be a father, he treats you horrible,” Kevin informed her with a small frown placing his hand over her stomach caressing it gently as she placed her hand over his. “I can’t sit back and watch him hurt you like this over and over again. I’m not going to let him do this to you anymore, I can’t let you two get hurt. I love you too much and he is going to find out that he doesn’t touch a woman like that.”

“Kevin,” Angela felt him stand up again as she made him sit back down on the couch again, leaning forward and pressing her lips up against his and feeling him hesitate at first before kissing her back. She slid her hand in over his shoulder and felt his hand settle in against the small of her back. Breathlessly, she pulled away from him playing with his thick hair before smiling. “Did you mean it?”

“Mean what?” Kevin questioned feeling her push him back against the couch and get in over him, leaning back down to capture his lips against hers. Kevin backed away from her trying to put a distance between them before reaching up and outlining her lips with his thumb. “Angie, I thought you said you wanted to stop things between us. I’m divorced…you’re married and you said we were making a mistake in being together.”

“Do you still love me?” she questioned seeing the way that his dark eyes were looking up into hers as she silenced him with her fingers. “You just said you loved me, do you love me Kevin? During that so called mistake you never once said that, but do you mean it? Do you love me?”

“More than anything,” Kevin whispered seeing her smile and lean down to kiss him again, a breath escaping her lips as her lips parted up to him feeling his tongue massage hers gently. Her fingers pulled apart the buttons of his shirt slowly before she reached down to his belt and he stopped her fingers from going any further. “Not on the couch, not here.”

“Kevin,” Angela felt him get up off the couch and pick her up in his arms leading her towards the bedroom before setting her down on the bed carefully.

“I want to make love to you and show you how much I love you,” Kevin whispered slipping his shirt off his shoulders throwing it to the ground seeing her dark eyes follow his every movement. His fingertips eased in over his belt as he pulled it apart and pulled his pants down to his ankles seeing the way she stared out at his body. A small breath escaped his lips before he got in over her carefully. “Not use you for something else. You‘re too beautiful to be treated like that.”

“How did you really kill him Kevin?” Angela questioned seeing Kevin let out a long sigh as he shrugged his shoulders. “How did you kill my husband that night? We were together and you left that night, I remember.”

“What I did was wrong, but I was ready to give it up for you Angie,” Kevin whispered thinking back to the moment that changed his life for a very long time. The night he had left to go find Cary after they had been together, made his heart ache a bit more with the way she was acting towards him.

“What am I going to do?” Kevin remembered asking himself as he laid in Angela’s bed with her, feeling her snuggle in against his chest while she slept and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders tightly. “I can’t let Cary hurt her, not now.”

Kevin looked down towards Angela feeling her drape her arm over his bare abdomen as he brushed her hair back away from her eyes. There was no way he was about to let her out of his life and get hurt like this. He had to get things straight with Cary and get him to leave town or something because he wasn’t about to let Cary take Angela away from him for the rest of his life.

“I can’t lose you,” Kevin stared out down at Angela for a moment before leaning down and pressing a small kiss against her forehead. He carefully moved out from under her, standing up from the bed to hear her let out a small yawn. He saw Angela lift her head up from the bed as she looked up at him and he laid back down, pushing a piece of her hair back behind her ear. “Everything is okay honey.”

“Where are you going?” Angela questioned staring Kevin in the eyes starting to hear the thunder behind her as the rain slammed up against the windows, the lightening flashing behind Kevin’s eyes. “I know you hate storms.”

“I’m just going for a quick walk,” Kevin explained with a small smile caressing her cheek gently before leaning in to kiss her softly, her arm curling around his shoulders as a sigh escaped from the back of her throat. “I’m going to be gone for just a little while, I promise.”

“Kevin, please don’t leave me,” she begged feeling him start to kiss her slowly before getting in over her carefully, making sure to keep his weight away from her stomach. “I don’t think I can be alone right now.”

“I’m never going to leave you again,” he promised in a small hush feeling her get him onto his back as she got in over him bringing their bodies to a completion and he rested his head back against the pillows. He felt her hands slide in over his shoulders slowly as he reached his right hand out placing it against her hip gently, aiding the motion of her body before lifting his left hand up to caress her cheek gently. A small breath escaped her lips when he gently moved her onto her back, moving his hips back and forth carefully. “You never have to worry about losing me again.”

“I never want to do that Kevin,” she kissed him lovingly feeling his fingers enclose with hers as she slid her other hand up against his cheek. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” Kevin whispered as they spent the rest of their moments making love only to have Angela drift off after a little while, leaving him with more time to think about Cary and what he might do to Angela in the future.

She was sleeping on the bed peacefully as Kevin got up from the bed, placing a small kiss on her lips before going back to grab his pants back off the floor.

“I can’t let him go through with this,” Kevin whispered to himself pulling his pants up slowly before reaching for his shirt and tugging it up his shoulders. “She can’t die, I’m not going to let it happen.”

“I loved you so much Angie and I wasn’t ready to lose you like that. I told you that night I loved you and you told me you loved me, so what changed?” Kevin questioned with a small shake of his head thinking about all the things that happened between them. “I loved you so very much and I was making sure he wouldn’t hurt the one thing I loved. He wasn’t about to kill you when you could have been carrying my baby.”

“You’re baby?” she laughed seeing his brown eyes staring out into hers as she looked away from him and shook her head slowly. “Kevin, there is no way that the baby could have been yours. When we did stuff like that anyways, you were the one that took advantage of me. I would have never been with you when I was with Cary and…”

“Oh no, don’t you dare blame this on me,” Kevin shook his head slowly taking in a deep breath moving in closer to her as she stared up at him. “You jumped me every single time. At the bar I sure as hell know that one was you too. It was just a matter of you couldn’t stay away from me because you loved me. Every time we did something you started it and begged to continue so I did. Don’t you dare say I took advantage of you. If anything you took advantage of my heart all the time.”

“I hate you,” Angela snapped feeling all her anger building up as she brought her hand across his cheek the hardest she could seeing him stumble back not expecting it. Moving forward she hit him in the chest over and over again as he tried to get control of her hands grabbing her wrists in his hands tightly. “Why did you lie to me? All this time--why?”

“I didn’t want you hurt if you found out the man you were married to was going to try and kill you,” Kevin took in a deep breath feeling the stinging in his cheek from her hit as she tried to get out of his grasp and his eyebrows tensed together. “I didn’t mean to kill him Angie, it just happened.”

“Sure Kevin,” Angela rolled her eyes at his comment feeling his hand slip in against the side of her face as she looked up at him worriedly. “You say you loved me and you say I loved you, then why did you kill my baby’s father? Why did you kill him when you knew it would hurt me?”

“He was trying to kill me and you. That baby could have been mine too and you know it so just give it up. I was with you more than he ever was and he was trying to take away the one thing that made me whole back then,” Kevin tried to explain to her with a small frown, caressing her cheek carefully with his thumb. “You told me you loved me and I wasn’t about to let the one person I loved die. I couldn’t lose you like that.”

“I have to know how you killed him,” Angela whispered seeing Kevin’s eyes narrow in at her hesitantly as she shrugged her shoulders. “So tell me the bull crap story so I can know how full of it you really are.”

“I came home one day to find my soon to be ex-wife and your husband talking about how they were going to kill you and get your money Angie,” Kevin informed her with a small gulp thinking about everything that happened right before him. “I loved you so damn much back then and excuse me for not wanting you dead. You didn’t deserve to die so yeah, maybe I killed him but it was an accident. If he didn’t die you and I would have Angie.”

“How did he die Kevin?” Angela questioned angrily seeing him look away from her before shaking his head slowly after she reached out to push him back and away from her. “How did you kill him Kevin?”

“We were fighting by the hill,” Kevin cleared his throat uneasily before shaking his head slowly and thinking about all the things that happened back in the days that he never wanted to talk about again. “Just forget about it Angie, it‘s nothing you need to know about. All you need to know is that it was an accident. That‘s all you should know.”

“I’m supposed to believe that Kevin?” Angela shook her head at him letting out a small laugh seeing his eyes lower towards the ground as he looked back up at her. Deciding that she couldn’t hold her anger in anymore she out of no where slapped Kevin right across the face again seeing him turn his head to the side, his eyes closed from her blow. Reaching out, she pushed him back roughly again seeing him stumble over his feet and fall to the ground. “You are evil and you deserve what you are getting. You deserve to be alone.”

“You know what, you act like this man was the love of your life,” Kevin blurted out angrily from the ground his dark eyes glaring out into hers as she stared up at him. “Even when you were married to him, you didn’t care. How about our boxing match Angie? If you remember you ran to me when I was hurt. I was winning the match and you got worried that I would hurt him so I stopped all around. The only thing I had was my belt back then and I was ready to give that up too just for you. The only reason I didn’t lose it is because your so called husband cheated and when he did, you ran to me. Not him, me.”

“You are reading way too far into this whole thing Kev,” Angela chuckled seeing his eyebrow arch up before looking back toward the ground. “That wasn’t a point of relevance.”

“Oh really? Well then I guess the way people saw it was a wrong assumption? If I do recall Cary was your husband, I was the lover and you ran to me Angie. You ran to me first,” Kevin snapped seeing the way she looked down at him as he let out a small laugh. “And you said I was the one running back to you. You were always the one running away from me, so where do you get off saying that I kept running back to you when I never ran away?”

“You always seem to do this Kevin, go into something that is all about you,” she butted in seeing the way he looked up at her and she shook her head slowly. “This was never about you and your so called pain. This was all about you and what you did to a man. Someone you killed and the name of that death will always hang over you. You’re a horrible person Kevin.”

“You think I like what I have done?” Kevin started to lift up his shirt to show her the small scar that was left on his chest from when he had gotten shot by Craven. “Instead of having my daughter, I’m stuck with this stupid scar my whole life telling me what I did wrong and why I’m still stuck on this Earth without her.”

Kevin pulled his shirt back down and shook his head slowly, resting his right hand back against the cement before looking up at her with his dark eyes and rubbing his cheek feeling the burning sensation after she hit him twice. The rain fell from above roughly while he thought about the past and realized how much his feelings had truly changed over the years for her.

“You know, all this time I was thinking that I was the one that was bad and deserved to die. I felt that it was my fault that our daughter died, but look at you,” Kevin cleared his throat looking up at her from where he was on the ground. “You’re the one that is evil. I loved you so much and you ripped my heart out time and time again. You knew I loved you and that’s why you did all of this. You got with guy after guy, running back to me every time they disappeared out of your life because you knew I would be there.”

“Right Kevin,” Angela rolled her eyes seeing the way his dark eyes looked into hers and she shook her head slowly. “More like you were the one that kept running back to me Kevin.”

“Angie, I never left. I could have never come running back because I was never running away from you,” Kevin snapped throwing his right hand up in the air before looking away from her and biting down on his bottom lip. “I was there the whole time for you no matter what. I never left you and I just stood back watching you try and make a life with someone else other than me. You kept me there because you knew I would be there. You used other men to make me hurt Angela. You hurt me and you knew you were hurting me, you just cared that my heart used to only be for you and you played with it so many times. The only thing I didn’t notice is that the whole time I thought you loved me, but the whole time you were just trying to hurt me.”

“This isn’t about you Kevin,” she reminded him seeing him push back his hair slowly before she let out a small breath. “This is about me and about what you did to me and my husband.”

“What about our family Angie? The one that you promised we were going to have? You know the one you were so excited about having with me and our daughter?” Kevin reminded her before shaking his head slowly and letting out a small breath. “Our daughter, you didn’t even care and now with the people you love the most, you are hurting them the worst. I took care of you, I loved you and I tried to hide that feeling of hurt Angie, but it’s there and there is no more room in my heart to be hurt. You took all that I was and stomped on my heart, I can’t give you much else. After all this, I just have one thing to say to you Angie.”

“Oh really Kevin, what’s that?” Angela questioned angrily seeing the way he bit down on his bottom lip aggravated as she rested her hands against her hips.

“I just want you to think clearly for one minute before I say what I want to,” Kevin pushed back his hair before shaking his head slowly. “He used to scare you Angie, he used to worry you and who was the one you called? Who was the one that was there every time you were alone and worried? Who?”

“You were,” she whispered knowing where he was trying to go with this remembering the last time Kevin had come to protect her and make sure she was okay. “I was just worried sometimes Kevin, I didn’t want you to kill him.”

“I don’t care what you think of me anymore Angela,” Kevin replied shaking his head slowly and pushing back his hair once more. “Because like I said, I have one more thing to say to you.”

“Really? What’s that Kevin?” Angela questioned seeing him stand up and walk over towards her as he grabbed her hand in his tightly, making her open her fingers as he placed the ring in her hand and his eyes darkened with emotion once again.

“I always thought you were the one, but now I know who really is the one and it isn’t you. I wasted my life on you when the person who really loved me wasn’t even close to you. Mainly now I know that I’m not the one that’s evil Angela,” Kevin stated with a small scowl closing her fingers over the ring before backing away slowly. “You are.”

Angela watched as Kevin backed away slowly before pulling his keys out of his pocket and shaking his head as he turned around. She watched him get in the car and pull away before looking back down at the ring and frowning. She slid the ring back into her pocket before thinking about the words he said making her realize that whatever her and Kevin had in the past was over forever. After Kevin pulled away, she knew he never wanted to speak to her again.

“Why me?” Angela asked herself looking up toward the storming sky before reaching for her purse to put the engagement ring back in there. Pulling out her keys she looked down at her chain grabbing a hold of the passion ring that she and Kevin had a set of when they were younger. Starting to pull it off she stopped before looking down at it and shaking her head slowly putting her keys back into her purse. “I can‘t believe this is happening.”


The thunder overhead started to roar as Avery found herself pulling away from Russ. She felt the rain soak through her clothes and while his arms were still firmly wrapped around her, she couldn’t quite shake the ache that filled her at the memory of seeing him kissing Angela. Even if his lips over hers had left her breathless, she wasn’t about to fall victim to this game all over again. Stepping back she tried to detangle herself from his arms.

“Russ I know what I saw in there,” Avery explained in a pained tone, her eyes filled with sadness.

“What you saw wasn’t what you think it is,” Russ tried to reason with her shaking his head in response, “Angela is out of her mind right now and she’s trying to get people fired up the way she’s been fired up.”

“Russ she’s pregnant. I have eyes. I saw that much, which only makes me wonder if,” she trailed off almost afraid to ask what was coming next about the woman she’d seen in his arms. It was as if her worst fears were confirmed in seeing Russ with Angela. “Are you the…”

“No,” Russ answered quickly realizing that the way Cameron had presented the situation to Avery the other night had only further confused her. He had thought he’d explained himself, but seeing the questions behind her eyes, he couldn’t help but make himself clear on the facts, “she was pregnant when I met her. I had nothing to do with her having the twins. They aren’t mine. They are Brant’s children.”

“Brant,” Avery blinked back at him shaking her head, “that’s ridiculous Russ. How could they be Brant’s when?”

“Avery, you remember what we saw when she was fighting with Brant,” Russ offered up hoping to reach out to her. He touched her cheek gently and forced her to meet his eyes. “Brant and Angela met one another before I was in the explosion. They met up somewhere on an island and they were together. By the time I washed up on the island, she was already pregnant and longing to find him again.”

“Then why did she sleep with you? Why were you two going to get married?” Avery couldn’t help but ask with a pained expression.

“Because I didn’t know who I was and she was trying to forget him. She saw something on the news about you and Brant being married--she thought he had a wife and…” Russ explained still trying to make sense of the ridiculousness of the situation himself. “I don’t know all the details about what happened with them and I really don’t care about that because they aren’t what is important to me. You are.”

“Russ, I want to believe that, but when I saw you kissing her,” Avery answered feeling a tiny shudder press over her.

“She kissed me. I didn’t kiss her Avery,” Russ corrected with a heavy sigh sliding his fingers into her damp, dark hair, “I wouldn’t ever want to be with her when I love you and only you.”

“You keep saying that, but when I walked in…” Avery argued with him feeling her heart lost in a whirlwind of confusion.

“You saw her trying to make Kevin jealous. I don’t know why, but she’s bent on hurting him somehow because she’s upset with him and Brant. She tried to get me going--to lead me to believe that you and Kevin could have something together because you’re angry with me about what happened with her. She tried to get me upset and thinking that you and Kevin could be sleeping with one another,” Russ added remembering his conversation with Angela, “but I know that’s ridiculous.”

“You didn’t think that when you came home and found him there,” she pointed out with a frown of her own.

“I was wrong and I’m sorry for overreacting,” Russ cupped her face in his hands, “Avery, I believe in you and I know that you would never betray our love even if you’re upset with me. What we have is too strong--too powerful and I know that neither one of us would willingly throw it aside when we have everything ahead of us.”

“I’m just so confused,” Avery revealed with a tiny shudder, “Russ I want to believe in you and what you say, but after the lies…”

“I never should have kept things from you and I’m sorry about that, but I swear to you that none of it meant anything to me,” Russ pleaded with her squeezing her in his arms, “Avery, I love you and Erin and I would do anything to be with you both.”

“I want to believe that Russ, but when I saw you with her,” Avery leaned forward into his chest, tears of frustration carrying over her.

“Damn it Avery, what do I have to do to prove to you that I’m not interested in her at all?” Russ threw his hands in the air as she pushed away from him. “Avery, please tell me what you want me to say--what you want me to do and I swear I’ll do it. I promise you that I will do anything and everything in my power to prove myself to you.”

“Russ, don’t,” Avery watched him drop to his knees in the middle of the parking lot, surrounding himself in a pool of water as he reached for her hand. He took it in his and placed a kiss upon it, “Russ stop.”

“Avery, I’m begging you to just give me one more chance if for no other reason than for our future--for Erin and…” he pleaded with her, a whole new level of raw desperation in his tone as the storm carried on overhead.

“Russ get up,” Avery pleaded with him looking around the parking lot to see the stares they were getting.

“Not until you at least hear me out. I need you to see that I’m telling you the truth, that I’m not lying about Angela,” Russ continued his green eyes filled with a newfound determination, “When I pledged my life to you I meant every word of it. I know that our wedding day might not have been real in the eyes of the law, but it was real to me. The day that I swore my life and love to you was the day that I knew in my heart that I would never be the same again. Avery, from the first moment I saw you ready to beat the hell out of my brother, I knew you were the one for me and that has never changed for me. The day we got married only reaffirmed my love for you. I never stopped loving you even when we were apart and even now I can’t help but find myself consumed by thoughts of you and you alone.”

“Russ get up,” Avery insisted tugging on his arm as he knelt before her.

“Avery, I don’t care what I have to do to prove myself, but I swear to you that I will do it because without you and Erin, I have nothing. I am nothing and I know that I can’t bear to spend the rest of my life without you. I love you more than life itself,” he explained feeling her tug on his arm again and urge him off of the ground. He complied with her request moving in closer to her. “Avery, I was born to love you and make you happy. I realize I’ve not been doing the best of jobs at it lately, but I swear to you with all that I am I want to change that. I want for us to find that happiness we had on the day we got married--to reclaim that love that kept us together when the odds were stacked against us. I want to share every single moment of my life loving you and being with you and Erin and if you walk away from me…”

“Russ,” she paused feeling a pang in the center of her chest as her dark eyes met his again, “there are so many things that have changed between us. Time has done so many things…”

“Do you love me?” he questioned point blank searching her dark eyes, “Because if that hasn’t changed, then we still have something.”

“Russ, I…” she stammered hearing another roar of thunder up above as the rain began to plummet down over them.

“Do you love me Avery? Do you want for us to be together or have your feelings for me changed along the way?” he questioned with a worried expression bracing himself for a confirmation of his worst fears coming to life.

“No,” she shook her head adamantly, “they never did. Russ, I‘ve never stopped loving you. Even now all I want to do is reach out to you and hold on forever.”

“Then what’s stopping you?” he questioned in a small voice offering his arms out to her and feeling her rush into them. She hugged his torso, her head laying in against his chest as he brought his fingers up through her wet hair.

“Just promise me that you’ll never lie to me again. That you’ll never keep anything like this from me,” she tipped her head up to meet his gaze once again.

“I swear to you Avery I will never, ever keep something this big from you again,” he smoothed the pad of his thumb over the hollow of her cheekbone wiping at the tears and the rain that collected on her cheeks. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t do things right the first time around.”

“This wasn’t all your fault and I know that,” she replied in a broken voice, “I’ve been blaming you for everything that’s happened, but I’ve made mistakes too. Russ, I’ve done things that I’m not proud of either and I can’t condemn you for turning to someone else when I did the same thing.”

“I don’t care about that,” he shook his head firmly his fingers caressing the side of her face tenderly, “all I care about is you and Erin and the future we have ahead of us. I want for us to move past what kept us apart and to move towards cherishing everything we have together in the here and now.”

“I want that too,” Avery confessed tipping up on her toes to kiss him tenderly, “I want you back more than anything.”

“Does this mean that I can come home again?” Russ asked in a warm breath against her lips feeling her tremble against his touch.

“If you don’t, then I’m going to divorce you,” she mouthed bringing her fingers through his thick, damp hair and tangling them to draw him in for a kiss once again.

“But we’re not…” he started to remind her before stopping himself as he saw her determined eyes.

“I’ll marry you again just to divorce you if you don’t take me home right now and make me believe absolutely everything you just said,” she murmured stealing another kiss from his lips again, her arms curving in around his shoulders.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to convince you,” he paused for a long moment before meeting her eyes again, “but I have one question. Where’s Erin?”

“She’s staying with my father and Judy right now,” Avery explained with a small sigh, “We can pick her up on the way back home if you’re willing to drive me back.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” he smiled down at her, unwilling to release her now that he had her in his arms again. “I love you.”

“I love you too Russ,” she murmured in response reaching out to him once again as it seemed that the end of their nightmare was in sight again. She laced her fingers in his and motioned to his car, “Let’s go get our baby girl and go home.”

“I’d like that,” Russ smiled squeezing her hand in response as it seemed like things were finally looking up for the both of them at long last.


Kyle opened the front door to Heather’s apartment thankful that she’d given him a spare key now that they were together. After the day he’d had at the hospital, he’d put a lot of contemplation into things and given that it was getting late he didn’t want to bother her if she was already sleeping. In his frame of mind, he knew full well he was going to be a downer that she didn’t need and the last thing he wanted was to upset her.

Stepping inside Kyle set his key on the table next to the door and slipped out of his jacket only to discover Heather curled up on the sofa, sleeping near the corner of it with a throw blanket around her. Kyle couldn’t help but smile as he moved in over towards Heather and stood beside her just watching her laying there--seeing how truly beautiful she was laying in front of him looking so at peace with herself.

“If you keep staring I’m going to grow a complex,” Heather muttered behind closed eyes sensing his presence in the room as he took a seat on the edge of the couch beside her.

“I’m sorry,” he mouthed reaching out to tuck her long, blonde hair behind her ear as her green eyes opened and met his again, “I couldn’t help myself. You looked so beautiful and I didn’t want to bother you.”

“Yet gawking at me was well within your rights huh?” she teased smiling up at him. Sensing the worry behind his eyes she reached out to touch the side of his face gently, “How are you sweetheart?”

“I would be lying if I said I was feeling okay about everything,” Kyle sighed thinking about what Mindy was going through in losing Hunt, “but after I was at the hospital I guess I just kind of started thinking about how life plays numbers on you.”

“I’m sorry,” Heather sat up straighter reaching out to touch his shoulder gently, “I wish that it wasn’t that way, but the world is full of surprises some of them rather unpleasant.”

“I know, but it’s not fair,” Kyle admitted with a heavy sigh, “Watching Mindy tonight it just got me thinking about my parents and how I lost them with no warning. I mean one minute we were talking about having dinner together the following week and then the next I hear that everything was gone--the house, the memories, them. It was like a nightmare had opened itself up into the waking world.”

“I wish you didn’t have to go through that Kyle,” Heather reached out to embrace him hugging him close to her, “I loved them so much and it wasn’t their time.”

“No it wasn’t,” Kyle hugged her tightly in response, “Just like I’m sure that it wasn’t Hunt’s time either. The poor kid was ready to pledge his love to Mindy and ask her to marry him. He thought he had all the time in the world, but then one jackass shows up and changes that for him. And for what? Two hundred dollars that he never took with him? So many people suffered for something that should have been prevented.”

“I know,” she nodded running her finger tips over his back gently. “I wish that it didn’t turn out that way, but for some horrible reason it did. It shouldn’t have, but…”

“But when I was with Mindy my heart was breaking with hers. I felt for her and hated to see all that she’d lost,” Kyle sighed heavily pulling back ever so slightly to see her eyes, “but it also got me thinking. Heather, look at us. Look how much time we were apart because of one situation that kept us from being together.”

“We were both young and had no idea that my sister was capable of being so cruel and manipulative,” Heather replied with an after thought, “Here I was always known for being the witch and Sarah totally stole that position from me.”

“You were never a witch--just misguided,” Kyle touched her cheek gently, “but so was I. I was in the wrong direction for so very long that I found myself going down all the wrong paths. For a time I was closed off and after everything that happened when Susan died it got me thinking.”

“About Susan?” she tipped her head to the side giving him a strange look.

“No, about us and about how I don’t want to let something happen to us that leaves us in the position that Mindy is in right now. When I see how her heart is breaking I realize that I never, ever want to go through that again. I lost you once when you left town and now that I found you again, I don’t want to be without you,” he explained with a solemn expression on his face. His thumb brushed over the hollow of her cheekbone as he leaned forward and pressed a tender kiss over her lips, “Heather I love you. I love you so much.”

“I love you too Kyle,” she breathed in response feeling a tiny shiver race over her at the softness of his lips over hers beckoning her for another kiss, “and I promise you I’m not going anywhere as long as I can help it.”

“That’s just it,” he whispered pulling her onto his lap and into his arms, “I want more than that. I want so much more.”

“Kyle, I’ll give you anything you want,” she promised gliding her fingers up and over his shoulders and muscled arms. “Anything that I have it’s yours.”

“And I feel the same way which is why I don’t want to wait,” he blurted out with a newfound determination behind his eyes, “Heather I want to get married.”

“I know and we will,” she touched his cheek gently, “We’ll have a beautiful wedding and…”

“Tonight,” he informed her point blank, a sudden seriousness in his tone, “I mean I know we talked about taking our time and making wedding plans, but tonight it hit me that no matter how many plans a person makes, nothing is a sure shot. People wait for the right moment to come to them, but the truth to the matter is that we can’t just sit back and let our lives pass us by. Heather, I know that you’ve always dreamt of a fairy tale wedding, but…”

“But as long as you’re the groom, then I’m beyond ecstatic about it,” she pressed her index finger over his lips to silence him, “It’s just are you sure that you’re ready to take that step considering…”

“That I want to spend the rest of my life with you?” he arched a speculative brow before nodding quickly, “Oh yeah I’m sure. I say you get Charles out of bed and we drive to Atlantic City and just go for the gusto.”

“You’re serious?” she searched his eyes for a moment.

“Very serious,” he nodded in response a smile touching over his lips, “I’ve played enough games in the past when it came to following my heart, but tonight my heart tells me that I am meant to be with you from here on out. I want to marry you Heather and make things official for us starting today. I want to wake up tomorrow with you in my arms knowing that you’re my wife and that we were finally able to overcome the odds and do things like we should have years ago. No hesitation, no regrets.”

“No regrets,” she repeated seeing just how far he was willing to go for them, “though Kellen’s not going to approve given that he’s all about planning a big wedding and…”

“Kellen can kiss my…well, no he can’t, but this isn’t about him. This is about us and we can let him plan a big wedding later. Heather, I want to marry you more than anything tonight and right now it’s all I can think about,” he paused searching her eyes, “unless of course you really don’t think that you want to pass up the opportunity for a big, blown out wedding.”

“Are you kidding,” she waved her hand dismissively before teasing, “big, designer weddings are like so overrated. I mean given your track record the smaller the better it would seem. After all I would hate for you to get to the church and change your mind.”

“Last wedding I had I didn’t make it to the church,” he corrected with a small smile, “but that’s because I knew she wasn’t the right one. She wasn’t the woman I was in love with, but you are.”

Heather smiled at his comment before sliding her fingers through the tips of his hair, “And in knowing that I’m positive that I would love to marry you any time, any place and if tonight is when we’re going to do it, then there’s nothing I would love more Kyle.”

“Then it’s settled. We’re getting married,” Kyle mused with a wide grin picking her up in his arms and spinning her around the room as it seemed that his attempt at taking charge of his life was finally paying off for him at long last. No more worries and regrets, just following his heart to his destiny.


...to be continued...