Episode 356

“Baby,” Kevin’s voice echoed through Ria’s ears as she stretched out on her bed feeling a hand press in over her hip, fingertips sliding in against her skin slowly as his thick fingers slid in through her dark hair. “Baby wake up.”

“Kevin?” Ria questioned her eyes fluttering to an open as she saw his smiling face before her and her fingers pressed in against his rough cheek when he moved forward to press a small kiss against her forehead. “Kevin, how did you get in here?”

“Baby, you know I have my ways. I’d do anything to see you,” Kevin informed her with a small breath moving forward to press a small kiss against her lips, feeling her fingers curling in over the back of his neck. “I had to see you Ria, I know what’s going on and I’m so sorry for what I’ve done.”

“Kevin, how did you find out what could be happening?” Ria muttered feeling his fingers pressing in against her cheek as he smirked seeing the way she blinked up at him. “Kevin, I’ve missed you so much.”

“I’ve missed you too baby,” Kevin whispered against her lips as he dipped down to press his lips in over hers again, feeling her fingers lazily gliding through his hair. “Ria I love you so much and I never want to lose you again, you’re my everything. I want to focus my time spending all the moments I can with you--and our baby.”

“Kevin,” Ria sighed feeling his lips move in over hers again as he caressed her stomach gently, his fingers teasing small circles in over her skin as she let out a tight breath feeling his kisses move to the side of her neck. Hearing a noise erupting through her ears she let out a long breath before gently tugging at his hair again. “Kevin, what’s that noise?”

Opening up her eyes Ria reached for the alarm clock realizing that once again it was a dream about Kevin, like all the other nights she had been here. Trying to get her eyes to focus she realized the pillow she had pulled in close to her must have been what she was imagining Kevin beside her.

“I am so stupid,” Ria threw the pillow away from her before hearing the final loud buzz on the alarm clock telling her that was the last snooze it would give as she looked to the clock realizing she must have set the clock wrong last night. “Eleven, I was supposed to be at the conference hours ago, this is horrible.”

Getting up from the bed quickly she reached for her clothes that she was planning on wearing today but instead just took another look back at the clock, it wasn’t even worth trying to get there today, she was going to have to make up for it tomorrow or something.

“This is ridiculous,” Ria muttered to herself dropping her clothes back down on the chair before straightening out her pajamas and sitting back down on the bed. “I keep screwing up lately and it’s not going to help me in the long run if I keep doing this.”

Reaching out for her purse she went to grab some of her Tylenol before reaching for the line of pictures Kevin had made her take with him at the mall when they were just walking around. It was just like Kevin though to take a normal day and turn it into something fun and something she would remember for the rest of her life.

“He’s so cute,” she smiled looking at the pictures seeing all the faces he did while she was trying to be serious during taking the photos, but she couldn’t help laughing at him in the last picture. “You have to let him go Ria, you just have to. Continuing to think about him is going to get you nowhere.”

Closing her eyes she heard her phone start to buzz against the top of the nightstand and she reached out to grab it seeing Trisha’s number. Even though she really didn’t feel like talking right now, she knew she had to give her little sister an update. Carefully putting the picture back into her purse, she set her purse back down on the floor before answering.

“Hey sis,” Trisha heard the other end pick up and didn’t even give her sister the time to speak as she went on to what was bugging her all night. “I had to tell you this, Ria I had a horrible dream last night and I thought I should tell you about it.”

“I was having a pretty good one, but okay,” Ria rested back against the headboard pulling the blankets in over her again knowing that she wasn’t planning on leaving anytime soon, so she should just relax. “What’s on your mind kiddo?”

“Okay, so I went to sleep kind of late last night because I couldn’t really sleep, but getting to the next point,” Trisha cleared her throat uneasily while twirling the phone cord around her finger casually. “Ria, I had a dream about you raising this baby and since you were a doctor and a single mother you were never home to be there for your baby.”

“You know that wouldn’t happen though Trisha,” Ria rolled her eyes not wanting to touch this subject right now and she heard Trisha let out a long breath. “Does this have a point?”

“Well yes, you see in my dream I was babysitting your son. Hey, I wonder if I’m right and you’re going to have a baby boy,” Trisha wandered off for a minute letting out a small laugh before getting back on the subject, “but I guess I told Kevin you had his son and you stayed down there in Florida not wanting to see him again. He came down and got a place around here so he could see his son while you were at work. When he came over he was horrible.”

“What do you mean?” Ria half chuckled interested in hearing what Trisha was going to say, realizing that her sister may have been onto something, giving her hints of what her future would be like without Kevin. “What do you mean horrible?”

“I mean he came over, let himself go and was grayer than anyone I’ve ever seen. It was horrible seeing his complexion like that knowing how hot he truly is,” Trisha blurted out letting out a long sigh hearing her sister let out a small noise letting her know that Ria was getting annoyed. “Well, that’s not the bad part, you see with Kevin he started crying while the little boy was asleep because his son knew he was his dad, but you would never let him see the boy. In fact you hadn’t talk to him since the day he talked to you at the wedding and Kevin was crying, he was so upset. You were living your life with money and getting the top positions at your work and Kevin lost everything. You got remarried and Kevin tried to come stop your wedding, but he wanted you to be happy so he just stayed in the back of the room watching you get remarried. I swear, it was so sad, kind of like one of those movies.”

“Trisha, stop,” Ria thought about what her sister said and she gulped down feeling guilty and it was something she really didn’t even do. It was her sister’s dream and she ended up feeling like the total jerk in the situation. “I already feel bad enough about this whole thing.”

“Then you are going to call Kevin, right?” Trisha quickly questioned hearing the silence coming from Ria on the other end and Trisha let out a small groan. “You can’t keep Kevin’s son or daughter from him.”

“Trisha, I didn’t even take the test yet,” Ria lied to her sister walking over toward the window to grab the bag with the pregnancy tests she bought after the first test she'd taken was inconclusive. There was no point in feeding Trisha anymor information especially if the next test was as useless as the first one had turned out to be. “I’m not sure what I even want to do yet, I’m too worried to know what the real answer is going to be. I mean it’s probably positive considering how long I haven’t had my…,”

“I could swear you are having it right now because you are acting like a total bitch,” Trisha blurted out in return to how Ria still hadn’t told Kevin about what was going on. Hearing her sister let out a small gasp, Trisha shrugged her shoulders and laid back against the couch. “I’m telling you Ria, Kevin should be there when you take the test. He deserves to know just as much as you do and I think you are being totally wrong in this situation. He deserves to be the father of that baby whether you stay with him or not. If I start seeing Kevin go gray, I’m going to blame you.”

“Okay Trisha, I’ll talk to you later,” Ria rolled her eyes looking over the clock before hanging up and letting out a long groan not knowing what she should be doing next. “This is horrible.”

Sitting back down on the bed she let out a long breath knowing that whatever she did, Trisha was right. Kevin had to be a part of the baby’s life and if so, how were they going to be able to go through with everything?


Avery rolled over in bed half expecting to find Russ beside her, but instead she found herself alone in bed with nothing, but the sunlight filtering in over the blankets on his side of the bed. She frowned wondering if last night’s turn of events were only a dream, but as she spotted something out of the corner of her eye on the pillow she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it had been real after all. She reached out to touch the small crimson colored rose on Russell’s pillow beside her and smiled with a thoughtful expression. Seeing a piece of paper underneath it, she raised it up from the pillow taking in the scent of his cologne as her gaze lingered over the page.

“Be back soon, Russ,” she read aloud smiling to herself before taking a whiff of the flower’s scent. Sitting up she stretched her arms out before kicking her feet out from underneath the blankets and standing up. She looked around their bedroom seeing that things seemed to be completely in order, nothing out of place much like how she’d felt last night when she’d brought him back home with her and Erin.

Now as she reached for her robe, she headed out into the hallway sliding her arms into it while listening to sounds in the kitchen. She paused momentarily hearing Russell’s familiar voice sounding from the kitchen as it appeared that he was singing to someone--perhaps to Erin or to the television, she thought turning around the corner to see him dancing around the kitchen. He was dressed in a navy colored pair of sweat pants and nothing else, his hair still a bit unruly after an obvious night’s sleep. He seemed to have a glow about him as he sang to Erin amusing her with every sound he made. Avery leaned back against the wall taking in the scene as he danced around the kitchen holding Erin’s bottle with one hand while focusing on the stove with the other. He alternated where his attention was before he offered Erin a sip of her bottle that she greedily started to drink up.

“Slow down princess,” Russ suggested pulling the pan he’d been finishing up with off of the burner before turning his complete attention to Erin in her seat on the table top. “You’re moving faster than daddy this morning.”

Erin released the bottle on his urgings and let out a loud burp causing him to laugh.

“Well obviously you enjoyed that,” Russ turned to look at the tray he’d been working on over on the counter, “and once you’re done we’re going to surprise your mother with breakfast in bed--that is if you don’t have a sick tummy after your breakfast.”

Erin smiled stretching her arms out for Russ to give her more of her bottle as Avery entered the room catching him off guard.

“I can take over with that if you need a little help,” Avery spoke up alerting him to her presence as Russ stood up straighter turning his attention to Avery.

“Did we wake you?” he motioned to the television where there were still children singing gleefully to the catchy beat that Russ had been dancing to earlier. “I’m sorry if it was the noise because…”

“The noise was incredible,” she confessed moving in beside him to wrap her arms around his muscled torso. Leaning up on her toes, she gave him a quick kiss before grinning at him, “I missed it every second you weren’t with me.”

“I missed making it for you,” Russ mouthed nibbling on her lower lip before turning to Erin once again who was still reaching for her bottle. “Though I guess we kind of ruined our surprise didn’t we?”

“This is an even better surprise seeing you two together like this,” Avery admitted reaching out to take the bottle from his hand and offer it to Erin once again. “I appreciate what you’re trying to do for me here.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet, but I hope you’re hungry,” Russ offered up finishing with the bacon he’d been working on before she arrived. “I made chocolate chip pancakes, bacon and eggs. Of course I know you’re not big on bacon, but…”

“Actually ever since I got pregnant with Erin I’ve taken a liking to it,” Avery admitted tipping he head back to watch him move around the kitchen looking sexier than ever with the ease at which he carried himself when cooking. Her gaze dropped down to his firm behind and she smiled again thinking about how much she’d missed the ability to just sit back and watch him admiring everything about him. She laughed lightly seeing him turning around to catch her staring, “I guess you found a way to convert me after all by leaving that part of you inside of me.”

“Bacon’s good for you,” he lifted a piece off of the plate and held it out to her to take a bite.

“Says who?” she questioned leaning forward to steal a nibble of it for herself.

“Says me and when am I ever wrong,” he winked at her only to hear Erin burping once again causing them both to laugh.

“What did you give her?” Avery held up the bottle showing Russ that Erin had drank it all down rather quickly.

“It’s my secret formula there,” Russ explained reaching out to bring Erin into his arms. He held her against his shoulder rubbing her back gently before turning to Avery, “Simply put it was made by me, so you know it was good stuff.”

“My, who knew your talents would extend to mixing formula,” Avery couldn’t help but tease seeing their daughter in complete ease in his arms.

“I’ll have you know I have a great many talents and there are more of them around each and every day,” Russ grinned proudly before turning his attention to Erin again, “Our little girl brings out the best in me.”

“So that’s why you’re looking especially good this morning. I knew it had to be something,” Avery teased further catching the look Russ gave her. He wiggled his finger at her before shaking his head.

“I look good every morning,” Russ reminded her turning around to openly give her an opportunity to gawk at his backside, “Go on and look I know you want to do it again.”

“I’ll show you what I want to do,” she laughed lightly reaching out to swat his bottom before he spun around to see her burst into giggles.

“Yeah, that’s right. I knew you wanted to touch it,” Russ teased eyeing Erin closely, “Yep, that’s right your mommy can’t keep her hands off of me. I’m just that irresistible.”

“Uh oh Erin, you had better come here,” Avery stood up and reached out for Erin, “because your father’s ego is going to suffocate you if we’re not careful.”

“Hey, I wouldn’t ever make it so there isn’t enough room for the two of you right here in these arms of mine,” Russ curled his arm around Avery’s waist pulling her in against his bare chest. His green eyes fixed on hers before he spoke up in a low, husky tone, “There’s always a place for you both right here with me always.”

“I’m counting on it,” Avery confessed in a small whisper tipping up on her toes to steal a kiss from his lips when she heard the sound of the doorbell ringing. She pulled back ever so slightly and frowned, “Were you expecting anyone?”

“No,” he shook his head, “you?”

“Not the last time I checked,” she paused for a moment turning around to investigate, “but I’ll go see who is lurking around and tell them that there’s nothing for them to see here.”

“While you do that I’ll finish with breakfast in here,” Russ suggested watching her walk out of the room to see who was visiting them.

“Keep your daddy out of trouble Erin,” Avery wiggled her finger in the air before going to the front door and answering it. She opened it up to see Kevin standing on the porch wearing a black form fitting t-shirt and black jeans, his dark hair still damp from an obvious trip to the shower earlier as he’d just pushed it back and out of his face. His eyes met hers and he smiled with a bit of uneasiness behind it.

“Hey you,” Kevin spoke up in a low, cautious tone as his gaze swept over her noting her attire, “I hope I didn’t wake you.”

“No, of course not,” Avery replied bringing her hand up through her dark hair and opening up the door further, “I was just about to have breakfast with Erin and…”

“I wanted to come over and apologize about last night,” Kevin interrupted in a quick, nervous tone. “I didn’t mean to take you into that considering that I was hoping that maybe something would happen that…”

“Kevin, it’s okay,” Avery reached out to touch his arm gently seeing guilt flash over his features.

“No, it’s not okay. When I took you to that restaurant I was fully intending to make you and Russ talk to one another--to have you sit down and try to work things out considering how important that is for Erin, yet when we got there…” he trailed off, clearing his throat before meeting her eyes again, “I didn’t anticipate what we walked in on and…”

“Kevin, I know,” she interrupted squeezing his arm gently, “and it wasn’t your fault. Neither one of us knew what we were going to find and it’s really okay.”

“No it’s not and I told Angela to just stop trying to cause trouble. She’s just full of drama and I know you were hurting, but I can guarantee if she was kissing Russ that’s all it was. He wasn’t kissing her back because I know that he loves you and…” Kevin started to explain hoping to repair the damage that Angela had caused for his friends when he noticed Russ out of the corner of his eye walking into the living room. Kevin stood up straighter and looked between Russ and Avery taking note of their appearances as it was clear they had spent the night with one another, “obviously you already figured out him being here.”

“Yeah, I did,” she nodded with a small laugh feeling Russ move in closer to her.

“But I appreciate the help,” Russ added joining the two of them with a smile of his own, “I know what you were trying to do last night and I don’t know how to thank you enough for what you did.”

“It was nothing,” Kevin shrugged his shoulders forcing a small smile of his own, “Any friend would do the same.”

“No, any friend wouldn’t have, but we’re glad that you did,” Avery pressed her palm against Russell’s chest feeling him slide an arm around her. “And to thank you, how about you join us for breakfast? Russ was just making something and…”

“Oh no I couldn’t intrude,” Kevin shook his head adamantly.

“You wouldn’t be intruding,” Russ piped in brightly seeing Erin ready to reach out for Kevin, “besides Erin would never forgive us if we didn’t have you here with us for pancakes.”

“Pancakes,” Kevin repeated with wide eyes.

“That’s right,” Avery nodded in response, “Russ made my favorite and there’s more than plenty to go around.”

“Well, I never could resist pancakes or a beautiful woman,” Kevin added seeing Erin fussing to get over to him. He stepped forward reaching out to Erin and taking her from Russell’s arms, “so if I’m not intruding.”

“You’d never be intruding,” Russ added seeing his daughter’s eagerness to get closer to Kevin, “besides it’s the least I can do to make it up to you for the sticky situations we’ve been getting you into lately. I know we’ve had a few embarrassing moments and I’d like to apologize for…”

“No need to apologize,” Kevin stopped him before he continued, “I’m just happy that you two were able to work things out. That’s all that matters to me plain and simple.”

“Good then when I have you stick around to do dishes you won’t complain,” Russ teased before motioning for Kevin, Erin and Avery to follow him.

“If you really made pancakes, then complaining will be the last thing on my mind,” Kevin confessed glad to see that his friends had found a way to work things out between them. It was nice to know that someone was working on having a happily ever after together considering that his love life was nothing short of a train wreck right about now.


“Coming,” Don called out from his bedroom as he grabbed his shirt from the top of the dresser. Letting out a deep breath he looked around the house seeing if there was any kind of mess before walking over toward the door. “I hope something is really important for you to be ringing all those times.”

Don’s eyes rose to meet the dark ones of the person he never expected to see before him, Shannon. Frowning he shook his head slowly before pulling his shirt on quickly and tugging at the bottom of it to smooth the shirt out.

“So,” Don’s blue eyes glanced into Shannon’s for a moment as he cleared his throat and looked back at the house behind him hearing her take a step forward. “What could I do for you today? Sorry if you are looking for some alcohol here, I’m all out.”

“Very funny Don,” Shannon snapped at him her nose wrinkling as she saw him smirk and lean against the frame of his front door, shaking his head slowly. “For your information, I’m not here to see you.”

“Then there's no reason to keep playing games,” Don went to close the door feeling her foot stop it from closing and he glanced down at her foot before looking back up at her. Letting out a small laugh Don ran his fingers through his hair slowly, a muscle in his jaw clenching as he shook his head slowly. “Can I ask you why your foot is stopping me from closing my front door?”

“Because I’m here to see my brother,” Shannon pointed out seeing Don’s eyebrows tense together as she pulled her foot back and folded her arms in front of her chest. “That’s the only reason why I’m here and I have the right to see my brother you know.”

“You know it’s odd that my wife’s brother is actually still with us while his sister is off doing something no one knows,” he pointed out seeing the way she stared out at him and he shrugged his shoulders thinking about Nate and how he would always consider him family from here on out. “Though, I do feel bad for him, he’s stuck with you his whole life and you treat him like complete and total crap.”

“You know nothing about my brother,” Shannon snapped right back seeing the way every muscle in Don’s body tensed when she said that. Stepping forward she did the same and she stared him straight in the eyes. “You’re an asshole Don that only sees what he wants to.”

“Please, your brother loves it here more than he would ever love being around you,” he added seeing her glaring out at him and he shrugged his shoulders. “He loves my son and he likes me, if he liked you better he would have left the moment you left this house.”

“I’ve had enough,” she interrupted him throwing her hands up in the air seeing the way Don stepped back ready to close his door again as she pressed her hand in against the door. “If you care about my brother then you are going to care about this. I didn’t come here for you, my brother just lost probably the best friend he ever had.”

“Wait, what?” Don loosened up a bit seeing Shannon nod slowly and he gulped down, looking into her eyes seeing complete seriousness. His heart slumped a bit knowing what it was like for Nate and how many people in his life he lacked. “What happened?”

“Hunt Lockhart was Nate’s best friend since they were in the fourth grade together and he was killed in a robbery,” Shannon gulped down seeing the way the expression on Don’s face changed and he looked down toward the ground not quite sure knowing what to say after that. “I don’t know how I’m going to tell him his best friend just died. I have a hard time talking to him as it is.”

“There is no easy way of telling someone that,” Don stated seeing her nod slowly and he itched his chin slowly stuttering on his words knowing that if Brant were to die his world would come crashing around him. “Well, Nate isn’t here right now. He was going to pick Matt up from swim class for me after he got off work, but he should be here in a little bit. Why don’t you come in and wait for him.”

“Oh, okay,” Shannon took in a long breath seeing Don step to the side to let her slip into the house and he closed the door behind her, seeing her look over her shoulder at him with her brown eyes. “So, what should I say?”

“I don’t know,” Don motioned her over toward the couch sitting down and seeing her sit at the far end of the other couch and he took in a long breath. “I don’t even know how you should begin to tell him about something like this. I…I just don’t know.”

“I can’t do it Don,” Shannon bit down on her bottom lip resting against her elbows against her knees as she shook her head slowly. “I know I’m a horrible sister, but I love my brother and it’s going to kill me seeing the look on his face when I tell him. I don’t think I can do it.”

Hearing nothing she felt a shift on the couch as Don slid in closer to her, reaching out for her hand and giving it a small squeeze, her dark eyes meeting his again. Feeling the fingers of his other hand press in against her cheek gingerly she let out a small sigh.

“Everything will work itself out,” Don wrapped his arm around her neck softly bringing her in closer to him, holding her tightly in his arms before resting his forehead against hers. “I’ll tell him. I love your brother just as much as I love my family, I’ll tell him.”


“I just can’t believe that all of this has happened,” Mindy confessed with a long sigh sitting in the middle of her living room after her mother had offered to spend some time with her. “I mean when I think about Hunt being gone, I can’t even begin to fathom how this could happen. He wanted to marry me mom…”

“I know sweetheart,” Paula reached out to touch her daughter’s cheek lightly before pushing a strand of hair away from her face, “I know he loved you.”

“And look what it did for him,” Mindy blurted out painfully unable to mask the tears that consumed her, “Mom, he died in that store because he was trying to make me happy. He was trying to find a way to give me everything that he thought I wanted.”

“Honey, you can’t blame yourself for something that was beyond your control. You had no idea that lunatic was going to be there and do what he did,” Paula shuddered at the thought knowing full well that this was truly a horrible tragedy, “You could not have seen that one coming and neither could have Hunt. Some junkie clearly just found his way into the wrong store and…”

“And the man that loved me is dead because of it,” Mindy buried her face in her hands before shaking her head. “It isn’t fair.”

“No it’s not,” Paula added not quite sure how to console her daughter as she looked around. “Mindy, honey is there anything I can do for you? Anything that I can get you that might help you? Some tea or coffee or…”

“I don’t want coffee or tea mom. I just want Hunt to be alive, but neither one of us can make that happen, can we?” Mindy sobbed burying her hands further in her face.

“Hey, honey it’s going to be okay,” Paula reached out to Mindy urging her in closer as Mindy’s tears consumed her. Rubbing Mindy’s back gently Paula spoke up in a low, soothing tone, “I know it doesn’t feel that way now, but one day you’ll find the strength to keep pushing on. You’ll find it in yourself to keep Hunt’s spirit in your heart while you do everything he wanted for you to be able to do.”

“He wanted to marry me mom,” Mindy snapped feeling her frustrations mounting. Pushing away from her mother, she stood up and paced around the room while balling her fingers into fists at her sides, “He can’t very well do that now, can he mom?”

“Mindy, this is not my fault,” Paula frowned seeing her daughter on the verge of a temper tantrum, “I know that you cared about the man and I’ve tried to be supportive over this even though I knew he was completely wrong for you. I know that you cared about him, so I’m at least trying here. Please don’t get angry at me when…”

“There you go again,” Mindy threw her hands in the air, “I don’t know why you even bother. All you wanted to do was tell me how awful he was when he was around and you’re still doing it.”

“I’m not saying that he was awful,” Paula stood up preparing to defend her words, “Just that he wasn’t right for my baby girl. You deserved better.”

“He’s dead mom,” Mindy glared over at her mother again, “He loved me and he died because he wanted to give me everything that I’ve never had in my life. He wanted to love me like I thought I could be loved.”

“And I’m sure that his intentions were in the right place and while I wouldn’t wish him dead, the fact to the matter is that I know that it never would have worked out for the both of you. You were from two different worlds,” Paula offered up once again reaching out to touch the side of her daughter’s face gently.

“How can you say that? You met him one time mom. You saw him at a restaurant and even then you couldn’t be bothered with him. You just decided that he wasn’t good enough because no one is ever good enough where I’m concerned. You’re so busy wanting to make yourself look good that you’ve forgotten all about the fact that my life should be about what is right for me.”

“You weren’t even sure it was right for you. Admit it Mindy what I’m seeing now isn’t so much heartbreak because you lost the love of your life, but rather that you’re upset that you should be feeling more because you were the love of his,” Paula challenged watching Mindy’s tear-filled eyes grow wide at the accusation.

“I can’t believe that you just said that,” Mindy huffed finally balling her fists at her side again and moving around the room.

“One of us had to say it Mindy since we both know that there is a devil haunting you that’s never truly found it’s way out of your system. No matter how much you try to pretend that you’re not addicted to what you cannot have the fact to the matter is that you’ve never given up on what you’ve lost. That’s really what’s eating away at you,” Paula watched her daughter moving around the room with an obvious emotion behind her step, “You wanted something that you couldn’t obtain any longer and Hunt was only there as a distraction.”

“Hunt was an incredible man,” Mindy spat out at her mother with a frown, “He had a good heart and…”

“And it doesn’t matter how good he was because he would’ve never measured up to the great Guy Morrison, now would he have?” Paula challenged ready to say something more when there was a knock at the door. She saw the way that Mindy glared at her and before she could get further into the argument with Mindy, Paula moved over to the door and opened it only to discover Guy standing in front of her.

“Ms. Carmichael,” Guy nodded at Mindy’s mom seeing the obvious displeasure behind her eyes at his arrival.

“Speak of the devil and he appears,” Paula mouthed pushing the door open wider to show Mindy of her new arrival.

“Is Mindy around?” Guy questioned looking beyond Paula to see Mindy standing over near the far end of the room. Without a word he moved forward and rushed over to Mindy immediately pulling her into his arms, “I came back as soon as I heard the news. I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner.”

“And now I’m sure you’ll be just fine,” Paula quipped under her breath, rolling her eyes as she watched her daughter sink into Guy’s arms.

“Just get out mom!” Mindy finally snapped releasing Guy and glaring at her mother. “Get the hell out!”

“Mindy come on,” Paula started before rethinking it, “On second thought given your frame of mind you’re looking for someone to attack and I refuse to allow myself to be that someone. I was busy with work before I came over to be with you. You always accuse me of never putting you first, but when I do, it’s never good enough.”

“You just don’t know when to quit,” Mindy replied with a glare thinking about all her mother had said.

“Apparently now I do,” Paula snubbed her nose at Mindy before reaching for her jacket. She slipped into it before turning to Mindy again, “If you decide you want or need a mother in your life, you have my number.”

“I’m sure I won’t be calling anytime soon,” Mindy huffed watching her mom stomp out of the apartment before Mindy moved forward and slammed the door behind her exit.

“What was that all about?” Guy questioned almost afraid to ask. He took a tentative step forward seeing that Mindy hadn’t moved from her place beside the door. Without a word he stepped in behind her placing his hand on her shoulder and feeling her shake beneath his touch, “Mindy?”

“I just can’t deal with this right now. I can’t do it,” she burst out in broken sobs feeling as if everything inside of her was falling to pieces.

“It’s going to be okay,” Guy promised with a warm whisper pulling her into his arms. She wrapped her arms around him and before he could say anything further, he felt her break into full blown tears as he held her. He brought his fingers up through her hair before kissing the top of her head supportively, “I’m here now. We’ll get through this together. I promise you I’m here for you. You don’t have to go through this alone any longer.”


“Hey sis,” Jason called out from the kitchen looking into the refrigerator and pushing a few things aside. Letting out a small groan he kept searching through the drawers before coming to a stop and standing up. “Where in the world is your butter?”

“On the bottom shelf,” he heard her call out from the living room as he let out a long breath getting down on his knees and bending down to find it. Rolling his eyes he saw it all the way back realizing that if he wouldn’t have got on his knees he would have never found it. Letting out a small groan he stood up leaving the door open so he could quickly put everything back. “Did you find it?”

“Yeah short stuff,” Jason bit down on his bottom lip shaking his head slowly before pulling out the toast he made for his sister putting some of the butter on it. Dropping it down on the plate he hit the door shut with his behind after picking up the two plates and the two glasses. “Stand up.”

“What?” Deana looked up seeing Jason walking into the room with his plates in his hand and she saw him quickly walking over toward her making sure he got it to her before he dropped it. “What is this? I thought you were making something for yourself.”

“I was and I was making something for you too,” he informed her with small shrug seeing her grab the juice first and set it down before grabbing her plate. “I figured for once in my life I would do something nice for you.”

“You should let me be taking care of you,” she pointed out with a frown seeing him shrug his shoulders before letting out a small breath and sitting down on the couch where she soon took the seat next to him. “Thank you for this Jason. I really appreciate it.”

“It’s just food Dee,” he smirked looking over at her and biting down on his bottom lip. Taking a bite of his toast covered with peanut butter her heard her laugh when his top lip got covered in it. “What’s so funny?”

“You still look like you’re twelve years old,” she reached out for a napkin placing it against his lip hearing him let out a small laugh before shrugging his shoulders. “I can’t believe you still love that stuff.”

“I love anything peanut butter, whether it’s cookies, peanut butter cups, ice-cream, cereal, you name it and it has peanut butter--I’m going to love it,” Jason nodded slowly before taking another bite of his toast and reaching for a piece of bacon. “I was a kid back then and I’m still technically a kid. We’re close to being twenty two and I still think that makes us kids.”

“When do we become not kids?” Deana eyed her brother over slowly seeing him glance over at her with his blue eyes before letting out a small laugh. “I mean honestly.”

“Coming from a man, I’m never going to grow up and I can admit that straight up sis,” he chuckled seeing the way she looked over at him before taking a bite of her eggs. “I’d say the average person grows up when they have a child. I mean no one is an average person, but I think when you have a baby come into the world--then that brings you to a whole new place. For you, since you’re already beating me in that part, I’d say around thirty for you.”

“Gee, I’m the exception,” she hit his shoulder lightly hearing him let out a small laugh again before looking up at the television seeing the soap opera she had on. Seeing his jaw tighten she looked up to the television seeing that there was a guy crying over someone he loved who had just died. “We should turn this off.”

“No, you like the show,” Jason placed his hand over hers making her set the remote down and he pushed his plate to the center of the coffee table in front of them and gulped down. Resting his elbow against the side of the couch he let out a long breath before shaking his head slowly. “Poor guy, he is a great actor though.”

“I agree,” she saw the way he stared out at the screen before she reached out to give his hand a small squeeze, his blue eyes meeting hers. “I seriously can turn this off and you know what? How about we go to the driving range and hit some golf balls? I know you like to do that.”

“No thanks, I like doing that with Zane when he wants to,” Jason half smiled before shaking his head slowly knowing that she was hating the fact that he was hurting. “You have to stop worrying about me so much sis, I’m a big boy. I’m going to be okay.”

“Even if you are only a few minutes younger than me--I’m still bound to be worried about you,” she nudged him in the ribs gently seeing him smirk before reaching for his orange juice taking a long sip. “You’re the only person I have left and you know--even if you are disgusting and somewhat of a pervert, I’m still willing to love you.”

“Well I appreciate that,” Jason replied after taking the last sip of his drink trying not to choke on it when she called him a pervert and he ran his hand through his hair slowly. “I want to go see Mindy.”

“You what?” Deana asked blankly seeing him nod slowly and stand up from the couch reaching for his plate and taking it back into the kitchen. Sitting there for a moment she thought about it before standing up again. “Jason, do you think you can't do that right now?”

“I don’t care if I can do it,” Jason walked out of the kitchen and to the guest room hearing her follow him from behind. Reaching for the closet door he pulled it open and pulled out a white tank top. “I have to go see her again.”

“Jason, I know. Just, now?” she questioned seeing him nod again and pull his t-shirt off and throw it to the ground. Reaching down to pick it up she threw it in the hamper before seeing him pull the shirt on. “Jason, can you deal with that right now?”

“I have to make sure she is okay, I’m worried,” he insisted reaching for his blue and white button down shirt, seeing the way she watched him go through his things. “I know you’re worried about me Deana, but think about her. She just lost the person she loved, I lost someone I tried to help knowing only for two minutes. Just imagine what she’s like right now.”

“Okay,” she simply answered seeing his blue eyes look up at her as he sat down and put his white tennis shoes on quickly. “You do what you have to, but please make sure you call me to check in.”

“I’m doing this because I know Hunt would have wanted me to check in on her, I’m always going to look after her now,” Jason muttered standing up from the bed and looking around for his cell phone before finding it. “I feel for her Deana and I don’t want her to feel alone right now, but I promise I’ll check in.”

“Okay little guy,” she tipped up on her toes to give him a hug seeing the way he breathed out deeply and looked down at the watch on his wrist. “Just be careful and I’ll be here.”

“I’ll be careful,” Jason went to walk out of the room before coming to a stop and turning to face her, snapping his fingers and itching his chin as he thought. “If Grady comes over, which I’m sure he will--make sure he knows that I appreciate him being there for me yesterday. I hope to help out Mindy like he helped me, I needed someone to help me feel better and now she needs one.”


Heather rolled onto her side taking a look at the sexy man beside her in bed. Unable to keep from smiling, Heather sank onto the pillow watching Kyle as he lay beside her serving as a reminder that they had really accomplished what they’d set out to do. Last night they had the most incredible wedding on the beach followed by some dancing and kisses that had her dreaming of things to come. Tentatively she stretched her arm out over the pillows to tease her fingers through his blonde hair. He shifted beneath her touch and a smile pressed in over his lips.

“You wouldn’t be trying to rouse your husband from a sensational sleep,” he questioned lazily opening one eye to see her watching him closely.

“Would it be so bad if I was trying to find a way to enjoy my first day as your wife with you and live it up to the fullest,” she questioned seeing his eyes fully open and his blonde eyelashes fluttering when he turned to face her.

“Not in the least,” he admitted with a grin, “because there’s nothing I could want more than to reach out and pull you into my arms and tell you all about the things that as your husband I would like to do for you.”

“I’m open to hearing them,” she winked in response bringing her fingers through his hair again, “because I know we’ll spend the rest of our lives living all of those ideas out.”

“God, you make me want to crawl over there and kiss you among other things,” Kyle’s gaze swept over what little of her nightgown was showing from where she lay with a sheet tossed over her bottom half.

“I think if you tried it, you might find a bit of protest. Then again, maybe you might also find someone else reaching out for you,” Heather noted seeing Charles let out a yawn and open his eyes from where he lay on the center of the bed between them.

“You know never in all my years did I imagine that on my wedding night I would share my bed and my bride with another man,” Kyle reached for Charles’s finger and grinned, “but in this particular case I’m willing to make the exception. Hey little man, how are you doing?”

“He’s feeling wonderful,” Heather confessed leaning forward to kiss her son’s chubby cheek.

“Wait a second,” Kyle frowned back at her, “if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right. Group kiss.”

Kyle leaned forward and kissed Charles’s other cheek before his gaze met Heather’s once again.

“On the count of three,” he suggested watching her nod. He did a count and both of them pressed a kiss on her son’s cheek. Almost as soon as they did, Kyle’s beard tickled Charles on the face. He started to giggle before kicking his feet out in between them.

“Whoa little man, don’t get too excited,” Kyle teased hearing Charles let out a louder laugh than before. He turned towards Kyle and clapped his hands together eagerly.

“I think he believes you’re going to tickle him again,” Heather noted seeing Charles watching Kyle intently.

“What like this?” Kyle leaned forward, his beard teasing against Charles again as Charles let out a small wail of delight. “Or like this.”

Heather lay back seeing Kyle twist on the bed to move in over Charles. He scooped Charles up in his arms before bringing Charles in to blow on his stomach. Charles wailed with delight before clapping his hands again and trying to get Kyle to continue to play with him.

“Gee, to think you make my son that excited,” Heather laughed lightly throwing back the sheet to reveal her long legs to Kyle, “Just imagine what you can do for me.”

“After Charles goes down for his nap, I’ll show you full well what I intend to do for you,” Kyle promised in a sensual tone taking the time to appreciate her curves, “Believe me I fully intend to make up for our not being able to seal the deal last night.”

“I think we already did that quite a few times back home,” Heather leaned in on her side again, watching Kyle interact with her son.

“Not like this we haven’t. You are my wife after all,” Kyle explained matter of fact, “and that warrants a whole new kind of making love you see.”

“Really?” Heather arched a curious brow before stretching out beside him, “As in we go from fun and exciting, to boring and predictable love making or none at all since I’ve heard that’s what happens in a marriage.”

“Not in my marriage,” Kyle shook his head solemnly offering up an illicit smirk, “because I was thinking something along the lines of taking you out onto the beach stripping us both out of our clothes and then having my way with you multiple times. After that I figured we would make our way over to one of the showers they have set up outside and of course I would naturally have to ravage you again just for good measure.”

“Of course,” she laughed lightly in response.

“And then my dear,” he covered Charles’s ears for a moment, “I’m going to bring you back inside where I’m going to be so hot for you that I can’t wait to get in here to press you up against the wall and have you beg me to keep touching you in all the right places. Then I’m going to take my tongue and…”

The doorbell rang in a harmonic version of Unchained Melody and Heather practically leapt out of the bed in surprise. She blinked down at Kyle who was now very amused with her reaction. Frowning she watched him sit up and shake his head at her.

“What in the world is that?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Reality setting in,” he stated matter of fact keeping Charles in his arms, “That’s Mrs. Benjamin our official babysitter for the day since while I love having our little one around, we’re going to need a few hours to ourselves so that I can complete telling you what we’re going to have going on here. I plan on making our marriage sizzle from day one.”

“So you’re shipping off Charles to make it happen?” she arched a curious brow eyeing him as he moved across the room with Charles in his arms.

“Charles will be at the beach house next door so if at any time we need to pick him up, we won’t have far to go,” he promised her moving in to offer up a quick kiss, “So while I work out the details, you get dressed because we have a day on the beach to work with.”

“Kyle, I don’t believe this,” Heather brought her hand up to her own face, “I mean one minute you sounded like you were being lazy and the next…”

“I plan on giving you the full fantasy, which of course will leave you thirsty for more,” Kyle assured her with a playful smirk, “and then maybe after we’ll take Charles with us to collect seashells or something.”

“I like that idea,” she nodded in confession watching him walk towards the room’s exit.

“Excellent, then get dressed because we’ve got a lot to do today,” Kyle promised giving his bride one last look before going to meet with Mrs. Benjamin to discuss the other surprise he had in store for Heather. Hopefully it would show her that there was indeed a lot of good surprises ahead of them for the rest of their lives with one another!


“Why is she not answering her cell phone?” Kellen demanded marching into Kipp’s office only to discover his lover buried in a pile of paperwork now that business was about to be booming with Heather’s company. Kipp glanced up at Kellen with a small smile before motioning to him to hold on as he was on the telephone.

“Yes I can assure you that I will have everything in order by tonight,” Kipp promised the person on the other end of the line before motioning to Kellen to take a seat in one of the chairs, “Yes of course. I’ll have my assistant fax those over to you and we’ll get everything set up for our meeting next week. Of course.”

Kellen started to tap his foot impatiently feeling a frown touch over his lips while Kipp finished up his phone conversation. Unable to sit still Kellen rose to his feet again and began pacing around the room until he heard Kipp say good-bye to the person on the other end of the line. Finally Kellen spun around and placed his hands on his hips letting out an emphatic breath.

“Kipp, Heather took the day off and isn’t answering her cell phone. Surely something must be wrong because it is not like her to just push work aside and ignore her friends,” Kellen marched towards Kipp’s desk. “I mean first I had this feeling that something was up last night and then…”

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Kipp tried to dissuade Kellen’s worries before they got the best of him. “Heather needed a break and I don’t see why there’s anything wrong with her taking the day off and relaxing. I mean you were the one who kept going on and on about how she needed to experience some rest and relaxation.”

“Even so, I don’t like that she just up and vanishes like she did. Something simply isn’t right,” Kellen insisted stomping his foot on the ground and frowning deeper than before, “My Heather Babes wouldn’t just flee without talking to me.”

“As I said before I’m sure she’s fine. After all I’m sure she’s doing exactly what you asked of her in taking care of herself,” Kipp suggested fighting to repress the amused grin he had at Kellen’s reactions to not knowing where Heather was.

“And then Kyle’s off too, which so obviously means that they are together, but why would they both just up and leave like that and not answer the cell phone? I mean what if you were calling to talk to her about Charles or what if something went down like they were in an accident and we have no way of knowing that they were hurt. Or worse, what if they were in some kind of natural disaster and…” Kellen rambled on further throwing his hands in the air.

“Perhaps they are just enjoying some alone time,” Kipp mused in response offering up a knowing look to Kellen. “You were the one who wanted them to fall for each other and now that they have, maybe they are just trying to have a romantic getaway for a while.”

“But they have Charles,” Kellen added with a frown, “Something about all of this just seems rather fishy.”

“Trust me I’m sure they are fine,” Kipp laughed lightly hearing a knock at his door. He looked up to find Becca standing there with a few files in hand.

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” she smiled politely stepping into the room and joining the two of them, “because I can come back if you need me to.”

“Actually we were having a private conversation,” Kellen spun around to glare at Kipp’s assistant. As his eyes fell upon Becca, he noticed that she was dressed in a cream colored silk blouse and a long, black skirt much like the one that Kellen had just urged Heather to buy on one of their recent shopping expeditions. Her hair was pinned up in a rhinestone studded clip and as Kellen eyed her with a curious expression, he couldn’t help but notice that even the way she’d done her makeup was similar to Heather’s was.

“I can come back later,” Becca offered up apologetically before looking to Kipp, “I just wanted to give you these and…”

“You can stay,” Kipp stood up from where he’d been seated and glared over at Kellen, “He’s just a bit high strung this morning because he can’t know everything that’s going on in the world around him.”

“It’s not about the not knowing, well maybe it is, but still it’s not like our friends to up and vanish and,” Kellen paused taking in the first whiff of Becca’s perfume. He stepped in closer to her and eyed her curiously, “Is that from the Beholder Sensual collection?”

“Why yes it is,” Becca nodded grinning over at him, “You like it?”

“It’s Heather’s favorite perfume,” Kellen admitted giving her a long look from head to toe, “She has pretty unique taste so I was surprised to see you in it.”

“Well, it is a popular fragrance,” Kipp added seeing Kellen ready to launch his sour mood off on Becca.

“Even so, Heather always adds a hint of her own essence to it if you will by mixing in a little bit of jasmine and vanilla,” Kellen continued to watch Becca closely. He took another whiff of her perfume and frowned, “Which it smells like you have done as well.”

“Okay, I’ll admit it, I read a magazine article where they were asking Heather her tips on how to succeed in the business world as a single woman and I followed a few of her pointers,” Becca twirled around to face him flashing him another far too wide smile, “I take it that I did a good job in listening to what I had heard from the interview.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Kellen muttered under his breath folding his arms in front of his chest as Kipp circled around his desk to reach for the files in Becca’s hands.

“Thank you for these. I just need to give you a few more signatures and then I want you to fax these over to this number,” Kipp ignored Kellen’s snippiness and continued to move along with his work, “I told them I would have them over by this afternoon.”

“And that meeting that we have scheduled?” Becca arched a curious brow. “Are we still on for that?”

“Of course,” Kipp nodded in response, “I hope that you have everything together for lunch and…”

“I’m more than ready,” Becca waited for him to hand her the things she needed to fax before she winked down at him, “I think I’m ready to take on the world today with the way I’m feeling.”

“Well good because it’s going to feel like you’re doing that when we get into that conference even though we’re trying to keep this casual,” Kipp warned her with a bright grin, “but I’m sure you’ll have no problems charming them.”

“With you at my side I’m sure I can do it all and we will come out on top,” Becca added taking the files and stepping back, “See you at lunch Kipp.”

“Sure,” Kipp waved at her before turning his attention to a now fuming Kellen.

“What the hell was that about? Were you flirting with her?” Kellen demanded placing his hands on his hips again, “Is that what I saw here?”

“You have to be kidding me,” Kipp rolled his eyes at Kellen’s remark, “Kellen she’s my assistant and…”

“You’re taking her to lunch now?” Kellen threw his hands up in the air. “Come on Kipp anyone with eyes can see she’s got a crush on you.”

“She’s my assistant Kellen and besides, why would you even feel threatened by her when I have all of the drama and everything else that I need in the world with you?” Kipp offered up trying to get Kellen to calm down, but as he met his lover’s blue eyes he had a feeling that they were about to have a very tense morning with one another whether Kipp was ready for it or not!


“Are you sure you can do that?” Shannon questioned pulling away from Don for a moment looking into his light blue eyes as she reached forward to run her fingers in through his short dark hair. “I mean, you’re not related to him.”

“Yeah, but I feel like I am,” Don informed her with a deep inhale seeing the way she looked at him as he pulled away from her feeling a bit uncomfortable. “I mean honestly he does come to me when he needs something and I’ve always been there for him.”

“Are you trying to say I’m not a good sister?” she snapped looking at the way he glared over at her and rolled his eyes and she stood up from the couch. “This is horrible just waiting for him like this. Nate doesn’t have a lot of friends and the one that means the most to him is the one that dies. That’s not right.”

“Life isn’t fair sometimes,” Don frowned seeing the way that Shannon walked over toward the window to push open the curtain and look out. “I said I would talk to Nate, I know exactly how it feels to lose someone you love so much. When I lost Stephanie, it was like losing the one thing in the world that kept me going.”

“I’m sorry,” she sighed seeing the way that Don looked up at her and nodded slowly and she walked back toward the couch. “I’m not one for feelings, well--I’ve never tried I guess. I can only imagine what it would be like to lose the love of your life.”

“Yeah,” he just nodded not quite sure what else to say and he realized how much he truly missed his late wife. “You know, I was in love with her when I was about Matt’s age. She was my friend, I was the little pudgy kid in school back then. Brant was the cool kid and he was the only one nice to me back when I was five. It’s sad that kids were even mean back then.”

“Yeah,” Shannon smiled sitting doing on the couch kind of happy that she was getting to learn more about Don’s past as he shrugged his shoulders. “I know people can be mean a lot, sadly I’m in that group and know.”

“Well yeah, but back then she was so beautiful. Even when she was that small,” Don muttered enclosing his fingers together letting out a muted groan feeling a pain tightening up in his chest. “I just try to realize the history I had with her and everyone says they never leave you and they are always in your heart. It’s just when reality kicks in you realize that’s not good enough. You want to be able to hold the person you love, you want to be able to see them. Not just imagine them and know they are watching over you. It’s when you realize, you’re going to wake up every morning and never be holding the person you love in your arms or as in Nate’s case just hugging him friendly. I’ve never admitted it because I’m a man and men don’t cry, but I find myself crying sometimes. I just can’t help it.”

“And that’s okay,” she reached out to casually touch his shoulder seeing his head slouch down and she moved in closer to him, realizing that it had been so long since she had cried. “Showing your emotions doesn’t mean you aren’t a man.”

“Right,” Don bit down on his bottom lip trying to swallow down the lump that was forming in his throat as he felt her fingers squeeze his shoulder leisurely. “I try too hard Shannon and don’t ever see things right in front of me, but I see you Shannon. I’ve been thinking of you for a long time, you’re the only person to even touch my heart in a way since Stephanie died. What happened to us Shannon?”

“Don,” she muttered knowing that it was her fault they weren’t together and she looked away from him hearing a jingle of keys as she looked up to see the door open and saw Nate walk into the house with Matt sitting on top of his shoulders laughing. “Nate.”

“Shannon,” Nate gulped down glancing over at Don seeing the way that Don stood up from the couch and stared out at him. Looking down at his wrist watch Nate smiled widely reaching up and pulling Matt down into his arms tickling him playfully. “The tickle monster wasn’t late with Matty here was he?”

“No, not at all,” Don smiled seeing the way that Nate played with his son and he moved forward knowing that Nate was going to be very upset once he found out what was going on. “Hey Matt, can you give the three of us a minute?”

“Uh oh, I think that means I’m in trouble. I’ll be in your room in a minute buddy,” Nate patted Matt’s head one last time before setting him down slowly and pressing a small kiss against his forehead. Matt ran to Don quickly giving him a hug before running into his room. “So what did I do? Leave the toilet seat up and you fell in or something?”

“No, not that this time,” Don chuckled seeing Nate smile brightly and Don rubbed at his chin slowly before trying to focus on the thing he promised he would do. “Nate, I know this is going to be hard…”

“You and Shannon are getting a divorce?” Nate looked over at his sister seeing the way she looked at him and he shrugged his shoulders. “That’s not hard on me, I’ll still stay here. I think I want to adopt your son as my brother or something. Hey maybe you can adopt me or something, I love your family so much man. Nate Leveski might sound weird at first, but I love that little boy in there so…,”

“Nate, this is important,” Shannon informed him seeing the way that Nate looked over at her with his green eyes narrowing knowing that something was wrong by the look on her face. “We need to tell you something.”

Patting the couch next to her after she sat down she saw Nate take a seat and pull off his hat before looking up at Don who stepped forward. He felt Don nudge his head gently and he laughed seeing Don smile before biting down on his bottom lip.

“Nate, there was an accident,” Don began slowly seeing Nate’s eyebrows tense together when he mentioned the word accident. Seeing Nate’s jaw tighten there in that moment of silence and Don felt a large amount of guilt pressing in over him. “An accident involving your friend Hunt.”


Pushing through the boxes in her closet Deana heard a rustling noise behind her as she turned around letting out a sharp gasp seeing Grady behind her. Placing her hand in over her chest she realized she gave him a key and totally forgot about it.

“You just scared me,” Deana breathed out deeply knowing that she wasn’t expecting anyone to walk on her and she shook her head slowly. “I forgot about the whole key thing.”

“Hey, it’s okay. I rang the doorbell but you must have not heard me,” Grady pushed the key back into his pocket and moved forward to touch her shoulder lovingly. “Everything okay.”

“Just looking at some old tapes,” she informed him moving forward to place a tape in and pushed play, seeing her and Jason on the television before her when they were ten years old. “I was thinking about the two of us.”

“You and Jason?” Grady questioned taking a seat on her bed with her as she saw Jason wave at the camera before walking over to his friend and throwing him to the ground. “Dang, he was a vicious little guy.”

“He just loved to wrestle back then,” she informed Grady seeing the way Grady chuckled as she reached for another tape. Taking the other one out she placed a newer one from when they were sixteen in. “This is one of my mean moments watch this.”

“Cute dog,” Grady watched as a young Jason played in a yard with a mid sized dog who was chasing after him as he played with a soccer ball. Hiding in behind the bushes he saw the camera push around the branches to where you could see Jason again. Hearing her call out Jason’s name she saw him look back toward the house and start running for the back door, running right into it and falling back against the ground. “He just ran into the door.”

“I cleaned it really great,” Deana muttered seeing the way that Grady looked over at her and let out a small laugh and she shrugged. Watching Jason look over at her, he saw the way Jason reached for the water hose and started to squirt it at her. Starting to run with the camera Deana’s foot hit a wet pile of mud making her slide across the grass and when Jason hit it he did the same. The last thing they saw on the camera was the dog licking the lens. “I take it your childhood consisted of tricks and more tricks.”

“That’s all we really could do other than school work,” she muttered turning to face Grady, looking into his green eyes when she moved in for a small kiss. “That’s all we ever really wanted to do I guess. You know I started to worry about him when his dog died because he went into a deep depression over a dog. Now he had a real person die in his arms and I can’t read anything from him.”

“Dee, he’s going to be okay,” Grady tried to make her believe him knowing that she would be worried for a while until Jason was no longer upset about this. “I believe in your brother, I think he is going to be okay.”

“Well he believes in you too,” Deana informed him with a small smile thinking back to her brother and what he said about Grady before he left. Reaching for a pillow she wrapped her arms around it tightly giving it a small squeeze. “I just hope you’re right Grady.”


“I just can’t believe he’s gone,” Mindy divulged keeping her eyes closed as she snuggled onto Guy’s lap after her tears had died down a bit. She could feel his fingers through her dark hair as her head felt stuffy from all the crying she’d done. “One minute I thought he was going to be around for a long time, then the next this happens…”

“I don’t know how it is that fate can be so cruel at times,” Guy mouthed massaging her spine with his fingertips now that he held her close to him, “It isn’t fair how the good people leave this world like that.”

“I just can’t believe that someone would be so horrible,” Mindy replied thinking about the man that had murdered Hunt. “He wasn’t doing anything wrong, yet that guy didn’t care about that. All he wanted was to steal what was in the cash register for his next quick fix for drugs. Hunt had nothing to do with that. He was just minding his own business when that man decided to steal his life from him.”

“I know,” Guy replied feeling her relaxing a bit on his lap. He felt her curl up on the cushion as his arm dropped down around her waist to keep her from shivering. “It isn’t right.”

“He was going to ask me to marry him,” Mindy replied shifting on his lap just enough to turn her eyes towards him, “He wanted to share his life with me Guy.”

“Marry you?” Guy repeated surprise behind his blue eyes, “I didn’t realize that it had gotten that serious for you two.”

“Neither did I,” she admitted honestly thinking about the guilt that was eating away at her. “I mean things had been going really well lately for us between my getting promoted and everything, but…”

“But what?” Guy couldn’t help but ask seeing something flash behind her eyes.

“When Trisha told me that he was planning on asking me to marry him, it got me thinking,” she confessed feeling her words coming out in a barely there whisper, “I thought about how many things that I missed out on in my life. I thought about all the dreams I had for the future and about what it was that Hunt and I had with one another in our relationship.”

“Why do I sense a but coming in here somewhere?” Guy couldn’t help but question catching the expression on her face.

“He was absolutely perfect for me. He loved me and he made me happy,” Mindy continued closing her eyes for a moment and thinking about the man that she’d fallen for. “He made me laugh, made me smile and when we were together he always had me feeling like there was something more out there for me. For so long I’d given up on love, yet there he was ready to get me to challenge all of that all over again.”

“He really cared about you Mindy. I mean if he wanted to marry you, then that in itself says how much he loved you,” Guy added watching her let out an ironic laugh behind her tear-stained cheeks.

“He bought me this beautiful ring,” Mindy confessed fluttering her damp eyelashes, “He was planning out this perfect night with all of my favorites and he was trying everything his power to make it special for me. That‘s why he was in that store in the first place you know.”

“He couldn’t have known what was going to happen,” Guy pointed out thinking about how the one trip that seemed irrelevant would become such a life altering experience.

“That’s what my mom said too, but that doesn’t change what happened,” she sighed closing her eyes again and thinking about Hunt, “That doesn’t change what would’ve happened.”

“Why do I get the feeling that there’s something more to that statement?” Guy couldn’t help but ask catching her tone. “Mindy, what was going on with your mom before I arrived?”

“She was just being stupid,” Mindy groaned thinking about all the things that her mother had said to her, “She just has to always be right and I hate that. She just has to prove that I’m no where near capable of doing what I need to in order to move on with my life and…”

“The man you loved just died. I’m pretty sure that your mom will have to cut you some slack there. You can’t be expected to run around like the stoic that she portrays herself as. You have feelings and a heart and…” Guy stopped when he realized she’d started crying once again. Reaching out to her he pulled her up off of his lap and into his arms, “Hey, it’s okay…”

“No, it’s not okay Guy,” Mindy shook her head refusing to accept those words from him, “It’s not going to be okay. It’s never going to be okay especially when my mom is right about me. I’m such a horrible person considering that…”

“That what?” he questioned reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “That you found someone who made you happy? Someone who loved you so very much that he wanted to share his world with you? Mindy that is nothing to feel horrible about. There is nothing wrong with being in love with someone. That could never be wrong.”

“That’s just it Guy. I was never really…” she stopped herself finding that his eyes were focused on her every breath, her every movement.

“Never really what?” he couldn’t help but ask searching her blue-green eyes, “Mindy, you know you can talk to me.”

“It’s just…” she turned away feeling a guilt wrap over her, “Where is Gabe?”

“He’s still in Europe,” Guy replied a bit puzzled by her question, “He’s got some things that he’s running there and he thought it might be in his company’s best interest to finish those up. He did send his regards though and…”

“And once again he’s being a friend in his own way. Just like you are,” Mindy shuddered again feeling her frustrations mounting. She shifted on his lap before looking to him again, “Guy, I feel like the worst possible person on the planet right now.”

“Mindy, I know you’re hurting and I’m not saying that the grief isn’t natural, but you should not feel like the worst person because of this. It wasn’t your fault,” Guy reached out to touch her cheek gently, pushing her hair away from her face with the movement. “You are a wonderful woman with a loving heart, so naturally this is going to hurt.”

“Hunt had so many plans for us Guy,” Mindy sniffled taking in a low, staggering breath, “He told me once that he wanted a family with lots of children because he hadn’t had a normal life growing up. He wanted a wife who was his world and a family that they could raise together through the years.”

“I’m sorry that he didn’t have that opportunity to do that with you honey because I know you would’ve had beautiful babies together,” Guy sighed hating to see his friend so upset, “You would’ve had something amazing.”

“That’s just it Guy,” Mindy shook her head in refusal to accept his words, “I wouldn’t have been able to. I wouldn’t have been able to have the kind of life with Hunt that he wanted. I wouldn’t have been able to give him what he truly needed because deep in the back of my mind I couldn’t be honest with him about my heart--about what I wanted.”

“Hey, Mindy it’s okay,” Guy started again seeing something shift behind her features, “You can’t beat yourself up over this. I know you loved him and even if you found yourself thinking that you weren’t ready to get married and settle down before all this happened…”

“The only reason why I wasn’t ready to settle down Guy is because the only man I’ve ever really wanted to have that with is you,” Mindy blurted out without hesitation tears overtaking her as a sob spilled over her lips, “I couldn’t give Hunt the kind of love that he’s needed in his life because that love wasn’t mine to give when every breath of every moment I was with him I found myself questioning about what it would’ve been like to be sharing those experiences with you.”

“Mindy I…” Guy found himself at a loss, not really sure what to say to his friend.

“I know it makes me sound awful and believe me I hate that I feel that way, but damn it, it’s the truth,” Mindy explained pushing herself off of his lap. She started to pace around the room throwing her hands in the air as her frustrations mounted, “After all these years you’d think that I would get it--that I would see that you’re gay. That you don’t love me or want me.”

“Mindy, I do love you, but it’s just…” Guy stood up attempting to reach out to her before stopping himself.

“Just not the kind of love that I want it to be,” Mindy spun around to face him again, “Hunt loved me like I’ve always dreamt about you doing, but it wasn’t good enough for me. He gave his life up for me and that wasn’t good enough either. I didn’t make my heart his because all I can think about is what I should’ve had with you.”

“Mindy, I’m sorry. I never,” Guy stammered seeing so many things behind her eyes.

“That’s right. You never think about it Guy. You never think about us, do you?” she challenged taking a step towards him, her words shrill and accusatory, “You never even give us a second thought because I’m not even remotely close to what you want in your life. I’m not the kind of person that you could fall in love with.”

“Mindy, that’s not true. It’s just that…” Guy attempted to speak up once again.

“That what? That I just couldn’t say the right words to make you love me? That I couldn’t be perfect enough for you? I wasn’t the kind of girlfriend that you needed to make you feel like you could be happy. Is that what it was? Did I do something wrong?” Mindy questioned tears streaming down her cheeks as her words grew in volume, “Was I so bad in bed that you realized you had to stay away from women forever?”

“Mindy, you know that’s not it,” Guy frowned almost wishing that he hadn’t walked into the situation with her. While he’d known full well how much she’d cared about him, he’d never anticipated that today of all days would be the time when they’d go down this path with one another again.

“Then what is it Guy? What is so wrong with me that I can’t accept love from a man who wants to be with me because I find myself lost in the thought of what if for the man who never wanted me at all? Why can’t I just get over you and move on with my life? Why couldn’t I just love Hunt like I’ve been loving you?”

“I wish I had the answers, but…” Guy began again watching her burst into full blown tears. Silently he stepped forward reaching out to embrace her only to feel her fists plummet into his chest.

“I hate you! I hate you Guy for doing this to me! I hate you for making me love you and for making me see that I’ll never be happy,” she shouted out continuing to pound into his chest while he stood there taking in her anger. “Damn you for doing this to me! Damn you for making me want to feel something I never should have.”

“Mindy, I wish I could’ve spared you the pain I put you through but,” he offered up poignantly only to feel her slap him across the face.

“The hell you do. You get off on this power trip you have over me. It has to be extremely gratifying for you to think that you have some love struck loser who pines away for you day in and day out,” she lashed at him, her eyes narrowing with rage. “You must think I’m the ultimate joke.”

“No, you’re not even remotely close to being a joke to me Mindy. You’re my best friend in this world and,” he offered up stiffening against the blows she’d delivered him.

“I don’t want to be just your best friend. I want to be the woman you love--the one that you can’t resist, but you can’t give me that, can you Guy?” Mindy tossed out at him icily, “You can’t truly be what I need, can you? You can’t do the one thing that I’ve been wanting you to do all these years.”

“Mindy, believe me if I could, then I would,” Guy offered up seeing her tears consuming her again. He watched her bring her arms up around her slender form and his heart ached for her. “I wish that I could find a way to ease that hurt inside of you.”

“No you don’t. You just want to find a way to be done with me so that you can go on to your perfect life without me. Your perfectly gay life without me,” she rolled her eyes at him before letting out an ironic laugh, “and here I had a guy that wanted to give me all of what I wanted but it wasn’t enough because like you I lead someone that deserved better to actually believe I gave a damn when I didn’t.”

“That’s not true Mindy,” Guy watched her turn away from him, her slender frame shivering with emotion, “I know that you cared about him. I know that you loved him even if right now you’re condemning yourself for what you felt was missing.”

“Don’t presume to understand me. Don’t even try to down talk me and explain that you felt that with me because we both know that’s a lie,” Mindy refused to face him again, “We both know that you never loved me.”

“I did love you and I still do,” Guy stepped in closer to her hating to see her hurting like this at a point in time when he wanted to be the kind of friend she needed. “I’ve always loved you.”

“No you haven’t,” she shook her head stubbornly, “You never even wanted me, which makes me wonder why you even slept with me. Why make love to me Guy when you knew in your heart I wasn’t what you were looking for?”

“Mindy, look I…” he started finding himself at a loss.

“I know. I was your heterosexual cover story and it served it’s purpose in stringing me along while you were pretending,” Mindy spat out feeling a whimper rise in the back of her throat.

“I wasn’t pretending when I was with you,” Guy finally announced reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “When we were together I made love to you because I wanted to--because it felt like the right thing to do at the time.”

“Then why did it change?” she couldn’t help but ask finding the strength to turn around and face him again. “When did it start to feel like it was wrong?”

“Mindy, we shouldn’t be doing this right now. I thought that we finally were past this point with one another,” he mouthed feeling his throat go dry with discomfort.

“We’ll never be past it Guy because you’ve never made me fully understand,” Mindy added with a raw honesty in her tone, “You’ve never told me what it was that made you stop loving me. You never clued me in on what I did wrong.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong sweetheart,” Guy reached out to touch her cheek gently. His fingers pressed over her damp skin, watching the way she leaned into his touch, “It was never you.”

“Pardon me if I find that increasingly difficult to believe,” she closed her eyes and leaned into his touch, “Guy, why can’t you just stop being gay long enough to make me happy?”

“Mindy, I can’t change who I am,” Guy replied feeling as if this was the beginning of the never ending cycle for him. He had to wonder if losing Hunt had only prompted her to think about all the other failures of the past.

“But you said that you wanted to make love to me during the time we were together. You said that you loved me because it felt right,” she threw his words back at him before reopening her eyes again, “Why can’t we go back to that again?”

“Mindy, we can’t go back to something that is in the past,” Guy answered seeing the pain behind her beautiful eyes. “We can’t step into the past when…”

“When right now all I want is to feel your arms around me--to have you hold me and make me believe that everything will be alright,” she mouthed moving forward as her eyes were fixed on his, “I want you to make me believe that I’m not alone tonight Guy.”

“You’re not alone tonight,” he reminded her knowing full well that they were at opposite ends of the spectrum with their conversation, “I’ll be here for you and help you through this anyway that I can.”

“Just not the way that I need or want you to, right?” Mindy challenged her eyes filled with a profound sadness. “Guy, please right now I’m scared and I’m alone and all I want is for you to tell me that it will be okay.”

“It will be okay,” Guy reached for her hand lacing their fingers with one another, “We’ll find a way to make this okay together.”

“That’s all I want for us Guy. I want to find a way to make things right for us,” she leaned into him, her head arching up towards his ever so slightly, “together.”

“Mindy, I…” Guy began feeling her press her fingers up over his shoulder.

“I need you Guy. I know that makes me completely certifiable, but I can’t help it,” she slurred stepping up on her toes and twining her fingers through his dark hair, “I need you with me--all of you.”

“Mindy, I wish I could give you that, but…” he began to protest only to feel her lips move in over his. He tried to think of something to say, but he could feel the neediness behind her lips against his, the desperate yearning behind her movement as she stumbled further into his arms. He wrapped his arm around her waist, to brace her up from falling, but it only served to provide her with further encouragement as her fingers tapered off onto his chest.

“Guy, I’m so alone,” she whispered pushing open the button on his shirt and moving her hand in over the warm, muscled lines of his chest. Her gaze dropped down to the lips she’d just kissed as she took in a small breath, “I’ve wanted you for so very long and just when I thought I hit my lowest point here you are…”

“I came here to help you because of what happened to Hunt,” Guy answered stiffly reaching out to collect her wrist in his fingers.

“Hunt would want me to be happy. He died for my happiness and as much as it kills me in knowing that maybe it’s time I stop denying myself my heart. Maybe it’s time I stop fighting who I am,” she slurred her words as her face was still red from her earlier crying, “Please Guy…”

“Mindy I’m in a relationship with Gabe,” he whispered knowing full well that things were charting into dangerous territory with his friend. He felt her pop open another couple of buttons on his shirt and he pulled her wrist away from him gently, “I can’t give you this Mindy.”

“If you love me, then you’ll let me have tonight. You’ll give me one last memory before I give you up forever,” she pleaded with him, her eyes full of mixed emotions, “You’ll let me be with you one last time because it’s what’s right for me. Our being together will make all of this hurt go away if only for one night.”

“No, it’ll only make things worse in the long run Mindy,” Guy replied with a pained expression, “If I allow myself to make love to you again it will only hurt you and I refuse to do that. I’m not going to go down that road again.”

“Because you love Gabe?” she spat out at him icily.

“No, because I love you and I wouldn’t dream of destroying you anymore than I already have,” Guy cupped her face in his hands, “Mindy, can’t you see that you can do so much better than me? Maybe Hunt wasn’t that man, but there is someone out there who will love you like you deserve to be loved. There will be someone out there who makes you feel so much more than anything you ever felt for me. I’m sure of it.”

“I’m not,” Mindy blurted out with a tiny sob, “as long as you’re still in my system then I’ll never be free. I need to get rid of you Guy. I need to have closure.”

“Making love wouldn’t be closure. It would only be opening up old wounds,” Guy replied leaning forward and kissing her forehead, “This isn’t truly what you want.”

“What if it is?” she challenged meeting his eyes again, “You said that you would do absolutely anything for me Guy. You’ve told me time and time again just how much I mean to you, so why can’t you give me this?”

“I told you why,” he pressed a kiss over the top of her palm before bringing her hand over the side of his face, “Mindy please don’t ask me to do something that we’ll both regret when everything is said and done.”

“I could never regret you. I could never regret anything about us,” she pleaded with him, tears falling from her eyes, “Guy I know it’s asking a lot…”

“It’s more than a lot Mindy. It’s out of the question,” he dropped his head down and took in a breath.

“Guy, please just…” she began again hearing the sound of someone at her door. Tipping her head up she thought about her mother’s blunt exit and she wondered if her mother had returned just in time to see her behaving like a fool in trying to get Guy to bend to her will.

“I’ll get it,” Guy blurted out taking a step back and attempting to button up his shirt. He walked towards the door before stopping himself. He turned around to look at Mindy once again before drawing in a small breath and moving to open the door.

“Hi,” Jason’s blue eyes met Guy’s with an uncertainty, “Is Mindy here?”

“Who are you?” Guy couldn’t help but ask as he realized Jason’s gaze had dropped down to his own half buttoned shirt. Quickly bringing his palm up over his chest, Guy stepped aside and looked to Mindy again, “Mindy, you’ve got some company.”

“Jason, what are you doing here?” Mindy questioned surprised to see the man who’d comforted her after Hunt died at her apartment.

“I couldn’t just leave things the way they were. I wanted to see you. I hope you don’t mind,” Jason offered up sensing a tension in the air as he wondered just what it was that he’d walked in on between Guy and Mindy upon his arrival. Whatever it was, it was clear that there was an obvious tension in the air that wasn’t about to be lifting up anytime soon.


“I don’t like her,” Kellen stomped his foot down on the floor again, glaring over at Kipp. “Becca Button is far too clingy and clearly not the kind of person you need at your side with her flirty little ways and her obnoxious behavior.”

“Kellen are you jealous?” Kipp arched a curious brow before walking around to sit on the edge of his desk. “Is that it?”

“Me? Jealous?” Kellen forced a small laugh, “No of course not. Why would I be jealous of something like that when I know I’m that damn good baby.”

“I was starting to wonder the same thing,” Kipp eyed him intently, “but with the way you’re talking it would seem like you are jealous of her and the time I’m spending with her. It‘s just a business lunch”

“To you maybe, but did you see the way her eyes were practically tearing your clothes off of you,” Kellen mouthed with a tight scowl, “She was already planning what she’d like to do with you for dessert and trust me it wasn’t G rated from where I stood.”

“You are jealous,” Kipp couldn’t help but laugh seeing Kellen grow angrier by the second, “I’m sorry. Really I am but you need to relax a little bit. You can’t get all worked up about something that simply isn’t there.”

“I see the way that she looks at you and how she came in here dressed like Heather all trying to catch your attention,” Kellen added with a huff shaking his head as his blue eyes filled with disapproval. “Kipp, she’s trying to move in on you.”

“She’s just working and with the way she is dressing, well it is a professional setting and I didn’t see anything wrong with it. She didn’t deserve you giving her the third degree for your not liking the fact that she and Heather wear the same perfume,” Kipp frowned at him once again, “She’s new here and trying to make a good impression and the last thing she needs is you trying to cut her down Kellen.”

“Kipp, she’s trouble,” Kellen softened his tone and approached Kipp reaching out to touch his shoulder gently, “I can feel it.”

“You feel a lot of things Kellen, but you’re not always right about it,” Kipp placed his hand on the center of Kellen’s chest, “You have to lighten up or else you’re going to be beyond stressed by the time you have five minutes to unwind.”

“I can tell you how I would like to unwind,” Kellen stepped forward sliding his palm in beneath Kipp’s jacket and reaching for the knot on Kipp’s tie. Leaning forward he nibbled on Kipp’s lower lip greedily before wrapping his arm around his waist, “What do you say we lock that door and spend a few minutes enjoying some time unwinding so to speak?”

“As tempting as the offer is,” Kipp pulled away from the kiss with a shallow breath, “I have a lot of work to do before this lunch and…”

“Nope, wrong answer,” Kellen dove in for Kipp’s lips again refusing to give Kipp an opportunity to ignore him now that Kellen had found something much more exciting to focus his attention on. He tapered his fingers off over the front of Kipp’s pants and undid the belt buckle before their eyes met again. “I can promise you that this will be worth putting work off for a while.”

“Kellen,” Kipp reached out to tease his fingers through Kellen’s hair gently before letting out a long sigh, “I can’t.”

“Yes you can and you will,” Kellen decided pulling open Kipp’s pants and attempting to get closer to him when there was a buzz from behind them on Kipp’s desk. Kellen frowned as Kipp leaned back and reached for his phone.

“Hello,” Kipp answered tossing out a warning look at Kellen as Kellen continued to fumble with Kipp’s pants. Kipp swatted at Kellen’s hand lightly before motioning for him to take a seat on one of the chairs. “Yes of course…that’s right. I’m right on it. Yes, I’ll get those to you right away. I have my assistant ready to send the fax right now, but I can go catch her and add that to what I’m sending. That’s right. No, it’s not a problem at all. Of course.”

“Let me guess,” Kellen scowled seeing Kipp fix up his pants after he hung up the phone, “You’re going to leave.”

“It’s work Kellen,” Kipp explained before leaning in to kiss him quickly, “but trust me on this one. If lunch goes well, I’ll take the rest of the afternoon off after the meeting so that you and I can finish what you started a few minutes ago.”

“Sure you will,” Kellen folded his arms in front of his chest slumping back onto the chair again with a pout.

“I will,” Kipp touched the side of his face gently urging Kellen’s blue eyes to meet his, “and tonight, maybe we’ll have our own romantic getaway with one another. Something quiet and private for just of the two of us where we can help you find ways to unwind once and for all.”

Kellen tipped his head to the side in a pout before Kipp’s fingers teased over his neck, his lips following and Kellen finally let out a small giggle at the tickling sensation Kipp’s lips made over his skin, “Oh okay, but it had better be damned romantic.”

“All that and more,” Kipp promised kissing him one last time before rushing out of his office to get the last bit of paperwork ready for the fax.

As Kellen sat alone in Kipp’s office, he thought about how much he couldn’t stand Becca--about how much Kipp ignoring what a freak Becca was had him in an uproar, but more so he was wondering what it was that kept Heather from answering her phone. The not knowing was killing Kellen and that was one thing that he hated more than anything was to be out of the loop!


Heather felt Kyle’s fingers press in against the string that tied around the back of her gold bikini top and she swatted at him. She tipped her green eyes up to see the mischief burning behind his eyes as he knelt behind her on the beach towel rubbing suntan lotion over her shoulders.

“Behave,” Heather warned feeling him massage the knots in her shoulders and causing her to melt against his urgings. She tipped her head back and closed her eyes underneath her sunglasses as she felt his lips move to her neck.

“Why should I have to,” he murmured stilling his fingertips long enough to nibble on her earlobe, “I told you that when I got you out here that we were going to pick up on that honeymoon.”

“I realize what you said, but…” she stopped feeling his arm wrap around her body reaching out to press his palm over the front of her bikini top as she let out a gasp. She tipped her head back seeing that same confident grin that had won her over time and time again before his lips came crushing down over hers. She wrapped her arm around his neck pulling him in closer to her from where he knelt behind her. As their lips parted she watched his grin widen.

“But nothing,” he slipped a finger inside the stretchy material of her bikini top to circle his finger over her soft flesh feeling her responding to his urgings, “as I said before today is the day we make up for lost time together. Besides, I do recall my asking you not so long ago if you were tempted by the idea of sex on the beach there at that party and you were clearly interested.”

“Kyle, that was another time and place,” she pointed out giving him a sideways glance, “and completely different circumstances if I do recall.”

“Circumstances mean nothing,” he shrugged his shoulders casually, “I put the offer out on the table and you accepted. You can’t take it back now especially when we’re sort of kind of on a honeymoon here and they are meant for people like us to explore all of our love making options together.”

“I realize that, but honey the Benjamin’s are next door and,” Heather started feeling his arm slide around her waist pulling her back on the beach towel into his lap further.

“They know better than to be watching newlyweds enjoying the beach,” Kyle explained with a knowing grin, “Besides Mrs. Benjamin was visiting her friend that lives down the way…you remember Mrs. Striker don’t you?”

“From our old neighborhood,” Heather replied half listening as he eased his arm around her waist teasing his hand over the top of her bikini bottom in a casual fashion, yet it was causing her to shiver all over in the midst of the sun and the sand.

“That’s right,” he nodded nibbling on her neck removing his hand from her bikini top and centering his palm on her hip. He felt her stiffen as he’d pulled away, but before she could issue any further protest he dipped his fingers beneath the golden material of her bikini bottom and nudged her thighs apart offering up a more intimate exploration of her warmth.

“Kyle,” she hissed his name biting down on her lower lip as he started to caress her hidden warmth in the midst of the daylight. She looked around the beach seeing no one was watching them, yet she felt a moment of panic coming on worrying that their neighbors would see them together.

“Did I mention I’m a bit of an exhibitionist,” he teased nibbling on her shoulder before bringing his finger tips up over her spine to release the string on her bikini top while his other hand stirred inside of her causing her to arch up against him.

“I think I should have had notice of this before our wedding,” Heather slid her legs up on the beach towel curling her toes while he continued to caress her soft femininity, causing a whole new sensation of tremors to carry over her. She dropped her head back into his bare chest knowing full well that Kyle had made plans for their day together and there was no denying how right it felt to be with him.

“I didn’t think you would mind,” he pushed her bikini top up over her breast giving himself complete access to her. He smiled seeing her tense up against his urgings, “Honey, I think I may have to put some lotion on you so you don’t get burnt.”

“Somehow I don’t think lotion is what you have in mind right now,” Heather breathed in a shallow pant feeling his fingers skim over her taut peak again.

“Actually no, but maybe something else might do,” he decided grabbing her hips and turning her in his arms so that she faced him. Their eyes connected and a smile licked over his lips before he urged her up on her knees. His gaze settled in over her breasts and a wicked smirk spilled over him. He leaned forward to take the swollen peak between his lips. He heard her cry out, fingers tangling through his hair as he continued to capture her between his lips. His tongue flicked and swirled over her causing her to rock her body over his anticipating what he had in store for them. Wickedly he pulled back seeing the lust burning behind her eyes before he directed his attention to the other lush tip before him.

“Kyle,” she murmured his name feeling herself taken to the heavens and back as her arms wrapped around his shoulders. Her head fell back, a low mewling sound rising from her now parted lips as his tongue teased over her again and again. She cried out unable to contain herself as common sense was slowly fading away, “Do you have any idea how bad of an idea it is to make love on the beach in all of this sand?”

“No, not really,” his words vibrated over her breastbone feeling her shivering over him while rocking her hips over his.

“You get sand in places that you never, ever want it to be,” she finally stated snapping out of the mood long enough to meet his hazel eyes. “I mean it can get really ugly and…”

“And I’ll be careful to make sure it doesn’t happen,” he promised leaning up to kiss her throbbing lips. She cried out against his kiss, bringing her palms flat over his muscled chest before dropping down over his abdomen.

“That’s easier said than done considering that,” she began again feeling the heat radiating between them as Kyle pushed his hips off of the ground to clue her in to just how far he intended to take things between them.

“We have this very big beach towel and I promise you that sand will be the last thing on your mind when I’m finished here,” he whispered lazily, teasing his fingers beneath the sides of her bikini bottom and gently peeling it away from her body.

“Wait a second,” Heather pressed her palms into his shoulders commanding his attention once again, “Kyle I’m not so sure that…”

“Trust me,” Kyle pleaded with her moving his lips to hers in a slow, longing kiss, “I would never do anything to hurt you.”

“I realize that, but I swear if any sand…” she protested feeling his hold on her bikini bottom constrict.

“It won’t,” he promised looking down to what she was still wearing of her bathing suit. He contemplated his next movement for a moment before shrugging and yanking on the material.

“Kyle,” she squealed feeling him rip it from her body. He pushed her up off of his lap just enough to reach for the material and discard it on the beach before drawing her nearer to him.

“Much better,” he grinned proudly sliding his hands over her spine to cup her bottom and pull her in against him.

“Do you have any idea how expensive that was?” she frowned back at him feeling his body spring forward beneath her thighs.

“I’ll buy you a new one. Maybe even a blue one,” he wiggled his brow suggestively before leaning up to kiss her again.

“Oh no you don’t,” she placed her index finger in over his lips to prevent the kiss, “Don’t think for a second that you can get away with getting me completely naked in public while you just sit there in your bathing suit and…”

“Sweetheart, do you really think I was planning on staying in this,” Kyle shook his head at her urging her up on her knees again. He tugged on the drawstring on his bathing suit ready to push it down over his hips before she placed her hand over his.

“Allow me,” she nudged him back onto the beach towel, her damp hair teasing over his shoulders when she leaned forward. With a smile she saw his desire growing behind his eyes. She inched in towards him acting as if she was going to kiss him, but instead she scratched her nails down his chest, her lips following the movement as he closed his eyes and let out a long sigh.

“See you don’t have me worrying about sand,” Kyle couldn’t help but tease opening one eye to watch her over him, placing kisses over his muscled abdomen.

“That’s because you’re not naked,” she paused throwing out a long, sultry flutter of her eyelashes up at him before she leaned forward reaching for the drawstring on his pants and taking it between her teeth to tug it further down his hips. She stopped and looked up enough to wink at him, “yet…”

“Heather,” He pushed his head up off of the beach towel to see her moving his bathing suit down over his hips, easing across his muscular thighs before she crouched at his feet urging him to lift them up one at a time before she could eventually discard the garment.

“See and unlike you,” she held up his bathing suit, “I was able to keep it in one piece so you don’t have to gallivant around on the beach naked.”

“I wouldn’t mind having to do that, but right now I would much rather do something else,” he stretched an arm out towards her.

“Oh yeah, like what?” she challenged with an arched brow feeling his fingers curl around her wrist.

“You,” he explained in a low growl pulling her in over him. Before she could say anything further he rolled her onto her back on the beach towel and eased her thighs around his hips. He issued her a possessive smile before pulling her upward to brush against her. “Now where were we…”

“I think you were about to show me all of the perks of making love on a beach,” she teased sliding her fingers through his hair and urging him in closer to her.”

“I do believe that was the plan,” he teased with a wink, pressing into her and watching her lips part with a soft sigh. She tipped her head back, body growing flush with anticipation as he started to move inside of her ready to explore every single second of making love to his wife on their first day of married life together.


“So what do you think?” Russ questioned after Kevin had left the Denton home. He turned to see Avery wiping up the counter with the dish towel and he leaned in against the counter thinking about their friend and his current love situation. “Think he and Ria will be able to work things out like we did?”

“For his sake I really hope so,” Avery admitted turning to face her husband with a sigh, “He’s really a great guy and he’s had so many bad things happen to him over the years. It just seems too unfair that he has to lose the woman he loves because the other woman he used to love is a complete and total whack job.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Russ replied honestly thinking about Angela, “I mean yes she’s got some problems, but she’s not completely insane.”

“She kissed you to try to make him jealous,” Avery pointed out with a scowl of her own, “That’s not exactly a rational woman there especially considering that I was there in the room.”

“I really don’t think she believed you were standing there,” Russ added quickly thinking about that moment when the world went haywire for him.

“She’s just lucky that I haven’t been myself lately because under normal circumstances I would have decked her,” Avery huffed with a frown feeling Russ reach out to pull her into his arms.

“Honestly right now Angela is the last thing I want to talk about especially now that you and I have things finally getting back on track for us again,” he touched the side of her face urging her to meet his green eyes. “We’ve endured a lot and now we’re finally on the right road again.”

“I know,” she sighed placing her hand on his chest, “it’s just when I think about that woman and all that she’s done to upset the balance in so many lives…”

“She’s just confused and doesn’t know what she wants, which is unfortunate because I can’t even begin to imagine what that feels like considering that I’ve always known what I’ve wanted and needed,” Russ cupped her face in his hands lifting her chin enough to have their eyes connect again. “Avery, you have no idea how good it feels to know that I didn’t ruin everything we have together because of the past.”

“I just wish you could’ve felt like you could be honest with me about what went down,” she replied batting her dark eyelashes at him, “I know we had a lot happening, but when there are secrets it always spells disaster.”

“I know,” he nodded poignantly, “and a part of me wanted to tell you everything, but the thought of hurting you again after everything didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t want you to think that what happened changed anything about the way I feel about you.”

“Russ, I just…” she stopped herself before they went down another destructive path with one another. “I just hate to think about everything that has changed because of that one incident. I mean when I listen to Kevin, my heart can’t help but break for him knowing what he’s lost.”

“He really got to you, didn’t he?” Russ searched her eyes watching her nod.

“Yeah, I mean how could he not? He’s really a great man and if nothing else, he’s the one positive that came out of all of this. I like him a lot and Erin does too. He’s a really special guy who has had a lot of heartbreak and I really hope that one day he’s able to overcome all of that and have the happiness that’s been taken from him,” she paused seeing the way he was watching her, “that sounds silly doesn’t it?”

“No, not at all,” he shook his head in response, “It actually sounds very much like the woman I grew up loving. You’re always thinking about the world around you and that’s part of what I love about you.”

“I’m glad to hear it although,” Avery paused thinking about their daughter, “right now I think we’re going to have to get Erin cleaned up and then ourselves after the breakfast we had earlier. We made a bit of a mess.”

“I’ll take care of Erin,” Russ promised leaning in to kiss her gently, “I’ll give her a bath and then spend some time with her while you get cleaned up if you would like.”

“Russ, I can’t ask you to do that,” she shook her head in refusal, “You’ve already made breakfast and…”

“In case you haven’t noticed I have a lot of time I need to make up for with our daughter, so why not take advantage of my wanting to help out,” he leaned in to kiss her once again, “Go get cleaned up and I’ve got it covered with Erin.”

“Okay, but after I think we should really spend some time talking,” Avery paused a hint of something else behind her voice, “Maybe when Erin takes a nap we can get a little better reacquainted with one another…”

“I’d like that,” Russ nodded in agreement watching her walk away from him. He turned to Erin who was clearly bored with her parents from where she sat in her little seat and reached for her toes finding them to be the most interesting thing in the room. Pulling her out of her seat Russ grinned at her, “So what do you think Erin? Think your Uncle Kevin will have the same kind of luck that your daddy has had lately?”

Erin eyed him for a long moment before letting out a loud burp.

Russ couldn’t help but laugh at her, “I sincerely hope that’s a yes for Kevin‘s sake,” he decided carrying his daughter off to another room in the hopes of being able to enjoy the second chance he had with his family now that the past was no longer threatening to tear their world apart.


Kevin pounded on the door to Ria’s apartment knowing full well that Trisha would be there now that Ria was out of town. Within a matter of minutes the door opened and a wide eyed Trisha stared at him blankly, her lips parting in a gasp as he nudged his way into Ria’s apartment and looked around frantically.

“Kevin, what are you doing?” Trisha questioned attempting to keep her voice cool and even despite the fact that Kevin started to rummage through Ria’s things.

“Where is she Trisha?” Kevin asked point blank, his dark eyes penetrating her as he was in no mood for the run around. He circled around the couch to stand before moving in closer to her, his dark eyes commanding some kind of answer from her.

“Kevin, I really don’t think your coming over here and acting like this is going to help anything,” Trisha took a small step back afraid that he was going to yell at her or worse as she noticed the desperation behind his eyes. “I mean here you are parading around town with her enemy and…”

“I’m not parading around town with anyone and while I just accepted your answer before when you sent me on a wild goose chase to the airport, the fact to the matter is that I’m not going to sit idle and wait for life to sneak up on me,” Kevin informed her point blank, his eyes narrowing in on her, “So why don’t we just cut with the games and you tell me where Ria is? She’s been gone long enough and I don’t want to wait around for her to get back to town. I need to see her.”

“Why so you can break her heart again when Angela comes calling with another problem?” Trisha placed her hands on her hips impatiently, “I mean that’s really what this is all about Kevin. You’re always putting her in second place and…”

“I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to hurt her at all and it wasn’t my fault,” Kevin argued with Trisha his frustrations mounting with each passing second.

“Oh right,” Trisha rolled her eyes in response, “You can’t tell me that Angela twisted your wrist into doing her bidding.”

“It wasn’t like that. I had a job to do and…” Kevin stopped himself before getting into a debate with Trisha, “I’m not going to explain myself to you. I want to see Ria and you’re going to tell me where she is.”

“No, I’m not,” Trisha folded her arms in front of her chest, “Right now the absolute last thing she needs is to have her heart broken by you all over again especially considering that stress is something she couldn’t carry around with her.”

“Trisha quit being so stubborn. I love her and I have to find her and tell her that. I’ve waited far too long already and I’m not going to sit back and let the best thing that ever happened to me walk out of my life. I need to find Ria and tell her how I feel. I know if she’ll just listen to me that…” Kevin continued in an impassioned tone.

“That what? That she’ll take you back with open arms?” Trisha arched a curious brow before letting out a small laugh, “Well of course she will Kevin because she loves you, but what happens when Angela comes calling? What are you going to do when she needs you? Are you going to walk out on Ria and the baby simply because Angela beckons you all over again?”

“No, I’m not going to walk out on Ria because,” Kevin stopped thinking about what she’d just said to him. He tipped his head to the side and gave her a long look, “What did you just say?”

“I said,” Trisha opened her mouth to repeat her words before she stopped herself with a gulp. She clasped her hands over her mouth immediately regretting her outburst as it was clear Kevin had heard her loud and clear. “Nothing…”

“Nothing,” Kevin repeated giving her a long, penetrating star, “Trisha you just said walking out on her and the baby. What baby?”

“I didn’t mean to say baby. I was just…” Trisha gulped again backing herself into a corner so to speak as Kevin’s eyes met hers again.

“Trisha, is Ria pregnant?” Kevin questioned suddenly feeling as if the walls were crashing in around him at the thought of Ria having his baby and leaving town so that he could never see her again. He stepped forward reaching out to Trisha finding himself desperate for an answer, “Please Trisha tell me, is Ria having my baby?”

“I wasn’t supposed to say anything,” Trisha gulped in response feeling Kevin release her as he fell back onto the edge of the couch, a stunned expression carrying over him at the realization.

“Ria’s having my baby,” Kevin mouthed to himself suddenly realizing that things were about to change for him in more ways than he could imagine. He looked to Trisha again before realizing that now more than ever he needed to find Ria and tell her what she meant to him.


...to be continued...