I asked you what the hell you were doing in here, Kevin repeated himself his dark eyes narrowing in on Andy watching as Andy stepped away from Angelas side of the bed.
I was just checking in on her considering how concerned Brant was about his fiancée, Andy explained making his way over to the end of the bed. He offered up a small nod in Brants direction, From what I can see Im sure shell pull out of this. Her charts indicate that your children are fine and
We already knew that, Kevins jaw flexed with tension, So did you. So let me ask you again, what are you doing in here?
I was just Andy reached for his side and extracted the pager that was on his hip, I have to go. Im needed in the OR, but I wish you the best of luck Brant. I know how hard this must be for you right about now. Just have faith that things will turn out for the best.
Thats what Im doing, Brant replied with a nod seeing Andy slip out of Angelas room before he turned to Kevin, You sure youre okay?
I dont trust that man, Kevin informed Brant with a shake of his head, He has no business being in here. Dons her doctor, not him. Didnt you say he was a plastic surgeon or something?
Well yes, but Brant saw Kevin begin to pace around the room, Kevin, what gives here? Are you upset because you think he looks like Angelas late husband?
Its more than that. I cant quite put my finger on it, but I know that man isnt here to help Angie. In fact, the more I think about it, the more Im convinced hes the last person that Angie needs in her room right now, Kevin has explained to Brant hoping that Brant would take heed in his warning somehow.
Now as Kevin sat in the chair pondering what hed thought he walked in on, he worried that Angela being in the hospital was the last thing she needed. Yes, he was well aware of her injuries, yet knowing what she and Brant stood to lose with the rest of the world around them causing chaos, Kevin contemplated having a word with Don himself and having security brought in to keep an eye on Angelas room. Maybe it was overstepping his boundaries with her, but Kevin couldnt help but think about Angelas best interest even if she and he werent on the best of terms with one another when hed last seen her. Closing his eyes Kevin thought about another time and place when hed found himself in a situation where hed feared for his best friends life.
Look man, I dont know what your deal is, but Angie is my wife, not yours, Cary informed Kevin with a snide expression, What happens between my wife and I is none of your concern anymore Kevin. She married me and youre going to have to deal with it.
What I dont have to deal with is you sneaking around behind her back and trying to harm her, Kevin could feel the air pick up around where he stood with Cary, out in the dark and isolated spot that hed followed Cary to after the boxing match was over. You know full well that youre not on the up and up with her and I want to know what it is youre into now.
I dont owe you any answers Adonis, Cary snarled over at Kevin moving forward in an attempt to push him aside.
The hell you dont, Kevin shoved him in response, I heard you on the phone Cary. I know what youre planning and Im here to tell you that its not going to happen.
I dont know what youre talking about, Cary balked back in response a tight laugh carrying over him, You know this whole overprotective guard dog thing is getting rather old. Im getting sick and tired of seeing you following my wife around Kevin. She doesnt love you and she never did.
Youre the one who never loved her, Kevin shook his head unable to believe what he was seeing in front of him, What has this been all about with you? Money?
I dont have to listen to this, Cary mouthed in response moving forward in an attempt to shove Kevin once again. Get out of my way Adonis.
No, Kevin stood his ground standing up taller and using his size to intimidate Cary. I know what youre planning for Angie and Im here to tell you its not happening. Youre going to disappear and never go near her again.
So that you can have her all to yourself, Cary erupted into a fit of laughter before his blue eyes honed in on Kevin, I dont think so Kevin. The deal doesnt work that way.
There is no deal. This isnt a negotiation. Its an order, Kevins jaw flexed with all the animosity hed been holding inside of him ever since hed heard the phone call that had reconfirmed his fears about Angelas lover.
No Kevin, I dont think youre getting it, Cary snapped back at him, Ive worked long and hard to get where I am and Im not about to let some hired hand get in my way. Angela owes me and shes going to pay up one way or the other.
Listen you son of a Kevin moved in towards him, a primal fury tearing him apart from within as Cary stepped back surprising Kevin by pulling out a gun.
Youve left me no other choice Adonis, Cary waved the gun around in the air, Ive put up with that little bitch for long enough. Shes no use to me anymore and now its time for me to cash in.
But shes pregnant, Kevin blinked back, his brown eyes fixed on the barrel of the gun, Shes having your baby. Doesnt that mean anything to you?
An even bigger paycheck at the end of the day, Cary laughed in a nefarious tone, his blue eyes revealing the depths of his greed. What? You didnt think I planned on that one as well? Do you have any idea how much Angela is worth? Surely you shouldve had some kind of notion about how much money shes worth when shes dead. It triples when the insurance company discovers shes pregnant. Its beautiful if I do say so myself. I get rid of her and that brat and then I get to play the role of the mourning husband who lost the woman he loves.
No one will believe that. It wont work, Kevin shook his head taking a small step further as he tried to process what he was going to do.
Oh but it will, Cary waved the gun around once more, You see everyone knows youve never gotten over Angela. They all know about your obsessive tendencies and how you cannot go without her. Theyll all see how you were driven to madness in your desire coveting my wife and once she shunned you and your advances because she loved me, you had no choice but to make sure that no other man could have her if she wasnt going to share her life with you. Its perfect if I do say so myself.
Your plan had one fatal flaw, Kevin circled around the area taking a survey of his surroundings.
And just what might that be? Cary arched a curious brow watching Kevin with a scrutinizing eye.
If you kill me, then you wont have me around to frame for what youre planning. They will see that I had nothing to do with what happened to Angie and youll be discovered, Kevin reminded him sharply, All fingers will be pointed at you at that point.
Yeah well Im working out the details still, but sooner or later Ill come up with something, Cary waved the gun around in the air, I mean by all standards Im sure we can figure out a way to work this so that it ends up giving me exactly what I deserve. What Ive always deserved.
Kevin felt a hand on his shoulder. He practically leapt out of his seat, his blood pumping in his veins as he could almost hear the sound of a gunshot ringing out in his mind and reminding him of that day that changed everything. His eyes snapped open and he felt his breath grow labored while his heart hammered in his chest. He reached for the hand seizing the wrist between his fingers when his gaze locked with Ria.
Kevin, are you okay, she questioned worriedly seeing him in a state of panic, Kevin, what is it?
Ria, you scared the hell out of me. I thought you were, he paused trying to get himself under control as the memory of the past still carried over him harder than before.
You were saying something when I came in here. You sounded like you were upset and, she stopped seeing Brant lift his head up to look at the both of them.
What time is it? Brant yawned bringing his own fingers through his dark, tousled hair. I mustve drifted off to sleep earlier and
You needed the rest, Kevin tried to keep his tone cool and even despite the fact that worry had him tangled in knots. Still he didnt want Brant to be concerned about the thoughts that had consumed him. Kevin stood up straighter and motioned to Ria, Im just going to get us some coffee or something since its been a long night.
Sounds good, Brant nodded letting out a yawn as he turned his attention to Angela once again.
Dont let anyone else other than Don in here until I get back either, Kevin suggested catching Brants confused stare. Just trust me on this one.
Whatever you say, Brant nodded in response reaching for Angelas hand and taking it in his before Kevin turned to Ria.
Lets get some air, Kevin whispered leading Ria out of the room before reaching out to stretch his shoulders. He glanced over at Ria seeing the way that she was watching him and he frowned, What?
Youre not telling me something Kevin. Somethings on your mind and I can see it, she moved forward reaching out to touch the side of his face. What is it?
Ill tell you, he looked around the hallway, but not here, okay?
Fine, she nodded accepting his response, Lets go in the courtyard for a few minutes and get you that air. We can talk out there and then get the coffee.
That sounds good, Kevin nodded in agreement still feeling that nagging feeling carrying over him that the past was anything but history for Angelas future in Coral Valley.
Hey beautiful, Brant reached for Angelas hand again lifting
it to his lips as he found himself filled with an overwhelming concern for
the woman he loved. He reached out to touch her hair gently as he kept her
hand in his seeing that she made no movement or had any reaction to the sound
of his voice. Leaning forward Brant kissed her gently wishing like hell she
would kiss him back even though he knew full well it was too much to ask for
I kind of hoped that youd have those beautiful eyes of yours open when I told you how much I loved you this morning, Brant whispered warmly seeing that she looked so tired and pale as she lay before him. He placed another kiss on her hand before speaking up again, Im so sorry for how things went at Camerons place. I never, ever wanted you to end up in this position. I just wanted for you to know the truth about me--to see what kind of man I was. I love you and our children and I dont want to lose you. Heaven knows I deserve a lot worse than Ive been given considering all the stunts Ive pulled in the past, but Angela if I lose you
Brant paused feeling tears pool in his eyes. A lump formed in his throat as he laced their fingers together. Damn it. I may deserve to have someones wrath upon me for the things Ive done, but you dont deserve this. You deserve so much more. You should be awake and happy and not in this position that Ive put you in. I wish like hell I could go back and change what happened with Cameron, but I cant. I dont know what I can do to erase the hurt this all caused you, but what I can say is that I love you. I love you so much that I dont want to lose you. I know it sounds selfish, but youre everything to me.
He stopped himself before speaking up again, For so long I thought I had everything. I thought that I found all that I had wanted in life. I lied to myself again and again in an attempt to force myself to believe that I found the real thing--that I had love and that I could be happy being second best in someones life, but I was wrong. I screwed up so much during that point in my life, but now, he paused choked up on emotions, Now that I found you again everything finally makes sense. I dont have to lead myself to believe I can have a life with my dream girl that wasnt meant to be because I know I dont have to settle for second best. You are absolutely everything I have waited to find in my life and if I lost you now
Youre not going to Brant, he heard Dons voice call out to him. Tipping his head up he saw his friend standing over the edge of the bed with a worried expression on his face.
How can you be so sure? Brant questioned his voice tight with emotion, Considering what I did when I was trying to hold onto Avery, maybe this is punishment for my sins. Maybe this is what I get for trying to keep two people who loved one another apart.
No, I dont believe that, Don glanced over at Angela before turning to Brant again, This isnt whats happening.
It sure as hell feels like whats happening, Brants gaze fixed on Angela again. When Cameron lied about me, I knew I had to find a way to make her believe in me--make her believe in our love, but there were so many manipulations.
Which you tried to work through, Don added moving in closer to his friend.
Even so, I think about all the things I did to manipulate Russ and Avery. I think about how I almost denied him a chance to be with his daughter and now that Cameron tried to take away Angela and my children, Brant felt guilt settle in over his body eating away at him. He turned his head upward to meet Dons concerned gaze, Im getting what I gave only instead of me being punished its Angela. Shes suffering for my sins.
Brant, you cant think like that, Don shook his head at him. You need to keep praying and hoping that things will turn around. What happened to Angela is an unfortunate accident. Thats all it was Brant. It was an accident and you werent responsible.
Then why do I feel like I am? Why cant I shake the feeling that my father was right? Brant questioned frustrated. Why do I feel like the Ashford curse is hanging over my head threatening to take away the one thing Ive waited forever to find?
Because youre beating yourself up over this and youre not seeing the whole picture. Cameron pushed her down the stairs, not you, Don reminded him pointedly knowing full well it didnt make a difference now that Angela was in a coma.
Yes, but it shouldve been me instead. I shouldve been the one to take the fall, not Angela, Brant refused to cut himself any slack. Ive been the one parading around town like a jackass for the last few months and now she has to take the brunt of that.
Brant, you didnt kill her father. Cameron started this the day that he began with his lies. Hes the one who is to blame for this and when Angela wakes up, shell see that, Don added with a thoughtful expression.
If she wakes up Don Brant squeezed Angelas hand again before turning to Don. Do you know she told him that she loved me? She told Cameron that she wanted to be with me--to share her life with me before all of this happened and now
Brant I promise you Ill do everything I can to help bring her back to you, Don assured his friend placing a hand on his shoulder.
I just want her back Don. I need her so much, Brant blurted out unable to contain his emotions any longer as he found himself crying over the possibility that everything hed ever hoped for would slip out of his reach before he had a chance to enjoy what it was that life had offered them. I love her so much.
Good morning my dear wife, Kyle walked into the kitchen seeing Heather looking inside the kitchen and he moved in behind her, pressing a small kiss against the side of her neck. You have no idea how good that feels.
How good what feels? Heather grinned widely feeling his arms wrap around her waist tightly, pulling her in against him and he pressed another small kiss against her cheek. Kissing me?
Well, that too, Kyle smirked feeling her turn around in his arms as he smiled and moved forward to press a tender kiss against her lips, feeling her arms curl in around his shoulders. Pressing his forehead against hers he smiled widely before shaking his head slowly. Finally getting to call you my wife, Ive been waiting years to actually do something like that.
For a point in time in my life, I never thought I would ever hear you say something like that again, she frowned feeling his hand slip in against the side of her face, caressing her cheek softly with his rough fingers. I really thought that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with Sarah.
And I thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life with Brant, Kyle pointed out stepping away from her for a minute to grab the orange juice out of the refrigerator and shaking his head slowly. Which I thought was totally awkward considering the men you have always had a crush on your whole life. Brant and I dont even fall under the same category of men.
Well other than you, he was the only one that treated me half decent, Heather explained seeing him take out a glass and pour the orange juice into it as she took a step forward. What about the two sisters, I never thought a bitch would be your type as in Sarah.
Touché, Kyle whispered taking a sip of his juice before shaking his head slowly and biting down on his bottom lip, holding onto the glass tightly. To be honest with you though, its really because I thought you wanted Brant that whole time and it hurt my feelings.
Well, it hurt my feelings to see you with my sister, Heather watched Kyles eyebrows perk up before he finished off his orange juice and set the glass in the sink before moving in closer to her, reaching for her hands. But that doesnt matter right now because I have you and no one is taking you away from me.
That is a very good point, Kyle moved forward to kiss her before feeling her fingers press in against his lips and his eyebrows tensed together as she pulled away a bit. Im very lucky to have you too honey, without you--Im not the man I was destined to be.
Really? Heather eyed him over slowly, biting down on her bottom lip as she pressed her hand in over the center of his bare chest. So being with me caused you to be a total pervert?
If thats who I really am, then I suppose so, Kyle teased his nose wrinkling as he chuckled and wrapped his right arm around her waist tightly, his forehead pressing in against hers. You cant tell me that you dont love me like this though.
You are quite a package, Heather tipped up to press her lips in against his, feeling his hands press in over the small of her back, pulling her in up against him. I love absolutely everything about you Kyle, you should know that.
Id love to show you everything I could do for you, Kyle gently nipped at Heathers bottom lip before a sudden sound erupted through the air and Kyle closed his eyes, letting out a long breath. Gently setting her back to her feet he held up his finger motioning her to wait. I will be right back.
Walking down the hallway, Kyle rubbed the back of his neck hearing Charless cries getting louder as he moved a bit quicker to walk into Charless room seeing that Charles was tugging at the sides of his crib.
Hey kiddo, Kyle hushed reaching out to gently pick up Charles, rubbing his hand soothingly against Charless back before holding him carefully and walking back toward the kitchen with Charles while he calmed down. Mommy, I think Charlie here is a bit hungry.
Oh, poor baby, Heather got up from her seat seeing Charles cuddling in against Kyles chest, his little cheeks a rose color from crying while his brown eyes stared out at Heather. Its okay, well get you something to eat.
Poor little guy, Kyle frowned reaching down to gently tickle at Charless sides hearing a small amount of laughter fill the air as Kyle smiled happy to see that Charles was feeling better. Soon enough he had Charles bursting out with laughter when Heather came with food. Thats what I like to see, a smile on this handsome little mans face.
We should be careful though or hes going to throw up on one of us because you are getting him so excited, Heather sat down seeing Kyle gently set Charles back in his chair so Heather could feed him. Moving over toward the refrigerator, Heather frowned seeing Kyle just blankly staring out the window. Kyle, is everything okay?
Oh yeah, he lied thinking back to last night when he thought he had seen Sarah outside and he cleared his throat uneasily before glancing over at Heather. I really do think I saw Sarah last night Heather, I know you thought it was my mind playing games with me, but I really believe I saw her Heather.
Kyle, you really think she has the guts to follow you around after what happened? Heather questioned seeing the look that Kyle gave her and she knew that was probably a really dumb question. Okay, well if she was here, why did she just leave and not try to get in somehow?
How am I supposed to know how she works? Kyle came back to the table seeing Heather glance at him as he took a seat across from her and Charles, pushing his glass back and forth slowly. I dont know why, but Im worried about the situation. She is like a bad luck charm for me.
She is for all of us, she added seeing that Kyles hazel
eyes met hers and she really could tell he was upset and obviously thought
something was going to happen between the two of them. Nothing Sarah
does can take you away from me Kyle, nothing is going to hurt us.
I know, but eventually Sarah is going to learn about us and as will everyone else, Kyle cleared his throat uneasily before thinking about the people he knew he never wanted to tell about getting married so fast. Im just worried that she will try and start something once she knows we are married.
It will be something well have to face Kyle, Heather added seeing his eyebrows tense together and he swallowed down roughly and looked back down to his glass. Reaching out after she was done with Charles, she grabbed his hand in hers tightly. The two of us will deal with it together. No, not the two of us, the five of us. You, me, Charles, Kipp and Kellen. We wont let Sarah ruin anything, thats something I promise you.
You know you should try to rest a little bit, Sarah suggested
placing her hand gently on Camerons shoulder. I know that youve
got a lot on your mind, but you need to take care of yourself Cameron.
What I need is to find a way to get rid of Brant Ashford because this is all his fault. Hes trying to tear my family apart and no matter what I do or say no one in this town is going to see Im right, Cameron pouted further thinking about how his sister needed to be far away from Brant for her own good.
Tell me about it, Sarah huffed in response shaking her head at the thought, No one in this town wants to give you a second chance when you are the one in the right. I mean honestly the way I see it, my life has gone downhill since Heather decided to make it her mission to ruin my life.
She didnt force you to sleep with half the world, Cameron noted dryly catching the glare she shot over at him, Well its true. Face it whether you like it or not, you created the situation youre in. If you wouldve just stayed honest with Kyle and kept exclusive to that relationship, you two would still probably be together right now.
This coming from a man who sleeps with just about half the world, Sarah rolled her eyes at him, Youre just about the last person to judge.
I wasnt judging you, he corrected her tipping his head to the side to look at her closely, I was merely stating a fact about your situation.
As I said before you dont have any room to talk considering that you have different women around you all the time, she snubbed at him wrinkling her nose.
Yes, but unlike you I never claim to be exclusive with anyone. They know straight up that Im not about the whole relationship tie down. About the only time I half considered playing it faithful was when I was married to your sister and that didnt work out either. Then again I dont think she was all that interested in who I was or wasnt sleeping with, Cameron shuddered at the thought remembering his marriage to Heather, Although my one regret with her is that I treated her so poorly.
Oh right, she groaned inwardly shaking her head at him, Like I almost believe that one.
Believe it or not your sister deserved better than what I gave her and I regret the way things went down with us, he sighed heavily his gaze dropping to the floor. He sank back further into his chair and slumped his shoulders.
That why youre shelling out a fortune for her to get that stupid company up and running off the ground? Sarah arched a curious brow unable to believe how stupid Cameron was about Heather.
Honestly its a great idea and a profit that I think I would like to run with, Cameron divulged thinking about all of his other business endeavors, At least with the company it would be a shift from what Im used to.
No, I think youre pretty much used to women blinding you in order to get what they want, she rolled her eyes once again and let out a long, unimpressed groan.
Mustve been the reason we slept together, Cameron shot back at her icily, which reminds me, I think you and I need to have a talk about that baby you keep using as a tool to get you into trouble.
What about? she arched a curious brow sitting up straighter in her seat.
If thats my baby then Im warning you now, youre not going to just up and leave town. I mean yes, you can go sooner or later if you would like, but youre not taking my child, Cameron informed her point blank, Kyle might be in the dark about things. Though Im pretty sure hes pieced it together that hes probably out of the running and as for Diego, well if you were smart you would skip over the whole part about including him and think ahead to the future.
The future? Sarah arched a curious brow searching his dark eyes for a moment, And just what exactly is in the cards for my future?
That all depends on how you want to play your game, he answered in a casual tone, If you would like to be smart about the situation and play nice with me, we may be able to work something out.
Something that might wind up with a mutually exclusive benefit for us? she arched a curious brow seeing something stirring behind his eyes.
Tell me something Sarah, he shifted on the chair turning to face her fully, If you had it your way would you run to your psychiatrist and share a life with him?
My psychiatrist wants nothing to do with me. Hes made that very clear, she added with a huff thinking about Diegos avoiding her, but Im not finished trying yet.
A pity, he reached out to touch the side of her face briefly before drawing back, because I had hoped you would have evolved past that phase. After all you arent of any use to me if youre head is in the clouds chasing something that simply wasnt meant to be.
And just what is that supposed to mean? she questioned with a huff her dark eyes challenging his. What are you getting at Cameron?
Simply put I wont give you mutually exclusive unless of course you would give me plenty of reason to want to, his gaze swept over her with a ravenous undertone, I might be tempted to travel down that road with the right persuasion, but then again no one said that being married meant being left to endure the possibility of only having one woman in a mans life so to speak.
Being married? she arched a surprise brow, Cameron are you proposing to me?
Perhaps, he shrugged his shoulders before waving his fingers around in the air, Granted it should be the last thing I should be focusing on considering that my sisters life is hanging in a balance and I need to find a way to get her away from Kevin and Brant before they destroy her forever.
I dont know what I can do, but I can try to help if you would like, she finally suggested still trying to think about what Cameron was saying to her. She paused for a long moment before thinking about his offer. I cant promise that I wouldnt try to work something else into my life should you be proposing to me.
Its not lovers Im concerned about, Cameron blurted out giving her another once over, There would be terms we would have to work out--one of which being that my son or daughter is mine and regardless of what happens between us, that wont ever change. If you leave, my child stays.
So youre telling me if I married you, I could still see other people, still do what I want as long as you have complete control over, she placed her hand over her abdomen, this.
Precisely, he nodded in response catching something behind her eyes, Would you have a problem with that?
That all depends, she slid in closer to him, What else would come along with the deal?
Anything you want sweetheart, Cameron touched the side of her face urging her in closer to him. His gaze centered in on her lips before he cracked a smile, I could make your being my wife a very good thing for you Sarah. It would give you the kind of life you crave--wealth, power, control over your situation.
With a few strings attached to it, her eyes lazily dropped to his lips, And I could see whomever I wanted.
If thats what you wished to do, he nodded in response grazing the side of her cheek gently, although I will warn you I can be a very persuasive lover if need be.
I remember, she dropped her palm flat onto his thigh, although I know full well if you married me it wouldnt stop your enjoying the company of other women. Im not naïve.
Did you think that it would change things? Cameron searched her eyes for a moment, Does that thought bother you?
Not when youve given me freedom as well, she shook her head, the first hints of a smile touching over her lips, and for the record if you were really proposing right now--asking me to be your wife, well then I might be inclined to accept.
What if I wasnt asking you? What if I was telling you that was your only option? Cameron mouthed lazily sliding his fingers into her blonde hair before his arm slid around her waist and yanked her roughly over to his side.
Then I would say I know what needs to be done, she answered her smile widening before she leaned in to press her lips against his kissing him heatedly.
His fingers tangled in her hair returning the kiss shed initiated while he pulled her into his lap finding himself enjoying the morning for the first time since hed come to this place thanks to Brant Ashford. Granted he was getting off track for a moment or so in focusing on Sarah, but it was always smart to concentrate on his best interests. As they pulled away from the kiss, he noticed that she was breathless and he let out a tiny chuckle.
So were getting married? she questioned a bit shaky after their kiss.
Why darling I know youre a liar, a cheat, a manipulator and someone who most of this town would rather see burned at the stake than spend time with, he noted with an amused grin cupping her face in his hands, which makes you all the more perfect to be my bride. I wouldnt have it any other way.
Zane, kiddo, Jason called out down the hallway looking for his
nephew before Jason set out the cereal bowls on the table, walking back into
the kitchen to grab the cereal box and the milk. Kiddo, are you ready
Uncle Jason, Zane called out as Jason moved toward the hallway seeing that Zane was running down the hallway with his shirt stuck around his head. Im stuck, Im stuck.
Zane, watch out, Jason saw Zane run into the wall and he quickly moved beside Zane, helping him tug down his shirt and fix it, seeing Zane shaking his head over and over again. Just shake it off little man, you're going to be okay?
Yeah, Im used to running into things, Zane added seeing Jason smile before feeling his hand move in against the back of his head. Feeling Jason help him up, Zane ran over to the table to get into his chair before pouring his own cereal, waiting for Jason to pour his milk. Did mommy go to work already?
Yep, but she did make sure that she said goodbye to you before she left, Jason informed him with a small smile after he was done pouring the milk. He took a seat next to Zane, pouring himself some cereal before looking out at his nephew eating his cereal while the milk dropped down onto the table. You are so messy.
Well so are you, Zane pointed out seeing Jason laugh and spit some of the milk out on the table and Zane nodded slowly before shrugging his shoulders. See, I wouldnt be surprised if you run into walls too and have trouble putting your shirt on to get ready. I was just excited to go out with Grady today.
I bet you are, Jason took another bite of his food before looking at the clock trying to remember what time Deana said Grady would be picking Zane up at. Does he treat you good kiddo? Hes never hurt you, right?
Grady, please Jason, Zane let out a small laugh before taking in a deep breath and looking toward the clock himself. Shrugging his shoulders he got up from the chair seeing Jason quickly eat his food and follow. Grady is great, besides hes taking me to play with Matty and Nate.
Nate? Is this Nate guy a good guy? Jason questioned seeing Zane roll his eyes before Jason threw his hands up in the air and let out a small laugh. Im sorry, Im sorry, I just worry about these things. Youre my little man and I want to make sure you are going to be okay.
I will be fine Uncle Jason, Zane heard the doorbell ring as he saw Jason kneel down and Zane gave him a big hug before walking over toward the couch to pick up his bag. Ill see you later Uncle Jay, I love you.
I love you too kiddo, Jason moved to the door to make sure that
they got out carefully before walking back into the house and locking it up
slowly. I cant believe he thinks I have trouble putting on my
own shirt. Im an adult.
Walking back to his bedroom Jason grabbed his shirt and started to walk back into the hallway, pulling his shirt on before crashing down to the floor after tripping over one of his shoes he had forgotten to put away.
Okay, maybe he was right, he let out a small groan before shaking it off and standing up slowly, grabbing his white tennis shoes that he had gotten the other day. Hearing the phone start to go off on the table, he quickly moved forward to answer it. Hey Deana.
Jason, how is everything? he heard his sister question as he walked over to his couch to put his shoes on and hold the phone to his ear with his shoulder. Is everything going okay?
Oh yeah, Im just getting ready right now, Jason explained finishing up with his shoes and getting off the couch to walk back into his room, looking for a hat to wear when he left. I was just looking for a few things because Grady just picked Zane up.
Alright, I was just making sure everything worked okay when you woke up, Deana heard Jason let out a long breath as she paced back and forth in the hallway. So you are going to be careful today, right?
Oh yeah, Im just going to Mindys because she asked me over, Jason informed her moving back toward the kitchen to put the bowls back into the sink and clean them off carefully holding his phone before looking for his keys. Everything going okay for you sis?
Yeah, Ill talk to you later Jay, Deana sighed looking down at her watch before moving back down the hallway and thinking about her day. I have a busy day ahead of me so Ill let you go. I love you kiddo.
Hanging up her phone Deana went to walk back to where she was supposed to be before feeling someone grab a firm hold of her shoulder, turning her around to face them. Pulling her shoulder away, she saw the angered eyes of Zack as she rubbed at her shoulder.
What do you think you are doing? Zack muttered seeing Deana going to go speak before he held his hands up in the air to cut her off quickly. Whatever, I dont want to hear it. You cant be taking breaks like this all the time because I wont allow it. You have to do your job and if I find out you are doing something like this again I will be sure you get fired and I dont care who you are talking to. You have a job to do and when Im around you better be doing it.
Grady knocked on the front door to Dons house thinking about how hed
promised Deana that he would take Zane over to his play date with Matt. Looking
down at Deanas son, Grady couldnt help but feel like theyd
grown an attachment to one another over the time he and Deana had started
dating. While Grady hadnt given much thought to a family in the past
beyond the idea of possibly being a father, Zane seemed to put a whole new
spin on the idea. When Jade was pregnant, Grady hadnt known about it
until she was gone, so that was an opportunity that had never given itself
to fruition, but with Zane, it was like experiencing fatherhood first hand.
Now you have everything in your backpack right? Grady questioned waiting for someone to answer the door. He watched Zane play with the toy in his hands before nodding.
Absolutely everything is in it, Zane nodded proudly, Even the apple snacks that mom sent with me.
And the juice boxes, Zane replied with a nod, which I know Matt is going to love. Ill probably steal a Pepsi or something from him.
Not too much Pepsi though buddy because your mom wont be happy with you bouncing off the walls, Grady mussed Zanes blonde hair before laughing.
I dont bounce off the walls. People cant really do that Grady. Just Spiderman, Zane wrinkled his nose at the suggestion.
Right, but after a few cans of Pepsi you seem to think youre Spiderman, Grady reached down to pull Zane up into his arms, What do you say you trying ringing the doorbell?
Cool, Zane mouthed leaning over in Gradys arms to reach for the doorbell. He pushed the button in once, then another time before reaching for it a third time.
I think you did a good job Zane, Grady pulled Zane back into his arms upon hearing shuffling behind the door.
I said I was coming, Shannon huffed opening up the door with a few curlers in her hair and a scowl on her face. Her eyes widened as she looked up to see Grady and Zane in front of her, Oh hey
Did we come at a bad time? Grady couldnt help but tease with a laugh.
Shannon, what happened to your head? Zane couldnt help but ask. My mom only looks that way on mornings when she hasnt had her coffee.
Zane, hey, Matt rushed into the room to see his cousin in front of him, Youre late.
Not my fault, Zane replied wiggling out of Gradys arm, We stopped at the store and I got the coolest comic book. Want to see it?
Sure, but Nates waiting for us, Matt explained impatiently before barely looking over at Grady, Thanks for bringing him. Maybe next time youll be on time.
Ill try my best, Grady waved over at Matt before watching the two boys slip away out the back door, Gee, he doesnt cut anyone any slack, does he?
Hes a perfectionist and doesnt mind letting the world know when they arent doing something right, Shannon admitted running her fingers over the curlers in her hair. I guess Im running a little behind as well, but thats okay. Why dont you come on in unless you have somewhere else you have to be?
No, not right now. Im pretty open right now, Grady shrugged his shoulders before looking around the room. Speaking of somewhere else last time I checked you werent staying here. Is it safe to assume that you and Don are no longer on bad terms with one another?
I really dont know where we are with one another, Shannon divulged thinking about her reunion with her husband. Nates friend died in that shooting and after that, well I guess weve been putting on the family front for everyone. Strength in numbers I guess.
Is that all it is? Grady questioned with a doubtful expression.
Im not really sure what it is, Shannon admitted setting one of the curlers on the countertop. She faced Grady again with a seriousness behind her features.
Hmm, well it looks like youve got something special in mind, Grady gave her a once over checking out her appearance.
What with these? she motioned to the curlers in her head. Dons mom bought them for me thinking that I might want to go for that whole beauty look.
And obviously you were tempted, Grady smirked over at her, which could only mean that theres more going on then just the whole safety in numbers theory. In fact I would go so far as to guess that you and Don are right on track with one another.
Since when did you become the relationship police? Shannon curled her lip in a frown at him, On second thought, why dont you answer that in a few minutes? Im going to give up on these and get the damned things out of my hair. Then maybe we can go for coffee or something.
Coffee? Grady arched a curious brow.
Nate said he wanted to be in charge of the play date today, Shannon explained swiftly, Matt tolerates me, but adores Nate so I figured why not let Nate run things. Plus Don thinks that Matt and Nate spending time together is going to be good therapy for Nate after losing his friend.
It always helps to have people you love around you, Grady agreed with Dons assessment. Nate seems pretty good with kids.
Thats because hes a big dope with the mentality of a seven year old. Dont get me wrong, I love my brother but sometimes I dont know where his head is, Shannon glanced over towards the back of the house, In fact why dont you check up on them while I finish up with this beauty disaster? Then we can go for coffee.
Sure, Grady nodded with a small laugh giving her one last look, Though are you sure you dont want to go out that way? Youd certainly make a statement.
Blow me Grady, Shannon rolled her eyes at him before flicking her finger at him. She wrinkled her nose before heading down the hallway back into the bathroom in the hopes of getting herself together after the beauty experiment shed started.
Grady chuckled unable to repress the amusement that carried over him. Thinking about Shannons constant world of denial, he couldnt help but wonder if perhaps she was really happier than shed let on. Still as he looked outside at Matt, Zane and Nate he realized that she had a lot more going on than she seemed to appreciate. He watched Nate interact with the two boys before Nate started walking back to the house for a moment.
They already driving you crazy? Grady questioned as Nate walked in through the back door.
Are you kidding? Nate shook his head in response. I love those kids.
They seem to love you too, Grady noted with a smile, They really are the best, arent they?
I could spend all day with them, Nate replied walking over to the refrigerator and pulling a few things out. What about you? You going to be stuck with my sister for a while?
You make it sound like its a bad thing, Grady couldnt help but note.
Shannons a pain in the ass, but today shes your problem, not mine, Nate stood up straighter shuffling with the things hed pulled out of the fridge.
Want a little help with that? Grady questioned moving forward to carry a couple of the things for him.
Thanks, Nate replied moving over to retrieve a couple of cups from one of the cabinets. Picnic parties involve food and weve got lots of it.
I can see that, Grady paused for a moment, So how are you doing?
Huh? Nate replied before giving Grady a long look, Let me guess Shannon put you up to checking up on me huh?
No, she didnt, Grady explained honestly, I just know what its like dealing with losing someone you care about. If you need someone to talk with
No offense Grady, but it was one of my best friends and you have no idea what that is like, Nate began with a heavy sigh.
Maybe not, but the woman I loved died not that long ago. I found out after she died that she was pregnant with my child, Grady informed him honestly, You have no idea what it is like to think that youre going to be a father only to lose it in an instant. It was like having her taken from me twice over.
Im sorry, Nate replied with an apologetic expression on his face, I didnt know.
Its okay. I didnt expect you to, Gradys features softened a bit, but look if you need someone to talk to, just know that my door is always open. If you need anything
I appreciate that Grady, Nate offered up in response, That means a lot to me.
Anytime and remember even if you just want to talk, Ill be here to listen, Grady explained honestly, I know sometimes thats all you really need is to be able to get it all out and talk.
Thanks, Nate glanced over at him once again, You know youre too nice to be my sisters friend.
I seriously doubt that one, Grady couldnt help but laugh. Shannon isnt that bad.
Not unless youre family, but for what its worth Im glad youre her friend. Maybe your niceness will rub off on her, Nate shrugged his shoulders before Zane rushed in through the back door.
Nate come on! Matts waiting for us out there. He thinks you got lost, Zane informed him with wide eyes before looking over at Grady, Oh hey Grady. I didnt know you were here still. Are you having a picnic with us?
Not today kiddo, but maybe next time, Grady explained with a smile, You have fun with Nate.
I will, Zane nodded before turning to Nate again, Come on. Matt is waiting.
Ill be right there, Nate promised watching Zane rush out of the house before he looked to Grady again, Thanks again Grady.
Anytime, Grady replied watching Nate leave to rejoin the boys as he hoped that Nate would be able to get through these hard times alright when everything was said and done.
Kellen? Kipp gasped sitting up in bed and looking around to hear
a bunch of pounding sounds as Kipp grasped onto his blanket roughly, looking
over to see where Kellen should have been sleeping, but he wasnt there.
That was telling him one thing, the person making all the noise must have
been Kellen. Oh great.
Hearing music filling the air he knew it was Kellen because he only knew one person that could be this happy and joyful in the morning to put on such a song.
He never sleeps in, Kipp groaned reaching out for one of his shirts off the dresser and pulled it on quickly before walking out into the hallway hearing what sounded like Kellen singing. Kellen, my goodness what are you doing?
What? Kellen turned to look back at Kipp who entered the kitchen and Kellen let out a small laugh looking around the kitchen as he was cooking some things. I invited Daniel over for breakfast because I was going to get him help on how he can get girls to notice him.
Is that why you are dressed like a teenage boy? Kipp looked Kellen over slowly seeing that Kellen was dressed in worn out jeans, sandals and a Hollister t-shirt. He even had his hair done a different way and he saw Kellen nod quickly before walking over toward stove to finish up with the eggs. Kellen, how can you really be doing that when you really dont even like women?
Well honey, heres the thing, Kellen finished up, putting everything into a few dishes before setting them out on the table in the middle before rubbing his hands together. Im hot and I know Im hot. I can go to the mall looking like this and Ill have thousands of girls giving me their numbers, I just have to have a certain appeal about me and they will be all over me.
Should I have something to worry about? Kipp questioned seeing Kellen laugh and move forward to press a small kiss against his lips before quickly walking over toward the refrigerator to pull out some milk. You knowing how to get women?
Hey, when I was younger and hardly had anything, Kellen turned around grabbing a hand towel and rubbing his hands off and shrugging his shoulders. When I was younger, how do you think I got all the good clothes and everyone thought I was a rich kid? It was because I went to the mall and girls gave me free stuff. JT and myself would go to the mall and hey, if we wanted even more free stuff wed take Kevin with us. Its just matter of how willing some girls are and how pathetic they can be.
So are you trying to get my brother free clothes or are you trying to help him out with girls? Kipp walked out into the living room seeing Kellen follow him into the room and sit down on the edge of the couch. A sudden power ran into the back of Kipps knee making him fall forward so Kellen would catch him as Kipp saw Kellens dog jump up on the couch and sit in his spot before lying down slowly. Tripsy, you have to be careful or you could have taken me out.
She doesnt know what shes doing, she just wants to make sure no one takes her seat. Isnt that right Tripsy? Kellen made sure Kipp was okay before he went over to pet his dogs ears before pressing a small kiss against its head. The answer to your question though, I suppose is a little bit of both. If you dress right, you get the girls. Thats all Im saying, its not only about dressing right, but its about how you act. You can be hot and be yourself at the same time.
Hearing the doorbell Kellen saw Tripsy jump off the couch and run to the door, prancing for Kellen to wait for it to open and Kellen gently nudged him back before opening up the door. Daniel moved in only to be knocked to the ground by Tripsy as he let out a small laugh.
Cute dog, Daniel lifted his head up from the ground feeling the dog licking at his face as he let out a small laugh and rubbed at its soft ears before looking at Kellen seeing Kellen smiling at the way Tripsy was acting. So this is the cute mutt you were telling me about on the phone. Shes beautiful Kellen.
She likes you too, Kellen added seeing the way that Tripsy finally let Daniel up and he let out a small laugh petting the dogs head before walking over toward the couch to have Tripsy jump on his lap making him let out a small groan. She does that a lot, you eventually get used to it.
Im okay, Daniel groaned before shaking his head and letting out a long breath feeling Kellens dog lie down in his lap while he gently pet its head. You are so lucky to have someone like Kellen, you do know that Kipp, right?
Well, I was aware of that, Kipp sat down on the far side of the couch seeing Kellen take a seat in the middle and Kipp pressed his hand in over Kellens shoulder. But I do know he appreciates a comment every now and then.
Its so cool that all of you are like taking me in like a part of the family, Kellen wrapped his arm around Daniel hearing his young laugh fill the air as Kellen gave him a small squeeze. I always wanted a brother I could have fun with since mine was such a jerk. The closest thing I ever had was JT who was my best friend and Kevin because he worked at the bar, but this is different. Someone who I can really help, someone that likes to hang out with me.
Well, youre so cool, Daniel nudged Kellen before letting out a small laugh seeing Kellens dog lift its head up and rest its head against Kellens leg and keep the rest of its bodyweight on Daniel. Its nice to finally have someone who is looking out for my best interest.
You know what though kiddo? Kipp moved around in his seat, meeting the glance of Daniel and Kipp leaned forward in his seat. It sure is different being around JT and Cameron and to be honest with you kiddo, I want to do everything in power to be close to you. I think I need that and if Kellen is here to help and push it along, Im glad. I heard that we have some mall shopping to do and some girl chasing so, I would say lets get geared up and ready to go.
Sounds like a great idea to me, Kellen pointed out hearing the snoring of Tripsy in his lap and Daniels and he let out a long laugh before shrugging his shoulders. That is when Tripsy wakes up and lets us go. It might take a while at this point.
JT stepped out of the shower half expecting to find Evie sleeping where hed
left her once theyd returned back to his place the previous night. He
was relieved to find that Valerie was gone when hed brought Evie home,
but after things had gone down like they did with Seth and Blake, there wasnt
much that JT could really say to keep Evie from shutting herself off to him.
Shed wanted to watch a movie and half way through she had fallen to
sleep on the couch. Now he entered his bedroom, a towel wrapped around his
waist and he started to ponder what had prompted her to hand over her bracelet
to Seth. He was halfway over to his closet when his bedroom door opened and
he heard her let out a small sigh.
JT, you were supposed to still be in the shower, Evie noted from behind him, her voice moving in closer until she spotted him near the closet clad in a blue bath towel. Immediately her eyes widened and she let out a small gulp, Well, um I guess this is close enough, isnt it?
Sorry love, but I forgot to bring my things with me, he explained casting a small glance over his shoulder at her and issuing a small smile, I didnt want to wake you earlier, so I hopped in the shower thinking that maybe I would surprise you with breakfast.
Too late, she moved in towards him reaching for his hand and dragging him out of the closet, I made breakfast for you.
You did? he arched a curious brow seeing her nod excitedly.
Thats right, she explained proudly, When I heard the shower I was half tempted to join you, but then I got to thinking about something productive I could do to start our morning right.
And you made breakfast, he searched her big, brown eyes unable to keep from smiling at how beautiful she looked when she was excited about something.
Thats right, she nodded excitedly tugging him back over to the bed with her. She shoved her hands into the center of his chest before holding her finger up in the air and waving it at him, You just stay right here. Im going to be right back.
Okay, but I was just going to get dressed and he paused seeing her race out of the room. A few minutes later she returned with an oversized stack of pancakes. He watched her shuffle the plate in her hand while holding a bottle of syrup in the other and two forks.
I hope you like pancakes, she grinned holding the plate out to him before he readily accepted.
I do, he watched her plop down beside him and open up the brand new bottle of syrup. He tipped his head to the side and gave her a long look, Is that strawberry?
She nodded, I ran down to the party store at the end of the block while you were in the shower and they had this. Its my favorite. It always kind of has been. I hope thats okay.
Bring it on baby, JT held the plate in closer to her, his grin expanding, Ive always loved strawberry.
And I wondered why we got along so well, she giggled squeezing the bottle a bit more forceful and soaking the stack of pancakes until more than half the bottle was empty.
You know maybe you should slow down a bit with that, JT teased with a small laugh, We might actually like to have some pancake with the syrup.
Sorry, she apologized her face growing suddenly red as she stretched out to set the bottle on the counter. She quickly shuffled back to her spot on the bed beside him and held out a fork. One for you. One for me.
Thank you, he accepted the fork seeing her pull something out from inside her shirt. Whats that?
I didnt have enough hands, she explained holding out the can of whipped cream shed tucked into her shirt to keep it from falling out when she carried it from the kitchen. She waved it in the air before smiling again, You do like whipped cream too, right?
I dont know, JT held the plate of pancakes out to her before motioning to the bottle, Is it real whipped cream?
I really dont know, she paused a confused look on her face as he reached for the bottle and pulled off the cap immediately spraying her with it.
Lets find out, he laughed wildly spraying her again as Evie squealed in surprise.
You jerk, she snatched the plate of pancakes from him and pulled the top one off of the stack. Feeling the stickiness of the strawberry syrup on her fingers she pulled her hand back before launching the pancake right into the center of JTs face. He moved out of the way at the last second and it slapped him right in the center of his bare chest. A moment of silence passed between them before his dark eyes met hers.
Youre so going to pay for that now, JT informed her squirting out another blast of whipped cream at her. She crawled onto the center of the bed, but before she could get away, he tugged at her ankle and pulled her back in closer to him.
Oh no you dont, he shook his head at her climbing in over her and squirting her in the face with the bottle of whipped cream.
JT stop! she shouted kicking her legs out beneath him, laughter pouring over her as she snagged the can from his fingers and turned it just enough to send the creamy, white foam up into his face.
Oh, you got me, JT roared with laughter when she tried to squirt him again, but discovered that the bottle was now empty. Unable to refrain from losing himself to laughter JT rolled back onto the bed and felt a pancake beneath him. He closed his eyes and let out a small groan, I guess you really got me.
So much for breakfast huh? Evie looked around the bed seeing that all but one of the pancakes had fallen to the floor other than the one that JT had rolled onto of course. Immediately Evies eyes perked up and she crawled forward ready to snatch the pancake, but in the midst of her movement JT realized what she was doing and he too made a move for the plate. At the last second he snagged it and held it up in the air victoriously.
I believe this is mine, JT teased with a wink ready to pour out more of his celebration when he felt her tackle her down onto the bed all the while climbing over him and pulling the pancake off of the plate.
Nope, its mine. Yours is on the floor, she explained matter of fact popping the first bite of pancake into her mouth victoriously.
JT couldnt help but laugh listening to the sound of the plate hitting the floor as he reached out to her. He ripped off a small part of the pancake dropping it into his mouth before smiling. Not bad.
They are a lot better than not bad, she countered holding the remainder of her pancake out to him, Here have another taste.
How about I just have a taste of you, he suggested yanking her in over him so that her mouth was just over his, Im sure Id like that better.
I cant argue that, she shrugged her shoulders simply before leaning in to kiss him heatedly. She wiggled over his abdomen and felt his fingers reaching out over her wrist. He wrapped one arm around her waist before snatching the remaining pancake from her.
On second thought I will have another bite, he decided with a tiny laugh taking another taste before holding it up to her, Thank you. Breakfast was good.
All two bites of it, she shook her head seeing the mess shed made, I guess this didnt go at all like Id planned for us.
I think I liked this better, he admitted feeling her fingers trace over his sticky abdomen. He picked his head up to see that he was covered in strawberry syrup and he laughed, So much for that shower I took.
Its okay, she offered up a small smile before leaning in to kiss him again, I like you better dirty.
Why am I not surprised, he mused with a small laugh before it suddenly dawned in on him that hed lost his towel in the shuffle between them. He felt her wiggle her hips over him and he bit back on the reaction it caused inside of him. He cleared his throat uneasily.
You know, she stretched her arm out across the bed to the nightstand and pulled the bottle of syrup off of the top of it. We still have this.
Yeah, um maybe I should get dressed and we could go and get some pancakes out somewhere, JT explained seeing something spark behind her eyes.
Or maybe we could stay in and find something else to keep us busy, she shrugged her shoulders before reaching down to tug her shirt out from the shorts of his shed put on last night. She pulled the shirt over her head and tossed it to the floor with the other pancakes. What do you say?
Evie, I dont know if, he gulped his gaze dropping down to take in her curves instinctively.
Whats wrong JT? she questioned reaching for one of his hands, Dont you like what you see in me?
He gulped again and nodded, Very much, but we talked about the island and
And I know you want to touch me, she reached for his hand sliding it up over her body before she wiggled over his hips again. What better way to make up for our breakfast disaster than to make love?
Evie, its not that I dont want to, but we talked about waiting until we went on vacation and he sucked in a sharp breath, sliding his arm around her waist.
I dont want to wait, she informed him claiming his lips again and rocking her body over his. His hips arched up into her and it was as if shed noticed for the first moment that he was naked beneath her.
Evie I just dont know if now is he began feeling her stiffen over him. He met her dark eyes and saw something behind them. Whats wrong?
Nothing I just she cleared her throat uneasily, her hand sweeping over his abdomen before she touched the side of his bare hip. She bit down on her lower lip before rolling off of him, her gaze immediately settling in over his body, no doubt taking in the reaction shed sparked inside of him. When she finally moved off of him, she found herself fixed on his naked form and she let out a long breath.
Something wrong? he questioned noticing the way that she was watching him.
No, its just, she leaned forward reaching out to touch him before thinking twice and pulling back, its just youre
What? he asked puzzled as her face grew red with what hed have sworn was the first hint of embarrassment hed seen in her up until now.
I got you all dirty and she tried to force her eyes to his again, but she settled in on his aroused form again, huge and
Huge, JT repeated letting out a laugh as he realized that shed clearly been distracted by his straining sex. He propped himself up on his elbows. I havent heard that one in a while. Not that Im arguing, but
I just I guess I just never thought that she stammered a bit, embarrassment carrying over her.
That what? he couldnt help but ask feeling a bit uncomfortable with the mood between them. Evie, whats going on?
Nothing, she shook her head trying to ignore what was obviously bothering her. She met his eyes again before moving in over him again. I just want to be close to you--to make love with you right now and
And somethings bothering you, he pulled away from the kiss searching her eyes again, What is it?
Nothing, she slid her fingers into his dark hair in an attempt to pull him in for another kiss. I just want to be close to you. To feel all of you and
He felt her kiss him again in an obvious attempt to shut him up. He circled his arm around her before rolling her beneath him on the bed. He felt her leg wrap around his hugging his body over her in an attempt to get him thinking less about what was bothering her and more about their making love to one another. He felt her lower lip tremble with nervousness as her shaky hand fell to his bottom offering up an uncertain squeeze. Unable to ignore the feeling in the air around them, JT pulled back meeting her eyes again.
Youre a virgin, arent you? JT blurted out seeing her brown eyes widen and her face grow even hotter than before.
What? she forced a dry laugh, No, why would you even think something like that when I mean I cant believe you said that. Youre such a jerk to think that way
Evie, Im just saying that he felt her reach out to slap him across the face catching him completely off guard when she slid out from beneath him.
Leave it to you to ruin a perfectly good moment, she hissed rushing into his bathroom and slamming the door behind her.
JT closed his eyes, sucking in a sharp breath and falling back onto the bed before he realized her response reconfirmed his questioning. He reopened his eyes and slid off of the bed opting to grab a pair of sweatpants before he walked over to the bathroom door. He knocked on it lightly before hearing her snap at him.
Just go away JT! she hissed from behind the door.
No, Im not going away. Look Evie, I didnt mean to embarrass you. I just think he paused searching for the right words as he ran his fingers through his hair, We just need to talk about this.
Why? she threw the door open and glared at him, So you can tell me how bad I am at this? That you can remind me of how I dont measure up to all of the other women youve been with JT? About how obviously inexperienced I am because it shows when youre with me?
You have got to be kidding me, he blinked back at her seeing her ready to slam the door in his face again. This time he placed his foot out before she could finish her mission. Evie, thats not it at all. Its just
Just what? she folded her arms in front of her chest seeing him enter the bathroom to join her.
That we dont need to be rushing things especially if youve never done this before, he pointed out in a sympathetic tone.
You think Im horrible at this, dont you? she curled her lip in a pout, a new vulnerability carrying over her. Thats why you asked such a ridiculous question, isnt it?
No, he shook his head in response, Thats not it at all. Hell, if you were bad at it, I hope you realize that I wouldnt have been nearly as excited as Ive been when Im around you.
So what now? she asked tipping her head up to meet his eyes, Is this where you tell me were not going to work out because Im not a slut like Valerie?
JT couldnt help but laugh immediately wishing he hadnt from the expression on her face. Clearing his throat he tried to cover as he reached out to her. He touched her cheek feeling her step back in an attempt to keep a distance between them, but still he gave it another attempt.
Evie, I didnt ask you that to embarrass you. I didnt mean to upset you, but I just felt it was something we needed to talk about because I sure as hell dont want your first time to be as ridiculous as this, he offered up in response.
So now Im ridiculous? she huffed in response, Ill have you know Ive done plenty of things with plenty of other men. Just not well, that, but its not because theres something wrong with me.
I never thought there was, he reached for her hand taking it in his and lifting it to his lips, and the fact that you are even considering me as someone that youd like to experience that with, well that says a lot.
Yeah that obviously I havent got out much, she rolled her eyes in response.
Gee thanks. That makes me feel special, he frowned back at her shaking his head.
Thats not what I meant JT, she sighed heavily her frustrations mounting, Its just that when I was younger--when I was a kid, my dad had me running all these scams with him. He had me doing a lot of really bad things and I never had time for anyone in my life. The guys I knew in school werent worth the time of day let alone having a shot with me.
Somehow I dont doubt that, he couldnt help but add with a smile, You are one of a kind.
Yeah, well its not like I havent had relationships before. There just hasnt been anyone who I thought was worth, well you know she shifted on her feet uncomfortably, and Im sure you think thats ridiculous at my age
Far from being ridiculous. Hell, by the time I was your age I was involved in so much shit that I wish I had waited like youre doing, JT confessed stepping forward and cupping her face in his hands, Hell, if I had waited it wouldve been a lot more special than it was the first time.
Really? she searched his dark eyes watching him nod.
Hell yeah, he couldnt help but laugh, and truth be told if you wouldve been with me that first time I can assure you that you wouldve been highly disappointed. Im much better now I can promise you.
Is that a promise youre going to give me a chance to find out or something youre saying to let me down easy? she asked wearily searching his eyes again.
Evie, Im hoping its something that you can understand when I tell you that what we have doesnt need to be rushed especially now that I know what it is youre wanting to share with me, he slid his fingers into her dark hair and urged her to meet his eyes again, Our relationship isnt just about sex and now that I know how special you are--you can better believe that were not going to go at it in the middle of a dirty bed with pancakes and strawberry syrup all over it.
I like pancakes and strawberry syrup, she added in a moment of protest, curling her lip in a pout.
And I do too, but the first time I make love with you, I want it to be a night youll never forget, he brushed his thumb over her bottom lip, a night neither one of us will ever forget because Ill be honest with you Evie, Ive been with other women in the past and Im not proud of some of what Ive done, but when I make love with you--well, I dont want to look at it as something Ill regret. I dont want to think back to how I spoiled something special between us because I was rushing things.
But youre not rushing, she argued with him, JT Im the one that wants us to be together and
We will be, he promised leaning forward to kiss her tenderly, On the island well share something special--something that will be a whole new experience for the both of us, but until then, why dont we focus on getting to know one another? Like maybe we can fill in all the other blanks between us before we take that leap with one another?
Do you have any idea how pathetic that makes me feel? she sighed in frustration.
Believe me, when I say it half the men in the world would think I lost my mind because you have no idea how many of them would love to be where Im at taking advantage of the situation, he admitted curling his finger underneath her chin, but I dont want to take advantage of this. I dont want to spoil what we have because I wasnt man enough to give you what you need.
From what Ive seen youre more than man enough, she blurted out a heat rising over her as she thought of what it was like to see him naked.
Well thank you, he couldnt help but laugh before adding, and from what Ive seen I know you deserve a whole hell of a lot better than me, but for what its worth Im honored that you think Im worthy.
I dont think youre worthy. I know you are, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders to embrace him, Theres no one else in this world that I want to share myself with than you.
And youll have the opportunity to do that, but right now, he kissed her again. Why dont you get cleaned up and well go out for breakfast? Ill get you some pancakes at a little restaurant I know a few blocks from here. They are pretty good and we can talk about the trip--maybe go over a crash course of what to do when you meet Cameron so he doesnt freak you out.
Is he really that bad? she couldnt help but ask.
My brother is beyond that bad, but hes still my brother, he added with a small smirk, Though right now I would rather focus on us getting ready for breakfast. What do you say?
Okay, she nodded in response feeling him step away from her.
Ill give you some privacy and Ill just clean up the bedroom, he explained motioning to the door, And Evie.
Yes? she saw him turn around to face her again.
I love you, he offered up with a small smile waving over at her before walking out of the door to clean up the mess they had made with one another.
I love you too JT. I really do, she admitted with a thoughtful expression knowing full well that shed truly found the one man she never wanted to be without again.
So whats going on? Ria questioned turning around to face
Kevin, worry evident behind her dark eyes, What were you dreaming about
Something I hope I never have to face again, Kevin rubbed his hands together before letting out an ironic laugh, Though it seems like theres never a break in the cards for any of us, is there?
You mean because Angelas been hurt? Ria noted sensing how upset he was about his friends accident.
Not just that, he sighed heavily, his tired eyes meeting hers again, Its just that weve all had so many things happen to us--things that I would really rather not live through again. Things that I swore Id never look back on
Kevin, whats really going on? she couldnt help but ask stepping towards him, Ive seen you wired up before, but not like this. I know when you worry about Angela it consumes you but
Ria, I killed a man before, Kevin admitted the words hed kept inside of him for so very long. I know it was wrong, but I had no other choice.
What? she blinked back at him confusion settling in over her, Kevin, what are you saying?
When I was younger when Angela was married, I he stopped himself feeling tension coil in over his neck. His dark eyes met hers again and he found himself caught up in a moment of truth--a truth that he hadnt been able to give Angela before she fell into a coma. Now that Ria stood before him watching him with worried eyes he knew he couldnt lie about the past any longer. I killed him Ria. I killed her husband
Kevin no, she shook her head hearing what he was saying, thats not possible. You wouldnt kill anyone. You wouldnt
He was planning to kill her Ria. He left me no choice, Kevin blurted out thinking back to when hed learned about Carys awful plans to get rid of Angela. He was a boxer around the time I was. Id met him a few times in the ring and I didnt trust him. When they were together, something was off. He struck the wrong chord in me and I could never shake that. With Angela I was her bodyguard at the time I found out that he was with her. She married him and I was married to Michelle but
But what? Ria couldnt help but ask almost afraid to hear the answer.
I knew he never loved her. I knew something wasnt right about him. When he married her I knew that he wasnt good enough for her and yes, he caught the expression on Rias face, everyone thought like you I was jealous, but it wasnt about jealousy. I knew she was in danger--that something was really wrong with her and that if I didnt help her she would get in over her head. She didnt listen to me naturally and when she married him I knew that there would only be trouble to follow.
So you killed him? Rias eyes widened in response to what he was telling her.
That night when I confronted him on what I had heard I wasnt planning to kill him, but he pulled a gun out on me and Kevins voice grew shaky as he ran a hand through his hair, I had no other choice.
Theres always a choice Kevin. You always have a choice when it comes to killing someone, she argued with him shaking her head.
Ria, he was planning on murdering Angela and taking her money. He was going to kill her and their child simply because in the end it would leave him a rich man. I went there that night to stop him, but he had come up with this idea to kill her and pin it on me. He and I had a confrontation and he tried to shoot me. He grazed my arm with a bullet because I had moved out of the way at the last second, but then one thing lead to another and I tackled him. He went over the cliff and Im pretty sure I broke his neck during the fall somehow. After that it was over. I didnt mean for it to happen, but he was trying to kill her, the baby and then me. I had no choice.
So it was an accident, Ria took a small step towards him seeing something behind his eyes.
I wish things would have turned out differently, but a part of me can honestly say Im relieved hes dead. At least I was relieved until he trailed off his gaze shifting to the floor.
Until what? she touched his arm gently, Kevin, whats going on? Why didnt you tell me this before?
Because I didnt tell anyone. I didnt want anyone to know what I had done, Kevin confessed in a low, raspy tone his voice overcome with a great many emotions. When Angela lost him and then lost her baby I couldnt bring it in myself to be honest with her. She thought he loved her--believed that he had truly cared for her, but in reality he only cared about himself. She had already been through enough and I kept my mouth shut. Only two other people knew the truth besides myself and Cary and one of them was Cameron.
And he told her, didnt he? Ria realized searching his eyes, Thats why you two were fighting, wasnt it?
Kevin nodded in response, She didnt hear the real truth. She only heard what Cameron wanted her to hear so that he could manipulate her and keep her away from me and from Brant. He hates Brant--hates his entire family because he believes that Brant and his father had something to do with their fathers death.
Does he? Ria couldnt help but ask.
I dont know about Brants father considering everyone in this town has him painted out to be a monster. The stories I know about him that are true only further convince me that he very well could have murdered Cyrus, but with Brant I just dont see it in him. Hes not the type. I mean it sounds crazy, but I know the guy loves Angie and I think they have something between them. He wouldnt hurt her, Kevin continued thinking about Camerons lies.
Just like you wouldnt either. Angela would have to see that what you did to her husband was to protect her, Ria touched his arm gently, She would have to see that you were trying to keep her safe.
All she sees when she looks at me is a monster and maybe I am one, Kevin finally met her concerned eyes, Maybe everything thats happened to me is because I wasnt man enough to do things the right way. First I lost my daughter, then Angie and now with us when I lost you
Whoa back up, Rias eyes widened as she looked at him in astonishment. Kevin, were you not with me back in that hotel room when we both thought we were going to have a baby?
That was before you knew the truth about me and about what Id done. Thats before you knew I was capable of murder, Kevin answered with a poignant sigh, Before you learned the truth
That you have a heart of gold and you would do absolutely anything to help your friends? she replied shaking her head at him, Um Kevin newsflash here but I already knew that.
But with what I told you, he started to remind her only to feel her press her index finger against his lips.
Kevin, dont you get it by now? From what you told me it was an accident--one that happened while you were trying to defend yourself, she informed him with a soft sigh, Thats all I need to know. I believe in you.
I wish that Angie would have done the same, Kevin leaned into her embrace feeling her cup his cheek with her palm, I love you Ria and I just dont want you hurt by my past.
Kevin, the fact that you told me the truth only proves how much you trust me and how much you love me, she continued to remind him sliding her fingers into his hair. She urged him to meet her worried eyes, I know you and I know your heart. I cant even begin to imagine how much this has been killing you all of these years you kept that to yourself.
I had no choice in the matter, but now he paused thinking about what hed walked in the previous night. Ria, do you know Dr. Byrne?
Deidra, she replied with a curious look. Sure, shes one of the OB/GYNs on staff here and
No, he shook his head, Not Deidra. Im talking about Andy Byrne. Hes a plastic surgeon from what I've been told with an uncanny interest in patients outside of that spectrum.
No, she answered honestly, I dont really know all that much about him as he wasnt here when I started. I know hes back on staff again, but I havent crossed paths with him. Why?
Theres something about him that I dont trust, Kevin revealed with a small sigh, Something about him that feels too familiar.
Familiar how? she asked him.
Honestly, he met her eyes again seeing her nod, Hes a dead ringer for Angelas late husband.
What? her eyes widened in response, Youre kidding, right?
I wish I were, but when I saw him yesterday, I swore I was face to face with a ghost and then later, he paused remembering when hed walked in on Andy in Angelas hospital room, I found him by Angies hospital bed and something was very off there
Wait you found him with Angela, she mouthed with a puzzled expression, But he shouldnt have been in there. Shes not the kind of patient he would take on.
Exactly, Kevin nodded in agreement, which only worries me even more considering
You said that Angelas husband was dead though. That he fell off a cliff and broke his neck, Ria pointed out reminding Kevin of what hed told her, I highly doubt he would have time to come back and get into medical school only to show up here and now.
I know it sounds crazy, but damn it Ria I know what I felt. Even now I cant shake the feeling, Kevin paused contemplating his worries, though you said his wife works here, right?
Rumor has it they are getting divorced, but yeah she does, she nodded giving him a long once over, Why? Are you going to ask her about him?
It couldnt hurt considering the guy rubs me the wrong way, Kevin nodded in response thinking about the way being around Andy had him on edge, It couldnt hurt, right?
I suppose not, but I have to admit right now Im not concerned about him, she touched his face again, Kevin right now Im worried about you.
Dont be, he wrapped his arms around her pulling her into an embrace, because Im going to be just fine. Its Angie on the other hand that Im worried about. If she doesnt pull through this, well then theres no telling what will happen and thats the part that scares the hell out of me for all of us.
Don circled around the corner of the hallway thinking about how Angelas
condition was taking its toll on Brant. While he was trying to remain
hopeful for his friend, Don could remember quite clearly the pain hed
experienced when hed lost Stephanie those few years ago. It was more
than enough to see his friend in agony, yet as Dons mind was clouded
by his own sense of loss, he knew that hed have to do something to gain
Once hed stepped out of Angelas hospital room after checking in on her, he decided to go out into the courtyard and get some air. He was almost there when he noticed someone outside standing near the center of the small garden area. With a smile, he pushed open the glass door and approached the woman in front of him knowing full well that his time alone wouldnt be so bad now that hed had the right company with him.
I hope this wasnt your alone time that Im invading on, Don offered up with a light smile as Deana turned around to face him. A smile swept over her features before she waved over at him.
Actually this is my keeping myself from committing homicide time, she explained before drawing in a breath, I was taking a break from telling Zack Vaughn what I really think about him.
Is he still hassling you? Don frowned thinking about how Zacks bullying had reached a point of no return.
Id be lying if I said he wasnt, she paused contemplating her words for a moment, but Ive got it covered.
I can see that clearly, Don remarked disbelieving, Thats why youre out here trying to talk yourself out of killing him, yes?
Hey, if I had lost all self control it wouldnt be just a thought. Id be in there strangling him right now, Deana explained matter of fact before walking over to one of the small tables set up in the courtyard area. You have to give me some credit.
Ill give you more than some because I dont know if I would have any restraint around him today, Don sighed following her over to the table and taking a seat beside her. He brought his large hand up over the back of his neck and massaged it gently. Letting out a long sigh he closed his blue eyes, I guess today is just one of those days.
That doesnt sound too promising especially coming from you, she noted taking the time to forget about her own frustrations as her dark eyes fell upon him. Want to talk about it?
Not really, he shook his head. Taking in a breath he glanced over at her again, Id rather hear about whats new in your world. How is Jason doing?
Id be lying if I said he was back to being his old self, Deana paused thinking about her brother for a long moment, but then again how could anyone really go back to what they were before after experiencing something like that?
Isnt that the truth, Don blurted out thoughtlessly. He noticed the expression on Deanas face--he recognized the concern only too well and he wished he hadnt let it slip.
Don, she touched his shoulder gently, her worried eyes focused on the lines of his face, Whats going on? Whats wrong?
Nothings wrong, he hesitated knowing that he couldnt lie to Deana when it was obvious he was holding back on her. I guess I just got to thinking about Stephanie earlier when Angela was first brought in. I mean seeing Brant at her side wishing like hell that she would return to him, well it just takes me back to what it was like when I lost Steph
Im sorry Don, she mouthed placing her hand on his leg supportively, I cant even begin to imagine what it must be like for you especially working here.
Brants my best friend so when something hurts him, it hurts me as well, he stopped himself before meeting her eyes again, but I guess what really gets me isnt so much the fact that Angela is hurt because I really think shell pull through this. Its the memory of what it was like when I lost Steph. To see her go from being so full of fire and life, to being reduced to nothing
Im so sorry that you had to go through that Don, she mouthed scooting in closer to him. I know how important she was to you.
She was my world, Don divulged choking on his words. His tear-filled blue eyes met hers again with broken emotion, I cant seem to convey that to Shannon because no matter what I say she sees my feelings for Stephanie as a competition. It isnt that way, but I cant pretend that what I had with Steph wasnt real--that it wasnt everything to me.
You had a son with her, Deana frowned realizing that there was more happening than Don was admitting, How could you not care about that when Matt is your everything?
Sometimes I think Im not doing him any justice, Don sighed again bringing his hand up through his dark hair. I mean I havent exactly been the best of fathers and
Ok stop right there, Deana cut him off abruptly, Don, youre an amazing dad. You do absolutely everything for Matt and he adores you. He knows that youre wonderful and that youve always done everything in your power to raise him to be the kind of boy that Stephanie would have wanted. Hes respectful and brilliant and
Totally miserable with my being with Shannon, Don let out an ironic laugh, Dont get me wrong he loves Nate, but I know he hasnt taken to Shannon. I mean I cant blame him considering how I kind of pushed the situation on all of us by getting drunk and married like that
Don, you cant keep second guessing yourself, she squeezed his leg gently, I mean I thought things were going good with you and Shannon.
They are, but he paused struggling for the right words.
But what you have now cant take the place of what you had with Stephanie, she deduced seeing the truth behind his eyes. He lowered his head and sighed as she spoke up again, Don, its not supposed to. Youre not supposed to have to pretend that part of your life wasnt there just because the idea of you loving someone makes Shannon uneasy. I mean would you hold it against her that she had someone else in her life before you?
Of course not, Don shook his head firmly, Dont be ridiculous. I mean hell she was sleeping with Brant for a while and
And you dont think any less of her because of it, right? Deana added with a hint of encouragement in her tone. Its not something that would cause you to stop needing her in your life.
Of course not, Don shook his head firmly, I mean I figure it was before she and I were together so it doesnt matter to me. I really dont care who Brant slept with in the past. I wouldnt hold that against someone, well unless that someone was you.
Excuse me, Deana wrinkled her nose at his words, What is that supposed to mean?
Well he was partial to blondes for a while and you did spend a lot of time at the Ashford mansion, Don eyed her suspiciously while fighting to suppress the grin that teased at the corners of his lips, You did spend an awful lot of time around Brant that summer that you were pregnant with Zane.
Um hello Don I was there all the time because you were there all the time. You were the one who talked me into coming with you to Brants summer cottage, she wrinkled her nose at the thought, Besides, I spent more time with you than Brant there. Why would you think that I would have slept with him?
I was just testing the waters, Don admitted freely before giving her a brief once over, He said you had really sexy legs.
Really? Deana sat up straighter seeing the way that Dons gaze lingered down to her legs that were in question. Unable to resist she sat up taller, tossing her hair back behind her shoulders, Well, I think he was probably telling you that because he enjoyed the way that they felt when I had them wrapped around him.
What? Dons jaw practically dropped as Deana burst into laughter.
Gotcha, she waved her finger around in the air before laughing again, Honestly Don, I wouldnt have slept with your best friend. I was far too pregnant to even think about sex again after Zanes father wasted what should have been a memorable experience.
Well, you got Zane from it, Don added with a hint of a smile, Surely, it wasnt all bad.
The sex part was horrible, but Zane, Deana couldnt help but smile at the thought of her son, That was worth the thirty seconds of discomfort in that beat up Chevy.
Damn and here I would have thought youd have at least made a guy hold out for a hotel room, Don shook his head and frowned.
Gee, um thanks. What are you trying to say? That Im cheap? Deana frowned at the implication feeling her anger boil at Dons statement.
No, thats not what Im saying at all, Don replied realizing hed struck a nerve in her. I mean what I was trying to say is that you deserved a lot more than that. A real man wouldnt have been so desperate and pathetic in his seduction.
Trust me Zanes father was a far cry from being a real man, Deana rolled her eyes at the thought of what shed been through with her ex. He was ready to come and go out of my life just as fast as he was in it, but when it gets down to it Zane and I are better off without him. He never could have given us what we needed in this life.
He didnt deserve you thats for sure, Don added seeing her stand up and move across the courtyard again. He followed suit in moving in closer to her. Realizing that shed gotten abnormally quiet, he couldnt help but touch her shoulder, Deana, Im sorry if I offended you.
No, its okay, she replied clearing her throat before facing him again, I guess when I started thinking about it, I realized how silly it was for us to be talking about me when obviously youre the one who needs to be saying whats on his mind.
Im the one that brought it up, Don reached out to touch her cheek lightly, Besides putting the focus on you takes it off of whats going on inside of me, so when it gets down to it, its better this way.
Only because you get to close yourself down again and not talk about whats really on your mind, she searched his blue yes for a long moment, You know you can talk to me if you need to Don.
I realize that, he nodded in response before cracking a small smile, and Ill be honest when I tell you that sometimes just talking to you reminds me of when Stephanie was alive.
Why? Because I have my sarcastic wit about me and I have this knack of cutting you off before you can say whats on your mind? she arched a curious brow feeling the warmth of his fingertips against her cheek.
No, its because I feel like I could spend all day with you and when the night rolls around I could go to bed with a smile on my face because you just have this way about you, Don admitted his eyes fixed on hers. He dropped his hand down to her side and took a step back, I dont know what it is about you, but Im glad that youre here now.
Im not going anywhere especially not when you make living here so easy for me, Deana added thinking about al Don had done to help her.
I should be doing more, he decided knowing full well that Deana was still having troubles in adjusting to Coral Valley.
Are you kidding me? I love everything youve done for me and I love you for taking care of me Don. No one has ever been as good to me as you are and Im so very thankful for that, she replied feeling the warmth of the sun overhead. She stepped in closer to him before reaching out to embrace him, Youre my guardian angel Don.
And youre mine even if you dont see it, he returned the embrace taking the time to savor the contact between them. He closed his eyes wanting nothing more than to squeeze her closer to him. He lowered his head into the curve of her shoulder and found himself unable to hold back on the emotions that hed been containing earlier when he was around Brant. Im sorry
For what? she questioned realizing that he was crying. Suddenly she knew that something more was going on than he was letting on. Don, hey
I dont mean to be doing this, but its just all of this stuff with Brant he felt a lump forming in the back of his throat as he attempted to wipe at his teary eyes. Did you know that Steph always loved this time of year? She always said it was kite flying time. I remember once we went out to lookout point on one of our first dates and we decided to take these two kites with us that we put together--you know the cheap ones that really dont hold up even if you want them to
Yeah, those were the only ones Jason and I could afford, Deana nodded in response seeing something flash behind Dons eyes.
I wanted to impress her so bad that day that I did just about all I could to get the damned thing off of the ground. There she was flying hers and having a good told time, but mine didnt want to leave the ground. I remember running with the stupid thing, flapping my arms like a bird would and then I stumbled over a rock, Don chuckled at the memory. I hit the ground hard and I broke off a piece of my tooth. There was blood everywhere. It was a total nightmare and then to top it off it was a holiday weekend
Oh no, what did you do? Deana couldnt help but question.
I cried like a baby, Don divulged his face growing red with embarrassment. I saw the blood and I thought I was going to pass out.
Blood has that effect on you? Deana couldnt help but laugh, That isnt good considering your profession.
Blood doesnt bother me, but my own, Don waved his hands around in the air and laughed, Dont get me started. Still Stephanie realized that I was going to be hysterical if she didnt make a move. She wound up picking my whimpering butt up off of the ground, shoving me back into my car and driving me to a dentists office where she had somehow cajoled the doctor into coming back to work even though he was on vacation. Two hours later we were on my front porch and I couldnt even tell you my name let alone feel anything in my face, but rather than being repulsed by it, she was amused. Even though it was a complete disaster, she was still with me. She spent the night with me and in the morning I remember waking up with her beside me. She kissed me and even now I can remember her telling me that even if I brought drama and craziness into my life by going out on a limb and acting like a fool that she loved every single second of it. She might act like my being a moron drove her mad, but when it got down to it, she never wanted me to change. She never wanted me to stop being the crazy, goofy guy Ive always been.
You shouldnt have to ever change, Deana noted making a small movement towards him, No one is worth compromising who you are.
I realize that, but with Shannon Don stopped himself and shook his head, Im not going to get into this now. It just opens up a whole new can of worms that I dont want to get into right now. I just sometimes wonder if maybe Ive confused love with
Deana caught the hesitation in his voice, With what?
With things that shouldnt be all that important, Don stressed the words before meeting her eyes again, I mean I loved Stephanie with every fiber of my being. I couldnt imagine a day without her in it. I still cant
And with Shannon? she arched a curious brow seeing the turmoil behind his eyes.
I honestly dont know. I mean it sounds stupid, but for the longest time I felt like the only thing weve had between us has been sex and if I even bring her into any other part of my life I feel like something about it is always wrong to her. I feel like no matter how many times I try to explain who I am, its never enough. Shes never just happy that I love her. She never thinks for a second that maybe just maybe Im not that bad Don stopped himself before letting out a long breath, Sometimes I think she just stays with me so that she can stick it to Brant for breaking up with her.
No, Don I dont think that Deana started with wide eyes.
Deana, I know shes not over him. I can see it every time that she gets on my case about Brant. I can see it when she gets jealous about the time I spend with him--in helping him. At first I thought it was because she hated that he was taking away from our time together, but now Im thinking that shes upset because Im with him and she cant be. God, this sounds crazy. I mean here I am talking about Stephanie and everything else under the sun that makes no sense, Don threw his hands up in the air, Its official. Im losing touch with reality.
No, I think that youve just got a lot on your plate right now, she replied smoothly. Maybe right now you just need to take a step back and try to think about the positive.
Isnt that supposed to be my line to you? he challenged turning to face her again.
Maybe, but right now I think you could use a coffee and I know just where we can get one in this place where it doesnt taste like motor oil, Deana snagged her arm in his and started to drag him towards the doors again.
In this place that is highly unlikely, Don hesitated pulling her back towards the center of the courtyard once again, Besides, I really dont think I should have that right now. Get caffeine in me and Ill be a nervous wreck.
Hmm, then what would it take for me to get you thinking about other things, she paused before throwing out a wicked smirk, Want me to tell you about my relationship with Grady? I could give you all the juicy details and
You said I needed to relax, not get hot and bothered, Don tossed back at her with a shake of his head, I hardly think a hard on all day will be what I need to get through the day comfortably.
Gee, I didnt know Grady had that kind of effect on you, she laughed lightly shaking her head at him, Ill be sure to let him know that hes your dream guy.
Trust me if I had a dream guy, it most certainly wouldnt be Grady, Don groaned inwardly at the thought, I was thinking more along the lines about you and what it is that you like to do.
We could discuss that, Deana offered up with a cryptic expression before leaning in closer to him, but if we went down that road, youd be doing a lot more than walking around sexually frustrated throughout the day.
Youre probably right, Don chuckled feeling a genuine laugh carry over him, I would probably wind up embarrassing myself in the locker room or something.
Ok, I dont want to know, Deana teased before shaking her head at him, So sex is out of the question for a topic
I didnt say it was out of the question, just out of the picture for the moment. Besides, Don winked down at her, If you started telling me all about what it was that turned you on, naturally Id have to get into details about what turned me on and before you know it wed end up thinking about each other naked and then, well youd have no choice but to realize that Gradys no where near being the man I am. It would really make your relationship suffer because youd always be thinking about me naked and
And youve got a very high opinion of yourself, dont you? Deana couldnt help but laugh at him.
When youve got what Ive got, yes I will admit there is an ego that starts to swell, Don added his grin expanding as his thoughts lingered to their teasing each other.
I dont think its your ego that swells Don, Deana gave him a brief once over before stepping back to appreciate his form. Not that Im complaining
Thats it, he reached out to her bringing his arm around her neck and putting her into a hold, Enough of your mind in the gutter little girl. Youre not supposed to be acting like a pervert.
Im not the one being a pervert Don, she objected reaching out to poke him in the ribs as his hold on her constricted, Youre the one who brought up getting hot and bothered by my boyfriend.
Grady most certainly doesnt do it for me, Don protested curling his lip in a pout, but sometimes you sure as hell do.
What? Deana stood up feeling him release her as his cheeks colored a bit.
Nothing, Don offered up with a small laugh, I was just kidding. I mean its not like I actually spend time thinking about you naked or anything.
Yes you do, Deana placed her hands on her hips to challenge his bluff, but for what its worth I might do the same every now and then.
Really? Dons blue eyes widened with curiosity.
Of course I always think about myself being naked especially when I get out of the shower and Im freezing, she joked before snagging his arm again and leading him towards the doors. Come on, lets go get you some decaf before the air out here warps your mind completely.
Its a little too late for that, Don laughed lightly feeling a bit more at ease after his joking with Deana.
Yeah, well youre on the borderline of sexual harassment Dr. Leveski, she joked with him before winking up at him, So how about we go try to find a way to make an honest man of you?
Too little, too late, but you can try, Don decided opting to throw his worries away for the time being and spend some time hanging out with the one person who always managed to distract him for a while when he was feeling down about things. As he watched Deana opening the door to the hospital, he found himself relieved that he had run into her. Maybe he was simply dwelling on all the wrong things at a time when things werent as bad as hed thought. Brant would have his happiness and Don was certain that sooner or later he and Shannon would be able to work on theirs together.
Are you sure youre not going to take the hat off? Grady
questioned from across the table where he watched Shannon fidgeting in her
chair. He couldnt help but laugh as she glared at him with a small snarl.
Let it go Grady, she warned sharply, her eyes narrowing in at him. I mean it.
What? he shrugged his shoulders innocently, Im sure it cant be that bad. Im sure that you look fine. Just take off the hat.
No, my hair is a frizzy mess, which reminds me to never, ever take up any of Alicias beauty suggestions, she wrinkled her nose at the thought of what her little beauty experiment had done for her hair, There was a reason why I never curled my hair before.
Im sure its not so bad, Grady paused before eyeing her suspiciously, Though Im sure Don will appreciate the effort.
If Im lucky, Don will be home after I am and Ill be able to take a shower and get this mess taken care of, she pulled her hat down further over her head, It was a stupid idea.
But one that maybe got you thinking about impressing Don, yes? Grady arched a curious brow before offering up a small laugh, Admit it you wanted to do something special for him.
Special for Don would be a piece of pizza and a blow job, Shannon rolled her eyes at the suggestion.
Know from experience huh? Grady noted with an amused chuckle.
Im not getting into this with you, she snarled over at him before shaking her head, I didnt invite you to go out for coffee to get into this type of conversation with you.
Then why did you invite me out? he couldnt help but ask thinking about her offer for coffee.
I dont know. Maybe I was just in need of some entertainment and you seemed like an okay option, she shrugged her shoulders before looking over towards the counter where the waitress was wiping at the top with a damp cloth. I guess it gets a bit suffocating being trapped in the perfect life with the perfect husband and family. I mean I never asked for that you know.
For what? A man that loves you and a stepson? he couldnt help but ask.
A stepson that hates me. You have no idea what its like to have Matt look at me like Ive brought some kind of plague into the house, she groaned sinking back into her chair, You should see the way he scrutinizes my every move.
Shannon, hes young. Dont you think maybe hes just adjusting to this too? I mean he didnt have a woman in his and his fathers life other than well, his grandmother and his aunt before you became a part of it. Im sure hes just finding his own way in dealing with the fact hes got a stepmother.
The wicked stepmother Im sure, she replied with a heavy sigh, though maybe hes not that far off since I cant keep it together lately.
Meaning? he searched her eyes for a moment before understanding, How long has it been since you fell off the wagon?
That obvious huh, she let out an ironic laugh before bringing her fingers through her blonde hair, I dont know whats wrong with me Grady, but each and every time I try to move forward something always pulls me back. I mean I keep telling myself Don is irrelevant, but when I saw him at the hospital with Deana not so long ago I lost it.
What do you mean you lost it? Grady frowned over at her.
They were hugging and talking and it seemed like there was something going on, she paused uncertainty in her tone, Maybe I shouldnt get into this with you considering that you and Deana are
Secure enough in our relationship that Im positive whatever it is you are going to say isnt going to phase me, Grady noted with a seriousness in his tone, What happened?
I flipped out after I saw them together and I started drinking. I dont know how I got to that point, but on the way home I stopped at a party store and the rest, she closed her eyes tipping her head forward before letting out a long groan, I attacked Don that night both verbally and physically. He got pretty upset and he shouldve been considering that I busted his head in. I was out of my mind at the time, but
But its still eating away at you, isnt it, Grady reached out across the table to take her hand in his, What does Don say about it?
Hes been supportive and far too good to me, she revealed with tears behind her eyes, I dont know why I do it Grady, but it seems like no matter how many steps forward I take, Im always slipping backwards.
I know how hard it is Shannon, but youre trying to move forward. I could see that today when you were trying to get all decked out for Don, he smiled over at her, That was something in itself.
It just shows Im pathetic, she sighed heavily before shaking her head, Its just that no matter how far I try to stop craving it, that demon is always there. Its always beckoning me anytime things go sour in my life. I want to say that Ive broken the habit
But its never going to completely disappear, Grady finished for her with a poignant expression, Thats part of what being an addict is.
I know, but I always thought I was stronger than that. Im so stubborn about everything, yet when things should matter the most, I dont handle myself right. I reach for the bottle, she paused before drawing in a breath and looking away.
Hey, Ive been there more times than I care to admit. I damn near ruined everything in my life because of it. I almost lost my brother, I lost Jade and my family was disappointed in me, Grady replied softening his tone a bit.
Yes, but youve finally found happiness. I mean youve found Deana and when I see you with Zane, you look like youve risen above it, Shannon continued facing him again.
I dont think you can ever rise above it Shannon. Its always there and Ill admit there are times when I think about what it would be like to take another drink. There are moments when the temptation is there and I have to fight like hell not to give into it. There are times when I wish I could make it disappear, but its not that simple. Even when I had to be honest with Deana about it, I knew I couldnt promise her that it was a thing of a past. I couldnt say that Ill be able to stay away from it for the rest of my life. The only thing I can do is count the days of sobriety and hope that tomorrow is another one for me.
I know what you mean, she sighed looking out the window once again before shaking her head, I still cant believe I attacked Don like that for talking to his former sister-in-law. I mean how stupid could I be?
It wasnt your brightest moment, but Don loves you Shannon. Im sure hes gotten past it since youre home again. I know you mean the world to him, Grady offered up supportively.
I dont know if any woman will ever fit that position again, she admitted honestly turning to face him again, Hes still so much in love with a ghost that I dont think hell ever fully move on.
You mean with Matts mom? Grady questioned watching her nod.
He has her up on this pedestal and I can see that hed give anything to have her back again. He talks about her like shes some saint and how can I compete with that? How can I even begin to give him what he needs when the only thing he wants is the woman that was ripped from his life when Matt was born? she questioned frustration evident in her tone.
Shannon, I dont believe that is the case, he explained squeezing her hand once again, He married you because there was something about you that he wanted to have in his life.
Yeah it was called we both got blind, stinking drunk and decided to be stupid, she groaned inwardly, That was a case of my alcoholism changing my life again.
Perhaps for the better. I mean you cant tell me that you dont care about Don. I can see it in the way you talk about him--even in the way youre upset about his feelings for his late wife. You do care even if it kills you to admit it, Grady noted after a moment.
Even if I do, Ill never fill her shoes Grady. I mean how can you love a man who has his heart off with someone hell never hold again? she questioned with a heavy sigh fighting to contain her emotions.
I cant speak for Don, but what I can say is that when Jade died I really thought it was the end of the world for me. I didnt want anything more than to just die and take down as many people as I could before that finally happened. I turned my back on my family, on my friends and I thought that there wouldnt be any days ahead for me. I locked myself up and vowed never to feel anything again, but he stopped himself remembering the night hed tried to kill himself. Closing his eyes he thought back to what it was like sharing that night with Avery, about having her come to him in his darkest hour and pull him out of his misery only to bring him back to life again with her concern. I guess fate had other plans for me. Just when I thought life was over, it began again.
With Deana? she arched a curious brow noting the expression on his face.
Deana and Zane gave me a second chance at love and life, he nodded his thoughts leaving Avery and returning to the woman he loved. Shes everything I could have asked for in a woman and more. Shes beautiful, brilliant and witty. She just has this way about her that can cut me down to size without hesitation. She calls me on my crap and puts me back on track with things. And with Zane, well hes everything that I could have ever wanted in a son. Hes a wonderful kid and I love him.
And you dont find yourself wishing that you had that still with Jade? she couldnt help but ask searching his green eyes for a long moment.
A part of me is always going to love Jade and wonder what might have been, but I know that is the past. I wont pretend that I dont still love her because I do, but Ive gone down a different path with Deana--one that is full of happiness and love. Its not the life I planned on a while ago, but its so very important to me and I wouldnt trade a single second of it for the world. Im sure thats how Don feels about you Shannon. I know he loves you and wants to make things work with you both, he explained supportively, You just have to believe in that love and believe that things will work themselves out.
I wish I could be that optimistic, but she started again thinking about all that had happened.
No buts Shannon. The only thing that is holding you back is you and if you cant give yourself a little slack, then do it for Don. Do it for the fact that youve found something special and even with your self-loathing, I know you want to hold onto it, Grady suggested knowing full well that his friend wasnt ready to give up on love just yet.
Maybe youre right, she finally nodded after a moments contemplation. Maybe Don and I can work it out.
Theres the spirit, Grady piped in with a smile watching her reach for her mug of coffee. Feel better now?
Absolutely, she sipped at her coffee before smiling at him, I think Ive been approaching this all wrong.
Of course you have, but now that you recognize it, you can take a new approach, he paused for a moment before speaking in a teasing tone, Now how about taking off that ridiculous hat?
Not on your life, she replied firmly before taking another sip of her coffee and thinking about her marriage. Maybe she and Don still had a chance to make it after all.
Careful guys, Nate called out seeing Zane and Matt climb up the
ladder of their tree house and crawl in as they looked back down at Nate seeing
him going to walk up the ladder before they shook theirs heads. Whats
We want to see you climb the rope, Matt called out seeing Nates green eyes glance over at the rope before he nodded and rubbed his hands against his pants. That is if you think you have enough muscles to do it.
Believe me Matty, I know I can do it, Nate grabbed a hold of the rope before starting to pull himself up it before realizing he knew what they really wanted to happen and he let go of the rope falling down on the ground hearing Matt and Zane laugh out loud and he let out a fake groan. Okay, or maybe not.
Come on Nate, I have faith in you, Matt called out seeing the way that Nate got up slowly and let out a long groan, placing his hand over the small of his back rubbing it carefully. Letting out a small laugh he saw Nate start to pull himself up and finally reach the top as Matt tried helping him up on the wooden platform. You okay?
Ill be fine, Nate let out a long breath, a smile appearing over the center of his lips as he followed the kids toward the center of the tree house and sat down in a circle like they were doing. So, why did you guys want to take me up here?
You know that you are our best friend, Zane pointed out seeing Nate smile widely before nodding slowly and Zane itched his head forgetting what Matts original plan was to do before he looked to Matt blankly. What did we want him to do again.
Give me the bucket, Matt reached for the bucket they brought up and the bag of things he brought before pulling out a bag of animal crackers and dumping them in the bucket. You have to eat one of these to be in our club.
Is it an official club? Nate eyed them over slowly seeing Zane stare blankly before nodding and Nate let out small laugh before shrugging his shoulders. Well eating an animal cracker might be hard, but Ill try.
Not just any animal cracker, Matt smacked away Nates fingers gently before pulling out a few things. Dumping chocolate syrup, toothpaste, mouthwash, peanut butter, marshmallows, pickles, milk, grapes, and mayo into the pan as Nates nose wrinkled watching him stir it all up. You have to eat all of these, just like this.
To be in you club, I have to eat that. Youre being serious? Nate lifted the bowl up to his nose before pulling away and letting out a small sound of disgust, seeing Matt smile and nod slowly. Well, if thats what I have to do.
Its what you must do, Matt pointed out nudging Zane lightly in the shoulder hearing Zane laugh out as Nate threw the spoon away from him and started digging his fingers into it and eat it quickly as Matt let out small sign of disgust. Nate, you dont have to oh my goodness.
Seeing Nate finish off Matt and Zane watched carefully seeing the disgusted look on Nates face as he rubbed at his stomach slowly before shaking his head slowly and letting out a long breath followed by a long sound of him wooing.
Oh my god, you did it, Matt looked to Zane before letting out a small laugh seeing Zane dying of laughter before Nate let out another long breath. I cant believe you finished it all.
Well, I think Im going to go get some air, Nate went to go out of the outside part of the deck before falling off the side and both the boys let out a loud gasp.
Nate, Zane called out as him and Matt quickly walked down the ladder to the grass where they saw Nate laid out on the ground with some chocolate sauce around his lips as Zane slowly followed Matt next to him. Is he going to be okay?
I dont know, Matt got on the ground gently pressing his hands into Nates chest seeing him make no movements as Matt frowned gently hitting him in the stomach. Oh Nate, I didnt mean for you to eat that. I didnt know you would hurt yourself, you already are my best friend and ,
And I was just playing with ya kiddo, Nate grabbed a firm hold of Matt hearing him howl out with laughter as Nate picked Matt up and over his shoulder and spun him around before picking up Zane at the same time spinning them around slowly. Setting them down he fell back on his butt and let out a small laugh when the boys fell next to him. You two are like my own kids, I would never not do anything for you guys.
You scared the heck out of me Nate, Matt hit him in the shoulder only to feel Nate tickle at his stomach and Matt let out a howling laugh only to feel Nate pick him and Zane up again in his arms more firmly. Oh my goodness, I think Im going to be Nate sick. Where are you taking us, I feel like Im flying here.
Were going to go play some video games, Nate declared walking into the house and letting out a small laugh, setting the boys down and pressing his hand in against his stomach. I just think I need to be close to a bathroom just in case that bowl of goo gets to me in the long run because sweet doggy dog, Im feeling a rumbling in my tummy already and you guys shouldnt have to go through that so why dont we do something I already know you guys can kick my butt in. It sounds much safer and less having to with food.
Andy walked over to the nurses station looking to the petite young
nurse who stood before him. He flashed her a casual smile before leaning in
closer to her and whispering, Have they heard anything more on Ms. Meloni?
From what I know there havent been any changes, the nurse shook her head and sighed. Its a shame really.
Yes it is, Andy nodded in agreement shaking his head as his eyes cast over in the direction Angelas room was in, There most certainly shouldve been some kind of change since last night.
Im sure her family is hoping for the best and maybe their prayers will be answered soon, the nurse added as Andy stood taller and nodded.
Perhaps, Andy nodded in response turning to make a trip down to his office. He stepped inside and closed the door. Walking over to his desk, he dialed Carlys cell phone number and awaited an answer.
Hello, she spoke up after two rings.
Carly, hey its Andy. I was hoping that we could meet to talk about the divorce. You arent busy are you? he questioned taking a seat on the edge of his desk.
Actually Im just getting settled into my new office, she explained after a moment of shuffling with something on the other end of the line, You can meet me down here if you would like. I can just give you the address and you can stop in if you want to.
That would be great, he replied reaching for a pen and a pad of paper. Im about to end my shift at the hospital here, so why not? Whats the address?
After he finished writing it down, he smiled and ripped the top page of the paper off of the pad. Ill be there shortly.
See you then, Carly noted hanging up the phone as Andy did the same. He looked around his office and realized that today was most certainly a day for new beginnings--beginnings that would finally get him headed in the right direction all over again. Yes, things were certainly looking up for him.
I wish you would just open your eyes, Brant whispered squeezing
Angelas hand once again after Don had stepped out of the room to give
them some privacy with one another. I know you might feel like Im
asking for a lot here, but there is still so much I need to say to you--so
many things that we need to talk about and work through that its killing
me not to be able to have that chance.
Brant stopped himself and looked down to her abdomen thinking about their unborn children. Reaching out he placed his hand on top of her stomach and massaged it gently, I know you both are probably very worried about your mom right now and I am too. Im worried about all three of you considering that what happened never should have happened. I know that you have all been under so much stress lately and when I thought that I was going to lose you all
You arent going to lose them, Kevin cleared his throat alerting Brant that he was in the room with him.
Brant tipped his head up to see Kevin hovering over him before speaking up again, Everyone keeps saying that, but in all honesty how can anyone be sure? I never expected to be sitting here beside her like this watching her stuck in a place she never should have been in to begin with
Shes too stubborn to stay away from us for too long, Kevin added moving in closer to Brant. His dark eyes returning to Angela again as Brant did the same. You know for so long she wouldnt tell me a thing about what happened between the two of you. She was all quiet about her time with you on the island and I hated that. I hated that she wouldnt tell me what jerk she got involved with this time, but then when she started talking about it--started giving me a detail here and there, well I could see that she was in love with you. Even after you two split up, she was still hung up on you.
I never stopped thinking about her, Brant confessed squeezing her hand in his. Even when I tried to convince myself that I could make things work with Avery, she never left my mind. I couldnt stop thinking about her and
I know, Kevin patted Brants shoulder gently, Hell I wont lie to you and say that I wasnt upset about everything because I was, but after that night at the hotel when you and I had our fight with one another, well I guess I started to see that maybe you werent so bad for her.
Gee thanks, Brant couldnt help but shake his head before turning his eyes up towards Kevin again.
No I mean it. You make her happy and she loves you, Kevin further added, Thats something she hasnt had in a long time and its the one thing shes needed in her life. She went through a jackass like Cary and then well, she had Chris and
She had you once, Brant noted seeing a sadness behind Kevins eyes. Youre not a jackass and I know you love her.
I do, Kevin nodded in confession glancing over at Angela once again. And a part of me always will.
I wouldnt be naïve enough to think otherwise, Brant added giving him a long once over, You two have a very long history with one another.
We do, but from where I stand I know her future is with one man and that man is you, Kevin finally blurted out focusing on Brant once again, You two are about to start a family with one another and its that family that is going to pull you two even closer to one another. I know that once she wakes up, shes going to see that Cameron was wrong about you. Shes going to realize that you two have everything ahead of you.
Kevin, I Brant found himself at a loss thinking about how Camerons lies had effected both of their lives. I know this is killing you as well
Brant, Ive been through this before, Kevin offered up with another squeeze on Brants shoulder, We lost our daughter and now, well I wont let you lose Angela. Im not going to let her go anywhere because you two have the opportunity to have what she and I never did and thats a family. I want to make sure that you can have all of the dreams with your children that she would have wanted. I need for her to have that and I wont let anyone take that from her or you.
And just who the hell do you think you are to make that kind of decision about my sisters life? Cameron challenged entering the room again with a security guard at his side, Because from where I stand neither one of you have any rights when it comes to my sister and I think its about time for this farce where you two believe you have ultimate power over what happens to her to end once and for all!
...to be continued...