Episode 371

Evie felt the thick, suffocating air surrounding her in the walls of JT’s apartment. While she’d once thought that his place was the only place in the world where she was free of her father and her past, her father had made sure today that wouldn’t be happening anymore. No matter what the future held in store for her all she would see was his face when he’d threatened her--when he’d asked her to go against everything that she’d believed in for her relationship with JT. Now as she wiped at her face in an attempt to hide the tears he’d awakened in her, she realized that she couldn’t stay at the apartment any longer. She couldn’t put JT in any more danger than she’d already done.

“I need to find a way to end this--a way to keep him from hurting JT,” she realized as she stood up and looked around the room for her jacket. Maybe if she could convince her father that she could find someone else--someone who would be able to give him more than he could ever dream of with JT, then he would back off. Maybe if she was smart about things, she could find a way to escape and…

“I hope you didn’t miss me too much,” she heard a voice from behind her beckon her. She stood upright knowing all too well that JT had returned. She heard him close the apartment door behind his arrival and she drew in a small breath. Standing up taller, she wiped at her face before attempting to play things cool. She could hear him approaching her as his voice grew louder, “because heaven knows I’ve missed you.”

“I missed you too,” she mouthed in a quiet tone attempting to keep her voice neutral now that she felt him standing behind her.

“I was hoping to hear you say that because I have a surprise for you,” he explained proudly sliding his arm around her slender frame to reveal the roses he’d picked up for her on the way back, “I decided that maybe the real thing might be a nice surprise for you.”

“JT, they are beautiful,” she choked up feeling a lump forming in the back of her throat as her eyes fell upon the crimson colored bouquet in front of her.

“Not nearly as beautiful as you are,” he whispered warmly sliding his fingers over the side of her shoulder upward towards the nap of her neck. Gently he pushed her hair aside and leaned forward to press a feathery light kiss upon her skin, “I love you.”

She stiffened upon his words feeling her stomach tied in knots. Drawing in a slow breath she wiggled out of his embrace and headed towards the kitchen wordlessly.

“I love you too JT would be nice,” he called out after her realizing that something wasn’t right. Tentatively he moved in closer to her, shrugging out of his jacket and setting it aside before eyeing her once again. “What’s wrong? Did Valerie come back or something?”

“No,” she shook her head firmly biting down on her lower lip before taking in another breath.

“Okay, then if it wasn’t Valerie, what’s going on?” he couldn’t help but ask seeing her reach for a glass out of one of the cabinets. He watched her shaky hands press over the clear smoothness over the oversized glass before she moved to the sink opting to fill it with water for the flowers. “Evie?”

“Nothing’s going on,” she lied still refusing to face him again, “I’m just contemplating dinner for us.”

“Dinner,” he repeated disbelieving her words, “Why do I get the distinct feeling that dinner is the last thing on your mind? Something’s going on.”

“No it’s not,” she shook her head before drawing in a nervous breath, “I’m fine.”

“Anytime someone says they are fine they are usually lying and in your case,” he stepped in closer to her reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “I know that you’re far from being fine.”

“JT, would you just let it go,” she snapped finally turning around to face him while knowing full well there was no hiding her upset from him any longer. His dark eyes fell upon hers and she found herself wishing that she hadn’t faced him.

“Evie, what is it?” he questioned gently, sliding his index finger against the side of her face before cupping her face in his hands. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” she paused biting down on her lip again, “nothing at all.”

“Evie, I can tell that’s not the truth,” he urged again hoping to get her to speak up about what was bothering her. Instead he found tears behind her eyes. Curling his finger underneath her chin, he urged her to look up and meet his eyes, “Evie, what aren’t you telling me?”

“I can’t. I just can’t JT,” she blurted out unable to contain her tears now that he’d asked the impossible of her. She threw her arms in the air before stepping back. “I’m sorry.”

“Evie,” he spoke her name watching her rush out of the kitchen and down the hallway towards his bedroom all the while alerting him to the fact that she was anything but fine.


Kevin watched Ria start to walk away from him and in that moment he felt his heart pounding in his chest, his world crashing down on him as it seemed that the last of his dreams was moving out of his life right before his very eyes.

“No, it’s not that way Ria,” Kevin explained in a forceful tone, taking a slow stride towards her. His fingers snaked around her arm causing her to stop moving away from him. She glanced over her shoulder and he caught her wounded expression, which only further caused his heart to ache. “I love you Ria, not her.”

“Kevin, don’t lie to me. I know full well that right now you wish you were in there with her. You’re wanting to be with her and helping her as she talks about what you had together when…” she started to argued with him only to feel him tug her in against him, his thick, muscular arms crushing her in against him. His lips came crashing down over hers silencing her with a desperate kiss. Her words came out in a muffled tone as his lips beckoned her into submission.

“Kevin stop,” she blurted out tearing her lips away from him as their eyes met again. “You can’t distract me with your kisses when I know full well that your heart is with her--that you want to be with her.”

“No,” he shook his head firmly, still keeping her close to him, “Ria I love you and only you. I want to share my life with you--with our family.”

“There is no family Kevin. I’m not pregnant. It was just a fluke,” she pointed out feeling the sting of that reality carrying over her after what they had shared with one another at the hotel room.

“No, it’s not a fluke. Our being together could never be a fluke and even now,” Kevin squeezed her closer to him, his finger skimming through her long, dark hair, “I don’t care what you say Ria, I love you. I know you think you can read me--that you can read my heart but right now all my heart is telling me is that I’ve hurt you and I don’t want to hurt you. I love you. Damn it I love you more than I ever could’ve loved her.”

“You’re lying,” she turned her face away from him, her heart hammering in her chest at the feel of his body surrounding hers.

“No, I’m not. I would never, ever lie to you about my heart. It’s with you Ria,” he swept his fingers over the side of her face, feeling her damp, silken skin, “Only you.”

“Kevin, don’t say things that…” she felt him silence her with another kiss knowing full well that he would be the key to her undoing as she found herself falling harder for him with each passing second.

“I need you baby,” he mouthed rubbing his nose against hers. He pressed his forehead in gently against hers as his hands roamed greedily over her spine, “I need you like I need the air I breathe. She only sucked the life out of me, but you have given me hope, heaven, a chance at eternity.”

“Kevin, please don’t say that when I know…” she broke down into tears feeling the eyes of people in the hallway watching them. She wiggled out of his arms and wiped at her face, her lower lip trembling with emotion, “I can’t do this here. I’m sorry.”

Kevin watched her turn away, his heart breaking into a million pieces at the distance that had been created between them. He saw her rush down the hallway and he knew he couldn’t let her walk away from him. He couldn’t let her leave not when his heart was saying so many things that he hadn’t been able to tell her before now. At the hotel he’d experienced so many emotions at the thought that what he’d felt for Ria had created a child between them, then he’d had it ripped from him when they’d discovered she wasn’t pregnant, but now, now he had so much more on the line.

“I can’t lose you,” he mouthed to himself realizing that it was now or never. Without hesitation he pressed off after Ria spotting her disappearing into the on call room in a haste. He looked around the hallway for a brief moment before slipping in after her knowing full well it was against the rules, but he didn’t give a damn. He wasn’t about to lose her again.

“Ria, I’m not letting you walk away from me,” Kevin announced entering the room and not giving a damn who was inside. “I love you and that’s too important for me to let you slip away.”

“Kevin, you can’t be in here,” she looked around letting out a small breath of relief that no one had been inside with her. Her eyes widened as she tipped her head up to look at him, “If anyone finds you in here with me, they will throw you out of the hospital.”

“I don’t care. Hell, I would like to see them try because I’m not leaving anywhere without you by my side,” Kevin marched forward reaching out to wrap his arm around her neck and draw her in for a desperate kiss. He felt her cry out against his lips, raising her arms in the air and out over his shoulders before a noise sounded from behind them causing her to jump back.

“Kevin, you can’t be in here. Someone is going to find us and,” Ria tried to reason with him knowing full well that they could both get into trouble for him following her into the room. Still she could see he wasn’t about to be reasoned with or talked out of leaving her. Instead he scooped her up into his arms and pushed his way into the shower area behind where they had stood.

“Kevin, you can’t be…” she tried to argue with him watching him reach behind him to snap the lock on the door that they’d just passed through. She could hear faint shuffling behind them and her heart hammered in her chest. “They are going to hear us and…”

“No they won’t,” Kevin moved away from her just long enough to reach out to one of the showers and turn the water on. He paused for a moment checking the temperature before turning around to face her again, “No one is going to hear anything that we don’t want them to hear.”

“Kevin, we can’t talk in here. We can’t just…” she watched him pull his shirt up over his head before reaching for his belt buckle. Her eyes widened in surprise and she let out a gasp, “What are you doing?”

“Giving us more room to talk,” he opened up his pants and dropped them to the floor. He stepped out of them and moved for the elastic on his boxers before motioning to her. “Get undressed.”

“Kevin if I take my clothes off and you keep taking off yours, then we’re not going to talk about anything,” she informed him bluntly, all the while her gaze lingering over his thick, muscular chest remembering only too well what it had felt to lay kiss after tender kiss upon it. He stepped in closer to her, his hand pressing in over her hip before he reached out to push up the material of her scrub top. He paused just under her chest before his dark eyes met hers desperately.

“Ria please,” he urged of her watching her raise her arms before he dropped her shirt to the floor. Gently he pushed her scrub pants away from her body, seeing them spill to the floor before her palm pressed in against his toned abdomen.

“We’re not going to get any talking done like this Kevin,” she confessed in a low, sigh thinking about how good it felt to touch him, to be close to him again after they had been apart for so very long.

“Our bodies will say more than our fighting words,” he whispered placing another kiss against her lips. He curled his arm around her back to unhook her bra and ease it off of her shoulders before his thumb curled underneath her panties to discard them as well. He felt her push down his boxers revealing his ache for her as their eyes met again. He touched her cheek gently, his heart hammering in his chest as he realized she was trembling in his arms, “Please Ria let me show you how much I love you. Let me be with you.”

“Kevin, I just don’t want to lose you. I never wanted to lose you again,” she explained in a pained whisper feeling him scoop her up into his arms and carry her with him into the shower he’d started up for them.

“You’re never going to lose me again baby,” he promised leaning in to kiss her as he vowed to show her just how much the depths of his love for her ran inside of him. Sure, he knew that they had said a lot to one another--that there was a lot of hurt still between them, but in making love to her he was convinced that somehow--some way the depths of their love would take over and prove to the both of them that there was nothing better than what they had than when they were with one another.


“So what’s going on with her Don?” Brant questioned seeing his friend leaving Angela’s hospital room. He rushed forward hoping for some kind of response to what was happening that would get him closer to the woman he loved. “Don, what can you tell me?”

“Brant, I honestly don’t know,” Don admitted with a heavy sigh knowing full well that was the last thing that his best friend wanted to hear. “I ran some tests on her, but nothing was conclusive. It has to be from the fall because there isn’t anything showing up that indicates it’s anything more.”

“So you’re saying that she’s alright then, yes?” Brant let out a sigh of relief. “I just want her and the twins to be safe and healthy.”

“They will be, but Brant,” Don paused thinking about Angela’s warped perception of reality, “You’re not getting the big picture here. It’s not like this is the flu or something. She doesn’t remember a huge chunk of her life. Right now she doesn’t even think she’s made it through medical school. She has no idea that she’s a doctor or that she’s in love with you and…”

“But you said nothing was wrong. You said that this would pass. Don you said that it would be okay,” Brant began to raise his voice a worry carrying in over him. “You said that this was just because of the fall and…”

“I know what I said Brant, but it will take time. I can’t tell you when she’s going to remember because it’s not a certainty at this point. For all I know it could happen in five minutes or five years. There is no telling at this point,” Don admitted knowing that it was the last thing that his friend wanted to hear. “Brant, I wish I could offer you more, but right now we have to go with what we have in front of us.”

“So what are you telling me? That I could lose the woman I love because she thinks she’s stuck in another time and place having another man’s baby?” Brant raised his voice feeling his frustrations mounting. “Are you saying that I can’t be with her because she doesn’t know me?”

“Right now she’s in a frazzled state. She’s paranoid and worried about her father finding out she’s pregnant,” Don informed him honestly thinking about Angela’s confession. “She thinks her father is going to hurt Kevin if he discovers that she’s pregnant.”

“Don her father is dead,” Brant explained thinking about what Angela had told him. “He died a while ago.”

“I understand that, but Brant she doesn’t. She has no sense of what has been happening around her. She hasn’t thought to reason why Kevin is older or why she might be older. All that she has come up with is that Kevin looks tired, but sooner or later it’s going to hit her that a huge chunk of her life is missing and when it does, well I’ll be honest with you I’m worried. I don’t know what that will do with her pregnancy and given that she’s already endured the fall…”

“Are you saying that my children are at risk?” Brant questioned worry carrying in over him.

“Brant, she’s already had two miscarriages in her history,” Don explained with a heavy sigh, “Going over her medical records I see that she lost her daughter when she was almost at the end of her term there. She was near the last month of her pregnancy when she lost her daughter. Should she be put under any unwelcome stress, then I don’t know what could happen to the twins. At this point she’s underweight and…”

“I thought she was fine. When we were with you and you showed us our son and daughter you said she was fine Don. You said everything looked okay,” Brant raised his voice his concerns mounting. “You told me they were going to be just fine.”

“I know what I said, but I didn’t realize how far along she was. I mean it registered, but I didn’t know her history,” Don informed him point blank shaking his head, “Angela’s had a high risk pregnancy this whole time but no one thought to tell any of us. I had no idea of her history until just now and…”

“Are you saying I could lose my children?” Brant asked worriedly.

“What I’m telling you Brant is that she doesn’t need any stress right now. Hopefully she will get her memory back soon, but in my professional opinion I think the last thing that anyone should be doing to her is pushing right now. If she’s pushed over the edge, then there’s no telling what could happen and as your best friend I honestly can say that I don’t want your children at risk. You and I both know that is something that you wouldn’t want to happen,” Don added firmly thinking about his friend’s need to have a family.

“No I don’t want that to happen,” Brant nodded in agreement, “but I don’t want to lose her either Don. I love her.”

“I know you do Brant, which is why right now all I can do is help you keep the faith. That’s all we can do,” Don patted him on the shoulder as Brant wondered if that would ever truly be enough now that it seemed that Angela had erased their entire history from her mind completely.


“I have a surprise for you,” Seth explained glancing over at Blake now that she sat beside him in the front seat of his truck. He couldn’t help but steal another glance at her once again thinking about how lucky he was to have her in his life. Drawing in a breath, he turned his attention to the road once again. “I hope you don’t mind if we take a detour on the way to the restaurant.”

“Not not at all,” Blake shook her head before looking out at the countryside that they were passing on the back roads in Coral Valley. “This was always my favorite part of town anyways. I used to take trips out this way with my mother when I was younger. Of course back then it was mostly woods and dirt roads.”

“I remember you telling me that,” Seth nodded as he thought about what he had in store for Blake, “I remember when you told me about how much you enjoyed being out in these parts.”

“I really did,” Blake replied before glancing over at him, “though you never told me what my surprise was. What’s on your mind?”

“If I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise any longer,” Seth noted winking over at her before looking to the road again. “Seriously though I guess I mostly wanted to talk to you for a little while. It seems like lately everything has kind of been moving by so fast that we really haven’t had the time to take care of what was important with us.”

“Being together is what is important for me,” Blake reached out to tease her fingers within his. She smiled over at him brightly before looking out to the road once again, “I love you Seth and you make me happy. That’s all that matters to me.”

“But I could make you happier,” Seth noted thinking about all that had been taking place around them. “I should have done things the right way from the beginning, but I guess I dragged my feet on a lot of issues that shouldn’t have even been issues with us.”

“Seth, I don’t understand,” she blinked back at him confusion carrying over her blue eyes.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that you and I have spent a lot of time with one another enjoying each other’s company, but I’ve promised you something more. I promised you something that would last forever and I haven’t been holding up to my end of the bargain,” he paused for a long moment before drawing in a breath, “Blake, I’ve wasted too much time already and I’m not going to do it any longer. Things are going to change for us.”

“Why do I suddenly not like the sound of that,” she questioned worriedly giving him another once over, “Seth, is something wrong.”

“Something is very wrong Blake,” he nodded in confession. He looked over at her once again before focusing on the road again, “I never should have let things drag out this long with Valerie. I know when she walked in on our wedding neither one of us wanted to believe that it was really happening, but…”

“This is about Valerie,” she interrupted feeling a breath of relief carry over her. “You’re worried about Valerie?”

“Aren’t you?” he questioned looking over at her once again, “I mean it’s bad enough that she gave you grief in the situation, but then to have to deal with my still being married to her day in and day out…”

“I’m not worried about it,” she squeezed his hand gently, “I know that your heart is with me.”

“But I want you to be my wife and as long as we have that legal mix up in the way that won’t be happening anytime soon,” he explained with a small groan, “which is why I’ve contacted Grady again about what my options are in this situation. I want out of it and I’m hoping that he’ll be able to get a rush on it before this drives us both insane.”

“I’m sure he will,” she leaned in closer to him resting her head on his shoulder for a moment, “but something tells me that’s not all you have on your mind.”

“It’s not,” he confessed with a cryptic expression, “and while I know that we’ve talked about this countless times in the past, I felt that I should do something about the situation. I know how you feel about your family and being close to them, but at the same time I think we need some space of our own. I know you thought about staying in the guest house forever, but…”

“But what?” Blake questioned sitting up straighter, “Are you telling me that you don’t want to stay at the guest house?”

“What I’m saying is that we need to be able to stand on our own in a relationship if we’re going to make it. I know that living at the guest house is beautiful--beyond anything I’m sure that I could have given you on my own, but the fact to the matter is that I’m a traditional kind of guy. I want to be able to say that I can take care of my wife and our children and do it my way. Having your family around is nice Blake, but at the same time I want us to have a place where we can call our own. We can’t really do that at the apartment or at the guest house.”

“Seth, what are you saying?” she questioned eyeing him curiously as he pulled off of the main road. A few seconds later he turned down a dirt path leading up a winding road it seemed.

“I’m saying that we once talked about compromise and I hope you still feel that way,” he informed her as the truck weaved it’s way up the tree lined path. Finally he came to a stop in front of a modest sized white house in front of them. He put the truck into park before turning to face her again, “Now I know it’s older than the estate you grew up in and it’s got some hints of old world style to it, but I thought it had potential. It needs a little work, but…”

“Seth it’s beautiful,” Blake couldn’t help but admit looking to the house in front of her. There were trees surrounding the front of the yard and a tire swing attached to one of the branches not far from where they’d parked. Unable to help herself, she undid her seatbelt and reached for the car door eager to take a closer look. “How did you find this?”

“Let’s just say that the internet is an interesting thing in between takes at work,” Seth informed her thinking about his search for their future. He watched her move towards the front of the house and caught the way she seemed to be taken in by it all. “According to the real estate agent at one time it was a smaller sort of plantation, which is interesting because I wasn’t aware that they had any of those in these parts.”

“They did,” Blake replied looking around the front of the house, “They just weren’t like they were down in southern states back in the day. It was a whole different kind of atmosphere, but essentially the same thing. Though I have to admit I thought that most of these places didn’t survive the changes that came along with the suburbs.”

“Most didn’t, which is probably why this one was kind of special. There are a lot of condos out there and a need for them, but this, well this one will need a little work,” Seth explained stepping up behind her. “There are a few things that will need some upgrading, things that will need renovations, yet there is a lot of spirit in this place. I can feel it.”

“So can I,” Blake admitted turning around to face him again, “I remember driving past this place when I was younger and finding myself drawn to it.”

“Really?” he arched a curious brow watching her nod.

“I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved this place,” she divulged thinking about her memories of childhood, “I just forgot about it until just now, but once I got out of the car I can clearly remember the tire swing, the way the front doors arched and how near the back of the area they had the most beautiful gardens.”

“Then you’ve been here before?” Seth couldn’t help but question a curious expression carrying over him.

“I’m not sure, but I think so,” she reached for his hand guiding him up towards the front door. “It sounds crazy, but I feel like I have been here. Inside there is a winding staircase, a crystal chandelier up overhead in the foyer and…”

“And here I thought I would give you the grand tour, but it would seem that you’ve already had it,” Seth noted with a curious expression. “He reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. I suppose since you already know what is awaiting us inside that you should at least have the honors of opening up the front door.”

“What?” she spun around to face him again seeing the keys dangling from his fingers. “Seth, are you saying that…”

“That I thought maybe a change would do us good. I wasn’t sure if it was something that we could afford at first, but then I enlisted Grady's help and well he was able to get the real estate person to talk the owner down in price a bit and well,” Seth paused a triumphant smile spreading over his features, “it’s home sweet home. That is if you’re interested in giving this a shot.”

“You mean you bought us a house?” Blake’s eyes widened in astonishment.

“I told you that I wanted to solidify what we have with one another,” he nodded in confession reaching out to slide his strong arms around her waist, “That is if you’re ready for this step.”

“Ready?” she repeated with a small laugh, “Seth, I’ve been ready for this my whole life. I’ve been waiting to find the perfect guy and the place where we would be able to share our lives together. This house is incredible and given that I already love it, I know it’s going to be perfect for us. This is exactly what we need Seth.”

“So you’re not angry that I did this behind your back?” Seth questioned searching her blue eyes.

“I wish you would have included me a bit more, but given that I love this surprise, I have to admit that right now I wouldn’t change a thing,” she explained excitedly throwing her arms around his shoulders, “I love you Seth Alexander.”

“I love you Blake Ashford,” he picked her up in his arms spinning her around on the front porch for a moment before turning to the front door again, “What do you say we take a look around and see what our home has in store for us?”

“I say what are we waiting for,” Blake grinned excitedly ready to explore the new phase of their future together inside their new home. Things were certainly looking up for the both of them and it was clear that soon life would be back on track as it always should have been!


“What is wrong with you?” Valerie blurted out as soon as she opened the door for Michelle, seeing Michelle’s dark eyes staring into hers. Grabbing a firm hold of Michelle’s arm and pulling her into the apartment quickly. Seeing Michelle look at her as if she was crazy Valerie threw her hands up in the air. “Do you have any idea what we have been missing. You could have had so many chances with Kevin, I’m failing here with Seth because of you.”

“Excuse me?” Michelle muttered seeing the way that Valerie folded her arms in front of her chest angrily. Letting out a small laugh Michelle shrugged her shoulders not quite sure knowing what to say. “Honestly, how are you blaming this on me Val? What did I do? We were just supposed to do something to get each one of them.”

“We were supposed to work together, think together. You have just been off doing something else,” Valerie insisted seeing Michelle’s eyebrows arch up as Valerie moved across the room in a moment of anger. “You should be working on Kevin right now, what’s taking you so long?”

“Honestly Val, Angela is in the hospital right now. Do you really think that Kevin will want anything to do with me?” Michelle questioned seeing the way that Valerie looked back at her after picking up a glass from the counter. “I have to be honest with you, I really like Kevin and I like the idea of being with him, but something else has come up.”

“You have to be kidding me,” Valerie let out a long breath of irritation seeing Michelle shrug her shoulders and look down toward the ground. “Aren’t you the girl that told me you wanted Kevin again? The one who said once upon a time you used to love him, not just his money?”

“He was always sexy, but I don’t know if what I had for him was love. Maybe more like infatuation,” Michelle replied walking over to the couch and sitting down on the end of it seeing Valerie sit down on the chair across from her. “I was always more interested in someone else and maybe now I have the chance to be with him.”

“I see, you decide this in just a few weeks when the last time I talked to you all you were interested in doing was getting back with Kevin,” Valerie pointed out to her seeing the way that Michelle shrugged her shoulders before resting her leg over the other and folding her arms out in front of her chest. “I know it’s no use in trying anyways because I think that you would be one of the last people for him to be with. How did you even get him to marry you anyways?”

“I highly doubt I would be the last, but if you really must know,” Michelle started in a low voice seeing the way that Valerie leaned forward to watch her carefully. “You see back in the day when Cary and Angela were engaged and Angela only had eyes for Cary, Kevin really liked women. Sure, he loved Angela, but he couldn’t have her so he took a different route with others. I saw an opening with a top boxer that was making a large amount of money and I took the chance. Of course he was a bit different back then, he was more wild and sexy. He had this tongue piercing and he had his ears pierced. His hair was a bit longer and it was kind of curly, it was really hot and…,”

“And here you are trying to say you don’t have it out for Kevin anymore,” Valerie added seeing Michelle bite down on her bottom lip before shrugging her shoulders and leaning back more into the couch. “That never really explained to me how you got him to marry you though.”

“Okay, fine,” Michelle pushed back her long blonde hair before looking over toward the clock to see what time it was, knowing she had to go meet with someone in a bit. “Well you see, with Angela out of the way, there were only a few things that Kevin really cared about in life and it was easy to get to him.”

She closed her eyes for a moment trying to remember just exactly how she had gotten Kevin to marry her as she tried picturing it in her head considering how long ago it actually was. Setting the spare key to his house out on the kitchen table she remembered walking up the stairs slowly and into his room where she saw his muscular form in the bed sleeping. She could remember getting into bed with him, not even budging him in his sleep a little until she dipped down and pressed her lips against his.

Setting the spare key to his house out on the kitchen table she remembered walking up the stairs slowly and into his room where she saw his muscular form in the bed sleeping. She could remember getting into bed with him, not even budging him in his sleep a little until she dipped down and pressed her lips against his.

“Hey,” Kevin’s tired voice echoed through her ears as he kissed her back, feeling her nibbling at his bottom lip as he let out a small groan. “I didn’t expect you to be back so soon.”

“Really?” Michelle remembered asking him as she reached forward to turn the light on seeing Kevin’s eyes widen in almost a state of shock. “Were you expecting someone else?”

“No, no, I was just,” Kevin got up to his elbows thinking of something to say in response before clearing his throat uneasily. “I just didn’t think you would be before me so beautiful looking tonight.”

“That’s what I thought,” she smiled moving forward to press her hand in over the center of Kevin’s chest before pressing her lips against his, feeling him hesitantly kissing her back as her tongue pressed in against his. Glancing down for a moment she reached under the blanket wrapping her hand firmly around his body seeing his eyes widen. “I have surprise for you.”

“As good as it sounds,” Kevin reached down to grab a firm hold of her hand pulling it back up above the blankets before shaking his head. Sitting up slowly, Kevin glanced out at her letting out a hesitant laugh. “Just one question first, how did you get in my house?”

“I just checked under the place mat, I saw Austin put the key there once and figured you wouldn’t mind,” she answered rubbing at Kevin’s chest softly seeing his dark eyes staring into hers. She tipped forward to press her lips against Kevin’s neck as he let out a small hiss. “I hope you’re not mad at me because I have some really great news Kevin. I’m pregnant.”

“Say what?” Kevin questioned with a small laugh seeing her brown eyes meet his as he shook his head slowly nodding over toward his drawer. “Michelle, come on you know that I used condoms all the time and I really don’t think…,”

“Sometimes mistakes happen,” Michelle further tried to point out reaching below the blanket to grasp at his body again hearing a small groan escaped his lips. “You see I was looking through your drawers the other day for a shirt and found that engagement ring. I figured this would be the best for us if you were going to ask me to marry you.”

“You marry me? That ring wasn’t yours, you can’t have that. I mean, I have it because it’s my mother’s, I just can’t let it go,” Kevin lied watching her frown as he thought about the possibilities for a moment. Knowing that he was having second thoughts she tipped forward gently nipping at his skin. “I mean if you are really pregnant though, I can give you this and tomorrow we can go pick out a real one. One you like more.”

“The one Craven gave you?” Michelle watched Kevin pull the ring from his pinky fingers knowing that it was one that Craven gave him the other day that Kevin was even complaining about. Feeling him press it down her finger she looked down at the diamond on the ring before shrugging her shoulders. “It works for me.”

“You mean he believed you just like that? Man, he must have been totally blinded back in the day by you or something,” Valerie laughed seeing Michelle shrug her shoulders before looking back toward the clock. “Didn’t he realize you weren’t pregnant and you were lying?”

“Well after we got married, I think he noticed the fact that I wasn’t getting any bigger after all,” Michelle shrugged her shoulders thinking back to the short marriage that her and Kevin had with another. “We didn’t last long anyway, he was too obsessed with Angela and other women. We would have never lasted anyway. He’s been engaged four times including with me. Twice with Angela and now with Ria. I guess I should feel a bit lucky.”

“Because he believed your lie?” Valerie blurted out seeing her half nod before seeing the door open and didn’t bother to ask who was showing up. “I can’t believe you aren’t even going to try to get him back after all that.”

“Why would she? I’ve seen Kevin,” Zack’s voice erupted through the room as both women looked over in his direction as Zack sat down on the edge of the coffee table staring out into Michelle’s dark eyes. “He’s not good enough looking for her. I think she needs someone better, someone good looking.”

“I’m assuming you are going to say yourself,” Michelle pointed out seeing the way that Zack laughed and nodded before Michelle moved forward and pressed her hand against Zack’s face. “Listen, if I wasn’t interested in the guy I’m with right now, I would pick Kevin way before I would pick you. You don’t even come close to him.”

“Hey now,” Zack frowned seeing Michelle stand up rolling her eyes at his comment before walking into the kitchen and looking back at Valerie. Turning to Valerie Zack smoothed out his shirt, clearing his throat slowly. “Honestly, do you think I’m hotter than Kevin?”

“Do I have to answer truthfully? If it’s the truth, no--not at all. Kevin is Seth’s cousin and that family has some good looks coming from it, but if you want an ego boost, you are as hot as they come Zack,” Valerie reached for her water bottle grabbing it before leaning back. She watched Michelle walk back into the room with a water bottle of her own before sitting down. “I still can’t believe he sent me the divorce papers now of all times.”

“You know what? I think we need to just come up with a plan. Right here, right now,” Zack sat back down on the couch next to Michelle seeing her looking over at him. “Since you won’t give me a second thought, we need to come up with a plan that benefits the three of us. Something effective that will actually work because so far we have just been screwing around. If we want to have the people we need in our life, we need to start working harder.”


Getting out of his car Grady straightened his button down dress shirt, double checking his hair in the mirror before grabbing the roses he had set in the backseat of his car. Reaching further he grabbed the imported sparkling grape juice bottle that Kyle helped him pick out the other day for this occasion. He hoped that Deana remembered that he picked today for them to have their romantic night together because he was really looking forward to it after working so hard.

“Okay, so here it goes,” Grady walked up the steps to her apartment, knocking on the door softly as he put the flowers in front of him, hoping for her to open the door and see them. Hearing the door open he cleared his throat speaking up loudly. “These are for you beautiful.”

“Aw, Grady you shouldn’t have,” Grady heard Jason’s voice laugh as he grabbed onto the roses in one hand seeing Grady’s green eyes widen. Moving forward he wrapped his free arm around Grady’s neck pulling him into a hug before kissing his cheek. “I never had anyone call me beautiful before.”

“You are such an asshole,” Deana moved in behind Jason hitting him in the stomach making Jason let out a small laugh. Pushing Jason out of the way she heard Mindy laughing in the background at what he just did as she stared out at Grady. “I’m so sorry, he’s such an idiot.”

“I think these are for you,” Jason handed her over the dozen red roses before wiping off his shirt and pointing back toward the couch. “This idiot is going to get his lazy butt back onto the couch to watch Die Hard.”

“Cool movie Jason,” Grady muttered slightly confused by the fact that Jason and Mindy were here with Deana still dressed in her casual clothes. Letting the champagne bottle rest at his side he shrugged his shoulders looking into her dark eyes. “I take it you forgot about tonight. You know, me and you?”

“Oh Grady, I’m sorry. I remembered it before I came home, but when I got here Jason and Mindy were here and I’m so sorry,” she moved forward to wrap her arms around his neck pulling him into a tight hug feeling his hand resting against her hips. “I’ll go get ready right now and we can go out for dinner. I promise it won’t take me that long.”

“No, it’s okay we can have dinner with Jason and Mindy. I really don’t mind,” he began knowing that it really wasn’t the truth as he watched Deana frown in front of him and he shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, okay. I’ll sit with Jason and Mindy while you get dressed. Just make it fast.”

“Okay, great,” Deana motioned Grady to walk into the room as she quickly put the flowers in some water before running down the hallway leaving Grady alone with the two calling out to him. “I’ll be right out.”

“I take it she’s late about something,” Jason pointed out leaning forward to see her door slam shut as he let out a small laugh before looking up at Grady. “You guys are going to leave us all alone here?”

“Well, sorry kiddo, but I thought you and Mindy could use some alone time,” Grady teased seeing Jason’s eyebrows arch up before he looked over at Mindy who let out a small laugh. “Isn’t that right Mindy.”

“Actually, the couch is big enough for all of us if you guys want to stay for the Die Hard marathon,” Jason offered up seeing Grady shake his head slowly, knowing that Jason interrupted Mindy before she could answer. “Are you really sure you don’t want to? We’d have fun with the two of you.”

“No, it’s really okay kiddo,” Grady held his hands up in the air watching Jason shrug his shoulders before leaning back into the couch as Grady took a seat on the end next to Mindy. “So what do you like about these movies Mindy?”

“Oh, I like Bruce Willis. The guy is a brilliant actor,” Mindy explained seeing Grady’s green eyes meet hers for a moment before looking back toward the television. “In these movies there is something to be said about a man that will do absolutely anything for his wife or family. I respect it and think it’s super sexy.”

“I’ll agree with the respect thing, but I might sound a bit different if I say sexy,” Grady laughed looking over at Jason seeing the way he smirked as Mindy laughed. “You know, I think Jason would agree he was super sexy though, isn’t that right Jason?”

“Ha, funny,” Jason heard Mindy laugh as he pulled his hat further down over his eyes before shrugging his shoulders and letting out a long sigh. “Trust me Mindy, he’s kidding. Really.”

“Or am I?” Grady teased seeing Deana walk out into the room as he stood up and gently hit Jason in the chest seeing how his cheeks turned into a deep rose shade. “No, I’m just playing with you kiddo, don’t worry about it. We’re going to head out.”

“Yes we are,” Deana decided stepping in next to Grady and wrapping her arm around his waist as Jason took off his hat, putting it on backwards. “Jason, you don’t have to worry about Zane because he is out with Matt and they will bring him home and call. Mindy if you ever get tired of Jason, just leave. There are no problems with that.”

“I’m sure we will be fine,” Mindy chuckled seeing the way that Deana shrugged her shoulders before letting out a small laugh seeing the way that Jason bit down on his bottom lip before sinking back into the couch more. “Well you guys have fun.”

“We will, thank you,” Deana followed Grady to the door, opening it up before turning around again thinking of what she was going to tell them next. “Jason, if you guys want to order pizza or something, I’ve got coupons by the fridge and there is some money on the microwave.”

“Deana, okay. Thank you,” Jason blurted out, his blue eyes widening as he saw Deana throw her hands up in the air and followed Grady out before the door shut behind them. “You would think she was my mother, not my twin.”

“Oh hey, I think it’s great that she keeps a good eye on you,” Mindy teased seeing the way his dimples showed when he was a bit angry and she let out a small laugh. “If I do remember right though, I thought you were the younger one anyways. Sure, only by a few minutes, but it’s an older sibling thing. Trust me. I think pizza sounds great by the way.”

“Alright cool,” Jason stood up slowly reaching out for her hand, taking it in his and pulling her up to him before letting out a small laugh. “So what kind of pizza do you like? Please tell me you aren’t one of those people that likes onions and anchovies. I’m going to throw up if you are.”

“That’s disgusting, why would you even place me as being one of those people? I’m a classic person, pepperoni is good enough for me,” Mindy stated with a firm nod hearing his deep laugh fill her ears as she followed him into the kitchen seeing him fumbling through a few papers before she grabbed one. “Here, this place is really good. Trust me.”

“If it’s your favorite,” Jason began with a small smile reaching for the phone to order the pizza before glancing back over at her with his blue eyes. “Then it must be really good.”


“Well, I guess if you kind of keep things silent I can talk to you,” Lindsay replied leaning further back into Don’s leather couch looking over at Shannon as she let out a long breath. “I know this sounds really stupid, but I’ve got a question about guys kind of.”

“Well, I don’t know exactly how they think,” Shannon began seeing Lindsay’s blue eyes staring into hers as she shrugged her shoulders. “I can give it a shot though if you would like to tell me what’s up.”

“Okay well, this is going to sound really stupid, but there is this kid I like. I mean, yeah I think he is cute and everything, but somehow I don’t this he is the guy for me. I think he likes me a whole lot more than I like him,” Lindsay began to ramble on seeing Shannon nod slowly before resting her arm against the back of the leather couch after turning to face Lindsay more. “I just feel like I start liking this guy more when people start to hit on him when I really didn’t think I would like him like I do in the first place for most cases.”

“I’m confused,” Shannon half muttered seeing the way that she frowned when she responded like that. Watching the way that Shannon leaned in closer to her Lindsay took in a long breath. “Do you like him or not?”

“Well, I really like him, but there is this other guy that is a bit older than me that I like,” Lindsay began to explain seeing Shannon’s dark eyes widen before nodding slowly. “My mother always told me that you would have a crush on an older guy one day, but I don’t know if it’s wrong for me to like someone like that. I just can’t help it sometimes because I think this older guy is so cute and he has these really blue eyes and…oh no, I’m rambling.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Shannon threw her hands up in the air seeing the way that Lindsay nodded slowly and looked over toward the front door. “By the way you keep referring to this person, I’m sure you don’t want me to know who this older guy is so I’ll just start by saying that everyone has a crush at one point. I know when I was your age I had a huge crush on our student teacher who was in his mid twenties so it’s really okay.”

“But I feel like I like the older guy more than the guy that is my age,” Lindsay blurted out seeing the way that Shannon nodded slowly before pushing back her long blonde hair. “I have to be honest with you Shannon, I feel bad about that and I don’t know if I should.”

“Well, you can’t help who you have a crush on right now,” Shannon tried to explain seeing the way that Don’s younger sister nodded slowly and she looked over to the door hearing a car. “I would say that you shouldn’t worry about it, usually the older guy crush tends to fade away.”

“Or you wait until you are eighteen and get with the older guy,” Matt’s voice echoed through the room as him and Zane walked into the house after they had been dropped off and Matt walked in closer to Lindsay. “I honestly have to tell you Aunt Lindsay, I think you should wait to think about who you like and who you want to get with. You’re too nice and sweet to get with anyone right now. Did I mention young too.”

“No, you didn’t,” Zane stepped in next to Matt seeing the way that Matt shrugged his shoulders before setting his coat on the empty chair in the corner of the room. “I agree with whatever he says, he’s smart.”

“Well, I know that Matt. I wouldn’t do anything stupid,” Lindsay pointed out to her nephew seeing him shrug before walking into the kitchen with Zane, seeing Shannon sit up from the couch. “I know he is right, but still. Sometimes I can’t help, but find myself stuck in these situations.”

“I know how you feel because I have been in them too,” Shannon stated nodding over toward the kitchen seeing Lindsay stand up too in the process. “I’m going to follow those two because I don’t want them to make any crazy chocolate shakes while I’m supposed to be watching them. So we can finish this conversation later if you would like.”

“I will help you out and that will work,” Lindsay followed Shannon to the kitchen before patting Shannon’s shoulder once, seeing her dark eyes glance over at her. “I’m glad I had someone to ramble too even if you didn’t think I was making sense. I really did appreciate it.”


Brant stood outside Angela’s hospital room door pacing back and forth as he thought about what Don told him. He remembered his friend’s firm warning, yet in the back of his mind he couldn’t help but want to be close to her. He couldn’t help but need to be near her and their children. Even if she couldn’t remember him, he could remember her and if by being close to her it could pull out a memory Brant had to try for it. He heard her yelling at one of the nurse’s for Kevin again and Brant decided to take a move towards reaching out to her.

“I’ve got this under control,” Brant explained walking into the room and relieving the nurse on duty. “Once you find Mr. Adonis please let him know that Angela is looking for him.”

“Yes sir,” the nurse nodded before leaving Angela and Brant alone with one another.

“Where’s Kevin?” she questioned wearily glancing over at Brant and giving him a long once over.

“Honestly, I think he’s still in the bathroom. We had some really bad Mexican food last night while we were waiting around for news on you. Top that off with the fact that it came from the hospital cafeteria and well, you can‘t help but anticipate heartburn or something worse,” Brant explained with a small smile trying to make light of the situation. She still seemed reluctant to accept that answer, but Brant wasn’t about to give up on trying. Motioning over to one of the chairs on the other side of the room and nodding, he spoke up again, “Do you mind if I take a seat?”

Angela stayed silent for a long time before finally nodding, “Go ahead I guess. It won’t be a big deal I suppose if you really are one of Kevin’s friends.”

“I am Kevin’s friend,” Brant explained before dragging the chair over to the side of her bed, “and yours for that matter as well.”

He saw the distrust building behind her eyes before he spoke up again.

“I know you can’t really remember me right now, but the fact to the matter is that you and I are good friends,” Brant admitted his dark gaze dropping down to her hand as he found himself longing to take it in his--to lace their fingers in one another and tell her just how close they truly were.

“I seriously doubt that,” Angela stiffened, her expression shifting with even more reluctance, “I’m pretty sure that I would remember you if you were my friend.”

“Even if you don’t remember me, I am,” he shrugged his shoulders simply before adjusting his shirt for a long moment, “and I was worried about you. I spent all night in here hoping and praying that you would wake up.”

“Really?” she questioned eyeing him intently, “Because you were here for Kevin or because my father planted you as a spy?”

“I don’t work for your father,” he assured her with a small sigh, “I never even met the man before, but you’ve told me a great deal about him.”

“I have?” she eyed him curiously watching as he nodded.

“That’s right,” he explained in a soft, soothing tone, “You told me about the time he made you feel like you were a princess when he took you out for a ride in the wagon and pretended that you were in a horse drawn carriage. You said it was one of the best days of your life since you were there with your two favorite men. Your father and your buddy bear.”

“Buddy bear,” she repeated unable to refrain from smiling. “That was a great day. My father was so relaxed and wonderful.”

“I’m sure he was,” he nodded hoping that his words would jog her memory, but he saw nothing still.

“He isn’t like that anymore,” Angela’s eyes grew distant as she looked away, “He’s so wrapped up in what he’s doing in trying to run the world that he doesn’t see things like they really are anymore.”

“And how are they?” Brant couldn’t help but ask her noticing the sadness that carried over her.

“I’m not a little girl anymore. He can’t keep me locked up forever especially not when I have someone who loves me,” she explained with tears threatening behind her eyes. She tipped her head to the side to gaze at Brant again before speaking up, “Kevin treats me like I really am that princess and he loves me--really, truly loves me for me. When I’m with him it’s the only time in my life that I’m ever really happy, but my father doesn’t understand. He could never understand that I don’t want to be a part of his world. I don’t fit into it. I never did.”

“You’re so much more than that world,” Brant nodded encouragingly.

“You’re right,” she agreed with him, “I am and Kevin is the only person who sees that. He saw through all of my manipulations--through my games and saw the heart of me. Even when I was at my worst and the most impossible, he still kept me in his heart. Did he tell you how he came all the way to Europe to find me?”

“No he didn’t,” Brant replied trying to keep his voice neutral as he listened to her speaking of Kevin.

“We broke up and I went off to Europe to get away from him--to keep him safe, but while I was there I met someone else. I met another man--a good man, but he just wasn’t Kevin. He loved me and he asked me to marry him and I considered it,” Angela glanced over at Brant once again, “I almost became Mrs. Chris Foley, but something was holding me back.”

“Chris Foley,” Brant’s eyes widened at her confession, “You were going to marry that jerk?”

“He isn’t a jerk,” Angela curled her lip in a pout, “but it didn’t work out. Kevin came into town riding on his white horse so to speak and he saved me from making a big mistake. Then shortly after we found out that I was having his baby and here we are ready to have our little girl.”

“Little girl,” Brant repeated his gaze traveling over to her abdomen--to the proof of their love that was still growing inside of her with their children. “Angela, about that…”

“My father just doesn’t understand,” she interrupted thinking about everything that was going on, “He just is so firm in his ways and he doesn’t realize that love doesn’t work according to guidelines. Sure, he thinks that I should be like him--that I should love like he does, but with Kevin I don’t have to hide behind what the world wants me to be. They can just see me as I am…as the beautiful, loving woman who is free to be herself. They can see me for what is in my heart, not for who my father is. Kevin’s the first man that has given me that and I know he’s the only man I’ll ever love.”

“And I can’t blame you for feeling that way,” A voice interrupted as Brant looked up to see Cameron standing in the doorway. Immediately Brant rose up from his chair and stepped between Cameron and Angela’s hospital bed.

“Cam,” Angela’s eyes widened in response, “What are you doing here?”

“I just heard that you woke up and I came in to see you,” Cameron pushed forward into the room glaring at Brant briefly before speaking up, “A nurse told me that you were awake and that you were healthy and so was Kevin’s little girl.”

“They told you that I’m having Kevin’s baby,” Angela’s eyes widened in horror.

“Cameron don’t,” Brant reached out to shove his hand into Cameron’s shoulder to keep him from getting closer to Angela.

“It’s okay Angela,” Cameron flashed Brant an icy grin, “Anyone with eyes can see how much you love Kevin and how much Kevin loves you. We all know it’s his baby.”

“But what about daddy?” Angela asked worriedly, “Have you told him about the baby?”

“No, your secret is safe with me,” Cameron finally bumped past Brant to reach for her hand, “All of your secrets are safe with me because I only want what’s best for you Angel. I know that you believe that.”

“Of course I do,” she nodded squeezing his fingers in hers. “I know how much you love me.”

“I do Angela. I love you more than anything and I would protect you at all cost,” he assured her before looking over at Brant, “but I would like to talk to you alone right now.”

“No way. There’s no way that I’m leaving you alone with her,” Brant stepped forward refusing to give Cameron control of the situation.

“Why?” Angela asked her brown eyes wide with confusion, “Brant I want to speak with my brother.”

“That’s right Brant. She wants to speak with me and you shouldn’t stop her. That wouldn’t look right to keep her from her family when she’s already been upset enough now would it?” Cameron further taunted him with his words.

Brant opened his mouth to say something, but thought twice of it before stepping back. He nodded hating the idea of leaving Angela alone with Cameron, but remembering Don’s warning he knew he couldn’t argue the point.

“I’ll just go and see if I can find Kevin,” Brant offered up gathering Angela’s attention for a brief moment.

“Thank you Brant. I appreciate that,” she smiled before focusing on Cameron again and leaving Brant to wonder what in the hell Cameron would say to her while he was out in the cold. Whatever it was Brant knew it couldn’t be good.


“Russ hey,” Avery spotted him near the hospital courtyard seemingly walking back inside after spending some time out there by himself. She rushed forward seeing a strain behind his eyes. “Where were you? I was looking all over for you.”

“I ran into Brant,” he admitted tightly thinking about the confrontation with his half brother, “He got me wired up and I needed some time to think.”

“What happened?” she questioned gently feeling him stiffen beneath her touch, “Russ, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he lied trying to keep the things that were bothering him from haunting her as well. “We just got into a fight and I had to blow off some steam.”

“No, there’s more to it,” she searched his eyes for a long moment, “Russ, what aren’t you telling me? What happened with you and Brant?”

“I didn’t mean to fight with him, but it just sort of happened,” he shuddered at the memory of what had taken place between him and Brant, “I started saying something about how the tables have turned on him and I know it was out of line, but I couldn’t help myself. When I saw him I just started thinking about the last time we were here--when he kept me from seeing you and tried to claim Erin as his own. I just felt this anger build inside of me and before I knew what was happening, I just let loose with it.”

“Russ,” she saw the strain behind his eyes as she reached out to him, “I can understand where you were coming from. It’s only natural that you would want to lash out at Brant. Hell, I feel that way each and every time I see him. He just makes my blood boil and…”

“Even so I should be in control Avery and then with the things he said,” Russ paused remembering his brother’s words. “Avery, maybe he’s right. Maybe I am turning into one of them.”

“What?” her eyes widened before she shook her head firmly, “No of course not. Russ you could never be like Brant or any of them…”

“Avery think about it. I did so many things that have caused you pain. I kept the truth away from you about Angela and then when you begged me to just let it go with Bruce before I kept digging and digging and I set us up for heartbreak and then,” he shook his head firmly, “Avery, I failed you in so many ways. Brant said it was because of me that you were hurt like you’ve been and he’s right.”

“No, he’s wrong,” she insisted trying to keep him from blaming himself about things that neither one of them could control. “What happened to us was the direct result of my mother and Nicholas. They were so wrapped up in the idea of getting their hands on that money that they would stop at nothing to get it.”

“Just like they did when they murdered our baby Avery,” Russ informed her thinking about the child that they had lost on their wedding day. “They stole that from us because they believed that they could help themselves. When you loved me, your mother hurt you and took you away from me because she didn’t want us together.”

“My mother only cared about money and she wanted to get her hands on the Ashford fortune,” Avery reminded him pointedly, “Had she known that you were an Ashford…”

“Then what? Are you saying she would’ve approved of us? That she wouldn’t have butchered our baby in the name of getting you away from me?” he questioned painfully the weight of everything settling in over him. “She tried to kill you and Erin and I opened the door up for that to happen by not following through on my promise to just let go of the past. I wanted so hard to be the hero, that I forgot about the things that mattered the most to me. I missed out on so much with you and Erin simply because I had to be right. I had to save the day and…”

“Russ stop it!” she snapped at him, her dark eyes filled with concern, “Neither one of us are perfect and yes a lot of really horrible things happened to both of us, but we’re here and we’re stronger than ever. We have our baby girl and…”

“And so much hurt between us,” he touched the side of her face feeling an ache inside of him at the thought of how hard his family had pushed for them to be apart, “Avery the very man that brought me into this world is the man that tried to destroy us.”

“Hey, for all we know I may be the daughter of a madman too. I mean if Angela and Cameron are related to me,” she threw her hands up in the air, “At least you have a fifty percent chance of never being insane. I have Brooke and possibly Cameron’s father and…”

“That’s a lie,” Russ blurted out thinking about the possibility of what Cameron had told her. “Yes, you and Angela look alike, but I know how your father feels about you.”

“Just like Elliot feels about you. It doesn’t mean anything,” Avery decided shaking her head before letting out a long sigh, “Look this is the last thing that either one of us need to get into tonight. Right now I just want to go home and be with Erin.”

“Honestly so to I,” he admitted reaching out to embrace her feeling a certain sense of security in holding her. “I just want to be with her and let her know that I won’t be making the mistakes I made in the past. I’m never leaving you two again.”

“We won’t let you leave,” Avery closed her eyes and listened to the sound of his heart beating in his chest, “Russ, tonight has just been too close to home for all of us. What’s happening is just so close to what we went through and…”

“We need to step back,” he finished for her with a nod, “We need to go home and regroup.”

“Kevin and Ria are talking it out right now and I think they are going to be okay. I know he loves her and she loves him,” she explained thinking about Kevin approaching her, “Real love can beat the odds.”

“We’re living proof of that,” he nodded in agreement reaching out to pull her more completely into his arms before he kissed her. “You’re right about all of this. Let’s just go home.”

“Okay,” she nodded in agreement finding herself wanting nothing more than to share the evening with Erin and Russ knowing full well that their being alone with their daughter would be the one thing they needed to get their minds off of all of the craziness that surrounded their lives.


“What are we doing here?” Deana questioned looking at the rusted gate in front of where she and Grady stood with one another. “I thought you said you had a surprise for me.”

“I do,” Grady replied reaching deep into his pocket and pulling out the key he knew would be buried inside of his jeans. His green eyes flashed over in her direction before he pulled the key out and waved it around in the air, “Do you want to do the honors or shall I?”

Deana eyed the oversized sign that warned against trespassing and she took in a breath, “I think that I’ll let you be the one to have the guard dog come chasing you before the police arrive and arrest us for breaking the law.”

“We’re not breaking the law,” he assured her with a hint of a smile before pushing the key into the lock, “I wouldn’t have the key if I wasn’t supposed to be here.”

“And just where is here exactly?” Deana arched a curious brow as she tried to peer over his solid shoulder in front of her. She placed her hand on his shoulder curling her fingers around the rounded area leading to his arm, but before she could steady herself enough to see what lay beyond the gate, she felt Grady wiggle out of her touch.

“No you don’t,” he explained turning around to take her in his arms and lift her off of the ground, “You’re not going to see what’s in there and then run away on me before I have a chance to explain what’s ahead of you.”

“Ahead of me?” Deana arched a curious brow. “Grady, no offense, but I’m guessing a tetanus shot and a trip to the hospital is in my near future if we go inside of this gate. Do you see the rust on it?”

“It might look like it’s dangerous, but it’s not,” he replied turning around to finish opening the lock again.

Deana stepped forward and slid her arms around his waist. She stepped in closer to him squeezing his body against hers before placing her head against the upper part of his back, “If I didn’t love you, I’d think you lost your mind.”

“Hmm, well I guess it’s a good thing that you love me then,” Grady replied spinning around once again to pick her up before a thought occurred to him. He set her down before moving in front of her and kneeling down. He nodded towards his shoulders before winking up at her, “Get on.”

“On where?” she questioned curiously seeing him nod to his shoulders once again, “Oh no. I don’t think that is going to happen. I’m not…”

“Not what? In the mood to forget about being a grown up for a while? Come on Deana, you’ve been an adult for far too long already. Give yourself a moment to enjoy the spoils of a troubled youth,” he suggested once again with a flirty smirk.

“You mean in getting arrested or causing myself bodily harm by stepping on a rusted nail?” she tossed back at him skeptically.

“You don’t have to worry about stepping on a rusted nail if you get on my back,” he wiggled his brow suggestively at her once again, “Unless of course you really think that you’ll have a problem with being that close to me because you’ll be thinking about what it’s like to be jumping me and…”

“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes at the suggestion, “I do have some sense of self control around you Grady.”

“Prove it and hop on,” he wiggled his brow suggestively once again, “unless of course you really believe it will cause you to melt away completely.”

“Keep dreaming,” she stepped forward preparing to get up on his back and shoulders. She paused for a moment waving her finger in the air, “but don’t even think about dropping me because if you do I’m going to kill you.”

“I’d never drop you,” he promised hoisting her up onto his back completely in one fluid movement. As he felt her curl her arms around him in a gasp, he couldn’t help but smile. He tipped his head back just enough to catch a small glimpse of her. “Trust me you’re in good hands.”

“I know,” she finally conceded before leaning her chin in on the top of his head, “So tell me are we going to stand here all night, or are you going to get with the program and show me what it is that you wanted to show me?”

“Impatient are we?” Grady laughed lightly before moving forward. He took two steps before stopping, “You sure you’re okay up there.”

“I’m fine,” she nodded in response feeling him move one more step before stopping.

“You sure that you’re sure?” Grady couldn’t help but ask in a teasing tone.

“Yes, I’m really sure,” she replied with an exaggerated groan. “Come on let’s see why we’re here.”

“If you insist,” Grady took a few more steps before pausing once again, “Are you really, really sure that…”

“Grady, so help me if you don’t start moving, then I’m going to jump down and…” she started to curse at him only to feel him abruptly pick up speed. He started to gallop forward with her on his back so fast that she feared she would fall off. She clutched her arms around him tightly laughing as he began to hum the theme to an old western movie that they’d watched with one another on a late night after work. Feeling a laugh spill over her lips, Deana leaned forward to enjoy the ride he’d set out to give her until they made their way to their destination.

“We’re here,” Grady explained coming to an abrupt halt.

“So we are,” Deana replied not bothering to take a look around the place they’d snuck into. Instead she leaned forward and placed a kiss on Grady’s cheek before sliding her fingertips over the center of his chest, “Have I ever told you how sexy I think you are?”

“Hmm, not in the last few minutes,” Grady felt her nibbling on his neck, “but this is a nice start.”

“It can get even better if we go back to the car and,” she slurred in a seductive voice ready to say something more when her dark eyes fell upon the oversized carousal in front of her. She felt her jaw drop as she realized that in the midst of the darkness that surrounded them the multicolored lights swirled in front of them along with the triumphant horses that bounced around in circles in front of them. She blinked a couple of times before focusing on Grady once again, “What is this?”

“Why don’t we go find out?” he suggested easing her off of his back and placing her on ground carefully as the carousal came to a slow moving pace. He reached for her hand and urged her to follow him over to the light covered ride in front of them. Patiently he waited for it to come to a stop before he stepped aside and motioned for her to get onto the ride. “What would you prefer? A horse or a cart?”

“A horse of course,” she laughed lightly rushing onto the carousal to seek out the perfect riding companion. She settled on a white horse with a silver colored mane before looking over her shoulder at Grady, “Well are you going to just stand there or join me?”

“What do you think?” he questioned moving over to take a seat on one of the other brown horses beside hers.

After a few seconds the music began to play alerting them that the ride was about to start up again. The love song filled the air reminding Deana of one of the first times she’d danced with Grady at the party Blake Ashford had hosted not so long ago. She looked over at him seeing his green eyes were focused on her as the ride began to speed up. Instinctively she held onto the pole that stretched out from the top of the horse’s head. Closing her eyes she felt the wind breeze through her, beckoning her to savor the night that surrounded them and just when she’d thought she had found the perfect combination of ease and enjoyment on the ride, she felt it slow down to a crawl once again.

“You like this?” Grady questioned as the ride came to a stop.

“What do you think?” she replied bringing her fingers through her now messy blonde hair. She realized that she was probably a mess after the ride they’d experienced, but rather than saying anything about it, Grady just reached out to touch her chilled face and smiled.

“You tell me,” he slurred in a quiet tone. He leaned across to steal a kiss from her before sitting up straighter on his horse.

“I love it actually,” Deana admitted with a small laugh, “I don’t think I’ve been on one of these things in so long. I think the last carnival that I went to was a couple of years before I had Zane and Jason threw up all over me when he got sick on one of the rides. Needless to say it was not a pleasant experience.”

“It doesn’t sound like it,” Grady noted with a wrinkled expression of his own, “I have to tell you though I’ve always been partial to carnivals and fairs. Russ and I used to beg our parents to take us to them each and every time one of them was set up in town.”

“I can see why,” Deana added taking the time to absorb her surroundings, “When you’re young places like these seem so very magical and full of enchantment that goes beyond reality.”

“So you think Zane would like something like this?” Grady arched a curious brow.

“Um yeah,” she nodded eagerly before pausing, “but I haven’t really had the time to really take him out to places like this one. Then again I didn’t really realize that there was a carnival in town this time of year.”

“There isn’t,” Grady replied rubbing his hands together before stepping off of the horse. He dug his hands into his pockets before taking in a small breath, “Actually this is just what’s left of one of the carnivals that used to arrive in town each year. This is almost an antique actually and they don‘t have much use for it here anymore.”

“Really?” she looked at the carousal once again seeing how well kept it was. “But it’s beautiful…”

“Which is why I didn’t want to see them destroy it,” Grady admitted honestly. He stepped around the horse she was on and offered his hand to her. “It was kind of on it’s last leg for a while, which is why I guess I was drawn to it.”

“What do you mean?” she asked accepting his hand as she stepped down from the horse she was on.

“Well, I guess you could say that I’m someone who believes in second chances because heaven knows I’ve had more of those then I deserve,” Grady pulled her into his arms. “Truth be told when I heard that the owner was just going to scrap this, I had to step in and do something about it.”

“Like what?” she questioned feeling his finger tips press in against her cheek before sliding into her long, blonde hair.

“Truthfully,” he leaned in to kiss her tenderly before speaking up in a quiet whisper, “I bought it.”

“You what?” her eyes widened in response. “Grady, are you saying…”

“This is mine,” he cracked a wide grin, “and up until this point in time I’ve kind of believed I was crazy to make this kind of investment.”

“Grady, how can you afford something like this?” she questioned realizing just how extensive the ride they were on was.

“It wasn’t as expensive as you think it was since it was a mere shadow of what it is now,” he revealed with a proud smile, “but when I bought it I was in pretty much the same condition.”

“What do you mean?” she questioned seeing a distance behind his green eyes.

“I decided to get it when I was going through my divorce. You see Susan--she was my wife,” he explained drawing in a breath before stepping back. He reached out to touch one of the poles on another horse before meeting her eyes again, “she and I, well we never had what you could call a solid relationship with one another. I married her because I thought that passion and rage meant there was something deeper, but all it ended up costing me was my sanity and a whole lot of mistakes along the way. I thought she was someone I could share my life with, but in the duration of our marriage, I think all we brought out in each other was the worst.”

“I heard about her,” Deana confessed thinking about the rumors she’d heard about Susan Hastings at the hospital.

“Yeah, she was cold-hearted,” Grady let out an ironic laugh, “but rather than just walking away, I tried to stick it out. Hell, I thought I was doing what was right in living up to my vows, but the whole time she was making damn sure hers were irrelevant to what we had together. To make a long story short, she wound up sleeping with half of the world and I decided to stay warm on a cold night with my favorite bottle of bourbon. I became a very bitter, very miserable person--one that I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have liked at all.”

“But you’re not that man anymore,” Deana reminded him sensing that the demons of his past still haunted him.

“The alcohol doesn’t control my life, but the temptation is always there. I won’t pretend that it’s not,” Grady explained with a raw honesty in his tone. “After Susan and I split up, I had a hard road ahead of me, but this place, well it provided me an outlet and a purpose. It kept me from losing my sobriety completely and in doing so, I was able to make something out of my misery.”

“And it’s beautiful,” Deana circled around to take a look at the work in front of her. “It’s really incredible.”

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Grady stepped in behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned in to kiss the side of her neck, “because truth be told I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what this was meant for--about where this should be.”

“You have?” she tipped her head up to see the same sparkle behind his green eyes that always seemed to melt her heart.

“I have,” he nodded in confession curling his finger underneath her chin before urging her to meet his lips in a kiss. He squeezed her in his arms and picked her up off of the ground so that she was at his level before they parted. “Deana, I want Zane to have this.”

“Wait, what?” she questioned noticing the smile on his face.

“They’ve only been holding it here until I could find a new location for it and I’ve decided that I’ve done all that I can do with it. I want Zane to be able to enjoy it,” Grady revealed with a proud smirk, “I think he’ll love it.”

“Of course he will, but I really don’t think that it’s going to work especially considering that I live in an apartment Grady,” she couldn’t help but bring reality into the situation. “It’s not like I have this huge yard where we could just put it down without any neighbors noticing…”

“Yeah, I kind of thought about that,” he laughed lightly scratching his chin before cupping her face in his hands. “Truth be told there is this cabin up by where my parents have their cabin. It’s been for sale for a while on a really large piece of property and I was thinking if we had this moved onto the property…”

“Wait, are you saying that you’re going to buy a cabin and bring this there for Zane?” she questioned tipping her head to the side to search his eyes.

“Yeah, why not?” he shrugged his shoulders simply, “I think he’d have a lot of fun with it and besides it would give Jason a place to camp out when we’re trying to have some alone time with one another. We can stay in the cabin and he can keep himself entertained outside…”

“Grady, I don’t know what to say,” she started again, “I mean I appreciate the gesture, but…”

“I’m not looking for appreciation,” he murmured bending down to kiss her once again.

“What are you looking for then?” she couldn’t help but question his motives. “I mean this is amazingly beautiful, but it’s far too much to give to my son considering that…”

“That what? That he’s probably one of my best pals these days and I want to do something nice for him?” Grady threw out at her, “I love Zane and I want to do this for him.”

“I’m touched, but you put so much of yourself into this and…” she started to protest only to feel him press his index finger over her lips to silence her.

“Deana, I wanted to be able to give this to my own child one day and right now, well I’m starting to wonder if that’s really ever going to happen for me. Zane is the closest I’ve been to having a child of my own and I want to do this for him,” Grady appealed to her once again, “and for you.”

“Grady, you don’t have to lavish us with gifts like these to have us want to be with you,” she reached out to tease her fingers through his dark hair, “Just being with me is enough.”

“I know, but consider this an added bonus,” he shrugged his shoulders once again, “It’s not like I just bought this. I’ve had it for a while and with the cabin, well there’s something about that also that I failed to mention.”

“What’s that?” she questioned lazily feeling the warmth of his arm around her slender waist.

“Kyle would be our next door neighbor. You see he kind of bought a place in the area and…” he squeezed her in closer to him.

“Ah, I see,” she couldn’t help but laugh, “So it’s a packaged deal. I get you and Kyle at the same time.”

“Something like that,” he replied with a casual laugh. “I mean you said you enjoyed us spending time with him…”

“Not nearly as much as you enjoy his company,” she winked with a hint of teasing in her tone, “but since you added Kyle to the deal, how could I refuse?”

“Hey, are you trying to tell me that you’re only saying yes because you think my best friend is hot?” Grady feigned insult as he released her and placed his hand over the center of his chest.

“You’re the one who brought Kyle into this one,” she pointed out with a tiny giggle, “I can’t help it if you stay in the company of gorgeous men.”

“Hmm, well since you’re noticing that my best friend is good looking maybe I better rethink this whole cabin thing,” Grady laughed lightly only to feel her reach out to him once again.

“You could, but why would you want to?” she slurred tipping up on her toes to lean in for a slow, sensual kiss. “Truth be told I think I like the idea of having a place where we can be alone together away from all the craziness of town. In fact, I wouldn’t mind taking a closer look at it when I have some time off.”

“I’m sure I can arrange something. I can take you and Zane up there to get your approval before I close on it,” Grady felt her fingertips slide down over his arms and up over his spine before her palms moved in to flatten out over his chest.

“Zane can see it as well, but I was kind of thinking about something that involved you and I alone together since Jason is in town,” she mouthed popping open the top button on his shirt. She met his green eyes again before flicking open another button followed by another. “Jason is a very good babysitter.”

“Hmm, well that might be an idea,” Grady slurred feeling her lean forward to place a feathery light kiss over his now exposed chest. He eased his fingers up through her wavy blonde hair before biting back on a moan that built in the back of his throat, “although that leaves me to wonder if Jason is babysitting Zane, then who is going to be babysitting you to make sure that you aren’t getting into trouble?”

“Don’t you know by now,” Deana tipped her head up to meet his green eyes again with a hungry stare, “trouble is my middle name.”

“So I’m learning,” he replied bending down to kiss her once again. He felt her pushing the material of his shirt off of his shoulders before she caged his arms behind his back. As they parted he heard her let out a small laugh. “Hey, what’s this for?”

“You’ll see,” she stepped in behind him using the advantage she had over him to tie his sleeves into a knot with one another. Leisurely she nudged him in the center of the back urging him to step forward over to one of the carts. Once she’d selected where she’d wanted him to be, she turned him around to face her before nudging him again back into the cart.

“What are you doing?” he questioned seeing the wicked smirk on her face as she untied his shirt just long enough to move his arms in front of him. She eased his hands out in front of him guiding them up over the pole that was just beyond the front of the cart that they were in. Giving him enough room to sit back comfortably in the cart, she brought his arms up over his head before settling in over his lap.

“Offering up a variation in our ride,” she explained reaching down for his belt buckle and toying with it. “You see I’ve always had this fantasy about doing something completely naughty like this in public and…”

“We’re not exactly in public,” he looked around the darkened yard they were in.

“It’ll work though,” she assured him with a playful laugh before unbuckling his belt. She stopped for a moment to slide her fingers into his back pocket where she knew she’d find his wallet. She extracted it in a moment and began to thumb through it.

“Hey, is this where you leave me naked and you mug me,” Grady half teased watching her search through his wallet, “because it’s kind of cold out here for that one.”

“As much as that might amuse me I must confess that I’ve got another idea on what I should do with you Mr. Denton,” she explained extracting a condom from his wallet before tossing it back onto the seat beside him, “and I’m hoping that you won’t be putting up too much of a protest considering that I think it’s only fitting that you and I give this a few test runs in order to make sure that it’s safe enough for my son to be riding it.”

“It’s met all the safety standards,” Grady replied meeting her brown eyes again, “but I’m sure we can take the time to give it a few test runs. If you just untie me I can show you that…”

“No, I think I’d rather explore everything on my own,” Deana informed him as she pushed open his pants before reaching out to touch him, “I’d like to have a firm grasp on all of this myself before I adjust to the idea of what you have in store for us.”

“You’ve certainly got a grasp on something Deana,” he closed his eyes and drew in a slow breath, “but I’ve got to tell you that…”

“You don’t have to tell me anything,” she pressed her finger over his lips to silence him, “Unless of course you were going to say that you bring all your dates here to try to seduce them in which case I might have to hurt you and…”

“I haven’t brought anyone here, well other than Russ and Kyle when I bought it, but that doesn’t count right?” his green eyes blinked up at her seeing the way she was relishing the notion of being in total control of what would happen between them. The ride began to start again circling around at a slow and steady pace as she leaned in to nibble on his bottom lip greedily.

“I can assure you that any of the experiences you’ve had with Kyle and Russ here will pale in comparison to what I have in store for you,” she whispered in a seductive tone ready to lay out a night that Grady would never forget.

“I don’t doubt that for a second,” he replied turning himself over completely to her seduction as he found himself falling harder for her with each passing second. As he looked into her brown eyes he knew full well that there was no way in the world that he would let go of the most incredible woman he’d ever met now that she and Zane had become a part of his life that he never wanted to do without. She had given him a second chance at happiness and he vowed that he would do everything in his power to hold onto it. Bringing her with him tonight was a start at opening himself up to the idea of a future with her and Zane, but something told him that after tonight things would only get better for them. Feeling her lips over his he found himself eager to explore each and every first that their relationship had to offer between them from here on out.


“Dang girl,” Jason let out a small laugh throwing down one of his last pieces of pizza seeing Mindy finish off her own box of pizza. “When I thought you said that you can eat pizza and thought we should get two for ourselves, I really didn’t think you would eat a whole one.”

“I know how you feel,” Mindy laughed wiping at her lips seeing Jason push the box of pizza before him away a bit seeing the way that Mindy took a sip of her soda. “I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s a wonder how I stay so thin because I eat so much.”

“I have to wonder that too,” Jason teased feeling her elbow him in the stomach as he let out a long groan scooting away from her in the process. “If you hit me in the stomach, I’m going to puke on you. I honestly really tried to eat as much as you did, but I just couldn’t do it. I feel like such a loser. A girl ate more than me.”

“I have a bottomless pit,” she chuckled sitting forward to caress his stomach slowly before letting out a small laugh seeing his blue eyes staring out at her. “You just have a little tummy that needs lots of attention. No need to worry Jason, it’s okay.”

“Gee, my precious little tummy said thank you,” Jason shook his head slowly before letting out a small laugh and reaching for the remote seeing the way she looked out at him. Stopping on the bodybuilding contest he saw her light eyes staring out at him as he shrugged his shoulders. “Why are you staring at me like that?”

“I think if you watch something like this you are really going to feel like a loser,” Mindy pointed out seeing the way that Jason stared out at her with an amused glance as she watched the muscular man before her on the television strike a pose. “Honestly Jason, these guys spend their lives in the gym and could totally kick your butt in these competitions.”

“To be honest with you, when I was younger I won one of these contests Mindy,” Jason informed her with a small nod seeing the way that Mindy let out a small laugh knowing that she didn’t believe him one bit. “I know what it’s like back stage, people don’t work out they have these needles that they stick in their butts. They use steroids most of the time to be honest with you.”

“One, I would believe that about the steroids thing because it’s hard to believe someone could be that ripped,” she explained seeing the way that Jason nodded slowly before looking back at the television as she nudged him in the shoulder. “I just can’t believe you were actually in a competition like that.”

“You can’t? Oh come on, I used to put on the fake tan and everything and actually I was so stupid that I had my hair died blonde back then. It was horrible because I totally got into that whole workout thing. I wouldn’t be home at all when I was younger, Deana would be working and I would be at the gym. I’m being totally serious, I would work myself so much that sometimes I would puke my guts out for trying to work so hard,” Jason explained to her still seeing the disbelief behind her eyes as he shrugged his shoulders and stood up slowly. Reaching for his hat he pulled it off and threw it to the chair before reaching down to pull off his shoes and socks. Moving in next to the television he reached for his shirt slowly pulling it over his head seeing the way that Mindy’s eyes widened when he threw that to the side too. “If you won’t believe me I will show you. When they tell the person to strike a certain pose, I will do it.”

“You’re on,” Mindy nodded slowly seeing the way that Jason moved out of the sight of the television as they showed the person doing a certain flex. “Do the front double bicep.”

“You got it,” Jason flexed his arms and his abs seeing her nod slowly before letting out a small laugh. He saw her eyes glancing over the muscles in his abdomen before he cleared his throat and waited for her to tell him the next one. “What’s the next one?”

“Okay,” Mindy continued to tell him the things to do and every time she shouted it out he did it right. No matter what it was, he knew what exactly it was supposed to look like. “Are you really being serious about this or is this just something you watch all the time at home when you are bored.”

“I’m being so honest,” Jason tried to explain seeing her blue eyes still glancing out at him unsure as he rubbed at the back of his neck before shrugging his shoulders. “I have a picture, but I swear if I show you. You can’t laugh.”

“Fine, fine,” she stood up from the couch seeing him nod slowly before motioning her to follow him over to the closet in the hallway as he reached for the top pulling out a box full of stuff. Watching him walk over toward the couch and set the box out on the coffee table she moved in next to him watching him pull out a picture. “This is you?”

“Yeah,” Jason nodded letting out a hesitant laugh seeing her eyeing him over before letting out a long laugh looking over the picture carefully. She saw that he had really blonde hair and looked ridiculous. “I said don’t laugh.”

“I’m sorry,” she chuckled pointing to the things he was wearing in the picture as she cleared her throat uneasily watching his blue eyes widen. “Do you still have these Jason? I mean if you do I think you should put them on and model for me right here, right now.”

“Okay, not funny,” Jason grabbed the picture back from her only to see her reach out and grab a firm hold of one of the trophies he had in the box. “Every time you won, you got a money prize. All of it went into insurance for Zane when he was born. We had no family left and I just wanted to make sure he would be okay.”

“You really are a sweet guy,” Mindy slowly put the trophy back into the box seeing the way that Jason shrugged his shoulders before feeling her press her hand in against his arm. “I have to be honest with you Jason, you look much better with the dark hair and no fake tan.”

“You think so?” Jason questioned feeling her fingers press in against his neck as she moved in closer to him, feeling her free hand press in over the center of his firm chest caressing his skin softly. “Some people think differently.”

“I’m not some people,” Mindy let her fingers slide in through his hair seeing the way that his blue eyes looked down at her as he moved in closer to her pressing his left hand in against her cheek. A sudden sound made both of them jump back as she heard her cell phone ring tone from the coffee table buzzing loudly. “I’ll get that.”

“Good idea,” Jason nodded slowly seeing her look down at the number as he stood up from the couch and walked over to grab his shirt to pull it back on slowly. “Really good idea.”

“Nate,” Mindy happily answered her phone after looking at the number pausing to listen to him speak as she looked up into Jason’s blue eyes, motioning him to wait. “I’m sorry, well I’ll tell you what. I’m with Jason right now and we would love to hang out with you. Yeah, I’m sure. He has no problem with it, I promise you that.”


“Evie talk to me please,” JT knocked on the door to the bathroom knowing full well that there was something more happening inside of her than she’d let on when he’d first arrived back at his apartment. “Please sweetheart open the door.”

“Just go away JT. Please. I just need to be alone,” she bit down on her lower lip fighting the tears that carried over her. She pushed them away from her face seeing her own reflection in the mirror. She thought back to her father’s words and felt sick to her stomach at what the man had subjected her too. With what he said to her, she knew full well that he would never let her go--he would never let her be free again and all he would do would be destroy her all over again starting with what she had with JT.

“Evie, please let me in,” JT knocked again as she buried her head in her hands. “Please talk to me…”

“JT, I just want to be alone right now,” she begged of him reaching out to turn on the water of the tub hoping that he would think that she was going to take a bath and then he could move on. However, much to her dismay she heard the sound of the lock clicking and seconds later JT walked into the room.

“I’m sorry. I know I want to respect your privacy, but I know that tactic,” JT explained walking over to where she was and reaching for the water dial. He turned off the water before moving in to take a seat beside her on the edge of the tub, “I’ve done it myself in the past when I want the whole world to leave me alone.”

“JT I just need some space,” she turned away from him refusing to meet his concerned eyes as it would only further break her heart.

“Hey,” he curled his finger underneath her chin urging hee to meet his eyes before he noticed a bruise over the side of her face. Frowning he pressed his finger against it wondering if it had only been a smudge of dirt, but when he saw her wince he knew full well it was a bruise. She pulled away from him again after she’d winced.

“Just let me be alone for a little while,” she sighed heavily closing her eyes and remembering her father’s threats. “Please JT.”

“Evie, you didn’t have that on your face before,” he frowned worry carrying over him, “What aren’t you telling me?”

“It’s nothing. I was up on the counter looking for something in a cabinet and I fell,” she lied hoping that he would back off and leave it be.

“No, I don’t buy that,” he shook his head before reaching out to touch her thigh. He watched her buck away from him, a tiny shudder carrying over her as her lower lip started to tremble.

“I said I was fine,” she mouthed standing up on shaky legs and forcing herself to face him again. “JT please just let it go.”

“I’m not going to let it go when something is obviously bothering you,” he reached out to touch her shoulder feeling her shake in his arms.

“JT, I’m just so…” she found herself at a loss breaking down in his arms, “I can’t tell you what’s happening. I wish I could, but I can’t and…”

“Hey,” he urged her to meet his concerned gaze once again, “Evie, you can trust me. I love you and you know I’ll do whatever I can to help you. Please, just tell me what’s happening so that I can fix it.”

“You can’t fix this,” she tore herself away from him, her dark eyes locked on her reflection once again. She noticed the bruising up her arm and the small cuts her father’s fingers had put into her skin and she let out a small whimper. “No one can fix this.”

“Tell me what happened,” he glanced down to see the marks on her arms and a frown touched over him, “Who did this to you and don’t say that you fell.”

“JT, let it go,” she pleaded reopening her eyes and sinking back onto the counter top. She rubbed at her thigh feeling the ache of her father having squeezed her leg and she sighed, “No one can stop him. He’s too powerful.”

“Who is?” he questioned worriedly seeing the fear that swept over her. Gently he reached for her touching her face again, “Evie, who is it that hurt you like this?”

“It’s…” she spoke up with a shaky voice, hating that she’d let her father get the best of her all over again. She thought back to his threats, to his warnings and in that moment she felt more irrelevant than she ever had before. “No, I can’t tell you.”

“Evie, please. You have to tell me who did this to you. Who hurt you?” he questioned worriedly thinking about her response to his touching her leg. “Evie, did someone…”

“JT just let it go,” she pleaded with him feeling him move in closer to her again.

“Let me see your leg,” he insisted moving in to push up the material of her sweatpants up over her calf.

“JT no,” she tried to stop him only to feel him move her sweatpants up just above her knee to reveal the hand print her father had left on her thigh when he’d squeezed her.

“Oh my God Evie, did someone…” panic carried over him as his mind thought the worst. “Evie, when I was gone, did someone come in here and attack you? Did someone rape you…”

“No,” she shook her head firmly feeling a shudder carry over her, “he didn’t rape me. He just…”

“Just what?” JT’s eyes widened with a sudden fury, “Evie, who the hell hurt you like this? Tell me his name and I swear that…”

“It was my father JT,” she blurted out painfully tears pouring out over her. “He came over here while you were gone and he…he…”

“Oh baby, it’s okay,” he felt her crumbling to pieces as her tears consumed her. She started to shiver in his arms as he pulled her into an embrace, “He’s not going to hurt you anymore.”

“JT he came in here wanting to run a scam. He wanted me to pull a con on you and…” she broke down revealing to him her dark and dirty secret that her father had pushed into her life. “He wanted me to run a con on you like he made me do with other people in the past. He used me to steal from other people--to lie and manipulate them and…”

“It’s okay,” he squeezed her tighter in his arms wishing like hell he hadn’t left the apartment so that he could’ve been there to protect her when her monster of a father had arrived.

“He wants me to betray our love--to run a con on you so that he can get your money--your father’s money,” she explained in a deep, shivering inhale. “He knows that your father is a movie producer and he wants me to pull these horrible scams on you and…”

“Hey, it’s okay. I know that you wouldn’t do that. I know you love me,” JT explained seeing how shaken up she was, “We can just go to the police and tell them what he did to you--we can show them what a monster he is and…”

“No,” she blurted out in a fearful tone, “JT we can’t do that. If we go to the police then he’s going to hurt you or even kill you. He has a gun and he told me that he would use it if I told you about what he was doing. He’s crazy and…”

“I swear to you I’m never going to let him hurt you again. Evie, he won’t get the chance because if he even touches you, then I’ll kill him,” he assured her hugging her closer to him as he thought about what she must’ve gone through when he wasn’t around. “I’m so sorry that I left you open for that, but I swear to you that if he even comes near you again he’s a dead man. You see while my father might be rich and famous, my brother, well he’s a very powerful man. He can make things happen--make people disappear and I swear to you that he can do that with your father. He can make it so that your father never harms you again.”

“JT you and I both know we can’t do that. My father is too powerful and…” she started to protest only to feel him kiss her gently.

“No he’s not,” he whispered against her lips, “Evie, I promise you that I know a place where you can be safe. My brother can help us so that your father never bothers you again. I can keep you protected and well guarded so that he can never get this close to you again.”

“No JT, if you help me--if you stay near me, he will hurt you. He’ll kill you and I can’t live with that. I love you so much that…” she began to sob feeling him envelope her in his arms.

“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you Evie. I love you and I want to protect you. For the first time in my life I feel something for another person that isn’t about being greedy or selfish. It’s not like it was for me in the past with anyone else,” he explained in a reassuring whisper, “I have never loved anyone in my life like I love you and I want you to see how much you mean to me.”

“I already know,” she confessed in a painful tone, “which is why I can’t let my father hurt you anymore than he already has. I have to leave.”

“Your father doesn’t frighten me, but the thought of losing you does,” he admitted his dark eyes meeting hers solemnly, “Evie, you are everything to me and I want to show you that I’ll always be here for you. I’ll always protect you and keep you safe.”

“I know you want to, but you don’t know my father,” she protested feeling him lean forward to kiss her tenderly. His fingers glided into her long hair pushing it away from her face as their lips met again in another tender union.

“I swear to you that I would lay my life on the line if it kept you from ever being hurt again,” he promised her vowing that after today her father would never get the chance to hurt her like he had. After today if that man even thought about getting near her, JT vowed that he would be nothing more than a distant memory that would be exterminated once and for all.


Ria felt tiny shivers race over her as she clung to Kevin, now feeling the cool water press in over their bodies after they had made love to one another. While the flames of the fire from the experience they had shared with one another were still very much alive, their passion had come to an earth shattering conclusion with him still holding her up in his arms. As her breathing slowly returned to normal, she locked gazes with him again, not caring about the chill that had carried over in the small shower stall they were standing in with one another.

“I love you,” Kevin touched the side of her face feeling her slowly ease down his body to place her feet back down on the floor.

“I love you too,” she closed her eyes leaning into his touch as his arm snaked around her waist. She placed one hand on his shoulder before letting out a shivering exhale. “I love you so much Kevin and that’s why this kills me to think about what we could lose.”

“We won’t lose it. I swear to you that you’re the only woman for me. You’re the only woman I have ever loved Ria and I would be lost without you. Angie is nothing,” he pleaded with her seeing her dark eyes reach out to his again. He pushed her soaked hair away from her face only to pull her in for a hearty, longing filled kiss. “I love you.”

“Kevin, I love you too, but…” she sighed giving in to his caress as their passion still lingered over the both of them. Unable to resist, she sank her head into his chest as he enveloped her in his arms.

“But nothing. What we have is special. It’s beautiful and…” he kissed the top of her head, “something that I know now that I could never, ever live without.”

“But Kevin…” she stammered in a breathless whisper, feeling him touch her cheek with his now water wrinkled fingers.

“Ria I love you and I would do absolutely anything to be with you. You have to know that by now,” he pleaded with her searching her eyes, “When I came to that hotel room all I could think about was sharing the rest of my life with you--with being together the rest of our lives and having a baby with you.”

“But I wasn’t pregnant,” she sighed feeling an emptiness settle in over her at what it felt like to get their hopes up only to feel them come crashing down.

“But you could be,” he urged her to meet his gaze again, a hopefulness in his tone, “Right now you could be getting pregnant. We could be on our way to having a son or a daughter because of what we just shared. You know as well as I do it could happen.”

“Kevin, just because we…” she stopped herself realizing that it hadn’t occurred to her until just now that they hadn’t used protection when they‘d made love to one another. “Kevin, do you have any idea what you’re saying? What we just let happen between us?”

“Something beautiful that could only take me one step closer to having all of my dreams come true with you,” he nodded in agreement a smile touching over the corner of his lips, “Ria I want to be a father so bad that I know that it’s going to happen soon. I won’t lie to you and tell you that I don’t wish each and every day that my daughter was still alive because I do, but you must know that what I feel for her isn’t about Angela. I wanted my baby more than anything and I still want a baby--a baby with you.”

“Kevin,” she sighed feeling him pull away from her as much as he could in the small shower stall. She watched him move to the floor, dropping to his knees and pulling her to him so that he could kiss her abdomen tenderly.

“I want you to have my baby here inside of you,” he pressed another kiss over her damp skin thinking about how he’d felt when they had been making love to one another. “I want to watch you grow with a symbol of our love inside of you--sharing each and every moment with you in ways that only you and I could experience with one another.”

“Kevin,” she reached out to touch his thick, dark hair as he placed another kiss over her skin.

“Right now our baby could be getting ready to come into this world. Right now our making love could be creating the dream for us that we both want Ria,” he massaged his fingers over her abdomen before looking up at her, “We could be at the beginning of being parents with one another and everything I have ever wanted could be beginning inside of you.”

“Kevin, I…” she felt tears threatening to overtake her as she pulled him up to her again. She kissed him tenderly letting out a slow whimper as she held him, “I want that. I want that for us so much. I know that I said maybe it wasn’t time for us to have a baby, but when I thought we were pregnant, it was the greatest joy I have ever felt in my life. To think that I could be carrying a part of you inside of me, oh Kevin you have no idea how much that meant to me.”

“As much as it means to me to know that you would be the one sharing that dream with me,” he smiled proudly bringing his fingers out over her face, “Ria, I love you with all of my heart and I know that we’re going to have our dreams together. I know that you’re going to have my baby boy or my baby girl and when you do, I’m going to show you just what a good father I can be. I’m going to be the best father to our children and the husband of your dreams. I’m not going to leave you reason to worry about anything ever again…”

“Kevin, we both know that’s a promise that neither one of us can keep as long as Angela,” she fell back into a moment of reality before he placed his finger against her lips to silence her.

“You’re going to have my baby Ria. We made love and I know that it’s meant to be. We’re meant to be together and soon you’ll see that just like my heart knows it,” he hugged her in against his solid strength, “Ria, I love you. I love you so much and I don’t ever want you to doubt that again.”

“I don’t doubt you Kevin, but Angela…” she began again feeling him stifle her protests with a kiss.

“She’s not in my heart. You are,” he whispered warmly feeling the water spray out over them in an icy blast of reality.

“We need to get out of here before we both look like prunes,” she couldn’t help but laugh as she scooted away from the shower stream.

“Too late on my end,” Kevin held his fingers up to reveal the thick wrinkles that carried over the pads of them. He watched her laugh as she held her fingers up as well to reveal hers to him.

“We match,” she teased as he turned the water off. She felt him reach for her hand and lift it to his lips in a kiss.

“We’re a perfect pair,” he whispered warmly against her skin before motioning to the shower door, “After you.”

“We’re so going to get busted for this,” Ria warned him before stepping out into the open area and reaching for a towel.

“I dare them to try busting me for loving you,” he stepped in behind her not bothering with a towel of his own while his arms wrapped in around her waist squeezing her tightly, “Baby, nothing could ever keep me from loving you.”

“Kevin,” she whispered his name tipping her head back only to feel his hot, wet kisses over her shoulder. His lips carried over her neck drawing her back into temptation once again when she heard a knock outside the door that caused her to jump.

“Is someone in there?” she heard someone voice in protest.

“Just a minute,” Ria gulped before turning her eyes towards Kevin. “Kevin you have to hide.”

“To hell with hiding,” he declared marching over to the door and pushing open the lock. He pressed the door open and glared out at the wide-eyed intern that stared at him in a state of disbelief.

“I’m sorry,” the man gulped before rushing out of the room and leaving Kevin to chuckle.

“That’s what I thought,” Kevin mused with a proud grin before turning around to see Ria glaring over at him. He shrugged his shoulders. “What?”

“You’re going to get us so busted for that,” Ria wrapped her towel around him before leaning up on her toes to give him another quick kiss. She had already gotten dressed while Kevin was giving the intern the shock of his life. Stepping back she shook her head. “I may be fired after this one.”

“If anyone wants to fire you, they will have to answer to me first,” Kevin informed her point blank keeping the towel around his waist loosely before the door opened to the on call room and Kevin turned around to see Don standing there in front of him.

“Well, I guess I can see where you drifted off too,” Don’s blue eyes widened in surprise seeing Ria step out from behind Kevin.

“Don, I can explain,” Ria stammered fearing what may happen if Don was upset with her for being there with Kevin.

“Hey, you don’t have to explain anything. I think this speaks for itself,” Don held his hands up in the air to silence Ria from saying anything further. “I can see why you two needed time alone and there’s nothing to worry about. This is between the three of us…well, just the two of us, but still.”

“Gee thanks,” Kevin pressed his hand in over the top of his towel at his waist, “So Don, what can you tell me about what’s going on with Angela?”

“I would like to say that I knew, but all I can see is this is a residual effect of her hitting her head,” Don confessed with a heavy sigh knowing full well how this was effecting all involved in the situation.

“So you don’t know when she’s going to snap out of it?” Kevin frowned in response thinking about Angela’s newfound clinginess with him.

“I wish I had the answers for all of you,” Don paused contemplating his words for a long moment, “I know this probably isn’t the right time but she’s been asking for you.”

“Okay, I’ll see what I can do,” Kevin glanced back over at Ria as she seemed to be closing herself off all over again. “Can you give us a minute?”

“Sure,” Don nodded stepping out of the room and giving them privacy.

Once Don was gone, Kevin turned around to face Ria again with a worried expression. He reached for her hand and brought it up to his lips in a kiss.

“Ria, you know that I don’t want to do this, but…” he started to explain to her.

“She’s your friend and you wouldn’t be you if you abandoned her completely,” she nodded straining to understand what had been eating away inside of her.

“Ria, I love you and only you,” Kevin tipped her head up again to meet his loving eyes. “I want to share my life with you and once Angela snaps out of this, I swear to you this all ends. No more running to her aid any longer. Once she knows who she is and she is with Brant and the babies, then she’s their problem.”

“And what if that day never comes? What if she doesn’t snap out of it?” she couldn’t help but question, “Kevin, I’ve read cases of people who have been stuck in this kind of state for a long time. She may never regain her memory and then…”

“Then Brant’s going to have to find a way to break it to her, because I’m going to get married to you and we’re going to have our own family. I swear that to you,” he whispered reassuringly kissing her again as Ria wondered if Kevin would truly be able to keep up the promises that they’d made to one another a few moments earlier when they’d been lost in one another. As much as she trusted him, she knew full well if Angela had her say that dream of happily ever that Ria and Kevin had with one another could be a thing of the past and that scared her more than anything.


Brant paced around the hallway wondering what in the world was going on in Angela’s room with Cameron now that he’d been tossed out of the mix. He’d tried to get back in, but Cameron had placed a guard on the door and was making damn sure that Brant couldn’t find out what he was up to. Now after Brant had Kevin paged a few times he was starting to worry.

“Where are you?” Brant mouthed to himself finally spotting Kevin up ahead approaching down the hallway with Ria. “Kevin, thank God you’re here. Cameron’s in there with her and I don’t know what’s going on.”

“What do you mean Cameron’s in there?” Kevin questioned worriedly with Ria at his side, “How long has he been in there?”

“At least twenty minutes,” Brant informed him with a frown, “and Angela’s not sure of what’s going on. Don said that she thinks she’s still back in medical school and pregnant with your daughter. She has no idea about what’s happened over the last years of her life. She doesn’t remember me or the twins or anything. She thinks that you two are together and that her father is going to kill you if he finds out she’s pregnant with your daughter.”

“You have to be kidding me,” Ria’s let out a small gasp.

“Do I look like I’m joking?” Brant turned to face her and shook his head, “Don said that he couldn’t find anything wrong, but given that Angela had two prior miscarriages she could be at risk if we add any stress to her right now.”

“We’re not going to do that,” Kevin assured Brant hoping that Brant wouldn’t worry about Angela. However as Kevin thought about what was happening with Angela, he found himself a bit concerned. Turning to Ria once again, he reached for her hand, “I should go in there and make sure that Cameron isn’t manipulating her. If he is it could hurt her and…”

“I understand,” Ria nodded squeezing his hand gently, “Just be careful. If she can’t remember her life Kevin, then there’s no telling what could happen.”

“I realize that,” Kevin sighed heavily realizing that he was carrying a huge weight on his shoulders. He turned to Brant and offered up a sympathetic tone, “I promise whatever happens in there, I’m not going to let Cameron keep you away from her. We’ll find a way to make her remember you.”

“I honestly hope so,” Brant sighed watching Kevin slip into the room as Ria stood beside him with worries of her own. Unable to keep silent about the situation Brant turned to Ria, “Do you really think this will pass?”

“It has to,” Ria closed her eyes thinking about what she’d just shared with Kevin. So much was on the line that she feared for what could happen should Angela never regain her memory. If that did in fact happen, then she was convinced that it would shake up all of their lives in ways that none of them had ever anticipated or wanted.


...to be continued...