Episode 372

“Good morning handsome,” Olivia’s words touched over Julian’s lips as he felt his wife leaning in to kiss him. He opened his eyes and smiled finding her hovering over him with a grin on her face. She bent down to kiss him again before smiling, “I hope you realize what today is.”

“Um Friday,” Julian questioned lazily pretending to be trying to think of what it could possibly be for him. He couldn’t help but laugh when she felt her poke him in the ribs, “Hey.”

“Don’t you play coy mister. You know damn well that this is our weekend alone together,” she revealed in a sultry tone kissing him once again, “Once Jackie and John leave for school it’ll be the start of our weekend together and I, for one, can’t wait.”

“Hmm, well when you say it like that, neither can I,” Julian snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her in for a small kiss, “I have to tell you I didn’t realize how much I missed spending time with you until just now.”

“It took you this long to realize that huh?” Olivia frowned over at him swatting his chest playfully, “I think I’m insulted.”

“Don’t be,” he whispered in response curling his arm around her waist. He pushed her back onto the mattress before leaning over her. His eyes met hers for a long moment before he smiled, “because I promise that when I get home from work tonight I’ll show you a whole new meaning of appreciation.”

“You’d better damn well intend on following through on that,” she mused wrapping her arms around his shoulders and drawing him in nearer to her for a kiss when the door to their bedroom bust open.

“Mom, you were supposed to give me lunch money and…” Jackie groaned seeing her parents with one another, “Okay, that’s just disgusting. The last thing I need to see is this kind of sexual perversion. Though it does bring up a point that this apartment is way too small for all of us.”

“It’s a whole lot smaller right this very minute,” Julian groaned sliding back to his side of the bed and glancing over at his daughter with a frown, “What’s that?”

“What’s what?” Jackie questioned with a simply shrug of her shoulders seeing the way that her father pointed at her pink miniskirt. Grinning she spun around and wiggled with it before holding her arms out, “This dad is my good deal at the mall. They were having a sale on this and I got it half price, which by the way makes me very proud of myself and…”

“Half price,” Julian repeated with wide eyes before frowning, “Is that why they only gave you half the skirt?”

“Oh dad you’re so funny,” Jackie laughed lightly waving her hand dismissively before walking over to give him a kiss on the cheek, “Admit it I look good in it.”

“You look like you need to take a trip back to your room and change it,” he spoke up in a firm voice, his eyes reaching out into hers, “Jacqueline I’m not going to let you walk around like that when you and I both know…”

“That you need to relax daddy,” she replied in a bright tone kissing him once again before stepping back, “because stress is not going to help you with anything. I’ll be just fine in this and I’m sure that you’ll be okay here alone with mom this weekend. Speaking of which I don’t want to know what you’re going to be planning on doing because well, um yuck.”

“Jackie,” Olivia shot a look out over at her daughter before handing over a wad of money, “Here is your lunch money and then there is some extra for both you and John to have this weekend.”

“I thought John’s trip was paid for in full,” Jackie glanced down at the dollars in her hand with great interest.

“It’s paid for but he still needs spending money,” Olivia noted with a firm expression, “that he’d better get Jackie.”

“I’ll give it to him. Just like I promise that I’ll get him to the train station like I promised,” Jackie continued to explain with a grin, “I’m sure that you two will be relieved that I offered to do it since obviously you’ll be getting your freak on.”

“Jackie,” Julian tossed out a disapproving look.

“Yeah I know. I’m going, I’m going,” she held her hands up in the air before leaning in to embrace her father, “I love you dad.”

“I love you too and I fully expect you to change that skirt before you go to school,” he warned offering up a hug before she stepped back.

“Trust me dad there’s nothing wrong with it,” she waved at him again before making a quick rush to the door. “I’ll call you both later.”

“Bye honey,” Olivia waved over at her before Jackie shut the door behind her.

“Since when did our children start believing that it was okay to stop listening to me?” Julian frowned thinking about his daughter’s reaction to him.

“Since you stopped being here full time,” Olivia confessed with a small sigh, “They were used to you playing Mr. Mom before you went back to work at the station and…”

“I wasn’t out of work that long after the shooting,” Julian frowned thinking about the wound he’d encountered during the line of duty.

“Six months in teen years feels like forever and besides,” Olivia leaned in closer to him kissing him one last time before slipping out of bed, “Why wouldn’t they miss you? You’re one hell of a guy.”

“Trying to butter me up now huh?” he shook his head and laughed, “Now I know I’m in for something tonight.”

“And trust me it’s something that will change your life forever,” she tossed out a playful wink before motioning to the master bathroom. “I’m going to get ready for work.”

“I think I’m going to check on Jackie and John before they rush out of here because she’s not wearing that skirt,” Julian decided throwing the blankets back and getting out of bed.

“You can try to talk her out of it, but it’s never going to happen,” Olivia warned him as Julian walked out of the bedroom ready to get a few words in with his children before they were off to their own adventures for the weekend.


Stretching out her arms, Mindy saw the sunlight coming in through the blinds, shining in her eyes waking her from her slumber. Turning around in her bed she reached for her pillow pulling it in closer to her and hugging it tightly.

“It’s too early,” Mindy groaned looking at the clock and throwing the pillow over her head and trying to block the light out of her eyes. Even though she was tired, she knew that once she was awake there was no way she was going to be able to get back to sleep in the long run. Turning onto her back she let out a long breath pushing her hair back behind her ears after pulling the pillow away from her face. “There is no winning at getting some sleep any day.”

Thinking back to the earlier night she sat up in the bed looking around the room before taking in a long shallow breath. Last night when she had invited Nate to hang out with her and Jason they had gone out to the club even though Nate and Jason had warned her it wasn’t a good idea. She just wanted a chance to break free from everyone worrying about her.

“It wasn’t that bad of an idea,” she muttered to herself standing up from the bed walking into the bathroom to reach out and grab her toothbrush from the counter and turning the water on. Thinking back to before they left, she remembered dancing with Jason first, but then danced with Nate for what seemed like forever. He was so fun and such a goofball, in fact it was really nice for him to take them both home. Letting out a small gasp she finished up and walked out to her bedroom and grabbed her watch. “Nate.”

Walking out into the living room she remembered Nate wanting to stay over night to make sure she would be okay and not be able to get hurt. Wondering if he was still here she walked out into the living room to see that no one was on the couch.

“Nate?” Mindy saw that his keys were still on the table as a soft snoring noise came from the corner of the room and she saw someone’s feet stick out from under the table making her move in closer to him. Going to the other side she saw Nate sleeping on a pillow under the table and she let out a small laugh. “Nate?”

“What?” Nate questioned sitting up in a panic only to have his head collide with the table above him hearing Mindy let out a small gasp as he pressed his hand in over the center of his head. His green eyes stared up into her blue eyes as he let out a small laugh. “Everything all right?”

“Yeah, with me,” Mindy gulped down getting down on the ground and moving the chairs away from the table so she could lie down on the floor with Nate. Seeing him get on his elbow to stare out at her she looked up at the bottom of the table. “Why are sleeping under the table.”

“I don’t know actually,” Nate laughed shrugging his shoulders thinking of an answer to try and give her a good one before shaking his head slowly. “I actually have no idea how I ended up here. It’s kind of a shocker for me too.”

“Seriously? Maybe sleep walking,” she teased seeing him push back his sandy blonde hair before letting out a small laugh and shaking his head slowly. “I do it sometimes, I would understand if that was what it was.”

“Maybe I just wanted something a lot firmer on my back?” he suggested feeling a pain build up in his back before letting out a small laugh and pressing his fingers in over the small of his back. “Something really rough on the back.”

“Well, how about some breakfast to make it better?” Mindy offered up seeing the way Nate nodded slowly and sat up carefully making sure he didn’t hit the bottom of the table. Not even realizing what he was doing she sat up only to feel her head collide with the table this time making her fall back into Nate’s arms. “Okay, that does hurt a bit.”

“Now we can have matching bruises,” Nate teased pressing his fingers in over the center of her head hearing her let out a small whimper as he led her out from under the table carefully before pulling her into his arms. “Now, I think we should stay away from any low hanging poles and things like that.”

“I don’t think we have any here,” Mindy laughed rubbing at her head before motioning him into the kitchen as she walked over to the fridge to look things over. “How do you feel about eggs and some orange juice.”

“Add some toast into the mix,” he reached for the white bread from the counter before heading over toward the toaster. “Unless of course you have something against toast. Then we won’t have to have toast.”

“No, I don’t mind,” she chuckled seeing him shoot her back a small smile before she pulled out the pan and got everything else ready before turning to meet Nate’s eyes. She saw the way that way he was already staring out at her as she let out a long sigh. “What’s on your mind?”

“I was just thinking about last night,” Nate explained seeing her nod slowly as he stepped forward toward the cabinet seeing the way her eyes widened when he pulled out the peanut butter. “I got hungry last night, so I knew where it was.”

“Oh,” she whispered watching him shrug as he pulled open the drawer for a butter knife making her wonder how long she was really out for him to go through all that stuff. “You like peanut butter on your toast? I do too.”

“Then I guess I’m going to be putting it on all the pieces then,” Nate shrugged seeing her nod before turning to face the scrambled eggs that were already done and he cleared his throat uneasily. “Hey Mindy? What’s up with that Jason guy?”

“Jason? The one with us last night?” Mindy muttered seeing Nate nod slowly before taking a small glance back at her over his shoulder with his green eyes. “He’s just one of my friends, that’s all I trust him with everything that I am.”

“You trust him? Well, I would think that you would trust him enough to tell you the truth. The guy obviously has it out for you,” Nate muttered seeing the way that Mindy pressed her hand over her chest letting out a small laugh. “No sweetheart, I’m being serious. The way he looks at you is somewhat scary and obvious at the same time.”

“Nate, stop joking around,” Mindy brought her hand against his shoulder hearing the way that Nate shook his head slowly before taking in a long breath. “He’s my friend and that’s all he’ll ever be. Trust me when I say that.”


“Jason, it’s time to get up so we can make some breakfast,” Deana knocked on his door hearing nothing from the other side as she opened to see that he wasn’t in his room. Hearing a noise coming from the living room she tiredly walked in to see Jason holding onto the remote flipping channels over and over again until stopping on the cartoon network. “Did you ever go to sleep last night.”

“I wasn’t tired,” Jason explained pulling his legs up on the couch and lying flat on his back as he saw Deana step in front of him to block his view. “Deana, I’m trying to watch cartoons. Please move?”

“Am I talking to Jason right now or am I talking to Zane?” Deana questioned walking over and sitting on Jason’s stomach hearing him groan out in the process. Feeling him move underneath her until he was comfortable with her weight over him he reached for the remote and switched on another cartoon channel. “Why are you being so cry babyish?”

“I’m not a cry baby,” Jason pouted feeling her elbow dig into his chest as he let out a loud groan seeing the smile press in over her lips as he hissed back at her in response. “Nothing is wrong with me, I just came home last night and decided I wasn’t tired.”

“You’re acting like a baby,” Deana pointed out again bringing her hand in the over the center of his chest, slapping at it roughly and hearing him let out a small whimper and glaring out at her. “What did you do last night?”

“Would you stop beating me up?” he begged seeing his sister shrug her shoulders before he took in a long shallow breath and shrugged his shoulders in response also. “You know I hung out with Mindy last night and I was just going to the club with her and her guy friend before I came home. That’s all.”

“So you went to the club with Mindy, why would you be upset about that? You had fun didn’t you?” Deana questioned thinking about what he had just said before taking in a long breath and itching her chin. “Is this because of the guy friend you mentioned? Are you jealous of a guy that was hanging out with Mindy?”

“No, why would you say something like that?” Jason blurted out seeing her dark eyes widen as he took in a long breath and shook his head staying firm to his answer. “Trust me, I was the one she decided to dance with first. Yeah, she danced with him to more songs, but that’s because they were short songs. It’s not like she likes him more than me.”

“Whoa, Jason. The more you babble on about why you are being a cry baby, the more I’m starting to think you have a thing for Mindy,” she pointed out seeing his blue eyes widen before letting out a small laugh and shaking his head slowly. “Are you sure? You sound like a jealous little boy right now because Mindy is hanging out with someone else. Is that the case?”

“Dee, I’m not sick,” Jason blurted out seeing her nod slowly before staring him straight in the eyes when he shook his head slowly. “I would never ever take advantage of someone who lost a person they cherished so much like that. I care for her too much to do that.”

“Of course you wouldn’t do that,” she mumbled sarcastically feeling him push her off his stomach and to the ground in a thud. Letting out a small groan she turned to face him with a laugh seeing the way that he looked out at her. “Oh come on Jason, you can tell that you like her. You spend so much time with her that it’s obvious you have a crush on her. I know for a fact that you do, it’s clearer than anything you’ve done in a long time.”

“So what if I do?” Jason blurted out seeing her nod slowly as she sat up straighter watching him sit back up and shake his head slowly. “You can’t help when you get a crush on someone. You know as well as me that it just happens sometimes.”

“Are you sure that it’s something that should be happening though?” Deana questioned seeing the way Jason shrugged his shoulders and looked away from her. She stood up slowly, shrugging her shoulders not sure what else to say to her twin as she took in a long breath. “I don’t know what to tell you Jason. I just hope you know what you are doing.”


“I can’t believe this is actually ours,” Blake mused with a wide grin walking through the foyer leading to the front door now that Seth and Grady had returned with oversized boxes in their hands. Her blue eyes grew wide with excitement as both men breezed past her with the things for the kitchen, “I mean when I think about how incredible this place is, I can’t believe that it just fell into our lap like this.”

“What can I say,” Seth set down the box he was holding before looking to Grady, “I had a little help in getting things going.”

“Hey, you did most of the work,” Grady laughed lightly before shaking his head, “I just helped push the process through a little bit faster for the both of you. You got a good deal on it and since the family of the original owners were just looking into selling it so they could move down south, it only pushed the deal into concluding faster.”

“I still couldn’t have done it without your help,” Seth reminded him thinking about all Grady had done to make this new phase of his life with Blake possible. “You were able to sweet talk them into bringing this to just the right price range and…”

“And I would have done it for anyone I considered family,” Grady assured him setting a box down before looking around the kitchen, “though I have to tell you that you’re going to have a lot of work cut out ahead of you with what you’re planning to do in here with renovations. Personally I think things are great as they are, but I can see why you might want to upgrade a few things.”

“We’ve decided that renovations wouldn’t hurt,” Blake glanced over at the kitchen sink, “Especially in here. Don’t get me wrong I love to cook, but I really think that we’re going to need to get the wiring checked out since there is a faulty outlet and well, shamefully I don’t think I can make it without a dishwasher.”

“Good thing Grady was able to help us with that one as well,” Seth informed her with a bright grin, “He just finished redecorating his kitchen and was going to donate his old one. It’s pretty nice.”

“It might not be an industrial one like you had at your old place,” Grady began thinking about what was in the oversized Ashford kitchen, “but it’s a pretty good one. I wasn’t sure I would part with it, but Deana convinced me that it really didn’t fit with the new look of the kitchen.”

“She did huh?” Blake couldn’t help but crack a smile, “It sounds like you depend on her for a lot these days I mean with having her help you redesign your kitchen and all…”

“She’s pretty good at bossing me around,” Grady revealed with a hint of a smile as he thought back to his previous night with Deana. “Very good at it.”

“Which is what you need I’m sure,” Blake looked over to the table where one of the stray boxes sat on the center. She stepped forward and pulled it into her arms, “This should go upstairs to the bedroom.”

“I’ll take it up for you,” Seth offered watching her shake her head.

“No, I can handle it. You two get the big stuff, so I can manage this,” she explained in a matter of fact tone before going to the staircase.

“I guess that settles it,” Grady pointed towards the doorway, “Want to go get the dishwasher out of my truck?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Seth nodded in agreement before walking out behind Grady. After a moment he thought about what Grady had been saying to Blake, “You know I think it’s really great that you found someone again Grady.”

“Huh?” Grady’s green eyes widened in surprise, “I mean oh yeah.”

“Deana’s great,” Seth confessed leaning in against the side of Grady’s truck while he worked to bring the back door down. “I mean I know that I’m probably not the one you expected to be hearing it from, but she’s got a lot of spunk. She’s witty and sarcastic, but in a good way. She’s a really wonderful person.”

“She really is,” Grady paused long enough to look over at Seth, “but that doesn’t mean that I loved Jade any less considering that…”

“I never doubted your feelings for my sister,” Seth waved his hand in the air dismissively before standing up taller, “Granted I didn’t always approve of them when I thought you two were mismatched in the beginning, but I was wrong. I was just so afraid that she would get hurt entering into a relationship with you considering the age differences.”

“I wish I could have made life easier on her when she was with us,” Grady sighed thinking about the obstacles that she and Jade faced with one another. “I spent so much time dealing with my own demons that I missed out on so many special moments.”

“Every moment you had with Jade was special to her,” Seth informed him point blank, “My sister was used to taking on a big challenge and she had the greatest one of her life with you. You taught her what it was like to be loved--to have real love and experience happiness in her life. My only regret is that she lost it far too soon in her life, but I’m grateful for the joy that you gave her when she was alive.”

“She was a miracle in my life Seth,” Grady added reaching out to pat Seth on the shoulder as both men were overcome by their emotions in remembering Jade. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be the man that I am today. I wouldn’t be able to open my heart to anyone else and experience any kind of love. I’d be lost in my own self-loathing. Because of Jade I can finally break free of the hold that the past had over me.”

“She’d be so proud of you,” Seth noted with a tiny nod, “She loved you so very much that I know wherever she is right now, she’d be happy to see that you are at peace with yourself. I know she’d approve of Deana being the woman you’re sharing your life with now. I know Jade wished it was her, but I’m sure wherever she is now she’s looking down on you and keeping you in her thoughts and prayers from above.”

“She’s been my guardian angel even at my low points,” Grady leapt up into the back of his truck and motioned for Seth to get ready to grab the dishwasher. “You ready for this?”

“Sure,” Seth nodded in response moving in position to help ease the dishwasher off of the truck bed.

“You have it?” Grady questioned feeling Seth pulling the dishwasher further off the bed of the truck.

“Yeah,” Seth nodded as the two men maneuvered the dishwasher off of the truck and back into the house. They carried it over to the kitchen and set it down near where Blake wanted it to be installed. As they stepped back Seth looked to Grady again, “You sure you know how to install one of these things?”

“My father taught me at a young age to be able to work my way around the house,” Grady added with a small laugh, “He had Russ and I trained to build a house with our own hands if we have to. I’m sure I can set it up with my eyes closed if need be.”

“Was your father a contractor?” Seth arched a curious brow.

“Nah, he was more of a salesman through the years,” Grady admitted with a small laugh, “Though he would have made a lot more money if he was a contractor. He built our family cabin with only the help of his brother truth be told.”

“Really?” Seth mused with a curious expression, “That says a lot right there.”

“Yeah, that my father had way too much time on his hands when we were growing up,” Grady teased hearing Blake walk down the stairs to join them again.

“Sarah’s here,” Blake announced excitedly as she turned to the front door where Seth and Grady had walked in. Seconds later Sarah entered the house and made her way into the kitchen.

“I see you have been busy,” Sarah announced with a smile as her eyes shot over in Grady’s direction. Her smile faded and she stood up taller placing her hands on her hips and glaring at the man who’d helped Kyle set her up on her wedding day. “Very busy apparently.”

“You know now that I think about it I think there’s a box that I need to get from the truck for this,” Grady blurted out quickly as he stepped past Sarah knowing full well that the last thing he wanted to do was get into a debate with Kyle’s ex-fiancée when he knew damn well that Sarah Marx was nothing but trouble!


“Heather,” Kyle’s voice pressed in over her ear as Heather pushed away at him trying to get in more sleep for the morning feeling Kyle’s hands press in over her hips. “Come on baby wake up.”

“Kyle, go away,” Heather pushed at his chest roughly hearing him let out a deep laugh before moving in over her and grabbing both of her wrists in his hands. “Kyle, I want to sleep. Please leave me alone.”

“I’m sorry, that’s not in my agenda today,” Kyle teased seeing the way her tired green eyes stared up at him as she tried to get her hands away from him. Letting out a small laugh he dipped down to press small kisses against her jaw line hearing her let out a small breath. “I don’t think that’s really what you want either.”

“Kyle, you never play fair,” Heather pointed out feeling the way his lips pressed in over the side of her neck as she arched up into him letting out a long sigh. “One day, I’m going to get you back for all this though.”

“Trust me, I’m better off with less sleep. I get more things done anyways,” Kyle pointed out feeling her fingers press in over his belt as he let out a long sigh shaking his head slowly. “Sorry honey, that’s not what I woke you up for. If we did that, I don’t think your son would be very happy with me leaving him.”

“Whoa, wait a second,” she pushed him off her roughly onto his back standing to her feet hearing him let out a small laugh as she pressed back her messy blonde hair. “You left my son somewhere? Where is he Kyle?”

“In the kitchen, it’s been two minutes. Calm down,” Kyle laughed seeing her worried green eyes now turn back to normal as he stood up and she moved over to him pressing at his chest. “Go see him, he’s just eating his breakfast.”

“You scared the crap out of me Kyle,” Heather pointed out hearing him let out a small chuckle before shaking his head slowly and following her out into the room. Once walking into the kitchen she saw all the food that was spread out over the table. Letting out a small laugh she looked back at Kyle seeing the way he nodded and smiled. “You know I’m not much of a breakfast person.”

“Right, I know. You don’t eat meat, but that’s why I put that on my side of the table,” Kyle replied pulling her seat out for her and letting her sit down. “We both can’t have eggs and we both can’t have much milk, but that will be okay. I made you some waffles and look there are strawberries on top.”

“And they are shaped like a heart,” Heather laughed seeing him nod slowly as she looked to Charles’s dark eyes watching the way her son ate the food Kyle placed out for him. “How in the world did you do that?”

“Yeah, I know these are for cookies, but somehow I thought it might work and it did,” Kyle picked up the cookie cutter he used hearing her let out a small laugh as his nose wrinkled laughing himself. Looking to Charles Kyle pointed to him seeing Heather’s eyebrows arch up as he motioned her to wait. “I’ve been trying to get him to say mama and he has been getting really close.”

“Kyle, honestly,” Heather reached out for him while seeing Kyle repeat his words over and over again before glancing over at her. “I don’t think he is ready to say it yet and…,”

“Mmmm…,” Charles got out trying to copy Kyle as he smiled and glanced over at Heather seeing her scoot her chair in closer to Kyle. Charles heard Kyle egg him on as he shook his head slowly letting out a loud laugh and covering his eyes.

“Maybe if you make him say something else,” Heather hit Kyle in the shoulder seeing him staring out at her with hazel eyes. “Try and get him to say dada, that might be easier.”

“Kipp’s not here though and that would confuse him, I can try Kyle,” he began seeing her nod slowly as Kyle scoot his chair forward seeing the way that Charles laughed at him. “Come on kiddo, can you say Kyle. Say Ky…holy shit.”

“Kyle,” Heather snapped seeing him fall back in his chair and out on the floor as she turned to see Kellen walking into the kitchen as she heard Charles laugh at what Kyle did. “Kellen, how in the world did you get in here?”

“Honestly Kyle, trying to get her son to say that isn’t right,” Kellen pointed out seeing Kyle get up from the floor angrily as he threw his hands in the air grabbing the seat next to Kyle and sitting down. “I knew that you guys never really locked the doors that much so I just decided to come in and say hello. Didn’t mean to scare you Kyle.”

“You didn’t scare me,” Kyle rubbed at his shirt before putting his chair back up and sitting down before hearing Heather let out a small laugh. “You honestly just caught me off guard, that’s all.”

“Sure honey, keep telling yourself that,” Kellen chuckled looking over at Kyle with his blue eyes as he saw Kyle look the other way. Reaching out to pat Kyle on the shoulder, he shook his head slowly before taking in a long shallow breath. He reached down to grab a piece of sausage from one of the plates before taking a quick bite. “Heather Babes, I have so many problems and right now, I really need to speak with you.”


“Are you sure that I can’t get you a coffee or something?” Becca questioned watching Kipp yawn for the third time since she’d entered his office. The dark circles under his eyes were a telltale sign that he hadn’t had enough sleep and now that he was practically snoozing off in his chair, she knew that he had to be exhausted.

“No, but thanks for the offer,” he waved his hand dismissively, “I’m trying to cut back on caffeine since I think Kellen should do the same. He’s always so bubbly and bouncy, but…well let’s just say that right now I don’t think a coffee would really help.”

“Why not?” she questioned arching a curious brow. “I mean I could get you a soft drink or something. I think I have a Diet Coke or two in my office and…”

“Thanks, but I’m going to pass,” Kipp replied with another yawn. “I guess my lack of sleep is just getting to me these days. Last night was just really long and it left little to be desired in the area of sleep if you will.”

“Did something happen with Charles?” she questioned worriedly.

“No, not at all. Thank God,” Kipp replied with a relieved breath before running his fingers through his hair. “Truth be told I was at the hospital all night with Kellen.”

“Is something wrong?” she arched a curious brow as she sat up straighter.

“No, not really,” Kipp paused for a moment before letting out an ironic laugh, “Although if you ask Kellen about it, he might wind up telling you it was a major catastrophe that he lived through.”

“What do you mean?” Becca couldn’t help but ask now that her curiosities got the best of her.

“I really shouldn’t be getting into this,” Kipp pondered the thought for a long moment before shaking the thought, “Never mind.”

“No tell me,” she goaded him on further. “I’d love to know what it is that Kellen’s done that had you out of bed all night at the hospital.”

“It’s really not that big of a deal,” Kipp pondered the thought for a moment, “Though I have to admit I’ve never seen Kellen so shocked and surprised before.”

“If you keep being so cryptic I’m going to have to find a new way to wrangle the truth out of you,” she tossed back at him with a frown, “Spill it Kipp.”

“Fine,” he reluctantly decided, “but remember you didn’t hear this from me.”

“My lips are sealed,” she promised bringing her fingers over the center of her lips while pretending to seal them off.

“Okay, truth be told Kellen was at the hospital checking in on an old friend when he discovered,” Kipp paused another laugh erupting from behind his lips, “It is rather comical when you really think about it.”

“So what’s the joke you’re not telling me?” she urged him on further.

“Well, it turns out that his friend was in an accident of sorts, which is no laughing matter, but as it turns out she was married to his brother--at least that’s what everyone thought,” Kipp divulged thinking about the expression on Kellen’s face when he talked about Angela, “but it turns out that due to a minor legal snafu, Kellen not only didn’t have this friend as a sister-in-law, but rather that she married someone else near and dear to him.”

“Who might that be?” Becca arched a curious brow.

“Kellen,” Kipp couldn’t help but laugh remembering the way in which Kellen couldn’t get over the idea of being wed to Angela.

“What?” her jaw dropped at the admission.

“Kellen was just as shocked as you are and then all night long he kept going on and on about how he was an adulterer,” Kipp shook his head and chuckled, “It turns out he signed a paper that he shouldn’t have and because of it he’s married to his friend Angela. It’s really a very comical story, but Kellen takes it so very serious.”

“So you’re saying he has a wife?” Becca’s eyes widened.

“Yeah, but only on paper,” Kipp added thinking about Kellen’s bride. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Is he going to stay married?” she questioned curiously wondering if Kellen would be out of Kipp’s life soon.

“I would seriously doubt it,” Kipp waved his hand dismissively, “especially since Angela is engaged from what I’ve heard. Still it’s a funny story to tell someone especially someone who knows Kellen.”

“No kidding,” she nodded in response before falling to silence again. After a second she spoke up, “So what about his wife? How does she feel about being married to him?”

“She’s really not in a position to realize the situation yet, but I’m sure she’ll have a laugh about it just like we all have thus far,” Kipp blurted out thinking about Kellen’s situation. “Still it makes for an interesting story at a party.”

“I would say so,” Becca nodded in agreement wondering if Kellen being married would play into her favor. Before she could say anything further on the subject Kipp’s secretary buzzed in alerting them that the people they were meeting with for the afternoon had arrived.

“We’ll be right there,” Kipp explained before flashing Becca a smile, “You ready for this one?”

“I was born ready,” Becca smiled knowing only too well that she was about to get absolutely everything she’d been hoping for since she’d arrived in Coral Valley. She was certain beyond a doubt that Kellen would be the key to giving her absolutely everything that was rightfully hers starting with Kipp.


Evie walked out into the kitchen thinking about what had happened last night after her talk with JT. She’d been so upset by what her father had done that she hadn’t been able to think straight--she couldn’t think about anything other than the threat he’d made against her and JT. Even now after JT had tried to talk her down, she couldn’t help but feel as if everything was closing in around her. Somehow she’d let JT talk her into staying there one more night as she fell asleep in his arms, but now with the morning fresh in front of her, she found herself wanting to get as far away from Coral Valley as possible.

Walking out into the living room she noticed that there were a few random suitcases around the living room. One was open and she realized it must’ve been for her since some of the things she’d bought earlier with JT were folded inside. She walked over to the suitcase thinking about what he’d said to her last night about protecting her and she felt a warmth carry over her. JT really did love her and unlike what her father had told her JT was going to be there for her completely.

“I thought I heard you wake up,” JT popped his head from the kitchen area before curling his finger and motioning for her to join him. “I’m finishing up breakfast, but if you would like you could give me some company.”

“What’s all of this?” Evie questioned giving him a strange look. “I thought we weren’t leaving yet to go on our trip.”

“I changed my mind about waiting. After last night I thought it might be an even better idea,” he explained leaning in to give her a quick kiss before finishing up with the food he had been working on. “Why don’t you grab the juice from the fridge sweetheart?”

“Okay,” she walked over to do as instructed before she spun around to face him again. She watched him finish off the last set of pancakes, placing them on the plate before garnishing them with strawberries, strawberry syrup and whipped cream. Holding the plate up in his hand, he faced her with a smile.

“Sit down,” he suggested watching her reach for a couple of glasses before moving to her seat. She eyed the stack of pancakes with a bright grin.

“JT, you didn’t have to do this,” she began feeling a heat rise over her features at what he’d done for her.

“I wanted to,” he set the plate down in front of her before stealing another kiss from her, “Besides I figured maybe this time we might get to eat them this morning.”

“I don’t know,” she laughed lightly remembering when she’d made him breakfast in bed, “We might get carried away again.”

“Which is why I’m going to keep a hold on this,” he walked over to the counter and swiped the bottle of strawberry syrup off of it before joining her. He set the bottle between them and winked, “I remembered how you liked to have some pancakes with your syrup there since you like this stuff.”

“I don’t like this stuff,” she reached for the bottle and grinned widely, “I love this stuff.”

“Somehow I already knew that,” he sat back in his chair watching her for a long moment before reaching out to touch her cheek gently, “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Still creeped out,” she admitted honestly closing her eyes for a brief second, “I can’t stop thinking about what my father said to me last night. I know you think that we can stop him, but JT he’s crazy. He’s out of his mind and won’t have any problems hurting me or you because of my telling you what he’s up to.”

“Sweetheart, I promised you last night that he wouldn’t be able to hurt you. I meant that,” he continued to explain to her with a small sigh, “In fact I talked with my brother this morning and I told him a little about what went on last night. He said he’d be more than willing to get whatever we need.”

“Really?” her eyes widened in response before she took a bite of her pancake, “but he doesn’t even know me.”

“Yeah, well he wants to change that too,” JT explained clearing his throat uneasily, “I know that we were supposed to take off to the island, but I figured before we left you should meet Cameron. I really want him to have a chance to see you before we go because I’ve told him how amazing you are. Plus if you really aren’t ready to go to the island I thought that we could stay at his place for a while. He has top notch security there.”

“JT, I don’t want you to feel like you have to change your whole life because of me. I have far too many problems for you to take them all on. I’m really no good for you and as long as my father is lurking around…” she started to protest thinking about the way her father waved his gun around in the air.

“Your father doesn’t scare me, but the thought of losing you does,” he reached for her hand squeezing it gently. “I know that I’m probably the last guy in the world you would expect to hear something like that from, but things have always been different with you. I wasn’t a very nice person before you came into my life, but now, well there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you. I love you.”

“I love you too which is why I don’t want my father to hurt you. He has no problems killing a man because he’s done it before JT. I’ve seen him shoot someone,” she divulged with a tiny shiver, “He shot a man in cold blood when I was younger and I know he’ll do it again.”

“He won’t get the chance to do it around us. I promise you,” he squeezed her hand gently before lifting it up to his lips and offering a small kiss, “Evie, you have to trust me. You trust me, don’t you?”

“With all that I am,” she nodded in confession seeing the honesty behind his eyes.

“Then trust that I will protect you. We’ll finish packing up here and then we’ll go to Cameron’s place. You can meet him and see that while he’s a bit different, he’ll do anything to protect his family and that includes you. You’re a part of my life now and I’ll be damned if I let anyone hurt you,” he assured her as Evie wondered if JT would truly be able to take on her father and win. She hadn’t seen anyone accomplish that yet, but she was hoping that soon that would turn around for her so that she could finally be free of her father.


Kevin rubbed his stiff neck as he looked up from where he’d been seated in the chair all night waiting for any further word on Angela’s condition. He glanced over at her bed finding it empty as he heard a sound rise up from the other side of the room. His dark eyes snapped up at the familiar click of heels on the floor. In an instant, his eyes were fixed on the sexiest set of familiar long legs he’d found himself lost in time and time again.

“There you are,” Ria grinned at him, her hands keeping the sides of her jacket closed together with one hand bunched around the front of it. “I’ve been waiting for you to wake up.”

“Ria,” he spoke her name lazily seeing her stepping in closer to him. His gaze swept over her, feeling himself becoming more alert as she leaned in over him.

“Don’t say anything,” she pressed her index finger over his lips. She leaned forward dropping her hold on the jacket she’d been in to reveal that she was wearing a black lace bra and a matching pair of panties underneath. Immediately Kevin perked up.

“What’s all this?” he questioned his brown eyes skimming over her curves.

“This is your morning wake up call,” she mouthed dropping down to straddle his lap on the chair. She eased the jacket from her shoulders before wrapping her arms around his neck possessively, “I thought we would let our bodies do more talking to one another this morning.”

“But what about Angela? What if she walks back in here and sees that we are…” Kevin stammered feeling his body heat up at the feel of her over him. He closed his eyes briefly losing himself to the rocking of her hips against his hard, male form until he felt as if he couldn’t take it any longer.

“That’s right Kevin,” Ria nibbled on his ear gently, “Show me how much you love me. Show me how much you need me.”

“But Angela…” he struggled to keep his thoughts on anything that sounded rational, but as he pressed his palms around Ria’s slender form, his train of thought had taken off in a new direction.

“She’s out for some tests which means that I’ve got you all to myself and I plan to enjoy that,” she informed him sliding her hand down his chest before she backed away from him.

“Ria, where are you…” he watched her stand up and circle around, doing a little dance for him. His eyes grew eager with anticipation as she traced her own curves issuing him a strip tease that made him hotter than hell. She turned away from him then backed up moving in towards him to brush her behind against his thighs before she turned to face him again.

“Do you like what you’re seeing Kevin?” she questioned seeing him nod unable to find a word to communicate just how much. Smiling she bent down and reached for her uniform jacket. “How much?”

“Very much,” he gulped watching her set the jacket down on the ground in a folded position before she knelt before him.

“Not good enough,” she shook her head, her long hair spilling over her shoulders. She leaned forward skimming her breasts over his thigh before her fingers plucked at his belt. She quickly unzipped his pants before urging him up off of his hips. “You can do better.”

“I’m hotter than you can imagine baby,” he blurted out feeling her push his boxers down before her lips skimmed over the bare skin of his abdomen.

“You can do better,” she insisted cupping him in her hand before stroking his length in a torturous motion. “You can do so much better.”

“Ria, I…” he started feeling her lips close over him, taking him fully into her mouth. He arched his head back, a groan spilling from his now parted lips as she worked her charm over him, tasting him and teasing him with her unrelenting talents. His fingers tangled in through her hair, his heart pounding in his chest as she drove him wild with desire. It was like heaven. The ultimate fantasy that had given him quite the jolt for the morning, but that fantasy came to an abrupt ending when he heard the sound of Angela’s voice.

“Kevin,” Angela called out to him, “Kevin, can you hear me? Kevin!”

“Huh?” Kevin snapped out of his dream state finding himself still in the cramped chair that he’d spent the night in. He looked around the hospital room half expecting to find Ria across the room, making him mad with desire, but instead he found Angela in her hospital bed eyeing him curiously.

“Why are you over there?” she frowned at him, her dark eyes browsing him over before she patted the bed beside her, “You don’t have to stay over there. I thought that you would be here with your arms around me when I woke up today.”

“I um,” Kevin fought to find the right words as he felt stiff and uncomfortable in the chair. He thought to the dream that he’d been having about Ria and it only added to his nervousness. “I think I’m going to stay over here. I was sort of up all night and…”

“Were you having a bad dream?” she questioned curiously her eyes fixed on him, “I mean you were muttering something under your breath and…”

“I just feel a bit sick,” Kevin admitted placing his hand over his stomach to keep from drawing attention to where his thoughts were headed in his dream.

“The curse of the Mexican food continues?” she questioned curiously offering up a sympathetic expression.

“Mexican food,” he repeated tipping his head to the side not knowing what she was talking about.

“Last night when you got sick Brant said it was the Mexican food that had you feeling bad,” she reminded him with a small frown.

“Oh right,” Kevin nodded quickly, “Yeah it really kicked my butt last night and I just don’t even want to think about it.”

“I’m sorry for bringing it up,” she stretched her arms out towards him, “Why don’t you come on over here and lay with me and I’ll make you feel better?”

“Actually I really don’t think that…” Kevin paused hearing the door open and seeing Brant step inside. He let out a breath of relief and waved over at Brant, “Hey Brant it’s great to see you here. We were just talking about you.”

“We were?” Angela burled back at Kevin with a confused expression.

“That’s right. You were just saying how much you enjoyed seeing him last night--how it was great to have him spend time with you when I was getting sick in the bathroom,” Kevin met Brant’s eyes with a firm, warning look.

“Oh really,” Brant smiled over at Angela, “So tell me do you remember anything else about me?”

“Remember,” she tipped her head to the side and frowned, “Why would I remember anything else? We didn’t spend that much time hanging out with one another.”

“So you were just thinking about last night, huh?” Brant frowned realizing that his hopes for her memory to return to her obviously weren’t happening this morning.

“Nope, not at all, but Kevin and I were just about to have a conversation,” she snubbed Brant in the name of turning towards Kevin again, “Why don’t you come on over here and lay down with me? You look tired.”

“Actually,” Brant interrupted clearing his throat uneasily, “I wanted to talk to Kevin this morning. There’s something that we need to discuss.”

“Can’t it wait?” Angela frowned over at Brant, “He just woke up and…”

“Actually Angie, it’s kind of important,” Kevin sprung up from the chair he’d been seated in. “I really do need to talk to Brant.”

“Now?” she replied with a pouting expression, “But Kevin…”

“I’ll be back,” he assured her walking past her bed and feeling her reach out to take his arm in hers.

“Hey, where’s my kiss?” she looked up at him expectantly. “You didn’t really think I would let you get out of here without giving me that, did you?”

“Of course not,” Kevin leaned in to kiss her forehead gently before motioning to Brant. “We can go talk in the hallway. I’ll be right back Angie.”

“I’ll miss you,” she waved as Kevin gave her one last look before moving out into the hallway with Brant.

“What was that all about?” Brant scowled over at Kevin thinking about Angela’s attachment to him.

“My worst nightmare coming true all over again. This is the last thing I want and need in my life right now, so please tell me that whatever it is you want to talk to me about, it’s something good--something that can help put an end to this charade we’re all stuck in once and for all,” Kevin blurted out knowing full well that the last thing he wanted to do was pretend to be in love with Angela when his heart and his mind was with Ria.


Ria snuggled up on the center of her sofa wrapping herself up more in a blanket while her thoughts lingered to the one man she wanted more than anything--the man that should be there with her holding her and sharing the morning with her. Instead, she found herself flipping channels on the television and he was back where she’d left him--back at the hospital where he was no doubt tending to Angela and her needs. That thought in itself burned her to no end.

“That’s it,” Ria decided realizing she wasn’t going to just leave Kevin at the hospital. If Angela wanted to have him around, then Ria was going to be there too. She tossed her blanket aside getting ready to get up when she heard the front door to her apartment open.

“Where are you doing?” Trisha questioned carrying a couple of bags in her hands. She glanced over at Ria briefly before breezing past Ria and moving into the kitchen area. “You look like hell by the way.”

“Gee thanks,” Ria rolled her eyes before switching directions and moving in to find her sister at the refrigerator putting things inside one at a time. “What are you doing?”

“I’m making Chase a romantic dinner tonight and since I know mom is supposed to be back home any day I figured I could just store everything here at your apartment,” Trisha informed Ria with a wide grin before turning her attention to putting away the groceries once again. “I’m sure you and Kevin won’t mind if we take over your place for a little while.”

“Um hold on,” Ria held her hand up in the air, “What is this? You just automatically assume that I’m going to let you take over my apartment tonight when it’s, well mine.”

“Yep,” Trisha nodded in response pulling out the bottle of wine that she’d bought to go along with the meal she was planning. “That was the idea.”

“Idea or not it’s not going to fly,” Ria shook her head firmly, “You can’t just come into my home and start calling the shots about what you’re going to do when I’m the one who lives here.”

“Wow, what bug crawled up your butt and died today?” Trisha frowned closing the door to the refrigerator and standing up taller to face down her sister. “I mean honestly you don’t have to get all moody about it unless…”

“Unless what?” Ria placed her hands on her own hips impatiently as Trisha let out a gasp.

“You really are pregnant, aren’t you? You are having Kevin’s baby and…” Trisha glanced over Ria’s shoulder looking back into the living room area, “Where is he? Is he here?”

“Trisha,” Ria frowned watching her sister move out into the living room area.

“Come on Ria. Where is he? I know he went to the hotel to find you. I mean I didn’t want to blurt anything out, but he was all bossy and commanding, which by the way was kind of hot, but still. I knew that you said you might be pregnant so…” Trisha continued to search Ria’s apartment to congratulate Kevin on the good news.

“Kevin’s not here,” Ria sighed heavily leaning in the archway between the kitchen and the living room area.

“What?” Trisha’s eyes widened in astonishment, “You mean you two haven’t made up yet? Why not? Ria if you’re having his baby, then…”

“I’m not having his baby,” Ria revealed with a heavy sigh, “I’m not pregnant. I never was.”

“Oh Ria. Honey,” Trisha’s face shifted with the news and she walked over to embrace her sister. “I’m so sorry to hear that. I was so excited for you and Kevin and…”

“It just wasn’t the right time,” Ria tried to shrug out of her sister’s hug. She walked back into the living room and looked around, “I mean how could it be the right time when he’s at the hospital with Angela and I’m here wishing he wasn’t?”

“Wait a second,” Trisha’s eyes widened as she stepped forward, “What did you just say?”

“I said he’s at the hospital with Angela. Apparently while we were away she was in an accident and got really hurt,” Ria shook her head thinking about what had happened last night. “She doesn’t remember the last decade or so of her life and she woke up thinking she was in love with Kevin.”

“Who wouldn’t want to wake up thinking they are in love with Kevin,” Trisha noted with a ponderous expression, “but still you have to be kidding me.”

“I wish I was, but I’m not,” Ria slumped back onto the couch again reaching for her blanket that she’d had on earlier. “I’m trying to be mature about the situation, but I hate it.”

“How does Kevin feel about it?” Trisha walked around to drop down into one of Ria’s chairs. “What does he have to say?”

“That he loves me and he wants a future with me,” Ria confessed closing her eyes and thinking back to when she and Kevin had made love the previous evening. “When you sent him out to find me we talked about things and we made some progress with one another…”

“Meaning you got back together?” Trisha arched a curious brow.

“We well,” Ria couldn’t help but smile remembering what it was like to have Kevin’s arms around her again. She glanced over at Trisha and finally nodded, “Yeah we are back together. It was a bit of a difficult situation that got us talking, but then he got the call about Angela and…”

“Of course he rushed over to help that witch,” Trisha shook her head and groaned, “I really don’t get the appeal of that woman at all. She’s not even cute.”

“Trisha,” Ria shook her head at her younger sister unable to believe what she’d said. “honestly.”

“Well she’s not any cuter than you are. I mean you are so totally hot and Kevin loves you, not her,” Trisha added brightly thinking about Ria’s relationship with Kevin. “I mean why else would he come over here like a madman wanting to see you again?”

“I know he loves me, but there is just something about that woman,” Ria clenched her fingers into fists and let out a long sigh, “She drives me insane because she never lets go of Kevin. She keeps saying she is going to back off, but then something happens and always sucks him in.”

“Kevin’s just a good guy with a big heart. He doesn’t turn his back on his friends,” Trisha pointed out thinking about her sister’s boyfriend.

“I realize that, but she was more than his friend. She’s someone that he spent more than half of his life in love with so to speak,” Ria admitted honestly, “and while I would like to say I don’t feel threatened by that, I do. I’m jealous and I hate it.”

“Hey, at least you’re honest about it,” Trisha shrugged her shoulders simply. “I would’ve just beat her ass and then owned up to being jealous once I was behind bars.”

“That’s the difference between being young and being rational,” Ria shook her head unable to suppress that laugh that bubbled in the back of her throat at her sister’s words. “I can’t just go attack a woman because I don’t like her around my boyfriend.”

“Sure you can,” Trisha shrugged her shoulders again, “Just blame it on PMS and no judge and jury will question it. Trust me on that.”

“What I can trust is that while you mean well, no legal system would go along with that theory,” Ria groaned inwardly before letting out a small chuckle.

“Hey I’ve seen people win cases based on a whole lot less. Hell, with the right lawyer you could not only get out of jail time, but you could also find yourself getting some compensation for your frustrations and time you missed out with Kevin,” Trisha added with a wave of her hand, “You could chalk it up as causing mental and sexual anguish given that you couldn’t be with your stud muffin boyfriend.”

“I seriously don’t think that would work. Besides it’s not an option even if it sounds fun,” Ria laughed lightly bringing her hand up through her hair before something Trisha had said had occurred to her. “Did you say that mom is coming home soon?”

Trisha nodded and then groaned, “Yeah I got a message on the machine earlier from her. She warned me not to junk up her place because she’s having a real estate agent coming in later in the week to put it up on the market.”

“So she’s really coming back to sell it huh?” Ria shook her head before dropping it back on the sofa. “Why does that not surprise me?”

“Because she’s a self-absorbed person who is more interested in saving the world then in letting her daughters have a place to stay,” Trisha tossed back at her with a roll of her eyes.

“Correction Trisha. I have a place to stay,” Ria noted meeting her sister’s eyes once again.

“So what,” Trisha curled her lip in a pout, “If mom is going to make me miserable, then she’s making you miserable too.”

“Why don’t you just tell her that you would like to rent the house? You never know. She might actually agree to those terms since she’ll be off in another country. If you present it to her as a business deal where she will gain, she might consider letting you have it.”

“I seriously doubt it. Besides it doesn’t help with my problem for tonight you know,” Trisha pointed out with a small frown, “I promised Chase a romantic night and how am I going to give him that when mom walks in and starts spouting off about what needs to be fixed around the house?”

“Do you honestly think I’m going to tell you that you can bring your boyfriend over here to fool around in my apartment?” Ria arched a speculative brow at her.

“It wouldn’t be the first time we have,” Trisha mouthed in response catching the glare Ria gave her. “Oh come on Ria. Please I won’t ever ask you for anything again. Please.”

“That’s a lie,” Ria noted with a shake of her head.

“No it’s not. I swear. If you just let us hang out here tonight, then I promise you that I will make it up to you. Hell, I’ll go beat up Angela if you want if you say yes,” Trisha rushed over to take a seat beside Ria on the sofa, “Ria please.”

“Are you sure that mom is really coming home tonight?” Ria questioned uneasily.

“No, I’m not sure, but if she does the last thing I want is for her to meet my boyfriend, who is a stripper,” Trisha explained with heavy emphasis.

“Yeah about that,” Ria fought to suppress the grin that tugged at her lips, “How’s that going for Chase?”

“Ha ha, next subject,” Trisha informed her with a shake of her head, “Come on Ria. You know this would mean a lot to me.”

“And it would mean a lot to me to have my apartment to myself tonight since I’m obviously not going to be around Kevin,” Ria tossed back out at her.

“Please,” Trisha tugged at her arm and started to whine, “Ria I’m begging you. Please just do me this one favor and I swear I’ll owe you huge. I’ll do whatever you want.”

“Oh now that’s a loaded promise,” Ria teased before finally letting out a sigh, “Oh alright, but I swear to you if I come home and find anything kinky left around as a reminder of what went on, then I swear I’m going to kill you.”

“You won’t. I promise,” Trisha hugged her tightly, “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

“And don’t you dare take him into my bedroom,” Ria warned sharply before closing her eyes and wondering if she wasn’t setting herself up for trouble by saying yes to her sister’s urgings. Though at this rate, what else could go wrong, she thought to herself as her concerned returned to Kevin and the situation taking place with Angela.


“I can’t believe that you totally schooled dad like that,” John frowned watching his sister circle around to the driver’s side of her car after she’d pulled off at a McDonald’s to change back into her skirt in the bathroom. Now as he sat on the passenger side of the car he rolled his eyes at her before taking a bite of the hash browns he’d gotten himself while waiting for her.

“What dad doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” Jackie decided with a grin reaching over to snatch his orange juice from him.

“Hey,” John spoke up in protest watching her guzzle his juice. Finally he stole it back from her, “You’re so buying me another one since you drank most of it.”

“Whatever,” she rolled her eyes and pulled her car out of park opting to head over to the drive thru window, “but if I buy it for you, then you’d better not tell dad about my changing.”

“I don’t know why you did it,” John groaned shaking his head at his sister, “considering you looked fine in what he made you change into.”

“John, I paid eighty dollars for this skirt,” she motioned to the outfit she was now in, “I wasn’t about to let dad tell me that I couldn’t wear it especially considering that…”

“He said it because you look like a whore in it Jackie,” John couldn’t help but roll his eyes at her. “I mean honestly, the only reason a girl dresses like that at school is because she’s looking for the wrong kind of attention.”

“Oh trust me I’m looking for the wrong kind of attention alright,” she grinned widely tapping her fingers on the steering wheel before pulling up to order John another orange juice and a few things for herself. Once she finished she smiled over at her brother, “but it’s not from any high school boys because believe me I’m not that trivial. I don’t date children.”

“Here we go again,” John groaned inwardly. “Um newsflash Jackie, but you’re a child yourself.”

“Tom doesn’t think so,” she replied with a haughty laugh looking in her rearview mirror to check her lip gloss.

“That’s because Tom’s a total perv and doesn’t care where he gets it as long as he gets it,” he rolled his eyes again wondering how in the world his sister could be such a complete and total moron about things in life.

“Yeah well regardless of what you think about Tom, he and I have been planning this trip for weeks now and if you open your mouth about it to dad or mom, then I swear…” she waved her finger in his face with heavy warning.

“Believe me I wouldn’t dream of ruining your sex-a-thon with a guy that should be jailed for even considering going out with you. I mean my God Jackie, he’s like what? Thirty five?” John tossed back at her as she rolled her window down and got their food from the drive thru window.

“He’s thirty two,” Jackie informed him with a small scowl. She handed his juice over to him before pulling open the bag she’d been handed and collecting her hash brown, “but age is irrelevant.”

“That’s what they say on Court TV when they are toting someone away to jail,” he quipped in response taking a long sip of his new juice.

“Trust me that’s not going to happen. Tom’s very intellectual and he likes me for my wit and…” she started to spout off to her brother.

“Your wit doesn’t have you in that miniskirt hoping for his attention, now does it?” he replied with a shrug of his shoulders. “Though I don’t know why I’m worried because you’re so going to get kicked out of school once they see you in that.”

“I’m not going to school you child,” she informed him point blank, “I told Tom that I would meet him at his place in twenty minutes and…”

“And what? Are you expecting me to just cover for you?” John questioned with a huff. “You told mom and dad that you’d take me to the train station.”

“And I will,” she explained turning down the road. She pulled her car to the side of the road, putting it into park before turning it off. She reached into the ignition and handed the keys over to him, “because you’re going to take my car for the weekend.”

“Wait, what?” his eyes widened in response, “Jackie I can’t…”

“You can and you will,” Jackie dropped the keys into his hand before munching on the rest of her food. “You have a permit. I’m sure you can handle it.”

“Um Jackie it’s a permit, not a license,” John reminded her sharply, “If dad finds out…”

“He won’t,” Jackie shrugged her shoulders before seeing Tom pulling down the road. Quickly she popped the trunk of the car before reaching for her bag of breakfast. “Just make sure that you don’t crash it or anything.”

“But Jackie wait…I don’t think that…” John called out after her watching his sister rush out of the car to pull her bag out of the trunk. He turned to look over at her only to see her bouncing into Tom’s car. Once inside she rolled down her window and motioned for John to do the same.

“Jackie, I really don’t think…” John began again only to see her flash him a grin.

“Don’t bust up my car and don’t be late for school because I swear that if I get caught, then you’re so going to get it,” she warned before waving at him. She rolled up her window and leaned over to steal an explicit kiss from Tom before Tom honked on the horn of his car and drove off with Jackie at his side.

“Great. This is just wonderful,” John groaned to himself knowing full well that his sister was going to be the key to his getting in far more trouble than he’d ever anticipated.


“I don’t know how you honestly talked me into going here with you,” Mindy complained looking over to Nate after they had pulled into a parking spot at the gym. Seeing his green eyes staring into hers she threw her hands up in the air. “I just don’t know if I’m really a gym kind of person.”

“Mindy, you can kick my ass any day,” Nate added reaching out to squeeze at her bicep playfully before letting out a small chuckle. Reaching to unbuckle the seatbelt he shrugged his shoulders before grabbing his keys firmly. “Trust me you are a gym person and I would love to have my friend with me for a while. Sometimes it gets a bit boring.”

“Well gee, thanks,” Mindy got out of the car meeting him around the other side as they walked toward the doors when Nate locked his car up. “I’m just a case of helping you to not be bored, I sound like something so important. How did you even have to start working here anyways?”

“You are that important, more than that actually,” Nate smirked gently nudging her in the shoulder seeing a smile curl in over her lips as he let out a small laugh. “You know what I did wrong, I already told you all of this. The only lucky thing that happened for me was that I got Don’s father liking me there, so Rob gave me a full time job and is actually paying me. It’s not supposed to be like that, but he gave me a trainer job and preferably I would like to train you right now over anyone else.”

“I’m glad you picked me because right now, I don’t think there would be anyone else I would want to train with,” Mindy let out a small yawn before pressing her hand in over her bare shoulder knowing that they had already done some stretching after putting on the workout clothes. “I see why you made me do the stretches.”

“I don’t want you hurt now, do I?” he questioned arching his eyebrow in response before reaching for the door to pull it open for her letting her in first. “Now come on, I think we should start on the…”

“Weights,” Mindy cut him off seeing the way that Nate shrugged his shoulders before following her over toward the mirror making him let out a small laugh. “How much weight do you think you could lift.”

“Honestly Mindy,” Nate spoke up in a teasing way flexing in front of the mirror and lifting up the front of his gray tank top shirt to flex his abdomen. “It’s not all about the weight, it’s about taking your time and gradually starting up so you don’t hurt your muscles.”

“I bet I do what you can,” Mindy pushed at his arm hearing his deep laugh fill her ears, watching him push back his sandy blonde hair. Seeing Nate looking over the single armed weight he shrugged his shoulders before looking to her again. “Come on, I want to do what you can.”

“Without killing myself?” Nate questioned seeing her nod slowly before walking over toward the hundred pounds and nodding slowly. “I swear I can, it’s so true. Try that Mindy.”

“Fine,” she rubbed her hands together seeing him step back for her and fold his arms out in front of his chest watching the way that she bent down. Seeing him reach his right hand up and itch at his chin, motioning her to go she let out a small laugh before reaching forward to grab the weight. Letting out a small groan she picked it up to only see it drop to the ground and she jumped, grabbing a firm hold of her arm. “There is no way that you can do that.”

“Yes there is,” Nate reached out to pick up the weight only to do the same response that she had after picking it up, only stumbling forward and almost losing his balance. Hearing her laugh fill his ears he shook his head slowly before taking in a long breath. “I was just kidding if you really think I was being serious.”

“Yeah, right,” Mindy went to tease further only to see him push back his hair again before reaching down to grab a firm hold of the weight before him picking it up and starting to flex his arm over and over after curling it in close to him. “You stupid show off.”

“I told you,” Nate laughed seeing her roll her eyes before setting down the weight carefully and running his hand in over his muscle letting out a small groan. “I usually tend to keep it lower though because that kills. If we want you to start working on something I would suggest twenty-five. I know you think you can take more, but that’s all I’m going to let you do right now.”

“Gee, thanks dad,” she walked over toward the weight picking it up slowly before starting to lift it again and again seeing the expression over her face as she grunted. “What am I doing wrong now?”

“No, it’s just the style of how you are doing it,” Nate moved in behind her wrapping his left arm around her abdomen, pulling her in closer to him to straighten her up. Grabbing her wrist in his softly he saw her staring at him in the mirror as he rested his chin on her shoulder. “Do slow curls and more careful.”

“Like this,” she took in a long breath seeing him nod slowly, feeling his breath in her ear as he counted the reps of all the times she did it. She felt him pause her before wrapping his right arm around her waist and making her put it in her left palm. “Why did you do that?”

“Do you want one arm bigger than the other?” Nate questioned letting out a small laugh seeing the way she blushed and shook her head slowly. Moving in closer to her he pressed his hand in over her stomach, his fingers grazing her stomach softly by accident as he felt her knees give out on her a bit making her drop the weight. Catching her in his arms he stared out at her in the mirror seeing her gulp down, having a pale color in over her face. “Are you okay? Am I using too much weight for you?”

“No, I don’t know what happened to me,” Mindy explained seeing him frown as he turned her in his arms carefully pressing his left hand against her hip, his green eyes staring into hers. His thumb pressed in against her cheek softly before pushing back a strand of her dark hair. “Wow, I don’t know why that happened.”

“Listen, I know I’m damn sexy to look at in the mirror, but come on girl. I didn’t think that would actually make you weak in the knees for me,” Nate teased feeling her hit at his chest as a smile curled in over his lips when he smiled in response feeling her hand press in against his neck pulling him in closer to her softly. Pulling away quickly Nate looked to his tattoo on his arm seeing her left hand pressing in over it. “So, you like my tattoos? The guy that did them did a really nice job, didn’t he?”

“What? Oh yeah, he did,” Mindy nodded gulping down damning herself for even making that kind of movement toward Nate as she looked toward the other side of the room seeing someone familiar before her. “Hey, it’s Jason.”

“Your friend? No, he didn’t do my tattoos,” he answered only to see her move forward over toward the other room as he saw the guy from last night sitting with Chase Hastings. Taking in a long breath he threw his hands up in the air before following her over toward Jason. “Mindy I seriously…,”

“I don’t know how she would feel,” Jason muttered taking a sip of his smoothie as he leaned back against the wall making both Nate and Mindy stop to listen to what he was saying. They were around the corner so he couldn’t see them as he continued to talk. “I don’t know what it would be like to lose someone you loved that much, someone who was going to ask you to marry them. I mean yeah, I had Bruno that one time, but honestly that doesn’t count.”

“Bruno?” Nate muttered to himself seeing Mindy go to gasp as he covered her mouth and pulled her back softly away from the situation so she couldn’t speak her mind. “He’s gay, I guess I was wrong.”

“That was just my dog though, I mean yeah. I lost my parents too,” Jason continued to ramble on with Chase hearing something around the corner as he turned to look seeing that he must have been imagining it. “I just don’t know how I would feel hanging out with someone if I just lost the love of my life. I used to like this one girl, but she wasn’t anything that special. I just can’t imagine someone losing the person they loved.”

“Do you like her?” Chase muttered seeing Jason shrug his shoulders before itching at the back of his neck and taking in a slow breath. “I didn’t believe there was an answer of I don’t know. It’s either yes or no.”

“Well of course I like her,” Jason muttered seeing the way that Chase nodded slowly running his fingers in through his short hair. “I have to be honest with you though, I just don’t know if she likes me like that. I feel really bad about it too. It makes me feel like I’m making decisions like a jerk would and I don’t think I’m doing the right thing in hoping that she might like me too. I just don’t know Chase, I don’t know what to tell her at all.”


“I’m surprised to see you here without your partner in crime, but I suppose he doesn’t have any time for you now that he’s screwing my sister,” Sarah mouthed walking up behind Grady after he’d brought a box in from his truck. She watched him set it down before he turned around to glare at her.

“Wouldn’t you love to know what he’s doing right now since it’s clear you’re just seething with jealousy?” Grady stood up taller dusting off his hands before his green eyes glared over at her. “Though I guess that’s what you get for sleeping with someone else when you had the best. You could’ve been the one in his life right now, but apparently your sister was the smart one. After all she’s the one Kyle chose.”

“He chose me first Grady and he would still be with me if Heather hadn’t spoiled everything,” Sarah snapped watching him turn away from her, “He loves me.”

“No Sarah,” Grady stopped to turn around and face her once again, “He used to love you, but that was when he thought you were someone else. It was when you tricked him into believing that you were someone decent and worthy of being loved…”

“Kyle has always loved me and my sister is just his sloppy second reject relationship because he’s angry with me,” Sarah hissed in response clenching her fists at her side. “Kyle’s always wanted me and sooner or later he’s going to come back to me.”

“I would seriously doubt that considering that, well truth be told Sarah, while he mentioned you back in college when we were roommates, sure he said things that made me think he was interested,” Grady took a small step towards her noting the smug expression on her face, “but it was Heather that he had on his mind more. The stories he told me about her, well anyone with eyes could see that she was the sister he always wanted. You were just the one that he settled for because his dream girl was out of reach--though if memory serves me correct that was your fault too when you tried to keep Heather from him.”

“Kyle didn’t need to ruin his life chasing after her. She wasn’t worth his time or his energy especially considering what a slut she was,” Sarah cut back sharply, glaring over at him, “I did him a favor in the long run.”

“That’s right. In your own way you did because with all you did to him it only motivated him to find someone who was worthy of his love. After having spent time with you, you showed him exactly everything that he didn’t want in a relationship, so on that level yes you did him a huge favor,” Grady shot back icily shaking his head at her, “You know you’re really a piece of work Sarah.”

“Oh like you’re one to talk,” she rolled her eyes at him. “At least I knew that Kyle loved me and I didn’t go around pretending to be my sister to get his attention like you did when you were trying to fit into Russell’s shoes with Avery. Tell me something Grady, how did that work out for you? Oh wait I already know the answers. She didn’t choose you when she thought he was dead and she’s still not choosing you now.”

“That’s right Sarah. Keep talking,” Grady waved her on before rolling his eyes at her, “because you’re only making me more relieved that Kyle didn’t decide to marry a self-serving bitch like you. He’s really a smart guy.”

“Smart or not, he still has a big responsibility on his hands,” she placed her hand on her abdomen smugly, “He can’t avoid this even if he wants to pretend that he can just move on with Heather and play house.”

“Sarah, in all honesty do you really expect anyone to buy that Kyle’s that baby’s father when it’s clear you’ve had your legs open longer than the doors at 7-11. Give me a break,” he rolled his eyes before turning away from her to go retrieve another box for Seth and Blake.

“You know you think that you are cute, but you’re not. I mean let’s face it Grady, you’re just a loser like everyone else Kyle spent any time with,” she shot back at him marching in towards him, “I mean really why else would Kyle want to be your friend considering that you’re a pathetic excuse of a man who has nothing to offer this world. Your only hope for happiness was to chase after your brother’s wife because you weren’t man enough to step up to the plate for your fiancée when she needed you. Though I’m assuming she’s in a much better place right now because I would imagine being dead takes a much better place over being stuck in a relationship with you.”

“You know what,” Grady spun around to face her, his green eyes wild with anger. His jaw flexed as he fought to contain the rage that carried over him, but instead of blowing up like he’d felt coming on, he stepped back. He took in a breath before shaking his head at her, “You really are pitiful Sarah and if you’re smart, you’ll just move on. Kyle already has.”

Sarah watched him walk back out of the house to go join Blake and Seth at the truck and she sneered. Clenching her fists at her side she spoke up under her breath. “I’ll never move on and so help me God I’ll make damn sure that neither does Kyle. If I can’t be with him, then there’s no way Heather’s going to have him. Not when he should be mine!”


“So anyways, I go to the hospital and find out that I’m married to Angela,” Kellen blurted out hearing Kyle’s laugh fill his ears as Kellen shook his head slowly throwing a piece of sausage at Kyle’s head. Seeing Kyle shrug and grab it before taking a small bite Kellen rolled his eyes looking over to see the laughter in Heather’s eyes. “It’s not funny guys.”

“It’s funny for me about your luck,” Kyle chuckled seeing the way that Kellen rolled his eyes and pouted in the chair across from him before taking another piece of sausage. “Honestly kiddo, I feel bad for you. When I met her, boy was she a bitch.”

“Well that’s your opinion, but honestly. If anyone, I would guess that Kevin would be married to her. Hell I could even see you married to her first Kyle. Honestly, women and me just don’t mix,” Kellen blurted out looking to Heather only to drop his head to the table in a thud hearing Heather laugh before reaching out to squeeze at his shoulder. “People are going to start confusing me for a straight man and that’s so horrible Heather, what am I going to do?”

“Trust me Kellen, I highly doubt that anyone is going to confuse you for a straight man,” she chuckled thinking about her best friend before seeing the way that Kellen sat up again reaching for another piece of sausage. “I have to be honest with you Kellen, it’s not the end of the world. Just get a divorce.”

“It’s much more complicated than that,” Kellen blurted out seeing Kyle stand up and walk over the fridge pulling out the orange juice to get himself another glass. Hearing the way that Kellen groaned Kyle let out a small laugh and Kellen glared back at him. “Kyle, if you woke up married to Kevin or Grady what would you do?”

“Kevin? I’d kill myself. Grady, I would probably laugh knowing I got totally wasted when I was in college and then I would get a divorce,” Kyle explained seeing Kellen frown before letting out an angered sigh and Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “Honestly Kellen, it’s not as bad as it sounds.”

“Yes, it is. I’m married to a woman, I hate women. I mean yeah, they make good friends and stuff, but honestly I can’t stand them when it comes to sex and stuff. They have no idea what they are doing,” Kellen blurted out seeing Kyle cover his eyes and shake his head slowly before letting out a small laugh. “Kyle, I’m sure you are eating this up, but right now it’s just not funny to laugh at my pain.”

“I’m not eating up your pain,” Kyle pushed Kellen’s hand away from the last piece of sausage that he had cooked before Kellen ever showed up. “You’re the one eating up all my sausage.”

“Honey this is the point where I’m showing you that I’m not eating your sausage,” Kellen saw Kyle get up and walk away from the table for a moment before Kellen shrugged his shoulders and reached for Kyle’s orange juice. “I would rather be sucking on your sausage if you get my point.”

“Oops,” Kyle faked a gasp as he took off the cap he had on his full gallon of milk dumping it over Kellen’s head as he heard Kellen gasp out only to feel the rest of the milk slide down his shirt and get him soaked with milk everywhere. “I hope you get my point. Damn milk, you should know I’m lactose intolerant.”

“Kyle,” Heather gasped watching Kyle throw the empty jug to the counter only to hear Charles’s laugh fill the room when he watched the white drips fall from Kellen’s hair and face. “That was so mean.”

“And yet full of calcium,” Kellen let out a small laugh licking his lips as he looked to the floor seeing the milk all over the floor and his clothes. “Now Kyle, now that you did that it got my head clear of everything. So good job, but now I hope you know not only do you have a huge mess to clean up but I have to use your shower and get some of your clothes.”

“Gee, it’s better than you talking about sucking on my so called sausage,” Kyle pointed out hearing Charles’s laughter next to him as Kyle let out a small laugh reaching out to pick up Charles hearing him let out another loud giggle. “He happens to think that was the funniest thing he’s seen all day.”

“It was kind of funny,” Heather added seeing Kellen nod slowly before standing up and shaking his head slowly sending milk drops flying from his head all over the room getting all three of them with the milk. “Hey hold on a minute, Charles is not liking this.”

“He’s laughing now, aren’t you Charles?” Kellen reached out for Charles hearing the way that he laughed as he brought him in against his soaked chest. “You don’t care if I’m covered in milk because I know you love me and you would never hate me.”

“No one here hates you,” Kyle pointed out seeing the way that Kellen looked back at him as Kellen cuddled Charles in closer to his chest. “I like you, I just like to give you a hard time sometimes. Especially when you are giving me hard times.”


“This is nice. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind all of the work in the boardroom, but a little break can do us some good every now and then,” Becca sighed heavily sinking back into the chair she’d been seated in now that she and Kipp were finally out of the offices. “I thought we wouldn’t ever see the end of the paperwork.”

“Welcome to my life,” Kipp laughed lightly issuing her a small smile, “It’s a never ending series of chaos.”

“Yet you love each and every second of it, don’t you?” Becca questioned reaching for her water glass and seeing him lean back in his chair. He placed his arms behind his head to stretch out before he flashed her a grin.

“Guilty as charged. I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he admitted with a small laugh, “I know it sounds stupid, but it’s really the first thing in my life that I’ve done for me. I mean sure I could’ve gone into Hollywood and probably done decent based on my father’s reputation alone, but I wanted something different--something more rewarding than the glamour and glitz of Hollywood.”

“You gave that all up and traded it for legal papers, eh?” she shook her head at him and laughed again, “Some would say that you’re insane.”

“Perhaps,” he sat up straighter shrugging his shoulders before he reached for his drink, “but I’m not into games of superficial people.”

“Yet you work in an ad and modeling agency,” she arched a curious brow catching the expression on his face.

“You do have a point there. It does sound like a bit of a contradiction of what I’m saying,” Kipp pondered his words for a moment, “I mean okay so I’m working at this modeling agency if you will, but that’s not exactly the same as what you would get out in Los Angeles. Everyone out there essentially wants to be a star. Every person that I encountered wanted an audition--wanted the shot to become the next big star and then they would systematically step on anyone and everyone that crossed their paths in the process. It was brutal.”

“Sounds like it,” she noted with a small nod before cracking a tiny grin. She leaned in closer to him, her gaze locked on his, “So you gave it all up for the oh so much more ethically moral business of practicing law.”

“Well you know what they say. Lawyers are the bottom feeders of the world or so they tell me. At least in law things are more concrete and people don’t pretend to be out for the greater good of all men and women. We know that we’re slimy and snakes, so we don’t have to deal with all the charades in pretending to be the down home boy who wants to be everyone’s sweetheart,” Kipp admitted with a hint of a smile, “I just call it like it is now and I don’t have to kiss ass to do it.”

“Is that right?” she arched her brow once again, “So you’re saying that you’ve evolved out of Hollywood, yet you have a son with a woman who at one time was a starlet on the rise.”

“Heather isn’t like everyone else in Hollywood. She was never cut out for that place even if she believed that she was,” he admitted thinking about Heather. “I mean sure, she can pull off bitch to the highest degree if need be and she’s tough. She’s a real fighter and puts up one hell of a battle when she’s out to get something she wants, but beyond that she’s so much more. She has a softer side--a genuine side that most people don’t see. In Hollywood they would suck that right out of her.”

“Sounds like you have a lot of respect for her,” Becca noted watching the way Kipp’s eyes lit up at the mention of Heather.

“How could I not? She’s given me more in the small time that I’ve known her than anyone has ever given me my whole life. She’s the reason I have Charles and he’s the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me,” Kipp divulged a raw emotion in his voice at the mention of his son. “Having him in my life really put things into perspective for me because before I had Charles, I wasn’t exactly the greatest of men.”

“I sincerely doubt that Kipp. You seem like you’re an amazing guy and I can see why it was easy for Heather to fall in love with you,” she added with an admiration in her tone.

“Heather never fell in love with me,” Kipp laughed lightly at the suggestion. He reached for his water and took a sip of it before shaking his head, “I never pretend to admit that she and I had this great thing going. When we met we were both looking for something and we took advantage of what we thought we could get out of one another. I thought it was true love, but she was thinking about bigger and better things. Deep down I think I always knew it, but in the end she broke my heart.”

“So you were in love with her,” she mouthed in response seeing something flash behind his eyes.

“I’m always going to love Heather, but it wasn’t meant to be for us. She will always have a special place in my heart because she’s Charles’ mother, but that’s where it ends. Now I’m just happy that we’re friends,” Kipp noted thinking about how far he and Heather had come with one another.

“Still it has to be a strain given your history and then with you and Kellen, well he must feel a bit nervous about your relationship with Heather,” she added searching his features.

“No, not really,” Kipp laughed lightly shaking his head, “Actually I think that they are even closer than Heather and I are. I mean they are always together, well when Heather isn’t with Kyle. They are shopping buddies and sometimes I think I’m the odd man out.”

“I can’t see that happening for you,” she reached out to place her hand over his, “I mean who would want to leave you out of anything when you’re so much fun?”

“Actually,” Kipp cleared his throat before issuing her a polite smile, “I don’t see why we keep talking about me. What about you? You’ve been working for me a few weeks and I still know next to nothing about you other than you’re one hell of a great worker.”

“Well there isn’t much to say. I mean sure, I have a past, but who doesn’t?” she shrugged her shoulders before tossing her long, blonde hair over her shoulder.

“That’s awfully cryptic for someone who was asking me about my personal life,” he shook his head at her, “That doesn’t seem fair.”

“Maybe I am hoping to keep a little air of mystery between us so that it will keep you guessing and wanting more,” she suggested wiggling her brow at him suggestively.

“Well if mysteries are what you’re into, then you and Kellen would have a great time with one another. He thinks he’s the next Nancy Drew or even Cupid most of the time,” he laughed thinking about his lover for a long moment.

“So he’s a romantic, then huh?” she mouthed in response.

“He would like to think so,” Kipp shook his head thinking about Kellen’s side projects, “but most of the time he winds up in over his head with our friends. Still he means well and he just wants to look out for those he loves.”

“What about you Kipp? What do you want?” she tipped her head to the side and eyed him intently. “What is it that you’re searching for?”

“A short and beneficial agreement with the next contract we start,” Kipp teased with a small laugh feeling her place her hand over his again.

“No I’m being serious. I mean so far you say that Kellen does all of these things, that you have a lot to say about Charles, but what about you? What is something about you that you have that makes you a bit of a mystery?” she prompted further.

“If I told you it wouldn’t be a mystery and as you said before where would the fun be in that,” he wiggled his brow back at her before grinning.

“Hmm, well since you put it that way, how about a dance,” she motioned out to the dance floor where a couple of other patrons had taken to moving to the music.

“A dance?” he repeated tipping his head to the side to give her a strange look. “Now?”

“Sure, why not,” she shrugged her shoulders before standing up and offering her hand out to him. “Come on Kipp. I’m not taking no for an answer.”

“I don’t really think now is the time to dance considering that…” he felt her pull at his arm urging him up and out of his chair.

“We just had great negotiations today. I think we’ve earned it,” she pleaded with him tugging on his arm once again.

“Well okay, but don’t get the wrong idea here,” Kipp couldn’t help but tease finally caving in to her suggestion, “I’m not going to give you a raise if I step on your toes because I’m telling you first hand I’m a terrible dancer.”

“I’ll take my chances,” she added in response hoping that soon she would make her way into Kipp’s life beyond a business partner. A dance partner was a good start, but soon she vowed that she would make it into his life as a whole hell of a lot more. It was only a matter of time!


“I still don’t know about this JT. I mean what if my father finds us and he tries to hurt you,” Evie questioned watching JT zip up the last one of their bags to take into the car with them. He picked it up off of the bed and turned around to face her with a smile.

“Trust me on this one,” he began setting the bag down before walking over to her and placing his hands on her shoulders gently, “Your father can try to find us, but it can’t be done. Plus even if he knew where we were going, which he doesn’t, then my brother’s people would have to find a way to get rid of him.”

“You keep saying that, but…” Evie bit down on her lower lip nervously. She shook her head and sighed, “You don’t know how resourceful my father is.”

“Maybe not, but my brother is someone who has a bit of a reputation in this town,” he paused thinking about what he hadn’t told her about Cameron. Taking her hand in his, he moved back to the bed urging her to take a seat beside him, “Evie, I know that you and I have tried to be honest with one another about everything in our lives. I’ve told you about what I was like in the past and you know about my father, but what I haven’t told you, well it’s kind of important.”

“What do you mean?” she searched his dark eyes not sure where he was headed with their conversation.

“My brother Cameron, well there’s really no other way to put this than to be honest with you about it,” he hesitated struggling to find the right words, “You see his father was a bit of gangster of sorts.”

“A gangster?” she repeated giving him a strange look.

“I know that sounds like a really lame way of putting it, but you see Cameron’s father kind of ran the underworld crime scene on the East Coast for a long time. He was the kind of guy that people didn’t want to mess with. Think the movie the Godfather. You have seen that, haven’t you?”

She nodded, “Parts of it.”

“Well that’s what Cameron’s father was like when he was alive,” JT confessed remembering the little that he knew about Cyrus Stone. “He had unlimited power and wasn’t afraid to use it if someone crossed him. While I didn’t know Cyrus all that well, I knew that he was a feared man--one that my mother never dared to cross even after they had split up. You see Cameron and I have the same mother and I guess she left his father to be with mine. To make a long story short, even my father who seems like the man who fears nothing was afraid of Cyrus. He never said it, but I could see the fear in his eyes each and every time that Cyrus was around. Granted Cyrus was good to me even though I wasn’t his son, but like I said I didn’t get close to him like some did.”

“So what are you trying to tell me,” she asked nervously feeling him squeeze her hand again.

“When Cyrus died everything he had went into Cameron’s control. He’s the one who held the power over all of Cyrus’s businesses and dealings. Granted he shifted things around a little bit finding legal loopholes to continue with business and he’s been able to hire people to take over the less than savory parts of his father’s legacy while he controls it all in shadow. He’s more the face of things rather than the enforcer, but still that power and ability to reign supreme that Cyrus had still surrounds Cameron. Though he tries to keep his hands clean when something arises, he knows people who can take care of things--people who don’t take too kindly to those who do things to upset Cameron,” he explained to her trying to be gentle about his brother’s dealings. “With your father all I have to do is say the word to Cameron and your father is history.”

“JT, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea considering that,” she paused searching his eyes for a long moment, “I mean have you ever…”

“Ever what?” he questioned seeing a flicker of fear behind her eyes.

“Killed someone? Have you done that?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“No and if you’re wondering I’ve never had anyone killed either,” he promised squeezing her hand again before his palm pressed in against her cheek, “I’ve never been driven that far before, but after what your father did to you. If he ever hurt you again I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

“JT, I just don’t know if…” she leaned into his touch closing her eyes and remembering her father’s threats.

“Trust me Evie. If he comes back again he’s a dead man, but I don’t think it will come to that,” JT promised her reaching out to pull her into his arms. “I think once your father realizes that Cameron is my brother that will be all that it takes for him to back off. He won’t bother you again after that. I swear to you.”

“I just don’t want you hurt,” she hugged him tighter than before, “If I ever lost you…”

“You won’t lose me,” he promised kissing the top of her head gently, “I’m never going to let that happen sweetheart. No matter what anyone does to try to keep us away from one another, it’s not going to happen. No one will ever hurt you again.”

“But JT don’t you see that if you stay with me it could hurt you? That’s what scares me,” she admitted tipping her head up to meet his concerned gaze. “If my father does something to destroy you then…”

“The only thing he could do to destroy me is hurt you or take you away from me,” he brushed his index finger up against her soft lips, “Other than that he can’t do a damn thing to me. Alright?”

She nodded before leaning in to steal a kiss from him, “I love you JT.”

“I love you too,” he squeezed her one last time before motioning to the last of their bags. “You ready to go meet my brother?”

She nodded again before smiling, “I just hope I make a good impression because otherwise I might be in trouble after what you told me.”

“Trust me,” he leaned in to kiss her again, “he’s going to love you because I do.”

“I hope you’re right,” she mouthed in response watching him reach for their bags. She grabbed her purse and followed him out to his car preparing herself to finally meet his brother. As they got into JT’s car, she wondered if they could truly escape her past now that her father was on the move to destroy her. However, as she tried to think hopeful thoughts, she had no idea that the man whom she feared more than anything was watching her every move waiting in the shadows to follow her and JT as he planned to put his scam into finally get his hands on everything that always should’ve been his!


“What took you so long in getting here?” Kevin frowned once he and Brant were alone with one another in the hallway. “Do you have any idea how hard it has been for me to keep dodging her all night? She’s been asking me to lay with her in bed and…”

“Hey, do you think I like this situation anymore than you do?” Brant snapped at Kevin, exhaustion shining behind his brown eyes. “I’ve been out here on the phone all night calling specialist after specialist in the hopes that someone can give me some damn answers about what’s going on with her. No one seems to know anything and it’s just been one frustration after another.”

“I’ll tell you about frustration,” Kevin tossed his hands up in the air, “I should be with Ria right now--I should be home with her working out things with her, but instead here I am trying to pretend that Angela and I are still together. I have a big problem with this one Brant.”

“And so do Kevin, but Don told me last night that if we aren’t careful with this situation it could have a really negative effect on Angela. She’s already been under so much stress and with the accident, not to mention her two miscarriages,” Brant reminded his friend sharply, “Kevin if we lost our children, then I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know how I could live with losing them when…”

“You’re not going to lose them Brant,” Kevin sighed letting go of his own frustrations as he thought of what Brant had to be going through. “I’m trying to get her to remember, but nothing seems to be working. She’s just stuck in the past and…”

“And it kills me to see her this way. I mean do you have any idea what it is like to walk in there and see the woman you love looking at you like you’re nothing more than a random stranger?” Brant questioned with a pained expression. “To see her hurting, yet there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it because she doesn’t recognize you? It’s killing me Kevin.”

“I know Brant and I’m sorry. I really am,” Kevin sighed heavily bringing his thick fingers up through his dark hair, “Believe me if I could do anything to change this, then I would.”

“So would I, but for now it sounds like we’re stuck in this situation for a while. Until she remembers we have to play along with this even if we both hate it,” Brant hesitated before another look crossed over his face.

“What aren’t you telling me Brant?” Kevin couldn’t help but ask sensing something else was bothering Brant.

“Last night as Cameron was leaving I heard him discussing having Angela released from the hospital and taken back to his place. If that happens Kevin, then she’s never going to remember me. Cameron will do absolutely everything to make sure that she still forgets and I can’t let that happen,” Brant paused searching for the right words, “which is why I need your help.”

“Brant, you know I would do anything for you. Just say it and I’ll do what I can,” Kevin added knowing full well that the last place Angela belonged at a time like this was with Cameron.

“I want you to move in with me,” Brant blurted out watching Kevin’s eyes widened in response.

“Excuse me,” Kevin burled back at him stunned at Brant’s suggestion.

“I want you and Angela to move in with me,” Brant added seeing Kevin finally get what Brant was trying to say to him. “She thinks that you two are together and on your way to being married so naturally it makes sense for you and her to be living together right now.”

“Brant, I can’t just move in with her. I have Ria and…” Kevin shook his head firmly, “It’ll never work because Angela would never buy that we were living with you.”

“You won’t be living with me. Well, not exactly. You see I have a guest house on the property and I want you to stay there with her. That way she is close enough to me that I can try to work with her--to help her find herself and Cameron won’t be able to interfere. You’ll be right next door so to speak and it will be perfect for helping her get back to herself again,” Brant continued thinking about the plan he’d come up with for them. “I already have someone working on doing what they can to get the guest house ready for this and…”

“You’re forgetting about one major thing in all of this,” Kevin held his hand up in the air to silence Brant, “Ria will never, ever go for this. She hates the idea of me spending all this time with Angie and the last thing she will go for is my moving in with Angie. She would kill me for even discussing it with you.”

“Maybe I can talk to her,” Brant suggested with a shrug of his shoulders, “I mean maybe we can work something out. Ria doesn’t have to be left out of the loop. Hell she can move in with me if she wants. The mansion is big enough for half of Coral Valley and I think at one time we had almost that many people with us. Ria can stay there so that way she can keep a close eye on what’s happening with Angela.”

“Brant, I really don’t think that…” Kevin started to argue once again.

“No it’s perfect. I can have Don talk to Angela and tell her that Ria is going to look after her. Ria can stay with me and then she can keep an eye on what’s going on with Angela’s condition while you two can find ways to sneak off and spend time together,” Brant felt a grin touch over the corners of his lips, “It’s perfect because it gives me the chance to be with Angela while you and Ria can still be together.”

“She’s still not going to like it man and plus, what happens if Angela sees Ria around the place? What are we going to tell her?” Kevin couldn’t help but ask. “I don’t think she’ll buy that her doctor is visiting all of the time.”

“She doesn’t have to,” Brant pondered the thought for a moment, “because Ria will be living there as well.”

“Yeah I understand that, but Brant Angela will never believe she’s just floating around your place…” Kevin started to further argue with him.

“She will if she thinks that I’m dating Ria,” Brant blurted out with a sudden inspiration carrying over him. “If she thinks that Ria’s the woman that I’m in love with and that you are with her, then she won’t question it. You can tell her that you’re staying with me until you get your new place done. Tell her that you want to surprise her with a new house or something and it‘s still in a construction phase.”

“No way. No damn way. You’re not getting even remotely close to my fiancée. Even if Ria went for it, which I’m sure that she won’t, I’m not going to allow it,” Kevin answered firmly, his lips curling into a deep frown.

“Why not? You’re spending time with mine,” Brant tossed back at him with a huff. “She thinks that you two are in love with one another and that she’s having your baby. Ria and I both would know full well what’s really going on and from where I stand that’s a hell of a lot more secure than what you have going on. I know Ria isn’t interested in me and vice versa. If anything I’m the one who has the most to lose in all of this.”

“Brant, I just don’t know. I mean I understand why you’re asking, but still…” Kevin shifted on his feet uneasily.

“Kevin please. I’m begging you. If we don’t do this, then I’m sure that Cameron will take her away from me and I can’t lose her. Please Kevin--do this for me--for the twins,” Brant pleaded with Kevin as Kevin suddenly found himself getting in over his head in a situation that he truly did not want to be stuck in!


...to be continued...