Episode 374

Jackie walked down the street feeling like the biggest moron on the planet after she’d actually believed that Tom was someone special. She could almost hear John taunting her now pointing out that Tom was married and a pervert. It was enough to drive her crazy and as Jackie let out a groan she threw her hands up in the air cursing her luck. It was then that a distinct honking sound captured her attention. Turning around she spotted her car coming towards her.

“John,” Jackie gasped feeling herself overcome with relief, but after a second she frowned knowing full well that if John was out with her car, then she was going to get in major trouble. Stomping towards the car she prepared to lecture her brother on not listening to her, but when she saw Daniel and Lindsay in the car with him, she couldn’t help but smile.

“Hey Jackie,” Daniel spoke up with a smile.

“Daniel,” Jackie grinned back at him offering up a wave of her own, “What are you doing here?”

“John was hanging out with Lindsay and I and we were thinking about going out for pizza or something at this place I’ve been to that’s just north of here,” Daniel continued to explain stepping out of the car and opening the door for her. “Care to join us?”

“Would I ever,” Jackie paused glancing over at her brother who was seated in the driver’s seat still, “though John has a permit and I really don’t think that…”

“I have it covered,” Daniel nodded motioning to John, “How about you let me take the wheel for a while since I know where we’re going?”

“Yeah sure,” John stepped out of the car as well watching as Jackie slid into the passenger side of the car without hesitation.

“I call shotgun then,” Jackie blurted out as Daniel and John exchanged glances.

“Well then I guess we’re off,” Daniel shrugged his shoulders before circling around the car to get behind the wheel. He adjusted the seat as John flopped into the backseat with Lindsay, who now kept her eyes on Jackie.

“So Daniel, why are you hanging out with John?” Jackie couldn’t help but ask smiling over at him. She turned in her seat throwing out an expression that Lindsay felt was far too flirty for her liking.

“Well, he’s a really cool guy and I figured that school is kind of lame,” Daniel paused wrinkling his nose before laughing, “No scratch that. It’s boring. I don’t like that word lame. It just sounds so immature like something you would say when you’re five.”

“Oh I couldn’t agree more,” Jackie laughed wildly laying it on thick as Lindsay folded her arms in front of her chest and glared over at Jackie.

“And yet you said what we did was too harsh,” John whispered in Lindsay’s ear only to feel her elbow him in the ribs.

“Shut up John,” Lindsay cursed under her breath before turning to watch Daniel and Jackie once more.

“So what brings you out here? Feeling like school is a bore as well?” Daniel questioned glancing over at Jackie once again.

“Let’s just say I realized that where I was at before wasn’t worth my while, but something tells me that my luck is moving up today,” Jackie settled into the seat thinking about the new possibilities that the day had in store from her now that she’d dumped Tom and moved on without that jerk.

“I think it is for all of us,” Daniel noted looking over at Lindsay in the rear view mirror before moving forward ready to start a new adventure with the group now that they’d set off to enjoy a day without school.


“I hate this,” Ria warned sharply glaring out at Brant as the two sat in the middle of his kitchen with one another. Brant had just finished making them some tea to calm her nerves, but right now she wanted to be anything, but calm. Right now she was out for blood--preferably Angela’s. She turned to watch Brant pouring some honey into his tea and she let out a groan. “How the hell can you be so calm when she’s in there with him alone?”

“I trust Kevin,” Brant shrugged his shoulders simply before issuing her a small glance. He set the bottle of honey down before motioning to the chair beside him, “You know you might try doing the same considering that he’s the man you’re in love with.”

“I do trust Kevin. It’s her that I don’t trust,” she huffed before reaching out to the chair and slumping down beside him. “Can I ask you an honest question?”

“That all depends,” he mouthed in response taking a sip of his tea, “Do you want an honest answer?”

“I don’t know. Am I going to get one from you?” she questioned wearily before focusing on the mug in front of her. “I mean really, what is it that you men see in Angela?”

“Gee, you’re not asking a lot are you,” Brant couldn’t help but laugh lightly finding himself amused with her questioning. “Where would you like me to start?”

“We can skip over all of the x-rated details,” she rolled her eyes decidedly before meeting his gaze again. “Above and beyond her being trampy, what do you like about her?”

“First of all she’s not trampy,” Brant shook his head at her words, “and second of all I cannot speak for Kevin, but what I can tell you is that I love her because she and I have a connection that I’ve never had with another living person before.”

“You didn’t rule out dead there,” Ria noted taking a quick drink of her tea, “which is a good thing because she might end up in that position if she tries to bust a move on Kevin.”

“I would really appreciate your not killing her considering that I plan to marry her when this is all over,” he replied with a small frown seeing her stand up again in order to pace around the kitchen.

“I don’t see why. I mean she has this thing about her. She can’t be happy with just one man wanting her,” Ria curled her fingers into fists and waved them around in the air, “but rather she needs to have the whole world worshipping her. She has to be the center of attention and…”

“I think you’re being too hard on her,” he offered thinking about the woman he loved, “While I know she and Kevin have a long history with one another, that’s all it is. It’s history.”

“Brant, it’s not as much history as you think. She told me full well the first time I met her that she has the hots for Kevin and that she believes he wants her too,” she spun on her heel to face him again and argue.

“Do you believe he has the hots for her?” he arched a curious brow leaning back in his chair to watch her.

“Of course not. I mean no,” she shook her head before bringing her fingers up through her hair, “It’s just that she’s a manipulator and a nympho and…”

“I won’t argue about the second half, but as for being a manipulator, I really don’t think that Angela has it in her. She’s an amazing woman with a kind heart and we’re going to have a family together,” Brant offered up thinking about the woman he loved.

“That’s pending her memory return Brant. What if she decides that she likes being with Kevin so much that she never gets it back? What if he decides that he wants her back and that…” she stopped herself realizing what she’d said. Immediately she clasped her hand over her mouth in an attempt to shut herself up.

“You know what you need,” Brant stood up as well seeing her work herself into a furious pace again. He stepped in front of her reaching out to block her before she could start pacing again. “Ria, you need to calm down.”

“How can I calm down when the man I love is alone with a woman who would like nothing more than to jump him?” she gasped shaking her head furiously, “Brant I don’t like this at all.”

“I know you don’t and I don’t either, but we have to play it cool. If we go in there and blow this situation up, we could both lose a lot. Right now Kevin is trying to get Angela to sleep so that you and I can meet up with him later,” Brant spoke up in a soothing tone hoping to keep Ria calm as her worrying was not helping him.

“Really?” she replied her eyes widening in response.

“Yes really,” he nodded issuing her a small smile, “Kevin and I talked about it. Once Angela goes to sleep he’s going to come over here and let me know what’s up. I’ll go be with her for a little while and then he’s going to stay here with you. I already have a room made up for you for the night and you can settle in there more in the morning. That way you and Kevin can still see one another without any big commotion.”

“You really came up with all of that just for Kevin and I?” she replied tipping her head to the side and giving him a strange look.

“No, I did it for me too because there’s no way in hell that I want her sleeping with Kevin either,” Brant confessed honestly forcing a small smile, “but not because I don’t trust either one of them. Right now Angela doesn’t know herself and she could do something that we would all regret. As for Kevin, hey I know that he’s playing a part, but that’s all it is. I have no doubt in my mind where his heart or his head is in all of this and that’s with you.”

“You really think so?” Ria felt a small breath escape from her lips.

“I know so. I mean she was worked up yesterday wanting to be with him, yet he was with you and I’m guessing you both had some private time with one another given you both had wet hair when you returned,” Brant wiggled his brow at her suggestively. “You don’t have to be brilliant to figure out what you two were up to.”

“I’d really rather not talk about that with you,” Ria snubbed her nose in response feeling uncomfortable mentioning her sex life with Brant.

“Hey I’m jealous,” Brant shrugged his shoulders seeing her eyes grow wide with confusion, “because I would’ve loved for that to be Angela and I instead.”

“Oh right,” Ria nodded before clearing her throat, “So what do we do now? We just wait?”

“Obviously the tea won’t help, but hey I have an idea on something that might,” Brant motioned to the hallway, “Want to try something completely new and different tonight?”

“You mean other than tossing my boyfriend into an up close and personal situation with his former lover?” she folded her arms in front of her chest and frowned.

“This is a good something,” Brant reached for her hand and tugged on it. “You might actually like this one.”

“Fine, but I don’t understand how you can be so calm about this,” Ria sighed heavily letting Brant guide her down the long hallway as she wondered what could be possibly happening with Kevin and Angela now that they were alone with one another. She just hoped and prayed it wasn’t anything near what her mind was conjuring up because if it was Angela was a dead woman!


“Your brother really lives in this place?” Evie whispered feeling JT’s arm around her waist as they looked around Cameron’s library waiting for him to join them. She stepped away from JT and ran her finger across the binding of the books in front of her before turning to face him again, “I mean this place is huge. It looks like a museum.”

“This is home in Coral Valley for him,” JT nodded in response seeing how in awe of things she was, “but this isn’t the biggest of the bunch of the ones he owns.”

“Far from it actually,” Cameron voice echoed through the room as Evie spun around to see JT’s brother standing in the archway leading to the library. “This place is cozy and casual for when I’m in the states, but my place in Italy makes this one suffer in comparison.”

“Cameron,” JT smiled and greeted his brother before motioning to Evie to join him. She did as instructed and stepped up to JT, feeling him place his arm around her shoulders, “I would like you to meet someone special. This is Evie.”

“Evie,” Cameron’s dark gaze drifted over to her before a smile pressed over his lips, “From what I can see you’re quite special indeed and very beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she replied feeling a blush rise over her as Cameron reached out to take her hand in his. He raised it to his lips offering a gentlemanly kiss before his dark eyes swept up to meet hers.

“This is my brother Cameron,” JT added seeing the way that Evie seemed impressed with his brother, “and don’t let his attempt at charming you fool you, he’s just another one of the dorks like the rest of us men.”

“I would hardly consider myself a dork or you for that matter,” Cameron mouthed in response to his brother before cracking a small smile, “JT just isn’t as refined as I am yet, but he’s getting there.”

“I think I’m fine the way that I am,” JT added seeing the way that Cameron was eyeing Evie.

“I would imagine you’re doing pretty good so far to end up with someone as beautiful as Evie here,” Cameron flashed her another smile before taking a moment to memorize her features, “Though I must confess I feel as if we’ve crossed paths with one another before.”

“I would have remembered meeting you if we had,” she replied politely leaning into JT as Cameron searched her eyes.

“No, I’m sure we have. There’s something about your eyes--something very familiar that I would never forget. I’m good with faces and…” Cameron started before shaking the thought, “I’m sure I’ll figure it out sooner or later, but for what it’s worth I think my brother is incredibly lucky to have someone like you at his side.”

“I feel like I’m the lucky one,” she hugged her arm around JT’s waist before turning to him again, “He’s my knight in shining armor.”

“Yep, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that one about him before, but it’s adorable,” Cameron walked across the room motioning for them to follow him out. He lead them down the antique filled hallway into the great room area before walking over to the bar, “Can I get either one of you a drink.”

“Actually I’ll take a…” Eve piped up seeing Cameron reach for brandy to pour himself a drink. She caught the way that JT was issuing a warning glance before she cracked a teasing grin, “water if you have it.”

“Spring or imported,” Cameron replied opening up the small refrigerator that he had set up near the bar.

“Whichever is easier,” she mouthed in response seeking out JT’s hand and lacing their fingers with one another.

“And what about you JT?” Cameron asked bending down to select a bottle for Evie.

“I’ll have the same,” JT noted as the two made their way over to the bar area.

“So tell me something,” Cameron stood up straighter offering them both their drinks with a smile, “where did you two meet up with one another?”

“At work,” JT replied quickly sensing Evie was uncomfortable with the question, “She was with the wrong guy and I figured I should step in and make her see what she was missing.”

“I’m sure,” Cameron laughed lightly handing Evie’s bottle of water to her, “In other words he chased you until you had no choice but to say yes in order to get him to leave you alone.”

“Something like that,” she nodded in agreement, “but for what it’s worth it’s been wonderful.”

“I would imagine it would have to be for JT to want to take you to paradise,” Cameron leaned in over the bar top and wiggled his brow at her, “which is truly what it is when you get out there. The beach house is perhaps my favorite of all of the real estate I own. It’s like stepping into a dream world compared to all of this. It’s really incredible.”

“It sounds like it,” she smiled back at him opening her mouth to say something more when there was a crashing sound behind them. She turned around to see a frazzled looking blonde woman in the doorway glaring over at Cameron.

“Cameron, there you are. I’ve been trying to call you for at least an hour here. I need to talk to you now because Diego sent me these,” she held papers up in the air and scowled before marching further into the room. “He’s trying to take the baby from me and…”

“Would you excuse us?” Cameron smiled politely over at Evie and JT before circling around the bar to grab Sarah by the arm, “Sarah and I will be right back.”

“Cameron this is serious business. I’m telling you that…” she continued to rant as Cameron scooted her out of the room almost as quickly as she had entered it.

“What’s that all about?” she questioned with a frown seeing the way Cameron had scooted his guest out of the room.

“I’m not sure, but with Cameron it’s really best not to get involved,” JT admitted motioning for her to follow him over to the leather sofa. “He tends to have a knack for finding clinically insane women and taking them in. I’m not sure what the appeal is but my brother has honestly never had a relationship with anyone normal.”

“I see,” she sank down onto the couch cushion beside him, “So how do you think things are going here?”

“Quite good,” he replied reaching out lazily to touch a small strand of her hair that remained by the side of her face. “Why? Are you uncomfortable?”

“No not at all,” she shook her head in response, “It’s just I’ve never been in a place like this before--at least not without worrying about the cops coming in to bust me.”

“Trust me it’s not as impressive as it seems. I grew up in places like these and they get old after a while,” he divulged thinking about his childhood.

“I don’t know,” she sank back into the sofa and took another look around, “I could get used to living in a place like this when I’m older.”

“If you want a place like this now I could arrange for one,” he offered up seeing her eyes grow wide as she sat up straighter.

“Are you serious?” she blinked back at him, “You would actually get a place like this for us?”

He nodded, “Sure, I mean if it’s what would make you happy.”

“But I don’t understand,” she gave him a strange look, “You said that you don’t have anything to do with your father and that he cut you off financially. You work at the bar and…”

“And I own the bar,” JT revealed with a hint of a smile leaning in closer to her, “I have someone else acting like he’s the owner, but when it gets down to it I’m the boss.”

“You’re kidding,” she gasped in surprise eyeing him closely, “but how? I thought that…”

“I was really screwed up when I was younger, but I made a couple of investments with what I had. Cameron helped me save some money after our mother died and while I hated doing that, well it paid off for me in the long run,” he confessed with a lazy smile, “I just like to downplay the situation.”

“So at any time you could leave that dump you live in and have all of this?” she pointed to the room that surrounded them.

“It’s not that simply as I have most of everything tied up, but for what it’s worth, yeah it could be arranged,” JT nodded in confession before leaning in closer to her, “but I don’t tell anyone about that. The more people think you have, the less they seem to be concerned with who you are as the whole promise of a fortune takes over.”

“So you pretend that you have nothing because,” she started trying to process what he was saying.

“Because people expect nothing then,” he nodded in response before sipping his drink, “I’ve honestly never felt compelled to be honest about what I have with anyone before, but I feel safe with you.”

“And I feel safe with you too, but…” she glanced around the room once again, “You would actually buy me a place like this if I wanted it?”

“Does that surprise you so much considering what we have together?” he arched a curious brow before leaning in closer to her. “Would you expect me to just keep you in the dark about everything and not include you in what I have?”

“Well no, but…I mean it’s just that I told you about my father and…” she found herself at a loss.

“Hey, I don’t care about him. Only you,” he inched in closer to her stealing a small kiss from her before smiling, “I know it makes me a fool for love, but you have that effect on me.”

“You have quite the effect on me too, but truth be told I could live with you forever in the apartment and be happy,” she blurted out thinking about all he’d done for her. “You wouldn’t have to buy me all of this to impress me. Well, okay so it would impress me, but it wouldn’t change how I feel about you. I loved you even when I thought you had nothing.”

“As long as I have you, I won’t ever have just nothing,” he mouthed in response moving in to kiss her again while they shared a few moments alone without Cameron now that he was preoccupied with Sarah and all of her drama.


“I know that it’s not really something you want to think about, but honestly Diego no one is going to take you seriously anymore after all of this,” Gabriella pointed out with a heavy sigh looking around her brother’s place, “After what happened with Cori you said it yourself that you have the review board at the hospital questioning your ethics. You have pressure from administration to take a vacation and now…”

“Don’t you think I realize all of that?” Diego couldn’t help but snap at his sister finding himself increasingly frustrated with what was happening with his life. He ran his fingers through his hair before shaking his head, “Gabby I know what I’ve done and how it’s hurt me both personally and professionally, but you don’t have to keep rubbing it in my face here.”

“I’m just trying to get you to opening up your eyes about how far you’ve fallen since you were back home,” she pointed out with a small scowl, “This place has given you nothing but heartache and after Maria died life hasn’t been the same for you. Admit it.”

“No it hasn’t, but I still tried to keep pushing on helping those around me,” Diego offered up with a heavy sigh thinking about all he’d tried to accomplish with his career, “I wanted to make a difference here.”

“And you have, but not in the ways that you were hoping. You let some woman play you for a fool and you compromised absolutely everything you are and for what?” she questioned blankly shaking her head at him, “Diego, what have you honestly had here that was worth holding onto other than Maria?”

“I have a life Gabby. I have something that was mine and…” Diego let out a long, frustrated sigh before getting up and pacing around his living room. “I guess it’s not mine anymore, is it?”

“Not after you compromised all that you are,” she added with a shake of her head before walking into his kitchen. “Look Diego I can’t tell you what to do, but maybe it’s time you get back to your roots for a little while.”

“If Sarah’s having my child, then I’m not leaving town. I want to be a part of my son or daughter’s life,” Diego argued with her further, “I want to have what was stolen from me with Maria.”

“There’s a difference though Diego. Maria loved you. Sarah loves herself and that’s it,” Gabriella informed him point blank shaking her head, “You’ll never have what you’re hoping for with a woman like that even if she is carrying your child.”

“Maybe not,” Diego sat back down on the edge of the sofa, “but it’s worth at least contemplating.”

“Don’t ruin what you still have left in your life Diego. Have some pride,” Gabriella urged him again before walking fully into the kitchen and leaving him with his thoughts.

He looked around his living room thinking about all that he still had in Coral Valley. Sure, maybe his career was falling to pieces and he could use his medical license, but he still was alive. He still had that fighting spirit that he’d carried with him, even if it was a losing battle and now… Before he could get any further inside of himself he heard the doorbell ring.

“That might be dinner. I ordered a pizza since you and I obviously can’t be going around this town hanging out,” Gabriella piped in as Diego rolled his eyes wondering how in the world his sister had just come in and taken charge of his life when the last time he’d checked he was still very much an adult. With a groan he stood up and walked over to the door ready to just pay the pizza boy and be done with it, but instead he found himself face to face with Barbara.

“Hey you,” she smiled up at him, her welcoming eyes meeting his with a warmth and a friendliness that he hadn’t experienced from anyone in town for a while. “I missed you at the hospital, so I figured why not just stop on by for a visit?”

“Barbara I…” Diego’s eyes widened as she held up a fresh baked pie that she’d brought over with her.

“It’s apple. I hope you like apple,” she explained handing it over to him before motioning to the room behind him, “Are you busy or are you going to let me in?”

“Oh of course,” he nodded stepping aside and moving out of the way so that she would enter the room. “I’m sorry about that. I guess it’s just been a while since I’ve had any company, well other than Gabriella so you know I wasn’t really anticipating anyone being here.”

“Is Gabriella still here?” she arched a curious brow looking around his living room to see things were a bit out of place.

“She’s in the kitchen barking out orders as always,” Diego spoke up in a small whisper.

“I heard that,” Gabriella popped her head out long enough to see Barbara with Diego, “Barbara, hey while you’re here do me a favor and try to get my brother to listen to reason. He’s being impossible.”

“About what?” Barbara couldn’t help but ask.

“Moving. I’m telling him that he needs to come back home and get his life together since he’s on the chopping block at work and has become the town pariah,” Gabriella added knowingly before disappearing back into the kitchen.

“I wouldn’t say you were the town pariah,” Barbara frowned in response her worried gaze returning to Diego. “I think there are far more people who would easily take that title over you.”

“Still it doesn’t change the embarrassment that I have caused the hospital when the police chief’s sister decided to take me out,” Diego pointed out with a frown thinking about the hell he’d received over that one. “They’ve been tiptoeing around the issue, but I think it’s safe to say I’ll wind up on extended leave very soon.”

“How extended?” Barbara questioned worriedly.

“Let’s just say that I think my office will be a great place for the new resident lounge,” Diego confessed at the thought, “though it’s my own fault.”

“That you got shot?” she replied with a strange look, “Diego you can’t help it that your girlfriend flipped out on you and shot you. No one blames you for that.”

“Even so Cori’s had a long history of mental health issues, so when it became such a public affair,” he offered up thinking about the tentativeness of the situation.

“You weren’t her therapist, were you?” Barbara couldn’t help but ask seeing his dark eyes filled with regret.

“No, I wasn’t,” he answered honestly, “but I instigated something that put a very public humiliation over the hospital. Some of the stories that the newspaper are running are very unflattering and…”

“Again that is not your fault,” Barbara added with a huff. “Diego you can’t let a bit of bad press get you down. I know that you’re a good man and you just had a run of bad luck.”

“I appreciate your support Barbara, but you and I both know that I did some pretty rotten things that extend beyond Cori,” he mouthed turning to set the pie on the coffee table before facing her again.

“Last time I checked Diego having sex with someone else’s girlfriend wasn’t a crime. Sure, it might not be morally correct on some level, but at the same time it’s not like it’s something that your profession should hold against you. Hell, if all doctors were required to be saints, we wouldn’t have anyone working at the hospital. And for the record I think Zack Vaughn would be the first to go, not you considering that he’d slept with just about everyone’s wife that works there.”

“As chilling of a thought that it is you painted there about Zack, it still doesn’t change what I did wrong,” Diego sighed heavily feeling tension mounting in his neck and shoulders. “I can honestly say that I don’t see things improving for me. People will always wonder about my relationship with Cori and if I overstepped any ethical boundaries.”

“But she wasn’t your patient,” Barbara reminded him again, “You said it yourself.”

“Even so I’ve been under intense scrutiny and even if the rumors aren’t true, you don’t need truth to have them destroy you,” he continued to explain to her, “Besides, the things that I’ve done haven’t made me happy about myself. I hurt a good friend by betraying his trust and sleeping with the woman he loved and that’s something I can’t forgive myself for.”

“You made a mistake. We all make mistakes Diego,” she argued with him further, “Just because you picked the wrong person to fall for doesn’t mean that you need to condemn yourself to a life of misery away from everything that’s important to you. Your life is something you should continue to fight for. Who cares what everyone else thinks? You are a fighter and you can’t give up and leave.”

“Barbara,” he opened his mouth to argue, but stopped before he started, “I don’t know why you’re even bothering with me. Hell, I don’t even know why you care.”

“Because contrary to what you think about the world Diego, the fact to the matter is that I like you,” she explained pointedly taking a bold step towards him, “I like you a lot and maybe that makes me crazy, but I don’t want to see you go anywhere for purely selfish reasons.”

“Barbara, I really don’t think that this is a good idea,” he started uneasily seeing the way that her eyes were focused on him. “I’m not the man you think I am.”

“Sure you are. You’re just having a hard time figuring that out, but if you stop putting yourself down for five minutes, you might see you as I do. You might see that you’re the kind of person worth taking a chance on down the road,” she informed him reaching out to touch his shoulder gently before her eyes met his again. “You might even find it within yourself to stay and fight rather than run away and lose everything that’s ever mattered to you Diego.”

“It’s not that simple,” Diego sighed in response.

“It’s only as simple as you make it and maybe you don’t like haring me say it, but I think you’re worth taking a chance on Diego. I think your life is worth fighting for because there are things out here in Coral Valley that are still waiting for you. There are people who still want you very much in their lives, but if you run away, well you’ll never know just how much of a difference you truly could’ve made,” she finished hoping that he wouldn’t walk away from Coral Valley before she had the opportunity to be honest with him about the impact he’d made on her in such a small time, “Please Diego don’t leave town. Don’t run away.”


“Kyle, my man,” Paul chuckled moving forward and patting Kyle on the shoulder letting out a small laugh seeing the way that Heather’s green eyes stared over at Kyle. Moving in closer to Heather, Paul let out a small laugh seeing her go and hide behind Kyle as Paul let out a small laugh. “You’ll truly have to introduce me to this girl. She looks like a winner.”

“He looks like a freak,” Heather pointed out seeing the way that Kyle looked back at her before laughing and she wrapped her arms around his waist. Squeezing him uneasily she let out a small sigh watching the way that Paul looked her over carefully. “Kyle, find out what he wants and make him go.”

“Heather,” Kyle laughed turning to face her seeing her still hiding behind his large frame as he let out a long laugh and reached out to hold her in his arms. “Honey, he is never going to hurt you. I’m here and he is my friend. He may be a bit of a freak…,”

“Hey,” Paul blurted out seeing the way that Kyle looked over his shoulder at him raising his eyebrow in response as Paul let out an exaggerated sigh. Hearing Kyle laugh Paul frowned folding his arms in front of his chest and shaking his head back and forth. “What?”

“Paul, you know you’re a freak,” Kyle turned toward his friend seeing his friend pouting before nodding slowly and letting out a small laugh.

“I know man, I was just playing with you,” Paul’s deep laugh filled their ears as Kyle let out a laugh in return seeing the way that Heather still seemed to hide from Paul. “Honestly girly, you belong to my boy here, so I’m not going to pull anything on you.”

“Yeah, because he would take you down,” Heather moved in beside Kyle seeing the way that Paul laughed and moved forward in closer to her and Kyle as she hid behind Kyle again. “Right Kyle?”

“Trust me honey,” Kyle turned more so that he could wrap his arm around her securely enough to make sure that she felt comfortable with him. “As good of friends Paul and I are, I would kick his ass if he ever tried to hurt you.”

“Hey, that’s not nice,” Paul frowned moving toward the corner of the room and dropping down on the couch, putting his feet up on the coffee table. Seeing Kyle frown and move away from Heather, he felt Kyle’s knee nudging his off the table making him let out a small sigh. “Honestly, is this anyway to treat the man that walked in on your naked ass all the time screwing girls in our dorm room?”

“Paul,” Kyle snapped seeing Heather’s green eyes staring out at him as he turned to face her. Hearing Paul’s laugh fill the room Kyle hesitantly laughed before shrugging his shoulders. “He’s just pulling my chain. He doesn’t know anything.”

“Kyle, man,” Paul leaned forward in his seat grabbing a hold of the vase that rested on top of the coffee table. “Honestly man, the last time I think I walked in on you and how many chicks? Maybe four, I don’t know how you entertained them all, but they always switched spots and…,”

“You are quite the big mouth joker aren’t you?” Kyle snapped looking over at Paul seeing his eyes widen as he gently tugged at his ponytail avoiding all eye contact with Kyle’s hazel eyes. Turning back to Heather Kyle let out a small laugh before shrugging his shoulders. “He sure is funny isn’t he?”

“Oh yeah, real funny,” she felt her jaw tighten in anger seeing the way that Kyle’s hazel eyes stared into her and she looked to his friend who seemed now to be amused with the ceiling fan above him. “Don’t worry about it honey, the past is the past.”

“It wasn’t that long ago that,” Paul went to say something seeing Kyle’s glare stare right through him. His blue eyes widened as he held his hands up in the air and let out a small noise. “My bad man, I didn’t know you weren’t opening up about your past.”

“Not as much as you obviously,” Kyle pointed out motioning Heather to sit back on the couch with him as they took a seat on the leather couch. Wrapping his arm around Heather’s shoulders he pulled her in closer to his muscular chest before letting out a long breath. “Paul, honestly what are you really doing here?”

“I came here because I heard my wife found her way back,” Paul informed Kyle with a long sigh resting his head back before putting his feet back up on the coffee table. Kyle rolled his eyes before watching his friend play with the vase Russ and Avery had left with the house. “I figured we could crash for a bit that’s all.”

“Crash as in you stay here or what?” Heather muttered seeing the way Paul’s blue eyes met hers as she pressed her fingers in over Kyle’s firm abdomen carefully. “Kyle, does he mean what I think he means?”


“He’s not going to get away with this,” Hart paced around the room, feeling his blood boiling after the news Sam had given him about Walt’s taking the initiative to make her dreams of London a reality. Spinning around, he faced Jenna with a clenched jaw and angry eyes, “He’s only doing this to take her away from me Jen. You know that.”

“Hart, he is just trying to be her grandfather. You and I both know how much she wants this to fall through for her,” Jenna tried to calm him down, but it was no use as she could see him searing with rage. “He’s trying to make up for lost time and…”

“No this is personal. This is his way of stealing my daughter away from me because I won’t cave in and give him what he wants. He knows full well that he’s in the wrong here, but he doesn’t care,” Hart raised his voice feeling his fury eating away inside of him, “I told him the last time he came around that I was shutting him out of my life completely, but now he’s using Sam as a tool to work his way back in.”

“Hart, she’s come to you multiple times about what’s going on with her and Wayne. You know how much this means to her,” Jenna tried to reason with him seeing the way that he’d moved around the room kicking at the couch before wincing in pain. “Hart, come on. Don’t be ridiculous about this.”

“She’s my daughter Jen. She’s my little girl and I’m not going to let him take her away from me. Beth already kept her from me for far too many years and I’m not going to just sit idle and watch her walk out of my life forever. It’s not going to happen and I don’t care what I have to do to make sure that Walt doesn’t get away with this,” he blurted out marching across the room and reaching for his jacket.

“Hart, what are you doing?” Jenna questioned worriedly seeing him scanning the living room.

“I’m going to go see Walt and then I’m going to talk to Beth,” Hart blurted out snatching his car keys up from the table top. “Walt might have thought he made some ground here, but he hasn’t. If Sam won’t listen to me, then she’ll have no choice to listen to Beth and I about this. She is after all Sam’s mother.”

“I understand that Hart, but this means the world to her. If you tell her no and keep her from leaving, she could hate you forever,” Jenna warned him seeing his eyes wild with upset.

“I don’t give a damn or not if she hates me. She’s my daughter and she’s not leaving,” Hart shouted back at her, making his way over to the door and leaving in a haste. He slammed it behind him causing Jenna to shudder as her worries about Hart grew exponentially. Knowing full well that he was out for blood, she reached for her own jacket and took off after him hoping like hell she could keep him from doing or saying something that he would live to regret down the road!


“What’s on your mind sweetheart,” Richard questioned patiently awaiting Avery’s words as it was clear that something was on her mind. He watched her exchange glances with Russ before Richard reached for Avery’s hand. “Whatever it is that you want to talk to me about, you know that I’m here for you.”

“I know, but this is…” she paused biting on her lower lip nervously, “this is something that I really don’t know how to bring up.”

“It’s okay,” Richard tried to coax her into speaking what was on her mind, “just take your time with it.”

“Daddy, you see there is this woman in town--she’s someone that Russ met when he had amnesia and…” Avery cleared her throat uneasily as Richard looked to Russ with a frown.

“What have you done?” he scowled seeing the way that his daughter appeared to be upset.

“No daddy it’s not Russ. It’s her. You see she looks just like me,” Avery blurted out squeezing her father’s hand before he could get up and fight with Russ. “If I didn’t know better I would say that we are twins. In fact, I think that we are twins…”

“What?” Richard blinked back at her his focus returning to what she was saying.

“Daddy a little while ago I saw her and I had a confrontation with Cameron Stone,” she explained in a shaky voice closing her eyes for a brief moment before continuing. “A long time ago I had spoken with Cameron before and he knew things about me--things that no one would know unless they were family.”

“Avery, you and I both know what kind of man Cameron is,” Richard offered up thinking about all the hell Cameron had put on people in Coral Valley.

“I know that daddy, but this woman I told you about--this girl that looks like me, well I’m pretty sure that Cameron only knew those things about me because he knows them about her,” she paused feeling a chill creep in over her, “Daddy he claims that she’s his sister and that I am his sister as well.”

“That’s preposterous,” Richard shook his head firmly, “Avery you know full well that you’re my daughter and…”

“Am I?” she searched his eyes as if trying to read for another response from him.

“Of course you are,” he reached out to touch her face gently, “You’ve always been my little girl and it’s clear that Cameron is using this woman to try to get at you. There is no way that she could be your sister or that you are his sister when I know full well that you are my daughter.”

“I understand that, but still…you haven’t seen her,” Avery shook her head thinking about Angela, “Dad she looks just like me.”

“She could’ve had some kind of reconstructive surgery that was meant to confuse you,” Richard offered up thinking about all of the plots that Cameron has pulled in the past. “He could’ve hired her to get you worked up and…”

“I don’t think so Rick. There are too many things for Cameron to have done that. She’s more than just someone who stepped in to hurt Avery,” Russ explained feeling an uneasiness overtake him as he thought back to his time with Angela. “They have too strong of similarities for this to be just some kind of plot by Cameron.”

“There is no other explanation for it,” Richard shook his head firmly before turning to Avery, “As much as your mother and I have had our differences, I’ve always been sure about you. You’re the best thing that’s ever come out of our relationship and…”

“I know that daddy, but still…” Avery started to explain again only to hear the sound of Erin waking up in the other room. She glanced over at Russ before looking to her father again.

“Avery, you’re worrying unnecessarily about something that isn’t there,” Richard tried to persuade her as Erin let out another small sound. “In fact, I want you to stop thinking about the lies Cameron has told you because it simply is not the case. You and I both know that you’re my princess and you’ll always be my princess. In fact, why don’t you go get Erin so that you and Russ can see what I bought for her?”

“But…” she started to protest before finally nodding, “Okay, I’ll be right back.”

As Avery walked out of the room Richard glanced over at Russ and frowned, “Please don’t tell me that you’re allowing these lies Cameron has told her to fester inside of her. I thought we already discussed that she has more than necessary on her mind already.”

“Rick I’ve tried to tell her not to worry about it, but Cameron made a very strong case with Angela,” Russ paused thinking about what he’d learned before he’d lost his memory, “and there’s something more--something I think you should know about Brooke before you discount any of this either.”

“What do you mean?” Richard questioned arching a curious brow.

“When I was taken from Coral Valley I discovered something--something that could quite possibly change everything for the future, which is why I haven’t mentioned it to Avery,” Russ divulged moving in closer to Richard, “but it’s something that I can’t keep from you any longer. You deserve to know the truth!”


Lindsay slumped over on her side of the booth watching as Jackie played with her pizza, moving it around in her hand in such a way that it was all over the place. She couldn’t help but frown when Daniel offered Jackie his napkin, moving in to help her clean up some of the sauce that was on her cheek before reaching for his glass of Coke.

“Jackie you are such a slob,” John noted with a frown seeing the way that his sister let out a loud burp upon taking a drink of her Coke.

“Oh my I’m sorry,” Jackie gasped bringing her hand up over the side of her face and laughing, “Boy that was bad.”

“Nah, we all do it,” Daniel reached for his glass and took a sip from the straw before offering up a burp himself, “See it’s okay.”

“Man, that was weak,” John took his drink and followed suit burping as well while Lindsay rolled her eyes.

“That’s so nasty,” Lindsay blurted out with a frown catching the way that Daniel was watching her.

“We were just playing around,” Daniel admitted setting his drink down again. He slid it over towards his plate before nodding at Lindsay, “but I can stop if it bothers you.”

“Why would you want to stop Danny?” Jackie laughed lightly reaching down to pat her hand on his leg, “I don’t mind it and neither does Lindsay. She’s just playing around, right Lindsay?”

“Well I…” Lindsay paused seeing the way that Jackie slid in closer to Daniel. Feeling jealousy sweep over her, she pushed herself off of the seat she was in and motioned to the bathroom. “I’ll be right back.”

“You okay?” John questioned worriedly as Lindsay nodded.

“Yeah I’ll be fine,” Lindsay replied rushing off before Daniel watched her closely.

“She doesn’t look okay,” Daniel noted with a frown of his own thinking about how unusually quiet Lindsay was on the ride out to the restaurant.

“I’m sure she’s just nervous about skipping school,” Jackie added thinking about Lindsay being with them. “It’s not like her to just up and do something against the rules. She doesn’t believe in that.”

“Yet she was out here today because you gave me the car,” John noted with a frown.

“You were the one that picked her up,” Jackie tossed out at him with a huff. “So it’s your fault.”

“I wouldn’t have picked her up if you wouldn’t have gone off with that loser. Speaking of which, how did that one end up for you?” John questioned smugly as Jackie glared over at him.

“Let’s just say that I can’t even remember his name at this point,” Jackie wrinkled her nose at her brother before glaring in warning.

“Hmm, then I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t worth your time in the first place,” Daniel added fighting to suppress the need to laugh after knowing full well how things played out at Tom’s apartment.

“Let’s just say I realized that I don’t need an old man around me when I could have much more fun with someone my own age,” Jackie admitted with a small slur, batting her eyelashes over at Daniel. “I really don’t mind taking the time to experience the thrills of dating someone that I can relate to.”

“I’m sure you’ll find someone like that for you very soon and he’ll treat you right,” Daniel nodded in response bringing his arm out to stretch it on the back of the seat. He leaned into the wall a bit and smiled, “I mean all guys aren’t jerks you know.”

“Maybe not, but the ones I pick up are. They just don’t know how to treat someone,” she sighed heavily sinking back into her seat. “I mean they are nothing like say you are.”

“I’m not that great,” Daniel shrugged his shoulders and laughed throwing a knowing glance over at John, “I do a lot of shady underhanded things every now and then.”

“I seriously doubt that,” Jackie scoffed in response reaching for a loose piece of pepperoni on her plate.

“I’m skipping school right now, aren’t I?” Daniel wiggled his brow at her suggestively. He reached for his drink and took another sip. “That should tell you what kind of rebel I am.”

“I’ll have an even better indication of that if you let me play with your balls,” Jackie blurted out with a wide grin causing Daniel to spit out the drink he’d had in his mouth.

“Excuse me,” Daniel blinked back at her in astonishment.

“Balls, you know like over there,” she nodded over to the ski ball machine across the play area, “I remember you mentioning once that you were pretty good at that game and now I want to put you to the test.”

“Oh well, um,” Daniel offered up a nervous laugh before finally nodding, “Sure, but I should warn you that I’m really, really good at that game.”

“I’m sure I’m better since I know how to handle the ball very well,” Jackie confessed sliding out of the seat and waiting for him. “You might find yourself surprised by the time we’re finished.”

“You’re just full of surprises,” Daniel offered up before turning to John, “Want to join us?”

“Nah, I’ll just wait for Linds,” John waved his hand dismissively watching as his sister walked off with Daniel to go play a game. Frowning he thought about how Jackie was proclaiming her love for Tom a few hours ago, yet now she was hitting on Daniel right in front of Lindsay, who was obviously upset.

“Sorry about that,” Lindsay approached the table seeing only John, “Hey where did everyone go?”

“My sister, the whore, is over there trying to make a play on Daniel,” John motioned over to where Jackie and Daniel were side by side at the ski ball machine. “You should go over there and stake your claim before she makes an unsolicited grab at his crotch.”

“She wouldn’t do that,” Lindsay frowned moving in to sit beside John once again, “Would she?”

“Linds, she’s on the rebound right now. My sister never handles that well,” John admitted thinking about Jackie’s erratic behavior. “For most people you learn from something like what happened earlier, but for Jackie, she never gets a clue. I mean yeah she might take a fraction of a hint, but it’s not long before she moves on to her next project.”

“And you think Daniel is it, huh?” Lindsay sighed seeing Jackie swatting Daniel’s arm playfully. She slid in behind him tickling his ribs as he tossed his ball, causing it to go flying into another lane.

“Yep, unfortunately I do,” John nodded in response before turning to look at Lindsay, “The question is what are you going to do about it?”

“What can I do about it? It’s not like Daniel likes me,” Lindsay paused thinking about the few times she and Daniel had been with one another. She’d thought there was chemistry--that there was something happening between them, but now as he was with Jackie, she couldn’t help but find herself doubting everything.

“Of course he likes you. What guy wouldn’t Lindsay? You’re smart, beautiful and really fun to be with,” John continued to remind her enthusiastically. “Anyone would be crazy not to want to be with you. You’d be the perfect girlfriend.”

“You say that now, but I don’t see it. How many dates have I had?” she tossed out at him with a sigh watching Jackie coax Daniel into moving in behind her and helping her throw the ball she’d been playing with.

“It doesn’t matter about the quantity, but rather the quality,” John pointed out with a nod, “Just because Jackie has gone through more boyfriends than most people have gone through toilet paper doesn’t mean she’s any better at catching a guy’s eye than you are. Hell, if I wanted a girlfriend right now I would ask you out, but you know with my focusing on my music and everything…”

“Ah yes you and the love for rock and roll,” Lindsay shook her head at him. “Sometimes you confuse me John. You just seem so out of the loop with dating and…”

“Trust me if there was a girl in school who was worth dating well other than you I might consider it, but for now I prefer my guitar and keeping you as my best friend,” he nodded towards Daniel once again, “Plus a guy doesn’t stand a chance as long as he’s around. It’s clear that you’re crushing.”

“I am not,” Lindsay protested watching Jackie spin around to hug Daniel enthusiastically, “At least not when I know it’s something that’s not worth my time.”

“That’s a defeatist attitude. How about we work on changing that?” John decided nudging her to move out of the seat. She did reluctantly and he followed reaching for her hand. He pulled her in over towards where Daniel and Jackie were. “Give my sister some competition. She needs it.”

“I’m hardly on Jackie’s level,” Lindsay whispered in a muted tone ready to say something more when Daniel approached them.

“Hey, I was wondering where you were,” Daniel announced joining John and Lindsay, “Jackie and I were talking and we were thinking about maybe getting together with a few more friends and making a night of it. I know you have to get to the train station John, but Lindsay I was hoping that maybe you might want to do something tonight. We can call up Stacy and a few other people and hang out.”

“Seriously?” Lindsay replied with wide eyes.

“Yeah, I think it would be cool. Don’t you?” Daniel questioned flashing her a bright smile.

“Yeah,” Lindsay nodded feeling a moment of confidence carrying over her, “I think it would be totally cool.”

“Great, then let’s do it,” Daniel decided motioning to Jackie, “I’ll just have her call Stacy after a few games and we can get on it.”

“Great,” Lindsay nodded watching Daniel return to finish his game.

“See and you thought that there would be trouble. Lindsay, sweetheart, you’ve got this one nailed in the bag,” John whispered in her ear hoping that his friend would realize just how amazing she was now that it was clear she was doubting herself around Daniel. If Daniel wasn’t smart enough to see how incredible Lindsay was, then he was the idiot indeed.


“I didn’t know you came to the gym,” Jason boasted proudly rubbing at the back of his neck seeing the way that Nate tried to avoid total eye contact with him while Mindy looked down at the ground. “Is something wrong with you two? Did I miss something?”

“No, nothing at all,” Nate replied quickly seeing the way that Jason’s blue eyes stared into his as Jason smiled widely. Reaching out to gently nudge Mindy’s shoulder he saw her blue eyes stare out at him. “So Mindy, how’s it going. You working those guns there?”

“I can see you have been,” Mindy blurted out seeing him smile and look down at the tank top he was in before flexing his arm for her. Feeling her reach out to touch his arm muscle and give it a small squeeze. “You like that?”

“Oh yeah,” Mindy moved in closer to Jason feeling his muscle tighten more underneath her fingertips as she smiled. “Oh my, Jason you really are a big boy. I like what I see, you take care of yourself very nicely.”

“Everyone at this gym does here honey,” Nate pointed out gently touching Mindy’s wrist softly seeing the way her blue eyes looked over at him for a moment. Clearing his throat uneasily he saw Jason run his fingers through his messy hair before letting out a long breath. “So what’s on your mind Jay?”

“Well, this is directed toward Mindy,” Jason spoke up softly seeing her nod before fixing her hair a bit. Jason kicked at the ground softly looking back in the direction of the windows to the parking before speaking up in almost a whisper. “I was kind of sort of wondering if you would want go out sometime.”

“Oh yeah,” she nodded seeing the way that Jason smiled, his dimples growing more and more with each not she gave. “I mean do you want to go like something or something? I know a great store in the mall that would have some awesome stuff for you to wear.”

“Yeah, we could go shopping if that’s what you would want to do. Anything you’re up for, I’ll do anything for you Mindy,” Jason whispered seeing her smile before rubbing her hands in over her shoulders letting out a long sigh. “And for the wearing clothes thing, I would love to wear whatever you pick out for me. Any ideas you have, I’m there.”

“Sweet, I already think I have an idea for you,” she pushed a strand of hair behind her ear before pointing back to the smoothie bar. “How about I buy all three of us a round of smoothies? Strawberry sound good.”

“Are you sure?” Jason questioned looking over at Nate who already gave her a nod for it being okay as Jason shrugged his shoulders. “Sure, I would love to. Strawberry sounds great, thanks honey.”

“Strawberry works,” Nate gave her the okay before looking back at Jason with a new curiosity. Seeing Jason’s eyes widen by the way that he was looking at him, Nate simply shrugged his shoulders. “You know Jason, I never really pegged you to be a fruit, but it’s cool I guess. I’ll get the table for us to chill at.”

“Wait, Nate,” Jason called out his eyebrows tightening as he watched Nate drop to a chair at a table and Jason looked around the room before shrugging his shoulders. “What is a fruit?”

Jason looked back to Nate again before letting out a long sigh moving across the room to help Mindy with the drinks so she couldn’t drop them. Just for the life of him, he couldn’t seem to realize why or what Nate meant in calling him a fruit.


“Honey, I’m home,” Don chuckled stepping into his home expecting to see his wife before him only to find his son and Zane in front of the television playing a video game. Closing the door behind him Don dropped the bag on the floor before moving in closer to his son. “Hey kiddo, where is Shannon?”

“What do I care?” Matt replied looking up to see the look in his father’s blue eyes and Matt pushed the button to pause the game from continuing with the playing. “She’s in the kitchen father and I’m just playing with Zane before Aunt Dee comes over and picks him up.”

“Okay, good boy,” Don kneeled down pressing a small kiss against Matt’s forehead before rubbing at Zane’s hair softly hearing Zane let out a small laugh. “You boys play fair and nice. I don’t want to be breaking up any wrestling fights here.”

Hearing his son chuckle one last time Don smiled moving into the kitchen seeing Shannon staring out the window into the backyard. Carefully moving in behind her, he knew she couldn’t hear him as he wrapped his arms around her hearing her gasp erupt through the air.

“Hey sexy girl,” Don muttered pressing a small kiss against her neck feeling Shannon relax in his arms a bit as she pressed her hands in over his. “Do you know you look almost as good from behind as you do from the front?”

“Do you know how much you sound like a freak right now?” she teased turning into his arms to stare into his blue eyes as he caressed her cheek softly. “I would rather stare into those sexy eyes than have you behind me.”

“Oh, I think I like the sound of that more,” Don tipped down cupping her face in his hands softly before pressing his lips in over hers in a tender caress. “I think this is much better than staring at you from behind.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” she whispered placing tiny nibbles against his bottom lip as he pulled her in against his chest letting out a long sigh making him kiss her with more passion behind it. “I missed you today Don.”

“Oh god are you two doing what I think you’re doing?” Matt groaned from the corner of the room seeing his father drop Shannon back to the ground as she quickly moved over to the sink. “No, no. Don’t let me interrupt, I’m just getting some juice for us.”

“No, we were just talking about how Deana was planning on picking up Zane soon,” Shannon continued to wash her hands seeing Matt roll his eyes before walking back into the living room with the juice in his hands. Don and Shannon followed him not far behind as they saw Matt walking toward the bedroom. “Where you going kiddo.”

“We’re playing the game ‘Clue’,” Matt informed his father and Shannon before shrugging his shoulders and letting out a long sigh. “The boy believes that somehow he can beat me when I always hammer him and win, but I figured I’d let him have another try.”

“We’ll be here Matty,” Don called out seeing his son nod as Don let out a long breath pushing his hand through his dark hair before dropping down on the couch. “Today honey, you would not imagine the things that have been happening with Brant. You see, Brant and Angela are having problems because…,”

Don went to say more only to see Shannon going to pick up the bag he had dropped in the corner of the room as he got up off the couch. Reaching for the bag he saw Shannon glare out at him as she pulled it away moving behind the couch.

“Shannon, you don’t want to look at that,” Don pleaded watching the way she opened it and pulled out what he thought to be a slutty Victoria’s Secret set out of the bag. Clearing his throat Don shrugged his shoulders before speaking up again. “I swear I was talking to Jewel today and she wanted me to give that to your brother. I swear to god that’s what it is.”

“Are you sure?” Shannon dropped the lingerie to the ground seeing Don holding his hands out in the air in a pleading motion as she bit down on her bottom lip angrily. “Is that what this is Don? Is this really something for Nate or is it honestly something for you and you are just standing her lying to me? I know how you feel about Jewel, so huh? Is this for you or is it really for Nate?”


“I really don’t know sweetheart,” Kyle looked down at Heather for a moment before looking back into Paul’s blue eyes as he leaned further back into the seat. Seeing Paul grab the pillow next to him and hold it in his arms tightly, Kyle cleared his throat moving forward and letting Heather go. “Are you trying to say your staying here?”

“Well yeah, I mean I have my bags in the car man. You have your own house. I could chill on the couch, it’s really not that bad,” Paul explained seeing the worried look in Heather’s eyes as Kyle stood up. Bringing his foot across the table he heard the vase he was playing with shatter to the ground as he let out a small yelp. “My bad man, my bad.”

“It’s quite alright,” Kyle muttered under his breath seeing the way that Heather went to get up and Kyle motioned her to sit back down. “Paul, I really can’t have you just coming here man. I mean notice maybe, but I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say yes man, I mean honestly I’ve done things for you,” Paul pointed out seeing the way that Kyle stared out at him and he nodded slowly. “I let you do a ton of things and I was always there to hold you up. So why can’t you be mine?”

“Paul, I just can’t all of a sudden drop everything to let you move into my house,” Kyle protested feeling Heather step in behind him and press her hand against his shoulder. “I mean look at it, you already got my coffee table dirty with your shoes and you already broke a vase. I can’t deal with that Paul.”

“Well now, look at the one who is whipped these days,” Paul stood up from the chair hearing Heather let out a small gasp as a small smirk appeared out of the corners of Kyle’s lips. “I mean here I was thinking I was whipped by Jewel considering she was my wife, but honestly. I think everyone is whipped by her, even you were back in college that one time.”

“Sadly Paul,” Kyle nodded watching his friend walk over toward the couch and lie back against it as if he was getting comfortable enough to sleep on it. “I don’t know if we can really do this right now considering she has a baby.”

“You got her pregnant. Hot dong gone it,” Paul laughed out seeing the look on Heather’s face knowing that she didn’t understand a word he said as he let out a small laugh. “You had a baby Kyle? What’s it’s name?”

“He isn’t Kyle’s,” Heather informed Paul seeing him pacing back and forth in the living room. “I got pregnant before Kyle ever came back to Coral Valley, but he’s like a second dad to Charles.”

“Exactly,” Kyle nodded feeling Paul grab a hold of his shirt and felt Paul tugging his toward the door as Kyle let out a small noise. Looking over at Heather he saw her green eyes staring into his as he let out a small whimper. “Where am I going?”

“To help me get my stuff and to talk,” Paul pulled Kyle out of the door and saw Kyle shrug his shoulders to Heather before following him out onto the lawn. “What is going on with you man? You’re not the same Kyle you used to be.”

“I’m no party animal anymore Paul, you have to be careful what you say,” Kyle pointed out seeing Paul grab a few things throwing them in his direction. For a moment he had a hard time trying to hold onto everything right before grabbing a firm hold of the bags. Seeing Paul move forward with just one Kyle let out a small hiss. “Paul, seriously. We need to start rethinking what’s going on here.”


“What is it Russ? What is this so called truth that you’ve uncovered?” Richard questioned wearily seeing the expression on Russell’s face. “Tell me already.”

“When Nicholas and Brooke teamed up with one another to get rid of me, I was stuck in this place for a while where I was given information,” Russ paused thinking about the hazy memories that carried over him. “I wasn’t given the information really, but rather I found it when I was trying to escape. You see Nicholas kept some kind of files on the people that he had around him. He was keeping tabs on everyone of interest in his life and he had this file on Brooke…”

“Wait a second. You’re saying that Nicholas had files on everyone here in town including my wife,” Richard tipped his head to the side giving him a strange look.

“That’s right and I got my hands on the one he had for Brooke. It turns out that she’s been manipulating for years. In fact that night that Avery found me in bed with Heather that was her doing. Brooke and Douglas Mahoney teamed up to drug Heather and I and make it look like we slept together so that Avery would run to Brant and Kipp would leave Heather,” Russ explained in a low, quiet tone hoping that Avery wouldn’t return too fast. “Bruce had supplied her with the drugs--the same drugs that she had used in the past on another occasion.”

“Are you talking about the drugs she used that had caused Avery to lose your child before,” Richard questioned his jaw clenching at the memory of his wife’s deceptions.

Russ shook his head feeling something build up in the pit of his stomach, “It was something different--something she’d used when she was much younger--something she’d used on you.”

“What?” Richard’s eyes widened in response before he shook his head, “Russ that’s impossible.”

“Think about it Rick. You were in love with Judy. You two were engaged to be married and then out of the blue you threw that all away to be with Brooke. Judy found you and Brooke in bed with one another and then you had no choice but to end things with Judy,” Russ added thinking about what he knew about Avery’s father. “When I see you and Judy together I know full well that you always loved her and you would’ve never chanced what you had with one another to be with Brooke.”

“Brooke was pregnant with Avery and I wasn’t going to abandon my daughter. I’m still not going to,” Richard huffed in response finding himself increasingly uncomfortable on the sofa.

“I understand that, but Rick, Brooke drugged you. She knew that you weren’t going to be with her, so she took action. She made sure that you had no choice, but to be with her by getting herself pregnant,” Russ added further shaking his head, “She manipulated you just like she manipulated everyone else over the years.”

“Oh my God,” Richard gasped thinking back to the night he’d lost everything he’d had with Judy. “I can’t believe that…”

“I know this is hard, but…” Russ started again.

“You said you haven’t mentioned this to Avery, yes?” Richard questioned turning to look at Russ with worry behind his eyes. “She doesn’t know what her mother has done.”

“I thought what Brooke did to Avery and Erin was more than enough to put her through,” Russ confessed with a nervous expression, “I just couldn’t bring myself to destroy her and I still can’t.”

“You cannot say a word to her about any of this,” Richard informed him point blank, “While Brooke and I might not have anything together, there was a point in time when I was with her.”

“Yes, but if she lied about what happened the night Judy found you two together, then what else has she lied about Richard? Is it possible that Cameron might know something about Brooke and Avery that none of us had anticipated?” Russ questioned mirroring Richard’s thoughts as Avery entered the room with Erin in her arms.

“I told Erin that her grandfather was here and she’s excited to see you,” Avery explained brightly keeping Erin close to her chest. “She is just as eager to see what you brought for her as we are.”

“I know she’s going to love it,” Richard pushed Russell’s conversation aside long enough for his thoughts to focus on the beautiful little girl in his daughter’s arms. “In fact why don’t we have Russ help us open it up?”

“Alright,” Russ walked over to the gift and looked over at it, “Look Erin it’s got a big bow on it just for you.”

Russ pulled the bow off of the package and walked over to place it on top of Erin’s head seeing her big eyes move up towards him and she let out a tiny giggle.

“I think she likes it already dad,” Avery laughed lightly as Russ carefully opened the package to pull off the top of it.

“Um okay,” Russ held up a smaller box that had a tiny cash register inside. “What’s this?”

“Since her mommy is so good with numbers I thought that Erin would like to have an opportunity to play with her own grocery store,” Richard informed him with a smile, “I know it’s a little grown up for her, but I have the rest of the store out in the car. It’s a little play town that I know she’s going to love when she gets a little older. If Russ wants to help me we can carry the rest of it inside.”

“Oh daddy it’s great,” Avery replied brightly seeing Erin watch her father with great interest.

“That’s not all though,” Russ pulled out a stuffed puppy dog and moved it around in the air in a dance. “Erin look what else grandpa got for you.”

Erin’s tiny fingers pinched out as she wiggled in Avery’s arms trying to reach for her stuffed animal. She started to whine when Russ wasn’t close enough for her. He laughed lightly before giving her the new friend her grandfather had given her and within a matter of seconds she was nibbling on the dog’s ear.

“I think this one is a keeper dad,” Avery added watching her daughter completely in awe of the toy Richard had bought her. “She loves it.”

“She’ll love the rest of it too when your strong man over there gives me a hand,” Richard teased with a small wink walking over to kiss his granddaughter gently, “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you or your mommy Erin. You’re both my little princesses and don’t you ever forget it.”

“We won’t,” Avery smiled in response feeling a bit relieved to have her father over with them.

“Good keep it that way,” Richard touched Avery’s chin lightly before looking to Russ, “You ready to lend me a hand Mr. Muscles.”

“You bet old man,” Russ teased back walking over to the door to join Richard over by his car.

As the two men stepped out onto the front porch Richard pulled Russ aside stopping him before they could get the rest of Erin’s presents.

“Look Russ about what we discussed before, just don’t say anything to Avery,” Richard urged him again with an apprehension in his features. “The truth to the matter is that I realize Brooke had manipulated all of us, but I don’t care about how Avery came into this world. All that matters to me is that I have her and she’s mine.”

“I understand sir and…” Russ paused before letting out a long breath, “it’s just what Cameron said and with Angela…”

“I don’t know what that’s all about, but I’ll look into this Angela thing myself. As for Avery, Russ I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that she’s my little girl. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that she’s mine because I was sure of it since the day I first learned that she was coming into this world,” Richard added with a newfound confidence in his tone. “You don’t need to question that and neither does she.”

“Of course,” Russ nodded wondering if everything was as black and white as Richard wanted it to be. Hell, he knew it wasn’t that easy, but given how much Richard and Avery meant to one another, Russ just hoped that Richard could do a good job of convincing everyone else that there wasn’t reason to worry about what Cameron had said. For Avery’s state of mine, Russ hoped that Richard would be able to accomplish all that and more!


“So now all you’ll have to do is know how to turn it on after it’s full and you’ll be good to go,” Grady tapped the countertop thinking about the job he and Seth had run with one another in installing the dishwasher in Blake and Seth’s new kitchen. He smiled over at Blake before offering up a teasing wink, “That is if you’re ready to step into the role of manual labor here with dishes.”

“Very funny,” Blake folded her arms in front of her chest and huffed, “I’ll have you know that I’m quite capable of doing dishes. I might have lived a pampered life, but it wasn’t that pampered.”

“Hey I didn’t know how to run one of these things until my first marriage,” Grady admitted honestly, “Truth be told my dish collection consisted of the kind you could toss into the trash and never reflect upon once again.”

“See now I wasn’t able to have that luxury growing up,” Seth admitted thinking about his childhood. “We had a set of about four mismatched plates, bowls and chipped cups that had to last us for a very long time. Truth be told I remember how worked up my mother was when Jade and I were doing dishes one time. We were just goofing around and wound up crushing two of the mugs and making a mess. At first my mother looked like she was about to explode. She started to rant about it until Jade started crying and then she changed her mind about being mad. In fact, she reached for one of the remaining two mugs and decided to throw it to the ground to show that she wasn’t upset with us.”

“Really?” Grady replied thinking about the woman he’d once loved.

“Yeah, I mean at the time we wound up laughing it off, but then when Jade and I realized the importance of what little we did have, we decided to make it up to her. We both worked at a carnival for a short time one summer and Jade and I were able to pool together enough money to buy a real set of dishes. Sure, they weren’t anything special, but you should have seen my mother’s face when we gave them to her,” Seth sighed closing his eyes and thinking back to his mother’s reaction, “You would have thought we’d handed her a winning lottery ticket. It was really something special.”

“It sounds like it,” Blake noted stepping in closer to him. She eased her arms around Seth’s waist before smiling up at him, “which is why I made sure to pack those plates away in the China cabinet so that they wouldn’t be broken in the move.”

“You did?” Seth arched a curious brow before watching her nod.

“I figured they were something special,” Blake nodded once more, “so I made sure that Sarah and I put those away along with the ashtray that Jade made in junior high that you showed me not that long ago.”

“Jade made an ashtray?” Grady arched a curious brow.

Seth nodded, “Yeah, she was so proud of it that when she made it my mother embraced it and set it up on display even though she wasn’t a smoker herself. It was red and orange with a yellow base and…I can show it to you if you’d like.”

“Do you mind?” Grady felt a tightness in his chest at the thought of Jade.

“Not at all,” Seth replied simply before motioning for Grady to follow him. “It should be over here.”

“Top shelf,” Blake added walking past the room to return to a box she’d started sifting through in the living room.

“Here it is,” Seth explained reaching out onto the top shelf and pulling out Jade’s clumsily put together ashtray. He turned to show it to Grady, who laughed in response.

“Yeah, I could see how it might be hard to decipher what it is,” Grady admitted as Seth held it out to him.

“Jade never stayed within the guidelines on projects,” Seth explained watching Grady carefully curl his fingers around the ashtray, “She always made her own rules.”

“You aren’t kidding,” Grady mouthed with a thoughtful expression as his fingers traced over the engraving where Jade had carved her name into the bottom of the ashtray.

“She was always stubborn about things, but it never kept her from following her dreams or her heart,” Seth reminded him with an air of sentimentality in his tone, “You know Grady even though I didn’t take the time to say it so much when Jade was alive, the truth to the matter is that you really did make her happy. For so long she felt so empty inside. After those monsters tried to destroy her life, she was shut off in so many ways. She stopped believing in love and happiness and if you two hadn’t crossed paths, there’s no telling where she might have been.”

“Your sister was a survivor Seth. She would have been fine without me. Better than fine I’m sure,” Grady felt a lump forming in his throat at the mention of Jade.

“That’s where you’re wrong because it wasn’t until she found you that I started to see the real Jade return again,” Seth explained fighting to contain his emotions, “It wasn’t until you found each other that I really saw that she would be okay. It wasn’t until you were together that I felt like my sister had really found her place in this world. Loving you made her whole again and even if she was taken from us far too soon, that’s something that will always stay with me.”

“Your sister was the one woman in this world that made me believe in happy endings,” Grady confessed with a pained expression, “She refused to let me bury myself in my demons and I’ll always love her for that.”

“I know you will,” Seth replied as there was a sound in the other room alerting them that someone had arrived.

“Thanks Seth,” Grady offered up handing the ashtray over to Seth once again.

“For what?” Seth questioned curiously.

“For seeing beyond the disaster you thought I was and allowing me the chance to love your sister. If I hadn’t had that opportunity, I would never know how to love,” Grady explained further as his green eyes cast out into the other room where Deana was with Blake. “I would never know what it is to need someone and want to have the things that mattered most in this world.”

“Jade always wanted you to be happy,” Seth nudged him further before he glanced over at Deana, “She’d be proud that you were able to achieve the joys she longed for you to have.”

“I just wish she could have shared them with us,” Grady sighed as he watched Seth put the ashtray back on the shelf.

“She is in her own way,” Seth nodded to the ceiling before offering up a sad smile, “She’s still watching us and screaming at us for our mistakes while trying to point us in the right direction at the same time.”

“Somehow that wouldn’t surprise me,” Grady added with a laugh, “Jade would take it upon herself to be bossy with the man upstairs if she got her mind set on something.”

“She’s probably driving everyone in heaven crazy,” Seth replied with a poignant smile before hearing the sound of Blake and Deana’s laughter in the other room. “In fact, what do you say we go and give her something to smile about?”

“Let her know that we’re doing what she would have wanted?” Grady arched a curious brow.

“Something like that,” Seth explained with a nod moving out into the room to join Deana and Blake.

Grady stayed behind for a moment and once again turned his attention to the ashtray on the top shelf of the china cabinet. A smile touched over his lips as his eyes traveled to a photograph of him, Jade, Blake and Seth that was taken a while ago. He thought back to that moment in time and found himself touched by a warmth that could only mean one thing. Jade was still there with him in his heart and his soul and he knew that he’d never truly lose all that they had with one another.

“Thank you for not giving up on me,” Grady whispered to himself knowing that Jade’s faith in him had kept him from falling to pieces time and time again. He closed his eyes for a moment thinking about the woman he’d once loved when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Grady?” Deana questioned worry evident in her tone, “Is everything alright?”

“Everything’s fine now that you’re here,” Grady replied turning around to pull Deana into his arms. He reached out to touch the side of her face before offering up a warm smile, “Better than fine.”

“Are you sure?” she searched his eyes for a long moment, “I mean I’m sorry I’m late. I tried to cut out of my shift earlier since I knew you would need my help here, but…”

“I love you,” Grady mouthed moving in to cut her off with a kiss. He pulled her into his arms completely and took his time to appreciate the softness of her lips against his. His fingers fanned out over the side of her face before he reluctantly eased away from her. He took the time to memorize her features before smiling down at her, “I hope you realize that.”

“I love you too,” she replied with a blush carrying over her features, “You sure, you’re alright?”

“Now that you’re in my life, I’m pretty sure I will be,” Grady reassured her while pulling her into an embrace again as he thought of how fate had blessed him with another chance at happiness in his life. As he held onto Deana, he knew that he wouldn’t have been able to experience the love he’d felt for her if it hadn’t been for Jade’s interception in his life. Now he had the whole world ahead of him and he vowed not to fall into the same traps that had caused him so much grief with Jade. This time he was going to savor each and every moment that life had brought his way.


“Here, let me help you,” Mindy felt a warmth behind her as she saw Jason reach forward to grab two of the smoothies before smiling down at her. “I don’t want you to drop these you know, they are some pretty amazing drinks.”

“Tell me about it,” Mindy looked down for a moment before hearing Jason clear his throat and look away from her. She could tell by the look on his face something was on his mind and when his blue eyes avoided her she really knew that was the truth. “What is it Jason?”

“I was just thinking, Nate said something to me and I just don’t understand it,” Jason began to explain seeing her nod and look over in Nate’s general direction before letting out a long breath. “He called me a fruit Mindy, what in the world does that mean and why did he say it?”

“He really said that to you?” Mindy questioned in an angered voice looking over at Nate seeing him avoiding all eye contact with her as she reached out to touch the side of Jason’s face. “Listen, don’t think about what he called you. He’s just being a jerk right now. I think it’s cool what you are Jason.”

“Well, thank you,” he bit down on his bottom lip feeling her push back his hair behind his ear as he let out a small laugh. Looking back to Nate he saw him somewhat jealous by the way he was staring. “I think.”

“No really Jason. I really like you and I’m glad I met you. I know a couple of great guys like you and I would never not like you for who you are, you’re amazing,” she leaned forward up on her tippy toes to press a small kiss against his cheek seeing the confused look behind his blue eyes. “I would love, love to hang out with you more. It would be absolutely amazing because you are a great guy and I’m happy that I can call you my friend.”

“Yeah, me too but,” Jason went to say something else before pausing and taking in a long shallow breath. “Mindy, I don’t know if I’m missing something here. I don’t know what’s going on with me or you. I just am thinking all the wrong things.”

“And that’s okay, but right now I want you to know I’m used to being around guys like you and I feel so comfortable being around you Jason. You’re amazing,” she whispered moving forward and wrapping her arms around him tightly as he softly wrapped his arms around her still confused. “I really do like you Jason, a lot. We need to make sure Nate understands that.”

“Um, okay,” Jason nodded slowly watching the way that Mindy walked back to the table with Nate as he let out a small confused breath. “I still don’t even understand what in the world that fruit is supposed to mean. I have no idea what’s up right now.”

Moving back toward Nate and Mindy Jason set the drinks down on the table watching Mindy look up at him with a smile as he set her drink down. Somehow, he really didn’t think that he was going to find out what was happening at all today.


“Becca,” Kipp tried to worm his way out of her arms as she continued to kiss him. He felt a heat rise up in him from his toes to the top of his head as his cheeks filled up with color in embarrassment. He reached out to steady her shoulders and pry her away from him, but it proved to be a difficult challenge, “I think you’ve got the wrong idea.”

“No, I don’t think I do,” she slurred reaching out to tease her fingers through his dark hair once again, “You can’t tell me that you didn’t feel chemistry between us when we were on the dance floor together.”

“We were just having fun and while I appreciate and respect your friendship, I just don’t…” Kipp began again taking in a sharp breath when he felt her move in for the kill once more. She planted her palms in around his shoulders before tugging him in for another bold kiss. Her tongue swept out across his bottom lip offering up another alluring proposal when Kipp felt his pulse race in a panic. Just as he reached out to push her away once again he heard a shriek from across his office.

“Why you little tramp!” Kellen squealed with a rage marching forward and glaring at Becca. “You get your hands off of my man right this instant before I knock your teeth down your throat and rip your arms off and beat you with them.”

“Kellen,” Kipp spoke his lover’s name as he found the strength to finally push Becca away from him. He turned to face Kellen as Kellen’s blue eyes flashed with rage.

“Just what do you think you’re doing missy?” Kellen accused marching over to step in front of Becca. “Are you just plain stupid or do you not get a clue when it’s clear that Kipp is taken?”

“I don’t see a ring on his finger,” Becca tossed back at him flippantly, “so I figured that if Kipp was disinterested he’d take the opportunity to let me know. Of course that moment never arose between us.”

“Well actually…” Kipp began to voice his opinion only to realize that Kellen was moving forward with the full intention of choking the life out of Becca. Before he could follow through Kipp reached out to slink his arms around Kellen’s muscled torso and draw him back. His dark eyes darted over towards Becca, before he through out a pleading look, “Becca I think it’s best if you leave right now.”

“Oh no that hussy isn’t going anywhere,” Kellen announced struggling against Kipp, “The way I see it, she’s about to get that smug smirk knocked off of her face and…”

“Take it as you will Kellen, but clearly you don’t have the kind of appeal that a woman does with your man,” Becca whispered in a low, mocking tone before glancing over at Kipp once again, “We’ll continue this later.”

“The hell you will!” Kellen hissed turning around in the direction that Becca was in and taking Kipp along with him. Kellen got two feet closer to Becca before Kipp leapt up on his shoulders and pulled him back. Kellen brought his hands up to pull Kipp off of his shoulders, but found that he couldn’t accomplish the task at hand. “Get off of me Kipp!”

“I can’t let you do something that you’re going to regret later,” Kipp pleaded with him as Becca left Kipp’s office and made her way over to the elevators. Kipp watched her leave as Kellen started to circle around the office in a fury.

“I’m going to kill her!” Kellen snarled waving his arms around in the air wildly. “If she thinks she can put her nasty little lips on you and get away with it…”

“Kellen, it was just a misunderstanding,” Kipp offered up in a small breath only to feel Kellen dislodge his arms from around him. Kipp landed on his butt in the center of the floor as Kellen charged out of the office, “Kellen!”

Kipp watched as Kellen made his way over towards the elevators. However, in seeing that Becca was gone, Kellen turned right around and stomped back to Kipp’s office. He slammed the door shut behind him and placed his hands on his hips to look down at Kipp, who was still on the floor.

“Do you care to explain why that whore had her fuchsia colored, dime store lip gloss lips on yours?” Kellen tapped his foot impatiently before glaring down at Kipp.

“She made a mistake,” Kipp offered up attempting to pull himself off of the ground, “and if you would have waited a few seconds before coming in here on the attack I would have set her straight about the situation.”

“And just what situation is that?” Kellen folded his arms in front of his muscled chest and huffed. “The one that involves the two of you making out in your office when I’m not around? Tell me Kipp what kind of assistant did you hire her for?”

“Kellen, come on,” Kipp groaned in response before shaking his head, “She’s just new in town and clearly she took my friendship to be something that it wasn’t…”

“Is that right?” Kellen tossed his head back before frowning deeper than before, “So you expect me to believe that you were just being nice to her and she decided that meant you wanted to make out with her?”

“Well, when you put it that way…” Kipp cleared his throat uneasily. “She was just confused and…”

“Confused or not I want her gone,” Kellen stomped his foot down. “You can’t have her as your assistant any longer.”

“Kellen, look while I realize that what she did was inappropriate, she’s been good for the company and…” Kipp started to explain how the simple misunderstanding between him and Becca wasn’t something that should get her an automatic dismissal.

“And your ego, right?” Kellen arched a pointed brow. “I mean that’s what it is all about right?”

“Excuse me,” Kipp blinked back at him, “What are you trying to say?”

“That even though you said that she was the one to instigate things, you weren’t exactly shoving her away. I’m sure on some level it must have thrilled you to see that there was still a woman in the world who had some kind of interest in you,” Kellen rolled his eyes at the thought, “I mean you must have felt like a big man in being able to turn the heads of someone of the opposite sex.”

“Oh please,” Kipp rolled his eyes once more, “Now you’re just being ridiculous.”

“Ridiculous in thinking that you might be amused by the idea of a woman taking interest in you especially when she’s beautiful in her own little trashy way and blonde like Heather,” Kellen continued to rant with a wounded expression, “I know how you’ve been feeling like you haven’t been able to turn many heads in the female population and…”

“I don’t believe this,” Kipp threw his hands up in the air, “Kellen, why would I even look at another woman when you’re all the drama queen I need and more? Do you honestly think I would want to bring a woman into my life when you’re already more than over the top?”

“Over the top,” Kellen huffed bringing his hand up over the center of his chest in a wounded expression, “I’ll show you over the top Kipp. I’ll have you know that I might not be all woman, but I’m full of more passion and more life than that anorexic twit could ever be. Just because she has breasts doesn’t mean that she’s better than me.”

“I never said that she was,” Kipp groaned outwardly, “Kellen, you’re blowing this way out of proportion.”

“As if you wouldn’t respond in the same fashion if you walked in on me making out with someone you couldn’t stand. How would you feel if I was making out with Kyle when you walked in the front door?” Kellen tossed out at him flippantly.

“Confused and oddly aroused,” Kipp attempted to throw humor into the situation.

“Face it Kipp. You’ve been just wasting your time with me because Heather Babes is with someone else. You’ve been around me because she’s been what you’ve wanted, but now that Becca’s offering up a savory alternative…” Kellen waved his hands around in the air wildly.

“Kellen, I don’t want Becca. She just kissed me because our signals got crossed. It wasn’t nearly as horrible as you are making it out to be,” Kipp groaned once again. He stepped forward reaching out to touch Kellen’s shoulder only to feel Kellen swat his hand away.

“You have no idea how much it hurts me to hear you saying that because I warned you that Becca was trouble, but you’re too eager to get your ego stroked by her to listen to my warnings,” Kellen sighed emphatically, “and if that’s the way you want it, then you let her keep on doing it because I’m done stroking your ego and everything else that goes along with it.”

“Kellen,” Kipp stepped forward only to watch Kellen march over towards the door in a huff.

“Don’t bother coming home Kipp because this drama queen has had more than her fill of you and your constant quest for attention,” Kellen paused to glance over his shoulder at Kipp once again, “You think about this long and hard because it’s either us or her. If she means so much to you as your stupid assistant, then obviously you don’t care about the damage that she’s been doing. You have to choose.”

“I’m not choosing between the two of you because there isn’t a choice. She works for me and you…” Kipp groaned again realizing that Kellen was obviously in the mood to rant on and on.

“Aren’t important enough to make a sacrifice for. I get it Kipp and I’ve got news for you. You aren’t that damn special anyways,” Kellen spat back before flipping his head once again and marching towards the elevators in a huff.

“Yeah, well you’re just…” Kipp stepped out after him ready to vent his frustrations as the elevator doors closed and Kellen left the offices. Kipp took a step back and sighed while bringing his fingers up through his own hair. He leaned in against the side of the elevator doors and closed his eyes thinking about Kellen’s outburst, “impossible.”


Angela flipped on the light switch to the bedroom taking a long look around before she glanced over her shoulder at Kevin. While she couldn’t quite place her finger on it, he’d been distant tonight--more distant than she’d remembered and now that they were finally alone with one another she was hoping to get to the heart of what was bothering him. Walking over to the bed, she sat down and bounced on it gently before smiling up at him.

“Kevin, you should sit down,” she ran her fingers across the top of the bedspread, “It’s pretty comfortable right here.”

“I think I’ll just stay over here,” Kevin replied with a small gulp moving over to the far side of the room to look out of the window. His gaze swept over to the main house as he wondered what was going on with Ria and Brant inside. Right now he wanted to be there instead of in the bedroom with Angela.

“Kevin, we’ve both had a really hard day, why don’t you just come on over here and join me?” she patted the bed again, her brown eyes beckoning him to join her. “Kevin, are you listening to me?”

“Yeah right. Sure,” Kevin replied thoughtlessly his mind lingering to where he’d been less than twenty four hours ago with Ria at his side.

“Really, then what did I just say?” she frowned seeing he’d made no attempt at getting closer to her. Finally she rose up from the bed and walked over to the window pressing her hand on his shoulder. He jumped at the contact she made with him. “Kevin, you feel so tense.”

“I’m sorry,” he spun around with a panicked expression on his face, “What are you doing over here? I thought that you were going to bed. You need your rest and…”

“I would rest a whole lot better with your arms around me,” she snaked her arms around his waist squeezing him in closer to her.

“Angie, I really don’t think that now is…” he attempted to detangle himself from her embrace, “You really just need to rest.”

“Kevin, what I need is to spend some quality time with the man I love,” she felt his resistance but reached for his hand. He grudgingly let her guide him over to the bed before she nudged him backwards. “Sit down. It’s really comfortable.”

“Angie I…” he started only to feel the comforter beneath him, “Oh wow that is really comfortable.”

“I told you so,” she smiled down at him leaning forward to move in closer. She wrapped her arms around his neck before stepping around his thighs to take a seat on his lap. “Of course this is even more comfortable.”

“Look Angie…” he cleared his throat feeling her lips descend towards his.

“I’ve missed you Kevin,” she mouthed in a hot whisper going in for the kill as he carefully picked her up in his arms.

“I really don’t think that now is the time,” he started in an apologetic tone carefully rolling her back onto the bed beside him before standing up. “You need to rest.”

“I’ll rest better with your arms around me,” she curled her arms out towards him, “You always make me feel better after we’ve made love.”

“We’re not making love tonight,” he informed her point blank watching her sit up at the edge of the bed.

“I know you’re worried about me, but I’m fine,” she leaned forward her fingers pressing in over the front of his pants in a seductive movement, “but if you don’t want to make love I’m sure I can find other ways to keep you entertained.”

“Angela,” he squealed her name backing up after she’d attempted to get into his pants. He set them back to right again before shaking his head, “the doctors told you that you needed to rest tonight and you’re going to do just that.”

“What I need is a little loving from my handsome man,” she stood up straighter sauntering over to him. “I mean come on Kevin. You don’t have to be shy about it.”

“Angie, we’re staying at a friend’s home and right now you shouldn’t be,” he started to protest feeling her put her finger against his lips.

“Of course we should. I feel fine and besides I’m sure Brant and Ria are doing the same thing that we’ll be doing once they get back to his big, old mansion. I’m sure right now he’s got her in some extremely erotic setting and…” she started to muse thinking about their host.

“No way,” Kevin shook his head firmly, “Not a chance.”

“Why not? Brant looks like a guy who knows how to please a woman and Ria seems quite content with him. The way that he tugged her out of here only indicates to me that he couldn’t wait to be alone with her,” Angela continued as Kevin felt his blood boil. Before he could say anything Angela stepped up on her toes and planted a kiss on his lips.

“I’m going to be sick,” Kevin mouthed retreating into the bathroom before she could stop him. He quickly locked the door behind him before his thoughts turned to Ria.

“Kevin, are you okay honey?” Angela tapped on the door. “Kevin, open up.”

“I would really rather not,” he replied leaning forward to press his head in against the wall. He closed his eyes and tried to keep his mind from thinking about what could happen with Brant and Ria alone together. Sure, Angela had fallen for Brant that first night, but there was no way that Ria could be…

“Kevin, come on. I can help you feel better. If you feel like you’re going to throw up, I can be with you and…” she knocked on the door again.

“It’s not that kind of sick Angie,” Kevin forced a groan before turning on the vent in the bathroom. “Just lay down. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

“Kevin, really I…” she started once more.

“Angela please,” Kevin begged of her hearing her walking away from the door before his eyes darted to the window in the far corner of the bathroom. He paced around the bathroom for a second fighting to repress his fleeting urges as his thoughts kept lingering to Ria and Brant.

“Ria’s fine with him. He’s a good guy. He loves Angela and that’s all I need to know. He wants this situation over as much as I do,” Kevin paused remembering that it was Brant’s idea to swap partners for the sake of saving face. He frowned, “Or does he?”

“No, you can’t do this,” Kevin tried to talk himself out of his irrational thoughts and ideas. His eyes shifted between the door and the window and finally he took in a deep breath.

“Like hell you can’t,” he blurted out moving over to tear open the window. There was a screen on the other side of it, but with one lightening quick movement he popped it out and climbed out of the bathroom. He was halfway across the lawn when he felt foolish about his concerns. Still it didn’t hurt to check in on Brant and Ria. He had promised to meet up with them after Angela was asleep, so what was so wrong about him being there now?

“I’ll just tell Brant I can’t do this and we’ll figure something else out,” Kevin mouthed moving around to the back of the house where Brant had left the door open for Kevin as promised. “We can end this tonight. I’ll just tell him we have to come up with something else and…”

“Oh Brant,” he stopped where he stood hearing Ria’s voice call out as he looked around the kitchen trying to decipher where the sound was coming from. “That’s right big boy, you whip out the big gun and let me put you in your place.”

“There isn’t a trick you could show me tonight that I don’t already know Ria. I’m on fire and I’m the master of this game,” Brant’s voice echoed through the hallway. “I do it hard and fast and you’ll never know what’s hit you by the time I’m finished with you.”

“Hard and fast,” Kevin repeated tipping his head to the side to listen more in the hopes of following the sound. There was a small grunting sound that carried through the hallway and Kevin felt his blood boiling even further.

“Is that all you have big boy?” Ria taunted as he heard Brant let out a pinched sound. “If you want to prove to me that you can conquer all of this, then you’d better pick up the pace.”

“I can more than pick up the pace. I’m going to stick it to you so hard Ria that you won’t even be able to think twice about what hit you,” Brant promised again as Kevin moved down the hallway that their voices had emerged from.

“Oh you are good. In fact, while you may not be the best I’ve ever encountered you do have skills,” she mouthed in a breathless gasp, “You might even be better than Kevin at this one.”

“Better than Kevin,” Kevin frowned hearing another gasping sound from behind the door as his fury built up in the pit of his stomach.

“Truth be told you’re a hell of a lot better at Angela as well,” Brant teased with what Kevin felt was a flirty tone and that did it. Before he could hear another word, he pushed his way through the door ready to rip Brant to shreds for setting him up in this game to ruin his life.

“Ashford you’re a dead man!” Kevin snapped vowing that there would be no mercy for the man who was moving in on the woman that Kevin loved more than life itself!


...to be continued...