Episode 375

“Excuse me,” Brant replied pulling off the virtual reality glasses he’d been wearing. He looked over his shoulder to see Kevin had busted down the door to the game room and he frowned. Setting his gun aside he frowned over at his friend, “What do you mean I’m a dead man?”

“Kevin, is that you?” Ria questioned popping off her own head set to see Kevin next to the splintered door with a tight scowl on his face. “What in the world are you…?”

“I thought that. I mean I heard what you were saying and…” Kevin looked to the door he’d just busted in feeling suddenly foolish for thinking that anything could be going on between Ria and Brant. He knew that he’d jumped the gun when Angela had started spouting off about the two of them, but now that Kevin saw first hand that the two were absorbed in Brant’s new virtual reality gaming system he’d had sent in a few weeks back, Kevin felt like the biggest moron on the planet. He looked to the piece of the wooden door that he’d somehow collected in his palm and he offered up a sheepish grin, “I promise I’ll pay for this.”

“You’re damn right you’ll pay for that,” Brant marched over to swipe the piece of door from his hand, “Do you have any idea what it cost me to get those doors put in?”

“I said I will pay for it,” Kevin reminded him sharply before turning to face Ria again.

“Kevin, I don’t understand,” she carefully stepped out of the game system before her dark eyes met his. “Did you think that Brant and I were…”

“I just heard sounds and I started thinking that maybe just maybe…” Kevin felt his face grow hot with embarrassment as he looked between them.

“That we what?” Brant arched a curious brow watching his friend with intense scrutiny. “That we were doing something that…”

“Look I made a mistake. I was wrong and I apologize. I’ll fix the door, then we can chalk this up as a big misunderstanding and…” Kevin stammered feeling ridiculous for letting Angela get him so worked up.

“Oh you bet you made a mistake Kevin Adonis,” Ria marched over towards him, her brown eyes narrowing with clear cut anger over the situation at hand. “Because if you honestly think for one second that I would be cheating on you with Brant here, then you have some serious issues because I am not that hard up to get laid.”

“Now hold on,” Brant held his hand up in the air only to feel Ria continue her verbal lashing at Kevin.

“You’re the one who is shacked up with a woman who can’t wait to get into your pants and I have been forced into this situation where I don’t have a say in what happens between us while you’re catering to her and…” she continued to rant as Kevin shook his head.

“I know and baby I’m sorry about that, but…” Kevin struggled to find the right words to keep her from screaming at him.

“You’re sorry?” Ria repeated with a huff, “Oh you’re damn right you’re sorry because if you think for one second that I’m just going to let you march in here and start thinking the worst about me when Angela is the one that…”

“Speaking of Angela,” Brant stepped in between the both of them before they started to ignore him completely, “where is she? Is she sleeping?”

“Not yet,” Kevin waved his hand dismissively before focusing on Ria, “Look I said I was sorry and…”

“What do you mean not yet?” Brant questioned with a frown, “I thought that you were with her and…”

“And I was, but then I decided that this is ridiculous and I came over here to see you two and well, one thing lead to another and…” Kevin tried to explain his logic.

“And you thought the worst. Rather than having a little faith in me and my love for you, you were ready to fly off the handle and beat Brant for being around me because you yourself know that this isn’t a good idea. There you are with Angela and…” Ria hissed clenching her fists at her sides.

“Yeah about Angela,” Brant interjected once again. “Um I hate to interrupt this lover’s quarrel, but who is with her right now? If she’s not sleeping and you are here, then what the hell does she think is going on?”

“I told her I was sick. Since you told her that I had bad Mexican food I told her I needed to use the bathroom for a while,” Kevin wrinkled his nose at Brant before turning to address Ria, “I didn’t think that you were doing the worst in here, but I just got concerned that…”

“That Angela is alone and she’s going to wonder why in the world you’re not coming out of the bathroom. Kevin, you can’t just leave her alone because if she figures out that you’re not there…” Brant interrupted once again only to feel Kevin place his hand on Brant’s shoulder and nudge him out into the hallway.

“Then you take care of her. You keep her busy because I’m here to talk to Ria,” Kevin huffed in response reaching for the piece of the wooden door that Brant had snagged from him. He carried it back into the room with him, placed it in the new hole in the door before carefully closing the door behind him to give him and Ria some privacy with one another.

“Well this is just great,” Brant threw his hands up in the air, “What am I supposed to do now?”

“Take care of Angela because I’m done tonight,” Kevin explained opening the door for a brief moment before closing it again and turning to Ria.

“You know you have a lot of nerve Kevin,” Ria snapped at him with a low hiss, “First you stick me in here and then you go with Angela. You expect me to just be okay with this, when I’m not and now you think I’m sleeping with Brant. What gives?”

“Ria I made a mistake and I’m sorry. This whole thing is a mistake and I have to tell you that I want to be a part of this even less than you do,” Kevin replied seeing her fury building up inside of her after his busting in on her and Brant with accusations. Now as he stood before her he realized he was going to have to do some pretty quick talking or else he was going to find himself on the receiving end of some pretty big trouble!


“I don’t believe this,” Brant marched out of the mansion thinking about the way in which Kevin pushed him out of the arcade room. As if this situation wasn’t bad enough, Brant thought to himself his dark eyes narrowing in on the guest house. Frowning, he moved faster through the yard not really knowing what to do or say, but knowing full well that the last thing Angela needed was to be alone right now. Sure, she wasn’t expecting him, but he would just stop in ask how she was doing and…

“No,” Brant stopped mid-movement just before he made his way over to the door, “She’ll just tell me she’s tired and get rid of me so that she can check in on Kevin. If she’s nearly as persistent as she usually is, then she’s going to be checking in on Kevin soon and…”

Brant grew silent as he looked to the now open window leading to the bathroom. He glanced between the front door and the bathroom window before making the decision to leave Angela without any doubts that Kevin was still inside feeling under the weather. Cursing under his breath Brant walked over to the window and climbed inside. He nearly tumbled to the floor once he was halfway over the ledge, but fortunately he was able to pick himself up. He was just about to set his foot down on the tiled flooring when he heard the sound of a persistent knocking on the door. With the noise he was down for the count spilled out across the bathroom floor.

“Kevin, are you okay,” he heard Angela questioning from outside the bathroom. “You’ve been in there a long time and I’m worried about you.”

“Angela I…” he stopped himself realizing that he sounded like himself and not Kevin. He let out a coughing sound before doing his best to mimic Kevin’s tone and timbre, “I’m still not feeling well. I’m…oh…”

He pulled himself up off of the floor and turned on the sink to help along with the fan in the bathroom in the hopes of muting himself out a bit. He searched around for something to help with the situation and he found himself coming up on empty. Glancing at his reflection in the mirror, he spotted a bottle of shampoo in the midst of the tub.

“This is going to be a bit disgusting, but…” Brant rushed over to pull the shampoo bottle out of the tub before walking over to push open the lid on the toilet as Angela continued to knock.

“Kevin, I know you’re sick baby, but if you let me inside I can help you feel better and…”

“Oh Angie…I can’t…bad Mexican…” Brant mumbled out before squeezing the bottle of shampoo into the toilet and hearing the exaggerated sound it made. He squeezed one more time before stopping, “Must get this out of my system…just you…rest…”

“Kevin, honey if there is anything I can do…” Angela touched the door lightly before letting out a long sigh.

“Just…rest…I’ll be…” Brant squeezed the bottle again listening to the squealing sound the movement made, “just fine…”

“Okay Kevin,” he heard Angela say again before she stopped knocking, “but if you need me…”

“I know where to find you,” he mouthed in response listening to hear her footsteps move away from the door. Letting out a breath of relief he closed the lid to the toilet and sank down on it wishing like hell that he could be out there holding her instead of in the bathroom pretending to be the man she thought she was in love with. He let out a small groan before his eyes swept over to the window looking out over to the mansion.

“Kevin, you had better get back here fast,” Brant moaned under his breath wondering if there would be any light at the end of the tunnel in this situation with Angela now that everything was screwed up beyond belief!


“Why would I honestly lie to you about something like this? Do you really think I go around your back sneaking off with Jewel? What kind of time do you think I have on my hands? ” Don snapped seeing her brown eyes glaring out into his as Don threw his hands up in the air moving away from her. “You drive me crazy sometimes, I work all the time, I take care of my son and I try to tend to your every need. Where could another woman fit into my life? ”

“Don’t ask me, I never really know if you are working or you aren’t,” Shannon replied seeing his blue eyes glare back at her over his shoulder as he turned to face her again. “For all I know you could say you are at work when you are really shacked up at some hotel with Jewel. ”

“Right, I can see what you mean. Since the last girl I was truly shacking up in a hotel with was you,” Don pointed out seeing her eyes narrow out at him before looking down toward the ground. “I swear you drive me crazy sometimes, why would I want to cheat on you? I think I’ve made it kind of obvious that I love you. ”

“You know, I’m not so sure sometimes,” she pointed out with a hiss walking toward the kitchen hearing his footsteps follow her into the room. Setting the bag of the lingerie down on the table, Shannon rested her hands against her hips aggravated with the situation at hand. “Honestly Don, sometimes when I need you the most you are never there. ”

“That’s bull shit Shannon and you know it,” he insisted seeing her look up at him with either some type of confusion or anger. Leaning back against the counter, he let out a small breath counting mentally in his head to calm himself down before speaking up again. “You know Shannon, even if I didn’t love you, I’m too nice of a guy to do that to someone. If you don’t think I love you and care for you, you have some serious issues snappy. ”

“Serious issues? Don this girl has had it out for you since I’ve seen her back in this town. The way she looks at you pisses me off so bad,” Shannon reached for the rag on the countertop before tugging at the ends roughly wishing it was more like Jewel she was strangling. “You can tell she wants you to be her next big lay and you know it. She flirts with you every chance she gets and I’m sure her charm works wonders on me. ”

“Her charm? Why would I want her charm when I’m getting a sample of yours right now? ” he questioned angrily seeing her throw the rag down to the side when he moved in closer to her. “Obviously honey, I know you don’t see it, but Jewel can flirt with me all she wants because at the end of the day, I’m only coming home to one person and that’s you. I only want to be with you and why are you having problems seeing that? Do you really not trust me at all? ”

“You’re a male, all of you are the same,” she went to walk out of the kitchen bumping her shoulder into his arm to get him to step aside and let her out of the kitchen. “You only care about one thing and one thing only. ”

“Yeah, I care about my son,” he cut her off angrily grabbing a soft hold of her wrist to get her to turn and look at him. He could tell that she was still angry and that was the last thing he wanted right now. “Unlike other people, I care about my family. I care about futures and happiness. Some men don’t know what it’s like to be happy, but I have a taste of it all around. I wouldn’t trade a day I’ve spent with my family. That includes my parents, my sister, your brother, Matty…I love you all. That’s how my whole life is based, off the people I care about the most. Can’t you see that? ”

“Don…,” Shannon went to argue further seeing the upset look behind Don’s blue eyes as he pushed back his dark hair before rolling his eyes and walking back into the kitchen. Grabbing a firm hold of the bag he threw it to the side before letting out a long breath. “I just hate that woman with a passion. ”

“You can hate her, but why do you have to take it out on me? ” Don muttered glaring out at her for a moment before sitting down on the couch reaching for the pillow next to him. “I honestly don’t understand it sometimes. It seems when people lie, they get away with things, but when someone tells the truth they always get in trouble. ”

“I’m just worried Don. This girl took my brother and I know she wants you too,” she informed him seeing the way his blue eyes continued to stare out at the television, not paying attention to her at all. “I just don’t want anyone here around that dirty piece of trash. ”

“She’s not that bad and to be honest with you, if you really knew what I was like you wouldn’t have been chewing me out about this,” Don stated inwardly watching her take a step forward in closer to him and he shrugged his shoulders. “To be honest with you honey, I don’t really know why you are pissed about her getting with your brother either. He can pick what he wants to do with his life and no one is going to stop him. He’s a big boy now, he can make his own mistakes and fix them himself. ”

“Yeah, I can really see that happening. He is an immature loser,” she uttered watching Don’s jaw tighten with a moment of anger as she saw his blue eyes look over at her for once. She could tell that comment pissed him off more than any of the ones she had made earlier. “Jewel gives you lingerie to hand over to Nate and…,”

“Oh sweet,” Shannon turned to see Nate stepping into the house and closing the door behind him. Moving in closer to Shannon, Nate grabbed a hold of the bag from her hands and looked inside it before smiling widely. “Thanks for these. She is so hot. ”

“See, I told you they weren’t mine,” Don added seeing the way that Shannon’s eyes darkened over with even more anger after hearing her brother’s door close. “I do think you owe me an apology sweetheart. ”

“Whatever,” Shannon rolled her eyes at his comment ignoring anything he really said because she knew she was wrong about accusing Don of actually doing something like this, but she wasn’t about to admit that. “I’m going to talk to him. ”

“Fine, whatever you want honey,” Don frowned hearing Nate’s bedroom door open and slam shut as he reached for the remote on his side. Hearing another door open he saw his son walk out into the living room rubbing at his tired eyes. “Hey kiddo. ”

“Dad,” Matt moved forward seeing Don lean forward in his seat, reaching out to pull Matt in over his lap before letting out a long sigh and pressing a kiss against Matt’s forehead. “Is uncle Nate getting in trouble again? ”

“Probably,” Don pushed back his son’s dark hair before holding him in close and letting out a long breath. Feeling Matt snuggle in closer to him, he reached for the remote and turned on the cartoon network before wrapping both arms around him. “You want to watch some cartoons with me for a while? ”

“Well, I guess I can,” Matt smirked seeing the way that Don stared out at him with his blue eyes and Matt let out a small laugh. “As soon as Shannon gets back in here though, I’m going to my room and maybe taking another nap or something. ”

“Actually, that sounds very good right now,” Don chuckled bringing his fingers in against his son’s stomach, tickling him gently as he heard Matt’s light laughter fill the room. “I think I may have to take a nap too. Daddy has had a very long day. ”


“What do you want Shannon? ” Nate grumbled from his beanbag seat in the corner of the room looking up from his laptop that was set in over his knees as he sat down. Looking up to meet his sister’s angry brown eyes, he closed the top down on the laptop before folding his arms out in front of his chest. “I can see that someone has a stick up there caboose today, don’t we? ”

“You know full well why I’m mad at you Nathan,” Shannon spat back seeing Nate’s green eyes widen before he rolled them and opened the laptop again. She moved in closer to him seeing his green eyes skimming something over on the screen before him. “I’m glad you can ignore me about a situation like this. ”

“You’re going to yell at me and I don’t care what you have to say to be honest with you,” Nate cleared his throat uneasily before reaching for the water next to him. A small gasp escaped his lips as he felt Shannon kick at the plastic glass he had, seeing the water spill out all over the floor. Biting down on his bottom lip he glared up at his older sister before closing the laptop and putting it away before she damaged that too. “What is your problem today Shannon? Couldn’t make anyone cry today, so you had to come and attack me? ”

“I don’t attack you,” she stated seeing him stand up to his feet before moving in closer to her, glaring down at her in the process as she folded her arms out in front of her chest. “You just make the stupidest mistakes sometimes Nate, you are always dating slutty women and I don’t know why. ”

“Dating is not the word with Jewel, but honestly Shannon if you were really the one that wanted the lingerie you could have it,” Nate held up the bag for her before feeling her smack it out of his hand and to the ground. “I don’t know why you are judging me on the people I sleep with or date considering I’ve never judged your boyfriends. I hated all of them, but then I realized they are just all screwed up because they had to date someone like you. Like what’s his name? Oh yeah, it’s Brant Ashford. I used to hate him for breaking my sister’s so called heart. ”

“Brant Ashford is just a self-centered asshole that only cares about himself,” Shannon hissed in response seeing Nate’s eyebrows perk up in interest as she shook her head slowly. “Don’t turn this around on me Nate, this is about you. ”

“No, no. If you want to talk about my issues, let’s talk about Brant. I mean honestly, I thought you would go for him with the money he had, you always had a power complex. You made me hate Brant Ashford and I never really knew the guy,” he explained itching his chin slowly before letting out a long, shallow breath. “Not only is the guy completely amazing, but he is a nice guy. It’s you that always screws over a relationship. You’re the person that gets into all the bad relationships and ruins them Shannon. It’s you that does it and you should never judge me on what I’ve done because no matter what I’ll always be twice the person that you are. ”

“Keep telling yourself that Nate because it’s obvious from the people around you that it’s not even remotely close to being true,” she blurted out seeing him roll his eyes and look away from her again as he let out a small laugh. “I don’t ruin the relationships, it’s always the other people that are ruining it for me. ”

“Other people Shannon? Look what you’ve done to Don in the past, you’re a total bitch,” Nate hissed moving away from her and over toward the dresser to grab his soccer ball, tossing it in the air a few times. “Honestly, you have the best man you will ever be able to get your hands on and you keep screwing up Shannon. I don’t know why you like to hurt people, but it’s in your nature. We’re total opposites and unlike you I can see what a good man that Don is and I’m honored to be taken into this family. They treat me like a real person, unlike you do. ”

“You’re not leaving yet, we’re talking,” Shannon saw him walk over toward his door and she shoved it shut when he opened it. His light green eyes pierced right through hers as she moved forward toward Nate. “You know noting about romance, you know nothing about love, you’re just an idiot Nate. God only knows what kind of disease you may have after being with Jewel. ”

“Probably the same ones people would get from you,” he arched his eyebrow to come right back at her as he was caught off guard when he felt a hard smack come right across his cheek. Turning away from his sister, he pressed his hand in against his cheek feeling his skin burning from her hit. “Since we’re on a roll Shannon. How does it feel to break people’s hearts. I stopped caring about you a long time ago, but how do you think it feels for Don? He cares so much about you and what have you done for him Shannon? I do believe one time you almost killed him because you broke a liquor bottle over his head. You’re a ridiculous drunk and you deserve no one in your life. You treat everyone like crap and you know nothing about having a heart. The only person you care about is yourself and that’s what I hate the most about you. ”

“Of course, when we are talking about you we always have to get to the part where I’m the villain and you are the victim,” she snapped seeing him finally face her again with a reddened over cheek. Smiling in response she moved forward tapping his warm face softly to tease him as he swiped her hand away from him. “I’m the one that has a life, unlike some people in this family. I don‘t screw up with Don and I certainly am not doing anything to break this family down. ”

“Oh, very nice come back,” Nate rubbed at his burning cheek and glared out at her, a small growl escaping his lips as he moved over toward the door again to leave. “You see, you have the world in front of you and you can’t even see it. You manipulate the great people and you are a bitch to anyone who is greatly amazing to you. I think you’re the one with the problems Shannon. ”

“Don’t you. . ,” Shannon went to reach for his wrist only to have him pull it away from her roughly before he opened the door and stepped into the hallway.

“Shut up Shannon, I don’t want to hear your complaints anymore,” Nate stepped into his sandals that he had left in the hallway before rolling his eyes again. “Honestly Shannon, you’re so screwed up that even you are too blind to see what you’ve got. ”


“What were you thinking?” Dave questioned feeling his frustrations mounting as he looked to his sister now that she was perched upon one of the stools near his kitchen counter. She was poking at the grapefruit in front of her, contemplating whether or not she’d continue eating it before her green eyes returned to his. “Why would you go over there purposely to instigate Cori?”

“It wasn’t like I was trying to upset her,” Jewel shrugged her shoulders before turning her attention to the television in the other room. “Carly, you should turn on the cooking network. My show will be on in like ten minutes and you’ll like it. It was a really good one and…”

“Jewel,” Dave spoke her name with a groan. He moved in front of her blocking her line of vision towards the television before putting his hands on his hips patiently, “I asked you a question.”

“And I gave you a sufficient answer,” she huffed in response collecting her bowl of grapefruit and breezing past him towards the living room area. “Can I help it if Cori is overly emotional?”

“Cori needs all of us right now. She’s got a lot that she’s dealing with and the last thing this family needs is to be put on a divided front,” Dave insisted marching behind her in order to get his sister to start thinking about her actions. “She needs all of us right now and…”

“Clearly Cori’s lost in la-la land Dave,” Jewel waved her hand dismissively before dropping down in one of the chairs in the living room she turned to Carly once again, “You’ll love this show seriously.”

“Jewel, Cori is hurting right now and there’s a lot that we can do to help her, but furthermore,” Dave groaned outwardly as he watched her reaching for the television remote control in the hopes of flaunting off her work on her show. Frustrated he snatched the remote and turned the television off in a bold movement that commanded her attention, “there are things that you shouldn’t be doing and upsetting her is one of them.”

“Hey, she was the one who was in there acting like a wounded puppy dog over a guy that didn’t give a care about her,” Jewel informed him with a huff, “Can I help it if she doesn’t know how to handle a breakup? Honestly you’d think she was five by the way she carried herself.”

“People would say the same about you,” Dave frowned feeling her reach out to pull the remote from his hand. She turned the television on once again before taking a bite of her grapefruit.

“You know Jewel, Cori has been through a lot,” Carly offered up thinking about Dave’s other sister. “She’s had a rough few months and…”

“Shooting a man isn’t going to make it any easier. She would have had better luck keying his car or putting itching powder in his jock strap,” Jewel shrugged her shoulders casually, “or even stealing his Blackberry and calling up his current fling and telling her that his test for herpes came back positive. I mean really, I don’t know what she was hoping to accomplish, but she’s obviously where she belongs.”

“You know what? On second thought, just forget about visiting her. I’ll take care of what she needs from here on out since it’s clear that you don’t have the first clue how to be caring or considerate to our sister in her time of need.”

“What she needs is some good electrotherapy and I’m pretty positive that she’ll get it in there. Besides, it’s kind of like a vacation for her. It’s a really cheap kind of spa, but it’ll work,” Jewel slid the bite of fruit between her lips before chortling, “and who knows? Maybe she’ll come out a different person when everything is said and done, or perhaps at best she’ll be able to light up bulbs after her shock treatment.”

“You know what,” Dave snarled down at his sister ready to tear into her more completely when Carly stood up and touched his shoulder.

“Honey, why don’t you help me with that thing in the kitchen?” Carly suggested knowing only too well that her husband was quite close to losing his cool. “You know that thing that we talked about doing earlier.”

“Carly,” Dave opened his mouth to refuse before finally sighing, “Sure, why not?”

“Good answer,” Carly whispered snagging her arm in his. She leaned in closer to him as she lead him out of the living room, “I don’t think now is the time to get into this with Jewel.”

“If she has her way it’ll never be the time, but what she did to Cori was wrong. She just can’t go around provoking her when,” Dave explained in a muted tone as the front door opened and Stacy entered the Warner home.

“Where have you been?” Jewel frowned up at her daughter. She set the bowl of grapefruit down before shaking her head at Stacy, “You look like hell.”

“What do you care?” Stacy mouthed in response waving her hand dismissively at Jewel before marching to the guest room she was staying in at Dave’s house. A second later the door came slamming shut and Dave frowned.

“That’s classic parenting at it’s best Jewel,” Dave frowned over at his sister, “Don’t you think that you should pursue this one a bit more?”

“She’s obviously got PMS right now,” Jewel waved her hand dismissively, “so why bother? She gets in these little tantrums like Paul used to and…”

“And she’s your daughter,” Dave circled around back into the living room and glared down at his sister, “She’s a teenager who could use a little guidance and…”

“She watches Dr. Phil,” Jewel shrugged her shoulders simply before looking up at her brother. “What? I mean it’s not like I’m really big on the guy since he and I don’t hang out in the same crowds or anything, but he seems to do well with what he does.”

“Jewel, you can’t let a pop psychiatrist on a television show help your daughter grow into adulthood,” Dave informed her with a slight groan, “The last time I saw Stacy here at the house, well come to think of it, I don’t know when the last time she was back here. You might want to start by asking her where she’s been.”

“I did,” Jewel explained bluntly before rolling her eyes at him, “and you saw the response that I got.”

“In that case, maybe you should get up off of your butt and go try having a conversation with her,” Dave muttered with a scowl watching as his sister’s cooking show began to air on the television. He frowned thinking about how Jewel’s passion for her career superseded anything else in her life--especially the important things. “Jewel!”

“What?” she snapped back at him before groaning, “Oh alright. I’ll go see what she’s doing if it’ll make you shut up.”

“Jewel, you’re her mother and a poor excuse for one at that, but you should at least make an effort,” Dave informed her point blank. He opened his mouth to say something more when the door Stacy had entered opened up and she walked out of the room with a tote bag slung over her shoulder. Clearing his throat again Dave spoke up, “Now might be a good time.”

“Yeah whatever,” Jewel waved her hand again dismissively before turning to her daughter, “Stace, can I talk to you for a second?”

“What?” Stacy huffed in response. “I’m running late.”

“You can take a minute to let me know where you’re going,” Jewel explained while looking up at Dave for approval. Seeing him nod, Jewel continued on. “Where have you been anyways?”

“I was with Lindsay and Jackie,” Stacy explained with an evasive tone, “and we’re going out again. If you keep harassing me, then we’re going to be late.”

“Late for what?” Dave questioned interrupting the conversation between mother and daughter.

“A concert,” Stacy replied turning her focus to her uncle, “Jackie’s brother is in a band and he’s putting on a show tonight.”

“Where?” Jewel piped in with a smile.

“What do you care?” Stacy rolled her eyes at her mother’s question. “The musicians there tonight will be far too young to be legal for you, so there’s no point in bothering you with that detail.”

“Stacy please,” Jewel curled her lip in a pout, “now you know that’s no way to talk to your mother when…”

“Mom, why don’t you go pick up a guy in a bar or something? Who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky in town tonight if you go out looking like that,” Stacy motioned to the scantly clad outfit Jewel had on in her show on the television. “I’m sure there’s someone out there who is desperate enough to find that hot.”

“Stacy,” Jewel huffed in response.

“I’m late,” Stacy informed her turning around to march towards the door.

“Stacy,” Dave made a movement towards her, not liking that his niece was running out over town without supervision.

“Let her go,” Jewel grumbled in response finding herself offended by her daughter’s tone, “If she goes out there and winds up knocked up, then it’s her problem, not mine.”

“Unlike you I’m smart enough to use a condom if the moment arises,” Stacy hissed back at her mother before rolling her eyes at her, “Despite the fact that you’re a cheap joke in this town, I actually know how to carry myself with a little dignity.”

“I seriously doubt that because you’re your father’s child,” Jewel snorted back at Stacy, “which means sooner or later you’ll end up pregnant or in jail.”

“That’s more your life mom,” Stacy’s eyes narrowed into rage filled slits as her fingers curled up into balls at her side. “You’re the screw up in your family. Not me.”

“Stacy wait,” Dave made a small movement towards his niece in the hopes of getting her to calm down.

“Sorry Uncle Dave, but I’m late,” Stacy added before marching out of the house in a haste.

Dave turned around to face Jewel once again with a disapproving glare, “Aren’t you going to go after her?”

“Let the little whore go out and do what she does,” Jewel shrugged her shoulders before munching on her grapefruit once again, “but when she’s in over her head, I’m not going to bail her out. She can clean up her own messes.”

“Jewel, she’s a teenager. She needs a little guidance,” Dave watched his sister turn off the television before getting up and out of her chair.

“You heard her. She has condoms,” Jewel shrugged once again before frowning, “What more could a mother ask for?”

“Jewel,” Dave watched his sister move to her room down the hall before slipping inside. Once she closed the door Dave let out a long, frustrated groan, “What the hell is wrong with this family?”

“Dave,” Carly stepped in to touch his shoulder gently.

“I can’t believe this. Does she not realize that she’s just opening up the door to trouble with her daughter?” Dave questioned turning around to face his wife. “I mean is she so selfish that she’s just going to sit back and do nothing while her daughter could be out there getting in over her head?”

“Dave, I know you want to help, but…” Carly offered up not really sure what to say as his worries mounted.

“Between Paul and Jewel that little girl has no hope and I can’t stand back and watch her destroy her life,” Dave decided moving over towards the door to stop Stacy from leaving, but much to his dismay she’d already taken off with her friends. Closing the door, he turned around to face Carly once again, “Promise me that we’ll find a way to help her Carly.”

“We will,” Carly offered up in reassurance while reaching out to slide her arms around his waist gently. “We won’t let her slip through the cracks even if Jewel isn’t concerned.”

“I hope not,” Dave paused for a moment, “which reminds me. Maybe I should give Julian a call and see if he can tell us where John’s concert is tonight. I’d feel better in knowing.”

“I suppose it couldn’t hurt,” Carly admitted as Dave reached for the phone and dialed his Lieutenant’s phone number. It rang a few times before going into voice mail. She watched Dave leave a quick message before hanging up. “No luck?”

“I’m sure he’ll call back later and when he does, maybe I’ll have a black and white drive by just to make sure that things aren’t too wild where they are,” Dave decided hoping that somehow he’d be able to bring order to the chaos that seemed to be following the Warner family. However, between Cori’s problems and Jewel’s general lack of concern for the world around her, Dave had the strong feeling that life wasn’t going to be any easier anytime soon.


“So Paul, since you’ll be staying for a night or so,” Heather sat down on the couch seeing Kyle set down the last of Paul’s bags as he laid out in the leather chair across from them. “What exactly do you do? Job wise I mean? ”

“He’s a video game creator,” Kyle cut off Paul before he could go into explanation what he did. Seeing the frown that pressed in over Paul’s face, Kyle shot him a warning glare before seeing Paul raise his hands in the air. “He creates all kinds of video games, isn’t that right Paul? ”

“Oh yeah,” Paul half caught on that Kyle didn’t want him to talk much about his job and he let out a small sigh. “We do all kinds of games, ones that people can get a huge rise out of and sometimes, people just like to play with them a little. ”

“That’s interesting,” Heather stood up from the couch seeing the look behind Kyle’s hazel eyes as she stepped in closer to Paul reaching her hand out to Paul’s. Seeing Paul sit up straighter and take her hand into his softly, she let out a small laugh seeing him staring up at her. “I’m Heather Gibbons, Kyle and I are…,”

“I know what you and Kyle are,” Paul smirked seeing her nod slowly and he let go of her hand seeing the way that she walked back over toward the couch next to Kyle. “You know, I do remember Kyle talking about someone named Heather when he was younger. I just don’t think the last name was Gibbons, it was more like Marvrick or Matrix or something like that. ”

“Marx? ” Kyle corrected seeing Paul snap his fingers and nod quickly over and over again before lying back against the couch again. “That was her original last name, she just didn’t want to keep it the same. ”

“Oh, I could tell you tons of stories about things that happened with Kyle,” Paul stated not even bothering to glance over at Kyle knowing that look he would be getting if that was the case. Rubbing his hands together he stared up at the ceiling before taking in a long breath. “You know they are about you too, I remember one day when we were supposed to go to a party after a football game and Grady went to get him. They were taking forever and when I walked into the room I saw that Grady had his hand down Kyle’s pants. ”

“What? ” Heather blurted out seeing the way that Kyle covered his eyes with his hand and tried to focus on getting away from the stories that his old friend was telling. “Kyle, what does that mean? ”

“I’ll give you the answer, I guess Kyle hid a picture of you down the front of his pants and Grady was trying to get it,” Paul’s blue eyes widened as he looked over at Kyle and Heather together and let out a long laugh. “Now, I don’t know if that was the truth or not, but he did end up pulling the picture out of his pants before we left. I just found it a little suspicious. ”

“Okay, Grady was being an asshole. I was upset that day and said leave it be, but he just wouldn’t give up, so I hid the photo down my pants,” Kyle informed her looking to the side before shooting Paul a glare seeing him let out a long laugh. “I never thought he would actually go down my pants to try and get it. ”

“If you think that sounds creepy, I was the one that walked in on it. I still have the vision in my head to this day,” Paul shuddered hearing only Heather laugh and he let out a laugh of his own. “We used to get him drunk, which now I know you’re a deity so you won’t, but honestly when we’d get him drunk he would tell us anything. Like I think we got him rambling on and on about how hot you were for like an hour one time. ”

“Seriously? ” Heather looked to see Kyle shrug his shoulders before reaching for the pillow next to him knowing that if Paul was going to be making fun of him the whole time he would have been more firm on saying no to him. “That’s cute. ”

“Well, let me tell you now, he grew up and got a whole lot better with the people he liked. I believe he liked you, but there was always a girl coming to visit him all the time,” Paul explained seeing Kyle’s eyes widen and Paul shook his head slowly before blurting out his thoughts again. “But that other girl was a total slut, him and Grady went out for something and she jumped me while they were gone. I didn’t say anything to you back in the day, but I don’t know…I think her name was Sarah if I’m correct. ”

“You slept with Sarah in college? ” Kyle questioned not even knowing this himself as Kyle sat more forward in his seat and let out a laugh of disbelief. “I can’t believe you Paul, why would you do something like that? ”

“Well you talked about her, but this woman right here is the one you talked about more so I figured you wouldn’t mind that much,” Paul pointed out seeing Kyle look over at Heather before nodding and leaning back to wrap his arm around her shoulders pulling her in close to him. “Anyways, you slept with my wife first too. ”

“Excuse me? ” Heather moved to look at Kyle seeing the glare that he was giving Paul as Paul held his hands up in the air to claim his innocence. “You slept with his wife Jewel? ”

“Oh yeah he did,” Paul blurted out before Kyle could even answer for himself and Paul took in a long breath thinking about the past. “I remember that we had just won the game and there were girls like surrounding us, but boy did she have it out for Kyle. She took him back to our dorm and then…,”

“And then I made a very huge mistake that Paul soon married,” Kyle cut Paul off before glaring over in the general direction before giving Heather a small squeeze. “Honey, you know what it’s like when you make mistakes. I told you I wasn’t perfect, but now…,”

“You’re a different person, someone I love very much,” Heather tipped up to press a small kiss against his lips seeing the way he let out a breath of relief. “I just know that if you would ever do something, you would die, but I know you love me so I don’t see that happening anytime soon. ”

“Oh yeah, he loves you. Jewel was nothing to him other than a booty call so to speak,” Paul sat up in the chair resting his elbows on his knees before shrugging his shoulders. “You were someone he loved so much, you could just tell by the way he talked about you. Even when we had him drunk he would smile from ear to ear, this guy loves you a lot and always has since I’ve known him. You were his dream come true and you are beautiful, so I can see why he picked someone as great as you. ”

“You see, now I guess we can keep him,” Heather teased pressing her hand in against Kyle’s stomach before letting out a long breath. She felt Kyle press a small kiss against her forehead before clearing her throat uneasily. “If you are continuing to kiss up to me, it’s okay in you staying her for a while if you’d like. It’s really no big deal. ”


“I was this close to getting him where I wanted him, but then that bitch stepped in and kept me from reaching him,” Sarah huffed curling her fists into balls at the side of her slender frame. She paced around Cameron’s study before spinning on her heel and facing him once again, “I swear to God I was this close and then…”

“Sarah, you should really try to relax,” Cameron groaned inwardly knowing full well that the last thing he wanted to deal with was her on a temper tantrum when he could have been spending his time with his brother and Evie.

“I’m not going to relax,” she grumbled waving her hands around in the air before pinching her finger towards one another, “I was this close to getting him to agree to just let up on me, but then that woman… Oh that woman drives me mad. When I think about how she’s leading him around by some kind of invisible choker telling him what he can and cannot do…”

“She’s probably just protecting her brother’s best interest since clearly most people think that you aren’t at all a part of that,” Cameron shrugged his shoulders simply before yawning and looking out the window to the grounds beyond the estate.

“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes at him, “Like that woman would know anything about Diego’s best interest. And besides, I thought that you hated Diego.”

“I do, which is really why I could care less about…” he confessed ready to shift the topic away from Cameron when she let out a loud grunt.

“I swear I don’t get it. I don’t see why a man clearly capable of rational thinking would let his sister lead him around and tell him what he should be doing,” she stomped her foot down before resuming in another pace around the study. “I mean he seemed like a perfectly intelligent free thinking adult who had a mind of his own…”

“Well, he did sleep with you which proves that his perceptions are clearly skewed,” Cameron tossed in only to elicit a glare from her.

“You slept with me as well,” she curled her lip in a pout at him.

“Yes, but no one dares to consider calling me rational. Intelligent yes, but my motivations are an enigma to most around me. I tend to prefer it that way however considering that…” he offered up with a hint of a smirk.

“That she’s a witch. She must be miserable in her own life and figures that if she can bully Diego into taking me down, that she will somehow be complete in her mission. In fact I’m willing to guess that she doesn’t even have anyone in her life. She’s probably just a frigid bitch who gets her kicks out of commanding and imposing her will upon others,” she sneered twisting her fingers in the air as if she was choking the life out of Gabriella. “I mean really where does she get off? If I could have had five minutes alone with Diego, then this wouldn’t be a problem at all. I would have him just where I want him and…”

“And obviously it didn’t work out like you planned on, so get over it and move on,” Cameron suggested glancing over at her once again. “We’ll try a different approach.”

“You’re damn right we’ll try a different approach. We’ll find a way to get rid of her and,” she paused as a thought carried over her, “In fact, I know exactly what we can do.”

“Why do I feel like I suddenly have no desire to hear what’s on your mind?” he replied noting the strange expression on her face.

“We’ll have you put a hit on her. I mean you can do that, can’t you?” she finally faced him fully her thoughts focused on the new plan in her mind. “You have the power to make a phone call and see to it that someone disappears right.”

“I don’t know who you’ve been talking to Sarah,” Cameron frowned at the implication.

“But you can do it can’t you?” she arched an eager brow before taking a step towards him. She reached out to run her fingers over the center of his chest before her grin expanded, “You can see to it that Diego’s sister disappears and is never a problem for me again, can’t you baby?”

“Sarah,” he sighed tipping his head down to see the way her lips were curved upward in a hopeful smirk. She teased her nails over the center of his chest in a seductive movement before grinning up at him with fiery intent. Finally he groaned and stepped back, “I’m not going to put a hit on Diego’s sister. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m not being ridiculous. You said you’d help me with my situation Cameron and what better way to do it then…” she started to argue with him in a pout.

“Trust me it’s not what you want,” he breezed past her, his thoughts lingering now to his own sister. “Truth be told as much as you think this is important right now, the fact to the matter is that I have some things that I need to get back to. I wanted to go see Angel and…”

“I’ll go with you,” she blurted out eagerly.

“No, I don’t want to hear about Diego or any other member of his family. I want to see my sister without your nagging,” he rolled his eyes at the thought.

“You promised me that you would help me find a way to fix the situation at hand,” she reminded him sharply, “That was one of the stipulations of us being together.”

“I realize that, but I certainly don’t feel like resorting to homicide since there are far better ways to bury a person than that,” he explained in a cool and neutral tone. “You have to trust me when I tell you that going after Diego’s family is a bad idea.”

“You’ve done it,” she folded her arms in front of her chest stubbornly.

“I never did any such thing and I thought we already discussed that when you came to me in the first place,” Cameron snapped back at her. “I had nothing to do with what happened to Maria considering that…”

“That you were in love with her,” she waved her hand around in the air dismissively, “Yeah I get that Cam, but I’m telling you that Gabriella is going to be a problem.”

“Perhaps, but she’s not going to be mine today,” he informed her point blank, “I’m going to see my sister.”

“And I’m going with you even if you’re being impossible,” she mouthed in response moving in beside him.

“If you keep talking about Diego or his sister, I’ll toss you out of my car without hesitation,” he warned her simply his eyes alerting her to the full meaning behind his warning.

“Fair enough,” she decided with a nod before stepping in closer to him. “We’ll focus on your sister for now, but later, well later you owe me something more in my situation with Diego.”

“We’ll see what we can do,” Cameron finally blurted out just wanting to be done with all of Sarah’s issues long enough to focus on the more important aspects in life.


“I told you tonight was going to be heaven,” Olivia confessed taking a moment to listen around the apartment now that she and Julian had a weekend to themselves. She had the candles lit on the coffee table in front of them and now that she and Julian had finished with dinner, she was hoping they’d fall into a little dessert with one another.

“It is kind of nice to have the place to ourselves,” Julian nodded in agreement reaching out to snake his arm around his wife’s waist before pulling her in closer to him. “Though I have to admit I hope that they are behaving. You know Jackie worries me…”

“That’s because she’s sixteen and caught up in being a rebel. Of course she should worry you,” Olivia laughed lightly shaking her head just enough to cause the auburn ringlets that framed her face to move with her. “She’s going to give us one headache after the other. I’m sure of it.”

“Not very assuring news for a father,” Julian shuddered at the thought, “She’s going to have me going completely gray before my time at this rate.”

“Then it’ll add character,” Olivia ran her fingers through Julian’s hair. “I happen to think that’s very sexy on a man.”

“I thought you liked my hair the way it is,” he noted feeling her slide in closer to him.

“I like just about everything there is to like about you Julian,” she leaned forward teasing her lips against his. She felt him respond to the kiss, opening his mouth ever so slightly as she hovered in over him. She dropped onto his lap straddling his thighs before pushing her fingers, through his thick, dark hair. Her tongue eased past the crease in his lips, feeling his hands roam over her curves and she let out a low moan.

“God, it’s been too long,” she sighed closing her eyes and fighting to repress the shivers that crept in over her. “I can’t think of the last time you were this close to me.”

“It hasn’t been that long,” he paused searching her eyes for a long moment, “Has it?”

“Christmas last year maybe,” Olivia confessed with a small frown reaching out to touch the side of his face.

“No it hasn’t been that long,” he shook his head before frowning himself, “Has it?”

“Unfortunately it has,” she nodded in response, “I guess that’s why they say the party is over when you’re married. If they put this kind of information in the instruction manual for couples they might never get married because that’s when the fun ends.”

“No, that’s where the fun begins,” he assured her catching her waist in his arms before pushing her back onto the couch. He moved in over her, his eyes meeting hers with a hungry urgency, “because I can promise you that tonight is a good night to get that passion back between us.”

“I was starting to think it was lost in limbo,” she admitted bringing her fingers over his shoulders before sliding them down his chest, “Julian it’s been so long since we’ve had sex that I’m starting to think that it’s never going to happen for us.”

“It’s going to happen,” he promised leaning in to kiss her tenderly, “I promise you that this weekend will be full of love making between us.”

“We haven’t had stellar love making since before the shooting,” she blurted out catching him off guard as he pulled back just a bit.

“What?” he questioned confused by her statement.

“I mean after that bullet hit you,” she reached out to unbutton his shirt, finger tracing the scar on his abdomen, “You just haven’t been the same man.”

“The shooting has nothing to do with the fact that we’ve been on different schedules,” Julian pointed out with a slight agitation.

“You and I know full well that it hasn’t been different schedules that keep you from making love to me,” she pointed out with a small scowl, her eyes returning to the scar on his abdomen once again, “You used to ravage me every chance you got, but then it was the shooting and then you kept talking about the children being around and…”

“Olivia, you know that things have been complicated,” he paused moving away from her and sitting at the opposite side of the couch, “You can’t blame this on the shooting.”

“Julian, it’s okay,” she sat up straighter adjusting her shirt before touching his shoulder gently, “I know plenty of men who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. When they experience something like you did they often can’t find it in them to get an erection and…”

“I don’t believe I’m hearing this,” Julian threw his hands in the air. Having had more than enough he stood up off of the couch attempting to keep his frustrations from getting the best of him.

“Honey, I know it’s always difficult to get into this, but we can’t ignore the problem any longer and believe me it’s a problem,” she continued to explain to him with a huff, “You don’t even look at me anymore.”

“Of course I look at you,” he spun around to face her once again, “I look at you all the time.”

“But you never touch me. You never let me believe that you want me,” she stood up watching him closely. She pulled open her blouse and shrugged out of it revealing her bare breasts to him. “Julian say something…do something…anything…”

“Olivia,” he sighed moving in towards her. Bringing his arm around her waist, he claimed her lips in his before his palm pressed in over her curves. He squeezed her gently feeling her whimper against his mouth. Nudging her back towards the couch he felt her fall beneath him, her arms hooking around his shoulders as he hovered in over her.

“Oh Julian,” she gasped a low, shallow pant carrying over her. She arched up into him rubbing her hips against him decidedly, her fingers tugging on his hair and claiming his mouth again. “I want you so bad.”

“I want you too Liv,” he confessed biting gently on her shoulder before placing feathery light kisses over her skin. He listened to the soft sounds of her breathing growing more frantic, more uneven by the moment and as he held onto her he promised himself that he would show her that he was all the man she’d married and more. He continued to kiss her hands roaming over her body as his tongue grazed the side of her neck tasting her in a sensual fashion.

“Oh Julian,” she sank her fingers into his shoulders rocking up against him before stopping. She paused her eyes meeting his again as a frown touched over her lips, “You’re not even into this are you?”

“What?” he blinked back at her feeling her push him aside.

“I can feel it,” she explained sitting up and groaning. She ran her fingers through her auburn hair before turning to him, “You aren’t even aroused are you?”

“I don’t believe this,” he threw his hands in the air, “of course I am.”

“No you’re not,” she reached out to touch his lap boldly, fingers pressing in over him, “You’re not even close to it Julian.”

“I was just warming up,” he started seeing the disapproval behind her eyes, “Look I was ready to go before you started talking about my having some kind of post traumatic bullshit. Once you threw that in there it kind of ticked me off.”

“Excuses,” she huffed reaching for her blouse and pulling herself off of the couch. She wrapped it around herself before turning to him again, “I just don’t get it. I mean the doctors said that nothing was wrong with you…”

“Nothing is wrong with me. You just can’t insult a guy and then expect him to perform on the drop of a dime,” he reminded her sharply, his blue-green eyes meeting hers again, “It just doesn’t work that way.”

“Maybe not, but it’s for your own good. I was just trying to help you,” she paused her eyes lighting up with a sudden thought. “Hold on a second. I’ll be right back.”

“Olivia,” he called after her watching her rush down the hallway to their bedroom before he dropped his head back on the top of the couch. He groaned inwardly before centering his eyes in on his pants again. He offered up a small breath before speaking up, “Look I know you’ve been stressed lately, but you can work with this one. All you have to do is just do what feels right and…”

“Julian I think I know what will work,” Olivia announced returning to the room with a bottle in her hands. “I wanted to talk to you about this since I phoned in a favor with the pharmacy and…”

“The pharmacy,” he repeated giving her a strange look, “Olivia what is that?”

“They are pills and I’m sure that they can help considering that…” she explained offering them to him, “I know other people, patients of mine that swear by them claiming that they’ve rejuvenated their sex life all over again.”

“Wait a second,” he eyed the pill bottle she’d handed him skeptically, “You want me to take a pill?”

“It’s not a big deal,” she replied sitting down on the couch beside him, “I mean I look at it this way I take one every day since I’m on birth control pills and it really can’t hurt you to take one. From what I understand you just take it, then a short while later things are ready to spring into action so to speak.”

“So you’ve been talking to your colleagues about all of this,” he waved his hand around in the air noticing the name on the prescription.

“Not all of them, but my friends and I were chatting and…” she began again watching him stand up and pace around the room.

“You told your friends that I can’t get it up. You have them thinking that I’m some kind of impotent person that can‘t muster up enough strength to satisfy his wife?” he shook his head in frustration.

“It’s really nothing to be embarrassed about considering that it happens to a lot of men, which is why I’m working on fixing it Julian. If you just take a pill, then I’m sure that we can get back to where we were before the shooting and…” she watched him walk across the room reaching for his jacket. “Julian, what are you doing?”

“I’m getting some air because this,” he paused waving the pills around in the air for a moment before taking a breath. He set them down on the countertop before shaking his head at her, “this is too much Liv. I can’t deal with this right now.”

“Julian wait,” she called out to him watching him walk out of the apartment as she wondered if perhaps she’d crossed too many lines this time in trying to fix what she felt was broken in the relationship.


Barbara watched Diego poking at his piece of apple pie that still lingered on the plate she’d given him earlier after Gabriella had left his home. While she’d hated to see him so upset, she realized that her attempts at cheering him up weren’t going anywhere. He was still as miserable as he’d been when she arrived and that in itself was quite frustrating. Setting her own plate down, she turned to face him fully.

“You know if you don’t at least take a bite of that I’m going to be offended. I’m going to think that you don’t like it or even worse that you don’t like the company that you’re keeping,” she informed him her eyes narrowing with heavy distain.

“That’s not it at all Barbara,” he offered up apologetically, his dark eyes filled with regret over his foul actions. “I guess you could say my mind has just been clouded by a lot lately. I mean even now when I think about everything that has happened…”

“Don’t you think it’s time to cut yourself some slack?” she suggested setting her own plate down on the coffee table before taking in a breath. “Gabriella is gone, so you can ease up on the self loathing. I promise I won’t let it slip that you actually are going to take a moment to stop hating yourself so much.”

“Barbara, it’s just…” he paused tipping his head to the side and seeing the expression on her face, “Why are you even bothering with me? Surely, you have something far more scintillating to keep up with on your time off of work rather than babysitting me.”

“I happen to enjoy spending time with you,” she objected to his words, “and the last time I checked being with a friend was anything, but babysitting.”

“Even so, you deserve a better time then what I’m offering you,” Diego informed her with a solemn expression, his eyes lost and soulful despite the inner turmoil he was facing.

“I happen to think that we’re having a great time, well except for the fact that you’ve been far too quiet,” she paused for a moment before surveying his living room. “Although I’m sure we can work on shifting that mood for a while and I know just the thing to do it.”

“Barbara…” he opened his mouth in protest only to discover that she’d walked across the room to his play station. She reached for one of the controllers before smiling over her shoulder at him.

“What do you say? Do you still have it in you to try to enjoy life for a little while?” she questioned brightly as she nodded towards the game system. “Granted I know it’ll be a stretch from the typical misery that you force yourself to endure on a daily basis.”

“You aren’t going to give me a choice in this matter, are you?” he couldn’t help but feel a smile tease over the corners of his mouth as he watched her lean down to scoop up the game system. She stretched her fingers across the floor to seek out the second controller before she turned around to face him with a newfound determination creeping in over her.

“No, not at all,” she informed him point blank, “because I have not had the opportunity to play with one of these things since I babysat my niece and nephew and I have to tell you I’m rather good at it.”

“Is that right?” he smiled in response feeling a moment of relief carry over him. While he’d wanted to stay lost inside of himself contemplating where his future would lead him after he’d betrayed those he’d cared about and screwed up his career in more ways then he’d thought possible, the truth to the matter was that he’d missed having fun. He’d almost forgotten what it had been like before his life had dipped into a path of misery, but Barbara had her mind set on forcing him to remember.

“I happen to be a pro at this particular game,” she nodded in confession holding up the game she’d selected to reveal a racing penguin game. She smiled up at him before wiggling her brow suggestively, “You should see how I do when I slide on my belly down the icy slope.”

“I’m sure it’s a sight indeed,” he couldn’t help but laugh amused by her selection, “though are you sure you don’t want to play one of those games over there?”

She wrinkled her nose in response thinking about the military games she’d left behind. While she was rather good at those kind of games and in dealing with killing zombies in the virtual world, she opted to steer clear of violence at this moment in time. Heaven knew Diego had more than enough of his fill of women with a knowledge of dealing with weapons. For the time being she was going to remind him of what it was like to just be carefree for a while.

“I happen to like penguins,” she explained matter of fact before dropping down onto the sofa beside him and setting things up for them to get started, “Do you have a problem with that?”

“No, not at all,” Diego admitted with a hearty laugh realizing that while some aspects of his life were shaky, others had much more still going for him.

“You do realize that I’m going to beat the pants off of you and I’ll enjoy doing it,” she confessed with a playful laugh before holding a controller out towards him. “What do you say Diego?”

“I’d really rather prefer to keep my pants on tonight because I don’t think we’re ready for something like that,” he mouthed in a flirty response watching the way that her eyes lit up at his comment. Immediately he’d regretted saying it, “I mean…”

“I know what you mean,” Barbara patted his leg gently before smiling, “and for what it’s worth I’ll try to be merciful with you. Maybe.”

“That’s reassuring,” he laughed lightly before turning his attention to the game that was now starting up on the television screen in front of him. While he wasn’t quite sure what to expect in spending this time with Barbara, something told him that she was going to do everything in her power to ensure that he had a good time whether he wanted to or not. That in itself made the prospect of a night at home all the more interesting!


Hart marched up to the door to Walt’s hotel room after he’d shaken down the clerk to find out just where his father was at. It had been a bit of a chore, but now that Hart knew full well where the son of a bitch was staying, he was going to have no problems railing into him for his meddling. Hart knocked on the door furiously in no mood to be put on hold and when Walt opened the door Hart shoved him back into the room with a violent force.

“Just who the hell do you think you are?” Hart questioned with an angry shout seeing the surprise over his father’s face as Walt fell back onto one of the chairs in the room. “Where do you get off trying to overrule me in my daughter’s life?”

“Ah,” Walt couldn’t help but crack a small smile, “now I see what has you so worked up. You’re here to talk about my helping Sam I see.”

“You aren’t helping Sam,” Hart shook his head at his father, “You have no business in her life and I don’t know what you’re trying to pull right now, but it’s not going to work. She can’t be bought like that Walt.”

“I’m not trying to buy her,” Walt offered up in his own defense clearing his throat before seeing his son’s anger, “Hart, while I realize that you’re ready to fly off the handle and be a hothead at least hear me out. Sam came to me because this was a dream of hers. She wanted to go to London and considering that I have been out of her life thus far, I felt that I could afford to make up for the lost time in her life by lending her a hand.”

“By sending her to another country,” Hart shook his head at his father, “It wasn’t your place to decide to take her away from me.”

“She’s hardly a child any longer. She’s a bright, brilliant woman capable of making her own decisions. She has a lot of heart and a lot of enthusiasm for what she wants to do, so I felt no need to hold her back,” Walt continued to explain to his son, “and if you really loved her you wouldn’t either.”

“I’m not holding her back,” Hart snapped at his father, “I just learned that she is my daughter. I just found her again and now you want to steal her away from me.”

“No one is stealing her. She has goals and ambitions and you of all people should understand that. Your daughter deserves a right to happiness,” Walt interjected with a small frown of his own before adjusting the sleeve on his shirt.

“What do you know about happiness considering that you worked your whole life to make mine miserable?” Hart snapped back at him anger carrying over every inch of him, “You drove my mother to drinking and ultimately you were the death of her, but that wasn’t enough for you. Now you want to kill me as well by systematically turning each and everything in my life against me.”

“I’m not turning Sam against you. I’m just trying to help her and you,” Walt added with a heavy sigh, “When I came to Coral Valley I wasn’t looking to upset you son, but rather I was looking to mend fences between us. I want for us to find a way to be close to one another--to have that bond that was severed between us all those years ago.”

“That was your fault, not mine,” Hart waved his hands around in the air wildly, “You were the one who chose to think of you and you alone. Never once did you give a damn about me growing up, so pardon me if I don’t buy the new and reformed father act you have going. It’s not going to convince me that you’re a changed man and I’m not going to let you poison my daughter like you are trying to do.”

“I merely offered her means of letting her dreams come true. I hardly consider that poisoning her. If anything you should be thanking me for helping her along,” Walt repeated in a cool and collected fashion, his dark eyes fixed on Hart. “Honestly if you would stop being such a hot head, then maybe you would take a step back and see what is best for Sam.”

“What’s best for Sam is my getting a chance to know her. I just watched a friend of mine lose their son because of a senseless act of violence and I refuse to let the same thing happen to me with Sam simply because you want to put her into a situation that she cannot control because it would upset me,” Hart continued to lash out at his father. “I won’t let you take her away from me.”

“It’s not me that you should be mad at Hart. From the sound of things it’s like you don’t want your daughter to live and experience life,” Walt challenged seeing something behind Hart’s eyes, “You don’t want her to grow up because she might actually experience the world without you and that scares you.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” Hart blurted out shaking his head firmly, “To think that I would even listen to any of this…”

“You’re the one who came here to see me,” Walt reminded him with a simple shrug. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe I’ve been learning from my mistakes rather than trying to keep making them over and over again?”

“You never learn and even though you pretend you’ve changed, I know better,” Hart recollected himself before shaking his head once again. “Though you know what. It doesn’t matter because you’re not going to take the control out of my hands on this one. Sam’s not going plain and simple. Just stay away from her.”

“I’m not going to turn my granddaughter away just because her father is too stubborn to believe in giving second chances,” Walt mouthed with a small frown of his own.

“See that’s where you have this all wrong,” Hart walked over to the door to the hotel room, his anger simmering down a bit. He reached out to open the door before looking back at Walt, “I gave you more second chances than I care to admit. You’re just the one who took advantage of it and didn’t learn when to quit. So when you sit there telling me that you’re going to change it all now, you can see why I don’t believe you.”

“Don’t take your rage out on Sam that you have for me,” Walt warned him sharply, “because it’ll blow up in your face sooner or later Hart.”

“You getting involved with my daughter will hurt her. Just stay away,” Hart warned before walking out of the room before he let his frustrations get the best of him all over again. Regardless of what Walt said, Hart would never trust him. That much he was sure of!


“This is really great,” Avery confessed as she and Russ sat in the center of the living room putting together the playhouse that her father had gotten for Erin. Sure, it was getting later, but it didn’t stop her from being curious about what everything would look like once it was all put together. “I know she’s going to love it.”

“Of course she is,” Russ laughed lightly struggling to figure out the directions he held in his hands, “Of course she may not get to play in it for a few years, which is a good thing considering that I cannot for the life of me figure these things out.”

“It can’t be that bad,” Avery shook her head reaching out to steal the instructions from Russ. She held them up closer to the light before a frown touched over her lips and she set the paper down into her lap, “Russ these are in Spanish.”

“And the other side is in French,” Russ motioned to the paper once again with a laugh, “I figure I retained more Spanish over the years than French considering that I cut French class almost every day to spend time with you during your lunch hour.”

“Oh come on,” Avery shook her head at him and offered up a small laugh, “You still got an A in the class.”

“Only because I kissed up to the teacher and spent the summer washing his car,” Russ shook his head and winked at her, “but it was worth it because I wouldn’t have traded a second that I had with you back then.”

“What about now?” Avery wiggled her brow at him curiously watching as he pushed himself up on his knees to crawl over towards where she was seated on the ground.

“I still wouldn’t trade a second of it,” he confess curling his arm around her waist before tackling her down to the ground. Once he was laying over her, he touched a strand of her long, dark hair gently, his green eyes filled with a warmth and love behind them, “Have I ever told you how beautiful you are to me?”

“Maybe once or twice,” Avery wrapped her arms around his neck drawing him nearer to her for a slow, tender kiss. As their lips parted she gazed up into his eyes once again and cracked a small smile, “I take it we’re going to take a rain check on figuring out how to put this together tonight.”

“I think that’s a good idea, unless of course you would like to have me scan the instructions and then go to a free translation page online,” Russ suggested with a wiggle of his brow leaning down to steal a small kiss from her once again.

“Nah, that would take too much time and as you said Erin wouldn’t be able to enjoy this right away anyways,” she squeezed him in closer to her urging his lips over hers again, “at least not in the way that I could enjoy you now.”

“And here you were always the one preaching about the woes of instant gratification,” he teased nibbling on her lower lip while feeling her finger tips sliding up underneath his shirt.

“I know what I said, but in this particular case I think that it’s best to seize the moment,” she admitted grazing her nails lightly across his spine, feeling the way he seemed to shiver against her touch. “Don’t you think it’s best to be direct with what’s on your mind rather than beating around the bush so to speak?”

“I think it’s always best to find it in yourself to go after what you want,” he replied with a nod, plucking open the top button on her pajama top before following up with another and then another.

“See, so we are in agreement, that there is something to be said about giving in to mutual pleasures,” she whispered in a shivering exhale feeling him pull open her blouse enough just to dip his hand within.

“I’ve never been one to argue against mutual pleasures,” Russ backed up just enough to shrug out of his shirt before moving in over her again. His palm flattened out over her ribs before sliding up to caress her soft fullness, “especially when you’re the other side of all the promise of pleasure.”

“You just like getting some admit it Russ,” she teased wrinkling her nose at him while her leg brushed up against his hip in a slow, seductive movement.

“When I’m getting some from you, yeah I’ll admit it’s at the top of my list,” he nibbled on her lower lip again before his mouth moved in over the side of her neck. He felt her nails scratch lightly over his skin while he palmed her breast, kneading it gently and hearing the soft breaths escape from her now parted lips.

“Russ, you are such a pervert,” she gasped feeling him sliding her bra strap down enough to place his lips over her newly exposed skin. She closed her eyes anticipating his kisses, but much to her dismay he pulled away from her.

“I’m a pervert,” he repeated with an arched brow eyeing her intently, “I beg to differ on this one since you’re the one who initiated this seduction.”

“I merely asked you what the hold up on the instructions were. You’re the one who decided to pounce on top of me and rip my clothes off,” Avery blinked back at him fighting to suppress the laugh that carried over her.

“I didn’t rip your clothes off,” he corrected moving back ever so slightly, “far from it. In fact if you don’t know the definition of what ripping someone’s clothes off is, then maybe it’s a sign we should just stop before we start.”

“Really?” she felt him move off of her in an attempt to get up. She placed her hand into the center of his chest sending him flat out onto his back before she moved in over him straddling his hips. “I know full well what it means to rip someone’s clothes off I’ll have you know.”

“Really?” Russ wiggled a brow at her watching the newfound determination behind her eyes. “I seriously doubt that considering that you said before that…”

“This is ripping someone’s clothes off,” she announced reaching out to the zipper on his pants and pulling it open in the blink of an eye. Swiftly she pushed his slacks and boxers down off of his body, moving back enough to yank them free from his legs before tossing them back over onto the couch. She climbed back over him, the first hints of a smirk carrying over her as she placed her hands over the center of his warm, muscled chest. “Now that is ripping someone’s clothes off.”

“Actually,” Russ arched up towards her just a bit, his hands seizing both sides of her blouse before offering up a sharp pull tearing it down her arms, “this is more like it.”

“No, I really don’t think that’s it,” Avery felt him unhook the clasp on the front of her bra, sliding it down her shoulders as well before his hands fixed on the pair of pajama shorts she’d been wearing to begin their construction adventure. Without a word he tugged at them feeling the flimsy material shred beneath his finger tips taking her panties with it. He tugged on the material in his hands holding it up and tossing it across the room before smiling up at her.

“Now that is how you rip someone’s clothes off,” he informed her curling his arm around her hips and pulling her in over him. He leaned up capturing her mouth in a heated kiss while urging her thighs around his waist. Their mouths parted and eyes locked gazes as they sat with one another naked in the middle of the living room.

“Okay, I’ll concede to the fact that you’re so much better at that than I am,” Avery sighed shifting over him and feeling his hard body beneath hers. She squeezed her arms around his shoulders before meeting his eyes again.

“Of course I am,” he teased feeling her poke him in the ribs before he nudged her in closer to him for another kiss. He could feel the warmth of her pressing over him as he squeezed her in his arms, “So tell me what would you like this big old pervert to do to you now that I’ve got you all hot and bothered?”

“If you can’t figure that one out, then we’re going to have some serious problems,” she laughed lightly rising up on her knees to slide in over him positioning herself better for a union between them.

“Wait a second,” Russ looked around the living room before meeting her gaze again, “maybe we should relocate.”

“To the bedroom?” she arched a curious brow her gaze locked on his.

“It might be more comfortable,” he nodded in confession seeing the spark of mischief behind her eyes.

“Too far away,” she shook her head rocking her body down over his for the briefest of moments.

“What about my study?” he suggested motioning to the room just down the hallway, “It might keep us from waking up Erin.”

“Still too far away,” she shook her head in refusal.

“Baby, I just don’t want to give you rug burns here because as comfortable as this carpet is, it won’t be when we get started,” he touched her cheek gently, a flash of desire behind his eyes, “and believe me when I tell you that I’ve got a lot in store for us tonight.”

“In that case,” she bit on her bottom lip hating the idea of being away from him for even a second, “what about the couch?”

“Been there, done that,” he shook his head firmly, “That might feel like it’s too routine.”

“Too routine,” she repeated wrinkling her nose at him again, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“No I’m not,” he shook his head firmly, “the way I see it once we’ve hit it up more than half a dozen times, it’s something that you and I need to work on moving away from. Variety is the spice of life there.”

“You’re serious about this,” her eyes widened as she looked at him with a surprised expression, “Russ, honestly if we are so concerned about location, then maybe we need to rethink doing this. I mean if we can’t just be spontaneous and just go for it here and now…”

“Oh we’ll go for it here and now, but not right here,” Russ reached out to pull one of the nails off of the floor that was laying out beside them after they’d attempted to put Erin’s playhouse together. “If we stay here, you might wind up with something in a place it doesn’t belong.”

“Eeew,” Avery reached for the nail and dropped it to the floor again with a frown, “I might’ve been able to strain with rug burns, but not with that. That would hurt and I think more than ice would be needed to numb that pain.”

“Exactly,” Russ nodded in agreement before looking past her with a smile, “though now that I think about it there is one place here that we have yet to experience.”

“And just what might that be,” Avery questioned feeling him shift beneath her. Within a matter of seconds she felt him pull her up over his shoulder and carry her with him into the kitchen.

“If you need to ask, then you really have some issues, but rest assured I‘ll have no problems warming you up to the idea and a few other sweet things along the way,” Russ patted her bottom in a teasing fashion opting to incorporate some good old fashioned fun into their love making now that they had a whole new fantasy to explore with one another in their new home.


“Knock, knock,” a voice awakened Cori from her sleep as she slowly turned toward the door to see Nate walking in as she let out a long groan and turned back around in the bed. “You getting your beauty rest sweetheart? ”

“That’s exactly what I’m doing, this is the only thing I can do for fun,” Cori pointed out hearing his footsteps moving in closer to her feeling him sit down on the edge of the bed and she turned to look at him. “What are you doing here? ”

“I kind of had a bad day and figured I would come to talk to you,” Nate explained seeing the look she gave him as he shrugged his shoulders and spoke up again. “I know it sounds crazy, but I was just having problems today and I know it’s hard to believe, you are just the person I find it the easiest to talk to. ”

“You’re kidding right? ” Cori laughed seeing the way he looked away from her before going to get up and she grabbed a hold of his hand pulling him back down on the bed. Scooting over to the side of the bed and motioning Nate to lie down with her. “Okay, let’s hear about what happened. ”

“I just can never get away from certain assholes in my life,” he began to tell her seeing the way her dark eyes watched him as he laid back on the pillows and let out a deep breath. “I think I made a big mistake as a person and no matter what my sister always has to dig it in. ”

“Well at least it’s your sister doing it,” Cori pointed out seeing him turn to look at her, her eyebrows tensing together as she let out a long sigh. “To be honest with you, I have everyone in this town digging it deeper to me all the time. You don’t understand what it’s like. ”

“I know exactly what it’s like Cori, I have everyone doing it to me based off of my sister. My sister is the worst person to me and at least you have one sibling around that cares about you. All of my siblings are out in Chicago and I get stuck with the bitchiest one of them all out here,” Nate explained seeing the way she stared out at him and he shrugged his shoulders. “You really don’t have it that hard. ”

“Don’t have it hard? ” she snapped seeing the way that Nate nodded before letting out a deep breath and she sat up next to him. “Look where I am Nate, this is not having it easy. This isn’t the high and classy life if you get my point. ”

“Even so,” Nate sat up from the bed and stood to his feet before staring out at Cori, letting out a small laugh. “Honestly Cori, all you have to do is chill out here. “If you had to deal with my sister, you would go insane. All you have to do is sleep all day in here, do you know how lucky you are to be able to do that. ”

“You have to be kidding me right? ” Cori stood up from the bed and moved forward pressing her hands in against the center of his chest giving him a firm shove. “You have no idea what it’s like to be stuck in here, to have everyone thinking you are crazy. ”

“You have it so easy in here Cori, you don’t even realize how easy you have it,” Nate explained throwing his hands up in the air before moving in closer to her. “No one tells you what to do…,”

“No, they just lock me up all day, I can see why I have it so easy,” Cori argued further seeing the way that Nate frowned when she pushed him again making him stumble back a bit. “I’m stuck in here, all alone to the point where no one wants to deal with me. No one wants anything to do with me because they think I’m a nut and will somehow end up hurting them. I’m hurting inside here and no one believes in me. No one likes me, no one comes to visit me and…,”

“Cori,” Nate cut her off moving in closer to her before letting out a long breath and shaking his head slowly. “I care about you, I visit you, and I believe in you. How in the world do you come up with no one, when I’m someone? ”


“I just don’t get what the hell is wrong with him. I mean is he so desperate that he’ll sleep with the trashiest woman that crosses his path no matter what kind of risks are involved?” Shannon threw her hands up in the air after she thought about the way Nate had argued with her. “I mean really, what was he thinking?”

“Shannon, he was probably just blowing off some steam,” Don offered up in Nate’s defense. “Jewel can come on pretty strong and…”

“And she looks cheap and slutty,” Shannon rolled her eyes as she remembered the woman in question. “That’s always what gets Nate into trouble. That’s why he’s doing community service in the first place because some girl tried to pull a Girls Gone Wild while driving and he knocked over a tree. A tree Don! What would have happened if he would have hit a person? Could you imagine him being in front of judge telling them that some girl flashed him, so he couldn’t help killing some innocent bystander who was just minding their own business?”

“First of all,” he stood up reaching out to take her hands in his, “he didn’t kill anyone in his accident. He made an honest mistake and fortunately no one was hurt in the process other than Nate really. Second, let’s face it Shannon. The extent of his social life since he’s been here has been work and being around us. He and Matt are best friends and I don’t think that Matt is going to be setting him up with any of his friends anytime soon considering that most of them haven’t passed the first grade at this point.”

“He’d be better off with one of those women since clearly he has the mentality of a two year old,” Shannon rolled her eyes again at the thought of her brother. “I mean really, what is he thinking in bringing someone like that around? Does he have no shame?”

“Shannon, he’s still pretty young and I’ll be honest, when I was his age I was doing some pretty wild things as well,” Don added catching the glare that came from her eyes.

“That’s only because you were under Brant’s pathetic influence,” she rolled her eyes as the thought of Don in his younger years. “Face it, you’d do just about anything to make him happy.”

“Sleeping around wasn’t exactly to make him happy Shannon. I think it had more to do with my own self gratification,” Don frowned at the implication she’d tossed out at him.

“Somehow I don’t exactly see you as a man whore. I mean no offense Don, but you seem too trained for that,” Shannon couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of Don as a wild man.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he frowned back at her.

“Well, to be honest with you between your Stephanie adoration and what we have, I really don’t think you’ve had much room for other women in your life. That’s been made painfully obvious as you’ve still proven that you’ve got a lot to learn,” she tossed back at him with a thick air of sarcasm.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard a complaint out of you about my skills,” Don frowned back at her with a shake of his head.

“Hey, Don, honey I’m not saying that you’re bad or anything, but I’ve had better. Much better,” Shannon couldn’t help but let a smile slip before she cleared her throat, “I mean you know when I was younger I used to…”

“I think we’re done here,” Don threw his hands up in the air.

“Don wait,” Shannon watched him walk out of the kitchen as she found herself wanting to take back the words she’d tossed back at him. She was ticked at Nate for being stupid, yet somehow she’d managed to twist the situation around on Don as always. Following him out into the other room, she couldn’t help but feel a moment of guilt tug over at her when he dropped down on the couch and began to pout.

“Don, honey I didn’t mean that,” she offered up softening her tone a bit as he reached for the television remote and began flipping through channels.

“I don’t care Shannon,” he grumbled in response ignoring the fact that she’d eased in beside him on the sofa.

“It’s just that Nate has me so wound up,” she reached out to touch his thigh gently, “You understand…”

“Not really,” he admitted glancing over at her briefly before turning his attention to the television once again. “No.”

“Nate’s a child and he clearly isn’t smart enough to see when someone is using him. That woman has no interest in him and if he had half a mind, he would see that,” she frowned again before shaking the thought, “but I don’t want to talk about Nate right now Don.”

“And I don’t really feel like talking with you either,” Don replied stubbornly, a wounded expression on his face. He felt her fingers curl over his muscled thigh as he took in a small breath.

“Come on Don,” she purred leaning in closer to him. She pressed her lips in against the side of his neck before speaking up in a soft slur, “You don’t really want to be mad at me, do you?”

“I never want to be mad at you, but with the way you’re carrying on,” he closed his eyes feeling her hand tease up into his lap. He took in a breath before dropping his fingers down to catch her wrist and withdraw it from his body. “I’m not in the mood.”

“Why? Because I insulted your pride?” Shannon frowned back at him feeling him withdraw from her. “Don, honestly you need to get over it.”

“You really don’t know the first thing about me, do you?” he questioned tipping his head to the side and seeing the expression on her face.

“Look, I didn’t mean what I said back there,” Shannon offered up with a heavy sigh.

“Yeah, you did,” Don grumbled in response, “but you might not have meant to say it out loud.”

“Don, I was just upset,” Shannon explained with a shake of her head, “You say things that you don’t mean when you’re upset.”

“Not like that I don’t,” he replied with a wounded expression. “I wasn’t doing anything other than trying to keep the peace around here and then you go and insult me in a personal way like that.”

“Don, come on. It’s not like you think you’re the best out there when it comes to sex. I mean sure I know I’m probably not the best either,” she paused for a long moment before throwing back a teasing grin, “though I’m pretty good.”

“Gee, I wouldn’t know since obviously I don’t rank up there on the list of your top lovers,” Don rolled his eyes at the thought. “Tell me Shannon, who is number one on your list? Brant?”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous,” she shifted on the couch beside him turning away before he could see her face.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Why don’t you just admit you’d much rather be married to him, then me? I mean that’s really what this is about, isn’t it?” he snapped back at her, his irritation level rising with the moment.

“Just because I liked sleeping with Brant doesn’t mean I’d want to be married to him,” she rolled her eyes at him once again. “That’s a preposterous notion.”

“Yet one you tend to indulge more than I’m aware of. Admit it,” he threw back at her, “That’s why you get on my ass about so many things where he’s concerned, isn’t it?”

“Oh please,” she groaned inwardly, “Now you’re just being a baby.”

“No, I don’t think I am. I think you’re jealous that Brant and I are best friends because you’re not used to being the one who isn’t getting his attention,” he accused with a wounded expression on his face.

“Believe me I’m not,” she laughed at his insinuation, “Brant is beyond infuriating and I would just as soon have him out of my life forever.”

“But apparently not out of your fantasies Shannon, right?” he tossed back at her with a small frown.

“It’s not like you don’t fantasize about other women when we’re together,” she replied with an agitated tone.

“Actually, I don’t, but maybe I should start since you seem to think Brant is the better choice,” Don rose up from the couch and stomped out of the room in a huff.

“Yeah, well at least with Brant, he never told me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. He was there for what I needed him for and then after that, well he knew when to go away,” she threw her hands in the air and groaned. Sinking back into the couch she let out a long huff before dropping her head back, “If you want to be that way Don, then fine be that way. I give up!”


“I cannot for the life of me believe how bent out of shape you’re getting with me over something that you suggested Kevin,” Ria snapped placing her hands on her hips and glaring up at him. “You were the one who was all gung ho about this living arrangement--not me. Hell if Trisha hadn’t taken over my apartment and decided that tonight she was going to have a shag fest with Chase there, then I would be at home minding my own business and…”

“Look Ria, I don’t like what’s going on here anymore than you do and,” he paused thinking about it for a moment before giving her a strange look, “You let Trisha go over to your apartment to have a romp with Chase?”

“I didn’t exactly let her. She already planned it out and didn’t bother to ask me about it,” Ria corrected thinking about her younger sister’s announcement, “She mentioned that my mom called and said she would be returning home this week.”

“Your mother’s going to be in town?” Kevin’s eyes grew wide at the thought.

“That’s right, so of course my sister is trying to get in some time with her man before mom comes home and ruins everything, which is certainly something I would be doing too, but my man is pretending to be someone else’s man even though he’s getting mad at me for being around Brant, who I can assure him is far from being my man,” Ria snapped in a huff, tossing her long, dark hair over her shoulders. “I mean my God you almost married Angela and you’re living with her Kevin. I hardly know Brant.”

“I realize that, but…” Kevin stopped himself shaking his head and letting out a long sigh, “Look I’m sorry about earlier, but Angela started talking and said…”

“Said what?” Ria eyed him expectantly, tapping her foot on the ground and frowning up at him, “What did she say Kevin?”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Kevin sighed heavily realizing he’d let his own concerns get the best of him, “Look I’m sorry for doing what I did. I shouldn’t have busted the door down like I did.”

“No you shouldn’t have and I’m sure Brant is really going to appreciate having to get things repaired simply because you blew your top,” she groaned inwardly, “I mean hey Angela is the woman he loves and he’s stuck on being in the outs of this too since she’s all wrapped up in you.”

“I don’t care if she’s wrapped up in me. I love you and only you,” Kevin reached out to her touching the side of her face gently, “I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not when I find myself just wanting to be with you Ria. We are finally at the point in our relationship where we can start focusing on us and moving forward, then this happens.”

“Don’t you think I hate it just as much as you do?” she questioned blinking up at him. “Kevin in case you haven’t noticed the last place I want to be right now is in the Ashford mansion. I would much rather be back with you at the hotel where we were alone together.”

“Things were easier when we didn’t know about this,” Kevin replied reaching out to embrace her, squeezing her close to him, “Ria, I just love you so damned much and when I lost you before, it almost killed me.”

“I just didn’t like being put second to her all of the time,” she sighed closing her eyes and listening to the sounds of his heart beating in his chest, “I never ever wanted to feel like I was second best in your life.”

“You could never be second best when you’re all that I want in this world,” he kissed the top of her head gently before urging her to meet his eyes again, “Ria I know that I’m lost without you and when you left town before it made me realize that I’m nothing without you. Even now to think about not being able to be near you--to share my nights with you in my arms, well it’s killing me. I don’t want to pretend with Angie because my heart is with you.”

“Mine is with you too Kevin,” she stepped up on her toes to steal a kiss from him, “I love you.”

“I don’t want to go back there,” Kevin confessed pulling her up into his arms. He raised her off of the ground and squeezed her closer into his chest, “I would much rather spend the night with you making love to you and holding you beside me.”

“It would be heaven to have that Kevin, but we both know that…” she started to protest only to feel him silence her with a kiss.

“Let’s not spoil the dream just yet,” he begged of her kissing her over and over again while keeping her in his arms, “Let’s just take some time for us.”

“But Angela thinks that…” she voiced her protest ready to say something more when he kissed her again spinning her around and carrying her with him across the room.

“I don’t care what she thinks right now,” Kevin mouthed dropping down onto the sofa and bringing her in over his lap. His thick fingers eased into her silken strands of hair before his eyes sought out hers. He arched up towards her kissing her again with a heated intensity--one that burned down deep in his soul only when he was with her. Lazily his fingers tapered off over her thigh before easing up underneath her shirt, “I love you Ria.”

“I love you,” she tangled her fingers through his hair enjoying the feel of his body beneath hers--remembering only too well how hot they burned with one another in moments like these.

“I love you so much,” he mouthed anticipating nothing other than drowning himself in her desire when his cell phone started to buzz breaking through the moment. He groaned when he felt her pull away from him.

“It’s probably Brant,” Ria pointed out with a heavy sigh trying to still her heavy breathing and the pounding of her heart.

“I should ignore it,” Kevin mouthed seeing the way that her dark eyes shot a glare over at him, “Fine. I’ll answer it but only because you want me to.”

“Fine,” Ria reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. “Allow me.”

“Okay,” he leaned back seeing her answer the phone. While he wasn’t sure what Brant was saying, it was clear from the expression on Ria’s face that Brant was worked up. She hung up the phone quickly promising Brant that Kevin would get right on over.

“Great,” Kevin frowned shaking his head, “What did she do now?”

“She is still trying to get to you,” Ria explained with a puzzled expression, “and Brant said he’s running out of shampoo. Whatever that means.”

“I don’t even want to know,” Kevin groaned realizing that as much as he wanted to stay with Ria and spend his night making love to her, it seemed that it was out of the cards for him now that Angela was once again demanding his attention just when things seemed to be looking up for him.


“Kevin, honey are you sure everything is alright in there?” Angela knocked on the bathroom door once again thinking about how long Kevin had been locked inside.

“Yeah I’m fine,” Brant explained glancing over towards the main house before turning to the door again, “Just wait for me. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

“Kevin, you’re really starting to worry me,” she began again as Brant heard a loud thumping sound from behind him. “Kevin, what was that?”

“Nothing,” Brant lied rushing over to the window only to discover that it had closed itself. He began to tug at it, feeling that it wasn’t about to move an inch. He groaned inwardly attempting to open it again as he heard Angela knocking at the door. “Sweetheart please just give me a few minutes in here…”

“Kevin you’ve been in there over an hour. Surely you have to be exhausted right about now,” she urged him on further as Brant spotted Kevin moving across the lawn towards the window.

“I’ll be out in a few, um minutes Angie,” Brant mouthed watching Kevin dart across the grass ready to make an entrance again.

“Open up Brant,” Kevin waved to the window as Brant shook his head in response, “Come on Brant.”

“I can’t Kevin,” Brant mouthed close to the glass, “It’s stuck.”

“What do you mean it’s stuck? Brant stop screwing around and start opening it up. You want me in there, so…” Kevin started to argue with him when a ticking sound filled the air around him. He looked around trying to discover the source when he felt a sudden blast hit him right between the legs soaking his pants and making him feel as if he’d wet himself. He looked down to see the spray of the sprinklers on the lawn working in full force. When he’d tipped his head down one shot him right in the center of the face causing him to fall backward on to the lawn.

“Kevin, quit screwing around,” Brant shook his hand in the air watching Kevin attempt to get up only to fall back down again when the sprinkler shot him in the abdomen. Kevin shuffled to get to his feet again, but fell on the slippery, wet lawn onto his face.

“Brant, I’m going to kill you,” Kevin groaned with a mouthful of grass. He spit it out before looking up to see Brant yelling at him through the window.

With a frown Kevin collected himself and looked around the yard. It seemed as though the sprinklers weren’t about to give up on their unrelenting quest to make the impossible even more frustrating. With a groan, he set forward looking at the bricks around the landscaping and a thought occurred to him.

“Kevin, come on. She’s at the door again,” Brant explained trying to keep his voice down so that Angela wouldn’t hear him.

“What did you say honey?” Angela questioned from the other side of the door.

“Nothing,” Brant gulped turning his attention to the door for a brief moment before facing the window again only in time to see Kevin launching a brick right towards him. Brant rushed over to the side ducking out of the point of impact as the brick came flying through the window.

“That’s it Kevin,” Angela announced hearing the sound of the shattering glass, “I don’t care what you say I’m coming in there.”

“Angela no,” both Brant and Kevin blurted out in unison as Kevin managed to push the broken window up enough to allow himself access to the bathroom.

“What?” Angela questioned as Kevin stumbled in through the window, slipping on the floor due to the combination of water on his shoes and the shampoo on the floor that Brant had been using to distract Angela. Unfortunately even though he tried to recover from the fall, he landed straight on his butt.

“Damn it,” Kevin cursed feeling as though he’d wound up on a pile of glass. He glared over at Brant who was equally worked up.

“Why the hell did you break the window?” Brant hissed down at him watching Kevin struggle to pull himself up.

“Why did you lock me out?” Kevin glared at Brant.

“I didn’t lock you out. The window got stuck and,” Brant shook his head and let out a groan, “She’s going to get in here. I showed her where she could find the spare keys earlier and…”

“Damn,” Kevin heard the sound of fumbling at the door before he looked around the bathroom. “She can’t see you in here. Go out the window.”

“You have to be kidding me right,” Brant frowned glancing over at the shattered glass that Kevin had just crawled through. “You’re lucky that you didn’t cut your head off in that. I’m not going through there.”

“Fine, but she can’t see you,” Kevin stepped forward reaching for his shirt and bringing it up over his head.

“What are you doing?” Brant’s eyes widened watching Kevin slip out of his pants and kick them across the room.

“Angie I’m taking a shower. You can’t come in here. I’m already feeling really bad and,” Kevin started to explain using his foot to keep the door closed while he stretched his arm out and attempted to reach for the shower. When he couldn’t complete the task he looked to Brant and mouthed, “Turn the water on.”

“What?” Brant questioned giving him a sideways glance.

“Turn the damn water on,” Kevin snarled kicking off his shoe and hitting Brant in the shoulder with it.

“Ow, why didn’t you just say so instead of beating me up,” Brant scoffed in response reaching for the dials as Kevin kicked off his other shoe.

“Kevin, why are you acting so strange? Something is going on in there, isn’t it?” Angela fumbled with the door again unlocking it only to have Kevin quickly lock it right back up again.

“No Angie I’m fine I’m just…” Kevin watched Brant adjusting the water dials and with a small frown, he reached out and shoved Brant into the shower.

“What in the…” Brant felt the cold water pour out over him as Kevin managed to snag a towel from the side of the shower and wrap it around his waist just as Angela was walking in the door. He quickly pushed the shower curtain shut hiding Brant from Angela’s eyes before she could catch on to what was really happening.

“Baby, I told you I needed a few minutes,” Kevin blurted out seeing the confusion wash over Angela’s face as she looked around the bathroom.

“What the hell happened here?” she blinked back seeing the broken window and the things tossed around the bathroom, “Kevin you’re up to something.”

“No I’m not. I’m not up to anything,” Kevin lied stepping in front of the shower to keep Brant out of her sight. “I was just taking a shower and…”

“No you are certainly up to something and I’m going to get to the bottom of it right now,” she announced marching forward as Brant ducked down further in the shower hoping and praying that Angela wouldn’t discover what was really going on between them because if she did, then he and Kevin were about to get into some big trouble!


Julian unlocked the front door to his apartment feeling like the biggest jerk in the world after he’d walked out on Olivia in the midst of their fight. He hadn’t meant to leave like he had especially knowing that they had a big weekend ahead of them, but he couldn’t listen to what she was saying a moment longer. Yes, they’d had problems between them lately and he’d been under stress, but that didn’t mean he didn’t love her. That was so far from being the truth that it wasn’t funny. She was his world, his everything and as he thought about what she’d said to him, the truth to the matter was that it hurt not just because it was insulting, but because there had been some truth to what she’d said.

Closing his eyes he thought back to the day he’d gone on that call at the warehouse. It seemed like it was just a regular night shift, but then things took an unexpected twist. A twist that wound up with his partner in the morgue and him in a hospital bed laid up with a bullet inside of him. It took a while to recover from that and while he’d been promoted at work, that even still haunted him. It was something that he hadn’t been able to get over and something that he truly believed would never leave him. It was part of who he was now, but that didn’t mean that he couldn’t be there for his family.

“Olivia,” he questioned seeing that the apartment was dark. He set his keys on the countertop and noticed the pill bottle he’d left in his anger. He reached for it again reading over the label before taking in a breath. If this was going to be what made him happy--what gave Olivia what she was so desperately searching for in their relationship, then he would do it. He’d give her what she needed if it meant that they wouldn’t have this wall between them any longer.

“Liv,” he spoke her name reaching for the top of the bottle and contemplating opening it. He started to, but stopped instead placing the bottle into his pocket. He walked into the kitchen opening up a cabinet and reaching for a glass. He poured himself some water before dropping his hand into his pocket again.

“You can do this,” he attempted to coach himself hating the idea that this would be the only way to get close to his wife, but after the memory of her wounded expression carried over him, he vowed to make things right. Leaving the kitchen he walked down the hallway moving towards their bedroom with the full intention of giving her what she’d been hoping for. He hated the idea, but if it made her happy, then so be it.

“Liv,” he questioned in a low whisper wondering if she’d gone to bed after his retreat. He pushed the door open ever so slightly only to discover an empty bed. Frowning he entered the room and noticed the light blinking on the answering machine. He sat down on his side of the bed and pushed the blinking button before pulling the bottle out of his pocket.

“Julian,” Olivia’s voice sighed on the machine, “look I know that we didn’t have tonight go as we planned, but….look I’m sorry. I was out of line, but I just wanted us to fix the problem we’ve been having. I wanted for us to be like we were before the children, before the shooting and….”

Julian dropped his head down eyeing the bottle in his hand as if it was the key to his future, yet in the same breath the ultimate admission that he’d been a failure to his wife. He started to open it, but found himself frozen in the moment.

“Look I know this isn’t how our night was supposed to go, but I got called into work. I had a suicidal patient brought in and put under watch. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but when I am we should talk. Julian I…I love you.”

The answering machine beeped leaving him to silence again as he eyed the pill bottle. With a heavy sigh he tipped it over dropping a pill into the palm of his hand before his frustrations mounted and he found himself tossing the entire bottle across the room and sending the pills everywhere.


Olivia Kurts sat at the bar feeling the smoke filled room overtake any semblance of sanity that was left in her. Looking at the blue and pink neon clock that hung over the bar, she took in a long breath. The drink in her hand was almost finished and her nerves were still shot. She glanced across the bar knowing full well that no one here knew her--no one in this place would have any idea of what she was doing and just how far she’d sank in her life. Closing her eyes she thought back to her fight with Julian--to how she was pushing him to be something that he wasn’t--something that he couldn’t be to her all because she’d found herself lost in temptation. She’d felt it eat her alive and threaten to overtake her time and time again, but when Julian walked out, she knew she could no longer deny what was happening inside of her. She knew she would cross a line tonight and it was something she couldn’t take back yet it was something deep down she knew she couldn’t walk away from either.

“Sorry I’m late,” a voice roused her from her thoughts. She looked up to see Michael Winston beside her sliding onto the bar stool she’d kept free for him. She eyed him intently before turning to the mirrored wall again.

“It’s alright,” she closed her eyes for a moment taking in a small breath, “I wasn’t sure I had the nerve to come all the way out here in the first place.”

“I really didn’t think that you would after what happened in your office,” he replied watching her closely and thinking about the kiss they’d shared with one another earlier. “I had the feeling that you were going to avoid me like the plague.”

“I should avoid you. Hell, I shouldn’t be here,” she raised her drink to her lips and finished it off before setting it down on the countertop, “but I guess that is just one of the many things in life that I shouldn’t do right?”

“Hey, are you okay?” he questioned reaching out to place his hand on top of hers on the bar. “You look distracted…perplexed and…”

“And like a woman who knows she’s about to burn for something, but isn’t strong enough to turn away from what she wants,” she explained forcing herself to meet his eyes again. She inhaled slowly before taking in his features knowing full well how good it felt to kiss his lips. “This is by far the worst thing I could do, but at the same time you have no idea how long I’ve wanted it.”

“Probably as long as I have,” he leaned in closer to her stroking his fingers over the side of her face gently, “but I didn’t want to push you--didn’t want to rush you into something you weren’t ready for.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for something like this,” she explained in a shaky tone, “but the fact to the matter is that I can’t keep avoiding it any longer. Life is too short to hold back on what you long for.”

“Then stop holding back. Stop denying what we both want,” Michael murmured bridging the distance between them and claiming her mouth in a kiss that was the first taste of things to come between them.

“Michael,” she sighed against his mouth feeling her skin on fire as he was so very close to her. With shaky hands she reached for her purse and drew in a breath, “I got us a room upstairs.”

“Are you sure?” he questioned searching her eyes for a long moment before seeing her nod.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” she replied sliding off of the barstool and reaching for his hand to take him upstairs with her to move beyond the point of no return. For a brief moment she thought about Julian, about the way she’d lashed out at him in a moment of her own guilt, condemning him simply because it served as an excuse for her actions, but now, well now she knew that there would be no turning back. After tonight things would never be the same again!


...to be continued...