Episode 377

Ben slid into the corner booth near the back of the restaurant hoping that his arrival had gone undetected by most of the patrons. While he knew full well he had a meeting ahead of him that needed his full attention, he still didn’t feel comfortable about having to do this out in public. Yes, the few other people who were at the small diner seemed absorbed in their breakfasts, yet Ben couldn’t help but think about what was ahead of him now that the job was changing. He’d known it when things at BBK hadn’t panned out and then with Avery being fired, well that only added to the fact that his cover story would no longer work. It was time for change.

“Change,” Ben mouthed to himself thinking about how much he dreaded that word. Yes, there were some changes over the last year that had meant a great deal to him, but with this one, well the last thing he was interested in was figuring out what came next. Of course he wasn’t going to have to wait very long he realized when the bell over the diner’s entrance rang alerting him that his companion had arrived.

Looking up Ben found himself surprised to see a pair of familiar blue eyes in front of him. The man who had just walked in surveyed the diner before spotting Ben in the far corner. He offered up a nod before making his way over to the table that Ben had selected.

“Kind of dark over in this corner isn’t it,” he offered up sliding out of his jacket and setting it out across the booth before moving in to join Ben. “Here I thought you were more of a morning person who liked the bright and sunny.”

“In case you haven’t noticed Shane, it’s raining,” Ben mouthed pointing to the clouds above just outside where they were seated. “It might seem like nothing now, but there’s a big storm ahead of us.”

“I guess I wasn’t paying attention,” Shane replied with another flashy grin before spotting the waitress approaching them. “You order already?”

“No, not yet,” Ben shook his head watching the waitress move in to see what they’d wanted. As Shane told her his order, making a point to add his own personal touch of how he wanted things done, Ben couldn’t help but wonder how he and his friend could have turned out so different. Shane Slater was always the one who was more interested in the adventures that life could bring, yet he was the one who sat behind the desk while Ben was stuck doing field work. It was an ironic twist considering that right about now Ben would love to get back the paper pushing days as he was well aware of what was about to fall into his lap.

“And for you sir?” the waitress captured Ben’s attention again helping him snap out of his daze.

“Just coffee,” Ben smiled up at her seeing the surprise behind Shane’s eyes.

“Just coffee?” Shane repeated with a shake of his head. He tipped his eyes up to give the blonde waitress a very obvious once over before waving his finger over at Ben, “Just give him the same thing I’m having. He’ll be fine with that.”

“Um okay,” she replied uneasily giving them both one last look before stepping away.

“Do you always have to do that?” Ben frowned over at his friend, “I mean honestly couldn’t you at least give her some respect?”

“Hey I gave her respect,” Shane mouthed with another shake of his head, “I didn’t tell her what I was thinking, but rather I took a small look. There’s nothing wrong with admiring beauty.”

“I think you scared her,” Ben nodded over towards the bar area where the waitress was putting in their orders. “And while we‘re on the subject of respect, I didn’t want anything more than coffee.”

“Sure you did. You might’ve just been trying to be cheap over breakfast or looking for a fast way out of this, but I’m not going to let it happen. Besides your father would be upset if he knew I let you skirt out of here without a meal,” Shane shook his head at Ben, “I mean really is this what happens to a man who gets stuck undercover in boredom central too long?”

“I’m not the one who was stuck in the office for bad behavior,” Ben noted sitting up straighter and eyeing his pal curiously, “Tell me how you even made your way out here considering the last thing I heard about you is that you’d pissed off the director with that stunt you’ll pulled on the Crimson case not too long ago.”

“The director isn’t my biggest fan, but I can still charm anyone if need be,” Shane flashed him another bright smile, “What can I say? It’s a gift.”

“Or a curse,” Ben sank back into his chair, “So tell me what brings you here this morning?”

“You mean you’re not just happy to see me,” Shane teased before growing serious when it was clear that Ben was in no mood, “They have a big assignment for you this time. Since clearly the Ashford situation was a flop and Chavez ran herself into the ground early on, it’s time for you to move on.”

“Yeah I kind of got that vibe on the phone,” Ben frowned once more, “but I didn’t expect you to be the one to issue me my moving papers.”

“I thought you might be delighted that it was me instead of one of the higher ups. You know how stuffy people get when they are promoted. It’s like all the human gets sucked out of them and replaced with political machines,” Shane shook his head before offering up a sigh, “The fact to the matter is that I figured I could use a break from all of the ass kissing that goes on in the bureau and I thought I might enjoy seeing an old friend. Of course I never expected him to be such a grouch.”

“I’m not a grouch. It’s just that I’ve kind of settled down in town here and I’ve been thinking a lot about my career lately and how it might not be what I was hoping for,” Ben divulged thinking about the way life had been going for him and Diane, “I’ve started a new life and…”

“Don’t tell me that you’re actually considering walking away,” Shane’s eyes widened in response, “Ben, your father was one of the top names with the agency. The man is a living legend and for you to even speak of turning away from this line of work…”

“Just because it was good for him doesn’t mean it’s always been great for me,” Ben admitted thinking about all of his father’s accomplishments, “I’ve never really been good at that ass kissing thing either.”

“Even so, someone upstairs seems to like you,” Shane reached into his jacket and withdrew a manila folder. He set it down on the table top and eased it over towards Ben, “because it’s a good one.”

“How good?” Ben questioned eyeing him suspiciously.

“Take a look,” Shane pushed the envelope in towards him again.

“I don’t know if I want to,” Ben reluctantly reached for the envelope pulling it up from the table. He slowly tore it open and started to take a peek at it’s contents.

“Let’s just say that it sure looks like you’re about to have a great adventure,” Shane added seeing Ben skim over the notes in front of him, “I begged for them to put me on this one, but they wanted you.”

“You have to be kidding me,” Ben frowned shaking his head and pushing the papers into the envelope. “I can’t do this.”

“Sure you can,” Shane replied watching Ben push the envelope away from him, “You have no choice really since it’s a done deal and they’re going to have you ready to go as soon as tonight.”

“Tonight,” Ben’s eyes widened in response, “I can’t leave tonight. I have things here that are priorities and…”

“Hey, I would love to listen to what they are, but when something like this comes up, you don’t ask questions. You just do what you’re told,” Shane informed him with a sudden seriousness. “You can’t just go and say no.”

“Sure I could,” Ben eyed the envelope again knowing full well if he’d even tried such a foolish notion he’d be in over his head all over again. “But I won’t. It’s just that I have someone now--there’s this woman and…”

“There’s always a woman Ben, but I’m sure she’ll be here when you get back,” Shane added giving him a strange look, “You won’t be gone too long. You’ll just be keeping a surveillance for the next couple of days and then you’ll be home. No harm done.”

“You don’t understand. This woman I’m with--Diane, well she’s kind of had a lot happening lately and now isn’t the time for me to leave her alone. I love her and she needs me,” Ben sighed thinking about all that was going on between Andy’s return and Diane’s miscarriage. “She’s had someone bothering her lately--her brother-in-law and…”

“Trust me Ben. She’ll be fine. She won’t even know that you’re gone,” Shane offered up quickly as the waitress arrived with their food. She set the plates down and made a quick exit before Shane spoke up again. “Besides I mean I could assign someone to keep an eye on her. Hell if you’re really that worked up about it, I could look after her. It’s not like I won’t have the time since I’m still on desk duty.”

“I couldn’t’ ask you to do that considering,” Ben started to decline his friend’s offer.

“You didn’t ask. I was the one who brought it up. Besides, if it’ll keep you focused on the case, then I will probably be promoted for keeping your spirits up,” Shane wiggled his brow at Ben before reaching for a forkful of eggs and piling it into his mouth. “Either way it’s a win, win situation for me.”

“I don’t know…” Ben glanced down at the envelope again knowing full well even if he wanted to steer clear of the case that had been handed to him, there was no way to say no when it was clear that his career was on the line. Given that he’d just bought a new house and had a mortgage to pay it was clear that he had to do this one job. Even if he hated it, he couldn’t walk away just yet.

“Come on. Don’t make me call the bosses and say that you’re not willing. They’ll be furious and,” Shane began again with a tight frown.

“No I’ll do it,” Ben blurted out looking to the plate in front of him as it was clear he was about to get himself in over his head all over again now that work was leading him out of Coral Valley.


Diane shuffled with the boxes in her arms now that she attempted to ring the buzzer to Deidra’s apartment. She drew in a breath thinking about how she would have much rather stayed in bed and enjoyed a lazy morning, but instead Ben was off to work and she was here at her sister’s house hoping to find a way to keep busy until Ben returned home. She heard Deidra buzz her in and carefully she situated herself and made her way towards the elevators. She tucked her purse over her shoulder more completely before pushing the button on the elevator leading up to Deidra’s place.

“Need a hand with that?” Deidra questioned meeting Diane at the elevator doors. Without awaiting a response from Diane, Deidra reached forward and took a box from her sister without hesitation. “I was surprised that you called so early considering I know how you aren’t one to get up before now on your day off.”

“Ben had a meeting and I didn’t want to waste my time alone in an empty bed without him,” Diane explained following her sister back to her apartment. “I figured you wouldn’t mind the company.”

“Not at all. Dean had to go out for a while on his own, so I figured it was a great time for us to get together,” Deidra replied in confession as the two women entered her apartment. “I hope you’re hungry. I made some things.”

“You’re cooking?” Diane arched a curious brow at her sister.

“Yeah, you could say I’ve picked up a few more habits since I’ve been with Dean,” Deidra smiled proudly, “he brings out the best in me.”

“It’s better than the alternative,” Diane groaned inwardly thinking about her sister’s soon to be ex-husband. “Though I have to tell you Deidra that I honestly don’t know if you’re going to get rid of old habits as easily as you planned on.”

“What do you mean?” Deidra questioned turning around to face her again.

“I mean with Andy,” Diane sighed thinking about her last encounter with Deidra’s former flame. “Something’s changed in him. I know that he’s a jerk and obviously always has been, but something is really off with him.”

“You mean other than his mind considering that he thinks he’s actually got something to go on in trying to keep our marriage in tact,” Deidra groaned in response.

“Yeah, that’s part of it,” Diane nodded as she and Deidra entered the kitchen, “but there’s something more. I mean it’s like when I ran into him the other day he seemed so cold and distant. He’s always been cocky and that’s not what I’m getting at, but rather it was like he was someone else.”

“Andy’s had a dual personality for years,” Deidra replied with a shake of her head, “I really was blind to it for so long, but now I can see him clearly.”

“So can I and that’s why I’m worried,” Diane admitted freely with a tiny shiver, “There is just something about him that makes me uneasy. I can’t see how I ever found him appealing when now the very sight of him makes me want to run screaming in the other direction.”

“It’s because you’ve grown up just like I have. You’re no longer blinded by his charms,” Deidra offered up a dry, hollow laugh, “How I thought he and I were in love with one another is beyond me. What we had was sheer madness and I can’t even begin to fathom the idea of what my life would have been like had I stayed there with him.”

“You would have been miserable. I mean with how hard he’s working on it with you now,” Diane hesitated with another thought, “How is Dean handling Andy’s opposition to the divorce?”

“He is supporting me the best that he can because he and I both know that Andy isn’t going to win this one,” Deidra spun around to face her sister again with two coffee mugs in her hands. “Andy was by far one of the most unfaithful men I’ve ever known and no judge is going to excuse that fact. He can go on and on about having some misguided sexual addiction that he needs therapy for, but any judge will see through that. Andy is just a dog plain and simple.”

“A dog who needs to be put back into his cage far away from here,” Diane added with a small frown. “I just can’t believe that I let him play me like I did. I mean when I think about what a total jerk I was to you…”

“Hey, it’s in the past,” Deidra brought her sister back to the present. “Here we are friends at long last and we both have two very wonderful men in our lives who would do anything for us. We have both opened our eyes where Andy is concerned, so we are finally free of him. Sure, I might still be his wife, but only on paper. As far as I’m concerned I’m done with Andy and I’m never looking back.”

“I can’t say I blame you,” Diane added wondering if it would be that easy to finally rid the both of them of Andy’s hold on their lives. As she thought of the look of madness in his eyes the last time she’d seen him, she just hoped and prayed that Andy would take a clue and vanish for good.


“That’s weird,” Heather muttered to herself after pushing open the doors to the studio after she went to use her keys only to see that the doors had still been open. She swore that she locked up before leaving earlier, but maybe she had too much on her mind at the time. “Hello?”

Looking inside for a moment she saw that no one was around before shrugging her shoulders and moving through the studio after closing the front doors. Moving to her office, she saw a shadow hovering over the hallway toward the turn as she paused in her steps and waiting seeing that the shadow was coming closer. Pressing her back in against the wall she waited for the shadow to get closer before rearing back and hitting the person in the center of the face with her purse.

“I don’t know who you are, but you don’t belong here and…,” Heather continued to hit them in the face over and over again, seeing them go to block their face from any further damage that she might cause to them. Seeing them fall back to his butt she saw the dark eyes of Kipp before her as she let out an exaggerated sigh. “You scared me half to death Kipp, what were you doing?”

“Getting beaten half to death,” Kipp winced putting his fingers over the spot on his head that felt like he just got hit with a brick. Letting out a small groan he looked up to see that Heather covered her mouth letting out a small gasp knowing that he had a small lump over his forehead. “What in the world do you have in that purse that hurts so damn much?”

“It hurts to be a woman, you have to carry around all the necessities that makes you feel beyond pretty,” she replied reaching down to try and help him up only to see him brush himself off and stand up by himself. Seeing how bad he looked she looked over the suit that he was wearing, scrunching her nose in response. “You look like hell today and isn’t that the same suit you wore yesterday?”

“Yeah, it is,” Kipp groaned pulling at his tie to straighten it up a bit before letting out a small sigh. Rubbing at his messy hair, he eyed the place over before looking into Heather’s light green eyes. “I don’t know what to tell you. Kellen locked me out of my own place, so I couldn’t go home and I came back here.”

“You are always welcome here, just don’t sneak up on me like that again,” Heather chuckled seeing how messy his hair was and let out a small laugh before motioning him to follow her into her office. “You can clean up in my bathroom if you’d like. You really look like hell.”

“Gee, thanks,” Kipp frowned moving into her office watching her push back her long blonde hair as she followed him into the bathroom. He looked back at her a moment before throwing his hands up in the air. “I honestly don’t get Kellen sometimes, I really don’t Heather. I think I’m doing something right and then I’m doing something totally wrong, I just don’t get it.”

“Well Kellen easily gets angry when something isn’t going his way,” Heather sat down in her office after leaving Kipp in her bathroom seeing him walk out with a washcloth. “So, what did you do to set him off this time since just about everything gets him to be a jealous little princess.”

“Well, I guess he could have some kind of reason to be mad at me,” Kipp sat down on the couch next to Heather seeing her green eyes staring into his as he nodded slowly. “He kind of walked in and saw Becca kissing me yesterday and he flipped.”

“Okay, yeah, that would suck,” Heather agreed letting out a small laugh and eyeing Kipp over slowly seeing the way he looked at her and shrugged his shoulders before speaking up again. “Did you kiss her first or did you have her kiss you? I really thought you and Kellen had a good relationship going on, was I wrong?”

“No, nothing is going wrong in the relationship Heather, she just kissed me out of nowhere and I would never do anything to try and hurt the relationship Kellen and I have. He is too important to me,” Kipp assured Heather watching the way that she looked him over knowing that she would be a bit questionable ever since her and Kellen had gotten closer as friends. “I swear, that’s all that happened and Kellen just walked in at the wrong moment. Trust me, if I was to do something like that with a girl, it sure as hell wouldn’t be Becca that I was doing it with.”

“You could have called me, I’m sure you could have crashed at my place Kipp,” she informed him getting off the topic not even wanting to question what girl it would be with considering their past. “Though, you may have not liked it because Kyle has a friend crashing in our living room.”

“Oh really?” Kipp chuckled standing up from the couch and walking into the bathroom before looking back at her through the door. “So how is that going for you Heather? I’m sure you like that.”

“Oh, it’s just some stupid college buddy of his, he should be gone soon. I think he’s only in town for a little while,” she answered in a low voice before thinking it over and taking a moment to think things over carefully. “Though, he did cause quite a mess the other day, but I’m sure it’s just a one day thing.”

“What was a one day thing?” Kellen questioned stepping into Heather office seeing her talking aloud and sitting by herself on the couch. Letting out a small laugh he turned to see her green eyes widen as he let out a long laugh. “Did I just knock down your imaginary friend or something?”

“Actually,” Heather saw Kellen’s blue eyes narrow out at her before he looked over his shoulder to see Kipp behind him in the bathroom and he let out an angered breath. “Might as well be your invisible friend. I’ll see you later Heather Babes, when someone isn’t hogging up the whole room.”

“Oh wow,” Heather took in a long breath seeing the way that Kellen stomped out of the room leaving her and Kipp alone together. Standing up from the couch she moved over toward her desk before taking a seat in her desk chair shrugging her shoulders as she spoke. “You really do have him pissed at you.”

“You think?” Kipp rolled his eyes at the thought before resting his hands against his hips and letting out an exaggerated breath. “I guess I should probably talk to him and get it through his head that he is thinking the wrong thing. I’ll talk to you later Heather, pray for me and hope this ends nicely.”

“Okay, have fun,” Heather laughed watching Kipp roll his eyes as he walked out of the room, closing her door after he left leaving her to herself. Just when she was about to get to work, her phone went off and she let out a long sigh reaching for it. “Heather Hou…Gibbons speaking.”

“Are you sure this is Heather Gibbons? If I do recall the last time I saw you, you were in fact Melina Cherri,” the voice muttered as Heather’s body froze, her fear growing larger as she heard the deep laugh from the other end. “How is Dick Nitro doing Melina? I heard you two are having quite the relationship.”

“Who is this? What do you want?” Heather demanded an answer before hearing the click of the phone showing her that the person had hung up. Quickly standing up from the chair, she check the ID seeing that it was blocked and she dropped the phone before moving away from her desk. “This has to be some sick joke. That’s all it is Heather, this is just a joke. No one knows the truth, no one is ever going to know the truth.”


“You know I never thought I would live to see the day when you were the one playing Mr. Mom,” Paul announced walking into the kitchen to find Kyle playing with Charles while Charles was in his high chair waiting for his breakfast.

“And I never thought that I would live to see the day where I had my best friend interrupting my wife and I when we were in bed together,” Kyle frowned up at his friend before dipping the small spoon into the jar of bananas Heather had ready for Charles. He scooped up some of the baby food and held it out to Charles, “Now come on big boy and open up for me. I know you can do it.”

Charles shook his head and let out a small grunting noise.

“You’re doing it all wrong Kyle,” Paul moved into the kitchen further and motioned to the jar, “May I?”

“I don’t know,” Kyle replied giving him a weary look, “What’s it going to cost me? A night out on the couch when my wife gets upset with me?”

“Your wife wasn’t upset with you. She was just ticked that I was in there, but it honestly wasn’t my fault when that door collapsed,” Paul offered up with a simple shrug of his shoulders, “I mean I always kind of thought that they made them stronger than that, but…”

“But the fact to the matter is that you shouldn’t have been spying on us,” Kyle frowned up at him again, a crease forming in his brow, “Heather did not appreciate it.”

“Well I did considering that it’s been a few days since I’ve seen any real action,” Paul noted with a hint of a smile, “Although I was curious to know what the whole marathon race comment was all about there. I mean I don’t think I ever believed I would live to see the day when you wanted a woman to slow down.”

“And I never thought I would see you spying like that,” Kyle grumbled in response attempting to give Charles the spoonful of food again.

“Hey I wasn’t spying. I was just trying to find a way to entertain myself considering that you don’t have anything more than basic cable here, which sucks by the way. I think we should upgrade,” Paul added with a tiny laugh, “Then you wouldn’t have to worry about me outside your door because I’m sure I could find a skin flick that…”

“You’re not staying,” Kyle reminded him once again, “You need to find a place of your own if you plan on sticking around. What happened to your penthouse in New York or your beach house in Malibu?”

“They are still around, but my daughter’s in Coral Valley,” Paul explained with a small sigh, “She took off from the hotel she was staying at and I figure she’d made her way out here. Jewel is rumored to be in the area, so I figure she’s probably with her.”

“You figure?” Kyle repeated giving him a disapproving look. “Maybe you should call and see.”

“Call my wife,” Paul let out an uproarious laugh before slapping Kyle’s shoulder lightly, “Oh that’s a good one. I think that’s just about the funniest one I have heard in years.”

“I take it you and Jewel are off again,” Kyle frowned up at Paul who now had his arm draped around his own stomach now that he bubbled over with laughter.

“If you’re asking if Jewel and I got off with one another lately the answer is an absolute negative, but if you’re asking if she’s annoyed the hell out of me, I would have to say that it’s happened more often than not,” Paul mouthed his laughter fading at the thought of his wife. “Last time I saw her she had some Ricky Martin wanna be on her arm and she was trying to pretend that she was eighteen again, which it just isn’t happening. She might have the whole stripper theme down pat, but time is still with her if you catch my drift.”

“Gee, and here I thought you two were finally seeing eye to eye on things,” Kyle rolled his eyes before looking to Charles again.

“We are seeing eye to eye on the fact that we’d much rather be sleeping with other people than each other,” Paul added with a small laugh, “which is just fine by me.”

“Why not get divorced?” Kyle suggested looking to his friend again.

“And risk having her take half of what I’ve made in a settlement,” Paul’s eyes widened before he shook his head, “No way. Let her stay married to me and she can be miserable until she agrees to walk away with nothing.”

“And what about Stacy? How does she feel about all of this?” Kyle couldn’t help but ask.

“She’s a good kid. She wants what every kid her age wants from their parents,” Paul shrugged his shoulders again.

“And what’s that exactly?” Kyle questioned.

“Freedom to do what she wants. I give it to her, but check in every now and then when Jewel is off in her own world,” Paul explained seeing Charles refuse Kyle’s attempt to feed him.

“Come on buddy. These are your favorite,” Kyle offered up again.

“Let me give it a whirl,” Paul suggested seeing Kyle’s hesitance, “Come on man. It’s just bananas. It’s not like I would spike his food or anything.”

“With you I’m not so sure,” Kyle reluctantly offered the spoon to Paul, who took a seat beside him.

“Okay little man,” Paul focused on Charles, “now while I know you would much rather be sucking on something that only your mom could give you, which by the way she‘s totally hot there…”

“Paul,” Kyle spoke his name in a firm warning tone.

“The fact to the matter is that you need to give this a try,” Paul held up the spoon seeing Charles ready to snub him again. “This is the banana express and this plane is coming in for a landing so you’d better be ready.”

Charles watched him closely seeing Paul spinning the spoon around in the air, all the while making buzzing noises. Clearly interested Charles kept watching the spoon until it came nearer to his mouth. Once Paul was close enough with the spoon Charles took a bite, clapping his hands excitedly.

“See, it works every time,” Paul offered the spoon to Kyle, “Now you give it a try.”

“Fine,” Kyle reluctantly sighed before mimicking Paul’s movements. He half expected Charles to refuse, but Charles sat before him with an open mouth ready for his breakfast.

“There you go little buddy. You’re doing it now,” Paul cheered Charles on watching the way that Charles was very into the new eating game that Paul had created.

“Hey, you’re not as stupid about these things as I thought you were,” Kyle teased once Charles had eaten half of the jar of food in Kyle’s hand.

“I do know a thing or two about kids,” Paul explained as the phone rang. “I’ll get that.”

“Paul, I really don’t think that,” Kyle started to protest, but before he could get anything further out Paul was already on the phone.

“Kyle and Heather’s love shack. Right now they are buried in bondage, but as their slave boy, I’m here to fulfill your every fantasy. How may I help you?”

“Paul,” Kyle snapped back at his friend watching Paul’s eyes widened.

“Yes, oh of course,” Paul cleared his throat walking around the room with the phone, “Why yes I completely understand the policy and it’s shameful to see that it’s been violated in such a manner. Oh of course. Yes I cannot blame you for losing it on your end. I’m sure that a great many people find that they cannot live and breathe without the product. Of course. Yes, since it’s a matter of life or death I’ll get right on it. Yep, you have my word on that. Of course.”

Kyle watched Paul with confused eyes seeing Paul set the phone back on the charger before he returned to the table again. Paul took a seat in the chair he’d been in earlier and motioned to the jar of bananas.

“Now how about the rest of breakfast,” Paul suggested with a wink over at Charles.

“Who was on the phone?” Kyle couldn’t help but ask thinking about Paul’s strange conversation.

“Video store. Some pimple faced kid was about to chew your ass out because you have a late rental. Something about a DVD that never made it’s way back into the store and he’s going to have to send his big brother over to beat you up or something for not returning it,” Paul shrugged his shoulders seeing that Charles was ready to wiggle out of his chair. “Oh it looks like breakfast is over.”

“Wait a second,” Kyle watched Paul lean in to help get Charles out of the chair, “You’re saying that was someone from a video store?”

“That’s right,” Paul nodded stepping back and motioning to Charles, “They are going to send the video nazis after Kyle here, which means that your mommy is not going to be very happy with him gone.”

“I don’t know why a video store would be calling me,” Kyle paused thinking about what he could’ve rented. Suddenly remembering when he’d gone with Zane and Grady to the video store it dawned in on him that he had picked up something. “Wait I think I did get something, but I never watched it. It was just kind of here.”

“Considering that the guy on the phone said you owe like sixty dollars it better be a damn good something,” Paul noted seeing Kyle setting the jar of bananas aside as he opted to get Charles out of the high chair instead of letting Paul do it. “The guy on the phone expressed the urgency in getting it back to him as soon as possible because if not he may have a nervous breakdown.”

“He’ll have to suffer then because right now I have a little man who is in need of some cleaning up after the banana bath he gave himself earlier,” Kyle noted holding Charles in closer to his chest. He motioned to the dirty tray on the high chair before turning to Paul, “Make yourself useful and clean that up while I take care of him.”

“Yes sir,” Paul raised his hand to his forehead to salute Kyle. Kyle just rolled his eyes and walked out of the room with Charles in his arms causing Paul to snicker. “Yep, no doubt about it. That man’s whipped for sure.”


“Last night was the absolute greatest,” Stacy gushed lying back against the floor as she saw Lindsay look down at her from the hammock she was lying on in the corner of Jackie’s bedroom. The three girls had come back home to Jackie’s place after going to the club, knowing that Jackie’s parents would be gone for the weekend. “I can’t believe I met Caleb, he is just so dreamy.”

“A little freaky to me,” Lindsay replied lying on her back trying to get comfortable knowing that everything that happened last night was against every single one of her beliefs. “I should have never went with you two last night. I can’t believe I did that.”

“Oh you loved it because you know that you just wanted to spend some time hanging out with real people,” Stacy glared back at Lindsay with her blue eyes before shrugging her shoulders and speaking up again. “I got to meet Caleb and you had fun, there is no use in not being happy about the situation.”

“He was hot,” Jackie agreed glancing over at Lindsay from her bed after reaching for her teddy bear next to her on the bed, pulling it in closer to her body and giving it a long squeeze. “He had really beautiful eyes.”

“He is also nine years older than Stacy,” Lindsay pointed out seeing the way Stacy shot her a glare again making her shrug her shoulders before sitting up from being uncomfortable. “If the guy was a good guy I understand, but Caleb just seems like a total slime dog. Just the way he kept looking at you, he just seemed like a total creep to me.”

“Every male somehow seems like a creep to you Lindsay if you haven’t noticed,” Stacy shot back before standing up and sitting down next to Jackie on her bed letting out a long sigh. “You know, he is supposed to be calling me soon.”

“Who is supposed to be calling you,” John walked into his sister’s room after hearing the gossip through the wall long enough waking him up from his slumber. Moving over toward the hammock next to Lindsay, he took a seat next to her and gently nudged her shoulder softly. “Please tell me you don’t have another creep coming after you Jackie.”

“This is actually Stacy this time,” Lindsay answered for the other two seeing the glare she got from Stacy before shrugging her shoulders and turning her attention to Jackie’s younger brother. “In all honesty, she met this guy at a bar. When she started talking to him, he was all over her and he was total slime dog. His hands were all over her and he is twenty-four.”

“Wow, that’s younger than what Jackie is going for,” John pointed out feeling his sister’s pillow collide with his head before letting out a long sigh. “Hey, what can I say? I’m only telling the truth sis and if you can’t handle that, it’s your problem.”

“You should just leave my room because you aren’t welcome here,” Jackie insisted going to throw her stuffed animal at him only to have Lindsay catch it before it hit him in the face. “You can stay if you keep your mouth shut, but one more word and…,”

“Oh my god, he’s calling,” Stacy jumped up from the bed seeing her cell phone vibrating against the desk as she quickly reached for the phone. Taking a look around the room she could see the quick roll of the eyes from both John and Lindsay while the excitement was only coming from her and Jackie. “Hello?”

“Hey sweetheart, how are you doing this morning?” Caleb questioned sitting up from his leather couch and moving over toward the window in the corner of the room, running his fingers through his dark hair. “I wasn’t able to sleep last night, every part of me was thinking about you.”

“I feel the same way,” Stacy bit down on her bottom lip seeing John mocking her every move as she talked to Caleb on the phone and she threw her pillow at him. “I really have been thinking about us dancing last night, I miss seeing you already.”

“Why wait then honey?” Caleb’s voice whispered in a thick, but very faint mutter as she let out a long sigh thinking about the possibilities. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I can’t get my head around you honey. I just keep thinking about you.”

“Are you guys really this big of idiots?” John questioned looking to Stacy and beyond her to see his sister glare over at him as he pointed up toward Stacy gushing on the guy over the phone. “If you continue to let this happen, this pervert is going to get something he wants and you are all setting it up for her. If I were you, I would stop and listen to Lindsay and myself. We know what we are talking about.”


“I’m glad that I always seemed to be left alone on most nights,” Shannon muttered opening her brother’s bedroom door to show that she was alone yet again. “Everyone in this house seems to just take off lately and not care about me anymore.”

Moving into her brother’s room she reached for his newspaper he had out on the bed before walking back into the living room to drop down to the couch and turn on the television before letting out a long sigh.

“If I have to do something, I might as well read. There isn’t anything better to do in the house,” she whispered to herself looking up at the television for a moment to hear some news about Brant and reached for the remote to turn off the television. “I never seem to get away from that face. Never will either.”

No matter where she went or what she did, the name or face of Brant was always bothering her. Not only did it make it worse considering that Don was Brant’s best friend, but knowing that Don was always with Brant was what got her the most. Don never invited her to things, but he always had Nate with him somehow most of the time.

“He’s my brother,” Shannon rolled her eyes opening the first page realizing how stupid it seemed for her to be jealous of her brother because he really was a nut that didn’t get far in his life at all. He would be the last one of her siblings that she would want to be jealous of, but something just ticked her off inside. Not only did Matt absolutely love Nate, but so did Don. All Nate had to do was show up out of nowhere and win his way into their lives, while she had to work hard just to get Don to feel for her. “It doesn’t seem fair.”

Whenever she got into trouble, Don would get severely mad at her, but when it came to Nate he was in the clear before he ever made the mistake. There was no way that Nate would have any heat in this house because all the heat was left on her shoulders.

“Gee, who have I been graced with at the door,” Shannon rolled her eyes after hearing the doorbell ring and she moved forward setting the paper down on the coffee table. Opening the door she expected to see the dumbfounded look on her brother, who no doubt left his keys at home and forgot them, but instead met the blue eyes of Jewel. “What in the world are you doing here?”

“Oh, hey Shannon,” Jewel took in a long breath, stepping back for a quick moment as she pushed her long, blonde hair behind her shoulder. Meeting the angered, brown eyes of Shannon Jewel let out a small laugh before shrugging her shoulders. “Is Nate home?”

“No, he isn’t,” Shannon answered bluntly knowing that this was the woman she wanted to take it all out on. She wanted to beat that smug smile right off her face, not only did this girl jump into the life of Don way back in the day, but she was moving in on her little brother too and she didn’t like it. “And Don isn’t here either, they are both out at work. I’m sure if they want to talk to you they will call you.”

“Yeah, I find that hard to believe considering Nate told me specifically to come over today,” Jewel replied blankly seeing Shannon bite down on her bottom lip and fold her arms out in front of her chest. “So really, where is your brother Shannon?”

“Listen you,” Shannon took a bold step forward seeing Jewel move back once Shannon clenched her fists at her sides hating to see one of the girls she hated the most right in front of her asking for her little brother. “I want you to stay away from my little brother. He’s only going to be here for a while and he doesn’t need a whore like you running around in his life. He is already confused enough and he really doesn’t need a distraction in his life keeping him away from the more important things. So you need to leave him alone, or else.”


“Why haven’t we heard anything from Kevin yet?” Ria paced around the Ashford kitchen, still finding herself amped up after the jog she’d taken a run around the estate grounds. Now she wanted nothing more than to bust on over to the guest house and tell Angela where she could stick it especially now that Kevin was still with her and…

“Ria calm down,” Brant suggested glancing over the top of the newspaper that he was reading. “I’m sure that they will be here shortly.”

“How the hell can you be so damned calm about things?” Ria snapped at him marching over to rip the newspaper from his hands. She crumpled it up in her fists before tossing it across the kitchen and into the trash can. “Kevin just spent the night with her and they are late meeting us for breakfast.”

“Maybe Kevin slept in. He might’ve been exhausted from all the shuffling we did last night,” Brant suggested catching Ria’s jumpiness in all of this, “It is entirely possible that he was ready to rest after last night.”

“Or it could be that Angela has him tied up and is trying to force him to do her bidding considering that…” Ria started to imagine, her fists clenching at her sides as Brant stood up placing his hands on her shoulders.

“Just stop before you start. You don’t want to go there and I certainly don’t either. I really don’t believe that Kevin would let anything happen with Angela even if she thinks that they are engaged,” Brant tried to calm her down seeing that Ria’s mouth was curled in a scowl, anger threatening to rage over her. “Look all I’m saying is have a little faith in the man. You’re going to marry him after all.”

“I realize that, but as long as she’s manipulating him, we’re not going to get any closer to being married,” Ria huffed reaching for the loaf of bread on the counter and smashing it in her hand.

“Um Ria, I really don’t think that bread did anything to you,” Don piped in walking into the kitchen to see Brant and Ria in their discussion, “did it?”

“No, but Ria certainly felt the need to assault it. Just let it go Ria. Set it down,” Brant spoke up in a smooth and even tone reaching out to take the bread from Ria’s hand and place it back down on the counter top. “Why don’t you sit down and I’ll get you some decaf or something?”

“I don’t want coffee. I just want Kevin to be here,” Ria stomped her foot down before marching over to the table. Plopping down and sulking, she folded her arms in front of her chest, “This sucks.”

“Wow I feel like I’m at Matt’s pre-school class seeing someone in time out,” Don noted before turning to his friend, “I take it you haven’t heard anything from Kevin this morning.”

“Not at all, but if he doesn’t get here soon I think Ria’s going to go over and kill him,” Brant noted in a low whisper hoping to keep Ria from hearing him.

“I heard you Brant and don’t worry. I won’t kill Kevin, just Angela,” Ria added with a small huff tapping her foot nervously on the floor.

“Hey, you know I don’t think I would be happy with that one considering that she’s the woman I plan on marrying. I’m not about to let you hurt her even if you’re jealous,” Brant warned sharply, looking over to Ria, “You’re really going too far with this whole rage thing. Being this aggressive and hostile isn’t going to help anything. Trust me on this.”

“How the hell can you be so calm?” Ria couldn’t help but ask frowning over at him, “I mean you and I both know that Angela thinks that she and Kevin are in love with one another, which means it’s only going to be a matter of time before she gets all touchy-feely with him. You can see already that she’s getting clingy and…”

“Wait she’s getting clingy,” Don replied tipping his head to the side to look at Brant. “More than she was at the hospital?”

“I think she’s paranoid. Even though she can’t remember what happened, I think somewhere in the back of her mind she fears that she’s going to relive what she went through before when Kevin almost died and they lost their daughter. I think that’s driving her motivations there,” Brant offered up with a small sigh thinking about what he’d witnessed in Angela.

“Since when the hell did you become Sigmund Freud here,” Ria rolled her eyes at Brant’s comment. “I mean honestly for all we know she could just be playing it up because she liked to manipulate Kevin in the past, so why not do it now when we all will get screwed in this situation?”

“Ria come on. Cut her a break. Don, would you just tell her that Angela is hurt? That this isn’t her faking,” Brant pleaded with his friend hoping that Don could shed some light on the situation.

“She’s not faking Ria. You and I both know that,” Don offered up knowing that it wouldn’t really make Ria happy or contented in the situation.

“You know Don, I realize that we both have a medical background and if I didn’t see her charts for myself, I would have to question whether or not that was true considering you and Brant tried to sell his being comatose to the whole town there,” Ria scoffed, her words thick with sarcasm.

“Hey now, you don’t have to get snarky with me. I’m just trying to help,” Don raised his hands in the air, “It’s not my fault.”

“No it’s hers and if Kevin doesn’t get here soon, then I don’t care what either one of you say or do, I’m going to pull him out of there and nothing is going to stop me,” Ria vowed hoping that Kevin arrived soon before her worries got the best of her and her worst fears became a reality.


Kevin felt the warmth of the sun pouring in over him, enveloping him in the sweet temptation that the morning offered to him from the half open window. He smiled keeping his eyes closed as he rolled onto his side, snuggling into the blankets after a heavenly dream about him and Ria on the island he lived at, sipping on strawberry daiquiris and making love on the beach. It was nothing short of heaven and the perfect honeymoon for the perfect woman in his life. Even now he could still taste her kisses on his lips, feel her arms around him, her head pressing in over his chest while she curled into him lost in the aftermath of their lovemaking.

“I love you so much,” he mouthed in a low murmur, bringing his fingers through her dark hair wanting to savor every second of their time with one another.

“I love you too,” he heard her whisper, her fingers tapering off over his abdomen while he could sense the playfulness in her tone. The tip of her index finger pressed in over the elastic waistband of his jogging pants and his lips curled in a smile. “You’re already ready for more?”

“I’ve been more than ready since I woke up in the hospital,” she mouthed easing her hand in beneath the soft fabric of his pants to discover him at full attention. “And clearly so are you.”

“Do you even have to ask,” Kevin mouthed feeling her cup him with her palm, sheathing him with heavenly temptation with her fingers when suddenly something snapped inside of him. His eyes popped open and he let out a gulp remembering full well he wasn’t on the island with Ria, but rather in bed with Angela. He yelped and pulled away from her before she could continue to try to seduce him.

“Kevin,” she spoke his name feeling him slide over to the far side of the bed away from her. “What’s wrong?”

“We can’t do this. We’re not doing this,” Kevin spat out quickly pulling the front of his pants back into place as he realized what she’d set out to do with him. He gripped onto the front of his pants damning his dream about Ria as it had given Angela motivation to want to pursue something between them. “Not today.”

“Why not today?” she frowned sitting up straighter before leaning in closer to him. She pressed her lips just over the side of his neck, “You seem like you’re more than ready this morning. You must be feeling a lot better.”

“No I don’t feel better. I feel terrible--worse than terrible. In fact I feel so bad that I can’t even think about that,” Kevin shook his head furiously sliding back further until he lost his balance and toppled off of the bed onto the floor. He felt the corner of the night stand connect with his back on the way down and he let out a yelp.

“Kevin!” Angela gasped rushing up and out of bed to take a look at him. She found him on the floor huddled up in a defensive position, his dark eyes looking terrified as she stood over him. “Are you okay?”

“No, not really,” Kevin tried to shake off the pain vibrating through his spine. He shuffled to get up off of the floor, but stumbled on the way up and fell back onto the bed.

“Let me take a look at you,” Angela suggested leaning forward placing her hands on his shoulders to steady herself. She gazed into his dark eyes before offering up a small smile, “You’ve obviously been having nightmares again or something.”

“No I’m not having nightmares,” he shook his head thinking about the delicious dream he’d had of Ria. Big mistake, he realized feeling Angela settle in over him on his lap straddling him while her hands teased over his muscled chest loving every inch of it beneath her touch.

“I’m sure I can help you out with those,” she leaned forward nibbling on his lower lip. He wiggled beneath her feeling her urge him back onto the bed, but he remained firm in the hopes of staying in control of the situation.

“Angie, you can’t do this. The doctors said that we shouldn’t be jumping into anything right now when…” Kevin felt her hands slide in underneath his t-shirt pushing it up over his abdomen. He wiggled away from her, but that only further encouraged her. She collected the material in her hands, tugging it up over the center of his chest.

“I’m fine Kevin. Our being together isn’t going to hurt anything,” she leaned forward biting on the side of his neck in a playful fashion reminding him of how ruthless she could be when she was set on having something. He closed his eyes and let out a groan knowing that a year ago this would’ve been heaven to him, but now he felt like he was trapped in the deepest circle of hell.

“Angie no,” Kevin blurted out bringing his hands over hers to keep her from reaching her goal of stripping him down, “the doctors said that we can’t risk making love right now when we have the baby to think about. I’m not going to let you or the little one get hurt.”

“Kevin, I’m sure we’re fine,” she frowned feeling him stiffen beneath her.

“Even if you are, I’m not taking any chances,” Kevin shook his head in stern movement before prying her fingers away from his shirt. “You need to just take it easy and rest for a little while.”

“I’ve had all the rest I need,” she curled her lip in a pout writhing over him, “and right now what I want more than anything is you.”

“That’s flattering really, but I’m not going to be selfish enough to put the baby at risk and neither should you. Angie, you need to think about the little one and how important it is to keep from engaging in any kind of activity that could harm the baby. That’s the most important thing,” Kevin blurted out hoping that she would buy his reasoning there considering it was the best thing he had to work with other than the truth.

“Okay fine,” she sighed heavily dropping her hands to her sides, “I’ll listen to the doctors if that will make you happy.”

“It makes me very happy,” Kevin informed her letting out a breath of relief. Now if he could just get her off of his lap he would be all set. They could get over to the mansion and…

“Though you know,” she winked over at him licking her lips before a crooked grin swept over her, “just because I can’t get all hot and bothered doesn’t mean that I can’t do something to get you feeling that way.”

“I’m already feeling bothered,” Kevin mouthed almost wishing he hadn’t said the words out loud as it was clear that Angela was taking it all the wrong way.

“And very hot too from what I see,” she sank her finger in beneath his pants seeking out the source of his masculinity with a newfound determination, “Why don’t we just test the waters to see just how far we can drive you mad with desire?”

“How about we not,” Kevin bit down on his lower lip, his hand immediately seeking out her wrist before she could do any damage, “I’m not in the mood.”

“You keep saying that, but I know better,” she let out a low growl leaning forward to bite on his lip again, “Come on baby. Show me how bad you want me. Unleash the animal for me Kevin. He wants to come out and play.”

“No he doesn’t. He doesn’t want to play,” Kevin shook his head firmly fighting with her hands and letting out a yelp. His face grew red with the urgency behind her attempts at seducing him. Still he was unrelenting in his quest to keep her out of his pants. He tugged on her wrist roughly and pulled it out of his pants in a quick sweep. “He’s tired. He’s not ready to play.”

“Oh baby, you know he’s more than ready,” she reached for him again only to feel him pull at her arms, bringing her wrists up in the air. In a matter of moments, he flipped her over onto the bed, his body hovering beside hers while he lay half over her, using one hand to keep her wrists pinned up over her head, while the other kept his weight off of her. She squealed with delight making a low, growling noise, “That’s it baby. Show me what you’re made of.”

“Angela,” he spoke her name in a firm, warning tone, his brown eyes meeting hers with a sudden intensity, “I’m not in the mood so don’t try to force something that isn’t going to happen.”

“But…” she felt him push away from her stepping off of the bed and making his way across the room. She saw him reach for the shirt he’d been wearing the previous evening and he pulled it over his head. Frowning she sat up and reached for a pillow bringing it in to her chest. “Kevin, what’s wrong with you? Why are you acting like this?”

“I told Brant and Ria we would meet them for breakfast this morning and we’re late,” he answered not bothering to look back at her, “They have to be wondering what’s happened to us. You need to get dressed.”

“Kevin, I don’t want to get dressed. I want to talk about what’s going on here,” she curled her lip in a pout sensing his apprehension about the situation.

“I made a promise and I intend to keep it. Now get dressed,” he offered up giving her a brief look before making his way towards the bathroom.

“Why are you being so cold to me?” she questioned with a wounded expression, “This isn’t like you. You’ve never pushed me away like that before.”

“Let’s just say…” he stopped himself before letting loose on her. He did a mental count to ten before speaking up again. “Never mind. Just get dressed.”

“I’m not going to never mind Kevin. What is it? What is wrong that you’re acting this way?” she questioned pushing the pillow away and getting out of bed with a huff.

“Honestly,” Kevin stood taller contemplating his words for a moment, “you want the truth?”

“Of course I want the truth. I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t,” she nodded in response watching him closely.

“Okay then, but remember you asked for it,” he warned waving his finger around in the air, “The real reason I’m like this is because I heard what the doctors have said Angie and while you might be taking it lightly there is a life on the line--one that should mean everything to you. The fact to the matter is I’m turned off by the fact that you could be so damned selfish that you want to put your own desires and wants before the safety of the baby.”

“What?” she blinked back at him, hurt registering over her face, “Come on Kevin. You can’t mean that.”

“I wish I didn’t, but this morning you haven’t listened to a damn thing that I’ve been saying to you and that proves to me that you’re too immature to think about anything or anyone but yourself,” Kevin shot back at her with a thick air of sarcasm in his tone, “That in itself makes me even less inclined to want to get close to you considering that it’s always about you.”

“It’s not always about me,” she started to argue with him fighting to contain the tears that threatened. “Kevin, you know that’s not true.”

“All I know is that you need to get your priorities in check Angela or else you’re going to lose everything,” he warned sharply before going into the bathroom and closing the door behind him with a sharp slam.

Angela shuddered at the sound before sinking back onto the bed wondering if what he was saying was true. Had she really lost thought of everyone else in her life but herself? Was she really that horrible? She truly hoped not.


Moving into the diner that Ben had planned on meting Diane in, he looked around the area before him trying to find the table she was seated at before finally noticing that she wasn’t there yet. Taking in a long breath he sat down at one of the booths before ordering the drinks for both him and Diane.

“How am I going to break it to her?” Ben questioned to himself mumbling as he went, rubbing at his forehead as he spoke again. There were so many reasons he knew that she wouldn’t be happy with him, but this was something he just had to do. “How do I…,”

“How do you what?” Diane moved in before Ben seeing him quickly stand up from where he was seated unaware that she was standing before him for a little bit. Feeling his arms wrap around her for a tight hug she let out a small laugh before pressing a tender kiss against his lips. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, nothing at all,” Ben quickly lied before sitting back down and motioning her to do the same, sliding her water over toward her. “So how were things with your sister. Everything turn out alright between you two?”

“Everything was fine, are you okay?” she questioned realizing that he seemed to be a little distraught with something on his mind as she reached forward to give his hand a small squeeze. “If there is anything wrong Ben, just let me know. My sister is okay, I’m okay, just tell me what’s wrong.”

“I don’t think you are going to be too happy with me,” he pointed out letting out a long sigh knowing that it was something he was going to have to do and nothing could change that. She wouldn’t like that, but hopefully she would have to accept what was needed of him. “At all.”

“Well, I’ll try to understand,” she assured him giving his fingers another tight squeeze watching the way that his blue eyes looked away from hers for a moment. Ben took in a long breath before finally owning up to her to tell her what was going on.

“I’m going to have to leave town for a while,” Ben informed her with a small nod seeing her eyebrows tighten together as he held her hand tighter than before. He could see that she was confused by her expression and he let out a long breath. “I have to go somewhere for work and I know you aren’t happy with it, but it’s something I have to do. I just can’t skip out on it.”

“You’re kidding,” she pulled her hand away from him taking a long sip of her water seeing the saddened look behind his blue eyes as she shook her head slowly. “I can’t believe that you would want to go away now of all times. Especially with that job, I never liked that job in the first place.”

“Right honey, but it’s my job,” Ben pleaded with her seeing the way she looked away from him as he leaned across the table sliding his index finger in under her chin. “Honey, you have to understand that I have to be making money somehow. I would understand if you had to go away for your job.”

“That’s not fair,” she blurted out seeing his lower lip curl in a pout as she let out a small laugh knowing he was just doing it to make her feel bad. “Ben, come on. I understand, but I just don’t like it. I won’t be mad, it’s just something I really don’t like and that’s why it bothers me.”

“I know honey and I swear that I won’t try and be too pushy about things,” Ben whispered moving forward and pressing a small kiss against her cheek feeling her hand move in over the side of his face. “I won’t be gone long, I promise. I will be home before you even know it.”

“For now I would like to enjoy the time I have with you,” Diane stated with a small nod before taking in a long, shallow breath realizing that again she had been kept out of something. Just now wasn’t the time to be complaining considering he told her and didn’t want her to be mad about it. “I love you honey and I hope everything goes okay for you.”


“Or else?” Jewel laughed taking a bold step forward closer to Shannon as she pushed her long blonde hair back again. “Shannon, what are you going to do to me? You can’t touch me and to be honest with you, you can’t do anything about your brother and I. He’s old enough to make his own decision and if you have a problem with it, then you need to just get used to it.”

“I don’t need to get used to anything if it has to deal with you,” Shannon snapped right back closing the front door behind her as she stepped outside closer to Jewel. “My brother is young and he makes mistakes just like anyone would, but I know it’s hard for a man not to fall for a whore like you.”

“What are you jealous or something? Jealous to the fact that I can get more men than you can because I’ll be honest with you dear, it’s nothing to be jealous of. It’s just a gift,” Jewel smirked seeing Shannon laugh before looking down toward the ground as Jewel shrugged her shoulders. “It obviously was a gift that not only worked on Don, but your brother too. So, I guess both of the men in your life agree that it works for me.”

“Listen you bitch,” Shannon hissed only to feel Jewel move forward and push her back casually making Shannon let out a small laugh before moving forward and spearing her down to the ground. “You want to fight, fine let’s fight.”

“Are you crazy?” Jewel tried pushing Shannon off of her as she brought her hand up pulling at Shannon’s hair only to get a squeal from Shannon in response. A small gasp escaped her lips as she felt Shannon start to choke her, bring her up to slam her back against the ground. “Let go.”

“Shannon?” a small voice whispered as Shannon looked up to see Matt standing before her with his backpack at his side and he let out a small laugh seeing her let go of Jewel. “What in the world are you doing? Trying to become a female professional wrestler or something?”

“No, I was just,” Shannon went to explain feeling Jewel push her back to the ground making her blood boil even more as they both got up ready to attack each other more before seeing Alicia step in between the both of them. “You are such a bi…jerk.”

“Listen you two, I just brought Matty home,” Alicia snapped shooting a glare at the both of them seeing Jewel take a step back and push back her now messy hair. looking to Shannon she saw her look over at Matt who rolled his eyes and headed back toward the house with his bag to move away from the group. “He’s a little one and he shouldn’t be seeing the two of you fighting like this. Not only is it not good for him, but I know Don wouldn’t respect it either coming from the both of you. You need to back off and take some time to realize that he needs to not see things like this either.”

Shannon nodded moving back away from the group seeing the front door close telling her that Matt got back into the house okay as she let out a long breath. Now with Don’s mother there, she knew she had a lot of talking to do before it was too late.


“Ria, you need to relax,” Brant glanced over at where she was seated at the kitchen table still tapping away on the floor with her foot. It was clear that she was stewing over what she needed to do in terms of what was happening with Kevin and Brant was convinced if she didn’t calm down soon the whole situation would blow up in all of their faces.

“Brant’s right. You need to just try to stop thinking about it and just enjoy the morning,” Don added with a small smile motioning over to where Brant was finishing up with breakfast. “Besides I have to tell you that you’re in for a treat. Brant’s one hell of a cook.”

“Why thank you Don,” Brant nodded in response offering up another small smile, “See Ria I do have my finer points.”

“I’m not saying you don’t, but…” Ria’s gaze traveled over to the window before she sprung up and marched over towards the door. “That’s it. I’m stopping this right now.”

“Oh no you’re not,” Brant rushed over to stop her, doing the first thing he could think of and pulling her up and into his arms. He felt her kick back into his shin causing him to buckle over in pain while releasing her. “Damn it Ria calm down!”

“No I’m not going to calm down. I’m going over there right now and…” she continued to argue seeing Don block the back door before she could escape. “Don, don’t you get yourself wrapped up in this because I swear I’m going to hurt you if you don’t move.”

“Ria, I’m sorry but I can’t let you do this. I can’t let you make a huge mistake in all of this. You just have to trust Brant and…” Don offered up knowing full well how upset Ria was. She stepped in closer to him looking like she was going to tear his head off, but before she had the chance, he spotted something out of the corner of his eye coming right at him. A second later, scrambled eggs splattered over the front of his face catching him off guard. “What the…”

“What in the world?” Ria blinked back in surprise wondering what had just happened. She spun around in the direction where Brant was standing, the pan of eggs in his arm and a spoon in the other hand. He waved the spoon around in the air and Ria frowned. “What are you doing?”

“Don’t make me do it because I will,” Brant warned with a hint of teasing waving the spoon around in the air.

“Oh please, like throwing eggs at me is going to stop me from going over there and…” she rolled her eyes, but was unable to finish her comment when she felt the distinct slap of eggs in over the front of her shirt. She brought her hands up and pulled the spongy food from her body. “You son of a bitch!”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Brant wiggled his brow at her before cracking a grin. “I’ll do it again if I have to.”

“Like hell you…” she felt him launch another spoonful of eggs at her, but this time she ducked and it went straight into Don’s chest.

“Hey, come on man,” Don protested watching Brant reach for more eggs and send them around the room over in Ria’s direction. She kept ducking and getting out of the way while Brant followed her around chasing her with the pan of eggs. “Um guys that’s perfectly good food and…”

“Oh no you don’t,” Ria shook her head letting out a long squeal. She reached out to the counter top pulling the bottle of syrup off of it. “If you even think about getting near me again, I’ll…”

“You’ll what,” Brant taunted wiggling his brow at her while flinging another bit of eggs into her long, dark hair.

“You’re so going to pay now,” Ria warned popping the top off of the bottle of syrup and squeezing it at him furiously. He jumped out of the way, but she followed sending a hot spray of syrup across the kitchen.

“You missed me,” Brant stuck his tongue out at her only to feel her squirt him right between the eyes.

“Like hell I did,” Ria squealed in response moving in to squirt him again and again.

“Oh yeah well take this,” Brant shoved the rest of the pan of eggs right in the center of her blouse before attempting to snatch the syrup from her.

“Um guys I really don’t think that…” Don began taking a step forward and slipping on the syrup on the ground. He flew in the air and did a bit of a summersault before landing on his butt with a loud crashing sound that caused Brant and Ria to stop. Both paused long enough to look at him and stare in disbelief.

“Don, what are you doing?” Brant questioned tipping his head to the side.

“Trying to be the adult here,” Don mouthed attempting to pull himself off of the ground only to feel himself come crashing down again.

Ria let out a wild laugh unable to contain her amusement at seeing Don in such a state, “Yeah, um you’re doing a great job of it, aren’t you?”

“Ha ha, laugh it up now, but this means war,” Don snarled reaching up out onto the counter for the plate of pancakes that Brant had just put together. He ripped the top one off of the pile and launched it over towards Ria, but instead nailed Brant in the shoulder.

“What’s this Donny boy?” Brant pulled the pancake away from him waving it up in the air before looking to Ria, “I think that Don wants in on some of the action here.”

“Then why deny it to him,” Ria shrugged her shoulders taking the pancake from Brant’s fingers and waving it around as well. “I’m going to give you until the count of three to start running like hell Don before I get you with this and this.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Don mouthed with a sly grin seeing Ria positioning the bottle of syrup over at him.

“Watch me!” she shouted squeezing down on the bottle and chasing him around the room with a newfound determination. He ran away all the while launching pancakes over his shoulder at her, while Brant grabbed the bottle of strawberry syrup he’d picked up for Kevin.

“Oh no you don’t,” Brant cut them both off around the side of the table squirting his syrup out at the both of them.

“You jerk. I swear I’m going to get you!” Ria charged at him, tackling him in one swift movement and sending him straight down to the floor.

“If I fall you’re coming down with me,” Brant mouthed grabbing her ankle when he’d hit the ground and taking her down with him while Don started to launch another pancake in their direction.

“Not without a fight,” Ria warned squeezing the bottle of syrup in his face as she climbed in over him, spraying him wildly.

“Ria stop,” Brant tried to bring his hand up to prevent her from getting him soaked in syrup.

“Nope, you started this and now I’m going to finish it,” Ria laughed wildly keeping Brant caged between her legs as she sat on his chest.

“Don, a little help here,” Brant yelped feeling Ria continue to attack him.

“Oh so now you want me to help,” Don chuckled with an amused grin stepping in closer to them. “Gee before it was let’s all pick on Don.”

“Don, just help,” Brant spit out some of the syrup while using his hands to wipe it off of his face and into Ria’s hair. “Take that Ria.”

“It’s nothing compared to what I’m going to do to you,” Ria warned trying to steal Brant’s bottle of syrup after hers had run out. Brant quickly tossed it in the air sending it across the kitchen with a victorious grin.

“Not a chance. You’re not going to get me at my own game,” Brant shook his head firmly smearing his hands over the top of Ria’s head and pulling her in against him to get her covered in syrup as well.

“Oh no you don’t. You two are not getting off that easy,” Don announced seeing the two of them overtaken with laughter while wrestling on the floor. Now that both of them were out of syrup Don decided to make his move. He stepped forward and tossed another pancake in the air over his shoulder and heard it make a loud, slapping sound before he reached for another one. “I have you now.”

“What the hell is this?” Kevin roared bringing the laughter to a screeching halt.

Ria tipped her head up from where she lay underneath Brant on the kitchen floor only to discover Kevin and Angela standing in the doorway watching with surprised eyes. She noticed the lone pancake that was now in the center of Kevin’s chest meshed with the black t-shirt he was wearing and judging by the expression on his face, she knew full well that whatever he was going to say next, it was only going to lead to trouble--big trouble!


Kipp pushed his key into the lock on the front door hoping that once he got inside that Kellen wouldn’t have the place in a complete state of disarray now that he’d gotten upset with Kipp over the simple misunderstanding he’d walked in. Kipp just hoped he could reason with Kellen somehow, yet as Kipp surveyed his living room he realized that nothing was out of place. It was as if Kellen hadn’t bothered to come back to their home after he’d rushed out of Kipp’s office. Frowning Kipp crossed the room seeking out any sign of his lover.

“Where are you Kellen?” Kipp questioned to himself, his thoughts running wild as he remembered the way that Kellen had rushed out of his office in a fury.

Closing his eyes Kipp thought back to Becca kissing him and a sudden rush of frustration carried over him. Time and time again he tried to see how he’d managed to send Becca all the wrong signals, yet nothing came of it. No matter how hard he’d tried he couldn’t pinpoint the moment when he’d alluded to something more happening between them than a professional relationship. Clearly somehow Becca had to have been mistaken.

“It’s just a misunderstanding,” Kipp mouthed to himself drawing in a long, slow breath, “one that I’ll get to the bottom of as soon as possible.”

Now armed with that thought Kipp started towards the front door again ready to go seek out Kellen and explain himself further, but before he was able to leave, he found himself face to face with Becca. She was standing before him with a curious expression on her face. Her eyes were wide with the surprise that came from the two of them running into one another and as Kipp started to say something Becca cut him off.

“I hope this isn’t a bad time,” she offered up apologetically clearing her throat uneasily before meeting his eyes again.

“Well actually,” he started with an obvious hesitation.

“I won’t be long,” she promised him in an uneasy tone, “Kipp, I just wanted to talk about last night.”

“Yeah,” Kipp finally nodded in agreement stepping aside to allow her access into his home, “Maybe that’s a good idea because I think we need to clear up a few things between us.”

“Absolutely,” she nodded in response, “I think you’re absolutely right. About last night…”

“Becca, what happened last night was something that cannot ever happen again. Look, I’m not trying to hurt your feelings because you’re a wonderful woman, but it’s just that, well the truth to the matter is that I just don’t feel that way about you I mean you’re a beautiful, wonderful woman and any man would be lucky to be with you, but I’m just not…” Kipp started straining to find the right words to let her down.

“Kipp, I understand,” she cut him off abruptly, “You and Kellen are in a relationship and even if I had seriously wanted to try to step in the way of that, it wouldn’t happen. I know that your refusal has nothing to do with how you feel about me.”

“No, not at all. It’s just that Kellen and I, well we’re in this relationship with one another…” Kipp began again feeling a very distinct uneasiness inside of him.

“And the last thing you needed was me acting all crazy and kissing on you like I did. Kipp, I honestly don’t know what prompted me to act like such an idiot, but I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to behave so foolishly and I hope that you can forgive me. If I would’ve been thinking about my actions, then I never, ever would have…”

“It’s okay,” Kipp offered up with a small nod, “Becca, it was probably my fault as well because I’m never really clear about things, but the truth is that I really, really love Kellen. I always have and I know I always will…”

“I realize that,” she added with a polite smile, “and if there’s anything I can do to help clear the air between you, then all you have to do is…”

“I think I should handle this one on my own,” he offered up apologetically. “I know that you mean well, but Kellen’s rather high strung. When he gets something in his head, he has to do things his way and, well, I think it’ll just be easier if he and I settle this on our own.”

“You’re probably right,” she nodded again, “but Kipp for what it’s worth I hope that we can still be friends.”

“Of course,” Kipp added with a polite smile of his own, “I’ve done plenty of impulsive things in my life, so I can understand how something like what took place could have happened and I’m flattered truly, but…”

“You’re in love and I respect that,” Becca nodded before offering up a warm smile. “I just hope that I didn’t complicate things beyond repair for the both of you.”

“I’m sure that isn’t the case,” Kipp replied with a hopeful expression as he felt the doubts lingering inside of him. He just prayed that Kellen would see beyond his anger long enough to realize that last night was just a simple misunderstanding. Hopefully when he caught up with Kellen he could explain and get things back to how they should be between them one way or the other.


“I cannot believe the nerve of that man and here I thought that he was the love of my life--that he was my soul mate that I could find happiness with, but then to see him with that harlot. I don’t care what he says this is unforgivable and I‘m not going to pretend it doesn‘t bother me. I don’t care if Becca instigated it, I’m going to make him crawl on hands and knees to get me back. He’s going to have to grovel and…,” Kellen burst into Heather’s office making sure to shut the door behind him before he turned to face Heather again only to discover the lost look on her face. Stopping in his rant, he frowned and stepped in over to Heather seeing that she hadn‘t heard a word of what he‘d just said to her. He leaned forward waving his hand in front of her face before speaking up again, “Heather babes, is something wrong? Heather?”

Heather blinked for a moment before tipping her head up to look at him, tears threatening to overtake her. Suddenly Kellen’s worry shifted to full blown concern and he spoke up again.

“Hey what’s going on? What is it?” Kellen questioned confusion settling in over him at the sight of her upset. “Did you and Kyle get into a fight or something? Did Sarah come back here again or…?”

“Tell me something Kellen,” Heather spat out finding the strength to get her words out in a shaky tone, “Are you so mad at Kipp that you have no problems taking it out on everyone else? Is that what this is about?”

“What?” Kellen blinked back at her confusion settling in over him, “Heather babes, what are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about the phone call,” she spoke up in a tight voice, wiping at her face before she let her emotions get the best of her, “I mean is this some kind of sick joke you’re playing here Kellen?”

“Sick joke,” Kellen frowned shaking his head at her, “Heather I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Like hell you don’t,” she pushed her chair away from her desk before marching over to the area behind her desk over by the fax machine. She picked up a piece of paper dangling it in the air to show it to him.

“What’s wrong? Is this what’s wrong?” Kellen circled around her desk, his blue eyes widening as he realized what was on the page in front of them. He saw Heather’s lower lip quivering as her hand started to shake.

“Kellen, how could you do this?” Heather questioned in a small voice, waving the paper at him.

“I didn’t do this,” Kellen tried to assure her taking the paper from her hand. He eyed it for a moment seeing the cover art of Heather from the video that never should’ve made it’s way to the light of day. Kellen’s eyes snapped back to hers as he started to tear at the paper in his hand, shredding it into many little pieces, “This is sick and I would never, ever do this to you. The last thing I would want is for anyone to find out about this.”

“Anyone like Kyle or Kipp considering that you’re looking for a reason to stick it to Kipp,” Heather shouted back at him, her voice screeching with anger, “Tell me Kellen are you just dying to break it to Kipp that you and I slept together when we made that stupid, disgusting movie with one another? Is that it? Is that your way of hurting him and me in the process?”

“No Heather I would never, ever do that to you. I don’t know what kind of sick son of a bitch would do that, but it’s not me,” Kellen pleaded with her thinking about that point in time in their lives. “Heather, you know as well as I do that I don’t want anyone else to ever know about that. It was bad enough that we lived through it, but to see it like this coming up…”

“Kellen no one else knows about it. You and I are the only ones who know what we did. We were the only ones that…” Heather started to panic worry carrying over her.

“Heather trust me on this one. I really don’t think that we are the only ones who know about it considering that the video was made public years ago,” Kellen stated the obvious only to get a glare from her, “I’m just saying that it’s possible for people to have seen the film. They could’ve found a way to get their hands on it somehow and…”

“It hasn’t ever come up before Kellen. No one in this town has seen it because it wouldn’t make it this far outside of Los Angeles. There was nothing special about that movie expect that it was one of the things in my life that I would love to forget,” she shuddered at the memory before another thought occurred to her. “Oh God. Kellen if this wasn’t you and someone else sent that fax to me here, then who is to say that they haven’t found a way to show Kyle? What if Kyle knows about what happened? He’ll leave me for sure after this. He’s not going to understand. He won’t see that we were just doing something that we had to in order to survive. He’ll think of me like everyone else does. He’ll see that I was a…”

“Heather stop,” Kellen snapped cutting her off sharply, “it’s not going to be like that.”

“Yes it will,” Heather realized the color draining from her face, “If Kyle learns about this then I’m going to lose him forever. I’m sure of it.”


“Sorry about that, but when Charles is ready to sleep, he’s ready to sleep,” Kyle announced with a small laugh seeing Paul leaning over the side of the sofa tearing at the cushions on it. Kyle opened his mouth to say something more when Paul launched a pillow over at him. “Paul what are you doing?”

“Helping you look for that rental,” Paul replied with a small laugh, “I mean that kid on the phone kind of reminded me of the one in that movie with Mark Wahlberg--you know the one where Mark is the hit man and that kid threatens him over and over again.”

“I remember it, but I really don’t think I’ll be intimidated by a video store clerk. I’ll just find the rental, take it back, pay the fine and…” Kyle stopped hearing a cracking sound from over where Paul was standing. “What was that?”

“I’m not sure,” Paul stood up straighter hearing the cracking sound continue. He picked his foot up before letting out a small gasp, “Oh boy…that’s not good.”

“What’s not good?” Kyle walked around the couch to see the case the rental was in pieces underneath Paul’s foot. Paul picked his foot up and motioned to the floor.

“I’m so sorry man, but I swear I’ll pay for it,” Paul offered up apologetically reaching for the case only to discover it was empty. Letting out a long sigh of relief, he wiped his hand over his brow and offered up a grin, “Thank God. For a minute there I thought I was in way too deep.”

“That still doesn’t help me find it,” Kyle frowned looking around the living room. “I mean if it’s not in the case, where in the hell could it be? I don’t ever recall watching it considering that I haven’t really had time to lately.”

“Maybe you started to watch it, but then got distracted,” Paul scratched his chin lightly before surveying the room. He held his finger up in the air and grinned, “Though perhaps if one was to ponder the logical side of where the DVD might be, one might direct their attention to the DVD player right over there.”

“I don’t know,” Kyle paused watching his friend walk over to the television set and power up the DVD player. When he opened the door to the DVD player it swung open to reveal that there was in fact a DVD inside.

“Would you look at this?” Paul reached for it carefully holding it up to show Kyle, “It is the rental and I’m sure of it because it says Mega Video on the little sticker on here.”

“Good, then I’ll just find an empty case around here and take it back,” Kyle decided making a mental note to return the DVD later so that he didn’t wind up getting another phone call.

“That sounds like a very good plan my friend, but before you do that why not take the time to sit down, relax and see what we have here?” Paul suggested dropping the DVD back into the player and reaching for the remote. He walked over to the couch and glanced up at Kyle when he took a seat, “After all you are paying a small fortune for it, so you may as well watch it once, right?”

“I guess,” Kyle shrugged his shoulders looking around the room at the mess Paul had made, “You know that Heather is going to have a fit if she sees what you did to the living room.”

“She’ll survive,” Paul waved his hand dismissively pressing a button on the remote, “but you know popcorn would be nice since you’re already up and moving around.”

“Don’t push your luck,” Kyle rolled his eyes reaching for a pillow and tossing it at his friend.

“Hey a man can try, can’t he?” Paul let out a tiny laugh before the sound of sleazy sounding music played on the screen before him. Immediately he perked up, his eyes fixed on the screen in front of him as he laughed. “My, my Kyle. I can see why you don’t want to give this one back. It looks like it’s going to be a…”

“A what?” Kyle questioned glancing over at the television screen to see the title of the film in front of him. “Oh God, what did I pick up?”

“I know what you picked up and you rock man. Seven Minutes in Heaven,” Paul read aloud offering up a laugh as the name Heaven Delight followed the opening credit followed by a few other cheesy obvious adult film names. Paul rubbed his hands together and laughed, “Hell if Heaven is as delicious as the title sounds, there sure as hell better be more than seven minutes of action going on here.”

“You’re deranged,” Kyle rolled his eyes seeing the way in which Paul focused on the screen again. “Honestly, we should just turn this off.”

“Not a chance. You’re the one that rented it and besides I want to know just what it is that Heaven has to offer,” Paul mouthed with a small smirk watching the camera pan in over a pair of long legs stepping into a shower. The camera slowly began it’s descent over the slender woman’s figure, taking the time to hone in over her curves before offering up a full shot of the clearly naked actress in front of him. “Wow, check out the ass on this one. It’s going to be good for sure.”

“Paul, this is stupid,” Kyle moved to reach for the remote ready to toss the DVD into a box after he’d mistakenly picked it up, but as he stole a look over at the screen, seeing the shot of the woman from behind as she continued to soak up the shower steam. The water sprayed over her body, offering up all the right moves to make any man take notice of what was happening onscreen. Immediately Kyle felt himself react to what he was seeing.

“That’s it. We’re not watching this,” Kyle decided knowing full well the last thing he wanted to do was watch an adult film with Paul. “We’re turning this off now.”

“Not just yet. It’s getting good,” Paul swatted at Kyle’s hand keeping Kyle from taking the remote away from him. “She looks great from behind, so I want to see what else she’s got to offer.”

“Paul this is ridiculous. Heather could come home at any time and after last night she’s not going to be happy with this being on TV. She’s already upset about what happened last night and when she walks in, if she sees this…” Kyle started to argue with his friend thinking about how bad it would look when Heather spotted him and Paul with an adult film on.

“Um Kyle, I think she just did,” Paul’s jaw dropped as Kyle spun around to look at the front door fearing his wife had returned.

“What is that supposed to mean? She’s not here Paul. Quit joking around and turn it off,” Kyle grumbled back at his friend feeling his annoyance level building. He turned to Paul again ready to say something more when Paul pointed at the screen.

“No Kyle, you’re not getting it. Heather’s here all right and she’s making one hell of an entrance,” Paul blurted out as Kyle glanced over at the television screen finding himself faced with the shock of his life!


...to be continued...