Episode 379

“I thought you said you were good at this,” Evie mouthed watching JT practically fall off of the horse he’d opted to ride when they’d begun their earlier adventure with one another. Now as his legs were shaky, she watched him attempt to steady himself against a nearby tree.

“No, I said it sounded like it would be a fun idea. I never once said that it was something I was good at,” JT mouthed in response feeling the need to suppress the momentary queasiness that carried over his insides. “I never quite understood the appeal, but I thought it might be worth giving it a shot.”

“If you were so bad at this, then why even try,” Evie questioned sliding off of the saddle where she’d been seated with a great ease. She rubbed her horse’s white head before carefully securing both her and JT’s horse to a nearby post. She slowly circled around towards him noticing that his face was rather pale.

“Cameron was big on this because he had nothing better to do with his time and I just figured,” JT shook his head and groaned again, “I don’t know why I presumed to believe I could come off as suave and rugged with this today, but…”

“But you were trying to charm me,” Evie couldn’t help but smile as she reached out to him. Sliding her arms around his waist and leaning forward into his chest, she couldn’t help but smile, “I think it was a very valiant effort.”

“I guess it just shows me I need to fully investigate stepping outside of my boundaries before I attempt to woo someone,” he couldn’t help but laugh as he turned his attention to the horse he’d been riding earlier. The horse offered up a snorting sound causing JT to lean up against the tree trunk. “I think he hates me.”

“He doesn’t hate you,” Evie stepped aside reaching out to stroke the mane of the dark horse he’d been riding. “He’s just not sure of what’s going on either. I’m sure he is used to your brother taking him out since you mentioned that he was your brother’s favorite.”

“I don’t know why. I think he’s evil,” JT whispered as the horse made a whining sound. JT eyed it wearily before speaking up again, “I mean I just don’t know when Cameron finds the time.”

“I’m surprised your brother finds the time for anything after being blessed with all of this. This place is amazing,” she admitted taking a long look around Cameron’s estate. “Even now I can’t believe that one person has all of this.”

“Cameron’s a bit of a show off,” JT’s lip curled in a bit of a frown, “He always has been, but that’s what he’s got going for him I guess. Plenty of people seem to buy into the image he’s got working for him.”

“You mean like that awful woman he’s with?” Evie questioned turning to face him once again.

“Yeah, well she’s a temporary phase I’m sure,” JT couldn’t help but shake his head at his brother’s horrible taste in women. “Cameron might get a lot of things right when it comes to business, but when it comes to dealing with women, not to much.”

“Gee, that’s really optimistic about your brother,” Evie noted catching the expression on his face.

“My brother’s a lot of things, but he’s clueless when it comes to love,” JT explained with an ironic laugh. “There was one point in his life when everyone figured he would get it right, but ultimately he choked.”

“How so?” she questioned curiously.

“It was a long time ago,” he informed her with a shrug, “but honestly I don’t want to talk about Cameron right now especially now that we have the whole day ahead of us.”

“Which we won’t be spending horse back riding,” she couldn’t help but tease with a smile, “I mean I could give you a few pointers if you’d like.”

“No, that’s ok. I think I’d be tempting fate if I got back up there again,” he shook his head firmly, “Though I do have to ask. How is it that you’re so good at this?”

“When I was younger I spent a lot of time at the race track not far from where we lived. I never really thought much about it since I was always spending my time with the man who took care of the horses while my father was doing business as he put it,” she wrinkled her nose at the thought.

“How old were you?” he couldn’t help but question.

“Pretty young,” she admitted honestly remembering her earlier youth. “Essentially it boiled down to the fact that my father was off blowing what little money he’d made that week working. Sure, my father was decent at pulling off scams and getting his hands on cash, but gambling at the track was kind of his vice. He’d spend hours there blowing every last dime and I was kind of just an afterthought. Usually my mom was too doped up to pay attention to me and I guess he figured it was more profitable to keep me around him. Though there was this one time that…never mind.”

“No what?” he questioned sensing a distance behind her eyes.

“One time he must have gambled away more than he could cover because I remember I spent nearly a week locked up in a room behind the stables where they kept the horses. I think in a round about way I was leverage they were holding onto until he could pay up, so they kept me with the horses,” she shuddered at the memory. “The guy that my father owed money to was a real jerk and would always shout and scream, but the man who took care of the horses was nice. At night he would sneak me peanut butter sandwiches and let me come out and help with the horses. He even let me ride a bit a couple of the nights that no one else was around, but that didn’t last too long.”

“Because your father came for you?” JT couldn’t help but ask only imagining what she’d been through.

“Nah,” she shook her head and sighed, “it ended when the man who’d been holding me found out that the caretaker was spending time with me. I don’t know exactly what happened to him, but the last time I saw him the other man shoved him out of the room and I heard something loud like a gunshot. After that I never saw the caretaker again. The next day I was so afraid that I managed to climb to the top of the room they were keeping me in and sneak out through a hole in the roof.”

Evie shuddered at the thought remembering only too well how terrified she’d been that the man who’d taken the caretaker away would come for her. She closed her eyes and drew in a breath before speaking up again.

“I took one of the horses when one of the guards weren’t paying attention and I rode like hell out of that place,” Evie explained drawing out a long breath, “I wound up breaking my arm in three places before I rode the horse to the nearest hospital, but it was worth it. After all, I’m still breathing right?”

“And what about your parents?” JT couldn’t help but ask.

“The authorities called my mom to the hospital. She spouted off some sob story about how I’d run away and how I was always skipping class and never doing what I was supposed to,” Evie let out an ironic laugh. “She made me sound like the anti-Christ, which was pretty sad considering that I couldn’t have been more than ten at the time. Still the police decided it was a good time to teach me a lesson and I wound up spending like a week in juvy until my dad broke me out of there.”

“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” JT reached out to embrace her only to feel her stiffen beneath his arms.

“Hey, I wasn’t looking for pity or anything,” she shoved him away slightly. “You just asked a simple question and I gave you an answer. You’re the one who is big on the whole truth number, so you got it. It’s not pretty, but it’s the past.”

“Yeah,” he nodded in response.

“I just don’t like talking about it you know. I mean, it’s not like it’s something I can change, so what’s the point in thinking about it?” Evie glanced over at the horse she’d been riding earlier. “You know maybe we should just get these two back to the stables and then think of something else to keep ourselves busy with.”

“Actually that’s not a half bad idea. I sort of already have something planned, but we can certainly go it by foot,” JT explained reaching into his pocket and pulling out his cell phone. “We’ll just call back to the main house and tell someone to pick the horses up here.”

“We can walk them back,” Evie replied with a small frown, “I really don’t mind.”

“Neither do I, but what I’ve got planned, well let’s just say by the time we walk them back to the stables and then come back, it’ll be a little late for my plans. We’ll just leave them here and walk the rest of the way,” JT promised holding his finger up to silence her before alerting the staff to where the horses were. Once he’d finished with his call, he smiled over at her. “You ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” she nodded as he held his arm out to her. She accepted with a smile before looking up to him. “So where are we going exactly?”

“You’ll find out very soon,” he promised bending down to kiss the top of her head in the hopes that he could find a way to salvage the rest of their time together for the day.


“Get what settled?” Brant pushed his way forward ready to get Russ to leave his house before he caused anymore issues. “Last time I checked Russ all your business you had here was finished.”

“I’m not here to see you,” Russ snubbed Brant before turning to Augie, “You know what you did and I can’t let you get away with it.”

“Russ, I’m sure whatever is bothering you we can discuss this calmly in the other room,” Augustus began clearing his throat uneasily as all eyes were on Russ and Augustus.

“I got the letter in the mail today telling me that someone paid off my house in full. I can’t imagine who would’ve done such a thing in paying off the rest of the mortgage,” Russ spat back at him with a thick air of sarcasm.

“Wait, what?” Brant stepped forward glaring over at Russ, “Are you serious?”

“Very serious,” Russ nodded before glancing over at Augustus, “and I’m pretty sure who decided to try to pull a ballsy move like that.”

“Look Russ, why don’t we just go into the other room and we can talk about this like adults in private,” Augustus suggested motioning to the door in the hopes of keeping the family business out of the air of everyone else in the room.

“Fine, but don’t think for a second that I’m going to accept what you’ve done. I’m not going to take your money,” Russ added with a huff ready to leave the room when Angela moved forward.

“Wait a second,” Angela pushed her way forward, her eyes fixed on the man in front of her.

“Angela,” Brant spun around to see the way she’d eased her way up front to take a closer look at Russ. Immediately Brant rushed over to her side with Kevin moving in as well. “What is it?”

“I know you,” Angela blurted out her dark eyes fixed on Russ, “We’ve met before, haven’t we?”

“Well we…” Russ cleared his throat seeing the way that her eyes grew wide with realization.

“I do know you. I’m sure of it,” Angela revealed as everyone in the room found themselves shocked by her surprising declaration.


“So what’s the plan, what am I doing?” Paul questioned holding Charles tightly to his chest, feeling his little fingers curling into his t-shirt and gently tugging. “We never came up with a plan, so what are we doing?”

“We are going to go in there,” Kyle began stopping in the parking lot to look back into Paul’s blue eyes seeing the way his friend nodded motioning him to go on. “Then I’m going to pay off my debt.”

“Okay, I mean after that. You know the whole reason you have been freaking out on the whole car ride here,” Paul pointed out seeing the way that Kyle’s hazel eyes fused over with anger. “Hey man, don’t take it out on me man. I’ve got the little one in my arms, you take me out, you take him out and I don’t think the little man would appreciate that.”

“No, we are going to go in there, get the rest of the copies and buy all of them,” Kyle informed Paul with a small nod seeing the huge grin spread out over his friend’s features. Pulling out his wallet, he made sure he had a large amount of money before gripping the DVD harder than ever. “Then we are going to go to every other place that store that DVD and get all of them. I don’t care how much it is.”

“You’re serious?” Paul laughed seeing Kyle counting his money as he looked to Charles seeing the big brown eyes staring up into his. “I’m totally up for it, but I don’t know if the little man here is up to that. I mean maybe if you paid his buddy Paul with something he might be eager to say yes.”

“Paul, you are not going to get one of the copies,” Kyle shook his head firmly hearing Paul let out a long groan before whining behind Kyle once they started walking up to the doors. “This is my wife Paul.”

“You saw my wife naked, hell you even…,” Paul thought twice before speaking his mind seeing the way Kyle’s eyes glared back at him. “You even did that thing with her before I did, so what’s the difference?”

“She wasn’t your wife back then nor your girlfriend,” Kyle added seeing Paul think it over for a long moment before nodding slowly and letting out a small laugh. Once they walked into the store, Kyle watched as the young boy at the register stared up from his comic book to look them over. “Follow me.”

“Where are we going, I thought we were getting your debt paid off first,” Paul pointed out when they stopped at the beaded area and Paul looked at Kyle slightly confused. When Kyle reached for Charles and pulled him into his arms tightly, Paul looked around the area hearing Kyle let out a small noise. “What? I don’t read your mind, what the heck do you want me to do?”

“Go in there and get all the copies,” Kyle ordered seeing Paul let out a small laugh before quickly pushing back the beads and walking into the room. Kyle heard Paul let out a loud gasp before popping his head back out through the beads. “What are you doing you idiot?”

“This is like heaven Kyle, you have to come in here,” Paul stated with a small laugh only to feel Kyle’s large hand push his head back and he let out a small huff. “Fine, I’m looking. Boy am I looking at all these gorgeous…,”

“Paul, I need to do this quickly. We have a lot of stops to make,” Kyle heard Paul pushing through a couple of things and he rolled his eyes seeing the way that Charles looked up at him. “I know what you’re thinking. How did Kyle here ever end up with a friend like that? Better yet, why is he still my friend?”

“Because I’m too cute and funny to lose,” Paul interrupted with a small laugh holding up one of the DVD cases through the beads. “We should really get this one, it looks hot and I’m sure we could have fun watching this one and,” Paul was about to continue until he felt Kyle smack it out of his hands and he frowned before shrugging his shoulders. “Fine, fine. Be that way, you’ll have no fun at all.”

“Just find the stupid DVD’s Paul,” Kyle ordered hearing Charles’s let out a small laugh only to hear Paul fumbling with things in the back before coming out with about ten DVD’s in hand. “That’s all that’s in there?”

“Hey, if you want me to double check,” Paul tried to balance them in his arms while he rested his chin on top of them. “Then I have no problems going back in there, but I can’t promise you I will come back out.”

“Okay you sicko, let’s go,” Kyle grabbed onto Paul’s ponytail while holding Charles in his other large arm tightly, motioning Paul toward the front. “I’m getting the point, let go of the locks man the girls dig it.”

“I doubt that,” Kyle rolled his eyes at the thought before seeing the over exaggerated frown that spread out over Paul’s features. Once Paul set the DVD’s up on the desk the boy looked up at Kyle and Paul with an awkward glance. “Hi, I’m Kyle Houston and I believe I have a debt to pay off for a DVD I’ve had.”

“Oh…okay,” the boy gulped down before typing something into the computer and looking the stack of DVD’s Paul brought before noticing they were all the same. “It’s a five dollar debt.”

“Here, take Charles,” Kyle handed Charles over carefully seeing Paul take him in his arms slowly and pull him in softly to his chest, hearing Charles let out another small laugh. “Listen, I know this is going to sound extremely weird…,”

“Just break it to the kid,” Paul insisted as Kyle brought his hand back smacking Paul in the center of the face and Paul let out a small gasp before moving in closer to the counter. “Listen kid, we have to leave with all these DVD’s and we are willing to buy them.”

“Well, that’s nice, but I don’t think I can do that,” the teenage boy took the five dollars from Kyle before shrugging his shoulders and letting out a small sigh. “I’m sure it would a nice idea, but that’s against the rules.”

“Son, this is very important. You have no idea how much we need these DVD’s,” Paul began keeping a firm hold of Charles’s with his right arm before wrapping his arm around Kyle’s waist. “It’s absolutely necessary and…,”

“Listen,” Kyle brought his left hand over Paul’s mouth feeling Paul’s teeth collide with his skin making him let out a small whimper and bringing his other smacking his other hand in over the center of Paul’s face again. “Back off Paul right now this isn’t funny.”

“I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Paul pointed out with an exaggerated gasp placing his left hand over his chest before hearing Charles let out a loud laugh. “I was merely just being honest about these adult films, they are necessary to have. How can we get by without them honey?”

“What are you two?” the boy looked between the two men seeing both glance over in his direction. “Some kind of perverts or something?”

“Listen, I’ll give you all I have in my wallet right here,” Kyle flashed open his wallet seeing the kid’s brown eyes glancing over the money before looking over at the DVD’s. “I just have to leave with these.”

“Hold on a second honey,” Paul hushed Kyle placing his hand in over Kyle’s shoulder seeing the way that Kyle glanced out at him. Leaning in closer to the counter he saw the brown eyes staring back at him as Paul bit down on his bottom lip. “You know, I never really noticed it, but you look a whole lot like the guy in this DVD. If you were ever interesting in reacting some of this with us…,”

“You know I think these cost about fifteen each,” the kid quickly turned his attention to Kyle before clearing his throat and nervously taking a quick glance at Paul who now wrapped both of his arms around Charles’s steady. “If you give me one-fifty or one-seven five I’m sure my boss would be okay with that.”

“Okay sure,” Kyle nodded slowly seeing the way that the guy quickly took the money Kyle pulled out before putting it in the register and moving back for a bag. “I really appreciate that.”

“And just for the record kid,” Paul began seeing the warning glance Kyle shot him and Paul shook his head slowly as the kid started to place the DVD’s in a bag. “Just because we are two grown men, alone and together doesn’t make us perverts. We have a child young man. I can’t promise what would happen after…”

“Zip it,” Kyle elbowed Paul in the ribs hearing him let out a small yelp and brought his foot down over Kyle’s hearing Kyle let out a small groan. Kyle went to smack Paul again only to see him make a run for the door and Kyle quickly grabbed the bag before moving after his friend. “Get back here.”

“Hey, listen man,” Paul let out a nervous laugh once they got outside and he held onto Charles tightly. Seeing Kyle’s jaw tighten in anger Paul let out a nervous laugh before moving toward Kyle’s truck. “Seriously Kyle, it worked. It got the kid to hand over the DVD’s, how could you be mad at me?”

“Give me my son,” Kyle ordered after putting the bag into his truck seeing Paul nod slowly before walking around to the driver’s side. Seeing Kyle put Charles into the truck slowly Paul saw the way Kyle glared back at him. “Thank you.”

“Glad you could appreciate me finally,” Paul walked over toward the side of the truck going to open the door until he heard the lock go off and he saw Kyle offer up a wide smile. “Open the door Kyle, you can’t just leave me here.”

Seeing that Kyle ignored his order and put the keys on, Paul heard the engine turn on and Paul moved back before hitting on the window softly.

“Kyle open up the door,” Paul ordered one more time seeing the way that Kyle shook his head and Paul bit down on his bottom lip when Kyle started moving slowly. Moving quickly he jumped into the back of Kyle’s truck before standing up trying to steady himself. He saw that Kyle’s sunroof was open and he moved forward. A quick movement sent him flying back onto the hard covered part of Kyle’s truck. “This isn’t funny Kyle.”

Paul took a quick jump to his feet and jumped forward to get the top half of his body into the sun roof and got stuck at the bottom. He heard both Charles and Kyle laugh as he looked to the side seeing an upside down Charles next to him. Pushing his hands against the top of the truck he finally squeezed through falling out into the passenger seat. Sitting up right he looked to Kyle before hitting him in the center of the chest before feeling Kyle hit him back.

“If you would have gotten on the main road while I was upside down,” Paul began as the two continued to hit each other back and forth over and over again. Paul motioned Kyle to stop for a moment before snapping his fingers. “That would have been so sweet.”

“You are such an idiot,” Kyle rolled his eyes before looking over at him motioning to the seat belt as Paul rolled his eyes and slowly put it on. “I’m sorry, but we have a lot of work to get done today and either you are going to put that seat belt on or I’m really kicking you out of my car.”

“Like literally kicking me out,” Paul saw Kyle turn toward him and raise his leg like he was about to kick him and Paul fumbled to get the seat belt on hearing Charles laugh in the background. “Picky he is. You better watch it growing up little one, your step-father sure is picky.”


“So how are we doing in here today?” Grady questioned popping his head into Avery’s office to find her seated at her desk looking out the window. “I hope everything’s going okay. I know I gave you those files to look at, but there isn’t a rush on them with the case. I’m not sure it’s worth picking up or not since it sounds like a risk.”

Avery didn’t bother to respond as it was clear she hadn’t heard a word that Grady had said to her. Frowning he walked into her office, moving in front of her desk to wave his hand in front of her face to capture her attention.

“Earth to Avery,” he waved his arm around again this time getting a response out of her. She tipped her head up to see him and let out a long sigh.

“Oh Grady, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were in here,” she sat up straighter clearing her throat. “I guess I was off in my own little world here.”

“Clearly,” he noted with a small nod, “Let me guess you’re worried about Erin since you’re here at work and Russ is probably working today too. You don’t like the idea of leaving her with a sitter, right?”

“She’s with my father and Judy,” Avery admitted with a small sigh, “Her grandfather wanted to see her for a while today, so I know she’s in good hands.”

“That’s good to hear,” Grady noted with a grin, “though you know if you ever need anyone to help watch her, well, she’s more than welcome to come into the office if you need to bring her.”

“Russ said the same thing about Erin going to work with him. He said between him and Kevin, well she’ll be in good hands,” Avery couldn’t help but smile thinking about the way her daughter had taken to Kevin, “though I don’t know how much work any of us would get done because she has this way of helping us all in wanting to give her full attention.”

“She just works a room very well much like her mother,” Grady teased with a playful laugh only to realize that Avery was no longer paying attention. Frowning he sat down on the edge of her desk and watched her closely, “Okay, spill it. What’s wrong?”

“I guess I’m just worried about Russ,” she divulged meeting his curious eyes.

“Why am I not surprised?” Grady sighed scratching his chin lightly before waving his hand in the air, “Okay, tell me what’s going on. Are you two fighting again?”

“No we’re not fighting,” Avery curled her lip in a frown, “at least not like you think we’re fighting because it wasn’t really officially a fight so to speak.”

“Okay, you made absolutely no sense with that one, so really what’s going on,” Grady cracked a grin only to see her frustrated groan spill over her. “Is something wrong?”

“Not exactly,” Avery pushed up and out of her chair, “It’s just we were having this really wonderful breakfast this morning with Erin, but then Russ saw this letter that came in the mail yesterday from the mortgage company.”

“Wait, is something wrong with the house?” Grady questioned with a worried expression, “because if there is some kind of financial issue that you’re having…”

“No it’s not that,” Avery shook her head firmly, “at least not like you’re thinking. You see the letter said that someone had paid off the balance on our house and Russ got really upset. Immediately he thought that Augustus did it and he got really angry.”

“I can’t say I blame him,” Grady blurted out without hesitation, “The Ashford family has done nothing, but try to destroy his life again and again, so why would he want handouts from any of them? It’s not like Augustus buying you a house is going to make Russ forget what’s happened to him. If anything I wouldn’t expect it to do anything, but piss him off since it makes the Ashfords believe that now Russ is indebted to them for their charitable acts.”

“First of all this isn’t just any Ashford. This is his grandfather,” Avery pointed off with a scowl, “and Augustus has been nothing, but nice to Russ especially after the truth came out.”

“The truth is irrelevant,” Grady rolled his eyes moving up off of the desk as well, “Russ is not an Ashford. He never was and he’ll never be one even if Augustus wants to try to persuade Russ into thinking that biology actually accounts for anything.”

“Grady, as hard as a subject as it is for everyone about Russ being the son of Nicholas Ashford, it’s just the reality of the situation. Augustus is nothing like Nicholas or any of them. He’s a good man with a kind heart,” Avery started to defend the Ashford patriarch.

“Who is trying to buy Russ back into his life because Russ is sick and tired of that family trying to bully his life. Russ has every right to be upset and if I was Russ I would tell Augustus that his charity isn’t welcome,” Grady frowned back at her.

“That’s what I’m worried about,” Avery started to pace around the office, “That’s exactly what I think Russ is going to do and I don’t think it’s a wise decision.”

“I don’t really think it’s up to you to decide what is wise or not with Russ,” Grady mouthed in response catching her immediate glare, “I mean that’s not how I wanted that to come out, but still. Russ has to deal with the Ashfords the way that he feels is best not how you would like him to. Augustus crossed over a line and if Russ wants to correct the situation, then he has every right to do so.”

“It’s Erin’s great-grandfather. I think Russ should think about that before he goes over there and blows his top,” Avery shot back at him with a frown, “Just because you’re blinded by an overwhelming hatred for everything Ashford doesn’t mean that you should condemn anyone who tries to do something with them. It wouldn’t hurt Russ to get to know some of his family because they aren’t all bad.”

“Sure they are,” Grady piped in with a frown, “They just have it so that some hide it better than others. Russ doesn’t need to be a part of that. I think they did more than enough to him when we all thought he was dead.”

“That was Nicholas, not Augustus,” Avery added with a simple shake of her head, “Augie isn’t like that.”

“Avery, think about it. Everything that’s happened bad in Russell’s life has been attached to an Ashford,” Grady waved his hand around in the air again, “Brant tried to get you, then Nicholas tried to kill him and now, well now he’s got Augustus to deal with. It’s been one thing after another.”

“Yes, but I wish he would forget about everyone else and try to think about the few positives in that family since it is his family,” she blurted out quickly.

“Only because Nicholas took advantage of what was happening between our parents. He moved in and did something to my mother--blinded her with his charm,” he scowled in response a tiny shudder sweeping over him.

“And Russ came out of that and I know for one second even though you despise Nicholas, you love Russ with all that you are. Just because someone does something wrong, does not mean that everything that comes out of it is wrong,” she declared boldly taking a step towards him, “Your mother made a mistake, but in the end it was something that we all benefited from.”

“Even so I don’t see Russ benefiting from anything that’s happened with that family,” he shook his head again, “I know full well how much it killed him when he saw you were with Brant. After going through hell and back to find out that you’d shacked up with his worst enemy was enough to do him in.”

“Oh come on Grady, it’s not like we knew Russ was alive,” she threw her hands up in the air and huffed. “I had no idea that he was still out there or that someone had done what they did to him…”

“Yet you married Brant knowing full well that he wouldn’t have wanted Brant to raise Erin and then when Russ did return Brant tried to still hold onto you and Erin,” Grady snarled in response thinking about his animosity for Brant.

“Grady, I had no idea and besides,” she folded her arms in front of her chest, “Brant may be a creep, but he saved me when I needed help.”

“More like condemned you to a life that you weren’t meant to have. He put you through hell and treated you like you were his property. Even after you told him you wanted to be with Russ he took great lengths to torture you again and again,” he added with an air of contempt in his tone, “Though maybe you’re really just getting worked up today about the idea of Russ going to Augustus because deep down you’re feeling guilty about everything that happened with Brant.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she huffed in response glaring up at him.

“It means that you feel guilty about what you did to Brant, so now you’re going to try to push Russ up on that family to appease your own guilt for cheating on Brant,” Grady blurted out with a huff, “That’s really why you want to try to make peace with the family isn’t it?”

“I can’t believe you just said that,” Avery’s jaw dropped, “Grady, where the hell do you get off on that one?”

“It’s just the truth. You’re just so wired about the fact that you slept with someone else while you were married to Brant and you feel bad about it all around where both Russ and Brant are concerned so you’re bending over backwards to kiss the Ashfords asses simply because you feel it’s something that you have to do to make up for your mistake,” Grady mouthed watching her brown eyes grow wide at his insinuation.

“I didn’t cheat on Brant. When I was with Ken I had no idea what I was doing and that it wasn’t Brant. I thought that…” Avery started to defend herself with a huff.

“I’m not talking about Brant. I’m talking about what you did with me,” Grady shot back at her thoughtlessly watching her eyes grow wide at his declaration.


“So what do you think?” Blake questioned pushing on the corner of the painting in front of her. “Is it straight now?”

“A little more to the left,” Seth stepped forward reaching out to assist her with the project at hand. “I told you that I could do this for you.”

“I know, but I wanted to do it myself. I never got to do things like this at the other house, so I just thought that I would…” she started to explain only to feel her footing grow shaky on the arm of the chair that she’d settled in on. She attempted to pull herself back up, but instead she fell backwards into Seth’s arms.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to take over?” he teased pulling her into his arms more completely. He hugged her in towards his chest before smiling, “Because I’m more than capable if you’d…”

“How about you just stop talking and stay right here?” Blake suggested easing up in closer to him. She teased her lips in over his before offering up a small sigh, “Much better.”

“I can do better than that,” he assured her with a wide smirk bending in to steal another kiss from her soft lips.

“It’s a nice start,” Blake murmured against his mouth turning in his arms to face him more completely. She felt his arms dip down beneath her bottom as he stammered backwards towards the sofa. Once he’d settled in over it, she threw her arms around him excitedly.

“Better?” he inquired with a warm smile seeing the expression on her face.

“Much,” she nodded in agreement before taking a long look around their living room, “This place is truly perfect.”

“That it is,” he nodded in agreement, a smile carrying over his features as well. “I knew when I found it that we had to have it.”

“I’m so glad that you were so insightful,” she admitted snuggling into him. She felt his fingers through her hair before she spoke up again, “Though I have to admit that this house is far too big for just the two of us.”

“We’re working on that, aren’t we?” Seth replied kissing the top of her head before smiling. “I mean I think this house is a good step in the right direction for when we’re ready.”

“I’m ready Seth. I’ve been ready for a while,” Blake mouthed in response tipping her head up to meet his dark eyes, “I just don’t understand why it’s not happening for us.”

“It will,” he promised curling his finger underneath her chin and smiling down at her. “When the time is right we’ll have that.”

“I want to believe that, but we’ve tried everything,” she sighed emphatically, “I’ve read all the books and all of the ways that people say it’s happened for them and…”

“Maybe we’re trying too hard,” Seth suggested catching her completely by surprise with her words.

“What do you mean? I thought that this was something we both wanted,” she hesitated for a long moment, “Don’t we?”

“Blake believe me there is nothing in the world I could want more than to have you pregnant with our child, but maybe we should slow things down. I mean you’ve had so much going on over the last year--we both have and perhaps this is fate’s way of saying that we shouldn’t rush it. A family is so important and…” he began to explain to her.

“Seth, are you trying to say that you don’t want to have a baby?” she questioned her blue eyes widening with worry. “I thought that we both agreed that…”

“We did, but Blake you have to admit that by us going through all of these tips on how to get pregnant, it’s sort of taking away from, well from the whole idea behind making love,” he sighed in response feeling her worries mounting.

“The whole purpose of making love is to have a family Seth. From an evolutionary standpoint that’s the main reason that,” she started to protest only to feel him press his finger in over her lips to silence her.

“That’s not the only reason Blake and if you take a moment to step back and think about it, you’ll see that maybe just maybe the problem isn’t so much that we’re not applying the right technique, but rather that we’re just not taking the time to have fun with it like we should,” he informed her with a soft smile. “I mean when is the last time that you and I just decided to go at it for the fun of it? I mean when haven’t we been on the clock or in need of doing it exactly like it’s been instructed to you?”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged her shoulders, “I just read that…”

“That it needs to be one way or it won’t happen. Blake, I’ve got to tell you that most people who end up having a family don’t spend nearly this much time thinking about which position will increase the level of fertility. I mean sure obviously some people think about it because heaven knows you’ve got plenty of books about it, but did you ever just think that maybe it would happen when it’s the right time? That maybe if we stop worrying about what the outcome will be that maybe we might find ourselves relaxing a bit?” he suggested touching the side of her face and smiling. “I mean there was a time when we just made love for the sake of making love.”

“Well yes, but…” she offered up in protest.

“In fact,” he shifted her off of his lap and onto the couch, “maybe that’s our real problem. We’re not really focusing on each other enough.”

“Seth, I really don’t think that,” she began to protest only to watch him slide down onto the floor in front of her. His thick fingers moved their way to the button on her jeans before a smile spread over his features.

“Think about it Blake. We’re in our new place away from everyone else and right about now it’s just the two of us,” he whispered rising up on his knees to lean forward and kiss her. “No one is going to bother us. Brant or Ken won’t be around coming in to check in you and everyone is away for a while.”

“Well yes, but…” she began feeling him unbutton her pants before working down the zipper.

“But nothing,” he curled his arm underneath her bottom to raise her hips up just enough to carefully guide her jeans down her slender legs. Once he’d pushed them down to her ankles he used his other hand to slide them past his knees on the floor. Moments later he did the same with the remainder of her clothing.

“Seth,” she giggled bringing her arms up over her chest, “come on…”

“What?” he questioned leaning in over her again and moving in to kiss her. “Something wrong?”

“You know something is entirely wrong,” she reached out to him pulling him in over her. “You’re over there and completely dressed and…”

“And that’s kind of the point,” he informed her in a seductive slur, “because the way I see it we’ve spent far too much time trying to force things into working out our way that we’ve forgotten about what it’s like to have fun with one another.”

“I’d be having more fun if you were naked with me,” Blake felt a heat rise over her features.

“Eventually, but first,” he stood up and hovered in over her, “I think it’s time we relocate for a while…”

“But…” she felt him scoop her up in his arms boldly, “Seth where are we going?”

“Into the kitchen,” Seth explained with a cryptic smirk.

“The kitchen?” she replied with a puzzled expression.

“That’s right,” he nodded in confession, “I believe we still have some dessert in there from what you made the other day. Strawberry shortcake I believe.”

“Well yes, but why would we need that when…” she tapered off when he placed his finger over her lips to silence her.

“Trust me you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for dessert by the time we’re finished in there,” he tipped down to kiss her before offering up a wink, “and this time the pressure is off because this is all about you and having fun.”

“I do have fun Seth,” she squealed at the thought of what he was suggesting, “Every time I’m with you we have fun together.”

“Not like this, but trust me by the time I’m finished with you, you’ll have a new definition of what it means to throw caution to the wind,” he promised ready to spend their first day in their new home forgetting about the stress and pressure that had followed them by opting to just enjoy one another’s company to the fullest extent.


“I’m here to see Cori Warner,” Diego moved up toward the front desk seeing a nurse set down a sign in sheet and he flashed her his card for the hospital seeing her nod after he finished signing in. “Thank you.”

Moving down the hallway and making a few turns, Diego realized that he had no idea where he was going. Making his way back toward the room he saw that the woman behind the desk hadn’t moved at all and he moved in closer to her.

“Excuse me, could you help me,” Diego offered up a nervous laugh before shrugging his shoulders and looking around the area. “I really don’t know where I’m going, so do you think you could help me out a bit?”

“I know where you are going,” Nate’s voice erupted through his ears and Diego looked up to see Nate before him pulling his hair back into a ponytail. “I’ll take you there, I’m one of her friends.”

“That’d be great,” Diego nodded seeing the glare Nate gave him as his jaw tightened in anger and Diego gulped down suddenly realizing how much of a bad idea this could turn out being. “So, you’re Shannon’s little brother, right?”

“Sadly, yeah,” Nate answered not even bothering to turn and look back at Diego, just hearding his footsteps behind him and that was enough to keep him walking forward. Finally when they came to Cori’s room, Nate came to an abrupt stop turning to look back at Diego. “So, you’re the guy she shot in the ass?”

“Sadly, yes,” Diego nodded seeing the glare that he was receiving from Nate’s green eyes as he let out a long breath and folded his arms out in front of his chest. “Obviously you are another person in this town that has something against me, so go ahead. Let it out, let’s hear it.”

“You do realize the only reason she is here is because of you?” Nate pointed out seeing the way that Diego turned to look away from him and Nate looked toward the door before him. “This girl was head over heals in love with you and then you go and pull something like you did. Why do you think she did something like that?”

“I don’t really know,” Diego began seeing the way that Nate looked him over and rested his hands against his hips before looking back inside the small window to check on Cori. “Listen Nate…,”

“No, you listen to me Diego,” Nate began in a mocking tone seeing the way that Diego’s brown eyes narrowed when Nate stepped forward to be more clear with him. “I know you don’t really care about what happens to this girl, but I do. She’s had a rough life and has gone through things people couldn’t even begin to understand. She’s a good girl at heart and when someone does something like this to her, it only proves how vulnerable she is. Do you think she would be in here if it wasn’t for you?”

“Listen, I know I made a mistake with Cori,” Diego watched the way Nate nodded slowly while his green eyes looked him over and Diego let out a small sigh. “I don’t know what you want me to say Nate, I thought about talking to Cori’s therapist about everything and…,”

“I don’t care what you thought about the situation. You asked me what I wanted to hear you say,” Nate took in a long shallow breath before staring Diego straight in the eyes. “I want you to make a difference for that girl in there. I want you to change this, I don’t care how, but make it better.”

“I plan on that,” Diego insisted seeing the way that Nate glared out at him before walking away, leaving Diego alone in front of Cori’s room and he let out a long sigh. Glancing in the window, he saw her lying down on the bed and he let out a long sigh. “This is all my fault.”

Nate was right, there had to be some way to get Cori out of this mess that he originally created. Cori was a good person and this most definitely wasn’t something she deserved, she deserved so much more than this and here he was doing nothing about it.

“I’ll try,” Diego whispered pressing his fingers against the coolness of the door before looking back down the hallway to see Nate walking into another room at the end of the hallway. “I promise.”


“So,” Alicia took in a long breath seeing the back of Jewel as she walked out of the house leaving just Shannon and Alicia together inside of Don’s home. “Would you like to tell me what that was all about?”

“I’m sorry, it’s just that woman walks into town and acts like she can take place in every man’s life I know,” Shannon answered seeing Don’s mother move over toward the living room to take a seat and listen carefully. “I know there was a point in time where she was all over my husband and now she is after my brother. I just think she is up to something and it’s just going to lead to her trying to get back with the man in my life.”

“Honey, that woman has made her way into half of the men’s lives in the world,” Alicia pointed out seeing the small laugh that escaped Shannon’s lips before nodding slowly and moving next to Alicia to take a seat. “You see, I know that when people like that come around, people like us get jealous. Trust me, I’ve had my amounts of problems like that with Don’s father, but like his father, Don doesn’t want people like that.”

“You wouldn’t believe how tempting people are to Don,” Shannon began pushing back her long, blonde hair before taking in a long breath and looking around the room. “All she has to do is temp him right and he is out of my life forever.”

“First thing, do you honestly think a woman like Jewel is going to want to stay with a man more than a week?” Alicia questioned seeing the look on Shannon’s face as she shook her head and let out a long sigh. “I know my son and I know that he wouldn’t do that to someone he loves and I know Don loves you honey. He’s made that very clear on plenty of occasions, you are the one he loves--not Jewel.”

“I guess sometimes I just overreact,” Shannon stated with a small sigh standing up from the couch and moving over toward the photo on top of the television of Don and his first wife. “I know that sometimes Don’s thoughts were elsewhere.”

“He really did love her you know,” Alicia moved across the living room to grab a hold of the photo that Shannon was looking at, outlining the shape of her son’s face. “It was the one girl in his life that I knew he really felt something for. He was consistent loyal, all the things that a husband was meant to be.”

“They sounded like a perfect couple,” Shannon sighed wishing that Don could somewhat be like that with her so she could feel more attached to her husband. “I’m sure he loved her very much.”

“You know, it is possible to love two people in a life time. That much I’m sure of,” Alicia pointed out grabbing the photo that was on top of the fireplace seeing the way that Shannon stared out at her with her brown eyes. “I never saw Don look at someone the way he did Stephanie, until you came around.”

“You think?” Shannon questioned grabbing a soft hold of the photo with the two of them together and she sighed thinking about Don and how much she thought he meant to her. Feeling his mother’s arm move around her should she knew that she was part of this family and she had to make peace with it.

“Honey, I know. I know when my baby is in love and he is in love with you. You just have to know that he really does love you,” Alicia assured Shannon with a small nod before taking in a long breath. “I know that Jewel could be a pain sometimes, but you have nothing to worry about with Don. As I said I know he loves you and when it comes to your younger brother, I’m sure she will weave her way out of Nate’s system too.”

“Let’s hope,” Shannon sighed looking into the dark eyes of Don’s mother before nodding slowly and looking back to the picture of Don with her. “Maybe things will start to get better for all of us after all of this.”


“What do you mean you know him?” Brant questioned unable to believe what he was hearing out of Angela. To hear her say she knew Russ had to mean that she was recapturing part of her memory, but to what extent he wasn’t sure. He touched her shoulder gently trying to recapture her attention.

“Angie, you remember Russ,” Kevin prompted hoping to get more of a reaction out of her than Brant had. He searched her dark eyes for a moment before seeing her turn to face him. She nodded again and offered up a smile.

“Of course I do,” she glanced over at Russ and welcomed him with a warm smile, “You’re Kevin’s pal, right? I mean I’ve seen you around with Kevin before haven’t I?”

“Yeah,” Russ nodded in response, “I was at the hospital with him.”

“I thought so,” Angela replied with a grin, “That must’ve been where I saw you. I couldn’t place your name because we weren’t formally introduced, but…”

“Wait, so you’re saying that you remember him from the hospital and nowhere else?” Kevin questioned feeling the small flicker of hope that Angela had gotten her memory back fading away from him.

“Yeah,” Angela glanced over at Kevin again, “I saw you two talking outside my room and I think that’s why I recognized his face.”

“I see,” Brant eyed Russ suspiciously feeling a moment of jealousy sweep over him at the thought of Angela having any kind of memory of Russ over him.

“Well as much as we would like to continue speaking about this, I think it’s best if Russ and I left for a little while. We have some business to attend to,” Augustus cleared his throat again before motioning to the doorway. “After you.”

“Sure,” Russ nodded paying no more attention to the group in the kitchen before following Augustus out of the room.

“Is that all you remember?” Brant couldn’t help but ask turning to Angela again, “Nothing else?”

“About Russ?” she replied with a curious expression, “No, not really although I have to tell you he was probably surprised walking in here to see all of this. I think we all got a bit carried away.”

“Yeah we did,” Ria added breaking her long silence as her moment of hope for a normal future was fading more and more by the second when it was clear Angela hadn’t had any kind of memory recall. “In fact I think we should probably start cleaning up.”

“Not until I’m done eating,” Don piped in taking another bite of his food. He finished off the last of it before nodding over at Brant approvingly, “This is actually pretty good man. You get better each time at this.”

“Gee, I wouldn’t know since I’m wearing most of my breakfast,” Kevin noted with a sudden scowl seeing the way that Ria had stepped away from the rest of the group. “You know I think I’m going to help Ria get started on clean up.”

“But Kevin…” Angela reached out for his arm, “Maybe you and I should just go and get cleaned up before helping since we’re both a mess.”

“Actually I don’t mind being a mess, but this kitchen,” Kevin shrugged himself out of her embrace, “well it looks horrible. Even if we didn’t start the food fight I think it would be best for us all to lend a hand in cleaning it up.”

“You’re right,” Brant nodded curious to know what was happening with his grandfather and Russ, but still he knew he had to stay focused on what was important and that was Angela. Taking in a long breath Brant turned to Don again and motioned to the hall, “Let’s go get a mop and a broom so we can get started on fixing all of this.”

“It sounds good,” Don readily agreed taking his lone plate over to the sink and depositing it before the rest of the group got ready to take care of the mess that their food fight had created for everyone in the kitchen.


“What I did with you,” Avery blinked back at Grady trying to process what he was saying to her. She watched him take a step back before she spoke up again, “Grady what are you talking about?”

“Avery I’m talking about,” he stopped realizing that he’d said too much as he cleared his throat again, “I mean I’m saying that you are feeling guilty over what happened when you were trying to help me. Emotionally you were there for me and it pissed Brant off to no end. You remember how your relationship was falling to pieces when you were helping me…”

“I don’t think that’s why I would feel guilty or that I owed Brant anything. I was just being your friend and no one can fault me for having a friend,” she shook her head at him still clearly oblivious to the night they’d slept with one another. “Look Grady, while I realize that you’re always quick to jump to conclusions about my being the one who is in the wrong, the fact to the matter is that I’m tired of the fighting. I’m tired of everyone at war with one another and while you might think that I’m getting worked up out of some twisted sense of logic about what went down with Brant, you’re wrong. I just am worried about Russ and his relationship with Augustus. I know Augustus does care about him and I would hate to see that end simply because of one misunderstanding.”

“Misunderstandings aren’t a good thing at all,” Grady nodded in agreement toning his words down as he realized that he’d been lashing out at Avery over his own guilt. He’d kept everything under wraps for so very long, but now to think about everything that was happening--about what might motivate Avery to make peace with Brant even if she herself wasn’t aware of what happened, it just burned Grady to no end. Taking a step back he ran his fingers through his hair and cleared his throat again, “Look all I’m saying Avery is that Russ can take care of this one and I’m sure whatever he chooses he’ll make the right decision. If he wants to tell Augustus where to stick it for stepping into his business you can’t get upset with him for that.”

“I can if I want to,” Avery paused biting down on her lower lip nervously, “but I won’t if that’s what he chooses.”

“It’s good that you’ll stand by Russ through this,” Grady cleared his throat again, “and as for me, well I should probably get back to working.”

“Grady wait,” Avery watched him turn away to head towards the doorway to leave, “Look about what you said before--about my guilt I might be feeling with Brant…”

“Forget about it,” Grady waved his hand in the air dismissively, “I was out of line.”

“No, you weren’t,” she shook her head firmly, “I feel bad about what’s going on with everything. Yes, I feel guilty because I married Brant when I knew Russ hated him and most of all I hate that so many people got hurt by all of this. I know that I shouldn’t blame myself for what happened with Ken, but in a way I do because it was a situation I wasn’t wanting to put myself into in the first place. Hell, here I am talking to Russ about how furious I was with him when he couldn’t tell me about Angela, yet I’m the one keeping the secrets. I’m the one who not only married his worst enemy, but I slept with his other half brother--talk about screwed up.”

“What Ken did to you was wrong and I’m sorry I brought it up,” Grady tried to cover making a small step towards her again, “I was wrong.”

“And so was I. I caused a lot of people a lot of pain and even now,” she sank back onto the sofa in her office, “when I think about the way I’ve been tearing into Russ, I know that there’s a lot I still need to get off of my chest before he can understand everything.”

“You mean with Ken,” Grady searched her eyes watching her nod.

“I just don’t know how to tell him. I mean how can you tell the man you love more than anything that you made a really stupid mistake and were duped into doing something that you never in a million years would’ve done,” Avery sighed heavily feeling tension sweep over every inch of her. She buried her head in her hands and let out a groan, “You would think that I could just get over it and put it behind me, but no I have to keep dwelling on it. I told Ken that I would let it go…”

“But it’s not something that anyone can let go of,” Grady stopped to take a seat beside her. He reached out to squeeze her knee gently before speaking up in a supportive tone, “Russ would understand that it was a horrible situation that was out of your hands.”

“Would he?” Avery questioned tipping her head up to reveal the frustrated tears burning behind her eyes. “If you were Russ would you understand that I not only married Brant, but that I had sex with Ken as well?”

“Thinking that he was Brant,” Grady reached out to touch her cheek gently, “What happened with Ken was not your fault. That sick son of a bitch took advantage of you at a time when you were lost inside yourself with grief.”

“Even so I should’ve known,” she let out an ironic laugh, “though you know even though I’ve blocked out so much of that time I can still remember waking up that night after dreaming about Bruce. I was so afraid because he had me tied up and there you were--he’d hurt you and all I could think about was trying to save you…”

“Avery, it’s okay,” Grady squeezed her leg again, “We don’t have to talk about this.”

“No, I want to. I need to, but I’m just not sure how to bring this up to Russ,” she admitted her voice cracked with worry. “I remember being so afraid and then there he was. He was holding me and telling me that everything would be okay and I wanted to believe him. I was so afraid that something was going to happen--that Bruce would hurt you and me and he told me that wouldn’t happen. He promised me that everything would be okay--that no one would ever hurt me or Erin and I wanted to believe him. I wanted to feel that kind of security that night when I…”

“It’s okay,” Grady reached out to embrace her feeling her break down in his arms, “Avery we don’t have to talk about this. I was out of line and I’m sorry.”

“No you weren’t. I’m the one who was out of line and you’re absolutely right. I’m constantly eating away at myself for letting that happen,” she continued to sob into his chest, “I just can’t believe that I was so stupid.”

“It wasn’t your fault just like it wasn’t Kyle’s fault when Susan did what she did to him,” he curled his finger underneath her chin and urged her to meet his eyes again, “It was something that you stepped into not knowing what would transpire. Ken sensed a moment of confusion and he betrayed the trust you’d had with him.”

“Even so,” she closed her eyes and tried to pull herself together, “I think it’s something that has been tearing away at me for a while now.”

“Then stop pretending that it doesn’t matter because it does,” Grady pushed her hair away from her face urging her to meet his eyes, “Stop lying to yourself and making yourself believe that you were somehow in the wrong. Avery, honey, I know you’re hurting about this and maybe I pushed your buttons today a bit too far, but maybe it’s time you told Russ.”

“Grady, you know I can’t do that,” she gasped horrified, “If he knew what had happened…”

“Then maybe you two could help heal one another. If he knew what’s really been going on inside of you, I’m sure you could be there for each other,” he used his thumb to brush a tear away from her cheek. “He’ll support you and maybe show you that there isn’t anything to feel guilty about. You did nothing wrong.”

“You say that now, but a few minutes ago you were telling me…” she reminded him with a heavy sigh.

“Avery,” he cupped her face in his hands urging her to meet his green eyes again. “I’m an ass and I say stupid things all of the time. Don’t you know that by now?”

“Of course I do, but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less when you do it,” she replied with a hint of a sad smile leaning into his touch as his fingers slid into her hair.

“Yeah, well that’s about the point in time that you should just tell me to shut the hell up,” Grady offered up with a small smile of his own, “That always worked well in the past.”

“No it only made you more impossible to deal with,” she shook her head in disagreement. “Anytime I told you where to stick it you did it right back to me.”

“Touché,” Grady couldn’t help but laugh wiping at her tears again, “but for what it’s worth don’t let idiots like Ken or me for that matter upset you. We’re not worth any of that.”

“Well, one of you might be,” Avery felt a smile teasing over the corners of her mouth as her dark eyes met Grady’s again.

“I seriously doubt you should give Ken that much credit,” he teased back seeing the laugh that built up in the back of her throat and for an instant, he couldn’t help but caress the side of her face, feeling a bittersweet memory overtake him. She closed her eyes just leaning into the warmth of his embrace and before he knew it he found himself leaning in closer to her anticipating what it would be like to travel down that road they’d fallen into with one another once upon a time. It had been brief, but there was still so much that was unresolved between them--so many emotions that they would never explore now that Russ was alive and he was moving on with Deana.

“Deana,” he thought to himself immediately pulling himself away from Avery and clearing his throat. “You know Avery, I really need to get back to work. I had something I was working on and…”

“Right,” she nodded wiping at her face and opening her eyes just in time to see him half way towards the door. She offered up a weak smile before speaking up again, “and Grady, thanks for listening.”

“Anytime,” he replied giving her one last look before turning to leave only to discover Jenna standing in the doorway watching him with a suspicious eye. Immediately he cleared his throat uneasily. “Jenna, hey what’s going on?”

“Why don’t you tell me?” Jenna suggested eyeing him closely after she’d caught part of his conversation with Avery.

“I, um,” Grady shifted his gaze between her and Avery before standing up taller, “I’m assuming you’re here to see Avery, so don’t let me stop you two from having a minute together.”

“Right,” Jenna watched him make his exit before she looked to her best friend again seeing that Avery was clearly shaken. Frowning Jenna stepped forward, her dark eyes searching Avery’s curiously, “Girl, don’t tell me you’re blowing everything that you’ve got in your life again by doing what I think you’re doing with him because if you are you’re going to be seriously making a big mistake.”


“Are we there yet?” Evie questioned with a groan stopping to lean up against one of the trees on Cameron’s estate grounds. She looked up to the sun overhead and sighed, “JT, when you mentioned we’d be late if we took the horses back and then came back out here on our own, I didn’t anticipate that being because you and I were going to have to walk ten miles to get where we are going.”

“It’s not ten miles,” JT reached out to touch her shoulder gently, “At least I don’t think it is.”

“How does your brother have this much property in this town?” Evie couldn’t help but ask tipping her head up to see the way his dark hair moving a bit with the breeze on top of his head. “I didn’t think Coral Valley was this big by any means. Are you sure that we haven’t crossed some kind of city line or something?”

“Cute,” he moved forward reaching out for her. He bent down ever so slightly curling his arms around her and pulling her up in against his chest to hold her closer to him. “How’s this?”

“Better,” she admitted with a smile snuggling into him, “much better indeed.”

“Somehow I got the feeling that you wouldn’t protest to this kind of treatment,” he laughed lightly taking a step forward towards their destination.

“Not at all. I think I enjoy you pampering me considering that you boss me around like a madman at work,” she curled her lip in a pout. “I don’t think you’re nearly as hard on the other waitresses at work as you are on me.”

“You’re not a waitress Evie,” he reminded her with a pointed expression.

“Not yet, but since I’m your girlfriend,” she started to explain thinking about how far they’d come in their relationship with one another since they’d first met.

“I’ll give you a few extra minutes on your break from dishwashing and try to ignore the fact that you’re still really not very good at doing your job,” he teased feeling her swat at his shoulder.

“Now that’s just being mean,” she curled her lip in a pout. “After all the good things I’ve done for you.”

“You mean by pretty much moving into my house rent free,” he teased with a playful smirk.

“Hey, I got rid of Valerie, didn’t I?” she tossed back at him with a sudden seriousness. “That was a problem you were facing that never would have ended if I hadn’t gotten involved.”

“Okay, I can’t argue that,” he decided without hesitation. “I pretty much tried everything I could think of to get rid of her, but apparently anything I had to say wasn’t of interest to her.”

“That’s because most people won’t turn away a free meal,” Evie couldn’t help but roll her eyes. “I still don’t understand why you hooked up with her in the first place.”

“First of all I never really hooked up with her,” he stopped moving long enough to face her. “She and I had a common interest and it kind of escalated to the point where I had no control of my apartment any longer.”

“Which brings me back to another point. Why are you living there when you could be living here?” she couldn’t help but ask him. “I mean it’s no secret that Cameron would easily let you move into all of this if you wanted to.”

“I just don’t,” he shrugged his shoulders simply. “I mean I wasn’t lying about saying I would give you the world if you wanted, but this, well as you saw with the horses it was never me.”

“Because you spent so much time on your own growing up?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Believe it or not, I really associated all of this with the kind of person my father was. He’s a jerk and I’m telling you if you met him you’d understand why I ran away from all of this,” JT shuddered at the thought. “All of the Hollywood types are so self-absorbed and…”

“At least your father just leaves you alone,” she pointed out remembering her last encounter with her own father. “He hasn’t decided that he wants to disrupt the order in your life.”

“No, but you can’t really live down being the son of Douglas Mahoney,” JT replied with a tiny shudder. “The man has always been about preserving what he has in his image, but if the world really knew what he was like…”

“Ok, maybe this wasn’t a good subject,” she shifted in his arms a bit. Finally she managed to wiggle to her feet again before meeting his dark eyes, “What do you say we put the whole notion of parents off limits for the day and just focus on whatever surprise it is that you have for me?”

“I think that’s a good idea, but first…” JT paused for a moment reaching into his pocket and extracting a small box from within. “I have something for you.”

“JT, I can’t believe that you…” she started seeing the way he smiled at her.

“I thought it was the least I could do after you lost your bracelet. After the week you’ve had, I thought that maybe just maybe this might make you smile,” he explained with a small smile offering the box to her. “Well, are you going to open it?”

“I just don’t know what to say,” Evie replied accepting the gift. She pulled at the pink ribbon on it and opened the box to discover a gold charm bracelet in front of her. Her eyes widened as she noticed the single charm hanging from it. It was a tiny red jeweled strawberry charm with a bright, vibrant green stem of tiny stones. “JT, it’s beautiful.”

“Let me help you put it on,” he suggested helping her take it out of the box and raise it to the sunlight. Her brown eyes widened as the charm sparkled sending off a glow of it’s own.

“This is just…” she found herself at a loss for words as he began to clasp it on her wrist. “I mean it’s just so beautiful and…”

“I was hoping you would enjoy it,” he explained locking the clasp into place before bending down to plant a tender kiss upon the soft skin of her wrist.

“I love it,” she blurted out touched by the gift. “It’s beautiful and the strawberry…”

“Your favorite,” he laughed lightly seeing her raise her wrist for a further inspection of it.

“Are these real? I mean are they…” she questioned catching the expression on his face. “I mean it’s not that I’m not grateful at all, but if these were expensive…”

“Price is irrelevant on this one. I know I said I’m not a big spender and I like to keep things low key, but I knew that you would enjoy it. When I saw it I had to buy it for you,” he informed her with a wide smirk. “It was my one way of splurging you before putting you back to work again at the bar. Although I might suggest we pick up some kind of lock box for it while you’re at work just to be safe.”

“It was expensive,” she noted turning her attention to the charm once again, “They look like these are rubies and…”

“Emeralds,” he explained stepping in to wrap his arm around her slender waist. “I was told that it was one of a kind just like you are.”

“JT, I don’t know what to say,” she tipped her head up to meet his lips halfway in a kiss.

“Don’t say anything other than you like it,” he whispered warmly against her lips. “As I said before I’m not big on spoiling myself, but with you, it’s another story.”

“I really can’t accept this. It’s far too expensive and…” she stammered a bit knowing only too well how JT had lived modestly despite his fortune.

“Believe me, you’ve more than earned it,” he informed her squeezing his arms around her waist and pulling her up off of the grass in one small motion. “Plus, the way I look at it, if you really feel that bad about it, then you’ll have no choice but to put in more hours at the bar.”

“I knew there was a catch,” she curled her lip in a pout.

“As my new waitress,” he murmured leaning in close to kiss her once again before pulling back, “but under one condition.”

“Why am I suddenly afraid?” she replied in a low whisper.

“You shouldn’t be. I would never do anything to hurt you,” he promised squeezing her once again. “All I’m asking is that if I give you the waitress position, I want you to also go back to school.”

“What?” she blinked up at him. “JT, you and I both know that I can’t just…”

“I was able to pull a few strings and when we get over the initial fun in our vacationing I have a meeting planned with one of the advisors at a school that Cameron’s sister went to. It’s a bit exclusive, but very private and I’m sure that your father won’t even be able to come close to you there. They have great security and…” he continued to inform her.

“JT, I can’t just pick up and start going to school again especially not when I’m not making that kind of money. I know you mean well, but…” she offered up nervously.

“But you’re telling me that you wouldn’t want to study abroad,” he arched a curious brow. “That you wouldn’t want to be spending your time studying overseas in some tropical locale basking in the sun after hitting the books?”

“Abroad?” she repeated with a strange expression.

“Sure, why not? I mean we’re going out there for a vacation, but the idea of starting over again is something that we both said we wanted to do. You talked about wanting to go back to school again and…” he reminded her again.

“I might have said that in the past, but now…” she drew in a small breath, “School is a big step and…”

“And I’m sure you can do it. I mean I know what a pain in the ass it was for me to get my GED, but I was able to do it. I’m sure that with you already having the whole diploma thing out of the way that college will be a breeze. Plus, from what I’ve heard once you settle in on something you enjoy, it’s a breeze.”

“Yeah, if that’s the case, then why haven’t you gone back?” she challenged meeting his dark eyes.

“Maybe because I haven’t been properly motivated or maybe because I do better at the whole business thing,” he shrugged his shoulders, “but you don’t have to follow my mistakes.”

“I didn’t say I was going to, but at the same time you have so much here with your family and the bar,” she paused for a moment. “Speaking of the bar, you talked about me being a waitress there, so how could we just…?”

“Do you think the sport’s bar here in Coral Valley is the only one I own?” he couldn’t help but smile down at her.

“It’s not?” she replied with wide eyes.

“Nah, it’s just the one that was closest to where I was living in the moment. I stuck around this place for a long time with the hopes of returning to the past, but I’m over that now. Now I’m ready to just move forward with what we have together,” JT continued to explain to her.

“I know we talked about that, but this is a big step,” Evie paused for a long moment of contemplation.

“Maybe, but it’s something that I thought you’d be happy about,” he hesitated for a moment. “Unless you think that this is going too fast.”

“No, it’s not too fast at all. It’s just that you’re offering me up so much with all of this that I’m just afraid that I’m going to let you down. It’s not like I can offer you anything more than what I have and…” she began worriedly only to feel him press his finger in against her lips to silence her words.

“You give me love and that’s all I’ve ever wanted or needed in my life,” he replied with a raw emotion behind his voice. “I’ve never really had that with someone before and I wasn’t looking for it, but you changed all the rules on me Evie. You turned my life around in more ways than you can imagine.”

“I should be the one thanking you JT. You have no idea how much all of this means to me. Just the fact that you believe in me,” she paused for a long moment. Taking in a breath she felt a moment of guilt eat away inside of her. “JT, maybe we should talk about something. There’s this thing I haven’t mentioned with my father that…”

“No,” he shook his head to silence her, “not today. Today we’re not going to let thoughts of our family cloud my surprise.”

“This isn’t it?” she asked seeing the expression on his face.

“Not by a long shot, but I’m sure when you see it, you’re going to love it,” he assured her reaching for her hand and lacing her fingers with his. He raised her palm to his lips and offered up a small kiss before stepping back. “Now come on. We’re going to miss it if we don’t get moving.”

“Ok,” she finally decided ready to see where the day was going to take them as he was just full of one surprise after another.


“Everything looks pretty well panned out here,” Don mouthed with a proud grin taking a look around the kitchen after they had all gone to work on cleaning it. “You almost wouldn’t have known that we had one of the greatest food fights here.”

“It does look pretty good,” Kevin noted with a small nod of his own, his dark eyes glancing over at Ria who stayed near the far corner of the room while Angela was close to his side.

“Actually I think I’m going to go take the trash out,” Ria announced reaching for one of the bags and heading for the back door without hesitation.

“I’ll help,” Kevin piped in quickly scooting off after Ria and eagerly pulling up one of the bags in his hand. “Be right back Angie.”

“But…” Angela sighed wiping the towel over the counter top again before turning to Brant and Don, “Is he acting at all strange to either one of you lately? He just seems so very tense.”

“He’s got a lot on his plate right now,” Don piped in seeing the tension that was clear in his best friend’s face, “You know speaking of which I think I left something out in the game room last night when I stopped by. I’m going to go get it so that we can get the dishwasher started. I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” Brant watched Don race out the door as well in an obvious attempt to give Brant and Angela some alone time with one another. Turning to Angela, Brant felt an uncomfortable silence in the air between them as she stood on the other side of the island in the kitchen with both of her palms pressed onto the top of the counter. He cleared his throat uneasily and pushed out a laugh, “You know I would think that we really stink right now if everyone just walks out on us like they did.”

“Well we do kind of have a lot on our plates,” she couldn’t help but smile at him, “though I guess it would be more like on my blouse and your shirt there and not really the plate since we kind of missed that.”

“Yeah, we really did,” Brant couldn’t help but laugh as well seeing the first flicker of amusement in the dark flecks in her eyes. “Of course this wasn’t totally my fault.”

“Oh I’m sure it wasn’t,” Angela tipped her head to the side to eye him intently, “Something about you tells me that you’re trouble.”

“Only the best kind,” Brant flashed her a flirty smile, “besides I always thought you liked that about me. It was one of your favorite things.”

“Really? I said that huh?” she arched a curious brow giving him a long once over and feeling the first rush of a heat wave sweep over her. Taking a small step back, she closed her eyes and felt another warmth carry over her, one that brought with it the sound of her own voice speaking up in a full and flirty fashion in a setting that felt completely real, but suddenly very foreign to her as she saw herself in the very same kitchen with Brant.

“Tell me something Brant. Are you allergic to whipped cream?”

“Allergic to whipped cream?” he repeated glancing up at her once again, “No, why do you…?”

Before he could finish his question, he spotted her reaching for the can of whipped cream out of the corner of his eye. He moved his hand up to stop her from doing something she would regret, but it was too late. He felt a spray of whipped cream come shooting out of the canister and onto the top of his head with a quick squirt.

Angela broke into laughter seeing the whipped cream all over his face. She placed her hand over her abdomen as laughter continued to pour over her, “Oh you do look delicious Brant.”

“I’ll show you delicious,” Brant rose up from his knees reaching for one of the half gallons of ice-cream. He popped the top off of it before dipping into the package to pull out a handful of chocolate ice-cream. He held it up in the air tauntingly before stepping towards her, “Hey honey, how about some of that chocolate?”

“Don’t you dare!” Angela squealed pointing the can of whipped cream at him in warning, “If you even think about it, then I’ll…”

“Take a good look at me,” he held his arms out in the air, “What else do I have to lose at this point? You on the other hand, well you just look too clean for the moment.”

“Brant, I’m in your shirt,” she motioned to what she was wearing, “You don’t really want to mess up this…”

Before she could say anything else, he launched the melting ice-cream in his hand at her seeing it smack over near her shoulder. It started to run down the front of his shirt in beneath the buttons. She let out a pinched yelp when the cold hit her skin.

“Oh you are so dead,” she sprayed whipped cream at him again feeling him toss more ice-cream towards her. Quickly she rushed over to the counter spraying him all the while. She grabbed the strawberry ice-cream, threw off the top and dipped her hand in to grab a thick, pile of cold ice-cream. She tossed it at him readily, watching it smack him right in the center of his face. She let out a victory squeal laughing wildly until he marched towards her reaching for the can of whipped cream in her hands.

“Give me that!” Brant insisted trying to wrench it away from her.

“No, it’s mine!” she argued wiggling in his arms once he held her beside him. They continued to fight over the canister, both trying to get the other one until the canister rolled out of their hands, flying up in the air and sending a thick, white spray into the air.

“Now look what you’ve done,” Angela blurted out with roaring laughter unable to contain herself as she looked to the mess around the kitchen.

“Angela,” Brant’s voice cut through the moment causing her to jump back with a gasp when he’d touched her shoulder. He met her dark eyes with a concerned gaze. “Hey, are you okay? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she lied shaking her head and stepping away from him. She found herself suddenly nervous at the thought that had occurred to her. Here she was in Brant’s house, in his kitchen after having had a food fight with everyone else, yet she’d found herself envisioning something that couldn’t be possible--something that was so far from being real it was ridiculous. She was in love with Kevin and even if he was acting strangely she would never, ever leave him for someone like Brant.

“I don’t believe that,” Brant pushed her further, “Something’s on your mind. What is it?”

“Tell me something Brant,” she searched his eyes with a sudden curiosity, “Why do you care so much what’s bothering me?”

“Because you’re my friend and even if you don’t quite remember me I know you and I care about you,” he explained reaching out to her, bringing his hand out to touch her cheek lightly. He felt her stiffen against the embrace and he pulled back with a sigh, “You have to believe that Angela.”

“I don’t know what I believe right now,” she admitted honestly shaking her head and looking around the kitchen. “One minute Kevin and I are talking about our plans for the future and the next he feels like he’s trying to push me away Brant. I don’t understand why he would do that considering that we’re about to have our baby unless I did something wrong.”

“It’s not that Angela. It’s just…” Brant tried to say something--anything that would help him explain to her what was happening without putting her through a shock that would hurt her.

“Did I do something wrong Brant?” she couldn’t help but ask turning around to meet his concerned eyes again, “Did I do something to hurt Kevin that I should know about? Something that I should remember that can help me make things right with him?”

“Angela, I…” he paused before taking in a breath, “Tell me something. You said that you remembered Russ from the hospital, but was that the whole truth?”

“Of course it was,” she nodded in response searching his eyes, “Why else would I know him because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t work for my father or my brother.”

“Your brother,” Brant’s jaw flexed at the mention of Cameron, “Did he say anything at the hospital to you about me?”

“No, not at all,” she shook her head in response, “Cam really didn’t say too much which is strange for him considering he spends more of this time bossing me around and lecturing me about Kevin. You see he doesn’t think my father will be too big on the idea of Kevin and I, but I’m hoping that eventually he’ll come around. Kevin’s a good guy you know.”

“Yeah I know,” Brant nodded in response feeling an ache carry over him at the thought that Angela knew who Kevin was, but couldn’t for the life of her remember the times that Brant and Angela had shared with one another. It was heart breaking, but Brant was doing his best to try to keep it together. “He’s a good friend to me.”

“He’s honestly the only person in this world that makes me feel alive and when I’m with him I feel like I have everything I ever could’ve wanted in this world,” Angela noted with a thoughtful expression, “Kevin Adonis means the world to me and I don’t know what I would do without him. He’s just been so wonderful to me through all of this that I know my father will have to accept what we have. It’s the real thing and I won’t let anyone keep us away from one another--not when we have so much ahead of us in the future.”

“Yeah, sure,” Brant nodded doing his best to play the role of the friend, but as he listened to Angela talking about Kevin, he found himself sinking further into a despair and fearing that things would never prove to show a light beyond the tunnel for his future with Angela. The more she talked, the more he feared that he would lose her forever.


Ria launched the bag of trash over into the cans pretending that she was sending the bag directly into Angela to knock her down off of her high horse after she’d clung to Kevin all morning long. It was bad enough that Angela had actually spent the night with Kevin, but then to have to watch Angela pawing all over him all morning had Ria furious.

“Damn her!” Ria cursed under her breath sending another bag flying into the trash when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

She reached up ready to attack, when she felt the hand squeeze in over her harder than before. She opened her mouth to protest, but before she could say anything, she was spun around roughly and lips were claiming hers possessively. Before she could respond, she felt herself moving backwards in against the privacy fence that was set up on the Ashford grounds. An arm wrapped around her waist lifting her up off of the ground as she felt familiar lips beckon her to sweet surrender.

Behind surprised eyes she saw Kevin holding onto her like he’d never let go while his lips ravished her. Instinctively she kissed him back, tangling her fingers through his dark hair, while her legs wrapped around his waist feeling him all hard and welcoming beneath her. She squeezed him closer to her tasting hints of syrup on his lips after the food fight they’d all gotten into with one another. He pushed forward again rubbing up into her as she sank against the fence with a bit more force than the first moment he’d picked her up.

“You’ve never looked sexier than you do right now,” Kevin mouthed forgetting about the trash he’d taken outside with him now that he had Ria in his arms. He tore his lips away from hers long enough to gaze into her astonished eyes, “You have no idea how hard for me it was not to do this back inside.”

“About as hard as it was for me not to kill that witch when she was all over you,” Ria’s lip curled in a pout remembering the way in which Angela followed Kevin around like a lost little puppy dog. “I hate this.”

“So do I. I hate it more than you can imagine, but I don’t hate this moment right now,” Kevin nibbled on her lower lip again pinning her further into the wall. He rubbed up against her, his body growing rigid with desire as she squeezed her legs around him tighter than before. “I want you like you can’t even begin to imagine right now.”

“I have a lot that I can imagine,” Ria mouthed in confession scratching her nails lightly over his back through his t-shirt. “I want you so bad it hurts.”

“Then let’s find a remedy for the pain,” Kevin suggested scooping her up further in his arms and kicking the trash bag he’d carried out with him across the lawn. He looked around for a moment before making a decision.

“Kevin, where are we going?” Ria questioned feeling him carrying her across the lawn.

“I think I know how we can get a few minutes away from Brant and Angela and everyone else,” Kevin assured her swiftly crossing the lawn to make his way into the empty pool house in front of them. He shuffled with Ria in his arms and the closed door finally relieved to discover it clicked open. He nudged it with his knee before moving inside and setting Ria down long enough to close the door behind them.

“Kevin,” she spoke his name surprised by his urgency as he ripped his t-shirt off from over his head and moved to place his hands over his belt. He unhooked it swiftly before kicking his pants down his body to reveal himself to her in all of his naked glory.

“Don’t say anything. Let’s just make the most of the time we have,” Kevin suggested peeling away her syrup soaked shirt along with the rest of her clothing in the hopes of finding a way to savor what little time he had with Ria before he went back to pretending that he was the man that Angela believed was in love with him. It was bad enough that he’d finally pushed himself to move beyond being hung up on Angela, but now that he had to deny himself the opportunity to be with Ria, he was a madman filled with an unyielding desire.

“Kevin, don’t you think we should…” she felt him tearing at the remainder of her clothing, not bothering to be polite or gentle about the situation.

“We’re doing what we should be doing,” he picked her up in his arms again carrying her over to the edge of the pool and falling back into one of the chairs, bringing her over him in a lightening quick movement, “If I can’t have you right now Ria I’m going to die. I’m sure of it.”

“Then as your doctor, I suppose it would be cruel of me to let that happen,” Ria couldn’t help but smile settling in over his lap before leaning down to kiss him while dragging her nails over his chest lightly.

“I’m already burning up baby,” Kevin mouthed biting on her lower lip, his palm crushing in over her spine and urging her in closer to him, “Don’t make me overheat here without having a cure for what it is that’s eating me alive.”

“You’re so ridiculous,” Ria couldn’t help but laugh seeing the way his dark eyes were glazed over with passion, “but I love you anyways.”

“And I love you,” he leaned up to kiss her again as the two vowed to spend a few moments giving in to the pent up passion that their frustrations had brought on. Sure, maybe they were supposed to be elsewhere with one another at that point in time, but as they fell into the moment delving into desire with one another, both realized that nothing was as important as what they were experiencing in the here and now.


“Now Russ before you say anything, I think that you and I need to have a talk about the way this all played out,” Augustus began hoping to alleviate some of the anger that it was clear his grandchild was harboring over the situation that had taken place, “I was merely trying to help by…”

“By deciding that it was the right time to kick back and pay my bills off right?” Russ frowned shaking his head at the situation, “I thought that I was clear on what it was that I wanted in terms of our relationship.”

“Russ, I know what you said, but I am also well aware of the fact that you have a lot on your shoulders right now,” Augustus tried to reason with him, “I won’t deny that you have your right to be independent and want to take care of things on your own, but why not let me help you lighten the load?”

“For starters because it doesn’t feel right. I don’t accept hand outs from anyone,” Russ started to argue with him once again.

“I do believe at one point in time you had offered to accept help from Avery’s father when you were having some issues with the paper,” Augustus spouted off catching Russ off guard.

“How do you know about that?” Russ frowned back at him, “What are you now tapping into my financial records?”

“Not at all,” Augustus shook his head, “I merely thought to myself that it could be possible that you and Avery might need a little help, so I decided that I would lend a hand since you are my family.”

“Family or not, I don’t accept charity,” Russ refused to budge on the issue. “With Avery’s father I promised to pay him back and we worked out a deal--a partnership of sorts.”

“Then consider what I did for you something along the same lines. Russ, you can’t blame me for wanting to try with you,” Augustus tried to appeal to him with a frown.

“I’m not saying that you can’t try, but you can’t buy a place in my life Augustus. If you expect for us to have a relationship, then we’re going to have to be on the up and up with one another which means that you can’t go behind my back and do things that I specifically asked you not to do,” Russ sighed heavily trying to make sense of the situation without losing his head over it. “You might be my grandfather, but I cannot accept this. I won’t accept it even if it was an offer that was made in a moment of generosity. I’m sorry, but I cannot accept this.”


“Do we have enough of these?” Paul questioned sarcastically trying to carefully hold all the DVD’s in his arms as Kyle made his way to the front door of his place with DVD’s in hand and managed to hold onto Charles also. “We have a ton, I’m surprised we could carry all of them.”

“Well if we can make it to my bedroom, I know where I could put them,” Kyle motioned Paul to follow him down the hallway and motioned Paul to enter his bedroom first when Paul’s foot tripped over something causing him to spill out on the floor causing the DVD’s to go flying across the floor. “Nice job, I’m going to go put Charles to bed and I’ll be back.”

“Where do you want the DVD’s?” Paul questioned turning to look up from the ground only to feel Kyle drop them on top of his body before walking out of the room and Paul let out a small groan. “On top of me obviously.”

Hearing Kyle walk out of the room Paul pulled himself up from the ground and started to push the DVD’s toward the center of the room so all of them were in a pile together and not spread out over the place. Moving out to pick up the last one he looked at the cover of it before letting out a small noise.

“Stop looking at that,” Kyle ordered seeing the way Paul wrinkled his nose before flipping the case over to look at the back and Kyle snatched it away from him quickly. “I said stop looking at that.”

“You know after all my hard work I really think I deserve to have one of those,” Paul pointed out seeing Kyle open up a locked chest that was at the bottom of his bed and Paul got to his knees next to Kyle before nudging Kyle in the arm. “I mean come on buddy, I’m one of your best friends. We’re supposed to share things.”

“I’m not going to share my wife,” Kyle snapped starting to grab the DVD’s in his hands and setting them inside the empty chest seeing the way that Paul started to help him. “Listen, I know you didn’t like it, but thank you for helping me.”

“I just know you’ll have to do the same thing one day,” Paul pointed out before shaking his head slowly and lining them up perfectly before standing up and reaching for a blanket from the corner of the room. A sudden sound made Kyle quickly finish up before he heard Paul bump into the nightstand sending the light to the ground in a crashing instant. “What was that?”

“I’ll be right back,” Kyle moved out of the bedroom quickly seeing the way that Paul started to move around the room when Kyle shut the door. When he was about to turn around he felt a hand move in over his and he let out a small noise turning to see the green eyes of his wife. “Heather, honey. What are you doing home so early?”

“I was just coming to see how you were,” Heather answered feeling Kyle shakily wrap his arms around her before letting out a long sigh and dipping down to kiss her quickly. “Is there something wrong Kyle? You look pale.”

“I was just looking through some things with Paul and we couldn’t find what we were looking for,” Kyle answered quickly thinking of the first lie that came to mind when she went to open the bedroom door and he pulled her in closer to him. “Heather, you really don’t want to do that. I’m being serious, maybe we could stay out here because…,”

“Kyle, I don’t see what’s,” Heather finally got the bedroom door open seeing Paul’s eyes get wide when he looked up from the magazine he was reading. Heather saw that he was sitting on the chest at the bottom of the bed knowing that they had to be up to something. “What were the two of you doing?”

“Oh nothing,” Paul folded his leg over the other as he flipped the page on the magazine feeling Heather nudge him to get off the chest as Kyle moved forward to grab Heather’s arm. “Heather don’t open the…,”

Before he got out the words, he saw Heather’s hand grab a firm hold of the top of the chest opening it slowly and Kyle knew this was time he had to face it. She was going to find all the DVD’s and it was something he was going to have to explain.


...to be continued...