Episode 380

“Heather, I can explain everything,” Kyle began quickly seeing the smirk that pressed in over the corners of Paul’s lips as Heather looked down in the chest seeing a few things thrown on top. “What in the world?”

“Hey, there that damn glove was all the time and there is a ball there too,” Paul reached forward to grab the baseball glove and the baseball from inside the chest seeing Kyle’s hazel eyes staring into his. When Kyle had been out in the hallway, Paul covered the DVD’s up with a blanket and put a few things on top. “You said that glove was in the closet, but you were wrong man. You want to play some catch Heather? We were bored and wanted to go out in the back to play some.”

“That’s all you were doing?” Heather pushed back her long blonde hair seeing Kyle move forward slowly to grab the other glove in the chest before letting out a small laugh seeing the look Paul was giving him. “You two were just going to go play some catch? Then why were you acting so weird in the hallway Kyle?”

“We were talking about things,” Paul moved forward to close the top of the chest and sat on top of it, watching the way that Heather’s green eyes stared out at him. “And the truth is sweetheart, we have a present for you.”

“We do?” Kyle questioned feeling Paul throw the ball roughly into the center of his chest making him let out a long groan at the impact as Heather moved in next to him putting her hand in over the center of his shoulder. “Of course we did Heather, I just wanted to keep it a secret. I’m just developing a little cough, why don’t you tell her about it Paul.”

“That’s a fine idea young one,” Paul stood up to his feet before meeting Kyle at his side, seeing the reddened over face of his friend after he got hit with the ball. “We were talking about tonight and realized that you two have hardly had some alone time since I have been here. “I offered to baby-sit tonight so that you could go out and have fun with one another.”

“You’re kidding,” Heather stepped back placing her hands in over her hips as she saw Paul squeeze his arm tighter around Kyle’s shoulders before nodding quickly. “You can’t be serious, right?”

“I’m very serious sweetheart,” Paul moved his left hand to press it in over Kyle’s chest, the same spot where he threw the ball earlier hearing Kyle let out a pained laugh. “Since I’ve been an inconvenience since I’ve come here, I wanted to make it up to the two of you.”

“Really?” Heather muttered watching Paul smile before bringing his left hand up and smacking at Kyle’s rough cheek a few times before Kyle turned doing the same with his right hand. Watching as the two continued to smack each other back and forth Heather let out a small noise seeing the two glance over at her before turning to face her again, Kyle wrapping his arm around Paul’s shoulder. “You really think you could handle something like that?”

“Well of course, Kyle here knows that I’m great with kids,” Paul informed her with a firm nod seeing the hesitant look behind Kyle’s eyes as his jaw clenched in anger feeling the heat of the smacks building up on his skin. “I had one of my own you know, she’s a teenager now, but I know when she was little I absolutely loved it. I know you two will have fun while I’m babysitting, but I’ll be having twice as fun because I love kids.”

“Well, if Kyle thinks it’s a good idea. I’ll have no problems with it,” Heather nodded slowly seeing Paul reach up to squeeze at Kyle’s chin and he offered up a half smile. “I can just go in the other room and get cleaned up. I’ll be ready in a few and I’ll be right back.”

“Sounds so good honey,” Kyle agreed seeing Heather smile and move forward to give him a small peck. Kyle moved toward the door with Heather, watching her walk to the other room until he turned around and closed the door behind him. “I give you total credit for saving my ass on that one, but I will never trust you to watch Charles. No way.”

“Who was the one who knew how to feed him earlier?” Paul questioned seeing Kyle’s jaw tighten in anger as Paul moved over toward the chest again, taking a seat on top of it. Shrugging his shoulders he watched Kyle reach out for the keys on the dresser before moving forward. “I’m a dad, I know how everything is done.”

“That’s nice daddy fatty,” Kyle smacked Paul in the side of the head before roughly pushing him from the chest and onto the ground. Looking down to his friend he felt Paul’s foot collide with the back of his knee making him fall to the ground on top of Paul. “Ouch.”

“Ouch is right, you need to lose some weight,” Paul cringed pressing his hands in over Kyle’s firm back before looking down seeing Kyle do the same. “Okay, this is really awkward and feels extremely gay.”

“You’re the one that wanted me on top of you,” Kyle quickly got to his knees before looking down at Paul who folded his arms behind his head and looked up at Kyle. “I still don’t trust you with my son, but if Heather does, I guess I have no choice.”

“Trust me, while you are out with the porn star,” Paul spoke up in a whisper offering up a wide smile in return as he felt Kyle smack him in the stomach roughly making him let out a small groan moving forward to smack Kyle in the face. “I’ll be at home with Charles and…”

“You are not going to be watching them Paul,” Kyle informed him with a small sigh before moving forward to lock up the chest with the keys he just grabbed. Standing to his feet he saw Paul slowly get up to his feet as well throwing his hands up in the air. “You aren’t going to get anywhere near them.”

“Oh yeah?” Paul questioned watching Kyle motion him to wait a second before moving into the closet and fussing around with a few things before shrugging his shoulders. “What is this, a game of come and find the keys?”

“You would never find them,” Kyle pointed out with a small sigh reaching for a few things from the closet before shrugging his shoulders. “I still don’t know about this whole thing with leaving Charles with you. It doesn’t rub me the right way.”

“I can tell you who could rub you the right way though,” Paul moved his hands in over the bottom of his shirt wiggling it up over his abdomen seeing the glare Kyle gave him before smacking him in the center of the face. “Hey, I’m just saying. Honestly man, trust me--what could go wrong?”


“I’m worried about Heather,” Kipp admitted after they’d returned home after the long day at work. “She didn’t seem herself today.”

“She’s just got a lot on her mind with the wedding ahead of her,” Kellen replied with a pause knowing only too well that the things that were troubling his best friend went well beyond any wedding planning. Turning to Kipp, Kellen contemplated coming clean with his lover about what had happened, but instead he remained silent.

“You know I’m worried about her,” Kipp began only to turn and notice the puzzled expression on Kellen’s face. After a moment’s contemplation Kipp finally spoke up once again, “but right now maybe I should focus on what’s important around here. Starting with us.”

“Huh?” Kellen snapped out of his daze long enough to look over at Kipp once again, “Oh yeah, right.”

“Look baby, I know you were upset with me because of what happened. I know that I completely went about dealing with the situation the wrong way especially when it was clear that you were feeling insecure about what was happening,” Kipp explained moving in closer to Kellen. “I realize that what you walked in on with Becca was very unsettling, but the fact to the matter is that I honestly only have eyes for you. Becca isn’t even close to being my type…”

“I know that Kipp, but…” Kellen stopped himself thinking about the strange fax that Heather had gotten. Suddenly he felt himself on edge as he knew only too well that sooner or later it would come up again and when it did Kipp might not be as understanding as he’d hoped for. “Look I don’t want to talk about that. There’s something else that we need to…”

“Kellen,” Kipp moved forward reaching up to cup Kellen’s face in his hands, “I realize that this makes you uncomfortable, but I need to make things clear to you. I know I’ve been distracted lately with work, but that doesn’t change how I feel about you. Don’t you know by now that you are it for me?”

“Kipp,” Kellen began taking in a small breath, “I really…”

“Shh,” Kipp placed his finger over the center of Kellen’s lips to silence him, “I know that right now it might not seem like it’s much to me, but I need you to know how I feel. Kellen, I’ve never had anyone in my life that has loved me like you have. Before you I was impossible, stubborn and I never could understand the value of real love. I kept trying to fool myself into believing that every superficial relationship I got into meant something, but it wasn’t until we found our way to one another that I truly learned what real love was. It wasn’t until you that I finally saw what it was that I’d been missing out on in my life. You’re warm, caring, considerate, supportive and you’re the one person in this world that I can trust with all that I am. I know that when I need you that you’ll always be there for me.”

“That’s true, but…” Kellen began to speak up in a muffled sound beneath Kipp’s finger tip.

“No buts about it. Kellen, you are everything to me and if I’ve ever made you feel like you have been taken for granted I apologize. I love you more than anything in this world and I would do absolutely anything to prove that to you,” Kipp promised removing his finger long enough to replace it with his lips. He eased his fingers up into Kellen’s hair offering up a more intimate kiss.

“Kipp,” Kellen murmured against his lover’s kiss, feeling a heat rise up over him. He curled his arm around Kipp’s waist before squeezing him in closer to him involuntarily.

“I love you Kellen,” Kipp spoke up in a reassuring tone, his fingers tapering off over Kellen’s muscled abdomen, “so very much.”

“I love you too,” Kellen pulled away from Kipp long enough to search his eyes, “and there’s so many things that I need to tell you--things that we still need to discuss because…”

“Right now nothing is more important than our being together in the here and now,” Kipp slid his hands up underneath Kellen’s shirt, feeling the warmth of Kellen’s body burning beneath his touch. He tipped up on his toes to nibble at Kellen’s neck before speaking up again in a soft, sensual whisper, “I missed you last night and I want to spend tonight showing you just how much you mean to me.”

“Oh Kipp,” Kellen sighed closing his eyes and relishing in his lover’s attention, but as Kipp started to push Kellen back onto the sofa, Kellen felt a flash of his earlier conversation with Heather carry over him, “wait.”

“What’s wrong?” Kipp questioned searching Kellen’s eyes.

“I just don’t think that right now we should be…” Kellen stammered wondering if he’d lost his mind as he’d never turned away an opportunity to be intimate with Kipp, yet as Kipp hovered over him ready to devote all his attention to Kellen, Kellen felt guilt tug at his conscience.

“Please don’t tell me that you’re still mad at me,” Kipp curled his lip in a pout, “because I promise you that…”

“No, that’s not it,” Kellen shook his head firmly before pushing up beneath Kipp on the couch. He started to sit upright before exhaling a labored breath. He brought his fingers up through his own hair before his blue eyes returned to Kipp, “it’s just that…”

“Kellen, honey what is it?” Kipp questioned reaching out to touch Kellen’s cheek tenderly.

“I just…” Kellen felt the words on the tip of his tongue before his courage faded and he was left to shuffle with his words. “I just think that maybe tonight we should spend our time together as a family. I missed Charles last night and…”

“Charles,” Kipp blinked back at him, his thought returning to his son who was staying with Kyle and Heather.

“Yeah, I mean there is just something about being with the little guy. I means sure this is nice--better than nice, but it’s been two days without Charles and I just feel like there is this void around us,” Kellen offered up a sad smile, “That sounds silly doesn’t it?”

“No not at all,” Kipp shook his head in agreement, “Truth be told he’s been on my mind most of the day as well. I called Kyle to check in with him earlier, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him. I know he’s in good hands, but you’re right. It’s just not the same without him around.”

“No it’s not,” Kellen agreed with a wide grin, “Plus maybe us having him would give Kyle and Heather some much needed time together.”

“You’re probably right on that,” Kipp nodded in response, “In fact, what do you say we go over there and bring him back for us?”

“That sounds great. I can just call Heather babes and…” Kellen stretched his arm out over the back of the couch to grab the phone.

“Actually let’s surprise them,” Kipp shrugged his shoulders simply, “I’m sure Heather is still at the office, so we’ll probably beat her home. We’ll just check in with Kyle and then take Charles with us.”

“It sounds like a plan,” Kellen decided ready to enjoy the night he had ahead of him with the man he loved and Charles. While he knew that he would have to come clean with Kipp sooner or later, he was going to wait until he and Heather found a way to break it to the men that they loved in the least painful way possible.


“I can’t believe how perfect tonight is going to be,” Stacy gushed reapplying another coat of her pink lip gloss to her lips. “I still cant’ believe that he said he wanted to see me tonight.”

“I can,” Jackie squealed in response as she continued to work on her friend’s hair. “I mean why wouldn’t he want to go out with you? You’re beautiful and he knows hotness when he sees it.”

“He knows jailbait when he sees it,” Lindsay replied with a worried expression looking up from the book she’d brought with her over to Jackie’s house. She set the book aside before speaking up again, “You know next to nothing about this guy Stacy, so I really can’t see how you can be excited about sneaking off with him. It sounds like trouble to me.”

“Everything sounds like trouble to you,” Jackie rolled her eyes at Lindsay, “Just ignore her. She thinks it’s a sin just to leave the house on a school night.”

“I do not,” Lindsay spoke up in protest, “I’m just cautious enough to know that it’s not the smartest of ideas to trot off with complete strangers when you know nothing about them other than they are good looking.”

“Hence the reason why you are eternally single,” Jackie rolled her eyes at Lindsay. “Seriously you’re going to have a great time.”

“I sure hope so,” Stacy kept her eyes focused on her reflection in the mirror, “because it’s been a long time since I went out with someone that good looking. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that good looking that wasn’t gay before.”

“Tell me about it,” Jackie waved her hand dismissively, “I mean when I saw him I honestly thought about going for him myself, but you and Caleb look hot together. I’m sure he’s going to show you the night of your life.”

“Yeah or end up causing you to lose your life,” Lindsay warned with another disapproving look. “Seriously Stacy you need to be careful.”

“And you have to stop being such a downer,” Jackie rolled her eyes at Lindsay’s warning. “Your virginal side is showing. Just because you don’t want to actually get laid in this lifetime doesn’t mean that the rest of us are ready to check into the convent with you.”

“I’m not checking into a convent. I’m just smart enough to know that I would make sure that the guy I’m spending time with is someone who is worth my time before I make any sudden moves. I mean for starters it’s going to be late and no one you know is with you,” Lindsay assessed the situation. “Clearly he’s isolating you from everyone you know and…”

“He’s probably afraid he’ll have to deal with a downer like you,” Jackie groaned outwardly. “Seriously Linds you’re such a buzz kill.”

“I’m just telling it like it is,” Lindsay pointed out with a huff. “I care what happens to you Stacy and I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“I won’t Linds. I promise,” Staccy turned around to face her friend. “If anything goes wrong, you’ll be the first person that I call, okay?”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better about it,” Lindsay frowned shaking her head at the thought, “I mean you have no idea what you’re stepping into.”

“A world of fun where it is a requirement for you to be a grown up. Something you know nothing about,” Jackie grumbled in response.

“Cut her a break. She’s just being a friend,” Stacy glared over at Jackie, “I really appreciate it Linds. I do, but I have to tell you that Caleb is a really stand up guy. He’s cute and sophisticated and…”

“Trouble,” Lindsay pointed out once again as the bell rang.

“He’s here!” Stacy squealed turning to the mirror again, “How do I look?”

“Like a diva,” Jackie explained rubbing her hands together excitedly. “You ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Stacy nodded in response taking in a breath before making her way to the front door of Jackie’s apartment. She opened it up to see Caleb leaning in against the door frame with a wide, bright white grin.

“Hey sweet thing,” he mouthed in a slow, sensual slur while his eyes swept up on over her, “you look sexy tonight.”

“Thank you,” Stacy replied with a blush. “You look pretty great yourself.”

“Of course I do,” Caleb reached out to sling his arm around her waist and draw her in nearer to him. “You ready to go?”

“Just let me grab my purse,” she explained holding her finger up as she rushed back into Jackie’s room leaving Caleb alone for a moment.

“Go distract him while I finish touching up her hair,” Jackie urged waving Lindsay out of the room as Stacy took the time to assess herself once again.

“No way,” Lindsay protested feeling Jackie shove her once again until she was out in the living room area alone with Caleb. She saw him turn around to face her and she cleared her throat uneasily, “Um, Stacy will be out in a few minutes.”

“Sure, sounds good,” he mouthed in response, his eyes widening before a smile teased over the corner of his lips. “I don’t mind waiting.”

“Good thing,” Lindsay turned towards the kitchen only to hear the sound of footsteps. She turned around to find him standing behind her with a lecherous grin.

“I didn’t catch your name before,” he slurred in an attempt to be captivating, but as he reached for Lindsay’s hand, she felt a shudder carry over her. “I’m Caleb.”

“I know,” Lindsay wiggled her hand out of his reach.

“And you are?” he prompted once again, his eyes casting over Lindsay once again.

“Not in the mood for conversation,” she spun on her heel turning towards the kitchen with a groan.

“That’s too bad, but then again with a body like yours I wouldn’t imagine that conversation would really be what it is that gets the guys going, now is it?” he questioned with a hint of laughter in his tone. “I would imagine you’re more of an action sort of girl.”

“Not for someone like you I’m not,” Lindsay turned around to glare at him once again. “You’re a creep and while Stacy can’t see through that smile and your charm, I can.”

“Is that right?” he stepped in closer to her, his eyes giving her a very obvious perusal. “And just what am I?”

“A predator that has no business going out on a date with my friend,” she placed her hands on her hips defiantly.

“I like to think of myself as more of a connoisseur,” he winked down at her with obvious amusement.

“I think the word pervert is what you’re looking for,” Lindsay balked back ready to say something more when Stacy sprung out of Jackie’s bedroom excitedly.

“I’m ready to go,” Stacy mouthed reaching out to wrap her arm around Caleb’s.

“Good the party is waiting for us,” Caleb kept his eyes on Lindsay as he hugged Stacy in closer to him, “and we don’t want to keep everyone waiting.”

“Of course not,” Stacy giggled in agreement before waving at Lindsay, “By Linds.”

“Yeah by Linds,” Caleb quipped catching the expression on Lindsay’s face. “Hopefully we’ll see you later.”

“Don’t count on it,” Lindsay rolled her eyes before turning to leave.

“If you change your mind,” Caleb reached into his pocket and withdrew a small card, “here’s my number.”

“I’m sure I won’t need it,” Lindsay spit back at him before rethinking the offer, “On second thought sure, why not? Maybe I’ll show up later.”

“Great,” Caleb’s eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morning. “That sounds even better.”

“Right,” Lindsay nodded turning her attention to Stacy. “Just be careful.”

“I will,” Stacy promised waving at her friend before slipping out of the apartment with Caleb much to Lindsay’s dismay.

After she left Linday looked to the card in her hand pondering what it meant to have her friend leave with Caleb. She heard Jackie return to the room with a bright grin.

“Oh she’s going to have fun tonight,” Jackie boasted before nodding to the card in Lindsay’s hand, “What’s that?”

“Caleb’s invitation to the party later,” Lindsay rolled her eyes and tucked the card into her pocket.

“Seriously?” Jackie’s eyes lit up. “We should totally go I mean how fun would that be?”

“I get the feeling that Caleb isn’t what Stacy thinks he is,” Lindsay couldn’t help but point out. “I mean aren’t you the least bit worried about her?”

“Why because an older guy wants to date her?” Jackie arched a curious brow. “You know Linds there really isn’t anything wrong with that even if you are against it.”

“It’s not that I’m against an older guy, but that particular guy just creeps me out,” Lindsay explained as her thoughts returned to Stacy. While she hadn’t wanted to let Stacy go, she knew there would be no changing her mind. Still as Lindsay held the card in her pocket, she just hoped that nothing would happen to her friend that would end up hurting her in the long run.

“You worry too much,” Jackie mouthed reaching for Lindsay’s arm. “Come on. Let’s forget about Stacy’s night for a while and do something fun.”

“Like what?” Lindsay couldn’t help but question.

“Go outside and watch Deana’s brother for a little while,” Jackie suggested with a bright grin, “He’s new in town and he usually works out around this time each and every night. He gets all hot and sweaty with his shirt off in the gym downstairs and…”

“No way,” Stacy shook her head firmly.

“Oh come on. He’s hot and besides you should see the way he does those ab curls,” Jackie continued to gush on Jason. “He gets all hot and sweaty and so very sexy. What I wouldn’t give to have half an hour alone with him when he’s all fired up like that and…”

“Ok just stop right there,” Lindsay brought her hands up over her ears. “I’m not listening to any more of this.”

“Why because if you talk about boys then you’re going to end up having to go to church and confession for weeks for thinking about sex?” Jackie challenged folding her arms in front of her chest. “You don’t have to be such a prude you know.”

“First of all I’m not a prude and second of all it’s Jason you’re talking about. He and I are like family…well sort of,” Lindsay wrinkled her nose at the thought. “I don’t want you talking about him like that when…”

“Why not? Have you checked out his body? I mean you have to be blind not to notice how hot he is? I would just love to lick a…” Jackie continued to gush on Jason.

“Just stop right there,” Lindsay waved her hands around in the air, “because if you don’t I’m going to puke.”

“Why? Because you don’t like boys?” Jackie spoke up in a mocking tone.

“No, because I don’t want to think about you and any guy that way,” Lindsay explained matter of fact. “In fact right now I just want to go out and get something to eat. I’m kind of hungry and pizza sounds good.”

“Sure, but after we’re so totally going to check in on Jason,” Jackie reached for her car keys. “Hell since you’re so close to him maybe you can snag us an invite over to watch a movie or something. You could hook us up.”

“Don’t count on it,” Lindsay muttered under her breath wondering why in the world it was that she couldn’t find just a normal friend to spend her time with. Still as she tried to enjoy her night with Jackie, she just hoped and prayed that Stacy didn’t wind up in a situation far over her head!


“I guess it was kind of counterproductive to make breakfast today,” Brant laughed lightly carrying the last of the dishes over to the sink and handing one of the pots to Angela as she stood beside the soapy water in the sink, washing a few of the things that couldn’t make their way into the dishwasher. “If anything all it did was make an expensive mess.”

“I don’t know if I would go that far,” she tipped her head back to watch him for a moment seeing a spark behind his familiar brown eyes. “Don seemed to really enjoy breakfast.”

“Don always enjoys breakfast, lunch, dinner and just about anything else that we pass his way,” Brant chuckled thinking about his best friend, “He was the one person I knew would eat anything I had to cook without protest. He was always the first one to just dive into whatever culinary concoction I could come up with.”

“Sounds like Don was a very brave man,” she laughed lightly thinking about the man that was her doctor.

“That’s a polite way of putting it. He and I got into more trouble than you can even begin to imagine,” Brant added wiping at the counter again before seeing her reach for the pan he’d brought over to the sink. “I can finish that if you would like. You don’t have to clean up my kitchen.”

“I don’t mind,” she shrugged her shoulders depositing the pan into the soapy water, “I did contribute to the mess didn’t I?”

“You weren’t the only one, so it’s not really fair for me to make you do all the work,” Brant decided moving in closer to her and rolling up his already messy sleeves. He stepped in behind her circling his arms around hers. Reaching forward, he dropped his hands into the water with hers reaching for one of the sponges to start cleaning the pan.

“Brant, what are you doing?” she questioned with a nervousness settling in over her abdomen as she felt his body pressed in behind hers.

“Making the work easier on the both of us,” he mouthed in response trying to sound neutral and ignore the feeling that was carrying over him at the way it felt to be beside her. He continued to clean at the pan wishing like hell he could put his hands on her instead. “It’s only fair for me to help.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she nodded dipping her hands into the water again. She closed her eyes for a moment feeling the warmth of the water over her fingers, while his sleek, musculature pressed into her spine. She bit down on her lower lip feeling their fingers collide against one another beneath the water’s surface while they worked to clean the pan. Immediately she dropped the sponge that she’d been using and she reopened her eyes seeing their hands close to one another beneath the soapy water.

“You know it’s more fun doing dishes with a companion,” Brant spoke up in a light tone trying to keep things from feeling to awkward between them even though he found himself wanting her unlike anything he’d ever imagined. Still he kept focused on the task at hand. “And I have to admit you’re a much more beautiful dish washing partner than Don would be.”

“I’m sure he would hate to hear you say that,” Angela replied with a nervous laugh trying to ignore the heat that was coiling through her body at the scent of his cologne. She closed her eyes again and searched the water for the sponge she‘d lost, but instead she felt her hand connect with his bringing with it the first bristling jolt of electricity between them. She couldn’t help but shiver as she felt his finger curl around hers--the way the warmth of his hand sent thrills sweeping over her. She inhaled slowly feeling his fingers circle over her wrist, massaging her damp skin gently while her other hand sought out his lacing their fingers with one another.

“I think he would get over it,” Brant whispered warmly over the back of her neck, watching the way she seemed to respond to him. He inched in closer to her anticipating what it would be like to kiss her again. He arched his lips closer to the back of her neck remembering only too well what it would be like to taste her soft skin again when he felt her stiffen. Before he could say anything, she wiggled out of his arms and reached for the towel he’d discarded on the countertop. He turned around to face her, but realized that the moment had passed them by as she looked away from him.

“I wonder what’s taking Kevin so long,” Angela frowned looking over to the back door where Kevin had exited a while earlier in an attempt to keep from turning to Brant again and being reminded of what was happening between them over by the sink. She inhaled a long, slow breath trying to remind herself that they weren’t doing anything wrong. They were just doing dishes and talking. There was nothing wrong in that even if she‘d found herself feeling a few things that she hadn‘t anticipated. Boldly she made the decision to ignore what was happening inside of her. She spun around to face Brant again seeing him draining the water in the sink before putting the soap in the dishwasher and turning it on. “He should’ve been back by now.”

“I’m sure he’s just finishing up with the trash,” Brant shrugged his shoulders wishing like hell that Angela would stop focusing on Kevin long enough for him to make some kind of progress with her. They’d felt so close to making a breakthrough with one another, but then it felt as if she’d pulled away from him making things go back further. They’d been so close for a brief second, but then she’d run away leaving him to deal with his mounting frustrations. “Then again maybe he went back to the guest house to get cleaned up.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” Angela sighed turning around to face him again all the while trying to ignore the pounding in her heart at the sight of him. For the briefest of seconds she found herself longing to feel that small burst of energy he‘d given her when his fingers had meshed with hers, but it was ridiculous. For her to think about Kevin‘s friend in such a fashion was beyond wrong. She couldn‘t let herself think about things that would most certainly upset the balance in her relationship with Kevin when she had so much ahead of her, “though I wish he would’ve said something to me first before going.”

“You know what I think,” Brant tossed the dishrag he’d been working with earlier aside, “I think that you worry too much about what Kevin’s doing.”

“What do you mean?” Angela questioned tipping her head to the side giving him a strange look. If she hadn’t known better she would say that there was a spark of attraction there. Heaven knows she’d felt it when they were at the sink, but now, well now there was just something about his eyes--about the way he was watching her.

“Well for starters you’re a bright, beautiful, independent woman and that last time I checked you were far too strong to be worrying about having a man at your side all of the time,” Brant stated boldly seeing something flash behind her eyes. Taking it as a sign of encouragement he kept speaking with her, “Why not live a little and stop worrying about Kevin? He’s fine.”

“I know, but…” Angela began again, her gaze traveling over to the window once again.

“Tell you what. I’ll call over to the guest house if it’ll make you happy and see what Kevin’s doing. While I’m doing that you can get dressed because I have some things upstairs for you,” Brant offered up with a warm smile hoping to find an excuse to stay close to her.

“For me?” she blinked back at him confusion settling in over her.

“Yeah, well you know um, Blake is close to your size and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind you borrowing something,” Brant lied knowing full well that he had plenty of Angela’s things upstairs waiting for her. “When Kevin comes back you’ll already be cleaned up and won’t have to worry about leaving to take another shower. You can just take one here.”

“I don’t know,” she glanced over at the door once again.

“What’s wrong? You afraid I’m going to bite or something?” he teased winking over at her in an attempt to keep things light between them after their moment they‘d shared. ‘You have to trust that you’re in good hands with me Angela.”

“I do, but,” she bit down on her bottom lip nervously before her eyes traveled over the length of her dirty shirt. “Maybe a change would be good for me. I would really love to get some of this sticky stuff out of my hair.”

“Great, then how about I show you where everything is?” Brant suggested feeling his heart thrumming in his chest when he watched her nibbling on her lip. He closed his eyes for a moment remembering all the times she’d done that when she’d been nervous or feeling adventurous. It was usually the first hint that he could reach out and kiss her and everything would be okay--except this time he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t be honest with his feelings because she knew nothing of them--she knew nothing of him and he had to do what was best for her even if it meant hiding from his heart in every way imaginable.

“Sure,” Angela finally nodded in response, “but when Kevin walks in you’ll tell me, right?”

“Of course,” he nodded offering up a warm smile in the hopes that one day she might remember what they had with one another. Hopefully that day would come long before the birth of their children because if it didn’t, then Brant feared he may find himself missing out on a whole hell of a lot more than he’d ever imagined.


“I love you baby,” Kevin whispered thickly against Ria’s lips as he felt her nails scratch in against the firm skin on his muscular chest before her fingers ran up and through his thick, dark hair. “I love you so very much, I hope you know that.”

“I’d love to hear you say it again,” Ria replied with a half smile feeling him cup her face in his large hands as his thumb caressed the hollow of her cheek before moving forward to tenderly kiss her lips. “Say it again.”

“Say what?” he smirked gently nipping at her bottom lip before pressing small loving kisses in against her jaw line, only to feel her hit him in the center of his chest. Laughing at her response he pulled her more in over him on the seat that were at located on the side of the pool before tipping up toward another kiss again. “Baby, I love you so much.”

“I love you too,” she sighed as his fingertips skimmed over her tender flesh cupping her bottom in his hands softly making a surprised gasp escape her lips. “Kevin, in all honesty we really need to get back to the mansion because people are going to start wondering.”

“Then let them wonder,” he growled in response skimming his lips in over the side of her neck nipping softly at her sensitive skin. Moving her in over him even more, his dark eyes met hers as his hands slid in over her bare hips and up to cup her breasts in his hands tenderly. “They can come and watch as they please.”

“Well what do you want them to see?” she rested her head back feeling his lips press in over her chest and before he could reach his destination she tugged roughly at his damp hair making him move back. “Do you want them to see me touching you like this?”

“Of course,” he closed his eyes resting his head back against the chair as she teased her fingertips from his chest down to his rippled abdomen. Teasing small circles in over his bellybutton, she smiled watching him let out a small groan and she gripped him in her hand tightly. “They can see everything for all I care.”

“You seem to want to be a bad boy, don’t you?” Ria teased further dipping down to nip at his chest before gently tugging at his nipple with her teeth making him let out a small hiss. “Is that what you want?”

“What I want is for you to stop teasing me,” Kevin stated with a small movement forward as he felt her fingers move in over the marks on his chest. He closed his eyes at the feeling of her teasing her hips in over him as he shook his head slowly wrapping his arm around her waist and picked her up in his arms. Moving her over toward the table in the corner of the pool house he laid her back against it before smiling widely. “Oh yeah, this is more my thing. My turn.”

“Kev,” she went to say something more only to feel him press in over her, his lips meeting hers in a hungry kiss as his left arm urged her legs around his waist. “People really are going to start looking for us if we don’t…,”

“Then let them look, I don’t care,” he pointed out with a small shrug of his shoulders before pressing his tongue in against hers feeling her fingers softly tugging at his hair. Finally, joining them together he felt her nails rake down his back enticing him in ways only she could do as let out a deep breath. Watching her rest her head back letting out a small gasp, he pressed tender kisses against her neck before meeting her lips again. “I leave when I’m ready to leave, no one rushes me and my baby.”

“Kevin,” she gasped arching up into him as she felt him slowly start move inside of her seeing the way his brown eyes stared out into hers before he dipped down and pressed heated kisses in over her breast. A small moan escaped her lips as he moved his tongue in over her body making her arch up into him even more as he thrust slowly inside of her. “Kevin, please?”

“I’ll give you what you want if you tell me you love me,” he smirked pausing his movements inside of her watching her bite down on her bottom lip and rest her head back against the table. “That’s all it takes.”

“Please,” she begged seeing him shake his head before smirking and letting out a small sigh himself as her nails dug into his muscular shoulders making him let out a groan. “Okay, okay. I love you.”

“Good girl,” he smirked moving back down to tease his tongue in over her taut skin making her let out a small moan that was soon followed by a groan of his own as he started to move inside of her. Desperately, she slid her fingers into his thick dark hair pulling him back up to her, kissing him over and over again as she felt the pace between them quicken. “Kevin.”

“Tell me you love me one more time,” Kevin replied moving in closer to her to press a small kiss against her earlobe feeling her nails scratching in over his large arms. “I want to hear you say you love me and then I’ll give you everything.”

“You can’t be serious,” Ria breathed feeling him snap his hips forward making her arch up into him more before he pulled almost all the way away from her, teasing her with the thoughts of him stopping. “You are such a jerk and I love you for that. I love you, okay?”

“That’s my girl,” Kevin smirked moving in closer to kiss her, suckling gently at her bottom lip and finally giving her what she wanted as he felt her arms wrap tightly around his neck. A small noise erupted from the back of her throat as his eyebrows tightened together loving every minute of having her with him. Everything was going perfect until a loud noise erupted from the behind them as they heard someone stumbling over a few things that crashed to the floor. Kevin’s eyes widened as he heard someone try to pick everything up to fix what they had done. “Oh god, please tell me that’s not Angie.”

Kevin turned his head to see Don standing in the back of the room with wide blue eyes as Kevin heard Ria let out a small gasp pulling away from him and falling back to grab her towel.

“Don?” Kevin tried to cover himself up before letting out a small hiss grabbing his shirt from the wet ground and placing it over the front of his groin. “What are you doing in here? How long have you been in here?”

“Well you…,” Don pointed over towards the chair before rolling his eyes and taking in a deep breath. “Then you were…,” Don whispered again feeling his breath escape his lips as he pointed over towards the table. “And you two were…wow.”

“How long were you here Don?” Kevin snapped stepping forward and seeing Don do the same and Kevin dropped his shirt to the ground grabbing Don by the collar of his shirt, lifting him up from the ground. “How long?”

“Ria, I thought you were a doctor,” Don got out of the only thing that came to his mind as Kevin set him down and looked back at Ria who was wrapped up in a towel. Kevin’s dark eyes met Don’s again as Don gulped and looked down for a moment. “You should know to use protection because you could get things like…”

“Don,” Ria gasped deeply seeing the look that spread out over Kevin’s
features as he stared out at Don and she knew that Kevin was mad. Kevin‘s jaw was tightening in anger, his eyebrows clenching together as he glared out at Don in front of him. “We were just…”

“I think I know what you were doing,” Don looked down towards Kevin’s groin again seeing Kevin do the same movement before their eyes locked in a gaze. “I think big Kevin down here is ready to go for hours from what it seems like.”

“Man, would you stop looking at my…,” Kevin was about to finish his sentence as he reached down and grabbed the soaked shirt from the floor. “Why do you keep looking at my…?”

“Well, hello,” Don laughed deeply seeing Kevin’s light brown eyes staring into his as Don looked down again, seeing that Kevin was still very obvious through the shirt he was trying to hide himself with. “It’s up and out there Kevin, I think anyone with eyes can see that one.”

“You’re a man, you aren’t supposed to be looking,” Kevin placed both his hands over his groin trying to cover himself even more only to see Don staring out at his chest. “What are you looking at? You know you are really starting to freak me out Don, like big time.”

“I was just,” Don stepped forward about to say something else to defend himself until he felt the floor moving out beneath him and he fell forward towards Kevin seeing Kevin drop his shirt in time to catch him. “Damn water.”

“It’s a pool house, it’s going to be wet Donald,” Kevin pointed out feeling Don’s hands pressed in against his chest as Kevin’s eyebrows tensed together feeling Don’s fingers run in over the front of his hard chest slowly. “What in the hell are you doing?”

“You have such a smooth chest. Aren‘t you Greek?” Don questioned seeing Kevin’s eyes narrow at him before Don looked over Kevin’s chest again. Kevin nodded slowly as Don moved one of his hands away from Kevin’s chest and ran it in against Kevin‘s shoulder. “Do you like shave your whole body or do you wax it because I thought Greeks were supposed to be hairy people. So what is it? Wax or shave? I always thought about maybe showing my chest off like that, but my whole body I would be so afraid to use a razor. What‘s your secret Kevin because you have a really nice chest.”

“Damn it Don, what is wrong with you man?” Kevin snapped looking to the side to see Ria staring over at him like something bad was going on as Kevin’s eyes widened realizing that he was still naked. Kevin looked down between him and Don as Don did the same and he cleared his throat uneasily, shaking his head as he spoke up again. “You might want to move back.”

“Oh my god,” Don shivered in disgust jumping away from Kevin wiping his shirt off and wrinkling his nose in disgust as he saw Kevin‘s eyes glance over at him. There was no way he was just in a naked man’s arms, but he was and that was the worst part about it. “I’m going to be--away.”

“Good idea,” Kevin nodded with a small laugh seeing Don leave the room as Kevin walked back over towards Ria seeing her sit down on the chair before him. “Are you sure he is Brant’s best friend and not his lover? If I do believe so, I think he was just feeling me up big time and checking out every part of my body.”

“Be nice,” she laughed holding the towel tighter around her body seeing him shrug before looking down at his chest and flexing his chest muscles repeatedly. “Do you know how ridiculous that looks? You make it look like your bouncing them, it’s hot, but so ridiculous.”

“I kind of am bouncing them, but you’re right it is hot,” Kevin smirked moving forward and running his fingers in over the smooth ripples in his abdomen seeing her dark eyes staring up at him. “You know I’m perfect and that’s what you love about me.”

“You are perfect,” she whispered seeing him rest his hands against his naked hips as he arched his eyebrows up in response to tease. He brought his right hand up to outline the tattoo around his bellybutton before clearing his throat and shrugging his shoulders. “I just worry about you sometimes.”

“There’s nothing to worry about honey, I’m perfect,” he smirked seeing the way she rolled her eyes before letting out a long laugh. Stepping forward he shrugged his shoulders and let out a long sigh eyeing her over as she threw her hair over her shoulder. “You know, I would say we have a couple of minutes before we have to go. You want to finish up what we started?”

“What did you have in mind?” Ria looked up at him with her dark eyes realizing that his body was still aching before her as she reached up to grasp his body in her hand tightly hearing him let out a small growl. Moving forward to press a heated kiss against his firm abdomen, she started to slowly stroke him in long, languid movements making him let out a long sigh before closing his eyes as she spoke up again. “Is this what?”

“Actually,” Kevin hissed pulling away from her carefully before shaking his head slowly and kneeling down still tall enough to kiss her lips, sliding his fingers up the smooth skin of her inner thighs. As his fingers started to inch up underneath the towel, a wide smile spread out over his features while her lust filled eyes stared into his. “I was actually thinking of something more for you. I can always take care of myself later.”

Kevin smirked moving forward to press his lips in against her inner thigh, inching her towel up her hips inch by inch feeling her fingers move in over the back of his neck. She knew that they should get back to the mansion right now, but now as Kevin was so close to starting what he wanted, she couldn’t help but want to stay.

“Kevin, I thought I should tell you that maybe you should get a shirt on or something. After looking at you, you have scratch marks up and down your chest and back. You also have a ton of bite marks on your neck and chest and I think if Angela sees something like that, she is automatically going to think the worst,” Don walked back into the pool house seeing Kevin and Ria in another position he knew he should have never walked in on. “Oh my, I didn’t…”

“Damn it Don,” Kevin got up quickly to his feet turning to face Don, but startled Don making him fall back towards the pool. Kevin was almost relieved that Don was falling, but that ended as soon as Don reached out to grab Kevin’s arm tugging him into the water with him. Feeling the water close in over his head while Don held onto his arm, Kevin pushed away from Don under the water realizing that Don was about to get a good butt kicking for all of this.


“This is beautiful,” Evie confessed tipping her head to the side and watching JT lay out over the blanket he’d packed for them to take on their picnic. With the sun shining in overhead it was the perfect kind of day in the small clearing they’d come to on Cameron’s property. She saw the way that the small breeze caught his hair, moving it ever so slightly and she couldn’t help but smile, “I can’t believe that your brother has this private slice of heaven in his backyard.”

“Cameron’s known for taking a piece of heaven with him wherever he goes,” JT admitted with a small smile reaching out to the bowl of strawberries he’d packed for their picnic. He raised one in the air, lifting it closer to her lips and smiling, “Want another one?”

“Do you really even have to ask?” she grinned in response leaning forward to accept the fruit between her now parted lips. She took a small bite feeling the juice tease over her chin. Laughing lightly she reached up to stop it from getting all over her face when she felt JT brush his finger tip against her chin to wipe up the juice. He then tasted the juice from his finger and grinned up at her.

“Very sweet,” he added with a small smile, seeing the way that her eyes lit up taking in every single piece of their surroundings.

“I love it,” Evie mouthed catching a glimpse of something in the distance just across the clearing from where they were at with one another. “What’s that?”

“What’s what?” JT questioned seeing her extend her hand out across the distance pointing in the opposite direction.

“I hear a noise, what’s that over there?” she couldn’t help but ask her dark eyes widening with curiosity. “I hear a sound.”

“Oh well that’s just Cameron’s lake he had put in,” JT explained with a small smile, “It’s something he had put in to make things seem more like the great outdoors. He grew up on a lake when he was younger and had the best of the best people who work landscape bring it in for him.”

“I want to take a look at it,” Evie decided uncurling her feet from beneath her on the blanket. “Come on JT. Let’s go see it.”

“What about the strawberries,” he couldn’t help but ask watching her bend down and scoop them up in her arms.

“These babies come with me,” she announced brightly heading off in the direction of the sound.

“Why do I get the feeling that I’m in for trouble today,” JT shook his head pulling himself up off of the blanket to follow after her. It didn’t take long to catch up to her as she stood at the foot of the lake taking in it’s beauty.

“Wow,” Evie couldn’t help but gasp seeing the way that things seemed to take on a life of their own now that they’d seemingly walked into another world on Cameron’s estate grounds, “This is beautiful.”

“Not nearly as beautiful as you are,” JT stepped in behind her wrapping his arms around her waist and squeezing her in against him, “If you like this, then you’re going to love the place he’s got on the island. It’s incredible.”

“This is incredible,” she turned in his arms, holding the bowl of strawberries between them. She tipped her head up and tossed her long, dark hair behind her shoulders. “I want to go in.”

“Inside?” he repeated giving her a puzzled look, “You want to go back to the house even though we just got here?”

“Not the house silly,” she shook her head firmly, pushing the bowl of strawberries into his arms, “I want to go in there.”

“In the lake?” he replied watching her nod eagerly, “Are you sure about that? I mean we didn’t exactly come here packing anything more than lunch and…”

“Afraid to go for a little dip?” she wiggled her brow at him suggestively taking a step back. She reached out to the bottom of her shirt and winked over at him, “Afraid of what might happen if I get you in there?”

“No, not exactly, but neither one of us brought any suit with us,” JT watched her tear her shirt up over her head discarding it in a lightening quick movement before reaching for the button to her pants.

“Who needs a suit when we have all of this to enjoy,” she motioned to the water again shimmying out of her pants before she eyed him curiously. She turned her attention to her wrist and the bracelet he’d given her. Carefully she unclasped it and leaned forward to carefully push it into his pocket before stepping back. “JT, why don’t you put the berries down and get undressed?”

“Evie, I don’t know if…” he started to protest feeling her step up to him, her fingers pushing open the buttons on his shirt. Within a matter of seconds it was on the ground and her hand pressed in over his pants doing her best to get them open until he pushed his hand over her wrist, “I think I can do this part.”

“Okay,” she nodded biting on her lower lip and taking a step back. She watched him slide out of his jeans before she reached up to curl her arms around her back to unhook her bra. She saw JT’s eyes widen as she tried her best to look flirty and tossed her hair over her shoulders again.

“You could probably leave that on if you want to,” JT stepped in towards her feeling an uncomfortable sensation build in the pit of his stomach at the idea of seeing her naked. They’d been in similar situations with one another in the past, yet he remembered what she’d told him about never having crossed that line into taking on a lover before. Sure, he’d had plenty of women in his life that he’d easily and readily jumped into bed with, but this was different with Evie. There was something about her that had made him want to have more than what he’d had until now.

“Why would I want to ruin it when it‘s one of the nicest ones I have,” she shrugged her shoulders pushing the material off of her shoulders and barely keeping herself covered in front of him. “You’re not intimidated by the idea of my getting naked, are you?”

“Not at all, but I hope you realize what kind of dangerous territory you’re stepping into,” he spoke up in a low, tight voice, his gaze sweeping over her curves and thinking about how beautiful she truly was.

“I like danger,” she mouthed dropping her arms down in front of her and letting her bra meet her shirt on the ground. She took a bold step towards him watching the way his gaze swept over her curves. Smiling, she reached out to him, guiding his hands over her breasts as she offered up a smile, “I’m not naked anymore, am I?”

“Evie, I just…” he cleared his throat again trying to think of something to say to coax her out of this suddenly very dangerous idea. He felt her body melt into his touch, her soft skin sending jolts of electricity rushing over him when he knew full well he’d intended to have a quiet, peaceful morning with her. He cupped her soft curves in his hands, listening to the sounds of soft sighs carrying over her.

“Mmm, that feels good,” she confessed arching her head back and leaning up into his touch, “JT I love it when you hold me like this.”

“Evie, you’re just…” he found himself at a loss wishing like hell he wasn’t going to take the moral high ground with her. Still, he couldn’t keep pushing things not when she wasn’t entirely prepared to take things to the next level between them. He opened his mouth to say something--anything that would stop things from escalating between them, but instead he leaned forward claiming her lips in a slow, tender kiss, feeling her body melt against his urgings. He dropped one arm around her waist pulling her in closer to him while her arm curled around his waist, fingers teasing in over the elastic waistband of his boxers.

“Let’s go swimming,” she murmured against his lips pushing the material of his boxers away from his hips urging them down his body in a greedy movement.

“Okay, but I should probably warn you I’m a very skilled swimmer,” he offered up stepping back and seeing a hint of mischief behind her eyes. He tried to keep his tone even, but in seeing her so very close to him looking so tempting in every way, he found it difficult to think straight.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” she teased her gaze dropping down to where his boxers rode low on his waist giving her another tempting view of his body. She felt her heart thrumming in her chest, her mouth grow dry in anticipation of seeing him naked again and as her own shaky fingers slid in beneath her panties, she knew that she was certainly crossing lines that she swore she wouldn’t cross just yet.

“Evie, maybe we should just keep these on,” JT decided seeing the way her hand started to tremble when she’d moved to take off the pale pink panties she’d been wearing.

“Again, I’m not going to ruin these,” she decided taking in a breath and pushing them off of her body in a rush. She saw JT’s eyes widen before she let out a small laugh, “Last one in the water is a rotten egg.”

“Oh that’s so not fair,” JT watched her rush off into the water and he kicked out of his boxers moving off after her only to feel her splash him in the face when she’d taken a dive inside. He followed her movement going in under the water in the hopes of seeking her out. He felt the icy cold of the water carry over him when he broke beneath the surface, but there was no sign of Evie.

“Evie,” he called out her name, looking around the lake to see nothing but the smooth surface of the water around him. Immediately worry poured over him as he feared she’d hit her head on the way down. He dove under again opening his eyes in an attempt to seek her out, but found nothing. He swam forward pushing through the water in the hopes of discovering her, but the more he searched, the more his frustrations mounted.

“Damn it,” he mouthed pushing himself up over the water’s surface when he’d realized that he’d been running out of breath. He looked around again, his heart hammering in his chest with fear when he felt something on his shoulder.

“JT,” she spoke his name causing him to spin around with a gasp.

“You scared the hell out of me,” he cursed under his breath, a frown touching over his lips, “I thought that you were hurt when you didn’t surface.”

“I just found something over there and I wanted to check it out,” she pointed over to a rock formation that she’d noticed on the way into the lake. “It looked really neat so I went in for a closer look.”

“I thought that you’d hit your head--that you were hurt and…” JT explained worriedly letting out a breath of relief as he reached for her. “If you would’ve been injured…”

“I’m fine,” she pushed her hand out of the water to touch his cheek lightly, “JT I’m okay. Listen, I’m sorry. I was just looking around and you have to see this. It’s almost like your brother has this little secret area he had installed.”

“What do you mean?” JT blinked back at her.

“Follow me,” she reached for his hand guiding him over to the other end of the water, “Do you see that stone wall there?”

“Yeah, what about it?” he questioned watching her curl her finger over at him.

“You have to go under to see what I found, but I’m sure you’re going to love it,” she explained diving in underneath the water’s surface again and JT let out a long sigh opting to follow. He could see her through the water, kicking her legs as she headed to the bottom of the rock. Within a matter of seconds she seemed to disappear into the rock’s floor and a curious expression swept over him.

“Where are you?” he thought to himself spotting what appeared to be a hole in the formation. Swiftly he wiggled his way into the opening to the rock that Evie must’ve slipped into. He swam upward seeing light overhead and as he broke above the water’s surface he found himself surrounded by light and warmth.

“Isn’t it incredible,” Evie’s voice echoed over the stone walls as JT turned around to see her immersed in a hot tub of sorts, set up just beyond where he’d surfaced. While the rock hadn’t looked like much, JT realized it was very hollow on the inside and provided a room that rivaled a great many that Cameron had over in the mansion. JT pushed himself to the water’s edge and raised himself up enough to see Evie dangling her toes out over the side of the hot tub.

“I can’t believe that your brother did all this,” Evie noted taking a look around at the various skylights overhead, “I mean how many people actually think about building a Jacuzzi in the middle of a lake. It’s too funny.”

“Funny isn’t exactly the word for it,” JT glanced over at Evie spotting the fact that she had a long stemmed glass in her hand. “What’s that?”

“Champagne,” she confessed with a small laugh offering the glass out to him, “If you come on in and join me, you can have some of it.”

“I’ll take all of it,” JT leaned forward reaching out to steal the glass from her hand only to feel her pull it away from him.

“Only if you join me in here,” she shook her head, her eyes taking in the lines of his body greedily as he hoisted himself in over the edge of the hot tub. He pulled himself up just enough to reveal the v of his narrow waist to her and she licked her lips, “Come on JT I’m getting really tempted to drink this one.”

“You really are asking for trouble today,” he shook his head at her climbing over the side of the hot tub to slide into it beside her. He noticed the way that her gaze was fixed on him in his entrance and he shook his head at her, “You’re a little pervert you know that.”

“Hey,” she frowned feeling him pull the champagne glass away from her swiftly, “it’s not like you weren’t looking at me when I got undressed before.”

“As if you were trying to hide anything,” he lifted the glass to his lips before stopping himself, “Where did you find this?”

“There’s a mini bar over there. Your brother has his own private stash from what I can see,” Evie confessed reaching for the glass again and taking a long sip of it.

“Hey, you’re not supposed to be drinking that,” he frowned over at her snatching the glass away again.

“It’s not really champagne. It’s sparkling grape juice,” she informed him with a giggle seeing him moving in for a sip.

“It really is grape juice,” JT mouthed setting the glass down on the smooth rock formation behind them. “Where did you find this?”

“I told you,” she inched in closer to him, a cryptic expression on her face, “it was in the fridge.”

“I see,” he noted watching her move in dangerously close to him. “And when did you have time to be poking around in this mystery fridge?”

“When you thought I had drown, which by the way I’m really sorry about,” Evie confessed leaning in to place a soft kiss over his neck, “JT, I didn’t mean to scare you like that. It’s just when I found this I got all excited and…”

“And I was worried that you’d really injured yourself, yet here you were setting up all of this,” JT shook his head at her before feeling her nibble on his earlobe. He stiffened as her fingers teased over his chest, dipping down beneath the bubbling water that they were immersed in. His dark eyes perked up and he tipped his head to the side to see her face flushed with something he hadn’t spotted moments earlier, “What’s this?”

“What do you think it is,” she questioned in a low, sultry tone, her touch grazing in against his thigh as she leaned in to nibble on his lower lip.

“Trouble,” he mouthed in response, a breath escaping from his lips as she moved her palm in over him, her touch sweeping in over his naked masculine form. He pulled away from the kiss meeting her dark eyes, “Evie wait. This isn’t what…”

“What I want?” she arched a curious brow releasing him long enough to climb in over his lap, “JT, you and I both know full well what I want and it’s you.”

“I know sweetheart, but,” he sucked in a sharp breath trying to quell the feelings that overtook him.

“JT stop treating me like a child,” she frowned shaking her head at him, “I’m not a little girl you know.”

“I never said you were, but still…” he felt her face growing hot with embarrassment, “Evie look at me.”

“Why so you can tell me all over again how I’m not supposed to be feeling like I do? How I’m not supposed to be wanting you like I am?” she questioned with a frown, her hands shaking as she attempted to push herself away from him.

“Evie wait,” he grabbed her before she could leave him, his hand touching her cheek gently, “look it’s just that I’m trying to make things right for you. I want them to be perfect.”

“What could be more perfect than my being with you right now,” she questioned in a low, pleading breath, her lips beckoning his again in another kiss. He squeezed her in closer to him, his arm curling around her waist, urging her against his chest as their eyes connected.

“You’re so beautiful,” he mouthed raising her up in the water so that he could get a long look at her. His kisses pressed over her shoulder, feeling her breath grow labored with anticipation. He leaned forward tracing his lips over her shoulder, across her collar bone before his palm cupped her in his hand. She let out a low, mewling sound arching in against his urgings before his lips followed tasting her with a new sense of desire.

“JT,” she groaned his name wiggling her hips over him while his hand flattened out over her back, steadying her while he tasted the sweetness of her silken skin again and again, “oh JT…”

“Evie,” he mouthed her name seeking out her lips once more. He felt her tangle her fingers through his hair, her thighs wrapping around his and as she started to move in over him attempting to position them as one, he pushed back, “wait.”

“What?” she questioned in a low, shallow pant, her body washed in desire.

“We can’t do this,” JT breathed heavily, his heart hammering in his chest.

“Why not,” she questioned her nails scratching lightly over his chest, growing more urgent with desire.

“Because we just can’t,” he explained closing his eyes and trying to keep rational about the situation.

“Don’t you want me?” she questioned curling her lip in a pout.

“Evie, if you even have to ask right now then clearly I must be doing something wrong here,” he tried to make light of the situation before forcing himself to meet her eyes again. He reached out to touch her face lightly, their dark eyes reaching out to one another again, “but I promised you that I would make things perfect for us.”

“What could be more perfect than our own private slice of paradise right here? Forget the island. This is heaven,” Evie mouthed leaning forward, her long, dark hair falling with the movement and splashing at his shoulder.

“Not without a condom it isn’t,” JT broke through the moment sending with him a reality check that snapped her out of her daze. “Look honey I want to do this--I do, but I’m not going to make this anything less than perfect for you. Given that neither one of us were prepared for this moment, then I have to tell you that it’s not right. I’m not going to hurt you by doing something that we’ll both regret later.”

“A condom,” she repeated blinking back at him realizing she hadn’t thought that far ahead.

“Yeah, that’s kind of important if we’re going to do this,” JT nodded in response seeing the sigh that carried over her.

“I guess I was just…I didn’t…” she shook her head and groaned, “You’re right. This is stupid.”

“It’s not stupid, just not going to happen like we thought it would just yet,” he pushed her hair away from her face searching her eyes and seeing a sadness behind them, “You understand why we have to stop right?”

“I’m not an idiot JT,” she scoffed pushing herself off of him and sliding out of the Jacuzzi. She walked across the stone floor and brought her hands over her chest in an attempt to keep her tears from getting the best of her, “I’m not a child you know.”

“Evie, that’s not what I said,” he sighed hating to get out of the water after being in such a frazzled state, but as he saw how upset she was, he couldn’t help but want to reach out to her. He sighed, pushing himself out of the water. Walking up behind her, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head, “Listen to me. I just don’t want us to do something that we’ll regret.”

“But I want you JT. I want to make love with you,” she spun around in his arms, her dark eyes filled with tears, “I want to know what it’s like to love you.”

“You will, when the time is right,” he promised kissing her forehead gently, “You have to trust me Evie.”

“I do JT, but I just want…” her lower lip trembled as she eyed him intently.

“I know what you want, but we can’t do that just yet,” he mouthed in response cupping her face in his hands, “but soon very soon we’ll be able to do what it is you’re asking for. I just want you to be sure that it’s right.”

“Right now all I want is to feel you holding me. I want to know what it’s like to have you love me JT,” she sniffled reaching out to touch his chest gently, “That’s all I ever could’ve asked for.”

“I do love you Evie. I love you so much that it kills me not to give you everything that you’re asking for,” he reached for her hand lifting it to his lips, “but I will Evie. I promise you that I will.”

“When?” she couldn’t help but ask feeling her knees grow weak as he held her.

“Soon,” he kissed her gently, wrapping her up in his arms, “soon we’ll be together, but for now why don’t we find other ways that we enjoy being together?”

“You’re just trying to put me off because you’re looking for an excuse to get rid of me. Admit it you’re just keeping me around because you’re afraid my father is going to hurt me. You don’t want me,” she tried to push herself away from him.

“Evie, no that’s not it. Damn it,” he threw his hands up in the air as she walked away from him. He felt her turn her back to him and he groaned, “Evie, do you want to get pregnant? I mean is that what you’re hoping for with us because if that’s what you want, then sure let’s do this. We’ll just make love and tempt fate if that’s what you’re hoping for.”

“No JT, it’s not,” she shook her head spinning around to see how upset he was, “It’s just that I want you. You can’t even begin to imagine how it is that you make me feel. You brought me to this place--showed me a world I never thought was possible, so why wouldn’t I want to be with you?”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting it, but right now we can’t do what you’re asking for. I can’t make love to you like this,” he looked around the room Cameron had created, “I need everything to be perfect.”

“But it is perfect to me,” she brought her hands up over her face, “I just wanted to feel close to you.”

“You are close to me,” he moved in to reach out to her again. He placed her hand over the center of his chest and spoke up in a low, solemn tone, “right here. You’re in my heart Evie.”

“Yet you keep pushing me away,” she sighed heavily unable to mask her tears.

“No, I’m not pushing you away. I just want to make it right. I don’t know how much more I can say to explain that to you,” he curled his finger underneath her chin, “Evie, we can do a lot of things together, but when we make love I want it to be everything you’ve imagined.”

“I know it will be,” she leaned into his chest closing her eyes and feeling his arms around her. “I just don’t want this to end for us. I don’t want anyone to take away what we have.”

“No one is going to take it away Evie. I promise you,” he squeezed her in his arms hoping to take away her worries, “You have to believe me when I tell you that sex isn’t everything in a relationship.”

“This coming from a guy who has a reputation for having a taste for beautiful women,” she tipped her head up to meet his frustrated eyes.

“Yeah and I also have a reputation for being a real jackass too. I’m not looking for a one night stand Evie. If I was I would’ve spoiled this a long time ago, but you should know by now that I love you,” he whispered placing a kiss over her damp cheek, up over her forehead down to the tip of her nose, “I love you so much and want to spend my life loving you.”

“Your life,” she repeated blinking up at him seeing something behind his eyes.

“Yeah, I was kind of waiting until we got onto the island to talk about it, but I think maybe now is a good time for us to talk about this,” he explained lacing her fingers in his. He raised her hand up to his lips and kissed it gently, “Evie, I’ve been thinking about what has happened with your dad and I realize that I want to protect you--I want to keep you safe and there’s really only one way that I can do it.”

“There is? How?” she couldn’t help but ask seeing something shift behind his eyes.

“I want to marry you. I want us to be together from here on out,” he informed her point blank watching the gasp that fell from her lips. “I know it might sound crazy given that we’ve not had a lot of time with one another, but I think it’s the one way that I can truly keep you safe.”

“Wait, so you’re saying you want to marry me to keep me safe from my father?” her brown eyes widened in surprise. “Is that what you’re trying to do?”

“No, that’s not it at all. Truth be told I’ve never felt this way about anyone and that’s why I don’t want to spoil it,” he revealed touching the side of her face gently, “I don’t want to hurt you when I know that you’re the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. I love you Evie and even if it sounds crazy I just don’t want to do the wrong thing so that I lose you because you’re everything to me.”

“You’re everything to me too JT,” she replied leaning up on her toes to kiss him tenderly, “and if you’re asking me to marry you, the answer is yes because I would marry you in a heartbeat. I love you.”

“I love you,” he mouthed in response holding her in his arms as he hoped that he could truly find a way to show her just how much she did in fact mean to him.


“I’m not going to take the money,” Russ stated plainly, the firm resolve he’d carried with him in entering the Ashford mansion still at his side now that he stood before his grandfather. “I respect the fact that you were trying to help me, but Augustus I can’t take a hand me out. It’s not who I am.”

“You’re my grandson and you should let me help you. I owe you that much,” Augustus continued to plead his case with Russ, “You and I both know that we’ve missed out with so much with one another and I want to make up for that.”

“So invite me out to a ball game or something. Head on over to the newspaper to see what I do, but please don’t start trying to buy your way into my life,” Russ pleaded with him with a heavy sigh, “I can’t accept charity. It’s not who I am.”

“It’s not charity. It’s something I would do for anyone in my family,” Augustus continued to explain to him, “and if you don’t take my token of appreciation I’ll be offended.”

“Then be offended because I cannot take it,” Russ shook his head firmly.

“The house is already paid off so there is no point in arguing over this Russ. It’s finished and done with,” Augustus explained stubbornly turning to Russ again, “I’m sorry that it upset you, but I was trying to help.”

“Fine, then I’ll pay you back. I’ll give you the payments that I was going to give the mortgage company each month then,” Russ decided refusing to budge an inch on anything else. “That’s my final offer.”

“If you really want to pay me back, then you’ll do it by accepting the house being paid off. Consider it a gift from me to you, Erin and Avery for all of the hell that my son has put you all through. He stole almost a year of your life and while I realize that my paying off the house doesn’t make up for what he’s taken, it’s the least I can do to make things right,” Augustus explained as there was a knock on the door. Both Augustus and Russ turned around to see Ken standing in the doorway.

“Is something wrong?” Ken questioned sensing the tension in the air between both men.

“No, not at all. I was just going to go check on something,” Augustus quickly ducked out of the conversation making his way to the door, “Russ we’ll speak with one another later, but for now think about what I said.”

“Augustus,” Russ frowned seeing his grandfather slipping out of the room to avoid any further protest from Russ.

“What’s that all about?” Ken questioned glancing between the two men, “I haven’t seen him move that fast in years.”

“That’s because he’s hoping to get out of trouble, but it’s not going to work. I’m not going to bend on the issue whether he’s my grandfather or not,” Russ mouthed before looking to Ken.

“Yeah, about that,” Ken cleared his throat uneasily before taking a step forward, “I guess I never really got around to welcoming you to the family.”

“It’s probably because you probably wanted me as a brother as much as I wanted Nicholas as a father,” Russ noted with a wrinkled expression, “This wasn’t something I asked for Ken, so before you tear into me like Brant has.”

“I wasn’t going to tear into you at all,” Ken held his hands up in the air defensively, “believe me I’m the last person to tear into anyone considering what a jerk I’ve been since that airport blew up.”

“Yeah, about that,” Russ paused thinking about all that had happened during the time Russ had lost everything that had meant something to him. Russ remembered that Caitlin had also died in the explosion, only unlike Russ she hadn’t returned to her life with Ken like Russ had with Avery. There was no second chance for Caitlin and Ken--just the aftermath of the disaster. “How have you been holding up?”

“What do you mean?” Ken questioned giving Russ a sideways glance, “You mean in being an Ashford here?”

“I mean without Caitlin,” Russ admitted after a small hesitation, “I know I haven’t made my way over to see you lately with all that’s been happening, but I cannot even begin to tell you how sorry I am about what happened. She was a good person and I cared a great deal about her.”

“I know,” Ken offered up with a poignant smile, “You were one of her closest friends.”

“That’s because she knew how to take my crap and give it back,” Russ mouthed with a small grin, “She was one hell of a good reporter and a wonderful friend. I’m just sorry that I wasn’t here to pay my respects sooner.”

“She knew that you cared about her Russ. You were one of the few people in this world that she fought to protect at any cost and I can see why she did. You’re a good man,” Ken nodded back at him, “She really did love you like a brother.”

“She was an incredible woman and this world is missing a lot without her,” Russ added with a thoughtful expression, “though if I know Caitlin she’s somewhere in a better place trying to get to the bottom of all the action that’s going on around here. No doubt she’s doing what she can to help change things down here for the better.”

“Now that I would believe,” Ken laughed lightly as he found himself speaking of the woman he’d once loved with a man whom he’d once been friends with. Time had changed a great many things, but now as Ken and Russ spoke about Caitlin, he found himself remembering all of the good things that he’d pushed aside when he was buried in his rage. Strangely it felt good to be able to speak of the woman he had once loved without all of the feelings of rage and despair now that he was surrounded by the better memories of the love he’d once had.


Angela stepped underneath the hot stream of the shower again wanting to feel the warmth of it spray over her knotted body one last time before she attempted to return to the reality she’d left behind for a few moments when she’d taken Brant up on his offer to get cleaned up. Even now after she’d selected the clothing she was going to wear, she felt strangely familiar with her surroundings to the point that it carried with it a chilling effect. Granted, she’d thanked Brant for bringing her something to wear, but she’d soon sent him on his way while her thoughts lingered to what had happened between them. She’d tried to ignore the way that she’d started to feel when she’d been with Brant earlier, but now that she was underneath the water, she closed her eyes feeling her thoughts drift to Brant. Suddenly she felt as if she wasn’t alone in the shower any longer and a voice echoed in her mind.

“I just don’t know what I’m going to do with you,” Brant’s voice teased as she felt him dropping tiny kisses over her shoulder, “You have this way about you that turns me on unlike anything I’ve ever imagined.”

“Hmm and coming from you I’m sure you’ve imagined quite a bit since you’re a bit of a pervert,” her laughter filled the shower stall. She turned around to face him with a bright grin, “And besides I think you have it in your mind full well what you’re going to do with me.”

“That I do,” Brant leaned in closer to her, his dark eyes filled with desire, “the question is are you ready for it Angela?”

“I’m more than ready for what you have in store for me,” she mouthed tipping on her toes to claim his lips in a ravenous kiss. She felt his arms tangle around her, his body beckoning hers to sweet surrender and then…

Angela let out a gasp bringing her jolting to reality all over again. Her pulse was racing, body on fire at the thought of what she’d just been envisioning between her and Brant. There was no way in hell that she could be standing in his shower, thinking about making love to him when she was happy with Kevin. Kevin Adonis had been her life since she’d first seen him in that boxing match all of those years ago. There was something sexy and mysterious about him and Angela knew from the first time she’d seen him that she had to have him, yet here she was thinking about someone else--someone she was convinced she was never ever meant to be fantasizing about. She had to stay focused on the man she loved.

“Kevin,” she mouthed to herself turning the water off and wrapping herself up in a towel as she tried to decipher what it was that was driving her fiancé to behave in such a strange fashion. In all the time she’d known Kevin, she’d never thought him to be standoffish and distanced, but now it was different. Something was truly bothering him and Angela vowed that she was going to get down to the bottom of it.

“I just know that this has to do with my father,” Angela mused to herself wondering if Kevin’s fears about her father finding out about their relationship was driving his actions. Then again he looked tired--very tired lately and worn down. It was a change from what she could recall, yet she could feel it in herself as well.

Wiping at the steam in front of her that had collected from the hot shower she’d taken, Angela took in the first glimpse of herself. Her dark eyes were tired and clearly in need of energizing and her hair… She ran her fingers up through the short edges wondering when in the world she’d come up with the not so brilliant idea of chopping it off. She’d always liked it longer as did Kevin, yet here she was with a very short cut that was sassy and sexy in it’s own right, but not the woman she’d remembered herself to be. That wasn’t the only change she’d noticed as she seemed to have aged quite a bit since the last time she’d taken a long look at herself, but she attributed it to the time she’d spent in the hospital.

“You’re a real train wreck,” she muttered under her breath wiping at the mirror again when she spotted another door near the opposite end of the bathroom that she’d entered.

Standing up taller, she spun around to take a look at the door wondering why she hadn’t noticed it before. Despite the fact that it was closed, there was something strangely familiar about it. Taking a small step forward, she moved over the tiling on the floor careful to keep from slipping on the dampness that she’d carried with her out of the shower. She wasn’t sure why, but there was something about the door--something about the possibility of what could be behind it that had her more curious than she’d been in a while.

“This is ridiculous,” she mouthed to herself reaching for the knob before pulling away. Certainly there was no way that she could know what was behind the door since this was the first time she’d been in Brant’s house, yet there was something about it that had her curious.

“One look won’t hurt me,” she decided reaching out to turn the knob. The door opened easily and within a matter of moments she found herself surrounded by the lavish atmosphere of another room--one that was larger than the one she’d been earlier. She took in her surroundings carefully noting the rich burgundy colors that surrounded her in this new bedroom. The canopy bed in front of her had all the signs of elegance and class, yet there was something strangely familiar about it with it’s regal welcome.

“This must be a suite,” she mouthed to herself moving in over the thick carpeting ready to investigate the room further when she heard the sound of the door opening. Swiftly she rushed back over to the bathroom ducking inside once more before listening. She heard the sound of footsteps and unable to resist the urge that carried over her, she pulled the bathroom door open ever so slightly to see who had shown up.

“You’re an idiot,” she heard Brant’s voice curse from inside the room. It didn’t take long for her to follow the sound as she spotted him rummaging through the closet clad only in a towel that matched the one she was wearing. It was then that she knew that she should shut the door and pretend it was of no consequence to her, but when Brant emerged from his closet with clothing in hand, she couldn’t help but stand still fixated on the sight before her.

Brant scratched his head, letting his wet hair splash around the room while his bare chest was still damp with traces of the shower he’d obviously just taken as well. His dark eyes surveyed the room until he spotted something on the dresser on the other side of the bed. Angela watched him shuffle around clearly seeking out something and while she knew full well she shouldn’t be spying, her eyes were drawn to the smoothness of his back, the way the towel seemed to frame his very sexy behind in such a way that Angela couldn’t help but stare. In that instant she found herself remembering the fantasy she’d had of him in the shower in vivid color and it sent her pulse racing all over again.

“Close the door and leave it alone,” she heard an inner voice whisper in the back of her ear, but she stood still seeing Brant discard his towel. It was something she’d been thinking about--half wishing he would go through and do, but now that he stood before her completely naked, she felt a sensation rock over her causing her to tremble with lust that she was certain she shouldn’t be feeling especially now.

A gasp fell over her lip and she ducked back fearing that he’d heard her, but instead of closing the door and disappearing she found herself at it again seconds later. Her brown eyes widened as she perused the lines of his muscled form. Granted, he wasn’t nearly as ripped as Kevin was in terms of musculature, but he had a lean, toned sexiness that was strangely appealing to Angela. He was nothing like any man she’d been attracted to before, yet he had a certain charisma that carried over him when she watched him run the towel through his thick, dark hair not bothering to mask his body from the world around him.

“Then again, why would he think to do so when he believes he is alone with no one watching?” she thought to herself feeling a moment of guilt ride over her. Watching Brant was purely a stupid move and one that she knew full well would cost her big time if he turned around to see her standing there clad only in a towel, but still she couldn’t help but find herself mesmerized by him.

“Shut the door,” she heard the inner voice in her head speak over and over again, but it was no use. Her gaze was honing in on Brant and before she knew it, she found herself wanting to open the door and go speak with him--to say something that would get him to turn around long enough to help her uncover the answer to her own curiosities about what it was he looked like from all angles now that he was unclothed before her.

Suddenly as if Brant had read her mind, he spun around making a small movement in towards her general direction. Her eyes widened and dipped down to the root of his masculinity and she let out a gasp. Her heart thrummed in her chest and she found her throat had gone dry at the sight of him. As good as Brant had looked from behind, it had been exponentially better from the front. He was beautiful--incredibly sexy in his own way and suddenly Angela knew full well why she’d wanted to have those kind of erotic thoughts she’d had of Brant earlier in the kitchen and the shower. He was amazingly handsome and…a sudden crashing sound from behind her stole her thought from her. She shuffled to hide it, but it was no use.

“Damn it,” she cursed closing the door in a haste and running back to her room before Brant could realize that she was the one who had been watching him. If he knew that she’d been practically drooling over him then and there, she would be mortified. Kevin would be furious and things would go horribly wrong.

“Please don’t let him know I was watching him. Please don’t let him see I was spying on him,” she breathed over and over again keeping her eyes closed shut in the hopes that it would keep her safe from Brant figuring out what she’d done. She waited a few moments half expecting him to come around knocking on her door to say something about her gawking at him, but instead she was met by silence. Her heart was pounding furiously urging her to open up the bathroom door and say something if for no other reason than to see Brant again, but she knew better. She’d been foolish before to stand there watching him and now as she leaned up against the door in the safety of her own room for the moment, she vowed to keep from giving into temptation like that again. She was in love with Kevin and she wouldn’t dream of lusting over Brant when she had everything she’d always wanted in this world…or would she?


“You son of a bitch,” Kevin hissed coming up from under the water shaking his head and getting some of the water out of his hair. Seeing the way that Don came above water and wiped at his eyes Kevin reached forward. “You’re going to pay for this.”

“Get away from me,” Don splashed water into Kevin’s eyes seeing the way Kevin turned away from him and wiped at his eyes. Don swam over toward the side of the pool before feeling Kevin grab a hold of his ankle. “Let go.”

“Kevin come on,” Ria moved in next to the pool already putting her wet clothes on as Kevin tried grabbing a hold of Don. Don brought his foot into Kevin’s stomach trying to get away as Kevin let out a small groan. “Guys, stop it.”

“Don’t think so,” Kevin reached out for Don’s ankle pulling him back into the pool after Don tried getting out and he pushed Don in against the side of the pool. A sharp pain filled throughout his face as he felt something slam in against his nose and he sank back under the water. Getting back to the top he saw the shocked looked behind Don’s blue eyes as Kevin covered his nose that was bleeding and his fingers had blood dripping down them. “You shit.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Don tried to explain dropping the skimmer in the pool and got out of the pool quickly hearing Kevin let out a loud whimper as some of his blood dripped into the pool. “I didn’t mean to Ria, I swear.”

“Back off Don,” Ria reached out to grab a hold of Kevin and help him out of the pool while Kevin’s hands still covered his face. Quickly moving over toward him she placed his shirt over the front of his nose, trying to stop the blood from flowing. “It’s okay Kevin.”

“Why did you hit me in the nose with the skimmer?” Kevin questioned looking up at Don as Don held his hands up in the air and Kevin closed his eyes letting out a long breath. “I wasn’t really going to beat you man, why did you do that?”

“I got scared,” Don tried to answer seeing the way that Kevin was sitting back as Ria tended to his nose and Don looked down letting out a small laugh. “Do you know how wrong this looks with you on the ground naked with a shirt against your nose.”

“You suck Don,” Kevin grabbed the water volley ball that was next to him and threw it at Don seeing the way that it hit his head, making him fall back into the pool. Letting out a small laugh he heard Ria laugh in return as Don slowly came up from under the water. Grabbing a hold of the volley ball Kevin saw that Don was about to throw it and saw the way it was off, swerving and hitting Ria in the center of the chest. “You are in deep shit man.”

“You stupid idiot,” Ria got up from the ground and pushed her foot into the center of his chest making him fall back into the water. Letting out a long laugh Ria reached out to help Don up and felt Don slip bringing her elbow back into Kevin’s nose on accident. Hearing him groaning out she let out a hesitant laugh before shaking her head slowly pressing her hand against it. “Oh baby, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

“That was my fault,” Don pulled himself from out of the pool and heard Kevin let out a small whimper. Looking down at his shirt he saw that his shirt was completely soaked, his whole body was. “We need to get changed.”

“Okay,” Kevin nodded with a muffled sound as he reached for his pants and placed them in front of his groin and stood up from the ground. “Oh man, this hurts like a son of a…,”

“It doesn’t look broken,” Ria pushed his hands away from his face as Kevin sniffed in trying to get the feeling back in his nose before Don pushed Ria out of the way. “Don, I don’t…,”

“Yeah, it doesn’t look broken,” Don went to touch it hearing the groan that Kevin let out as he swiped Don’s hands away from him and bent down cussing over and over again. “He sure does have a potty mouth on him.”

“I’ll show you potty mouth you stupid,” Kevin turned around going to say more when Ria placed her hand over his lips making him calm down before she moved her hand again. “Let’s go to the guest house so I can get some real clothes on.”

Walking over toward the door he knew they had to make a quick run for the door. All of them ran out toward the guest house before stepping inside. Don paused inside the living room before staring out at Kevin as he reached for one of the pillows placing it over his bottom to cover himself up fully.

“You have to borrow some of my clothes, but if you ruin them. I’ll kill you,” Kevin snapped seeing the way that Don pointed his finger out at him and he let out a small groan. “Follow me and I’m warning you…,”

“I get the point,” Don grumbled following Kevin into the bedroom seeing Kevin grabbing a pair of slacks and a white shirt for him to borrow. Nodding toward the door he knew that Kevin was telling him to go and leave the room. “Okay, I’ll be in the living room.”

“What a great guy,” Kevin grumbled seeing the way that his nose had stopped bleeding and he shook his head slowly trying to get the pain out of his body. “What a nice friend Brant has there, like seriously.”

“He’s not that bad,” Ria pointed out with a small laugh only to feel Kevin press her against the wall roughly, dropping his wet slacks to the floor. Reaching to peel off her wet clothes again. “Kevin, what are you doing?”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t wait for this at a later time,” Kevin informed her with a wide smile picking her up in his arms and pressing her against the wall softly. Pressing forward he nipped at her bottom lip before feeling her legs tighten around his waist making him forget all about the pain in his nose. “I’m not going to let someone like him ruin this for me.”

Joining them together, Kevin watched as she rested her head back against the wall and let out a small gasp making him smile at the response before moving forward and pressing hot, wet kisses against her neck.

“A little information, if you don’t want me to ruin it I suggest you shut the door,” Don muttered from inside the living room starting to pull on the white shirt Kevin gave him, seeing the almost evil grin that Kevin gave him as he pressed another kiss against Ria’s neck before kicking the door shut with his foot. “Man, he scares me.”

“What am I supposed to do now?” Don dropped down to the couch seeing his wet clothes set out on the ground in the middle of the living room. Looking over at the clock, Don sighed before hearing the noises coming from the bedroom. Standing up from the couch he moved over toward the bedroom door. “Let’s see what we can hear.”

Listening to the sounds going on inside of the room Don smiled pressing his ear further against the door hardly noticing that the remote had been on the floor as he listened to what was going on. Pressing in further against the door his foot moved in over the remote causing the television to turn on in the process startling him to the point as the pressure on the door he had made it fly open and caused him to fly out onto the ground.

“I’m sorry,” Don tried to stumble to get up looking to the bed before letting out a long groan seeing that they were hardly even ready for his entrance as he noticed what was happening making him let out a small gag. “Oh, I so did not need to see that.”

“Do…,” Kevin could hardly get out the next word as he clenched his jaw in anger feeling the muscles in his abdomen tighten when he reached for the covers trying to cover him and Ria up. “You stupid…,”

“It wasn’t my fault, I’ll leave so you can clean up,” Don went to reach for the door feeling it stuck against his touch as he tugged over and over again. Turning on his heel he saw the look over Kevin’s face as Ria basically hid under the covers. “I think I’ll just go in here for now.”

Walking into the closet, he shut the door behind him and sat down on the ground grabbing one of the extra pillows they had inside of it. Lying back against the ground he placed the pillow over his head before letting out an exaggerated groan.

“This is going to be a very long day,” Don shook his head before lying back against the ground, placing his arm over his eyes. Letting out a small noise he heard the door open and he looked up to see Kevin standing before him in his boxer shorts. “Are you going to kill me?”

“No, just get out of the closet,” Kevin motioned him to come out as Don walked into the bedroom hearing the shower going and he knew that Ria was in the bathroom. “Just chill out until she is done, then we can go back to the mansion.”

“Listen, Kevin,” Don began watching Kevin pull out a pair of dark blue jeans and a button down shirt. Don watched Kevin pull on his clothes and start to slowly button up his shirt as Don cleared his throat uneasily. “About what I saw just a second ago, I will never…,”

“Just do me a favor and don’t remind me,” Kevin shook his head slowly before reaching for his watch and shaking his head slowly. “Just please, don’t remind me.”


“You about ready to go back?” JT questioned feeling Evie snuggle into him further as they lay on the blanket with one another now settled in beside the lake after they’d returned to their picnic with one another.

“No, not at all,” she shook her head firmly pulling her head up enough to see the way that his dark eyes met hers now that they had taken the time to just be alone with one another.

“You feeling any better?” he questioned drawing his fingers lazily over her spine and feeling the warmth of her skin against his touch while her index finger teased over his bare chest.

“After being with you like this,” she couldn’t help but smile, her dark hair slowly drying from the sun’s overhead rays, “I have to say that this beats just making love.”

“I told you we could find other ways to be together,” he mouthed pulling her up to meet his lips in a tender kiss. “Each one just as rewarding in it’s own way.”

She smiled at him before sliding in over his body. She propped herself up on her elbows and allowed the tips of her damp hair to tease over his shoulders before she let out a small laugh, “I think every second I spend with you is rewarding.”

“See now I knew I could convince you one way or the other,” he mouthed inching up to steal a quick kiss from her, “Admit it you love me.”

“Do I ever,” she teased feeling him tickling at her sides. She let out a small squeal feeling him press her back into the blanket now that laughter bubbled in over her. She reached out to tickle him in response seeing laughter overtake him as well.

“You are truly wicked, but I’ve got to tell you that I’m not going to let you get the best of me,” JT leaned forward blowing on the side of her neck in a teasing movement and causing her to kick her legs out with laughter.

“JT,” Evie blurted out his name excitedly, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as she found herself overcome with laughter. She tipped her head back feeling him nibbling on her shoulder when she spotted Sarah standing directly over them with a scowl on her face.

“What the hell is this? Playtime?” Sarah rolled her eyes and groaned before dumping her drink over Evie’s head and soaking her.

“What the hell,” Evie hissed practically leaping up and off of JT after what Sarah had done. “What was that for?”

“I’m just keeping you kids from crossing into dangerous territory,” Sarah mouthed with a glare as her eyes swept over JT, taking note of the fact that he was wearing only his boxer shorts. “You kids should be playing it safe out here.”

“It’s of no relevance to you how we were playing it,” Evie folded her arms in front of her chest contemplating decking Sarah as she watched Sarah drop the glass she’d been holding and opt to turn her attention to the bottle in her left hand instead. “Hey, aren’t you pregnant?”

“Aren’t you irrelevant?” Sarah rolled her eyes at Evie before taking a long swig out of the bottle in her hand. She glanced over at JT and flashed him a sideways glance, “You know you should forget about jailbait here and try a real woman for a change. You might find you like it.”

“That’s it,” Evie lunged forward ready to knock Sarah’s head off when JT sprung up bringing his arms around Evie’s waist hurriedly.

“Evie don’t,” JT pleaded with her picking Evie up off of the ground and dragging her away from Sarah, “She’s not worth it.”

“Your brother seems to think so,” Sarah smirked wildly before giving JT a long once over, “and I’m sure you would to if you’d stop babysitting this one and try out a real woman.”

JT broke into laughter unable to refrain from keeping his amusement under wraps, “Oh please. The last thing I would want is someone who has been with just about every guy in this town. Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t go for skank.”

“Funny because I don’t think going for a virgin is going to make her think you’re any better at sex than someone who would know from experience how you measure up,” Sarah snubbed at him before taking another drink from the bottle in her hand, “Regardless Cameron’s looking for you two losers. I’m sure it’s probably in your best interest to get dressed and not keep him waiting.”

“And I’m sure it’s in yours to go sober up you lush,” Evie snipped right back at Sarah, watching the woman turn around and make her way over to the house again. Frowning Evie turned to JT and groaned, “You should’ve let me hit her.”

“And risk you getting hurt,” JT shook his head firmly bending down to pick up Evie’s shirt and hand it to her, “It’s probably not a good idea. She’s not worth it.”

“She is when she’s spoiling our day with one another,” Evie snaked her arms around his waist savoring the way that it felt to be close to him, “especially when I was enjoying it so very much.”

“I told you that we could find other ways to enjoy one another without jumping the gun just yet,” he smiled bending down to kiss her tenderly, “although we should probably go inside and see what Cameron wants. It must be important if he sent his girl of the moment out looking for us.”

“Judging by the bottle in her hand, I’m pretty sure Cameron didn’t know what she was up to. I don’t think your brother would take to her drinking like that if she’s having his baby,” Evie mouthed thinking about what she’d seen in Sarah.

“If she’s having his baby. Sarah’s been with more men in town than I want to think about. Not that I have room to talk about people whom I’ve been with, but unlike Sarah I never pretended to be a saint,” JT admitted openly with a small shudder. He stepped into his pants zipping them up as he noticed the way that Evie was looking at him curiously.

“How many women have you been with?” she couldn’t help but ask her brown eyes full of sudden interest.

“Enough to know that I was headed down the wrong path before I met you,” he replied offering up as little as he could about the situation, “I wasn’t exactly a stand up kind of guy, but I’ve learned from my mistakes.”

“How many mistakes have you made with women JT?” she arched a curious brow feeling him hand her pants back to her. She slowly began to put them back on while she watched him shuffle on his feet nervously.

“Trust me Evie. You probably wouldn’t have liked me if you met me a while ago. I was kind of a jackass, but that’s changed. As for women, well none of them mattered until you,” he answered honestly stepping in closer to her. He reached out to touch the side of her face, his eyes fixed in on hers, “I’ve never wanted to make love to anyone until I met you. Before that it was all about the moment and getting what I could out of the situation, but in all of it, I never actually took the time to consider letting someone else into my life.”

“I’m glad you decided to take a chance on me,” she curled her arms around him tipping up on her toes to kiss him again when she heard a sound from behind them.

“I see you two have been enjoying yourselves today,” Cameron’s voice rolled over the air between them causing Evie to turn around and see JT’s brother eyeing them with obvious interest. “I take it you’ve decided to keep around the lake so to speak.”

“The lake is very beautiful,” Evie smiled over at him sinking back into JT’s arms that he wrapped around her waist.

“Yeah, it is great isn’t it?” Cameron noted with a grin seeing the way that she seemed to interact with his brother.

“It is, but what’s up with the whole rock house,” JT couldn’t help but ask with a sideways glance, “I didn’t know you had that there.”

“That’s kind of the point. It’s a private paradise so to speak,” Cameron noted with a cryptic expression before turning to Evie, “Did you like it?”

“More than you can imagine,” she tipped her head up to meet JT’s eyes again before giggling. “It was incredible.”

“I aim to please, but obviously not as much as my brother does here,” Cameron added with a knowing smirk.

“Yeah, it was a fun discovery,” JT mouthed in response not giving anything away about what had gone on with him and Evie, “though I have to say Sarah coming around to insult us wasn’t all that pleasant. You should really put a leash on her or something.”

“I saw her on my way out here and I feel I must apologize for that,” Cameron directed his words over to Evie, “She’s been going through some rough times and it’s lead her to some very unsavory extremes I’m afraid.”

“Everything about her is unsavory at this point,” JT muttered under his breath before shuddering, “Seriously Cameron you should rethink this whole having her in your life situation because she seems like trouble.”

“I can hold my own with Sarah, much like I’m sure you can hold yours with Evie here,” Cameron smiled over at her again before giving her a long look, “Though something tells me that you give my brother a run for his money as well.”

“I try to,” Evie laughed lightly before her eyes swept over the ring on Cameron’s hand. She watched him wave his hand around in the air and she couldn’t help but ask him about it, “Cameron, your ring it’s very unique.”

“Oh this,” he motioned to the ring seemingly amused with her interest as he held his hand out to her for a closer look, “it’s funny you should ask about it considering that it’s a gift from my father. You see he decided a long time ago that he would do something for those who were loyal to him, so we were all given a ring with his family crest on it. It really is something isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s something alright,” she nodded feeling a chill carry over her as she thought about the ring in front of her. The eerie familiarity of it brought with it a sudden uneasiness inside of her. She leaned back into JT’s arms and spoke up in a shaky tone, “You know I think I’ve had too much sun today. Maybe we should get back inside. I’m kind of tired.”

“Are you sure?” he questioned noticing that the color had drained out of her face.

“Yeah, I’m exhausted,” she nodded quickly before glancing over at Cameron, “Sorry about leaving like this, but…”

“It’s okay,” Cameron reached out for her hand dropping a kiss on the top of her palm, “we can pick up with this later.”

“Thanks,” she added quickly before turning around to see JT, “I’ll meet you inside, okay?”

“Sure,” he replied watching her retreat into the house.

“Is she alright?” Cameron questioned watching Evie disappear onto the deck area just beyond where they were standing.

“I don’t know. She was fine before, but maybe Sarah upset her more than she let on. Speaking of which, I’m really worried about you with her Cameron. She’s no good for you,” JT explained worriedly, “I don’t trust her at all.”

“Neither do I, but she serves a good purpose,” Cameron tried to assure his brother quickly, “Sarah might not be a sweet thing like your Evie is, but she gives me what I need.”

“Which I’m sure is something I don’t want to know about,” JT groaned in response, “Just watch your back with her.”

“I will,” Cameron nodded back at him, “and you be careful with this girl you have. She seems special.”

“She is and I’m not going to blow it this time. This time I’m in it for keeps,” JT announced as his thoughts lingered to Evie wondering if he could find a way to show her all of the happiness that she’d clearly missed out over the years after dealing with her monster of a father. “She’s everything to me.”

“Then I’m happy for you JT. You deserve nothing but the best,” Cameron replied happy to see that his brother had finally found something positive in his life to hold onto. He just hoped that Evie would prove to be someone worthy of all JT was willing to give to her.


“I’m glad I ran into you here Russ,” Ken admitted after his talk with Russ, “especially considering that not many people knew Caitlin like you did. Sure, a lot of people have offered their thoughts, but not many of them knew her like we did. They didn’t see her spirited side or the way that she could just light up a room by walking into it.”

“She loved you very much Ken and I’m sorry that you lost that life you had with her,” Russ added thinking about how much suffering Ken had to have experienced in losing Caitlin.

“Thanks Russ that means a lot to me,” Ken smiled back at him, “and if you need anything--anything at all, then please don’t hesitate to ask. I mean while I know you’re not happy about being a part of this family, I would like to think that maybe we can still be friends.”

“Of course we can because you’ve always been the rational Ashford. The one who wasn’t like any of the others,” Russ noted catching the sound of footsteps in the hallway. “After all you’re the one part of the family that I have always liked.”

“There you are,” Wendy’s voice beckoned Ken from responding. He turned around to see her in the doorway and smiled.

“Wendy, hey,” Ken moved out to join her, reaching out to embrace her, “you remember Russ, don’t you?”

“How could I forget,” she smiled over at him brightly, “Russ, how are you?”

“Great,” Russ nodded back at her, “How are you doing?”

“I would like to say fantastic, but I just got off the phone with my sister and it sounds like there’s a lot going on with the foundation we’re working with. I’ve tried to get things in order, but we had to get rid of our coordinator and…” she paused shaking her head dismissively, “It’s just one big hassle after the other. I don’t know why I even bother to get wrapped up in the middle of it.”

“Because you’re out to save the world and one day you will,” Ken spoke up encouragingly leaning in to kiss her cheek.

“Probably not, but I’m not going to stop trying,” Wendy added with a smile, “What about you Russ? What brings you over here today?”

“Just a mix-up between Augustus and I, but I’m sure we’ll clear it up soon. It’s really nothing in the grand scheme of things,” Russ waved his hand dismissively before noting the closeness between Ken and Wendy, “but hey it looks like we have something to celebrate. I mean it’s really great to have you back in town again. I know you left for that while, but now you’re here and…”

“Picking up right where I left off before,” Wendy added lovingly, placing her hand on Ken’s shoulder, “I went through a rough patch, but now I’ve found something to hold onto again.”

“That’s because you’re the one who saved me,” Ken curled his arm around Wendy’s waist, “You made me whole again after I hit rock bottom.”

“He says that, but it’s entirely not true,” Wendy waved her hand again before laughing, “He’s just a sucker for romance.”

“I am not,” Ken shook his head firmly, “I just know a good thing when I see it.”

“You know I’m glad that I was able to catch up with the both of you. Seeing that you’re together again is great news--wonderful news in fact and I think a celebration is in order,” Russ decided remembering how he and Avery used to spend time with Ken and Wendy back when they were all in college. “How do you both feel about dinner?”

“Dinner,” Ken repeated arching a curious brow.

“Yeah dinner,” Russ nodded back at him, “You know like we all used to do back when Wendy and I flew in to see you and Avery in school? We can make a night of it. You haven’t seen the new house yet and I’m sure Avery would love to catch up with the both of you. I can cook something and maybe we’ll play cards or something. How about tonight?”

“I don’t know,” Ken mouthed in response feeling suddenly on edge at the mention of Avery, “I really don’t think that tonight will be good for us…”

“Nonsense,” Wendy waved her hand in the air dismissively, “I would love to see the new house and the new baby since Augustus raves about how beautiful she is.”

“She gets her good looks from her mother,” Russ admitted proudly thinking about Erin. “She’s truly an angel though and we’d love to have you over.”

“Then it’s settled. We’ll be there,” Wendy added encouragingly as Ken shifted on his feet.

“Really I don’t think we can make it. I have something that I need to do and…” Ken interjected nervously.

“We can make it Ken. He’s just being a homebody lately,” Wendy explained to Russ with a shake of her head, “He’s been so busy keeping me occupied here that we haven’t gone out much lately, but I would love to see the new house. He would too and with a little arm twisting he’ll change his tune.”

“Good, then I’ll expect you both around say six thirty?” Russ suggested with a grin eager to catch up with his old friends and step back into the normal things in his life all over again now that it seemed the major conflicts were finally coming to an end!


“So ladies,” Paul moved forward in his seat looking over at Charles who was sitting in his high chair watching Paul with the women before him. Since Kyle and Heather left, he figured what the heck? Why not have a couple of girls over and play some poker. Not any poker, but his favorite kind. “I’m betting my shirt that I have the highest hand here.”

“You seem to keep winning Paul,” one of the girls lightly hit at his arm seeing the way that the smile pressed in over his face before he moved in next to Charles. “How do you do it?”

“I have no idea how I do it,” Paul held the cards up in front of his face moving back toward Charles seeing the child’s brown eyes staring into his. “It’s quite the sight little one, I know that one for sure.”

“You know, you have the cutest little baby,” one of the other girl’s boasted seeing Paul smile before offering up a wide smile and pulling the cigar in his mouth out and moving forward to press a small kiss against his head. “But I have a question, why do you have an unlit cigar in your mouth?”

“You have to be good for the child you know,” Paul informed her with a small nod picking it back up and placing it between his lips before shrugging his shoulders. “You can’t light it around the little man here, it could hurt him. You don’t want the baby sick now, do you?”

“Of course not,” the girl sitting the closest to him reached forward to press her fingers in against Charles’s cheek hearing him howl out with laughter before reaching out to Paul making the girls let out a sound of awe. “He really does love you.”

“What’s not to love?” Paul questioned reaching for Charles from the high chair pulling him in close to his chest after setting down his hand on the table. “You have to be good in front of my little man here, he knows how the rules go and if you break them, he’s going to catch you. Once he catches you, you have no idea how bad things could get.”

Hearing Charles laugh Paul looked to the girls at the table seeing them all staring at their cards before letting out small laughs here and there. After a moment of holding Charles, he felt the child start to struggle in his arms and he knew that he wanted to be put back in his seat.

“Alright little man, here we are,” Paul set him back in the high chair before watching Charles stare out at him with a pure interest until looking down and picking up the two joker cards that Paul had handed him earlier. He raised them up like Paul had earlier almost mocking his movements as Paul let out a small laugh. “I love this kid.”

“He looks so much like you,” one of the girls pointed out before seeing Paul set down his hand and all of the girls let out a few gasps before setting their cards down. “Oh no Paul, you won again. I guess you know what that means.”

“Exactly what I was hoping for, it’s time for all of you to get na…,” Paul was about to finish his sentence until he heard the doorbell go off and he shrugged his shoulders standing up slowly and pulled the cigar out of his mouth. “Just hold on one second.”

Moving across the room he thought twice before coming back to the table and reaching for all the cards out on the table, placing them on top of Charles’s top of his high chair for him to play with.

“Now why wait girls? Just let me get this door,” Paul walked over to the door not bothering to look who was at it as he continued to look back at the girls at the table. “Don’t forget to lose your top there pretty girl.”

“Excuse me,” a voice blurted from behind Paul as Paul turned to see two men before him and the shorter one reached out to snatch the cigar from his mouth and throw it outside. “Who the hell are you?”

“Who the hell are you?” Paul snapped right back seeing the dark glare from the littler man before him and he looked to the confused blue eyes next to the shorter man. “Hey, aren’t you…,”

“I’m Kipp, Charles’s father,” Kipp hissed moving forward as he felt Kellen place his hand in over his shoulder to hold Kipp back a bit. When Paul looked back at the situation at hand and so did Kipp, Kellen realized how big of a problem they had when Kipp saw Charles with the cards in his hands. “What the hell do you think you are doing with my son?”


“I’m so glad you came with me on this date Stacy,” Caleb stared out at Stacy seeing the way her blue eyes stared into his as he offered up a wide smile stepping in front of the restaurant they had planned to go to. “You have no idea how happy I am to see you again.”

“I’m glad I got to see you again too Caleb,” Stacy tipped up pressing her fingers against his firm chest, teasing her fingers in over the part of his chest that was exposed by the two buttons being undone. “I couldn’t wait to see you today. I was looking forward to it all day you know.”

“Mhhm…” Caleb smirked seeing the way that she stared up at him as he tipped down pressing a soft kiss against her jaw line feeling her fingers pressing into his dark hair. “I’m glad you were because I felt the same way the whole night.”

“From the moment I woke up this morning I was like that,” Stacy informed him with a small nod seeing the way his green eyes looked down at her as she smiled seeing the way his dimples showed clearly once again. “You have the sexiest smile, do you know that?”

“Well, I could have guessed that, but thank you for reminding me,” Caleb teased feeling her gently swat at his chest as he let out a small laugh himself. “You know, I don’t think your friend felt the same way about me. I really don’t think I was her type at all.”

“She doesn’t like anyone, she’s a party pooper,” Stacy informed him with a small frown before biting down on her bottom lip and teasing her fingers in over his muscular shoulder. “I’m glad you aren’t her type though because it leaves you all to me and I like that.”

“I think I like the sound of that myself sweetheart,” he smirked moving forward to press a strand of her long blonde hair behind her ear as he tipped down to cup her face in his hands softly. “We have a big night ahead of us hun, but right now, I have some plans for us inside of this restaurant.”

“Alright,” Stacy moved forward seeing the way that Caleb led her into the expensive restaurant and she went to move forward in closer to waiting area before feeling Caleb tug on her hand softly. “Where are we going?”

“We’re here to meet someone babe,” Caleb pushed back his dark hair before offering up a wide smile seeing the guy in the corner of the room stand up from the table and motion them to move in closer to the table. “Hun, this is Thorsten Kane, he works for a very wide known man, Tony C. Have you ever heard of him?”

“I’m not sure that I have,” Stacy slowly moved in toward the table feeling Caleb hold the seat out for her before gently moving her in closer to the table. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Kane.”

“No problem sweetheart, Caleb here has been telling me a lot about you,” Thorsten looked over in the direction of Caleb seeing him sit down next to Stacy before reaching out for her hand. “He told me how beautiful you were, but I never saw it until now. He was completely right, but you are more beautiful than he made you out to sound.”

“It’s just hard to describe how beautiful she actually is,” Caleb squeezed her hand in his tightly before moving in closer to her, reaching for his water to take a quick sip. “I was just telling Thorsten about how great you would be for films.”

“I didn’t realize it until now,” Thorsten spoke up looking over in Stacy’s direction seeing the smile press in over her young features as he let out a small laugh. “You would be absolutely perfect for some of the films I have in mind.”

“You really think so?” Stacy questioned almost flattered by what they were telling her, looking into the green eyes of Caleb seeing him nod slowly.

“Honey, I know so,” Caleb smirked moving forward to press a small peck against her lips seeing the way that Stacy’s blue eyes widened in shock before smiling herself. “He could make you a real star.”


“This is amazing,” Heather smiled feeling Kyle’s hand curl around her hip as they stood in the doorway to one of the most exclusive restaurants in Coral Valley. She tipped her head to the side seeing how handsome he looked dressed up in a suit now that he’d gone all out to show her a good time. They had just stepped through the doors to the restaurant and now they stood beside the oversized water fountain with one another taking in their surroundings. “I always wanted to see what this place was like, but never found the time.”

“Now you have it tonight,” Kyle wrapped her up in his arms, leaning in to kiss her gently, “Have I told you how incredible you look tonight?”

“What in this old thing?” she waved her hand back at him thinking about how she’d taken the time to perfectly select the designer gown that she’d had hanging in her closet. It was a baby blue with a satin and lace pattern over it that one of the new up and coming designers had sent to her to model when she’d pulled together a few things to help the designer in the past. It had fit her perfectly when she’d received it and now that she stood beside her husband, she felt as if it was made for this night.

“I think you look even more beautiful each time I see you,” he admitted leaning forward to steal another kiss from her. She curled her fingers around his shoulder squeezing him gently while the fountain continued to spray out into the pool beneath it.

“You’re the one who looks like he stepped out of a GQ magazine today,” she teased back sliding her palms over the front of his suit jacket, “This was a big surprise.”

“What can I say,” he shrugged his shoulders before offering up a playful wink, “You’re the only person in the world who could get me dressed up like this considering that I’m a jeans and a t-shirt kind of guy.”

“I actually kind of like the jeans and t-shirt look on you, though this one speaks volumes about how sexy you are as well,” she leaned in closer to him ready to kiss him again when she heard the sound of someone clearing their throat.

“Your table is ready Mr. Houston,” the man in front of them explained eyeing them with heavy scrutiny.

“Thank you,” Kyle smiled back at him ignoring the rude air the man had about him. He wrapped his arm around Heather’s waist before nodding towards the man, “Shall we?”

“We shall,” she grinned back at her husband seeing the way that he appeared to be less than impressed with the host. The man quickly ran over the featured wine list and eyed Kyle expectantly.

“Tell me something, do you have maybe Miller on tap,” Kyle teased attempting to rattle the man as Heather kicked at him under the table in warning. “On second thought, I’ll take a bottle of your finest champagne.”

“Certainly,” the man snubbed Kyle before darting off in another direction.

“Kyle, you know full well that you’re the last man to have a Miller,” Heather wrinkled her nose at him, “I can’t believe that you would even try to suggest that to someone like him.”

“The man is an arrogant stuffed shirt,” he explained with a small frown, “He walks around like he’s got a stick up his ass and it’s not helping to do anything to tempt me into liking this place.”

“I thought you wanted to try something new and different,” Heather sat up straighter taking in the atmosphere surrounding them, “This is classy and elegant.”

“And expensive as hell,” Kyle’s eyes widened as he looked to the menu in front of him, “Damn, they are charging thirty five dollars for spaghetti.”

“Kyle,” Heather chastised catching the way that he’d raised his voice. People were now staring over at them and she spoke up in a muted whisper, “Keep it down.”

“Keep it down,” he repeated with a robust laugh, “Heather it’s spaghetti. I could go to the grocery store and get a whole three pound of it and a gallon sized jar of sauce for under thirty five dollars. Hell for thirty five dollars I could make spaghetti for us, Kipp and Kellen, Paul, Charles and then some.”

“Even so I thought you wanted to do something nice for a change,” she frowned over at him hoping that he would tune his voice down a bit.

“Nice yes, but not spend the money we’re saving for Charles and his college fund on a plate of freaking spaghetti.”

“Okay, then let’s try something else,” she scanned the menu quickly hoping to find something to distract from the topic at hand, “How about a steak? They have a good sirloin here I’ve heard.”

Kyle’s eyes scanned the menu in front of him before he let out a hearty laugh. He closed the menu in his hand and tossed it over his shoulder sending it flying over to the next table behind them. He threw his hands up in the air moments later and let out a long sigh.

“I may as well sell my kidney right now because that’s about as much as it’s going to cost that much for me to eat the steak,” Kyle shook his head hearing the whispers of the people whose table he’d just launched the menu onto. Frowning, he turned to face the people who were obviously staring at him, “What? Do you have some kind of problem?”

“Kyle that’s enough,” Heather reached for his hand finding herself worried about him by his sudden mood swing, “What’s gotten into you tonight?”

“Nothing’s gotten into me,” he replied trying not to dwell on the thousands of dollars he’d spent to buy up every last copy of Heather’s adult film debut from the stores in a thirty mile radius. When Paul had suggested that Kyle take Heather out to dinner, Kyle had his own plans, but Paul had taken it upon himself to book reservations at one of the most expensive places that Kyle had ever set foot in. Now the thought of having to spend another truckload of money over dinner had Kyle less than thrilled.

“If it’s money you’re worried about, I can cover dinner tonight,” Heather offered up sensing that something was eating away at Kyle.

“Actually I just don’t like the feel for this place. Can you honestly tell me that you want to be around these kind of people?” Kyle motioned to the room around them seeing that the other customers all appeared to be watching them. Suddenly his thoughts returned to the film he’d seen--to the moment he spotted Heather on the screen getting down and dirty with Kellen. His blood began to boil as he wondered if anyone else in the room had seen the film--if they had known about Heather and her past and now they were whispering about her--making things worse.

“Kyle talk to me,” Heather waved her hand around in front of his face snapping him out of his daze, “Is it this place that you really hate or is something else going on?”

“No nothing else is going on. It’s just,” he paused trying to find the right thing to say, but finding himself at a loss, “I guess I’m just not sure about the whole idea of leaving Paul alone with Charles.”

“You said that he had a daughter--that he was good with her when she was growing up, right?” she questioned uneasily finding herself doubting the thought of leaving Paul alone with Charles as well.

“Yes, but he’s really special to me and…” Kyle saw the waiter returning with the bottle of champagne, “Heather, what do you say you and me take the bottle of champagne, get in my truck and drive out to some secluded place where we can pick up a few burgers on the way and then maybe find ourselves fooling around in the back of the truck for a while?”

“Is that what this is about?” Heather arched a curious brow taking in his suggestion. She reached across the table to brush her hand up against his, “If you would’ve said that from the start, I would’ve easily told you I could skip over the thirty five dollar spaghetti.”

“And you wouldn’t be disappointed?” he questioned thinking about the way he’d been speaking with her earlier, “I mean it wouldn’t upset you?”

“To be in your arms and away from the Coral Valley elite,” she laughed lightly tossing her long, blonde hair back over her shoulder, “Kyle I would give it up in a heartbeat if it meant we could have an hour to ourselves without Kellen coming over or Paul busting into our room and spying on us. That to me sounds like heaven.”

“Then I’ll tell the waiter to put the champagne on ice for us to go,” Kyle decided firmly motioning to the man who was approaching them.

“That sounds like a great idea,” she nodded in agreement seeing Kyle get up to cut the man off before he made his way over to the table. Shaking her head she brought her hand up to her face and let out a small laugh thinking about how her husband had his own unique way of dealing with things, but in her own way she couldn’t help but be enchanted by him. Yes, he looked very handsome in his suit, but as her thoughts lingered to what it would be like having his arms around her in the bed of his truck, she felt a whole new set of sensations wash over her.

“You ready to leave?” Kyle broke through her sinful thoughts as he held his hand out to her, while the other contained the bottle of champagne.

“I’ve been born ready,” she accepted his hand feeling him pull her up from her chair when she spotted something out of the corner of her eye. She noticed a man looking over at them and when his eyes met hers, she felt a chill press in over her. She turned away hoping to avoid the contact their eyes had made, but suddenly she found herself in another place and time remembering something that she’d just as soon force herself to forget.

“Heather?” Kyle touched her cheek lightly hoping to recapture her attention, “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“Let’s just get out of here okay. This place is far too stuffy for me,” she blurted out quickly knowing full well the man whose eyes she’d just connected with was still watching her. He was no doubt remembering her in the way that she hadn’t wanted to remember him and as she could almost smell his musky cologne in the air, her stomach turned.

“Hey, we’re going to get out of here,” Kyle added catching the fact that the color had drained from her face, “Heather, what’s wrong?”

“Let’s just go okay,” she pleaded with him refusing to glance over in the direction she’d just been looking in. There was no doubt in her mind that the man at the table across the room was watching her, mentally peeling her out of her clothes like he did that day he’d pulled her into the back room on the studio set and… She shook the thought. “Kyle, please let’s just get out of here.”

“Okay, we’re leaving. To hell with this place,” Kyle wrapped his arm around her shoulders feeling her lean into him as Heather realized that they couldn’t leave the restaurant fast enough for her to feel at ease inside herself. Now that she’d been presented with yet another reminder of the life she’d left behind her, she feared that the walls were closing in on her and there was nothing she could do to stop it!


...to be continued...