Episode 381

“Oh, wait. You’re Kipp?” Paul blurted out seeing the angered brown eyes before him and he let out a worried laugh motioning him to step into the house, but felt Kipp’s firm shove to his chest make him stumble back. “Listen man, I can explain all of this.”

“Which I’m sure if he will listen, this will all make sense,” Kellen tried to save the situation from turning bad as Kipp gripped Kellen’s fingers and moved them away from his shoulder. “There is a good explanation behind it all.”

“I just want some answers, what the hell are you doing with my son?” Kipp heard Charles let out a loud laugh as he looked to see his son playing with the cards in his high chair. “And who the hell are you?”

“Watch your language around the little one man, I’m just Kyle’s friend,” Paul began to explain reaching down to pick up the cigar that fell from his lips as Kipp kicked it away before he could. Holding his hands up in the air, Paul watched as Kipp stepped in closer to him angrily. “I’m Kyle’s friend, I came here for a while to stay and the two went out for the day. There were some hard times going on and…,”

“So Heather and Kyle decided to leave a jerk like you with my son?” Kipp muttered seeing Paul frown and push back his hair, rubbing at his chin as he thought of a way to try and save himself in explaining everything. “You have to be kidding me.”

“No, really, I’m Paul Flare and…,” Paul turned to take another firm look at Kellen, noticing the features behind the expressions that Kellen was making before he let out a long gasp. “Holy shit, I know you…,”

Looking him over, he could tell that maybe a few years had past, but this surely was the guy from the video that he saw earlier. Moving forward he patted Kellen on the shoulder before letting out a small laugh.

“You’re…,” Paul went to finish his sentence before seeing the look that Kellen was giving him as if he was scared of what the next words were going to be.

“I’m what?” Kellen muttered watching Paul laugh and look him over slowly as Kellen adjusted his coat, his jaw tightening in worry. “What am I? You are seriously freaking me out, I feel like one of the suspects in CSI right now. What am I?”

“One lucky son of a bitch,” Paul blurted out seeing the look that Kellen gave him as his blue eyes narrowed out at him and Paul looked to the side to see Kipp pushing a few things around the room before coming to a stop at the table. “What is he doing?”

“All of you can’t stay here, you have to go,” Kipp ordered starting to push around the things on the table before letting out a small sigh. Dropping half of the stuff on the floor, he made the girls jump up from the table and Paul moved in closer to Kipp. “I said get the hell out of the house.”

“Listen short stuff, don’t worry about it, this is Kyle’s home and…,” Paul saw the girls start to walk out of the house even though he wasn’t prepared for them to leave, he knew that he would have a lot of explaining to do. “Okay, listen. I really didn’t mean to set you off here and…,”

“I’m sure you know it’s all a misunderstanding,” Kellen tried to assure Kipp only to feel Kipp’s hand smack his away once again and Kellen frowned knowing that he was only trying to make the situation better. “Honey, I’m only trying to help.”

“Your helping is not helping at all,” Kipp snapped right back seeing the way that Kellen held his hands up in the air defensively letting out a long sigh before moving away from the situation. “You have no right to be here doing this. This is my son…,”

“And if you would let me explain,” Paul went to say more only to see Kipp walk away from him and Paul looked to Kellen who was rubbing at the back of his neck casually. “Is he always like this?”

“Half the time,” Kellen answered watching Paul follow Kipp toward the kitchen and thought about what was going on. They were already having a bad day to start with and this was just going to get worse. “Great, this is going to be a long night.”

“I’m not about to let some nut like you take care of my son,” Kipp blurted out coming back into the living room with the cordless phone in his hand with Paul not far behind him. “I won’t stand for it, I’m calling Heather and Kyle right now.”


Staring up at the stars, Heather rested back against the side of the back of Kyle’s truck, admiring the view that hung over the both of them now that they'd slipped away from the rest of the craziness in the world. Everything here felt great, it was pleasant and it was somewhere where it felt like no one could hurt you. The past couldn’t hurt you and people couldn’t taunt you, it was something that could let you forget about everything and…

“Heather,” Kyle’s voice spoke up as she watched him jump up into the back with his jacket, moving in closer to her and wrapping it around her shoulders carefully. “Honey, is something wrong?”

“No, well not really,” Heather whispered seeing the way that Kyle frowned before sitting down next to her, reaching out to wrap his arm around her shoulders and pull her in closer to his firm chest. “I just really have a lot on my mind.”

“I know how that feels,” Kyle let out a long, extended breath as he thought about the events that played out all day long with Paul and he realized that it was something he hoped he never encountered again. “I just feel like something is bothering you and is really getting to you.”

“No, I’m okay,” she tried to assure him seeing his hazel eyes staring out at her knowing that he knew she was lying about how she was feeling. “There really isn’t anything going on, I just have a lot on my mind is all.”

“Well, you do know that if you have to tell me something, I’m always here,” he promised feeling her fingers fan out in over his muscular chest making him let out a small sigh. “You really have no idea how much I will always be here for you.”

“What does that mean?” she whispered seeing something distant behind his hazel eyes as he glanced over at her and shrugged his shoulders. “I know you love me and you will always be here for me. There has never been a doubt in my mind about that one, unless…unless I totally disappoint you.”

“Honey, there is nothing you could do to disappoint me,” Kyle whispered in a promise before tipping down to press a gentle kiss against her forehead seeing the way that her green eyes looked up at him. “I’m being honest Heather, you are my world and nothing is ever going to change that. Nothing at all.”

“You don’t know that Kyle,” she went to say something more feeling him urge her chin up with his index fingers, his lips skimming in against hers in a loving manner as she pressed her fingers in against his cheek. “Kyle, I have to tell you something.”

“Nothing,” Kyle pressed his finger in over her lips softly before pressing tender kisses against her lips, feeling her fingers fanning in over his shoulders, urging him on his back as she laid in over him. “I would never let something get to me Heather, you are my everything and nothing is going to change that. I love you Heather, you’re the only one for me. No matter what has happened, I will never ever be mad at you.”

“Promise?” she whimpered feeling his rough fingers press her long, blonde hair behind her ear before pressing soft kisses against the tender skin of her neck. “Kyle, I need to hear you say it.”

“Heather, look at me,” Kyle urged her green eyes to stare into his as he reached for her left hand holding it in his tightly before running his finger in over the rings representing their love, their marriage.

“Nothing is ever going to take you away from me and I promise that. Nothing is going to turn me away from you, I love you Heather I always have and I promise I always will.”

Before she could protest any longer he pressed her back against the hard back of his truck, pressing tender kisses against her neck before wrapping his muscled arm around her waist pulling her up against him.
“I love you so much Heather,” Kyle muttered pressing loving kisses against her lips feeling her fingers fanning out over his muscular back making him let out a small breath. Hearing the sudden sound of her cell phone buzzing in her purse over and over again he let out a small groan. “But someone obviously thinks they need you more than me right now.”

“It’s probably Kellen,” Heather rolled her eyes seeing Kyle move away from her enough so she could sit up and reach for her purse, searching through it to get her cell phone. A small sigh escaped her lips as she felt Kyle move in behind her, pressing her hair to the side as he kissed her neck over and over again. “Hello?”

“What the hell is wrong with the two of you?” Kipp’s voice blurted out loudly through the phone even causing Kyle to move back, his eyebrows tightening together as he let out a small sigh wondering what was wrong now. “You leave and decide to let my son stay with some nut?”

“Kipp, hold on,” Heather saw Kyle’s eyes narrow at her as he tried to listen to what was going on between the two of them. Motioning him to wait Heather slowly got off the back of his truck and down to the ground before moving toward the tree at the edge of the hill. “What are you talking about Kipp?”

“This guy you left our son with is crazy,” Kipp hissed after witnessing what was going on between Paul and the ladies he had over at Kyle’s place. “I don’t care what you and Kyle are doing, I want you back here right now. You understand me?”

“Kipp, hold on…,” Heather tried to find out more before hearing a click at the other end telling her that it didn’t matter what she had to say, Kipp was furious beyond belief. Turning around she saw Kyle getting off the back of the truck and moving in closer to her with her purse in his hand. “I think it’s time to head out.”

“I figured that would the next thing you would say to me,” Kyle muttered shutting the back of his truck before motioning her in closer to him, handing her the purse she left in the back of his truck before wrapping his arms around her tightly. “I love you so much honey.”

“I love you too,” she whispered letting out a long sigh resting her head against the center of Kyle’s firm chest feeling him press a small kiss against her forehead. “We should go soon before Kipp decides to kill the both of us.”


“How was dinner for you sweetheart?” Caleb questioned moving forward to press Stacy’s blonde hair back behind her shoulder, his green eyes staring into hers as she offered up a small smile. “I see you didn’t really eat that much.”

“I wasn’t very hungry,” Stacy nervously answered seeing the man before her let out a wide smile as she felt Caleb move in closer to her pressing a small kiss against the side of her neck making her freeze up a bit. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay honey,” Thorsten whispered seeing the way that Stacy nodded before feeling Caleb moving in closer to her, wrapping his muscular arm around her shoulders tightly. “It could save your hunger for the party we are going to.”

“Party?” Stacy questioned turning to see the look in Caleb’s green eyes before letting out a nervous laugh just thinking that they were going to a party by themselves. “What kind of party?”

“Honey, I thought I mentioned something to you,” Caleb muttered seeing the way Stacy looked at him, not knowing what to respond with as he shook his head slowly curling his index finger in underneath her chin. “We’re going to this really big casting party they were having. Thorsten set everything up for you to be there honey and I think you would fit in so great. Please go, for me.”

“Well…,” Stacy went to say something more only to feel Caleb move in closer to her, pressing a soft kiss against her lips as his fingertips caressed her cheek tenderly. “I guess I could do that for you. It could be fun.”

“I thought you might like that,” Caleb smirked hearing her let out a small laugh only for her to move forward and kiss him this time, her lips moving against his as he let out a small sound of satisfaction. “I know you’ll love it honey.”

“It’s where you truly belong,” Thorsten urged her seeing the way that Stacy nodded before squeezing Caleb’s hand and stood up from the table slowly. “You ready to leave?”

“I’m actually going to run to the ladies room real quick,” Stacy informed them grabbing her purse and moving through the restaurant quickly seeing the way Caleb’s green eyes stared out at her until she finally got to the bathroom. “I have to tell Jackie.”

Setting her purse down on the sink to the bathroom she checked to make sure no one was in the room with her before taking her cell phone and dialing Jackie’s phone number. Just when she thought it would be Jackie answering the phone, she was wrong and disappointed to hear Lindsay on the other end.

“Where is Jackie?” Stacy questioned with a small frown looking at herself in the mirror making sure everything still looked good enough for Caleb before letting out a small sigh. “I really need to tell her something.”

“She’s in the gas station, we are going over to see Daniel at the mansion,” Lindsay informed Stacy with a frown knowing that something big had to have happened for Stacy to sound this excited. “We are going over to meet his cousin that’s in town for a couple of days. Why, what’s going on?”

“Well, I figured I would call with updates,” Stacy gushed further on the subject before letting out a long sigh, pleased with what had been happening all night long with Caleb and Thorsten. “You see Caleb took me to this real nice restaurant and introduced me to this guy he knew that had connections with big people. I mean big people Lindsay and I’m going to a casting party.”

“A casting party?” Lindsay muttered before thinking back to how Caleb acted around her, the way he seemed like a total sleazebag and she let out a small groan. “Stacy, I really don’t think it’s a good idea. You just need to keep us updated with where you are going and everything.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Stacy rolled her eyes before thinking about how Caleb and Thorsten must have been waiting for her. “Well, I’m going to head out, I will send you texts with updates. I’ll talk to you later.”

Hearing the click on the other end Lindsay let out a small sigh realizing that while her friend might be having the best time of her life, but it might lead to more problems than she cared to admit.


Brant stood outside the bedroom door trying to process what he’d thought his mind had conjured up once he’d reentered the bedroom to get his clothing. One minute he’d been cursing himself for leaving a few things back in the room, but then the next he found himself wondering if he’d in fact been anything, but alone in the bedroom. Closing his eyes he thought back to what he’d thought he’d witnessed in hearing Angela moving around in the other room. Could it be possible that she’d been watching him? Waiting for him to make a move in the bedroom?

“No, it’s just wishful thinking on your end,” Brant tried to convince himself taking in a deep breath before knocking on the door in the hopes of capturing Angela’s attention. He’d missed her so much lately that he was willing to take anything he could get even if it was just his imagination getting the best of him. Reaching out to knock on the door again, he found himself pleasantly rewarded by the sound of the lock clicking and the door opening to reveal a revived Angela on the other end of the door.

“Hi,” she spoke up in a quiet tone, her dark eyes filled with obvious contemplations. She tipped her head up to meet his gaze and if Brant hadn’t known better, he would’ve believed that she’d been blushing. Her cheeks seemed flushed and if he didn’t know better he could’ve sworn that she was eyeing him with that same look of lust that had been so very familiar between them since they’d reunited again.

“Hi,” Brant replied with a sly grin, leaning up against the doorframe as his eyes swept over her. He couldn’t help but notice how incredibly beautiful she appeared standing before him in a simple red t-shirt and black sweat pants. Her short hair was tucked behind her ears and her face had a natural glow about it that in a word made her truly stunning. Just being this close to her made his pulse race, his body long to reach out and touch her, but he remained firm in his resolve not to push the issue before it’s time, “You look refreshed.”

“I feel refreshed,” she replied matching his smile when the corners of her lips upturned. “You were right. The shower was everything that I needed to feel better. There is something nice about getting syrup out of your hair.”

“Tell me about it,” Brant laughed lightly seeing the genuine warmth that radiated over her face, “and your clothes?”

“I put them in the hamper like you suggested,” she noted with a quick nod, “I hope it won’t be too much trouble for you with my leaving them here.”

“I’ll have them taken care of and shipped to the guest house later,” he promised wishing that she would forget about Kevin and the guest house and just stay with him. “It’s no trouble at all.”

“Thank you Brant,” she tipped her head to the side, her brown eyes widening. Her gaze dropped to his lips and he watched her involuntarily drag the tip of her tongue over her bottom lip as if she too had been imagining what it would be like to reach out and kiss him right about now.

“You’re very welcome,” he spoke in a low, inviting tone, his dark eyes caressing every warm line of her body now that she was within his reach, yet so far away.

“So um,” she cleared her throat uneasily, “Have you heard anything from Kevin? Has he returned yet?”

“Not the last time I checked,” Brant stepped back feeling the moment they were sharing passing him by. He moved out into the hallway again before pointing to the staircase, “but we can always see if he’s downstairs waiting for us.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” she nodded in response making a forward movement. She met his gaze again and stopped before turning towards the stairs.

“Is something wrong?” he questioned sensing her hesitation. He made a small movement towards her worried that something was troubling her.

“No, it’s just…” she paused her pulse quickening as she felt the scent of his cologne lingering in over the air between them.

“Just what?” he couldn’t help but ask reaching out to touch the side of her face gently, “You’re flushed. Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”

“I’m fine,” she nodded feeling butterflies forming in her stomach. “I just really want…”

“Want?” he repeated seeing the breath escape from her lips, the rise and fall of her chest now that they had made contact with one another. His fingertips teased into her hair gingerly in a subtle movement and she made no attempt to break away from the moment. It was as if she was welcoming it as much as Brant was enjoying sharing it with her.

“We should probably find Kevin,” she finally cleared her throat, turning her head away before either one could say anything further.

“Right,” Brant nodded feeling her pulling away from him again. He watched her walk over to the stairs, slowly descending over them and his heart sank all over again. It seemed that with every step forward he made with her, he found himself even further behind in his quest to have her remember what it was that they had shared with one another!


“I hate that things have to be like this,” Ria blurted out pulling the t-shirt Kevin had given her down over her slender frame before turning around to face him after Don had left a long while earlier. “You can’t tell me that you aren’t completely on edge over having to pretend that we’re not in love with one another.”

“Ria, if you even have to ask,” Kevin groaned turning around to face her. He set his t-shirt down on the chair beside him before stepping forward and capturing her hands in his. “Trust me this is the absolute last thing that I want to do right about now. I know what Brant said, but believe me if I didn’t have to do this I wouldn’t have.”

“But that doesn’t change how things really are,” she frowned up at him thinking about how they had given into passion with one another. “Don found us today Kevin and if he could find us like he did, then who is to say that one day we won’t slip up and Angela will find us?”

“Hey, it would make things a hell of a lot easier,” Kevin couldn’t help but tease catching the fact that she was less than amused with the situation, “Well it’s true.”

“What’s true is that woman thinks she’s back to a point in time when you two are going to be married and starting a family with one another. She believes that you are head over heels in love with her and that you’re going to be together forever,” Ria sighed heavily feeling him squeeze her hands again.

“But that’s so far from the truth that it’s not even funny,” Kevin released her hands, opting to curl his finger underneath her chin to urge her to meet his dark gaze, “Ria you and I both know that I’m not in love with her.”

“I understand that, but when you’re off pretending to be with her, where does that leave room for us and our future? How can we be together when she’s always reaching out to you holding your hand and wanting you to be with her at all hours?” she groaned attempting to look away from him. When she felt him holding her near him she closed her eyes and sighed, “Kevin I just don’t see how we can continue to keep up this charade when the stakes are so high?”

“Ria, I don’t want anything to happen to her children. I owe her and Brant that much,” he tried to explain to her thinking about what could happen if Angela had some kind of relapse.

“You don’t owe her anything Kevin,” Ria blurted out with a groan, “I know that sounds horribly selfish, but it’s true. You’ve done nothing, but sacrifice your life for her time and time again. All she has done is hurt you and the longer this goes on, the harder it’s going to be in the long run.”

“Ria, this isn’t something I planned on--something that I even wanted and I’ll be honest, the last thing I want to do right about now is to go back into that house and pretend that I am hoping for a future with her because when it gets down to it the only future I want ahead of me is the one I know I’m going to have with you. You believe that, don’t you?”

“I want to Kevin, but with our sneaking around like this,” she hesitated a tiny shiver creeping in over her, “It makes me feel like we’re doing something wrong here--like we’re the ones having an affair when she’s there waiting for you.”

“Ria, you’re the woman I’m going to marry. You are the woman I want to be having a family with. Not Angela,” Kevin blurted out sensing her insecurities resurfacing. “Hell, do you think it’s easy for me to see you with Brant? It‘s killing me to think that you can spend that much time with him while I‘m stuck with her.”

“With Brant,” she let out a small laugh, “You have to be kidding me, right?”

“When I saw you two together on the kitchen floor it upset me,” Kevin explained his jaw flexing with anger, “really upset me.”

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

“Because he’s the last man in the world that I would want touching you. I didn’t like seeing you two together like that,” Kevin admitted freely not ashamed to admit to the jealousy that burned over him when he’d seen her with Brant. “I know how women fall for his charm and…”

“I’m not Angela,” she pointed out catching him off guard, “I’m not going to just suddenly decide that Brant’s got so much more to offer.”

“I’m not saying that you will, but with the two of you spending so much time together. I know he’s got a reputation for being a bit of a ladies man,” Kevin cleared his throat uneasily knowing how ridiculous he was starting to sound.

“And Angela thinks that you two are destined to be together. She’s already planning your wedding and the next fifty years of your life together. Top that off with the fact that you did almost marry her once and that you two had a child with one another and you can see why I have far more reason to worry than you do about Brant,” she couldn’t help but admit feeling her own worries mounting.

“Brant’s a pretty persuasive guy,” Kevin noted shaking his head, “I’ve seen how he tempts otherwise rational women into falling into his arms.”

“You’ve seen Angela fall into his arms. Believe me I’m not as easily persuaded as she is,” she shrugged her shoulders before reaching out to tease her finger over the center of his muscled chest, “Besides I would have to say that you’re pretty persuasive yourself with the way you came in here all wild and intense just now. The way you pulled me off the ground like you did…”

“I couldn’t help myself,” Kevin dragged his thumb over her bottom lip with a small purr, “You just do something to me--something that I can’t contain and…”

“If we keep talking about it, Angela’s going to start looking for us and we’ll be in big trouble,” Ria pulled back hating to break the contact, but knowing that they had no choice but to find their way back to the mansion. “Just promise me that we’ll be able to continue this somehow later.”

“You have my word on it and I don’t care what I have to do or say with Brant we will have our time together,” he reached out to her pulling her into his arms for one last, lingering kiss. He held onto her for a brief moment longer before stepping back and motioning to the door, “After you.”

“Alright,” Ria finally nodded making a movement towards the door and stepping out into the yard. She glanced over her shoulder to see Kevin following behind. She spun around again and nearly plowed right into the man in front of her.

“Hey,” Russ spoke up catching Ria before they could collide. He let out a small laugh as he released her, “Looks like we’re just in the mood to keep bumping into one another today--quite literally.”

“Russ,” Kevin greeted his friend moving up to join Russ and Ria, “Hey, are you leaving?”

“I’m just about finished here,” Russ nodded trying to forget the anger that had carried over him in his arrival. Russ gave Kevin and Ria a once over seeing how they both had damp hair and were in new clothes, “I take it you two took a break from the make believe for a while.”

“We needed one,” Kevin nodded in confession, “Things have been pretty tense around here since Angela forgot half of her life.”

“I’ll bet,” Russ looked between the two of them before adding, “Just don’t let this place drive you crazy. It has a tendency to do that if you’re not careful.”

“We won’t,” Ria announced reaching out to squeeze Kevin’s hand in hers for a brief few seconds. “We’ve already agreed on that.”

“It’s easier said than done. Believe me,” Russ glanced over at the house again before looking to them.

“So what’s the deal with you and the old man?” Kevin couldn’t help but ask nodding over towards the house. “You two okay?”

“He’s a stubborn old man and he means well, but I guess we’re still trying to figure out the boundaries between us at this point. It’s an uphill climb for sure,” Russ admitted with a small shrug.

“Well listen if you need anything--anything at all, you know how to reach me,” Kevin offered up supportively.

“I think you’ve got more than enough on your plate, but I’ll keep it in mind,” Russ nodded in response, “Thanks to both of you though really and good luck. You’ll need it.”

“Thanks,” Kevin replied with a nod watching Russ head off to go to his car before Kevin looked to Ria again, “You ready to go back in there?”

“Do we really have a choice,” she sighed knowing full well that the worst was far from over now that they had to return to the lies that had been spun out after Angela’s amnesia set in. She just hoped and prayed that the lies would soon find a way to end for all of them!


“What are you talking about?” Avery questioned shaking her head at Jenna after she’d touched up her makeup a bit after her crying fest on Grady’s shoulder.

“I’m talking about what I saw happening with you and Grady a little while ago,” Jenna mouthed with a small frown shaking her head at Avery, “What’s that all about?”

“Nothing,” Avery waved her hand dismissively thinking about the words that Grady had offered her, “I guess I was just feeling upset about things that have been happening and Grady was offering his support.”

“He looked like he was hoping to offer a whole hell of a lot more than that when I walked in,” Jenna pointed out with a scowl shaking her head at Avery, “He looked like he was ready to lay a kiss on you there.”

“Jenna, that’s so far from the truth it’s not even funny,” Avery let out a nervous laugh shaking her head at her friend, “It’s not like that with Grady and I. It’s never been like that.”

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say never,” Jenna watched Avery pacing around her office again, “I seem to remember a woman who was in turmoil a few months ago because she was worried about her marriage to Brant because she kept finding herself attracted to her former brother-in-law.”

“I was upset because I lost Russ,” Avery tried to defend herself to Jenna, “At the time I think I was searching for anyone who would make me feel the way that Russ did. Grady was just the closest thing to Russ that I had.”

“Even so,” Jenna sighed heavily, “I know that you had those feelings for him when you two almost…”

“Jenna, I was barely twenty when that happened,” Avery rolled her eyes and shuddered at the memory, “Almost sleeping with Grady Denton was the biggest mistake of my life. Scratch that had I ever really slept with him that would’ve been the biggest mistake. He’s special to me yes, but I would never, ever see him in that way.”

“That’s not what you were saying when you were with Brant. It sounded like things might’ve been headed in that direction if I do recall myself,” Jenna eyed her suspiciously, “I remember when Grady and Kyle got into that war and you were the one always with Grady. I know you two were away together when Bruce found you and…”

“Oh my God Jenna please,” Avery rolled her eyes again, “I so would not have done anything with Grady. It’s not like that. It never was like that and it will never be like that. He’s just my friend and Russell’s brother.”

“If you say so, but the vibe I was getting in here when I walked to the office was one that I don’t think Russ or Grady’s girlfriend would’ve been comfortable with. To me it seemed like there was a man who was hoping for something that he might’ve felt passed him by,” Jenna added with a hint of curiosity. “He seems like maybe just maybe he wished Russ hadn’t returned when he did so that maybe he’d be the second chance at love you were looking for.”

“Okay, now I know you’re being ridiculous,” Avery rolled her eyes again, “Grady and I are not even remotely close to having a relationship with one another and we never will. There’s only one man in this world for me and that’s Russ. Grady of all people should know that. Besides, you totally misread the situation.”

“I’m not so sure, but regardless,” Jenna groaned, “I didn’t come over here to start a fight with you. I came over because I was hoping that maybe you could help me out with something. You see I’m having issues with Hart and I figured it might be worth getting an outside opinion.”

“Issues how?” Avery questioned worriedly, “You’re not fighting are you?”

“No, not exactly,” Jenna shook her head before hesitation carried over her, “You know how I told you about Sam being his daughter.”

Avery nodded, “Yes.”

“Well, it turns out Sam and Wayne went to London and she fell in love with London while they were there,” Jenna explained thinking about what started Hart’s downward spiral.

“I can’t say I blame her. It’s beautiful and I always liked it when my family took trips out there. It’s easy to fall in love with for sure,” Avery noted with a warm smile.

“I won’t argue that, but when she returned she told Hart that not only had she fallen in love with it, but that she wanted to be able to experience it full time,” Jenna revealed to her with a sigh.

“Full time as in she dreams of one day absorbing the culture again or…” Avery arched a curious brow.

“She is hoping to move out there. She applied for a few schools out there and she wants to start over again in London making a name for herself. In fact she’s so convinced that this is the best move that she initially asked Hart to help her so that she could get into one of the schools out there,” Jenna continued to explain to her, “However, given that he’d missed out on so much of her life already he wasn’t eager to comply. He was hoping he could convince her to stay here so that they could get the chance to know one another, but to make a long story short his options were taken from him when his father offered Sam a full paid trip out there. He’s offered to set her up with a place and help her with school so that she can live out her dreams.”

“Which has to have Hart in an uproar,” Avery noted remembering what Jenna had told her about Hart and Walt’s bitter hatred for one another.

“Exactly, so I’m at the point where I’m trying to calm him down, but he’s going off the deep end. He’s carrying on like a lunatic and while I understand that he’s upset about the idea of losing his daughter, he just can’t seem to think clear or rational about what’s happening. He’s even talked about going to Beth and making sure that they stop Sam from leaving,” Jenna added with a worried expression.

“Which could never be good given how Beth is,” Avery added knowingly, “She’s always been trouble.”

“And she thrives off of drama. I’m really afraid if I can’t find a way to help Hart get over what he’s feeling that he’s not only going to lose Sam, but he’s going to hurt himself in ways he never thought possible. There’s just so much happening right now that every time I try to talk to him, he’s lost inside his own little world. The other night he was ready to attack Walt after he found out that Walt provided Sam with what she needed,” Jenna stopped herself feeling her emotions get the best of her, “Avery I love him so much and I don’t want to tell him what is right and wrong with his daughter, but I feel like I’m backed into a corner on this one. I’m not Sam’s mother and obviously Hart is her father, but there has to be some middle ground in all of this. I want to offer my advice without sounding pushy and…”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Avery offered up seeing how upset her friend was, “I know that Hart sounds like he’s dealing with a lot right now, but he loves you and you two are going to have a child together. That in itself is something to think about.”

“I know, but right now I feel like he’s overwhelmed with anger and rage towards his father. He’s been bitter over the situation and now that it stands that he might lose Sam, I’m so afraid I’m going to lose him in all of this and I don’t know how to stop it from happening,” Jenna revealed thinking about the man she loved and hoping that there was some way she could prevent her worst fears from becoming a reality for her sooner or later.


JT opened up the bedroom door only to discover Evie seated in front of the vanity brushing her hair while she stared blankly into the mirror in front of her. Gently he pushed the door to a close before stepping in behind her and placing his hands on her shoulders. He leaned forward dropping a feathery light kiss on the side of her neck before whispering in her ear.

“You look beautiful,” he mouthed kissing the side of her neck once more.

“My hair is a mess,” she set the brush down on the table before bringing her fingers up through her damp hair, “I guess I should’ve rethought the whole swimming idea.”

“I don’t know,” JT shrugged his shoulders gently, “It did have it’s perks.”

“Just not as many as I was hoping for since we kind of leapt in without protection,” she eyed him intently from his reflection in the mirror. Bringing her hand up over his she couldn’t help but squeeze it gently, “Tell me something, would we have truly made love if you had a condom with us?”

“Would you have truly wanted to?” JT arched a curious brow feeling her shifting beneath his touch. He released his hand from her shoulder watching as she stood up, the satin robe that she’d been wearing moving with her body as she crossed the room.

“I’d hoped so,” she admitted spinning around to face him again. She forced a small smile before adding, “I’m still hoping we’ll get around to that sooner or later.”

“We will,” he promised watching her take a seat on the bottom of the bed. She crossed her long legs, allowing the material of her robe to part and expose her smooth skin to his hungry gaze. He forced himself to look away before his thoughts got the best of him. “So are you sure that you’re okay?”

“Of course,” she nodded arching further back onto the bed, “Why do you ask?”

“I was worried when you rushed in here like you did,” he admitted glancing over at her again before crossing the room. He reached for his suitcase and pulled it up off of the floor. Carrying it over to the bed, he set it down beside her and spoke up again, “You seemed uncomfortable outside with Cameron.”

“I wasn’t exactly thrilled with what his girlfriend did,” she admitted falling back onto the blankets. Turning on her side, she propped herself up on her elbow and eyed him intently, “She’s kind of a bitch, isn’t she?”

“That’s putting it mildly,” he nodded in confession unzipping his suitcase and pulling it open. He grabbed a new set of clothing in the hopes of cleaning up after their adventure. “She’s notorious for making people around her miserable.”

“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” Evie let out a tiny shudder thinking about what she’d witnessed with Sarah. She wrinkled her nose before speaking up again, “When she poured that drink on me I was ready to tear her head off. She deserved it you know.”

“I won’t argue that, but I’m glad that you let me pull you back. I didn’t want us to have to deal with murder as well on our ends since we’re about to enter paradise with one another,” JT added glancing up at her again and seeing the way that her hair had fallen to the side of her face framing it in such a way that he couldn’t help but be taken in by her.

“Even so I think your brother can do better,” she slid her fingers down over the side of her hip, taking advantage of the movement and pooling the side of her robe up with it. She pushed the silken material aside hoping to capture JT’s attention as she spoke up again, “He seems like a nice guy, but she is really a piece of work.”

“I won’t argue that. I think Cameron just likes to take on projects that no one else will touch,” he blurted out, tipping his head up to see the very erotic view of her legs that she’d offered him. He watched her dangle her toes close to where he’d set the suitcase and he cleared his throat again trying to focus, “He’s just a sucker for lost causes I guess.”

“So you both are a lot alike in that department,” Evie noted with a hint of a smile brewing behind her mischievous lips. “I think that’s a bit of an admirable quality in it’s own way.”

“It all depends,” he shrugged feeling her push the suitcase out of the way. He stood up straighter seeing her slender fingers patting the bed beside her indicating that she’d wanted him to join her. “I think Cameron’s going to wind up in over his head if he’s not careful.”

“Something tells me that he’s a big boy who can hold his own,” she curled her finger while inching up in closer to him, “Just like I’m pretty sure you can more than do the same when push comes to shove.”

“It’s funny that you say that because,” JT started glancing over at her again only to discover that she’d been holding a condom strategically placing it near the top of her chest where her fingers traced over the low neckline of the robe she’d been wearing. She arched up closer to him, allowing the material to drop off of her shoulder to reveal her bare skin to him.

“Because it gets you thinking wayward thoughts,” she arched a curious brow moving in over closer to him. She pressed her palm into his shoulder and watched as he fell back onto the blankets with her urgings. Taking advantage of the momentum shift between them, she climbed into his lap and grinned like the cat who ate the canary. “It’s clear that you and your brother have a lot in common in the department of taking on charity cases.”

“I wouldn’t consider myself someone to take on charity cases,” JT cleared his throat again watching her wave the condom around in the air again. He tipped his head to the side watching her with a puzzled expression, “Where did you get that?”

“Let’s just say I did a little exploring while you were outside with Cameron and I found something I liked,” she admitted with a playful laugh reaching for the tie on her robe, “I really don’t think that your brother will miss it, do you?”

“I really don’t think so, but…” JT stopped himself watching her open up her robe to reveal her naked form to him. His dark eyes swept over her ravenously and he sucked in a sharp breath. “Evie, I thought we already talked about this with one another and…”

“Shh…” she leaned forward placing her index finger over the center of his lips to silence him, “You said if we would’ve had a condom, then we could’ve followed through on my intentions with one another.”

“I know what I said, but…” he gulped feeling her shift over him in a seductive movement. Instinctively he reached out to her, curling his palm around her hip to hold her over him.

“But nothing. You asked me to marry you and I’ve already said yes, so I don’t see why there is any reason in the world why we would have to hold off on consummating our relationship. Do you?” she wiggled her brow at him suggestively before reaching out to grab the center of his shirt.

“Well no, but…” he felt her yank him forward, her lips coming crashing down into his. Without thought or warning he curled his arms around her feeling the softness of her body over his, the sweet intoxication of her tempting him in ways that he’d fought to contain from the moment he’d met her. She was pure desire and lust wrapped into one perfect slender package and as her mouth beckoned his to sweet surrender, he couldn’t help but be taken in by her.

“You’re going to be the death of me,” he mouthed in a low groan, feeling a heat lick over every inch of his body. He raised his arms allowing her to peel his shirt off of his body and discard it onto the floor. Within a matter of seconds, he hugged her in against him feeling their skin against skin contact all too much to bear as he let out a small groan. He reached out to her pushing her hair away from her face so that he could see her dark passion-filled eyes upon him. “You play like you’re so sweet and innocent, but when it gets down to it you’re by far one of the most scheming seductresses that I’ve ever known.”

“Would you rather I play shy and innocent?” she questioned with the beginnings of a smirk touching over her lips.

“For someone that’s not exactly been around the block before, you’ve surely got a very bold take on things,” he noted seeing her eyes sparkle with mischief as he held her.

“That’s because I know I’ve got the best lover beside me--one who isn’t going to lead me astray,” she smoothed her hands over his chest, taking in the warm lines of his body, “I know for a fact that you’re going to be perfect for me every step of the way.”

“Perfect,” he smiled at the thought, lightly brushing his fingertips over her spine, “I don’t know if I would go that far, but I’ll give it my best shot to live up to your expectations.”

“They are pretty high just about now, but I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll blow me away quite literally,” she teased with a flirty kiss, moving in to nibble on his lower lip. She felt his tongue meet hers in a moment of fevered frenzy before she rolled back onto the bed taking him with her. Her hands dropped down to his pants, working to destroy any and all barriers between them, but his wrist caught hers urging her hand up to his shoulder again.

“The first lesson in all of this is that there is no need to rush something so right,” he whispered warmly over her skin, his lips descending to her shoulder to place tender kisses over her. He bit down on the side of her neck before his tongue traced a pattern over her skin. His palm pressed in over her thigh, feeling tiny shivers carry over her with each breath that escaped her now parted lips.

“Should I try to open this,” she questioned awkwardly reaching out to extend her fingers over the blanket to grab the condom she’d stolen from one of Cameron’s drawers.

“Not just yet,” he reached for her hand lacing their fingers with one another before kissing her again. His dark eyes met hers once more and he smiled down at her, admiring her beauty and watching the way her skin grew flushed with desire, “Right now I want to take the time to show you a whole new meaning of the word pleasure. You see in making love to someone it’s not about just cutting to the chase and going for it. It’s all about taking the time to learn what the other person desires--what feels good and what feels right between two people.”

“You feel right to me,” she gasped feeling his touch fan out over her skin, massaging her gently. “JT…”

“Just relax,” he captured her lips in yet another kiss, “because I promise you that there will be plenty of trips to heaven before we get to that point with one another.”

“Oh JT,” Evie sighed sinking further back into the blankets in anticipation of all the new world of desire that JT had promised to share with her. Something told her that it wouldn’t be anything short of divine now that they were finally on the road to happily ever after with one another.


“Don’t you think we should have called first?” Lindsay questioned looking up at the Ashford estate in front of her. “I mean what if Daniel is busy?”

“Hey the guard buzzed us in,” Jackie pointed out bringing her car to a park in the circular drive, “so obviously they don’t mind us being here.”

“I guess,” Lindsay paused looking to the house again as a frown touched over her lips, “though maybe you should try to call Stacy again. See how she’s doing.”

“Um she’s on a date with a very hot, older guy,” Jackie pointed out bringing her keys out of the ignition and opening up her car door. “I’m sure she’s doing just fine.”

“I’m not so convinced,” Lindsay began again with a small frown.

“Of course you’re not,” Jackie groaned outwardly. “You’re such a buzz kill. First you wouldn’t let us stick around and see what Jason was up to and then…”

“I’m worried about my friend,” Lindsay interrupted with a huff, “That’s what a mature, responsible person does.”

“Yeah well I’m only a teenager. I’m not supposed to be mature and responsible yet,” Jackie explained circling around her car and motioning for Lindsay to follow. “You know you should try it sometime. You might find you enjoy life more if you just learn to relax.”

“It’s not about relaxing,” Lindsay offered up in protest as the two girls stepped up to the front porch. She watched Jackie ring the bell before the door opened and they were escorted inside.

“Just try to have fun,” Jackie suggested as they headed towards the library to wait for Daniel.

“It’s not that. It’s just…” Lindsay began when a voice interrupted her.

“Well, well look what we have here. Does mom know that you’re out this late?” Don questioned causing Lindsay to practically leap out of her skin. He chuckled as he leaned in against the wall and gave her a once over. “So what kind of trouble are you two getting into today?”

“First of all it’s not that late Don,” Lindsay offered up curling her lip in protest, “and second…”

“We haven’t gotten into trouble just yet, but if we’re lucky we just might,” Jackie laughed in a flirty fashion as she tossed her dark hair over her shoulder. “What about you Don? Being a bad boy or are you in need of getting a spanking?”

“Jackie,” Lindsay’s jaw practically dropped at her friend’s statement.

“I’m always good,” Don simply responded ignoring Jackie’s attempt at flirting. “Seriously though what are you two up to and where’s your partner in crime?”

“Partner in crime?” Jackie repeated curiously.

“Yeah, where’s Stacy,” Don couldn’t help but ask. “Wasn’t she with you two before?”

“She’s um…” Lindsay started nervously feeling something tugging at her insides.

“Meeting us later,” Jackie explained curling her arm in Lindsay’s, “and we’re here to see Danny, so we’ll talk with you later Don.”

“Not so fast,” Don gave his sister another long look, “Linds, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Um sure,” Lindsay nodded in response as Jackie leaned in closer to her.

“Don’t ruin Stacy’s night,” Jackie warned giving her a small glare before going off in search of Daniel. “See you in a few.”

“Sure,” Lindsay nodded before turning to face her brother with guilt eating away at her.

“Ok, I’ll bite where is Stacy really at?” Don questioned cutting straight to the point.

“She’s not with us tonight,” Lindsay offered up a hint of the truth.

“I got that much, but I can also see that you’re hiding something,” Don moved in closer to her. “What is it?”

“It’s just…” Lindsay drew in a small breath remembering Jackie’s warning before she blurted out the truth. “Stacy went on a date with some older jerk that she met at a club the other night and I don’t think he’s a good guy. They went to some party and…”

“Where?” Don frowned in response.

“I don’t know,” she admitted honestly, “but I’m worried about her. I even tried to call her mom and let her know that she wasn’t with us when Jackie was in the store earlier, but I can’t get a hold of her.”

“Does Dave know that Stacy’s out with this guy?” Don couldn’t help but ask. “Never mind I already know that answer. If Dave had any idea he probably wouldn’t have let Stacy leave. So tell me how old is this guy?”

“Way too old for her and he’s a slime. I can just tell by the way that he touches her,” Lindsay offered up with a tiny shudder, “and just the way he was looking at me…”

“Looking at you,” Don replied his frown intensifying, “Lindsay, have you tried to contact Stacy and check in on her?”

“Her cell phone is out of the service area,” Lindsay admitted with a sigh bringing her hand up through her blonde hair. “I tried to reach her, but…”

“Do you have any idea where they were going? To where he was taking her?” Don questioned.

“No, but I’m worried Don. Really worried,” she bit down on her lower lip nervously. “I mean I know she likes this guy, but…”

“But if you don’t like him, then there’s probably plenty of reason for you not to,” Don added thinking about Jewel’s daughter. “So you don’t know anything about where she’s at?”

“No, well actually,” she reached into her pocket, “That jerk Caleb gave me this card with his number on it if I wanted to reach him. He invited Jackie and I to meet up with them later, but I didn’t get a good vibe.”

“That’s because you’re a smart girl,” Don replied extracting the card from her hand and taking a look at it. “I’m sure we’ll find her.”

“Don, what are you going to do?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“I’m going to try to get a hold of Jewel and have her find her daughter especially since it sounds like she’s in some kind of trouble,” Don noted turning his attention to his sister again, “so if you hear from Stacy, you just call my cell phone and let me know.”

“Don, I know I probably sound like a baby about this, but…” she hesitated knowing only too well that Jackie and Stacy would be upset with her for blurting out the news on where Stacy was.

“No, you’re not. I know you and your instincts and if you felt there was something shady happening, then you’re probably dead on with your assessment. Just stay out of trouble and I’ll keep you updated.”

“Thanks Don,” she reached out to embrace her brother.

“You’re welcome and don’t worry. I’ll take care of this,” he replied giving her a brief hug and kissing the top of her head. “Trust me.”

“I do,” she nodded back at him just hoping that something horrible hadn’t happened to her friend while she’d sat back in silent worry. She just hoped that whatever Don had planned that he could fix the situation somehow and keep Stacy out of trouble.


“So where are you two off to?” Augustus questioned after he and Wendy had taken the time to discuss a new piece of art that he’d acquired during a business acquisition. “Surely, you’d much rather stay here and enjoy the quietness in the house tonight instead of trotting around town.”

“It’s hardly quiet around here lately,” Ken mouthed in response curling his arm around Wendy’s waist. “The last time I checked it was a zoo around here with everyone coming back into town.”

“Everyone isn’t back,” Augustus started to argue the point.

“Let’s see. We’ve got you back and Zoë was floating around here with Daniel,” Ken recounted his family members being in town. “Joel is lingering around here somewhere…”

“Zoë’s not around,” Wendy corrected thinking about everyone in the estate. “She had to fly back to London for a few days…”

“So Daniel’s running around unsupervised with all of Brant’s toys accessible to him. Even better,” Ken couldn’t help but laugh. “We’re in great standing if he and Joel get into Brant’s game room. It’ll become party central.”

“Come on Kenneth. You were young once. Surely you find the time to enjoy yourself every now and then,” Augustus teased with a small wink.

“Not nearly as often as I should,” Ken confessed feeling Wendy nudge him in the ribs.

“But we’re working on it,” Wendy assured Augustus, “like with tonight. We’re actually having dinner with Russ and Avery.”

“Russ and Avery?” Augustus arched a surprised brow. “Really?”

“Yeah, they invited us over for dinner at their new place and from what I’ve heard it’s beautiful. I can’t wait to see it considering that…” Wendy started to gush over what she’d been told.

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Augustus interrupted with a small frown.

“Just because Brant is set on hating Russ doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t take the chance to be his friend,” Ken frowned at his grandfather’s tone. “He and I spent a lot of time around one another in college when he was dating Avery and…”

“That was a long time ago. A lot has happened,” Augustus replied with a pointed expression.

“Brant and Russ fighting has nothing to do with me. Just because none of us knew that Russ was well, family doesn’t mean that now we have to retaliate against him because Brant is still pouting over losing Avery,” Ken scowled with a shake of his head. “I don’t have to keep fighting Brant’s wars.”

“No one asked you to, but…” Augustus paused before glancing over at Wendy. “Could you give us a moment?”

“Um sure,” Wendy replied with a puzzled expression. “I’ll just go get my jacket since the car should be ready for us…”

“I’ll be right there,” Ken promised reaching out to kiss her briefly before watching her leave. Once she exited the room Ken faced Augustus with an obvious glare. “That was rude, wasn’t it? Could you be more obvious in your wanting to get rid of her?”

“It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t enjoying her company, but rather that I’m trying to talk some sense into you. What are you thinking tonight?” Augustus snapped at Ken.

“What are you talking about?” Ken grumbled in response. “Wendy’s fine and she should get out. She can’t be stuck in this house all the time when…”

“I’m not talking about Wendy. I’m talking about you going over to see Russ and Avery when…” Augustus started to explain.

“Hey, what is happening with Russ and Brant isn’t my problem,” Ken shrugged his shoulders simply. “As I said before I don’t have any issues with Russ considering that he’s always been decent to me.”

“That’s because he has no idea about what you did to Avery,” Augustus pointed out bluntly. “He has no clue about what you did when he was gone.”

“Oh please,” Ken rolled his eyes, “Don’t tell me that you’re going to bring that up. That was a long time ago and it was a mistake.”

“Mistake or not, I highly doubt that Avery’s comfortable with the idea of you being around her right now. I think she’s been through enough and…” Augustus cautioned him.

“She’s a grown up. She can deal with being around me,” Ken groaned outwardly while rolling his eyes. “I mean I don’t see what the big deal about the situation is. I’m sure she’s moved past it. She has Russ and I have Wendy…”

“That doesn’t change what happened Ken,” Augustus shot back with a frown. “There’s an obvious tension and…”

“Hey, what happened between Avery and I was completely consensual. If anything she’s the one who came onto me,” Ken spoke up in his own defense. “She’s the one who was begging for me to…”

“Brant,” Augustus corrected. “She was under the assumption that you were Brant.”

“You know what they say about assumptions,” Ken rolled his eyes again.

“Ken, you’re putting yourself into a situation that you should just as soon avoid,” Augustus warned him with a sudden seriousness. “If you know what’s good for you, then you’ll call Russ and tell him something came up. You’ll take Wendy out to a nice restaurant or plan a quiet romantic evening at home. Forget about Russ and Avery.”

“I’m not going to forget about it. Wendy’s looking forward to it and Russ is my brother. Why shouldn’t I try to get along with him?” Ken scoffed stubbornly. “So what if Avery and I were together? She was with Brant too and I don’t see you lecturing him about her.”

“That’s because he’s not going over to rub something in her face,” Augustus explained with a shake of his head. “Ken, I know you’re up to something.”

“By accepting a dinner invitation from Russ?” Ken threw his hands up in the air. “Give me a break. I mean honestly, what do you take me for? Nicholas?”

“I’ve seen you come close to that where Avery is concerned and…” Augustus began again.

“In case you didn’t notice Brant was the one obsessed with her. He’s the one that you should be giving the lecture to because he was the one who didn’t know when to let go,” Ken raised his voice with heavy agitation. “He’s the stalker not me.”

“You’re the one who bedded her under the deceptive circumstances…” Augustus interjected.

“And she got over it. She told me that she was willing to put it past us, so if she can do it, then why the hell can’t you and everyone else?” Ken snarled in response. “It’s not like it makes a bit of difference to anyone, but those who are just trying to find a reason to hold me back.”

“You have a bright future with Wendy. Why do you want to chance it for something that could blow up in your face?” Augustus questioned.

“Because there’s nothing to chance. We go to dinner tonight, spend our time talking about the trivial things that guides Russ and his life, then we go our separate ways. The only person making a big deal out of this is you,” Ken snapped turning to leave as Augustus moved forward.

“Ken wait,” Augustus attempted to appeal to him, “if you know what’s good for you, you won’t go.”

“And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop trying to dictate my life. It might have worked with my father or even your other children, but this isn’t your problem. It’s not for you to deal with,” Ken warned him in an icy tone before stomping out of the room.

“It will be if you continue to keep fooling yourself about things,” Augustus sighed knowing only too well that his grandson was opening the door to trouble by inviting Russ and Avery into his life. While he was certain Russell’s dinner invitation was purely innocent, Augustus knew Kenneth only too well where it came to finding ways to incorporate his own agenda into a situation. Sure, Ken seemed to have changed since Wendy’s return, but something told Augustus that Kenneth was a long way back on the road to recovery in his life. Something dark still existed in his grandson and it was only a matter of time before it returned full force!


Avery heard a knock at her office door and instinctively she looked up to see Russ standing in the doorway, with a dozen roses in hand. He was leaning in against the door frame, his green eyes meeting hers with a sudden intensity that she couldn’t help but respond with a warm smile.

“I hope this isn’t a bad time,” he mouthed making a small movement into her office to join her.

“For you,” she replied standing up and circling around her desk to meet him half way into the center of the room, “Never. I always love seeing a sexy man in my office doorway when I’m having a slow day.”

“A slow day huh?” Russ arched a curious brow, “Then I take it my brother isn’t giving you enough work to keep you busy, eh?”

“Your brother has been decidedly easygoing on me, but it’s probably because I’m not officially working full time yet,” she replied reaching out to embrace him, her eyes honing in on the roses, “Were these for me?”

“Why yes they are beautiful,” he offered them to her with a small wink, “Do you like them?”

“Not nearly as much as I like you,” she threw her arms around his shoulders stepping up on her toes to kiss him playfully. As their lips parted she searched his green eyes and smiled, “Tell me something good.”

“You mean other than how much I love you and how beautiful you are?” he replied curling his arm around her waist and grinned.

“That’s a step in the right direction,” she leaned into his embrace, “but I was kind of hoping that it would be something along the lines of your telling me that you really went to work today and didn’t bother to go yell at Augustus for what he did.”

“If I told you that I would be lying,” he admitted feeling her take a step back, “but you’ll be happy to know that I didn’t totally lose my cool there.”

“Russ, I thought we said you wouldn’t go over there,” she frowned retreating over to her desk area. “I thought that we were just going to let it go.”

“Avery you can’t just let it go especially when there’s that much money on the table. I told him that I couldn’t accept what he’d done even though I appreciated his wanting to help,” he informed her folding his arms in front of his chest and watching her reach for a glass on her desk top. She opened the bottle of water she’d been drinking earlier and put it into the glass before following up with the flowers he’d given her.

“And what did he say to all of this?” she couldn’t help but ask arching a curious brow as she remembered Grady telling her to lay up on Russ a bit.

“He was stubborn and tried to duck out of the conversation, but I think we’re closer to reaching an understanding,” he admitted walking in over to take a seat across from her desk. “I think after I talk to him again we’ll have this situation cleared up.”

“You couldn’t just say thank you, could you?” she shook her head at him and let out a long sigh.

“Would you have if someone had done that for you?” he arched a curious brow eyeing her intently.

“I really don’t know what I would’ve done, but knowing Augustus he was just trying to do something special for you. He meant well you know,” she sighed not wanting to get into a debate with him over what had happened.

“I know he did and I’m trying to warm myself up to the idea that he’s a part of my life and a part of my family. It’s just going to take some time to adjust to,” he revealed seeing her tip her head up to face him again.

“That’s an honest answer if I’ve ever heard one,” she smiled over in his general direction.

“I’m trying Avery, but it’s not easy especially when I walked in on a food fight over at the mansion. Turns out Kevin and Ria were over there with Brant and Angela and Don. I got nailed with a pancake or something,” he frowned thinking back to his arrival at the estate. “Things seem pretty chaotic over there.”

“Because Angela is leading them all to believe she forgot her past,” Avery arched a doubtful brow, “Somehow I don’t buy that.”

“I don’t know what I buy,” he paused thinking about how Angela had claimed to remember his face. He shook the thought and turned to Avery again, “but it’s not our problem right now. Tonight I’ve got something better in store for us to think about.”

“Such as?” she arched an interested brow.

“Dinner,” he explained brightly.

“Oh that sounds great. Where are you taking me?” she questioned curiously flashing him another smile.

“Actually I was thinking about our having something at home perhaps with a few old friends since we haven’t had time to really catch up with anyone lately,” he explained seeing her shuffling through some papers on her desk. “You, Erin and I haven’t been entertaining in a while, so I thought it might be good for us.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” she decided leaning back in her chair and eyeing him curiously, “So who is it tonight? Kyle perhaps? You know I was just thinking about him the other day and how we should invite him over since things kind of went haywire at that wedding. It’s been too long since we’ve seen him, but now that he’s coming over we can pick up some of his favorite pie for dessert and really try to cheer him up since…”

“It’s not Kyle,” Russ leaned forward in his chair scratching his chin lightly before waving his hand around in the air, “but that does sound like a good idea. I’m going to need to call him.”

“Then it must be Kevin and Ria. Did you convince them to take a little while away from that whole nightmare that they are having at the Ashford mansion? I’m sure Ria was grateful for the suggestion and if we can give them a little time away from all of that, then…” she continued to go on thinking about their friends.

“Actually it’s not them either. You see while I was at the mansion I ran into Ken and Wendy and…” he started to explain from her watching as Avery cleared her throat uneasily.

“You ran into Ken and Wendy?” she repeated her jaw dropping in astonishment.

“That’s right. I had no idea that things were going so great for them. Ken came in when I was talking to Augustus and we were discussing Caitlin and how things have been for him since he lost her. Then Wendy came in and we were talking about Erin,” Russ continued to explain to her, “I figured we all haven’t been getting together in so long that tonight seemed like a good start. I suggested we have dinner and then maybe play cards or something together.”

“You did?” she practically gulped trying to keep her reaction to the news under control.

“Yeah, I mean why not?” he shrugged his shoulders, “We used to have a good time when we all hung out. When was the last time we actually did that? Graduate school?”

“Something like that, but things have changed now,” she shifted on her chair uncomfortably, “We’ve all kind of gone down different paths.”

“I know, but I realize that you asked me to try to get along with some of those people, so I figure why not start with Ken? He’s the most reasonable of the group and we used to all be close once. Hell, he’s family now, so why not try to be civil with him?” he shrugged again, “Plus since you two were always so close…”

“We’re not close anymore Russ. Not even remotely close to one another after everything,” she tried to explain to him seeing something behind his green eyes.

“I know we have dealt with a lot about everything that’s happened with Brant, but Ken doesn’t seem to hold a grudge. It was nice speaking with him and Wendy sounded really excited to see you,” Russ continued brightly thinking about the night ahead of them, “I figured we’ll pick up Erin and then we’ll make something special--maybe take a trip to the store and pick up a few things to work with and…”

“Yeah sure,” Avery forced a smile knowing full well that the last thing she wanted to do was spend the night entertaining with Ken around. However as she saw the enthusiasm on Russell’s face she fought to keep her thoughts to herself knowing full well that while tonight would be torture on her, she would try to find a way to make it work for Russ if it really meant that much to him. She just hoped that their time with Ken and Wendy would go as smooth and painless as possible.


“I’m glad you came over,” Daniel motioned Jackie and Lindsay out toward the back of the mansion outside as he pressed his hand in against the small of Lindsay’s back. “My cousin is here for a while, but I’m sure you would love to meet him. He’s really the greatest and I think the both of you will adore him.”

“So where is your…,” Jackie went to say something more before spotting a young, blonde stud lying out on one of the lawn chairs next to the pool in the back as she stopped her words letting out a small gasp. “Your extremely hot cousin.”

“This is Joel ladies,” Daniel watched as his cousin stood up from where he was seated and pulled his sunglasses off his eyes and rested them at the top of his head. “This is my Uncle Rex’s son, he’s just visiting for a while.”

“Or I could stay longer, depending if I like it here or not,” Joel muttered seeing the two girls before him and instantly he moved next to the blonde reaching out for her hand. “Joel Ashford, pleasure to meet you. Your name is?”

“Lindsay,” Lindsay let out a hesitant laugh seeing the way that Jackie frowned stepping in next to Daniel who stared out at her as she felt Joel press a quick kiss against her hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I think we met before, haven’t we? I’m Don’s little sister, you know--Brant’s best friend.”

“Don Leveski, your father is the big gym owner right?” Joel muttered seeing the way that Lindsay nodded as he moved forward to hug her in his arms tightly. “God, I remember playing baseball with you when were like five. You remember, you beat me with the bat when I tried to cheat.”

“Oh,” Lindsay let out a hesitant laugh seeing the way he laughed in response before nodding slowly and folding his arms out in front of his muscular chest. “Sorry about that.”

“Hey, I eventually got the stitches out,” Joel laughed before reaching out to wrap his arm around Lindsay’s shoulders pointing her toward the other direction. “You know I would really love to catch up with you. You know, maybe know if you attacked anyone else with a bat lately.”

“You know this is my other friend Jackie,” Daniel went to introduce her before seeing Joel hold his hand up in the air to ignore him before moving over toward the pool with Lindsay at his side. “Or completely ignore me, that works too.”

“So have you attacked anyone else recently or what’s new?” Joel muttered seeing the way that Lindsay laughed when she took a seat next to him. “You have no idea how much you have grown up since the last time I saw you.”

“You too, I mean look at how muscular you got,” she pointed out seeing the way he smiled, his dimples showing clearly as he raised his arm flexing his bicep for her. “See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about.”

“Hey, it’s good when someone notices something new about you. Especially someone like you,” Joel reached out to grab her hand in his seeing the way her blue eyes looked out at him. “Feel it, I’ll bet no one our age has guns like these.”

“You might be surprised,” Daniel blurted out seeing the way that Joel looked back at him with his extremely blue eyes before letting out a small laugh. “Maybe she was just making a general statement you know.”

“Chill out cus,” Joel reached forward after standing up from the lawn chair patting Daniel on the shoulder before shrugging his shoulders. “I’m just trying to start friendly conversations that all. Just chill out Danny.”

Right before Daniel could say something else Joel moved forward shoving his cousin right into the pool seeing the splash that followed as Jackie jumped away from the water not wanting to get water on her.

“Hope that helped out a bit cousin,” Joel let out a small laugh before letting out a small chuckle only to feel a firm shove against his back making him splash down roughly into the pool making him let out a small hiss. “What the heck?”

“I thought we all needed to chill out,” Lindsay teased before moving over toward the side of the pool and doing a flip into the pool making a splash of her own. Moving over toward Joel she pushed his head under the water before reaching out for Daniel doing the same thing. “I just think we all need to have a little fun.”

“While you guys have fun, I’m just going to sit down and not get wet,” Jackie informed them seeing the three in the pool continue to splash at each other before letting out a small laugh. “I have no intentions of getting wet.”


“Now?” Evie questioned in a low, shallow pant her fingers digging into the blankets in the hopes of keeping herself grounded now that JT had her anticipating the next level in this new world of seduction they’d entered into with one another. She squeezed the blankets beneath her closing her eyes as she fought to stay in control beneath him. Her hand uncoiled seeking out the condom that she’d snagged earlier, while her breath grew labored and a slow whimper built in the back of her throat. Her words came out ragged and desperate, “Now?”

“Not yet,” he murmured his breath whispering over her skin feeling her melt against his urgings. Her fingers tangled into his dark hair, urging his lips to hers in a fiery kiss.

“JT please…now…” she begged of him, her leg coiling around his body as it was clear that she’d been more than ready to pass the point of no return with him after he’d taken the time to show her a new side of all that making love entailed. “Please…”

“Alright,” he mouthed devouring her lips while bringing his hand out to lace their fingers with one another. He reached for the condom in her hand thinking about how he’d wanted to wait, but now that she lay beneath him looking so beautiful and eager to be with him, he found himself swept up in the fantasy--in the hopes that together they could find something more--something real that they could carry with them long after today. He started to tear into the package ready to give her what she’d been longing for when he heard a knock at the door.

“What the…” she gasped in a sharp, labored breath. Her brown eyes widened as she eyed the condom in JT’s hand. Suddenly her lower lip trembled with worry, “JT don’t answer it. Just let it go.”

“JT. JT are you in there?” Franklin’s voice echoed through the room causing Evie’s heart to plummet in her chest. She sank her nails into his shoulders, her dark eyes pleading with his.

“Tell me he’ll go away. Please say he’ll just go away so that we can finish this,” another thought occurred to her and she let out a tiny yelp, “You don’t think Cameron knows I stole a condom do you?”

JT couldn’t help but laugh at the suggestion, “I seriously doubt that my brother would send Franklin over here for that.”

“JT, I realize that you may be busy, but this is important. Your brother has asked me to deliver a message to you,” Franklin continued to speak out through the door before JT groaned.

“I have to answer,” JT explained thinking about how when his brother wanted something, he got it.

“You have to be kidding right,” Evie’s eyes widened in astonishment, “JT we can’t stop now.”

“We’re going to have to,” he sighed heavily rolling onto the bed beside her and closing his eyes.

“Oh come on,” she frowned turning to her side to look at him, “Are you telling me that just because your brother wants to say something, you’re going to stop?”

“Trust me this isn’t something that should be rushed,” he leaned forward stealing a quick kiss from her. He reluctantly tore himself away from her and slid off of the bed taking one of the blankets with him before looking back at her. “This won’t take long.”

“It’s already too long in my opinion,” she scoffed in response pulling the sheet up over her body and folding her arms in front of her chest defiantly. “Your brother is seriously going to get a lecture from me later on his bad timing.”

“Trust me, you won’t be the only one lecturing him,” he promised walking over to the door and opening it gruffly. He glared over at Franklin and scowled, “What?”

“Well I can see this isn’t a good time,” Franklin mouthed eyeing JT with sudden interest. He glanced back over JT’s shoulder to spot Evie in the center of the bed shooting the same venomous glares over at Franklin as well. “However, your brother insisted that you find your way down to dinner. He says it is his way of offering a full apology for the situation that arose with Ms. Marx earlier.”

“Tell him thank you, but no thank you,” JT mouthed in response holding the blanket tightly around him in the hopes that Franklin would get a hint and just leave him and Evie alone with one another for a while.

“It wasn’t a request as much as it was a demand,” Franklin’s eyes sparked warning to JT before Franklin glanced over at Evie once again, “There is a suitable gown for the young lady hanging in the closet for when you two decide to join us, which I should hope won’t take too long.”

“It’s not going to now,” JT grumbled in response hearing the sounds of Evie shuffling behind him. He glanced over his shoulder seeing her approaching him and Franklin with a sheet wrapped securely around her body.

“Why don’t you just tell Cameron that we aren’t going to be able to join him and his atrocious girlfriend because we’re too busy doing the one thing that clearly his girlfriend would rather be doing with the rest of the town?” she suggested in a sugary sweet tone that was laced with heavy shades of sarcasm. She placed her hand on JT’s arm possessively before glaring over at Franklin. “Or will that be too much for you to remember?”

Franklin laughed clearly delighted with the woman in front of him. With another round of laughter he turned to JT, “She has quite the mouth on her. Reminds me of someone I used to know in their younger years.”

“We’re just…” JT stopped himself trying to convey a message to Franklin that he would understand, “You just caught us at a bad time.”

“Clearly,” Franklin noted with a twisted smirk, “but perhaps it wasn’t such a bad time after all given how upset the both of you are.”

“That’s an understatement,” Evie rolled her eyes, “We were about to have a damned good time before you came around annoying us.”

Franklin laughed again unable to hide his amusement, “Not only do you remind me of our JT here, but you also have shades of Cameron’s sister in all of her wild years. She was a bit of a handful as well always trying to sneak into corners with the hired help and then she dared to get upset for getting caught later on down the road.”

“I’m not upset about getting caught doing anything,” her eyes narrowed over at Franklin, “More so I’m annoyed with rude jerks like you who can’t just leave well enough alone. Tell Cameron we’re not coming down to dinner because we’re previously occupied and I’m sure he’ll understand.”

“All the boss understands is that when he wants something he gets it,” Franklin waved his hand around in the air, the ring he was wearing flashing in Evie’s face and without thought or warning, she stepped back, something crossing behind her eyes. Franklin took note of her retreat and smiled, “I’ll take that as a sign that you’ll be there.”

“Yeah whatever,” JT rolled his eyes closing the door in Franklin’s face before turning around to face Evie again, “You have to understand with my brother that he’s rather pushy and…”

He stopped when he realized that the color had drained from her face. She stepped backwards sinking onto the bed again and her lower lip was now shaking. Worriedly JT moved in beside her taking a seat on the bed. He reached for her hand squeezing it gently.

“What’s wrong?” he couldn’t help but ask.

“It’s that ring…” she explained in a quiet tone.

“What ring? The one Franklin was wearing?” JT thought back to Evie’s retreat indoors earlier. He saw her nod before her gaze shifted to the door again, “It’s just like the one my brother was wearing.”

She nodded, “Yeah.”

“Okay, I’ll bite, what is it about that ring that upsets you?” he questioned sensing her discomfort with the ring.

“My father has one just like it,” she admitted squeezing the blanket tighter around her body. She closed her eyes remembering the last encounter she’d had with her father before she and JT had taken off with one another. “It’s just I know that ring so well because there were so many times when he’d hit me when he was wearing it and…”

“I don’t understand,” JT frowned back at her seeing how shaken up she was, “Your father couldn’t have that ring. That’s something that Cameron’s father passed on to people who worked for him in the past.”

“And my father had one, which means that my father must’ve stolen that ring from someone like Cameron. He’s been known to take things from powerful people and,” she shook her head, feeling a panic rush over her. Springing up off of the bed, she looked around the room with a worried expression, “If my father was able to get to someone like Cameron in the past to steal from them, then I’m sure that means he can get to me now. That means he’ll find us and he’ll do what he swore to do if I crossed him. He’ll…”

“Hey Evie,” JT stood up reaching out to touch her shoulder gently, “You can’t think like that. I’m sure that the ring you saw wasn’t exactly the same.”

“JT I’m telling you it’s exactly the same. It’s…” she stopped herself stepping back just enough to loosen the sheet that she’d been wearing. Letting the fabric fall down just below the dip of her spine she turned around to show him her back. “Do you see it? Do you still see it there?”

JT stepped forward his dark eyes honing in on the tiny scar that he hadn’t noticed until now. He reached out to her feeling her cringe as it was clear that something had left an impression in her otherwise flawless skin. He touched the warmth of her body gently tracing the mark that had branded her as he let out a tiny whimper.

“I told you that he isn’t the nicest of guys. I got that when he was upset with me because I stole some guy’s wallet and wound up only bringing home thirty five dollars for the night,” she admitted closing her eyes and fighting the tears that threatened. “Like I said JT I would know that ring anywhere.”

JT blinked back in astonishment trying not to let his contempt and rage for her father get the best of him. He gently pushed the sheet back up over her body and reached out to envelope her in his arms, “Your father is a son of a bitch and he’s not going to hurt you again Evie.”

“He’s a monster and as I said if he’s gotten to Cameron before, then…” she began again in a broken tone.

“Listen to me,” JT curled his finger underneath her chin, urging her to meet his dark eyes, “If your father had that ring, it doesn’t mean he stole it from Cameron. Cyrus Stone had a lot of people working for him over the years--people that he’d let go, but they still had the ring. It was the thing that let the world around them know that they were not to be messed with because they worked for Cyrus. A lot of those men were less than savory and I won’t lie about that. It’s entirely possible that a man like your father would’ve dealt with some of them, but not with Cameron--not with someone who could help him get to you. You’re safe here. You have to trust that.”

“I’ve learned in my life not to trust anything, but my instincts and they are telling me to be afraid especially after seeing that ring twice today,” she shivered against him, “JT I’m scared.”

“I know you are, but your instincts told you that you were safe with me, yes?” he reminded her seeing the worry in her face.

“Yes, but that was before my father threatened to kill you if I didn’t do what he wanted,” she began worriedly, “It was before I knew he could get to us…”

“He can’t get to us. You have to trust me on that. I would never, ever let him hurt you or us again. You have to see that,” he explained hoping to reach out to her and pull her from the dark place she’d slipped into. “We’ll go to the island and get married. Then your father can’t touch you ever again.”

“JT he’s not the kind of man that can just be stopped. He’s so strong and…” she trailed off worry settling in over the pit of her stomach.

“And he hasn’t dealt with someone like me before. My brother won’t let anyone mess with his family and I can promise you that you’re included in that. Cameron won’t let anyone hurt you ever again. He’ll keep us safe,” he added firmly, confident in his belief.

“How can you be so sure?” she couldn’t help but ask caught up in her own worries.

“Because he’s the one person in my life who has never let me down. He’s always had my back and I’m positive that this time is no different,” JT slid his fingers into her long, dark hair cradling her closer to him, “He pulled me back from death’s door not so long ago and I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to help us with this.”

“I hope you’re right,” she embraced him squeezing him tighter than before.

“I know I am,” he kissed the top of her head gently, “In fact, why don’t we get dressed and go see him? I’m sure you’ll see that I’m right about this. You’ll trust in Cameron’s ability to keep your father from being a problem once you get to know him. So what do you say? How about dinner?”

“Sure,” Evie nodded knowing that Franklin had not only helped kill the mood, but he gave her a whole new reason to worry about what it was her father could have in store for her and JT should he decide to make a move to punish her for the way she’d dared to betray his wishes time and time again. While JT seemed to have all the confidence in the world where her father was concerned, she knew full well that he didn’t have the first clue about what kind of monster they were truly up against!


“Hey there you two are. I’ve been looking all over for you,” Don called out to Brant and Angela seeing them walking down the stairs one right after the other. “Look I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to split. Something’s come up.”

“Is something wrong?” Brant questioned sensing something behind his best friend’s eyes.

“I’m not quite sure yet,” Don answered honestly glancing over at Angela once again, “How are you feeling?”

“Better now that I’m cleaned up. You haven’t seen Kevin by chance have you?” Angela couldn’t help but ask Don seeing something behind his eyes at the question.

“Um,” Don cleared his throat uneasily, “No I haven’t but…”

“I’m right here,” Kevin announced walking into the house with Ria at his side, “We just met out in the garden. I went back to take a shower after I took the trash out and then Ria was getting cleaned up at the east wing.”

“Of course,” Brant nodded realizing that both Kevin and Ria had wet hair and were changed, which could only mean one thing. Brant, however, played along with their story. “I was going to go back and tell you I was with Angela, but I figured you would find me when you got out of your shower Ria.”

“Yeah, you know me. I’m always quick to find you,” Ria snapped her fingers in the air faking enthusiasm before she turned to Kevin. “Though it was nice running into you over by the pool house on the way in.”

Don practically choked at her comment.

“Don are you alright?” Angela questioned eyeing him curiously.

“Yeah, I’m fine, but I think I need to split. I just talked to Linds and something is up,” Don admitted with a worried expression on his face trying to ignore what he’d just witnessed with Kevin and Ria. “She said that Stacy is in town and getting into some kind of trouble.”

“What kind of trouble?” Brant questioned seeing something flash behind Don’s eyes.

“I’m not really sure, but it sounds like the situation she’s in isn’t on the up and up and Linds is worried. I think I should probably check in and make sure that everything is okay since I’m not really sure what she’ll be walking into,” Don added with worry creasing his brow.

“It sounds serious,” Kevin noted stepping up closer to him, “Do you need some backup on this one?”

“I’ve got it pretty much covered,” Don paused thinking about what his sister had told him, “Although it might not hurt if you want to tag along since I don’t know what kind of creeps are running the show with her. She’s only fifteen and tends to leap into things before thinking about them which isn’t good. Needless to say it wouldn’t hurt to get some backup.”

“Then I’m going with,” Kevin added turning to Angela, “but I’ll be back shortly.”

“Kevin, you’ve been gone for a while already,” she felt him move forward to kiss her forehead gently before stepping away from her.

“You’re in good hands with Brant. Trust me on this one Angie. He’ll treat you right while I’m gone,” Kevin piped in exchanging glances with Brant.

“You’ll keep me updated about Stacy, right?” Brant couldn’t help but ask looking over to Don.

“Yeah, no problem,” Don promised with a quick nod.

“I actually have to split too. I have a shift at the hospital that I have to get to, but I promise I’ll be back as soon as it’s over,” Ria piped in realizing that this was her chance to get a few minutes with Kevin. She stepped forward knowing that she had to sell something for Angela. She moved in front of Brant and stared up at him awkwardly. “I’ll call you when I’m coming home.”

“Sure honey,” Brant nodded not quite sure what to do with Kevin watching them. He reached out to hug her before bending down to kiss her cheek quickly. “Just drive safe, okay?”

“Sure,” she promised squeezing him quickly before stepping back and waving. “I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Okay,” Brant replied with a small wave seeing Ria, Don and Kevin walk over to the door.

“Kevin, if you want I can come with you,” Angela started again hoping to capture his attention.

“I don’t know what we’re walking into so you’d better not,” Kevin reached out to take her hand in his squeezing it lightly. “Just rest Angie. I’m sure you’ll be fine when I get back. Maybe we’ll take in a movie or something when I’m home.”

“Okay,” she nodded seemingly satisfied with his answer. She watched him walk out the door before it dawned in on her that now she was in fact alone with Brant again which meant nothing but trouble now that it was clear they would be stuck with one another. Turning around and facing him she forced a smile hoping that Brant wouldn’t be able to discover just how truly uncomfortable with the situation she truly was now that it was clear she was finding herself increasingly attracted to him in more ways than she cared to admit. Regardless of what happened she just hoped that Kevin would return home soon so that she wasn’t stuck in the middle of temptation thinking about a man she was sure that she shouldn’t be thinking about!


“What has he done now?” Kyle shut the door after Heather got out of the truck and they moved up the sidewalk hearing loud yells even from outside as he rolled his eyes gripping his leather jacket in his hand tightly. “I wonder what the hell he did this time to get us in trouble.”

“I have no idea, but obviously Kipp is very pissed off,” Heather moved toward the front door feeling Kyle’s fingers wrap around her wrist softly as she motioned him to wait. “I’ll have to deal with him right now alone Kyle. It’s obvious I did something wrong to piss him off.”

“That’s good you are home,” Paul went to get up from the couch before letting out a quick gasp when he felt Kipp shove him back down to the couch before looking over at Kyle and Heather moving into the house. “Kyle, would you please stand up for me here.”

“Yeah Kyle, why don’t you stand up for your friend that had absolutely no right watching my son while you were away,” Kipp moved over toward the door pushing roughly into the center of Kyle’s chest seeing him stumble back and drop his leather jacket to the floor at his side. “What the hell is wrong with you for leaving my son with someone like this. He is my son you know, not yours.”

“I had no doubts of that Kipp,” Kyle pushed Kipp soft enough to move him away from being so close to him. “I have no idea what Paul did, but whatever it was I’m sure it was harmless.”

“You know Kyle is right Kipp,” Kellen moved in behind Kipp seeing the angered brown eyes staring back at him as Kipp shook his head over and over again. Looking down at Charles who was laughing in his arms Kellen held Charles in closer to his body. “He did no harm to Charles.”

“Just don’t worry about it Kipp, I was the one that said it was okay officially,” Heather moved forward seeing Kipp’s angered brown eyes look over in her general direction. Kipp stepped in closer to her before letting out a small laugh seeing the way Heather’s green eyes widened. “Listen, I know Paul could seem a bit intimidating, but he isn’t at all. He’s actually a good guy deep down and…,”

“Good guy my ass, look at how dumb you have become,” Kipp blurted out seeing the way that Kyle stepped in closer to Heather and Kipp threw his hands up in the air. “You get with this muscle bound idiot and his friends start to come around and destroy my son’s life.”

“What in the world are you talking about,” Kyle moved in front of Heather seeing the way that Kipp glared out at him and Kyle shook his head slowly. “Listen to me Kipp, I know something pissed you off and I understand that, but you have no right to talk to Heather like that. Paul is my friend and I was the one that really said it was okay, so why don’t you back off.”

“I really wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Paul stood up from the couch before letting out a small groan stepping in next to Kyle as Kellen moved in next to Heather. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you man, but I was just playing around. I like your son, Charles is a great kid and…”

“I will make sure none of you are around my son again, you don’t know what the hell to do when it comes to taking care of a child,” Kipp shoved at Paul again before Kyle snatched Kipp’s wrist in his hand tightly turning Kipp to look at him in the eyes. “What is it you want Mr. Houston?”

“Listen, back off of Kyle and Paul, they did nothing wrong. Charles is my son,” Heather moved in front of Kyle and Paul making them step back a bit before she reached out to touch Kipp feeling him shove her hand away. Heather saw Kyle move forward ready to attack when she placed her hand in over Kyle’s chest seeing the way that his hazel eyes stared down at her. “Kyle, it’s okay.”

A crying Charles started to reach out for Kyle as Kyle glanced over at Kipp for a moment before moving forward toward Kellen to grab Charles in his arms carefully before pulling him closer to his chest. Hushing the crying baby in his arms he pressed a small kiss against Charles’ forehead before moving in closer to Paul again.

“Back off of Heather,” Kellen moved in between Heather and Kipp seeing the way that Kipp’s jaw tightened in anger and he let out a small huff. “Listen to me Kipp, just back off right now. I have no idea what is pissing you off so much, but just back off.”

“You know,” Paul pressed his hand against Kyle’s chest trying to get him to cool down as Charles now laughed looking over Paul as Paul offered up a goofy face. Moving in closer to Kyle Paul let out a small laugh before shrugging his shoulders. “You never mentioned you were friends with Mr. Big Man there.”

“What?” Kyle snapped seeing the way that Paul laughed before shrugging his shoulders and moving back away from Kyle for a moment. Rolling his eyes, Kyle pulled Charles into his arms tighter before glaring out at Kellen having Paul remind of him of what the original problem was this morning. “It’s okay kiddo.”

“This is ridiculous that these people would do something like this,” Kipp began seeing Charles laughing over and over again as Kipp looked to his son as Kellen moved back over toward Charles to pick him up in his arms. “We are going to deal with this I hope you…,”

“Dada,” Charles cried out once he was taken away from Kyle reaching out for Kyle as he moved and struggled in Kellen’s arms. “Dada, Dada, Dada.”

“No,” Kyle shook his head quickly seeing the way that Kellen’s blue eyes shocked at what just happened as Kyle let out a hesitant laugh. “No, no, no. Shh…”

“What did he just say?” Kipp hissed seeing the way that Charles reached out for Kyle and Kellen finally handed him back to Kyle as Charles wrapped his arms around Kyle tightly. “He didn’t just say…,”

“Dada,” Charles finally muttered content with what Kellen put him back to as Charles rested his head against Kyle’s firm chest and let out a small laugh.

“You know what?” Kipp snapped seeing the shocked look in everyone’s eyes as Kyle held Charles in his arms lovingly and let out a small sigh. “This is done, we are through with this I hope you understand. This is the last straw.”


...to be continued...